Friday, October 28, 2011

Off the Beaten Cobblestones; Chained to the Desk, but My Mind is Free

Huhn. Its odd. I missed a week. I don't normally do that without some sort of pre-warning. Which means I'll probably be missing next week as well. So hopefully I'll have an epically long post next time.

I missed because of work. Lousy excuse I know. Busy, busy, busy. Been skipping out on my forum trawling as well. Well, while my hands, mouth, and ears have been chained to the desk my mind has been free.

So been thinking more about the more meta-textual/meta-physical things rather then crunchy fun rules, or fluffy bits of background. Much of this meta-textual stuff is about RPG stuff.

Every year around October, I get this itch. A big bad itch that is hard to scratch. I want some Undead. I'm not talking about Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings, or even heaven forbid Necrons. Ravenloft goes far to fix that itch.

There's a couple of reasons for that, mainly Halloween. The thing with Halloween is that it calls out to Gamers. There's the dressing up and pretending to be something that you are not, but there is more to it then that. There's the whole monsters thing. The real monsters are around for Halloween, all the classic ones. With the exception of the Dragon, but hell, Dragons aren't really that Halloweeny. I wrote weeny.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because of those. There's more to it then that though. The main reason is that every October, a friend of mine runs a LARP D&D game based around classic horror tropes with some interesting quirks. We've been doing this since highschool. There have been years where I haven't made it, or it didn't happen, but for the most part, its been there. People come back into town for these games. Almost no rules, and mainly talking, and then spending half the night bullshitting and getting caught up. There's an whiff of nostalgia in the crisp fall air, for one glorious night, we are all sixteen again.

I guess between the LARP and the Halloween, its what causes this itch. I want some Ravenloft. I know that I've been building up for a bit here, but there is some more to it, and I'm getting around to it in a round about way. Part of that is tired, and part of it is shear diarrhea of the keyboard.

The thing with Ravenloft is that it isn't your typical fantasy game. There are no Elministers, Rarys, or Rastlins around. All the neat powers of the stuff that makes D&D magic powerful and overwhelming isn't there. Ravenloft is an oddity of old school. Magic stuff is rare, and even if on paper the villians are puny, they are terrors.

Old School D&D was much less powerful. There's been a constant powercreep in the editions. Does anyone really remember when a first level wizard had maybe six hit points and one spell a day? Even in 3.0, a decent wizard has at least two spells of first level and at least four hit points. Ravenloft is the big equalizer. There's no high level helping hands. There is no raise dead, no resurrection. No mystical shops of magic items. There is a feeling of helplessness, even when everything is safe.

I think that is why I like Ravenloft so much, there is a definite horror movie aspect to it. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. The bad guys are going to win, eventually, all you can do is hold off the night temporarily.

In the darkness that is October that is what I feel. The warmth of the summer is falling away, and the drear winter is looming. There is foreboding in the air. Skeletons and demonic entities are everywhere, the plants are dying, and darkness is coming. There is still the hope for a slight return to warmth, but it is a temporary reprieve is all. The cold is coming, there is nothing you can do to stop it. Maybe its maudlin, but I miss that feeling during the true winter months when there are feasts and presents and celebrations. The cold is colder when it hasn't arrived yet.

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