Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lamentations of Procrastination due to Apparitions of Inferiority

In other words, I have put off writing a piece on the Asp's Lair for Delver's Square for 6-8 months now (if not more) because I do not feel I can write it well enough for public display. I also have long-standing promises for articles on the Faces of Fear that have not yet come to fruition for the same reason, although this time it is solely on the mechanical side. I run my villains free-form, without a full write-up of abilities because I want them to do whatever is necessary to create an exciting, challenging, and memorable battle. Did the PCs get in a few lucky hits early on (such as my cousin's barbarian striking a critical hit against Regiarix the black dragon)? Then the villain has a few more hit points or a slightly higher AC to make the battle last longer. The name of the game is fun and my villains exist for that purpose, unconstrained by a stat block to tell me or anyone else otherwise.

And so, in trying to create the Faces of Fear for D2, I find myself faced with the dilemma of creating stat blocks. Why? Because if I put myself in another person's shoes, I want to see a ready-to-use set of mechanics when I spend my time reading this article. I do not want to see a bunch of interesting ideas for a villain and then find myself faced with the prospect of putting together a character sheet in order to use them in my game. The author should be doing that work since it is his creation. And, I have an inkling that an article like The Asp, which is all flavor and no crunch, found little use in anyone's game.

Regardless, I have been working on another entry in Saren's Journal about Free Will (these take a long time because I want the writing to be consistent both in style and in logic while presenting the horrible philosophy to which she adheres; in other words, they should read as though written by the same person and they should read as though the weak-willed undecideds and the fellow adherents should believe them because of the arguments presented instead of by DM fiat). These articles are actually my favorite to write because when I tap into the character of Saren, I end up spilling words across the page as fast as I possibly can and still cannot channel everything from my mind to the paper. I really feel the writing captures her passion for the subject and the instances of disjoined sentences and trains of thought due to my hands being slower than my mind stand in for her madness as a priestess of the Galchutt.

My only fears with the individual write-ups for the Faces of Fear is that I do not capture the interest of the characters as characters. I have long been known for writing in an epic style, which entails the pitfalls of flat characters playing out their parts in the grand story. Because of that, the Faces seem little more than grotesqueries meant to turn the stomach and be "Evil" for evil's sake. I tried to get away from that a little with Warrick in his mad love for Saren and in Saren with her troubled history of abuse. However, I do not want her to be a sympathetic character. She is not evil because of circumstances forcing her down this path; rather, the circumstances of her youth showed her the path and she deliberately walked it. She knows that she consciously and willfully chose evil when she could have chosen good. Perhaps this has weighed on her mind and added to her madness. If she feels any remorse for what she has done, she views it as a weakness, a feeling that needs to be attacked with faith and reason until it dissolves or, failing that, crushed and bound and buried deep in the back of her mind.

The only characters who I feel are not too fleshed out are the two that the party would most likely encounter first. Garrett and his goblin pal are cruel, bloodthirsty creatures who delight in suffering and bloodshed. This is why Garrett used the goblin as a sheath and why, when the shock wore off, he changed over to a little girl. The goblin is a true sado-masochist; he enjoyed his mistreatment under Garrett and even now almost deliberately upsets him in order to provoke a beating. On the sadistic side, the goblin is literally a walking bomb covered in all manner of weaponry. Garrett is a murderer and sword-for-hire, his greed satiated by the latter even as he does the former. His only reason in joining the Faces is an epiphany by the Galchutt leading him into their den. The goblin simply follows his dominator and may even be more faithful to the Faces than him (as he perceives his master being faithful and wishes to do the same).

I will have more later.

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