In recent times, for our D&D game, I've been thinking rather a lot more about the world the players inhabit and their role within it. It's something I somewhat intentionally didn't do in the beginning, since I firstly wasn't sure how long we were going to play and secondly I also wanted to give the players and the story an opportunity to form the basis for what the world is—it is a collaborative storytelling game after all.

Along with that, due to us now having better tools for playing the game—we switched to Foundry from Roll20, along with me getting Dungeondraft, the use of which was enabled by the increased storage I have available through a self-hosted option like Foundry—I have also been preparing the maps and places the players might visit more thoroughly than before, and consequently having a better idea of what might happen in the future—staying open to surprises and what the players decide to do still of course.

These two things have meant that while there is still always a certain level of stress associated with the anticipation of the next session for me, it has been markedly reduced since I notice how much better prepared I feel to handle whatever they decide to throw at me and I also feel more able to create a more interesting story for them to explore and influence because I have the opportunity to think about the potential outcomes and twists more.

Despite this, I think I do end up improvising as much as before during the actual session—partially because I often end up forgetting what I had planned beforehand and not remembering to read my notes—but I think, hope, that the increased confidence if nothing else provides for a better experience for my players—that is, assuming they notice anything different at all, since it was mostly a case of pre-game anxiety rather than something that affected me during the game itself.

Another thing, with worldbuilding specifically, that makes it fun for me, is that while the time and opportunities to play the actual game might be limited, and as such the utility of any direct content I create for the game, expanding my knowledge and understanding of the world is somewhat evergreen and as such feels a lot more useful. It ends up being things I can reference again and again during the game, or something I can use to build the content and stories within the game. This makes it a lot easier for me to just create when I feel like doing it and as such it's easier for me to stay motivated while doing it, as opposed to planning the next session or the future parts of the current story arc the progression of which is limited by the available time to play.

The only problem with this type of creativity and creation, is that the opportunities to share aren't as obvious and abundant, and I'm not sure if my players are as interested in all of this as I am, which might end up feeling somewhat demotivating—no matter how much one tells oneself one is creating purely for one's own pleasure and consumption, I think there is always that underlying hope for someone else to see and appreciate what one has created.

Still, creating remains fun, and if the only use of all the worldbuilding I do is for it to be easier for me to think of where the story goes next, I think that's a worthwhile cause as well—and it does mean the players will inevitably encounter it as well, maybe in a more exciting and interesting format as well.

Back to thinking about the history of the world then...

Royal Court

After my initial infatuation with Crusader Kings 3 there was something of a low period in my interest probably due to simply having almost burned out on the game from playing it so much—along with feeling a bit lost since I didn't really have any goals anymore. That, however, has changed—at least a bit—once more, with the release of the Royal Court DLC. It adds quite a few more things for me to go after, and a reasonable enough excuse for me to start a new game which of course means new goals to pursue.

This time, I went for the somewhat more boring option of starting in Europe—to be fair, the game kind of feels made for this, but considering I come from here it just feels so boring and plain in a sense—and decided to focus a bit more on culture and religion this time around rather than pure expansion and dynasty. Now, I am still trying to do a decent bit of dynasty expansion as the traits acquired through that are very helpful towards completing whatever else one may be attempting, but it is an activity which doesn't preclude me from also simultaneously pursuing other things—and I do have to admit it feels kind of good seeing the multi-generation takeover plans of foreign realms bear fruit after having set them in motion early on in the game, where the amount of members and rules in the dynasty just keeps on going upwards.

I also started making a bit more use of the different hostile schemes in the game, having so far mostly gone for the diplomatic or friend building route rather than murders and the like, and I do feel it has its own charm as well. I should probably do even a complete playthrough more focused on the intrigue part of the game, though I guess that is partially coming up since my next heir looks to be—somewhat accidentally as I simply hadn't had my eye sufficiently far down the succession path—focused on intrigue. It will be interesting to see what he ends up achieving when the time comes.

