Posts Tagged With: 3e

Run you clever boys…

So, via Trollsmyth I made my way to Strange Magic where I am once again convinced that something went seriously, seriously wrong with 3.0+ D&D, including the current 5E with it’s clearly misbegotten CR tables and encounter construction rules…

So, as might be imagined, yes – I used those tables (and might be again for that matter) and nobody complained. I never found there to be a problem with the characters know that there were “things out there” that were more powerful than they were. I should really post an old encounter table or two, simply to explain my style of DMing.

They found out by role-playing – looking for the well-worn sword hilt, or the stance that betrayed an experienced warrior, or a mage with a powerful aura, or the beggar with a couple too-many daggers on their person. Of course I have a game world where “politeness matters” and being seen or known as a dishonorable sort has significant social ramifications.

The game-play benefit of this is actually somewhat paradoxical, as is the whole of the 1E style of encounters. When encounters are built on a budget, it places the DM and the players in an actively adversarial stance towards each other. The DM is specifically matching things to combat the players at whatever level of deadliness that they have chosen. The players know this, and all negative results are either “bad rolls” or “the DM’s fault” because “they made the encounter too hard.” Plus there is the conscious or unconscious expectation that all encounters are “beatable” because they are all constructed using a scale that makes this implicit.

In a random encounter world, the players know that what they meet is a matter of luck. They also know that things “in the wild” are also likely to be in the same boat. In the Gygaxian Naturalism of 1E when you roll “goblins” you don’t meet a goblin, you meet large number of them – because they might be running into a dragon as well and would like to be prepared!

All in all, this also demanded DM’s and players that thrived on more than a diet of pabulum. You could simply have the PC’s encounter a dragon out in the wilderness (I’ve certainly done it), or you could have them run across signs of dragon, or have the dragon merely fly over head and give them the chance to hide. In the city, have the thieves flashing gang sign back and forth, or the mages noting the sigils on the auras of other spellcasters, the fighters can be aware of the local mercenary companies and their devices, or the names of the local duelists and bravos.

Again, this is dependent upon both the DM and the players being willing to role-play. The DM has to do something other than plop opponents down in front of the characters to kill, and the players have to be willing to do something other than killing everything that they interact with. It means that DM’s need to run NPC’s and monsters like something other than Daleks, and the players will have to make like the Doctor and learn how to “run like clever boys” and not simply stand and fight everything to the death because that death could easily be theirs!

I am very glad to see that 5E wants people to do this – but they are going to have a devil of a time weaning people off the CR nonsense that has invaded the game.




Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Modules I’d like to run…

So, at this point I have run the party through two “introductory modules” – Scourge of the Howling Horde and then Keep on the Borderlands and I pretty much set up a clear lead in to Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde. But I’ve been looking at the rest of the stuff sitting on my shelf and deciding what I’d like to run as well – understanding that there is usually some extra adventure in and around linking the modules up in a reasonable manner.

No brainers:

  • The Slaver Modules (A1-A4, though A4 is never a certainty)
  • Ravenloft (I6, and possibly the sequel, House of Gryphon Hill, I10)
  • Castle Amber (X2)
  • In Search of the Unknown (B1)
  • Castle of the Silver Princess (B3)
  • The Giant Modules – though tweaked for my world (G1-G3)
  • The Secret of Bone Hill (L1) and Assassins Knot (L2)
  • Tomb of Horrors (S1) and Return to the Tomb of Horrors (the Boxed set)
  • White Plume Mountain (S2)
  • Lost Caverns of Tsojancth (S4)
  • Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (WG4)
  • The Ruins of Undermountain(Both I & II)
  • The Ruins of Myth Drannor
  • The Ghost Tower of Inverness (C2)

If I can figure out how to:

  • The Desert of Desolation series (I3-15)
  • Isle of Dread (X1)
  • Hidden Shrine of Tomoachan (C1)
  • The Witchblade Trilogy (by Privateer Press)
  • Death’s Reach (E1 for 4E)
  • Keep on the Shadowfell (H1 for 4E)
  • Hellgate Keep
  • The Wyrmskull Throne

I also have a pile of Kenzer and Company modules that look like they’d be fun, and I keep eyeballing the Pathfinder modules as well because they look like they could be mined for a great fun also. I kind of make a habit of picking modules for the cheap if I find them at used bookstores or the like – rarely do I not findsomethinguseful in them… Similarly I have a handful of the “official” 3E and 3.5E monules that clearly look like they’d be a gas to play – even if they are balanced a bit funky at times.

