There has been some big changes at the table, it has been decided to drop the current campaign. My vision was a military style scenario, but it just never worked out. We really like the puzzle solving and role-playing aspect of the game, and, honestly, we have no mass combat rules in play, and once again the game went in that direction.
To make the game military, I needed characters that could lead armies, thus we started from 10th level. Now, in the past we did lots of experiments with playing at different levels. We played modules only, and the DM would tell us what kind of characters we need and assigned the level to us. This worked at the time, but we were much younger and played a lot more. We wanted different things out of the game. Today, this just doesn't work for us; we really push the role-playing aspect. We don't necessarily act or make funny voices, but we do develop our characters. I had asked the players if we wanted to start out at 1st, and see what happens, but they said no. They know me. If I had a vision, then we best get too it. I should had kept them low level, from the start I had to beef up my orcs. All of them are unique to my table, as I wanted the enemy to be high level as well.
Just starting at 10th level is hard as hell! For spell casters, it was a nightmare, they ended up reading and unable to focus on the game, which is something that we had previously eliminated by following the AD&D rules of choosing spells before play, but with the expanded spell lists for such characters, it took forever and they didn't have these spells memories as players yet, they were all new to them. The slow advancement really aids the spell caster, it gives them time to really get a feel for their spells and what they can and can't do.
It is really hard on the DM! It took me forever to properly challenge the players, but now it isn't about challenge levels, or spells, but about not really giving a crap about your character. It's been 6 months and nobody really knows who they are playing. Not to say that we didn't learn a lot, because we did. If I could go back and start again, I would lower the levels to 1st and play from there. The idea is still festering, but for now it goes back on the shelf.
What the players really want to do is get back to Gothic Earth. Prep is much harder, and it was me that needed to take a break, but if this 10th level excursion has taught me anything, it is how to prep large areas very quickly. I feel that I have grown stronger as a DM, and I definitely feel more at ease using magic, which is something that I've always had problems with in the past. The hardest characters for me to play have always been wizards and clerics. Especially high level clerics, at least mages have specific spells that they can use, but a cleric is still a problem, as they have access to all of the spells in their spheres.
Now, my normal method of prep is to brainstorm for a couple of days, and then start prep, but I didn't get to start prep, on Monday, my bathroom floor started leaking downstairs so my father and I had to rip out the floor and we are in the process of fixing it. Game-night is Saturday and I have nothing prepared beyond the thoughts in my head, and I hate doing that but it is what it is.
This will be the start of the second chapter, and I've had a few years to figure this stuff out, so I should be okay. I started the first chapter much the same way. I actually was drawing a map of a house that they were in while I was DMing a murder mystery. I had to go back and fix a couple of details when I had time to make a proper map, but my players forgave my inconsistencies. To be honest, I was in a much harsher position last time we started this game. I am excited, I was having some difficulty with the direction that it was going, and with some old errors that I had made and just had to live with, but now I can go back and correct them.
As far as the Blog goes, I do like doing the retro-reviews, and we'll be starting on 1990 very soon, I've also discovered a few more technical issues that can be added to the Mechanic Series, so I am not without ideas for new content.
That is what has been going on this week! Wish me luck with this weekends game, because I'm gonna need it. Thankfully, once I get going again it will get easier.