Oh, now that I mention it, that is indeed another change I ended up doing: this time around I didn't enable the equal game rule and instead chose to develop it myself by reforming a faith. I'm still running on just plain equal instead of female-preference, so there have been the occasional male ruler along the way, but it has proven not to be quite as annoying as feared. Maybe the knowledge that it is my choice rather than something that has been foisted on me contributes to this increased acceptance of the state of things, I'm not quite sure, but there is also just a certain satisfaction in having gone and actually changed history a bit and enabled a more equal realm rather than merely having flipped a switch and made history a better place that way around.

I'm not yet sure how long this high will last, as I'm already rather more familiar with the game and it's limitations than I was when starting and as such will probably run into walls or disinterest faster now than before, but I'm still happy to have once more found some joy in the game and new interesting things to explore. Now then, back to the game...

Blizzard news

Whew, there has been a whole deluge of World of Warcraft/Blizzard news lately, some of it good, some of it questionable. The probably biggest thing is the announcement that Microsoft is planning to buy the company, which I have somewhat mixed feelings about. On one hand, it might provide an opportunity for them to clean up their act and does probably mean they have access to more funding which would hopefully mean more polished games coming out once again. On the other hand, ever increased consolidation of the gaming industry isn't something I'm all that happy to see, especially considering Blizzard is one of the few companies that have for a long time made the effort of also releasing their games on Mac, which I would imagine would be at an end were they to go under the Microsoft umbrella.

Still, I think it would probably end up more a good than bad thing, especially considering the announcements which followed that one which are rather suspiciously timed, but we'll have to see if the deal ends up going through.

For things more directly affecting me, Blizzard decided to ban boosting communities. Now, to be fair, I have been taking something of a break from boosting lately, but was looking at getting back into it before the announcement hit. It probably won't have that big of an effect on me as a result, especially since boosting with a guild is still allowed and we are making attempts at getting that organized, so the impact should be minimal, even if it does increase uncertainty a bit in the short term.

Finally, they seem to finally be bringing cross-faction PVE support to the game! While it unfortunately won't be making it in time for the next patch, I'm still really looking forward to it and remain cautiously optimistic that the final implementation ends up being in a form that is also useable for me. The points they made in the announcement were essentially what I had envisioned: cooperation within instanced content, outside of instances normal rules apply. Sadly, there was a major caveat: guilds remain single faction, which essentially makes the system unusable for me at this time, as Hall of Fame is bound to the guild and requires the run to be a guild run, which would mean we would have to limit the amount of players we have on a different faction were we to allow mixed factions at all in the first place. Those players who would be from the minority faction also would not have access to the Hall of Fame title, which is a minor thing but somewhat annoying as well nonetheless.

There is another, more minor caveat, namely that certain instances are unavailable for this since they have faction specific content. It feels a bit silly, since while it isn't a major thing because all of the content is from old expansions anyway and as such it doesn't affect current endgame, I feel the solution to the problem is really easy and simple: the group leader's faction decides which version of the instance the group gets. They did say they were working on a solution for it, so I'm assuming it's some sort of technical reason they can't simply implement it at launch, or maybe they are looking at some other solution.

At any rate, I'm hoping these are concerns that they address either before this feature goes live or in a later patch during the expansion, but regardless if they do it is a huge step in the right direction towards addressing the faction imbalance and making Alliance viable as a choice for raiding guilds. This makes me somewhat, dare I say, hopeful about World of Warcraft's future again.


I've been in something of a strange mood lately, after my infatuation with Crusader Kings 3 was over—and probably because of it being over—where time has taken on some rather strange characteristics. On the one hand, it feels like time passes rather slowly, as I'm not really doing anything that manages to captivate me at the moment in any real sense—all the more apparent because I so shortly beforehand was so completely and utterly captivated by something—yet at the same time I end up being surprised every evening at it already being evening and the day having gone and me not really having done anything—not having done anything is of course inaccurate, yet that being the feeling I have.