Now, I might be able to pull a couple of these off via members of the group having to split off and “solo adventure” (which may in fact mean that the group actually gets to create new characters to go and help the “solo” adventurer in their quest) – Frater Gregor is a rather excellent example of this given that he’s a disgraced paladin at the moment. He’s certainly going to need to go and do something to regain his status – and something like B3 would be perfect. Similarly, the rogues and the mages might decide that plundering the Tomb of Horrors would be worth the effort while the Society of Light folks decide that this is not even worth discussing.

That is actually the major problem that is developing for the party, the group has two real power groups that have significantly different goals in life – the very good Society of Light folks and the rather mercenary Rogues. Everybody still gets along, but there has been the odd bit of tension here and there – and Frater Nikolai is certainly very, very focused on “doing good”. He’s also a noble, so the whole idea of “making money” is a bit beneath him in many ways, he doesn’t begrudge the others that desire (it’s only natural of course) but his concerns aren’t quite so tawdry…



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“Yes, and…” instead of “No, but…”

So, when I did my House Rules when starting up with the Barrow Downs game I decided that I needed to do something with Non-Weapon Proficiences (aka Skills) – I think I made a mistake. Now I essentially liked how Oriental Adventures introduced NWP’s into the game. It really made sense given the setting, and I even looked at the additions from the Survival Guides with a certain level of good humor.

These days, and even then, it was increasingly hard to think of a game without skills of some sort – I was used to games that were heavily skill-focused (Traveller, Cyberpunk 2020 for example) and that has certainly been the increasing trend of the industry. It is certainly the direction that 3E went in…

So I went in and tweaked the heck out of the NWP lists from the existing 1E books and a couple of Dragon articles and came up with a decent list that pretty much covered all the bases. Even decided to use the multiple d6 method for doing Skill and Stat checks that someone on the Internet suggested – I honestly can’t remember who it was.

But in any case I’ve now been kind of playing with that for a couple of months now and I’m not liking it. How many years did I play AD&D with no such system in place? There really isn’t any need, I’m certainly not really using it now save in vague and awkward ways when there is some sort of weird question as to what a character should be able to do but doesn’t have the NWP for it. And there are never enough NWP’s to start off with and you never get enough fast enough.

I used to base what a character would do on a four things – First, whatever their class is. Second, whatever Secondary Skill they rolled up. Then, what social class they were, and finally whatever culture/race they were. If we look at those four (or five if you count race separately) things then you will likely have a pretty unique set of things a character can do – plus adding in whatever sort of idiosyncratic thing a player might want their character to be interested in.

And just giving characters new skills or abilities was always a nice way to reward them with something other than a +X Doo-Hickie.

Other folks have talked about how the progression of D&D has been to protect players from bad DM’s by the institution and codification of rules to cover all of the things that used to be under the aegis of the DM. The more I’ve looked at various rule sets (including things like LOTFP: WFRP – of which I now own the Grindhouse Edition and am very happy with) with both a more critical and a more reflective eye, the more I think that is correct.

Here’s the deal, I am pretty confident in saying that I am not a bad GM. At my best, I had a regular gaming group of about ten people, at my worst I have always been able to muster two or three up, and even now I have seven people showing up to my house to play and two people Skyping in – and I’m pretty confident that if I wanted a couple more players I could get them with a minimum of effort.

So why am I trying to protect my players? What am I trying to protect them from? Me?

