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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 63 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [D&D 1e] : The Nostalgia Of It All  (Read 829 times)
charles ferguson
Member

Posts: 74


« on: March 13, 2009, 02:28:32 AM »

Disclaimer: I don't really have a specific question or problem. Maybe one will emerge? Thing is I've been hanging out at the Forge for nearly 10 years and 99.9% of that time I've lurked. One reason is that when I have thought of posting my experiences I can never think of a specific problem that I want resolved, so I don't post. But I wanted to share this. I apologise if it's not appropriate for this forum, Ron -- let me know.

Last Wed night was my second session with a new group. We got together via nearbygamers. The idea was to start with an an oldskool dungeoncrawl and then see where things went. I was pretty geed up over it. I've kind of been pining for something along those lines for years. I love the simplicity of the old 1e blue book so I was looking forward.

First up was a half hour meetup: myself, Jules (the GM-guy, who'd instigated the meetup and the venue), James, and Ashok. Jules and Ashok know each other, the rest of us not. All guys, I'd guess early 30's to early 40s (that's me).

The first night's game there were 3 of us (Jules, Ashok & me) and then last time 2 more, James & a new guy, Chris (who couldn't make the meetup).

The venue is actually pretty cool. It's a place called the Royal Australian Automobile Club in Circular Quay, which is the beating heart of Sydney's downtown tourist borough. Circular Quay is on Sydney Harbour, with the Harbour Bridge in one direction and the Opera House a few minutes away in the other. The club itself is kind of tucked away from all that--like, you'd never find it unless someone showed you where it is. It's a few stories high; there's hotel accommodation for club members, a bar area with big high ceilings, and none of the guests younger than 50 (and not many that young from what I've seen). We play in the gaming room. This is carpeted, with Rider Haggard style leather-cushioned armchairs, a billiard table, and some poker machines in the corner [?]. THey've piped in Carmen and Pavarotti over the speakers so far.

I like everyone there so far. I've had a really good time hanging out with other gamer geeks.

And the gaming? Well, I really got into it for the first half of the first session char gen, establishing the setting (such as it was). Turns out the GM has the blue book in PDF, but does rules lookups from has some kind of laptop-based rules compendium from 1e up to 2e or maybe 3e. So the rules are kind of a mix, and not always the same, since he's not familiar with 1e and hasn't GMd for a while (a long while I think). This sounds like it could be a problem but I actually don't think it was. We all agreed beforehand we wanted thing fast and loose, and had no problem with on-the-spot rulings that moved things along.

Then we got to the dungeon. (We're playing "In search of the Unknown", which none of us have played before). That's when it started to drag for me. I guess the overt cause was the god-awful amount of rolling to see how often nothing happens: roll to detect traps, secret & sliding doors (mostly you don't find anything), roll for initiative when you do find something, roll to see if you miss the monster (usually you do), the GM rolls to see if it misses you (usually it does) -- for every one of it's attacks (first up was a carrion crawler). On top of that, my character, a thief, has only 3 hp (which we fudged: originally I rolled a 1). So on the lowest likely dmg roll (d4) there's a 50% chance my character dies. I found it hard to invest in may character or what we were doing too seriously knowing that.

So after the first session I put together a hack to address that stuff. I emailed it to Jules, the GM. That was kind of a risk because I didn't know how he'd take it. I thought OK, since he's a mellow laid back guy, but we don't know one another. He was cool with it, asked me to email the other 2 guys we were expecting, which I did. He also asked if I was happy to run a session or two with it (I was). We'd talked about swapping out the GM role at our meetup.

The second night was just more of the same from the time before. I didn't mention the hack up front, but Jules did and before I left he asked again if I'd like to run it in the near future (after the current dungeon's done I guess, which hopefully will be 1 or 2 more nights). I said sure, maybe a one-shot. Jules is planning a CoC game next: James is a big CoC fan (he's a Brit, I think he missed D&D entirely when he was gaming). I've only ever played (& only ever wanted to play) fantasy, but I'm keen to expand my gaming palate, so I'm looking forward. I like HPL (who doesn't love tentacles?) plus I like what I've seen of the BRP core rules. So cool.

Thing is, on the way home from the second game I realized I didn't (I mean, *really* didn't) want to run another dungeon. I'm kind of proud of the hack I put together because I think it addresses the things I set out to address while still allowing play of out-of-the-box modules and the blue book rules (with the large caveat that it's seen no playtesting, of course).

So I've decided I'm going to buy 3:16 and give that a one-shot.

