December 15, 2012

Death to Humans!

I've started running a new campaign designed especially for my wife.  She's always had an interest in playing, but usually declines my invitations to play when other people are involved.  She's always been a bit shy, and I suspect that she doesn't want to appear silly while playing pretend with other adults watching.

Running solo adventures is not my favorite (I prefer groups of around five players), but at least I get to play some D&D with my special lady.  Who knows, she might even get comfortable enough with it that she'll want other people to join in the fun.

Our first session did not go well.  It was something of a fiasco honestly, as I was totally unprepared to accommodate her style of play.  I'm used to characters who are greedy murder-hobos descending into the mythic underworld to kill monsters and loot their treasures.  This time it was very different.  She's not motivated by treasure, at least not enough to risk entering a dungeon.  She doesn't want to attack any wild animals, she seems to prefer trying to cuddle them as they try to eat her.  When her NPC henchmen attacked the creature biting her, she turned her blade on her allies for harming the poor misunderstood beast.  Legendary and magical creatures are even more precious to her.  For a moment I became very irritated with her for playing the game wrong, but that quickly turned to shame as I realized that it was my responsibility to adapt to her playstyle and make the game fun for her.

I stopped the session mid-combat by saying "I'm sorry.  This sucks and it's my fault.  Can we try again once I put together something new?".  She agreed and we talked for bit about what kinds of things her character might like to do.  I asked quite a few questions, but the responses were mostly "I dunno" and "whatever you think would be fun".  Not real informative.  Luckily though, this is my wife, and I already know enough about her to make informed design decisions.  So then I went back to the drawing board and tried to design a campaign that we both would love to play.

It seems so obvious to me now.  I was trying to force her to fight on the wrong side.  Humans are definitely her prey of choice.  I toyed with the idea of having her play a druid who protects the wilderness from hunters and the slow creep of civilization, but then I thought "No, she should play as a monster".  And so, the Death to Humans! campaign was born.

The first order of business was to roll up a monster character.  I had her roll 3d6 for each of the seven ability scores (Comeliness being the seventh).  No rerolls or moving points.  The default monster race is Andorian (medieval technology, and at war with humans).  There are many other monster species to choose from, but all of the others have ability score requirements.  These requirements are not ability score minimums, but rather ability score maximums.  Rolling low ability scores opens up new choices.  Here's the chart we're currently working with.

Artwork by Leonard O'Grady

No Requirements - Andorian
8 or less............. 5 or less ...................3
Str  | Halfling -------- Frogling ------------ Ghost
Int  | Pakuni ------------ Sleestak ------------ Troll Runt
Wis | Gnome --------------- Satyr ----- Psychic Jester Psycho
Dex | Dwarf ------------ Serpentaur ----------- Zombie
Con | Elf ------------------- Muppet ------------ Robogolem
Cha | Tiefling ---------- The Cloven ------------- Haniver
Com | Goblin ----- Naked Mole Ratling ------- Mutant

So, for example; rolling a bunch of 9's, a Wisdom 5, and Constitution 8 would allow you to choose from Andorian, Gnome, Satyr, and Elf.

The wife rolled some decent ability scores, but there was a Dexterity 8 and a Comeliness 5 in there.  Bless her heart, she willingly chose to play a Naked Mole Ratling.  Mechanically I'm using race as class, but the character sheet I gave her had separate spaces for race and class, so when she asked I told her that Naked Mole Ratling was her race and Amazon Queen was her class.  She seems quite pleased at that.  We're already having more fun than last time.

The setting is going to be a Land of the Lost/Middle Earth mash-up.  Honestly that's probably an accurate description of most of my D&D settings.  I am taking something from the Land of the Lost TV show that I've never tried before...  Exiting one side of the map will bring you to the opposite side.  Travel in a straight line and you'll eventually (5-8 days later) end up back where you started.  Conveniently, my world map fits on a single page (20x32 hexes).
I hope she likes it.

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