That’s nonsense. Why run a game that cramps my style and cramps the style of my players?

There are so many things that are actually broken about the OD&D and AD&D systems (Encumbrance anyone? or Initiative? Hell, even Surprise?) that I am kind of embarrassed that I even spent the energy on this. It is certainly a viable way to work a game system – it’s not a very D&D way to run a game system. Old School was “Yes, and” – the presumption was that unless it was something that was specific to another class you had a chance to do it, “Yes, and let’s see how well you do” instead of the “No, but” version of later editions. In these rules the assumption was that if it wasn’t written on your character sheet the answer was “No, but you can learn how at a later level”.

I don’t like playing “No, but” – I like my AD&D games to be heroic and four-colour (heck, I like most of my games to be like that) and “No, but” doesn’t really allow that until high levels (if ever). I suppose that this is what 4E was designed to address from what I can glean looking it over – but it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with D&D other than the name.

So, I guess I’m dropping the idea of anything more than Secondary Skills – and that’s pretty much a Middle and Lower Class thing. Nobles get all sorts of education, they don’t a Secondary Skill as well…


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Reconstructionism v. Romanticism

This is how I think about part of the “Simulationist” debate that rears it’s head now-and-again through the OSR blogosphere…

On the one hand you have Reconstructionism (stolen from Neo-Pagan circles), where the goal is try to simulate and reconstruct, as closely as possible, the “real world” – on an extrapolated real world based on “real principles” and a minimum of handwavium. So, in game terms, this means that games like Harn are very high on the scale. Working your way down from there, in roughly descending adherence to the value of “real world simulation”, you have games like Traveller 2300 then Traveller, Delta Green then Call of cthulhu, Cyberpunk 2020, and Pendragon. In miniatures games this would be the catalog from Ground Zero Games (Dirtside, Star Grunt, Full Thrust). In novels, you could see Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels as being relatively Reconstructionist rather than Romantic, as is George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones novels. The ERB’s John Carter of Mars novels have a strong Reconstructionist tone to them whereas his Tarzan novels are a bit less so and probably swerve into Romanticism – assuming that John Carter isn’t already there.

On the other side of the spectrum, you have Romanticism, where the goal is to create or evoke a fantastic existence rather than simulate reality. In increasing Romanticism in terms of D&D, we have OD&D and 2E (2E did it very badly IMO), then BXCMI and 1E (still relatively low on the scale), then 3E and 3.5, and then 4E at the further end of the scale. But in other games, in ascending order of Romanticism, we have… GURPS or Victoriana, Runequest, Stormbringer/Elric, Rolemaster, Talislanta, and then perhaps something like Exalted. In miniatures games this is the world of Games Workshop. In novels this would be Storm Constantine’s Wreathu novels and probably anything by Ed Greenwood or David Eddings. Discworld is very Romantic…

Neither is better or worse than the other, they’re just different. It’s kind of interesting to note that most of the games I play are pretty Reconstructionist in nature. My “Pulp Cuthulhu” game swings over to Romantic nature because of the house rules – and my 1E game similarly spikes up the Romanticism because of the make-up of the multiverse. So, where a game sits is a combination of the game engine and design, but also the individual game world/campaign.


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Barrow Downs – Session #2

So, last weekend we wrapped up the first adventure and module of the campaign, Scourge of the Howling Horde, the 3E introductory module that I adapted for the game. My friends SS (Smor) and C (Jezebel) were back up for the holiday weekend and while my son MR (Tier) was visiting his mother we decided to finish the adventure off anyways since I wanted a bit more practice before starting the campaign”formally” with the regular gaming group.

They broke it.

Ok, they didn’t exactly break it – certainly my House Rules make things a fair amount more survivable – but they managed to come up with an entirely reasonable idea that is never mentioned as a potential method of players “solving” the module. Namely, after sneaking into the guard room (essentially the first encounter area past the front gate) they set up a redoubt, blew a horn and essentially let the goblins come to them rather than trying to sneak around and encounter things piecemeal.


