Friday, November 16, 2012

Pre Generated Characters or WHYYY?

I was looking around my area for D&D games and came upon this description for one:

A thousand years ago, a thousand survivors of a holy war between the Believers; a group of devout warriors; and the Renouncers; an army following The Dragon Generals; traveled to an island surrounded by mountains and sealed off the only pass to or from the island. Over the thousand years of isolation all but a select few have forgotten the old ways and have also forsaken the gods. Now only one Believer remains; Mordeci, taught by his father to follow the path of the warrior and protect the hidden temple that contains their greatest enemy, the last Dragon General; Chernobog.
10 Years ago, a group of children from the island unleashed Chernobog and he has rampaged unchecked since. Too young to understand what they had done or to do anything about it, Mordeci called upon the gods for aid and they answered; the children fell into a deep slumber where they were magically aged into the adults they would have been and now, 10 years later, the 8 children responsible and Mordeci as the final Believer must go forth into the world and stop Chernobog.

I currently have 6 of the 9 players, I need three more to play the characters Liam, Sara, and Syd. A link to the site is below so you can check out the characters.

I think I shared it with about three friends before I realized that I had to know more, so I sent him a message:

Me: This is remarkably rigid for a roleplaying game, especially D&D. That's not a dig on your style, I'd love to know more about your technique and why you want to run this way. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Guy: Hey Danny, the reason is because I like large groups, it makes it more fun for me personally and as a DM, but unfortunately it also causes some problems when I have 8 people with wildly outlandish characters and it causes some backup in character creation as well as other things. So, in order to bring some much needed order to the chaos and be able to work my story around the characters individually, it is easier if I already have well-established characters who all have abilities I know about and can anticipate as a DM. It's also nice for bringing in people who have lives or who have never played before because it takes much of the out-of-game decisions about character stories and creation out of the picture so people can basically just show up and play as well as the ability to switch out players if something comes up and someone can't play anymore without having to work characters in and out.

The end result of this story is that I'm now running a dungeon crawl-centric game for some local tabletop players in my area. I hope they can manage to find some time in their busy lives to come up with names for their characters!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Great Tables, Mediocre Module

I love modules. I've rarely seen a module that didn't have something I could purloin for my own games, even if I usually don't feel like running the entire thing. Generally speaking, TSR modules became something I couldn't even run sometime in the 80s, around the same time they stopped being a map, a key and an explanation of various motivations of the involved parties.


One module that I always assumed I'd love is Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but in practice, it just holds very little appeal for me! Walk down crazy twisting corridors that are fairly linear in actuality? Thick mist that prevents you from seeing anything interesting? A huge chart showing how many spells don't work as you're used to them working(generally making the most interesting spells unable to function of course)

All in all, it's not for me, but it has some random tables that I completely love, especially the creepy regeneration one.

So here you go, my own version of the Creepy Regeneration Table, most likely to be used in my B/X games as the standard way the spell works:

Unpredictable Regeneration (d8)

1.  Scaled reptilian appendage
2.  Limb/Paw of an animal (1-2: wolf 3-4: horse 5-6: bear)
3.  Gelatinous pseudopod (1-3: ochre slime 4-6: green slime)
4.  Chitinous insectoid appendage
5.  Feathery bird wing or scaly, anisodactyl bird leg
6.  Versatile tentacle (1-3: slimy 4-6: clean and smooth)
7.  Normal for the subject's race (1-3: same gender 4-6: different gender) 
8.  Normal for the subject's race (1-3: same gender 4-6: different gender)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The New New Dungeon!

I picked up a copy of the Dungeon! boardgame that Wizards just released and played with a few friends. It was great to get a new copy, because I threw away my copy of New Dungeon! during my last move, since it was missing too many pieces(foolish in retrospect, the board would have been worth keeping if nothing else!)

