Great Khan Enthroned

Great Khan Enthroned

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for-

The Latin inscription translates as "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, having been consul three times, built it."; this will make more sense when you read the section on wealth.

William, which is a great and powerfully masculine name; pick a William from history and you're pretty much guaranteed a bad-ass. I am partial to the name because it is my own given name and, unlike so many less worthy of the name, I actually go by it*. So, William is the manliest name ever devised by humankind.

W is for Wilderness which is a catch all term for anyplace that isn't civilization. I have spent literal decades placing adventures in wilderness areas for my players to the point where "classic" mega-dungeon style dungeoneering is a skill I have to relearn.

W is for War and what is it good for? Absolutely everything. War is a DM's best friend. Trying to prevent wars are a good excuse for an adventure, so is trying to end a war. Fighting a war, pretty awesome too. The chaos created by wars often create some good avenues for adventure too. Literally everything related to war can be an adventure seed. The diplomacy can include trying to recruit or retain allies, or keep neutral parties neutral, or even make the belligerent parties make peace. War always has hidden stuff that plays out behind the scenes too. Maybe the rightful heir can end this destructive conflict King Arthur style and the party can find him somehow. Maybe an artifact will send the Lich-Lord back to Hell for 99 centuries and the party can quest after it to end his conquest of their realm. Maybe you have some wargamers who are into domain level stuff and want to wargame out the war, and that's cool too. I have played out continent spanning wargames across the map of Garnia using giant hex maps and counters and miniature battles for when major forces meet in important battles**.

W is for Wealth and in pretty much every pre-modern society wealth was defined by conspicuous consumption and public generosity. Wealth is power and prestige, if you hoard your wealth like Fafnir you are subverting it's purpose through your noxious greed. Wealth is intended to show your status and improve your standing in the community through the spending and giving. Wealth doesn't belong to just you, but to everyone linked to you through familial or social bonds reaching across your entire culture.

The ancient Romans used to build massive public works projects like roads, aqueducts and temples with their wealth; they also put on huge feasts for the poor and gave days of entertainment with plays, chariot races and gladiatorial games free of charge to the masses, to enhance their own status. The ancient Romans may not have been ideal***, but when it came to a sense of civic responsibility they had the right idea. The wealthy certainly abused their status, particularly as the Republic became an empire and then gave way to the Caesars, but can you imagine Bill Gates taking over the building and maintenance costs of even just the roads and bridges in Redmond Washington? Bill Gates is actually one of the most socially responsible super-wealthy people in America.

Now picture douche-bags like the Koch brothers even considering paying their own realistic fair share of income taxes, much less throwing their own money into public works projects; to be fair they do seem to be willing to throw inordinate amounts of money into projects like public disinformation campaigns and buying politicians, but those are really just so they can continue to enhance their own wealth and avoid paying their fair share or suffer any consequences for any illegal actions that may have been undertaken on their behalf with or without their knowledge.

W is for Weapons and I guess everyone has their favorites. I am a basket-hilt broadsword man myself, it plays to my strengths; which are being large and strong with a long reach. When I can I like to back it up with a shield, but I can live without it because the basket hilt is like a mini-shield that lets me manipulate an opponents weapon at any range.

W is for Weather, and since I live in central NY, it is always crappy. Too cold, too hot, too wet, too windy. Pick a combination. Make the PCs miserable with it, it sets a mood. When the weather changes to something nice, like "You reach the edge of the lake and a cool breeze blows in towards shore from the water", then hit them with Pirates or Orcs or Sahuagin or Lacedons. Fools, your never going to be safe and comfy in D&D! After you make sure they know that then you can actually give them some safe comfy time, they'll just be paranoid the whole while; much as I figure experienced adventurers usually are.

W is for Wizards which I have covered before here, but I also left out some of the less savory parts of my wizard experience, which I had more or less forgotten until reminded by playing one last Saturday. Wizards need to be at the top of their game all of the time. They also need to be the person at the table, with the possible exception of the DM, that knows the rules most thoroughly. It doesn't hurt to have a Special Forces level grasp of unconventional warfare tactics either. OK, that last bit was hyperbole, but you need to figure out how to squeeze every last drop of usefulness out of every scrap of information and every piece of equipment. You need to know unusual applications for any spells you have memorized, and you need to KNOW when to use them. I played a Magic-User in a party with my family on Saturday and they hated me for it, get used to being disliked but needed as a Wizard. Wizards rule the D&D universe in any pre-D20 version, even with their nerfed spells in 2nd edition, but being a Wizard is lonely and tiring; it's like playing chess all the time, if chess had odd team variant rules where your team-mates could move your pieces in stupid ways and they still expected you were going to carry the team to victory. I guess playing a Wizard is a great challenge to your ability as a D&D player, but it also makes me kind of a bitter, controlling dick to play with.

*Yes, I recognize the ridiculousness of using the net name "Jagatai" and saying that I go by "William"; to clarify, everywhere that is not the internet (and some of the internet too, like Facebook) I go by William, even my SCA name is William. William FitzWilliam actually, which I thought was rather clever because my father is also named William (although he goes by the nickname "Bud") and for that matter so were my grandfather and great-grandfather, although we all have had different middle names to avoid that annoying numbering thing. I am also slightly mocking grown men who go by the nickname "Billy", or really any other little boy's diminutive version of a man's name.

**I cannot stress enough the importance of only going to the "table-top" for important battles, it gets old fast when the battle is between the 2nd Goblin Raider Battalion and the Peasant Slinger Reserve Trainee Detachment. Trust me on this.

***Although they were clearly ideal enough for us in the USA to model our governmental structure on.