Counter Burnout (or How did I Get my Game Back?)

The past few months have been poor gaming.  Between my work schedule, stuff going on with my Players’ families, and illness on my part, I’ve not ran a game, since March.  At first, it wasn’t too bad.  I reread the modules that I wanted to mix and run for my Pellham campaign.  I figured out how to connect the Tower of the Heavens to the Brotherhood of Brie.  I developed the powers for the Florist-Madam Fescue and the Emerald Eye.  I worked on the Zentlan map.  Then, things began to slow done.  I had ideas that I wanted work on, but I had no energy to do so.  I had all the symptoms of burnout, but I hadn’t done anything to burn out upon.  I have, this day, dubbed my malady counter burnout.

I didn’t burn out because I had too much of doing something, I burnt out because I didn’t do enough of something.  I was all prepped up to run a game; heck, I was prepped up to run two different games.  “They also serve who stand and wait,” but I waited so long, I ran out of interest in anything related to gaming.  It was only by getting bad news and keeping a promise that I got my game back.

A good friend  __, the assistant manager at my place of employment, has cancer and has been in a drug trial to counter the lesions in his brain.  This Friday past, he was taken off the trial; because the treatment isn’t working for him anymore.  That was the bad news.  I promised Russell Newquist that I would review Ghost of the Frost Giant King.  His request came at a time when my home life and work life were getting out of control; then came the counter burnout.  With __’s news, I really started seeing things in a new light.  I had people who respected me enough to want my opinion of their creativity and my support in promoting it.  About the time my counter burnout went full bore, Joe the Revelator asked me to submit material for StatBonus.com.  I hadn’t done that, either.  I was not happy with where I was, so I decided to do something about it.

I started my review of Ghost of the Frost Giant King.  When I began my review, I was looking for negatives and I was unhappy.  My wife asked me what I would do, if I had been asked to review a Monte Cook title and I realized that I would be looking at the product as a whole and seeing how I could adapt it to my game.  Between that and __’s positive outlook on his upcoming radiation and chemo treatments, I went back, started at the beginning, reread, and reevaluated Ghost of the Frost Giant King.  Looking at the work as a whole and seeing the complexity layered into it, it reignited my gaming desires.  Completing and posting my review, both on my blog and on DriveThruRPG.com, has refueled my game.  I submitted an article for review at StatBonus.com.  I can’t wait to alter Ghost of the Frost Giant King and make use of it in my game.  I am looking forward to  reviewing The Blacksmith and the Ice Elves, a short story written by Morgan Newquist and set in Ghost of the Frost Giant King setting.  I never suspected that not gaming could burn me out, as easily as over playing could.  I am glad that I have friends that look out for me, even when they do not know that they are doing so.

Game On!

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A Review: “Ghost of the Frost Giant King”

Disclaimer: Russell and Morgan Newquiest, two of the authors of this adventure, are friends of mine and the owners of Silver Empire publishing. They provided me with a free, PDF copy of this adventure for me to review.

Ghost of the Frost Giant King is less of an adventure and more of a mini campaign. Using the 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons rules system, Ghost of the Frost Giant King provides a great setting in which the heroes can adventure. Inspired by Nordic myths and stories the continent of Thrúdheim is filled with Monsters and NPCs that allow the Game Master to both evoke the feeling of the Norse Sagas and provide the Players with memorable fights and role playing encounters.

The main narrative of Ghost of the Frost Giant King involves the PCs transporting supplies to a beleaguered frontier town/military fort, but that journey may then lead them on a quest to find artifact out of legend. Scattered throughout the adventure are side quests. It is possible for the GM to run the adventure without them, but I think they really add to the tale and the setting.

There are 44 pages in the PDF version of Ghost of the Frost Giant King. Of those 44 pages, 30 are used for front and back covers, pre-generated PCs and their portraits, NPCs, monster entries, a “Paint-style” player’s handout, three maps, “legal stuff,” and the credits. That leaves 14 pages for the adventure and its attendant art. The Adventure to Support Material Ratio is a bit low for my tastes, but given that Ghost of the Frost Giant King is more of a mini-setting than a straight adventure, it works out well.

I only found two problems with is adventure. The first is the large number of “Read Out Loud” sections. While the “Read Out Loud” sections give the GM needed information, they are often long and wordy and I feel that Players will lose interest while the GM is reading it out. The other problem I have with Ghost of the Frost Giant King is the maps. There are multiple issues with the maps.

There are no tactical maps for use in combat. There is no scale on any of the maps. The only map for the Boss Fight is the map given to the PCs by an NPC (also, this is the only place in the adventure that lists the traps used to defend the boss’ lair). There are no maps for any of the villages or towns used in this adventure. Finally, the continent map doesn’t give the name of any of the cities, towns, or villages shown on the map; nor are any of the rivers, forests or mountains named.

Despite my quibbles, I feel that Ghost of the Frost Giant King is a great module. It gives a GM enough NPCs, settings, monsters, and political intrigue to either run a fairly straight forward adventure or to build a campaign on what is given. With all of this and a superb minor artifact that could spawn a whole slew of story threads all on its own, I rate Ghost of the Frost Giant King a 4 out of 5. It is a great piece of work.