This underlying feeling of the days passing by quickly yet at the same time hours going slowly somehow is made worse by the simultaneous feeling that there is something I either should be doing or something ominous that the days are ticking towards that I should somehow be doing something about, yet I have no idea what either of these things are. Sure, one of the things I feel like I should be doing is ironically playing more Crusader Kings, since the stop was just somehow so abrupt and in the middle of a game in a sense I feel some sort of strange obligation to go back and re-discover the joy I had playing it before, yet at the same time I just have no motivation or real desire to actually do so—it's strange to have such a feeling of obligation towards a thing.

What the ominous thing on the horizon might be, I can't really say. Maybe it is simply the fear of not having the ability to go on such indulgences in the future, where I can wholly dedicate myself to something I am enjoying in the moment because I have other obligations to be taking care of, and am consequently yearning back to the comfort of being completely engrossed by something and as such escaping from the clutches of reality into the recesses of my own mind and obsession.

Actually, that's probably exactly what it is.

It's somewhat ironic, that the very fear of this ominous future is what is preventing me from taking the steps to remedy the problem in the present, not allowing myself to free myself from the clutches of what was and concentrate on what can be, ending up in a spiral of guilt leaving me unable to find something else to enjoy or build the framework to allow myself to reach more enjoyment in the future because I am so busy punishing myself for daring to be done with something and not needing or wanting to continue with it; paralyzed by my own internal conflicts.

I am sure this will all pass, as it has many a time before where I have been engrossed by something and consequently had difficulties adjusting back to not being so after either losing interest or finishing the thing in question, yet I have to say, the adjustment period sucks.


Crusader Kings 3

Well, the year didn't begin that well for the blog, with me pretty instantly managing to take something of an impromptu break from writing. It wasn't really intended, but I quite simply didn't have the motivation to write anything, even though I had a thought here or there what I might write about. Even now, it's somewhat difficult for me to do so, since I have been rather captivated by Crusader Kings 3 the last few days, and am somewhat loathe to take time away from playing it.

It's curious how it happened, since I've dabbled in both the first and second game before, but never really for this long a time, mostly just for a few hours, afterwards getting simply too frustrated with the limitations that the game imposes on actually doing things. I'm not quite sure what's so different this time, perhaps it's me having begun in an earlier era where there were more opportunities for wars and expansion which gave me the motivation to actually build to empire size, and now that I've managed to get there I have a vested interest in keeping the empire going. I also think I might've gotten somewhat inspired by quill18 and his playthrough, since it allowed me to take the whole family dynasty approach to my gameplay which means that I can in a sense be more accepting of any potential lost wars or the like since I can just feel content as long as the dynasty is going well—it also makes this early game of forced partitioning of the titles between heirs a bit more bearable, since at least it's all staying in the family most of the time. It is really annoying the level of control and power each consequent death brings with it though, and the significant slowing of the pace of the game that brings with it as well.

What also really helped—something I think is now an option for the first time but maybe I've just overlooked it—is the game setting to just put the gender rules to equal in the game. I know, it's a lot less historically accurate and whatnot, but just always being essentially forced to play dudes gives me bad vibes for some reason—ironically, I'll probably end up playing as one soon anyway since both of my heirs ended up being male, but should rectify itself before long at least.

It's also kind of funny now that I've played a bunch looking back and actually thinking about the history of the empire I've built, and above that the family dynasty of over 500 living members, and just consider the absurdity of it. What started out as a single village in Africa, has evolved into an African empire lead by a afro-greco muslim empress leading her odd clan-based empire to victory—or more often at this point, merely peace, since with the change from tribal to clan government the cost of wars in gold went up such a huge degree that I can scarcely afford them. Probably doing something wrong there, probably related to how much my vassals like me or such, as that impacts how much they pay me in the clan-type government; probably also just growing pains, having relatively recently changed the government type and all of my vassals not even having done so yet, so there are a lot of upgrades missing I assume.

The one drawback of this recent, I think obsession is appropriate, is that I think it might be affecting my sleep, or rather my ability to go to sleep, since I essentially just end up planning what I'll do next and essentially playing the game, which seems to keep me awake—or maybe it was just a unlucky coincidence and that'll rectify itself soon enough. Still, I think the joy I'm currently getting is worth that small downside, just curious to see how long it all lasts, which of course also means enjoying it as long as it does! So back to the game.