Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Victory is Mine! At Last

After the countless games of Megadungeon! that I've played in the past year, I have just now won my very first!  My unbroken string of defeats has made me the subject of mockery around the house for quite some time  since the family finds it hilarious that I've never managed to win the game that I, myself, designed.  But the tide finally turned during this evening's family game night as I thoroughly trounced the wife and daughter, then celebrated with victory laps around the dining room table.

I've been perplexed, for some time, as to why I've never managed to pull off a win after nearly a year of playing with family and friends.  Indeed, I usually come in dead-last.  By very odd coincidence, in the January issue of White Dwarf, veteran game designer Jervis Johnson wrote an article explaining why game designers tend not to win their own games very often and offered some interesting insights.

Apparently, it's commonplace for designers to lose their games, and Jervis chalked this up to a couple of factors.  Firstly, designers play by the rules the way they were intended, which tends to blind them to a variety of options that other players, who see the rules the way they are actually written, can more easily exploit.  This makes a lot of sense to me; I know what I had in mind when I wrote the rules and have probably become locked in a fixed mindset that inhibits my performance.

The second factor that, according to Johnson, contributes to Designer's Defeat (a term I've just coined) is that designers are constantly assessing the rules while they play, thinking about balance and rules-amendments instead of really concentrating on the game at hand and paying attention to what their opponents are doing.  This may also contribute to the problem, but in my case I think the former factor plays a larger role than the latter.

In any event it gives me a convenient excuse for losing...I'm not really thick-witted and unlucky, I'm focusing on the rules.  Yeah, that's it.  But, tonight at least, I am the undisputed master of the Megadungeon!

4 comments:

Trey said...

Victory at last!

Sean Robson said...

Delayed gratification can, indeed, be sweet!

The Happy Whisk said...

This is great stuff. Congrats on being master of the Megadungeon.

Right now, Tim is King of the Coupons.

Sean Robson said...

@Whisk: just kick Tim's ass at Megadungeon! That'll knock him off his high horse.