I'm excited about that.


cheers, charles
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James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 642


« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2009, 05:20:50 PM »

Quote
And the gaming? Well, I really got into it for the first half of the first session char gen, establishing the setting (such as it was). Turns out the GM has the blue book in PDF

Charles, when you're talking about the Blue Book, are you referring to the Holmes version of the Basic D&D Rules?  To be a total jackass pedant, that's technically not AD&D, but for many people it's one of the favorite editions of D&D.  Our group's been playing a slightly later version of those rules, and having a total blast.

That said, I'm sad to hear the game isn't as much fun for you! 

Quote
We're playing "In search of the Unknown", which none of us have played before.

This is widely regarded as one of the best D&D modules ever made.  (I find it very hard to evaluate modules; it doesn't do a lot for me personally but I find its open-ended approach is really cool.)

Quote
That's when it started to drag for me. I guess the overt cause was the god-awful amount of rolling to see how often nothing happens: roll to detect traps, secret & sliding doors (mostly you don't find anything), roll for initiative when you do find something, roll to see if you miss the monster (usually you do), the GM rolls to see if it misses you (usually it does) -- for every one of it's attacks (first up was a carrion crawler).

I'd like to ask a lot more about this, as it may be an issue of GM'ing style: in our sessions, which run 2.5 hours, we'll probably have 2-3 battles and a lot of skill check-type things.  And yes, there's a decent amount of failure, but that's part of early-edition low-level D&D: you kinda have to learn to enjoy sucking at things.  (Not everyone enjoys this.)  The fun part of the game is saying, "Oh man, well, that idea was a near-total disaster--what else can we think up?" 

Quote
On top of that, my character, a thief, has only 3 hp (which we fudged: originally I rolled a 1). So on the lowest likely dmg roll (d4) there's a 50% chance my character dies. I found it hard to invest in may character or what we were doing too seriously knowing that.

We've found that "character investment" is pretty much preposterous in low-level D&D.  A character is six integers, some equipment, a name, an alignment, and maybe a quirky accent or attitude.  Over time they acquire depth, but at the start they're all basically interchangeable (and very fragile) little pawns moving around inside a game of Zork.  We've found this a fruitful approach and a lot of fun, but it may not be for everybody.

I'm very interested in your rules-hack and will check it out shortly!
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--Stack
charles ferguson
Member

Posts: 74


« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 11:50:50 PM »


Charles, when you're talking about the Blue Book, are you referring to the Holmes version of the Basic D&D Rules


Yep, it's the Holmes version. I used to have a hardcopy years ago, now just got the pdf myself.


Quote
   for many people it's one of the favorite editions of D&D.

Me too! Actually one of the things that fired me up about it was your RedBox group (though I havn't looked you up for a while)

Quote
I'd like to ask a lot more about this, as it may be an issue of GM'ing style: in our sessions, which run 2.5 hours, we'll probably have 2-3 battles and a lot of skill check-type things.  And yes, there's a decent amount of failure, but that's part of early-edition low-level D&D: you kinda have to learn to enjoy sucking at things.

It's not the failed rolls, it's the lack of a result from the failed roll. The high failure rate only becomes an issue when a) you roll a lot + b) something only happens (find a door, land a hit in combat) on success.

I've since found this guide to oldskool gaming that I'm going to swing the GM's way. I did email him and talk about making failure as interesting--or more interesting--as success (aka Say Yes Or Roll) but maybe this will be on his wavelength.

I think it's the lack of player agency that is a part (maybe a big part) of what's bugging me. I don't mean shared world or story creation (what world? what story?). I don't expect those things to be part of this kind of game and I'm 100% OK with that (for this game). But I when the only way I can impact the gameworld is through dice rolls, and those dice rolls need to be successful or "nothing happens" then I feel.. well, bored and shut out. I mean, I wouldn't care if I was making rolls and failing and those failures changed the situation, even just to make it worse--it would be interesting, I'd be engaged with the world. As it is, I feel the only game left is the "beat the dungeon! Be a survivor!" thing. Which hasn't grabbed me since the low HP thing makes it either a) unlikely regardless of what I do or don't do, short of staying outside the dungeon, or b) only possible if the GM fudges me through it (which I have some suspicion may be already happening).

Quote
We've found that "character investment" is pretty much preposterous in low-level D&D.  A character is six integers, some equipment, a name, an alignment, and maybe a quirky accent or attitude.  Over time they acquire depth, but at the start they're all basically interchangeable (and very fragile) little pawns moving around inside a game of Zork.  We've found this a fruitful approach and a lot of fun

That's good advice. Thanks James.

I guess this is mostly about me getting the most from this game for the couple of sessions it has left to run. That's probably going to happen (if it happens) through some approach changes from me as well as the GM. Regardless, soon we'll be doing a  different game.


Cheers! Charles


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