After much exploration, delibaration and pure admiration I bring to you Govaga, a 4th edition D&D campaign which is run by BrokenClock. Let’s hear what he has to say about this awesome campaign he’s got going here, read carefully and you may even catch some golden pearls of DM’ing wisdom!
Brief Note: This interview was truncated and slightly censored in attempts to remain brief and family friendly.
Obsidian Portal: The artwork for Govaga, is it all your own handiwork? If so, do you do design work for a living or just a hobby?
BrokenClock: Many of the drawings that I use in my campaign are from the wonderful artists that work on the D&D manuals. I simply take their drawings and make them work for me, using what little design skills I posses. For example, the wiki buttons are just images from various artists superimposed over a map I illustrated with some drop shadows and silly text effects added in for good measure.
However, those designs are nothing! You should see the monster counters and encounter maps I have made.
Obsidian Portal: How well do you know your players?
My players are some of my closest friends. I have known them for a little over six years now and it is because of them that I decided to take up role-playing again. To be honest, I cannot see myself playing with anyone else. I think when people know each other well it becomes easier to really get into the game and play off each other’s improvisations, which is beneficial to the overall enjoyment of the game. In addition, since they are close friends I can get away with venting my frustration in the real world by occasionally ripping them a new one within the game! The whole process is very therapeutic. That is what friends are for, right?
Obsidian Portal: What is the overall tone of your campaign? I see a lot of dramatic and eloquent texts within your adventure logs…but I also see an NPC named Glimnickle Sillybeard.
BrokenClock: I want to say ‘gritty realism’ because I know it is the cool tone these days. However, there is very little that is realistic about masochistic Minotaurs and cannibalistic Halflings. I enjoy creating an environment that submerses itself in darker subject matter and I believe to some extent that shows. However, as fun as being excessively pornographic in my use of violence and taboo subjects, I think it is important to lighten the mood once in awhile.
I use Glimnickle Sillybeard for the precise purpose of softening the campaign. He is a character I role-played briefly in one of my friend’s campaign settings. I really liked the name and the general feel of the character, so I tossed him in as the storyteller for the player’s adventure. He oversees the player’s actions as a sort of omniscient narrator and creates a history of Govaga using his heavily bias opinion on the races of the land and the collected journals of the adventurers. So, while he appears to be the authority of the story, he is certainly not to be trusted as a reliable source of information. He is jovial and a little mean-spirited at times. In a way, he is the personification of the campaign as a whole, fun but mean.
This is going to sound horribly geeky, but given the subject matter of this interview, I suppose that is to be expected. I use Glimnickle in Obsidian Portal as a sort of metafictional device to illustrate the malleable nature of the campaign. As I said before, he is not a trustworthy narrator and thus is a highly questionable figure of authority. In many ways, he is a symbolic representation of me as the Dungeon Master. He creates the world the players experience through his text, but he is not the absolute authority. Sure, players should trust their DM to have knowledge of the world they created, but that world should not be stagnant and rigid.
Players should have the capacity to have a direct impact on the races, classes, people and even Gods that they encounter. They should be able to change history and shape the very world itself. By portraying Glimnickle in Obsidian Portal as a somewhat subjectively bias historian, he reveals to the players that both he and I are merely interpreters and guiders of the player’s adventures. The players are the real authority.
Obsidian Portal: Where do you get most of your inspiration from as a DM? I see a mix of D&D 4e imagery and Warhammer on the site, are either of those a ‘core’ idea for you?
BrokenClock: My inspiration comes from an abundance of sources. Every movie I watch, every book I read and every video game I play secretly when my girlfriend thinks I am studying acts as a muse for the creative juices. I guess I should provide a few examples.
The Halflings are almost straight out of Dark Sun, at least in regards to their cannibalistic nature. Their intense dedication to magic destroyed their sanity and reduced them to the horrible monsters they are today; cannibalistic basket cases that only concern themselves with flesh and theft. So let us say that my Halflings are a mix of Dark Sun and Prometheus with just a dash of racially motivated prejudice against Gypsies. Like I said, Glimnickle is a heavily bias S.O.B.
The Minotaurs are mostly out of D&D. I just tossed in some masochism for fun. I think my inspiration from that came from a Discovery Channel special on circus sideshows, specifically the geek. I remember watching a geek eating glass and I thought, ‘yeah, I could totally see a Minotaur doing that’.
Obsidian Portal: Do you have some campaign highlights for us?
BrokenClock: The players came across a crazy old man who had been lost at sea for a long time. His boat drifted next to theirs and naturally, they did the noble thing and allowed him to come aboard. In thanks, he offered the players a potion that he had apparently kept on his person the entire time. He told them the elixir would come in handy soon, as he believed he could see the future and he saw in their future a terrible and giant monster. He was proven right when the players were attacked by a giant hydra. Not needing any further proof of the old man’s soothsaying powers, Breena drank the elixir. Sadly, the potion did not provide her with the strength she required and the adventurers lost the battle.
The players went into a dungeon to assist in helping a village with some missing people. They were lead there by a small boy who was looking for his father. The dungeon was tough on the adventurers and they inevitably had to rest when they felt their bodies could no longer take the torture of combat. Sadly, the time they lost while resting resulted in the death of the little boy’s father and the rest of the villagers. The little boy was a little upset about his newfound orphan status.
Obsidian Portal: What do you think is your campaigns biggest highlight so far, what about it’s biggest stumbling block?
BrokenClock: That is an easy question to answer. The biggest highlight of the campaign is the time and effort my players put into creating their journals. Creating this world by myself would be much too difficult, my players shoulder some of that burden by assisting in the creative process.
Our biggest obstacle is easily our lack of time to play during the school year. I am having a lot of difficulty finding the time to create new adventures while simultaneously keeping up with school. I really hope we get to play a few more times before school ends this year, but if I have to wait until the summer to start writing again, than so bet it.
I am hoping this interview will light a little fire under my butt to start the creative process again.
Obsidian Portal: I see you use your forum on Obsidian Portal as a nice place for some play by post,
do your players enjoy those bits in between each game session?
BrokenClock: I think they really like it. It is a great way to catch-up with what has been going on, especially if a player misses a session. Additionally, it is a wonderful tool for me because it allows me to see what direction the players are intending to go after an adventure. The campaign ends up feeling much more organic when I am given an idea of what the players want to experience. For example, if my players have just gone through a big dungeon and are a little tired of that type of environment, than they will post on the forums, in character, and suggest a new path to follow that will lead them to a different type of adventure. I guess you could call the forums a sort of campfire talk between the players.
Obsidian Portal: Where do you see your campaign going in 2011?
BrokenClock: I think we will all catch that role-playing fever soon enough and I hope that will lead to some exciting adventures and great times at the table.
Well that wraps it up for February’s campaign of the month! What do you think? Think your campaign has got the stuff to be featured, let us know or drop a line in the Featured Campaign Submissions thread! Until next time, stay classy portallers!