Jezebel was posted with her longbow (specialized) behind the table opposite the open door. Frater Nikolai and Smor stood on either side of the doorway with drawn weapons ready to attack creatures as they came through, and Illya was a “flying guard” waiting out of sight to engage anything that survived all of that – or run out and act as bait with his superior movement if needed. They sent the Mikus and Astrin (who had already done their jobs by taking out all of the guards at the front gate and in the guard room) to watch the front gate, along with Brother Kyril to keep him out of trouble, and make sure nothing snuck up on the group – the plan being that if anything attacked from that end, they could immediately fall back and hole up in the guard room with the others (supported by the Brother Kyril the Healer).

So the party took the narrow, twisty passages and used them to their advantage – the goblins would be forced to come down a short tunnel essentially one at a time, and the hope was that the goblins would just come running without much thought and be slaughtered as easily as they were the last time.

That isn’t quite what happened.

First, there were Redcaps here (e.g. Hobgoblins, the goblin elite) and they are way smarter (or at least battle-wise) than your average goblin. The first guy who responded (a subchief) took one look at a half-elf with a longbow at the far end of the corridor in what was supposed to be a guard room and called for help, essentially rousing the entire place (which, in truth, wasn’t that much in the way of goblins anyways). Now the party realized that the initial part of the plan had failed somewhat but – and here is the important point – they stuck with the plan.

It was a solid plan, they had great cover, good position, and while it might get kind of dicey they were certainly in a better place than anywhere else they might be (like running away through the hills while the goblins chased them). So after awhile (several rounds), and some maneuvering by the goblins, they send four normal goblins charging down corridor and into the room. Two are essentially cut down by Smor and Frater Nikolai as they run through the door after a short exchange of blows, and then the next two manage to burst into the room. As Illya moves to engage them, Smor throws his axes at them (missing), Jezebel stays behind the table, and a couple of Redcaps take up position at the far end of the narrow corridor (all of 40′ away from her and 30′ away from the door and the waiting barbarian and cleric) and they start lobbing arrows at each other – and the goblin shaman starts casting a spell which ends up going off in the following round (the goblins consistently rolled horrible initiative).

The following round there is another flurry of arrows, the two goblins in the room don’t have a chance to do much, Smor and Frater Nikolai stay where they are at trusting Illya to do his thing (and afraid of a rush from the Redcaps which are way tougher than regular goblins), and then the Sleep spell the shaman has cast goes off. Now I interpret this as such, Smor is a 1+ HD creature, Illya is a 2+ HD creature (2 HD as a Monk), Jezabel is a 2+ HD creature (2 HD for Ranger), and Frater Nikolai (who has been doing most of the damage to the goblins so far rather than the barbarian) is a 1+ HD creature – plus there are the two goblins running around. The goblin shaman rolls like crap – and drops his own two goblins in there, plus Frater Nikolai (not enough rolled to take down Smor as well, I said it was crappy).

This sparked a bit of heroics – Snor watches the cleric and the two goblins drop and assumes it is magic and immediately charges the redcaps with their shortbows at the end of the corridor. Illya runs over to Frater Nikolai to check on him and starts trying to wake him up, while Jezebel runs out and starts killing the two sleeping goblins. The next couple of rounds have Smor swinging at goblins with his war axe in a little tint corridor and missing, the goblins swing at him and missing, the shaman rolling horrible initiative and starting to cast a spell at Smor who sees it starting to happen and retreats back down the corridor – where Illya has managed to wake Frater Nikolai and Jezebel has killed the two goblins and gotten back behind the table.

