About 6 years ago I gathered a small band of gamers together to write one of those Epic realm-saving-heroic-Homeric-tales of valiant deeds and noble sacrifice. I labored over a manuscript, maps, dialog, and character development that was more intense than a doctoral defense, then one evening in a climactic moment the players just failed. Dice, timing, and tactics aside they just blew it. Completely emerged themselves in the fountain of stupid and drank deeply.
(editor's note: There was no actual fountain of stupid, it's a metaphor, but in reflection it was same effect.)
Prophetic apocalypse manifested and doom fell on the lands. No Geatland Funeral Barrow for a fallen hero, no return to Ithaca to slay suitors, just the rotting corpses of 6 adventures tossed unceremoniously in the mulch pile of a fire giant.
Two years past, seasons changed, life took us all in different directions. One thing remained, a lack of conclusion to a work that around a dozen people pored time and effort into fruitlessly. Imagine the one-ring if at the crimson maw of Mount Doom was just snagged by the Dark Lord and popped on his bling finger. "Thanks for the key to middle earth Hobbit!"
Our campaign's theme was bloated with Norse myth and not the low hanging fruit of Yggdrasil, but the obscure references to runic origin and the building of Naglfar prior to Ragnarok. Despite my best bludgeoning of the players with my plot-bat, they skipped merrily to the precipice of oblivion and flung themselves in like lemmings with a death wish. I guess I could have had Heimdall himself magically appear to explain their ill fated choices but he would have to beat them with a detour sign to make a point. I'm sure he saw it coming anyway. Now a world that submerged in the wake of the Gods' War, a wasteland in a dark age, is little more than the forensic corpse of a high fantasy realm torn asunder. This concept fascinated me. Our collective mythologize provide little to support the bad guy's coming out on top in a divine cosmic ass-whoop'n to come and who's going to get on that hay-ride of pointless piety.
SO I thought, I provided a world with glamorous magic and mythical high fantasy settings to a party of powerful heroic characters and they bombed like a fat sorority rush pledge.
What happens if I propose this:
Welcome to the dark ages. Your an illiterate serf bound to the inbred will of a noble lord. Your skill set ranges from farming to basic scrounging in a land that is a harsh as the vassal your bound to service. Crop yield of this ash poisoned soil barely keep enough food to support the 30 people you know alive.Although the Church choreographs every aspect of your life you still realize they keep you safe from the countless never witnessed evils your told exist beyond your manor's walls. The high points of your existence are the bland meals you thank god continuously for and that your immortal soul will ascend to a undefined promised paradise shortly after the venerable age of 27.
No body can mount a campaign without surplus grain.
You can't even understand the Latin Mass, little-lone Hermetic script.
Elves? Dragons? Dryads? Gryphons?
Try Wolves, robbers, weather and starvation. Then we might work up to a wild boar.
I've made my point....
Here's the cheeky part:
4 players jumped on this story.
Now I have to start a story,,,