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Monday, August 22, 2005

My little Old World

So the conundrum of how to write this RD/KA! feature is revived, this time thanks to one of my players, fer goodness sake!

This two-part riddle is simple in essence:
1. I can't be bothered writing a narrative summary of the events of the last gaming session. And that's it really. I can dress the issue up in as much fancy rhetoric as I want, but that's what it comes down to in the end: whatever I'm going to write about my newly regular roleplaying session, one thing I really just don't want to get into is telling my version of my players' story.
2. Andy P. (Berthold's player) complained to me in the pub during our short after-game drinking bout that he didn't like reading my previous account of our last session (and on my computer mark you- he didn't even have the decency to get his own copy!) because it threatened to 'break down the 4th wall'.

WTF?! I mean, Andy has already boggled me with his fondness for the Alabama 3, but this application of Brechtian terminology would have had me reaching for my anti-pretension gun were it not for the fact that I know that the player voicing these opinions is the last person from whom I have to fear an outbreak of all that is worst in roleplaying.

Even as I write this I find myself thinking that probably I should be gratified that a few short months of my GMing of the Old World- not to mention my short-lived ezine- has had such an impact on the sensibilities of my good friend Andy, a dyed in the wool ttg-er. Even so, a little voice at the back of my head won't stop reminding me to 'beware the dark side'.

One line I suppose I could take is that he doth protest too much. I mean, Andy is now and always will be far, far more knowledgable than I am about the Old World. He is a veritable walking encyclopedia of all things Warhammer, which is one of the reasons I was so pleased when he wanted to join in my game. My confidence that he would be a valuable asset instead of one of those oh-so-irritating know-it-all players has been borne out by experience, one of those things that makes a GM want to invoke all those higher forces in which he doesn't believe just because it has been such a boon. Where does all this leave the '4th wall' though I wonder?

And then he comes up with this?!

Like I said, if I really believed that the combination of 8 roleplaying sessions and a few blog entries had raised my WFRP campaign to the level of Brechtian epic stagecraft, then I would be stuka-ing the Forge as the Next Big Thing; that, or burning my rpg collection as the spawn of all the darkest hells of my worst solipsistic nightmares. But sanity will prevail, even in the throes of a still fresh dose of that unique joy that is GMing a strong roleplaying group that continues to go in all the right directions despite all your own frailties.

And let's be quite clear about this: I am a gamer, not a roleplayer. I will never tire of the particular pleasure that is sitting down opposite a worthy opponent, laying down the smack, and reminding them that they underestimate you at their peril. All the same, no matter how sweet the victory- and that includes those all-too-rare (and therefore all the sweeter) moments when my very own space marines have actually decided to be as heroic in 'reality' as they have always been in my own imagination; even then, sheer victory- howsoever sweet it might be- simply cannot compare with the utter thrill of the way roleplaying can get inside you, grab your guts, and just twist.

There is just nothing like it.

And what I have been rediscovering lately is that this thrill is just as great for the GM as it is for the PC's.

All of which is all very well no doubt, but it brings me no closer to finding a fix for the spanner that Andy has thrown into my blogging works.

I could, I guess, gloat over the way in which a classic bit of D&D-esque 'do your own thing' GMing left Andy's Berthold trekking alone all the way across Middenheim to deliver the icon of Sigmar to the temple of the same cult according to the the dying wishes of Father Dietrich from 'Through the Drakwald' (the true dwarf aside, the rest of the party were on a shopping trip). Also possible are: waxing lyrical about how entertaining it was to see the other players' reactions to missing out on the 25gc reward for this; enthusing about how this put Berthold in the frame as a potential fall-guy for the murder of Father Morten; or sheer raptures at the simple fact that Andy's decision to keep Berthold's possession of said icon a secret from the other PC's had set him up for all this.

Alternatively I could just explain the delights of watching 2 dwarfs madly cursing in Khazalid in the vilest possible terms as the presence of Skaven impressed itself upon them, and the impact their fury had upon the closing sequence of the session.

I might even suggest my own pleasure at the simple way I handled this opening phase of the investigation: I just went round my players in turn according to where they sat, asking them what they were doing- a device employed for the simple purpose of stopping them all talking over each other, thus ensuring that each player got a fair share of the action.

But even as I type this, I find myself wondering if, should Andy read it, might he see the '4th wall' shimmering to the point of translucence, so that everything will therefore all come tumbling down? Time will tell I guess. ;)

Related@RD/KA!
Prologue: Getting to Middenheim
- A Rash of Enthusiasm...: the colour of Magic!
- Blogging my WFRP campaign: introducing the party.
- My little Old World: at the gates of Middenheim.
- My little Old World: clearing the cludge: the GM gloats.
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim
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