Meanwhile, back at the front gate…

Ok, so the big scary monster for the “end of the module” has been roused because of the alarm, snuck out of it’s lair and is finally managed to creep it’s way to the front gate. In the module it’s a Very Young Black Dragon – I don’t have dragons like that, but I do have “Swamp Drakes” (all the same fun, minus the wings) and hit point and hit dices wise it looks like it should be a Sub-Adult (18HP). More than old enough to Detect the three people with Hide in Shadows abilities who are trying to hide (only one of which who succeeded, but they’re all first level…) so she pokes her head down into the entry crevasse and we roll for Surprise – nobody is “surprised” but damn they sure are terrified!

That is one of those great DM moments, where the reveal of the big monster occurs and there is a collective OMFG from the entire table! The irony that it was going to encounter the weakest warriors in, plus the primary healer of, the group was not lost on the players…

In any case, Mikus and Brother Kyril go before the Swamp Drake – Mikus throws a couple throwing knives and actually manages to score a hit, rolling decent damage, Brother Kyril hopes he survives this, the Swamp Drake breathes and on a random chance targets Brother Kyril instead of Astrin – this was probably a mistake on it’s part, but it’s a reasonable choice based on what it knows. Mikus and Brother Kyril both blow their saves and go down – Brother Kyril immediately starting to heal both from his “Last Gasp” (as a Healer) and his psionic cell adjustment (which will drain him down to 0 Psi Strength trying to heal him if need be) and then Astrin unloads a full salvo of five rounds from her Darter at it, scoring another four hits (short range is quite nice with Darters). The Swamp Drake survives this round and turns to look at Astrin…

Who wins initiative and unloads another five rounds into it – hitting with two, and doing the final 5 HP of damage needed to kill it. The swamp drake slides to the ground with an audible thump – whereupon Astrin pulls out a big dagger and works at making sure it’s dead. Brother Kyril manages to get to Mikus before he expires, and Mikus eventually gets up and makes a point of kicking the crap out of the dead drake – doing his bit to make sure is dead as well.

Back to guardroom…

At this point there is a Mexican Standoff. The party doesn’t want to rush the Redcaps, and the Redcaps have run out of cannon-fodder goblins to send in (The party killed like 11 goblins the previous day saving the wagons, and they’ve now killed another ten here – two at the gate, four in the guardroom, and the four that were sent in). The module notes that the goblin shaman is willing to parley, and really wants to get rid of the Swamp Drake that has set up shop and is terrorizing the goblins into attacking the nearby townspeople and local travel at a far greater and faster rate than they ever would otherwise (thus staying below the radar and not having, well, groups of adventurers coming through and trying their best to slaughter all of them) so after a couple of rounds, with visions of Pirates of the Carribbean running through my head, “Parley..?” comes floating down the corridor to the group along with the one wounded Redcap kicked back into view waving a vaguely white-ish piece of cloth (all the while trying to get back out of sight of the half-elf with the bow unsuccessfully as they keep pushing him back into view)

After a short discussion in which the barbarian just wants to keep killing greenskins, Frater Nikolai agrees and the Shaman walks out (pushing the wounded Redcap with the “flag”) in front of him. A short negotiation occurs, in which I evidently roleplay the shaman brilliantly, because I speak with such a thick and incoherent accent that all the *players* can initially decipher is “drake” “kill” and “peace” after my somewhat rambling explanation of what is going on and what the goblins want. After some more negotiation, which the barbarian almost blows by starting to wander off and “investigate” before he’s reined back in, the party agrees to kill the drake in exchange for all of it’s treasure and a promise that the goblins will stop attacking the village (which is what they were hired to insure).

The group sends Illya out to get the rest of the party – and there is much amusing banter as he discovers them sitting around the corpse of the Swamp Drake, resting post-combat and healing. The goblins, amazed but happy, keep up their end of the bargain, the party spends a day or so packing up the drake’s hoard, and they return to town with much fanfare.

