Alright, so this is going to be a long post, and I thought about splitting it into three parts, but it’s probably better to do it in one long one and you guys can take as long as you’d like reading it.
First: the future story arcs of the campaign. I’m going to go ahead and give some spoilers here because it’s stuff that you would have had to hear about in the first ten minutes of playing yesterday anyway. The spyglass is actually a returning artifact from a campaign I ran in Athens, though how you guys got the pieces is new. How it’s destroyed is not: it has to be dissolved in the acid of an adult black dragon.
Oh snap, isn’t Tony’s character the son of a black dragon? Yes, which is why I told Tony that I could use that when he first came up with the idea. It wasn’t planned on either his part or mine, but it works. This can tie in well with Tony’s character trying to find his long lost mother. The spyglass itself can find her quite easily. I guess I won’t give away where she is, though.
I will give away that she’s alive, and, should Tony wish to pursue the option, I would have no problem with him training his dragon powers further under her (his backstory has him starting to and not getting as far as he’d hoped) until he gets the half-dragon template in the same way that Chad’s character can get the half-celestial template if he pursues that option.
It might be overpowered, so if there’s an objection to handing out templates as character rewards, then let me know. I looked through the list of templates on the SRD and found a couple of really cool CR+2 (which are what half-celestial and half-dragon both are) that look like they’d be super useful for Justin, Amy, and even Shredder. As far as I am concerned, Shredder’s basically the fifth party member. Amy might be the one officially running him, but he’s really just a part of the group.
Okay, segue to second part. I can feel comfortable doing these template-quests because there are four players and you can’t do everything. If you were to ask me for advice, I would say that it would probably be best to respec Amy’s skills to give her perception and stealth and have her use her shapeshifting and magic to become an amazing scout for the party. I could have been a dick about it last time and had the orcs roll perception checks to spot her as she floated down, and she probably wouldn’t have made it. I let it slide because it was pretty cool, but air elementals aren’t supposed to be invisible and if she does it again then I’m going to have to be stricter about it. That’s just how it has to be, or else that cheap trick will be exploited again and again.
But also because there are only four (five counting Shredder) characters who can’t do everything, I’m willing to allow these templates and for you guys to do quests that benefit individual party members one at a time.
Tony apparently invited two more people to play without running it past the group, which was a bit presumptuous, and I can’t really say that I’m comfortable continuing this idea of individual story arcs if we suddenly have six players with seven characters between them. That’s just too many. The individual gets lost and the story arcs stop being about the characters. Think back to my 3.5 campaign at Ian’s when you guys dealt with Zanhorn, the evil Paladin, and Mammon. None of those arcs were really about individual party members. There just wasn’t enough time. Now we’re even further strapped for time since we’re only meeting once or twice a month. Even with me trying to fill in story gaps with the adventure log like this, it’s really fucking hard for me as DM to get the story, or any story, to move forward.
Future plot ideas include visiting North America again so that the Druid can gain support and strength from her homeland, dealing with corporate espionage and assassination attempts on the Seaskipper family, finding and dealing with evil dragons and evil dragon slayers, and visiting other aligned planes to deal with their various Lords.
Even now, from the last mission, Chad’s character now has a reputation for being a literally bulletproof demonic vigilante, and Amy’s now has a reputation for being a ghostly killer who assassinates warlords in the night. Those are important steps in character development, and they work better with a small party.
Awkward segue to third part. This one’s the hardest part to write. I’m gonna get real here, so please bear with me.
I’ve known Chad and Tony for nearly eight years now. I started playing in the Spring of 2005. In 2007, I was diagnosed with depression and went on three different medications for it over the next three years. They were all SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; it means that they boosted serotonin levels in my brain) and none of them helped a whole lot. This year in February I got so depressed and outright suicidal that a friend of mine from out of state called my cellphone to tell me that I needed to get help before I died. I tried a few different counselors in the Columbus area, but they were’t helpful.
So when I got my year-end bonus from work this month, I spent it on an actual MD who prescribed me a new type of medication which works on dopamine instead of serotonin. One of the side effects is that if you have anxiety, the added energy and focus that the medication is supposed to give you can feed into that. So right now I’m struggling with a lot of shit in my personal life and am basically at my limit keeping this campaign going. I can do it, and I love doing it, and I hope that you guys are enjoying it, too, but this is all that I can do. I really just don’t think that I as a human being am capable of running a six-person campaign right now and keeping it coherent and fun. It would probably turn into a long series of modules, and I don’t want that to happen, and not just because I just proved how terrible I am at running modules.
I know it sucks, and hopefully in a few months once I get my brain chemistry sorted out a bit more I’ll be able to handle it, but I just don’t think now is a good time. Sorry for writing so much, and I hope that you can guys can bear with me for now.