Sunday, February 26, 2012

20 Questions Answered!

Brendan over at Untimately posted 20 necessary questions about the rules we play with. I'm a bit late to the party, but I'm happy to oblige (and very happy for a good excuse to post something myself!):

1. Ability scores generation method?
18D6, distribute 3 dice per ability. A rolled 6 gets rerolled and a player may change the new result with an old one.

2. How are death and dying handled?
With zero hp you are unconcious.  With -1 to -3 hp a character looses 1 hp per round and he dies at -10 if not prevented by Con-Check, healing or first aid. If is at at 0 hp or above and damage puts him to -4 hp or less, he is dead. Same goes for the monsters and NPCs. Additionally a player may opt to cheat death one time per level.

3. What about raising the dead?
It's possible. 1000 gp per level and the occasional favour. It helps to believe into the god.

4. How are replacement PCs handled?
Roll a new character and rejoin the session as soon as possible.

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
For fumbles I use the Arduin Tables (for now). Crits do maximum damage and echo applies (not rolling a 12 on the D12 results in fatigue damage now...).

7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
Maybe, but I handle armour a bit differently, so here is a post unwritten...

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
Not if they cooperate in Combat. Area damage and fumbles on the other hand do that for you.

9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
If it's around and angry, it might be able to kill them all. They might not be in a position to return the favour.

10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?
Oh yeah, they exist.

11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
Yes, could happen. Well, happened already, to be honest.

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
I keep an eye on it, but not as closely as I should.

13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in  the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
Happens automatically. Fast and simple.

14. What do I get experience for?
We keep score of the damage the party takes and delivers and multiply it by 10 at the end of the session, then everybody gets his share. Additionaly there are quest related xp and xp for roleplaying (loosely oriented at HackMaster).

15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
Description first, dice rolling after that if necessary.

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
They try, but those guys have a tendency to die away or flee.

17. How do I identify magic items?
Per the spell or for 100 gp by any MU who might be bothered to care.

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
Yeah, you can buy them, but they are very rare and very expensive. Potions are available (500 gp per healing potion).

19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
Yeah, as soon as you have the spells to do so...

20. What about splitting the party?
I like it, the players don't.

The limits of control (Discovering Old School D&D)

Here I go again. Had nothing posted for a very long time, but real live has a tendency to fuck things up and to express the thoughts of my poor German brain in English is harder than I thought. Especially since there is so much great stuff already out there! So the Ranger is out of the woods again, let's see how long he'll stay at the inn to tell his stories...

D&D is a very complex game.

I was DM in many games before I confronted myself with The Rules Cyclopedia for D&D nearly 2 years ago. Being a huge fan of the OSR I decided to make the game my own. I picked some house rules from the community, made some on my own and generally made a fool of myself trying new things. But most of the experience I had with other games seemed insufficient to give me a feeling for the game. Oh, we had tons of fun killing and looting and dungeon crawling, but most of the time I wasn't able to see the big picture. I was only going through the motions and used powerful tropes to keep me aloft. As I stated before, it worked. Sort of.

The biggest problem: how to improvise the game.

Most games set boundaries. That's a good thing, because within these boundaries and in combination with the rules a DM is able to improvise the game. Most of the newer rpgs bring a specific setting or theme with them and/or the rules are designed to fulfil very specific purposes. This is also true for 3e and it's offsprings (well, mostly, I'll get to that). But it's definitly not true for the RC and, arguably, any older edition of D&D. The sheer scope of the game is impressive if not intimidating!

So what's this about?

A Magic User (in the Rules Cyclopedia) needs 4.350.000 xp to reach level 36 and if he got that far, he might as well aim for immortality. As did those who were already gods when he got his first chesthair. I'd guess most people don't play this far, but that's not the point. You have the monsters to challenge PCs or NPCS of such power. They (the monsters and the mighty) shape the world around the players and have done so for thousands of years. They have already earned the xp to get there or are on their way while your players make characters. This is where DIY and improvising gets VERY difficult.

This might be old news, but Gary did it...

I sometimes wondered why most people think D&D is only fun for the first 3/6/10 levels. Now I think the reason is because it's manageable. The aforementioned boundaries are in effect. Any power levels above that are handled as flavourtext. Or by using something published. Or by playing the game for decades (without getting gamers ADD). Nothing wrong with that.

But for me this is the sweet spot I am aiming for. Not only to decide how my campaign setting developed and how those power levels shaped it, but also to see this machine working in full force. This just might be why I wanted to start blogging and where the focus of this blog should be: exploring D&D as someone with no experience in this wonderful game.