I'm enjoying the new release a lot and I feel like it captures the original pretty well. I'm particularly glad that there's no optional player ambush rules, because those used to just lead to hurt feelings more than anything else. My only problem is the new Wizard mechanic for relearning spells. It's a lot more friendly than the original 1975 game's "Wizards start with 10 spells, and when they're done, that's that." In the new game, wizards start with 1d6 + 6 spells and they can relearn one per entire turn spent at the starting staircase. That means you have to get to the staircase on one turn, then take an entire turn of "spell memorization."

This might not seem harsh in comparison to the original game, but as someone who grew up with New Dungeon! where you start with 6 spells and you regain all 6 the moment you reach the staircase, it seems a bit rough. Our first game ran long and it still seemed like the wizard was having difficulty against me playing the rogue (the new name for elf, actually a halfling on the card) and another friend playing the fighter. We both hit our required treasure totals around the same time and the fighter made it back to the stairs first. In the next game I played, we used the New Dungeon! rules for the wizard, and another footrace back to the stairs saw me as the victor over the wizard(a narrow victory!)

In either case, I prefer games to be fun, so I figure we'll just tell people playing wizards about both versions and see which one they want. It'd be interesting to see a game where two wizards use different styles. More up-front spells or faster memorization make for very different playstyles, and in any case, I'm delighted to see this game on shelves once more. I might even have to make some new cards on my computer to add to the game if it becomes as popular as I hope amongst my friends.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Catch Up Time!

To bring everyone up to speed, Sweetgrove was a roaring success. Keeping up with it has kept me busier than I would have expected, even though much of it has been rehashing old modules I own. In the past 6 months the following things have happened:

  • The Caves of Chaos were poked into and declared "Not worth the effort" by no less than 10 different characters. 
  • A magic crown was excavated from the Tomb of Demara, an ancient king. 
  • A corrupted Druid was cured of a terrible curse in the western woods. 
  • In the southern swamp, the Black Knight held a tournament of chivalry. The quixotic Dame Varnell was the victor. 
  • An eternal winter has come and gone from Sweetgrove, the Winter King has been defeated and his castle looted by thieves. The Adventuring Guild gained a little more respect from the other groups in town. 
  • The Iron Ring slaver organization attempted to establish their trade in Sweetgrove. They were ousted rather quickly by a man named Fletcher. 
  • Mysterious nightmares plagued Sweetgrove. While a stalwart group investigated, they discovered an "undercity" full of mesoamerican-style architecture and at least one tomb under Sweetgrove. 
  • The wizard Kaine was driven mad by a magic crown sold to him by adventurers and fled the town. 
  • A witch(thank you, Strange Magic) decided to purchase the old abandoned shop behind the Inn which happens to contain an Undercity entrance. She sells brewed potions there. 
  • Far to the west of Sweetgrove, a ship went on a relaxing journey by sea when suddenly it was struck by a freakish storm. Everyone aboard was killed except a handful of rough-and-tumble sorts who found themselves washed ashore on the mysterious Isle of Dread. They went their separate ways after the events on the Isle, agreeing not to discuss what happened with anyone. Afterwards, a tsunami struck the western coast. 
  • The Iron Ring returned with an army and joined forces to the Black Knight. Sweetgrove was conquered for a time, but the Watch Guard Captain and Adventuring Guild joined forces to slay the Iron Ring Commander. The ensuing hero-worship has caused Fletcher to go into hiding.
  • Eerie mists coming from the swamp and a rise in 'accidents' have led to the populace believing themselves to be cursed. A small band of guild members hired by Sethel traveled to a Tomb of an ancient Hero and were successful in appeasing his spirit so the curse would be lifted. 

I'm sure that's not everything, because there were plenty of little one-shot trips into tombs, caves, temples, and keeps with characters and players that were never seen again(for one reason or another.) Now that we're reaching the seventh month since I started this project in full-swing, I think it's time to design a second settlement. I'm thinking of a city, larger than Sweetgrove, that can only be reached by traveling west, through the mountain passes and valleys that are known to hold tribes of giants. Maybe Fletcher can be lured out of hiding to lead a group Against the Giants!