Tuesday, October 4, 2011

There and Back Again with the Domain Game

Maya Angelou once said that achievement was its own anti-climax. Hitting that last final control-S and closing out that nagging master document that has been sitting open on my desktop for more than half a year makes me feel a lot more out-to-sea than it does triumphant.

Yes, there's a lot still to do on the backend of the Hill Cantons: Borderlands project--editing, editing and more editing, art direction, layout, and promotion—but the longest truck haul is over. I should feel like breaking out the bubbly, instead I keep hearing the call of a little red pitchforked scamp on my shoulder whispering, “keep trucking, Chris.”

I am restless by nature and this entire project was built on exploration of a little-traveled area—domain-level play. The play of the Domain Game itself--supercharged with the ramped-up imaginations of the 20 players that touched it--generated the contours of the Borderlands, much more than the refining and revising playtesting of the last few months (valuable as it was).

Plain and simple, now that I have gotten to the edge of the map I want to go on to the next edge.

To be sure there's a lot of off-road play to still be had with this stuff, I kept dumping sub-sections like ballast to get the whole project done on a reasonably timely basis. The cutting room floor has a number of things I still would like to see hothouse and there were paths opened in the first round of playing never even explored.

I am especially interested in getting a holistic thing going—putting the Middle Game/Pendragon D&D whirly bits together with the domain-ruling and mixing it with some ideas I have about deepening sandbox campaigning.

Now here's the open invitation to come sail off with Mad Captain Kutalik again. Based on past experience I am going to start on the modest and low-key end see what builds from there.

The nitty gritty:
Monthly “face-to-face” game. The main play arena will be a monthly video-conferenced game run on G+ with a rotating cast of four-six at a time.

Two levels of involvement. At the higher commitment end I am looking for one or two (maybe three if there is interest) players who will be the “primary cast”. These players will need to be able to make most if not all the monthly games and will play high-level “lord” characters. They will be the “deciders” around a limited range of domain rule and there may be some limited email exchanges about inter-session housekeeping with me between sessions.

The second level is for more casual players and here I am taking a more-than-merrier approach number-wise and are invited to play as much or as little as they like. Players here will make a mid-level character that will be either inactive or run as an NPC at the session proper.

Both levels will play together in the monthly sessions.

Co-Creation. We are going to start with a relatively blank slate type carved-out-of-the-wilds domain—though one that has been able to sink enough roots to harbor some intrigue. One thing I learned that if you let some of you maniacs loose with creating the details you come up with some jaw-droppingly fun and interesting details, so this we will repeat (albeit on a more collaborative, lesser scale).

Rules. Here I leave it up to the will of the readers—at least as bounded by my two-party duopoly.

Blue Party: The stolid old warhorse choice. OD&D plus Greyhawk possibly with some choice bits from Adventurer Conqueror King.

Red Party: The odd-ball party of “change”. Stormbringer, first edition with a raft of house rules naturally.

Both parties will of course make use of the Borderlands existing and cutting room floor sections.

There is of course a lot more to be said. If you are interested or have questions drop a comment here or email me at kutalik at the gmail dot com.  


  1. Email coming your way o Captain. Just so you know I voted for the monster looney party of Stormbringer.

  2. I know we have differences about the Kool-Aid, ckutalik, but I am an admirer of your Borderland Domain since the inception. Might I be allowed a go at your second-tier?

  3. I'd like to join in at the second tier. I can't commit to a top-tier character, although I really wish I could.

  4. Totally down, regardless of red or blue decisions. I'd have to know when the monthlies hit before I could know how much I could commit, but definitely want to.

  5. @Dead Stoic Emperor
    I have to admit that I don't know what the Hell you are talking about, but whatever. If you want to play the tent is plenty big drop me an email with your vote on system choice.

    Likewise happy to have you on board and please shoot me an email.

  6. Greg,
    You definitely get a saved seat at the table--if you can make it. The schedule will likely revolve around the primaries and my availability.

  7. Just sent you an email! And I'm voting Red all the way.

  8. @Jeremy
    You would, won't you with that Hellenistic Stormbringer mashup insanity swirling in your head.

    So far it looks like we have seven players. Two votes for blue, two for red, and three in the squishy middle. May have to go to the Supreme Court at this rate.

  9. This calls for the Judgement of Solomon: threaten to chop the game in half.

  10. I haven't played Stormbringer in a while, but I do have three or four of the editions. Red Party might be fun.

  11. Up to ten players now with two first-tier lords and eight second-tier. Both parties have four votes each, with two still on the fence.

    I feel some baby splitting coming on. (Maybe go literal and make two parties running under two different systems?)

  12. Sent you an e-mail with some questions about when the game would be as I would like to join. Voted OD&D assuming I get a vote.