I considered the module broken for a couple of reasons – one, the way it was organized made just this sort of thing possible. The goblins really had no back door, and the drake was really pretty wimpy (possibly wimpier than it would have been in 3E, but I didn’t want to totally out-class the group). Two, the group managed to totally avoid any of the trick/trap encounters and the ensuing whittling down of the groups capabilities (1E is all about resource management…)

Now, on the other hand, by doing things the way they did they also missed out on essentially all of the magical items and a useful non-mangical/non-cash items. These were either in the trick-trap areas, or they were being carried and used by the important Redcaps or the Shaman. So while party made some money, they only walked out with an unknown magic ring and an unknown magic cloak, plus about 225sp (silver standard, a merc makes about 30sp a month here and a broad sword costs about the same). So while it was lucrative, it could have been much, much more rewarding.

I decided to go back to my old way of doing XP, which is a combination of regular AD&D XP rewards for killing creatures, plus the Palladium RPG chart for good ideas, role-playing, and useful actions. This tends to make the first couple of levels go pretty quick for groups that are interesting in any type of role-playing or planning (which this one was). That said, Frater Nikolai jumped to 3rd level, Illya to 2nd level, Mikus to 3rd level, and Astrin to 2/2/2 level. Brother Kyril didn’t do much talking or doing, so he’s plugging along at 1st, and Tier is still at 2/1 level from the pre-game stuff that we have done. Steve and Cami aren’t going to be regular players, so I let them bump up to 2nd level – this would have been close anyways for Smor (he really did some key things and Steve was instrumental in planning the assault) but Jezebel got a real break, she was really about half-way through her levels. But I figure the next time they come up and play, the rest of the group will be either far past them and the timeline will be such that it is not unreasonable to assume that they’d managed to advance that bit. This also let both of them feel like they accomplished something. All-in-all, everyone enjoyed themselves a great deal, and that is what was important.

But all of that advancement has had me thinking of level training. Now the costs in the DMG are absolutely crazy (1500xLVLx1to4!?!?!?!) and I know that I had people go up levels relatively easily. But I’m torn on the idea of training costs… I think I had Fighters and Thieves train at the “attack matrix breaks” (3rd, etc. for Fighters, and 5th, etc, for Thieves), and then had Clerics and Mages train when they gained new spell levels – but I’ll be damned if I can remember what I charged for it. Quite honestly, in the latter stages of AD&D in my campaign the player-characters tended to be working for other people or organizations and I’m sort of thinking that training costs were rolled into the rewards for doing their jobs.

That might make for a nice intro into the next game – Frater Nikolai may have been sent off to help some area as a way of paying for his last bit of training…



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But about those Thieves…

I have to say that one of the things I liked about 2E was the rules for Thieves that allowed them to allocate points for thier abilities. That is an great example of giving players a quite reasonable ability to focus more on some abilities and less on others, as they choose, and as fits their conception of the character.

But “Read Languages”? That never made sense to me at all. It always seemed to be the odd ability out. I was reading on some OSR blog someplace that they just gave that ability to Magic-Users and the utter reasonable logic of that is something that I wish I had thought of. I’ll probably do that in my upcoming campaign.

I was always of mixed minds regarding the Thief-Acrobat, on the one hand it was very, very cool. On the other hand, it never made any sense to me or anyone else I played with that it was something you “converted to” (remember this is pre-Prestige classes!). This made even less sense when you looked at the progression table of the special abilities and saw that they had basically the same number of levels as the abilities of the basic Thief class. I, and expect others, always sort of suspected that it was *supposed* to be it’s own character class but nobody could (for some reason) figure out how to make the mix of basic Thief abilities work with the Thief-Acrobat abilities in an organic fashion. It strikes me that the point-allocation system is the way to make that work, if I can figure out a “points = X” for the non-percentage based abilities like Pole-Vaulting, etc.

I also always regret that the Montebank class never saw light – sort of. I think in some ways that is what the 2E Bard was. Which is really too bad, because it was the nerfing of the Bard that really turned me off of 2E (that plus the Drizzting of the Ranger, and the switch from Demon and Devil to Fiends and whatnot). I know I had my own version of the Mountebank that I worked up years ago, but I have no idea if I still have it squirreled away. I may have to re-create it. It was sort of a combination of Thief and Alchemist or Hedge Wizard, and while I still like those essential elements I think I’d simplify it a bit now from what I can recall I had done. It was too fiddly with more spells and less abilities, and now I’d do it with more abilities and less or no spells – probably just cantrips actually.

