Let's meet the fighters.
On one side of the playground is the Home-Brewed adventure, I imagine this is the artsy hipster kid whose an outcast even among other artsy hipster kids, by design, and watched a youtube video right before the fight so he now claims to be a Kung Fu expert. These campaigns are highly sought after, ripe with the complete unknown, extreme difficulty swings, gaping plot holes, loose notes stored in trapper keepers made for adults, and NPC names born from pop culture/friends/whatever is around the room. Some DMs are better than others with this, but the illusion must be made that this world is fully flushed out, living and breathing, able to be explored, and ready to be saved from utter destruction.
This is my default mode when getting a "game" together.
|Home Brewed Gaming Scientist|
|Accountants of Storytelling|
I judge no more, for I rank among them now.
I've gotten phone calls from friends who'd joined a newly realized role-playing circle/band/convent and expressed lament over the DM taking them through a "by the books" world. You get the sense that you're truly talking someone off the ledge, or back on the ledge, depending on your stance and perception of the ledge's structural integrity. Your hope, as I've come to find, is that perhaps you get the best of both worlds. A published book can be an excellent source to frame up your story telling style and keep it on track. An experienced DM still rolls with the punches but those punches are a little easier when most of the hard work is already fleshed out. Your fear is that you have a DM who strictly enforces the world and events leaving you feeling powerless over the outcome. Horror stories are made from DMs using all the mechanics of foraging, lunar cycles, worship rituals, and spell components.
Loot and Dagger is built off of published adventuring and yet the story train consistently jumps the track almost immediately after leaving the station. It is without fail and the train is completely unashamed of it's transition to an all terrain vehicle, with all the gusto hollering of redneck dude bros. This is every game, not just ours, this is every game in the history of gaming. Unless you're playing with a bunch of historical reenactment junkies obsessed with "authenticity".
Of course now I want to play with a bunch of fantasy historical reenactment junkies.
Once is all I'll need. (Note: I bet you can find them steampunk LARPing)
Gaming groups are like packs of wild rock bands. They get together, drink heavily and roam the storytelling landscape from dining rooms, to living rooms, to skype, all depending on availability. They attach to ideas, morals, storytelling flavors with a pack like mentality and pace themselves accordingly. Likely your group is one or the other, I've found it's rare to have both.
But my end of the debate is to use what players will both accept and excite them, something that challenges them comfortably and prepare to extract caution with sweeping changes.
As for the podcast? I'm planning a series of homebrewed "non moduled" one shot games to satisfy that need for, "and now for something you can't find anywhere" experience. But the flagship show will be a campaign straight from the books, and why? Because, honestly, I'm having fun trying something new in front of the microphone and the players will always do their part to rip the railroad to pieces, and I maniacally let them. The players and the DM's imagination, at the end of the day, make the story what it is and not the book.
What are your thoughts?
<3 - James Stiver