Sunday, October 2, 2022

Massive Session Report: from West to East

       Hello, folks, it is time for a massive update! There were two sessions recently, both played on a weekend. In the first one we had

      Hans Shrek, World's Strongest Halfling and his henchmen

      Ingrid, Fighter and her henchmen

      Thorin, Fighter/Thief and his henchmen

      Starkiller, Cleric/Fighter/Magic-user, and his henchmen

     Graystar, Magic-user, and his henchman

Monday, September 5, 2022

Session Report: War in the Stone Hills!

   The most recent sessions took place in the Stone Hills west of Seaward.

The heroes were:

Carlton - 6th level paladin. The Hero of the Battle of Eagle Valley. Famed as a master of the lance.

Fiona - 4th/4th Fighter/Magic-user. Elf. Known as a tactician and for her keen senses.

The Sparrow - 8th level Thief. Through magic and cunning fights with a two-handed sword. One handed. Senior thief in the Company.

Akira - 7th level monk. The Man with the Eldritch Fists. 

Conrad - 6th/5th Fighter/Cleric. Dwarf. Champion of the Innocent, Defender of the Downtrodden, hammer of Foes.

Henchmen brought the party to a total of 11 members with levels. The Hills are rugged and empty so they brought a dozen mules loaded with provisions and gear, 2 drovers, a cook, and a camp guard to hep the henchmen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Time After Time

   I am currently running about 12 players in my AD&D 1e campaign in roughly 3 three groups.. This means that I must keep STRICT TIME RECORDS as gary mentions.

  But why?

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Common Elements of Epic Adventures: Familiar Faces

   For those that don't know I had a serious health crisis early in the year. I didn't cheat Death, but I did win on the long odds. Three times. So blogging was light.

  Returning to my discussion of Epic Adventures let me address the first element I think they have in common: the characters are neither low nor very high level. 

  This doesn't mean 'start the PCs at 5th level so they can be epic!!'. This means that the PCs have to grow into their own as well as into the campaign. Among the concepts of my gaming philosophy [Psychotronic Gaming] is the ideas that PCs drive action and that status quo is the enemy. Combined with the rest this means that as PCs start, level up, grow, and develop they inevitably change the campaign and grow to be a part of it. Verisimilitude and resource management effectively forces the PCs to have their own individual, unique relationships with multiple NPCs ranging from hirelings and henchmen to mayors and sages. In the end after 2-4 Real World years of gaming the PCs are integrally part of the campaign such that what their actions and fates matter to the campaign as a whole.

  There are no shortcuts to this. This is something that is organic to the "process" of RPG campaigns. Like true inside jokes. in-group jargon, etc. it can only healthily develop and 'set' over time and with familiarity. Just making a mid-level character and slapping them into a contrived huge battle to save the world is going to have the elements of an epic adventure but won't be one.

  Many bad movies have the elements of a good movie: established, well-known actors; famous writers; famous directors; etc.; yet miss the mark and are, well - junk. Do people watch it? Sure. Might it be a cult film? Yes. But that is NOT because it is epic.

  Just like a lot of creative endeavors/art quality and expertise takes lots of time and practice and that includes with individual characters within an RPG campaign. Relationships between PCs and between PCs and NPCs alone take a lot of time! 

  This means the build up to a truly epic adventure is going to take years of Real World time. The good news is, those years will be full of great fun with friends.

Next time: why you can never plan an Epic Adventure.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Back in the Day: Playing The Never Used Rules

   As most everyone who finds this obscure blog knows I started playing OD&D in 1977 and switched to AD&D 1e in 1979 and have been playing 1e ever since. In August of 2022 my 1e campaign, still running, turns 43 years old.

  Online I see a lot of statements that are variations of, 'I am certain that no one ever used [AD&D rule X]', usually met with choruses of approval. So let me tell you the rules I used then and now!

Grappling, Pummeling, and Overbearing:  Always used them. As a matter of fact, overbearing was a critical element of the fight in Eagle Valley. The base numbers are super-simple to pre-calculate and if you understand the rules it is as fast as any other combat.

Encumbrance, Rations, Light Source Duration: Not only have I always used these rules, they are critical to the game!

Maximum Level of Spell Knowable, Maximum Spells Knowable per Level, Spell Components, Chance to Learn, etc.: These rules are very important to make magic-users work right and I have always used them.

Armor Type Adjustments, Weapon Speed, Area Needed by Weapon: Always used them as one of my players pointed out. If used it means more weapons than you think are great weapons.

Maintenance Costs, Training Costs, Training Time, and Modifying Training Time: I have always used them, although I did adjust maintenance and training costs for some classes, like monk.

Psionics: Always used them, although the tiny handful of PCs with psionics sometimes wish they didn't have them.

Reaction, Morale, and Loyalty Checks: Like Grappling, etc., the modifiers are easily pre-calculated and with practice the use of these rules is very fast and smooth.

Race and Sex based limits to Attributes, Classes, and Levels: Again, always used them, still use them with some modifications. For example, very recently a half-elven ranger in Seaward went to 7th level because the character had earned 5 times the normal amount of experience to go from 6th to 7th.

Initiative, Combat Sequence, and Segments: By 1982 I began experimenting with initiative rules and went through at least 5 major variations of initiative by 1988 until I settled on one that is very close to the rules in the book with a few exceptions. So I have played by the book, otherwise, and am now virtually by the book. I have always preferred segments and my players will tell you I 'count segments' as a way to manage and speed up combat.

I probably missed a few, so let me know what other rules you have questions about.

And I was never alone! I have many friends from then and now that used/use these rules!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Psychotronic Gaming: Status Quo is the Enemy

   A key element of Psychotronic Gaming is that change must occur

  There is a tendency for campaign settings to remain static, especially mass-produced settings - the same king is King of Kingdom X; the same Cleric is Theocrat of Y; the same dragon menaces trade along the coast of Z; etc.

  This seems very close to how comic book continuity morphed from a tool to allow better storytelling into a straight-jacket that suffocates innovation. In Marvel Comics the Fantastic Four always got their powers about 17 years ago and in DC Superman made his debut as Superman about 10 years ago - forever.

  If you want your TTRPG campaign to last you CANNOT do this! Change is as critical as keeping strict time records!

  Here is an example from Seaward.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Common Elements of Epic Adventures

   Returning to more frequent blogging after a critical illness, I hope that you remember that I was just starting a series on Epic Adventures before I was taken ill. This is what is often called a 'setup post' - I am discussing what I will be discussing in future articles.

  In reviewing the common elements in the various epic adventures I have played in or run I have identified a few common elements they seem to share. To wit:

1) The player characters are neither new nor high-level. What I mean is it appears that the 'sweet spot' of the most epic adventures involves PCs of 4th to 8th level. Competent but nor overwhelming.

2) Treasure is not a primary motivation. While there is almost always a lot of sweet loot involved after the adventure is over, the motivation for the adventure is never primarily treasure.

3) They involve large numbers of characters and/or NPCs, usually enough combatants to make mass combat a necessary element of play. 

4) The stakes are high. 'Failure = guaranteed TPK' is usually the minimum threshold for an adventure to be epic.

5) The outcome is unpredictable. Even if the PCs do everything they can to stack the deck in their favor no one, including the DM, is sure who will win.

6) They involve NPCs familiar to the players. Not as universal as the others, this seems to make it easier for an adventure to be epic.

  Over the next few weeks I will be blogging nd podcasting about these individual elements.