We really did see Backstab in a very different light. Again, we used “real world knowledge” to extrapolate how this ability worked. And we decided that Backstab worked because Thieves used their knowledge of anatomy to strike to vital areas along with nasty little tricks like twisting blades, etc. that no honorable warrior would use. As a result, what was important was two things: Surprise (rather than a “rear attack”, in order to get past the instinctive defences that anyone uses to protect their vitals, and a knowledge of the anatomy of the creature in question. So while everyone started out with the basic knowledge of the common demihuman and humanoid races, anything else required vivisection and study. So it both broadened out the Thief’s ability (only needing a surprise attack with any weapon, melee or missile) but at the same time limiting it (nobody was Backstabbing dragons or Mind Flayers without doing it the hard way the first time). This lead to a couple of great mini-adventures when we’d stumble across something in the middle-of-nowhere and kill it, then all the thieves would insist on sticking around for a couple of days to study it before it rotted – and then the party was a target sitting on top of a rotting body, at a battle site, and all the locals would start coming around to see what was up. I can’t for the life of me remember if we let Thieves Backstab undead. I can’t remember that we couldn’t, but logic sort of suggests that that would be one of the “benefits” of being undead (not having any vital organs obviously). As I stretch my mind back I think it was allowed, just on the idea that corporeal undead could be Backstabbed because the physical form could be damaged badly in some way as to make them less effective or otherwise just disrupted badly.

But in general? Thieves were cool and always a popular class – I don’t see that changing.



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RPGs and TT Gaming

That’s “Role-Playing Game” and “Table Top” in case you were wondering…

I’ve been a big gamer for years, 32 or so actually, and I’ve started this blog to talk about that – but it is a bit in media res so just read along and you’ll figure things out as I do…

The Victoriana game is still going strong; everybody is enjoying themselves and I’ve kind of worked out the bugs I see in the conceptual world that the canon setting posits. So, instead of dwarves and not-elves and whatnot constantly coexisting with humanity, I’ve changed the history to say that post 30-Years War, Faerie started to colonize the largely depopulated Europe and that the supernatural races have always existed in and around the corners of the world. Makes for a slightly different feel of the game – plus I’ve restored certain events in history (such as the US Civil War) and come up with explanations for why the Crimean War still seems to be ongoing.

The really big news in RPG-land here at the homestead is that I’ve started exploring 1E again – 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  I stopped playing (either as DM or player) AD&D some time before my son (who is now a teenager) was born.  I think I basically stopped DMing it around the time of my first marriage and stopped playing at some point in the following 3-4 years.

The thought experiment at the moment is to see how I can frame my campaign world in 1E terms without resorting to the Frankenstein’s monster of official rules and house rules my campaign had become by time I stopped playing AD&D.

There are certainly a handful of house rules to be used, and that was the beauty of 1E – the system was loose enough to allow that and Dragon magazine certainly had a plenty of extra options to allow it.

But instead of adding in extra spell-casting rules from a half-a-dozen extra systems (to my recollection, I was using Rolesmaster, CoC, Runequest, and PRPG in addition to the basic system of AD&D rulebooks), I’m looking at doing things simply with extra character classes from that era of Dragon and White Dwarf (and elsewhere, if deemed valuable). I’m rejecting the abomination that was 2E (I hate “kits”), let alone the significant change that was 3E or 3.5E.

So, there’s a chance that I’ll be using the space here to talk about some of this process as I try to piece together what worked from 15+ years ago and rebuild a new OD&D campaign still set in my long-running campaign setting. At this point, we just passed the 32-year mark for me playing RPGs, so that puts my fantasy setting at 25+ years, with several multi-year sandbox campaigns set within it.

Take care!


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