Friday, March 4, 2011

Jimmy the Hand by Raymond E. Feist and S.M. Stirling

Below I'll be talking about Jimmy the Hand, Legendso f the Riftware Book III. It's not going to include any quotes and is more of a review/rant with a few thoughts on gaming at the end of it, so beware of spoilers if you're not inclined to know more.

The book has a great villain. A noble whose motivation is to save the love of his life, his wife who 'died' during childbirth. There was a visitor to the noble that night though, a powerful wizard, who was able to keep the wife alive in a state between life and death and uses the life force energy of children to keep her in that state between life and death.

While the noble considers himself to have the most noble of intentions, it gets back to the motivation of things. When the players have an idea of what motivates the villains of the game, they may have a greater understanding and appreciation of them. In some instances, they may even be able to provide alternative solutions.

For players, there are a few things to ponder. For example, when Jimmy the Hand meets Coe, its obvious the two are on a different playing level than those around them. In looking at it game wise, they'd be the PCs. To keep things simple, thankfully the author has both of them expalin their motivations to each other quickly and the two become allies. In some instances, with the right GM and the right group, having all sorts of inter party conflict, secrets, alliances, backstabbing and other bits can be entertaining.

In others, when doing dungeon crawls are more casual game play, the players may want to focus on the killing of bad guys and not each other and coming out right up front and in character putting their motivations out there for all to see can work wonders for the moving of the game forward.

In terms of the book itself, its not my favorite of the series. When I read the old Raymond E. Feist books, I'm generally in the mood for what I call popcorn but of a certain flavor. To me, taking Jimmy the Hand out of Kronodor, while going into the details of his 14 year old sex life with various whores, is not getting what Jimmy the Hand is about. Especially when your not doing anything interesting with the character. As the title character, Jimmy doesn't actually DO much except explore Land's End, get sea sick, learn he doesn't ride horses well, and meets a few rubes.

This is something that may be tied into S.M. Stirling's hand. It's not that S.M. Stirling is a bad writer as I've blogged of several of that authors books. It's that when co-writing, there may be a difference of style that is perceptible to the reader.

In terms of multiple GMs running a campaign, in some instances, it just doesn't work. In my experience, I've seen it work best when GMs are running in the same setting and perhaps have some splashes of 'crossover' material. The power levels need to be similiar, the default styles need to be similiar. The default assumptions need to be similiar. For a good example, I look to comics; JLA/Avenger. Sure, the default styles of the core comic companies have similiariest but there are general differences as well but in the greater scheme of the setting, they're not that different. Hawkeye even jokes that the JLA is the Squadron Supreme which considering the Squadron's own origins as homage characters for the JLA, is entertaining.

When thinking of letting another GM run a game you've run, set the boundries at the start of the bit to avoid heartache later on down the road.