I can see the great blank roll of the blog spreading out before me, whispering its desires: it wants to be filled up with words, mostly words about Dungeons and Dragons, and maybe what I'm writing currently, and most certainly about narrative and history. How can I fail to oblige? But I can't just post a little teaser as my first effort, so instead I'll give you a little overview of what this blog is meant to be and perhaps, in the process, a little information about my personal philosophy.
So, the point of this whole exercise is to ruminate on the nature of story, history, and games. I've been designing a campaign setting that I use AD&D to run for three years. Before that I had other settings, but none with this level of detail and effort. I frequently discuss theories about what it means to play roleplaying games in terms of philosophy and design, and since there are so many opinion leaders out there that write blogs and essentially espouse philosophies completely contrary to my own, I felt like it was time to get some word out to the general public. Maybe there are more people out there that think like my gaming group; maybe WotC has left behind others, not just me and a few old Grognards.
A little about me: I'm a medievalist and I've been desperately trying to translate my completed M.A. into a position somewhere so I can get a Ph.D. So far, no luck. I consider myself an amateur semiologist, a dedicated historian, and a writer. I've only written one book and that's being shopped around, but I have folios and folios of short stories waiting in the wings. I'm a dedicated Tolkienite, and I consider him to be the grandfather of modern fantasy. I am also a fan of Ed Greenwood and the Forgotten Realms, as reviled as that might make me. The amount of detail present in the Realms has certainly been a personal inspiration to the way I design settings. On a related note, I'm also a huge fan of both The Black Company and the Bungie games that took a page from Glen Cook, namely the Myth series.
So there you have it; I'm working on a Player's Guide to my setting right now, which should be completely written within a week or so. It's currently lacking in the art and layout department, but that'll come later. Oh, and if you're wondering exactly what my philosophy on gaming IS, it is as follows:
Roleplaying games can be meaningful and worthwhile experiences. However, important to note here is the word GAME. When you remove the element of danger, the game disappears. I've never found any joy in the 3rd Edition D&D character building "game," nor do I like my games to begin with superheros in peasant's clothing. My style of D&D has often been called Peasants and Pitchforks, as I am interested not only in the fantastic aspects of a world but also how they would realistically affect social paradigms and history. It's all well and good to pretend wizards exist, but if you don't stop to think about how the existence of wizards would change a lot of things, how societies would adapt around them, then what you're doing is nothing more than daydreaming. While that kind of no-consequences daydreaming has its place, it isn't at my table.