Derik Badman's Journal

2020-03-30 08:56

Played more of the The Hole in the Oak yesterday with some of the D&D group. Not quite finished after three sessions now, but they have explored almost all the rooms in the dungeon, even if they did miss some of the treasure. Whenever I'm Dungeon Mastering I always feel this slight tension between using some of the rules and just ignoring them. How important is it to roll for certain things rather than just say the character succeeds? A lot of the procedures setup for use in dungeons on old school D&D are all set to work together in different ways. Encounter rolls and encumbrance rules and limited supplies and rolling to search or find traps or open doors, and depending on what rules you start dropping to simplify things the other ones start seeming to serve less and less a purpose. I guess it depends a lot on what you look for in play, but I don't know that anyone in our group is that interested in the kind of resource management, encounter tension, of the old school dungeon crawl.

I guess I need to remember the idea that the rolls are only interesting if there are consequences to failure. And for me encounter rolls are less about adding tension and time crunch to the game (and resource depletion) and more about adding something unexpected to the situation. The couple random encounters I did roll in this dungeon did add either extra information about the dungeon (one encounter was with a ghoul that wondered off, giving a clue that there were more elsewhere) or created a new situation (run in a with one of the faction's leaders who lead the party back to his lair where they had not yet been).

Yesterday afternoon I watched Josephine Decker's Madeline's Madeline, which was another on my list of movies from 2018 that were on some best of lists that looked interesting. [And then I never got around to finishing writing about it... so this is days later...] It was a really unusual movie, that I'm not sure completely worked for me. It's about a teen girl (the actress is amazing) participating in some of experimental acting troupe lead by a woman (Deadwood's Molly Parker). The girl has some kind of mental illness, and early on there is some really interesting work with the camera movement and focus and sound that attempts to convey some of that. It's stylistically successful, though it's hard to know how well it conveys whatever the girl's issue is (it's never made explicitly clear that I noticed). The situation becomes complicated as the troupe leader seems to beome very interested in the girl and the girl starts seeing her as a kind of mother figure and they both don't seem to handle it all very well psychologically or in relation to the other actors or their families. The ending seems to... shift out of realism into almost a play or performance except one that is not explicitly marked as such in the reality of the film. It's unusual and a little unsatisfying.