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Author Topic: precursors to AD&D2  (Read 20421 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #30 on: February 11, 2003, 09:18:11 PM »

Hi there Arxhon,

Your post bounces around a few different topics ... for one thing, we're not really discussing personal takes on "my history with D&D and gaming," although it might look a little bit like that. I'm interested in what you're saying, certainly, but if you review this thread and its parent one, you'll see that the topic is pretty specific.

I'm really replying, though, to your GNS interpretations, which are pretty much in line with most people's first reading but are also inaccurate. Vampire's claim to be a "storytelling" game has nothing to do with what we've tagged as Narrativist play, and it may be that you've played very Narrativist in the past, or maybe never seen any such thing. If you'd like, we can discuss that more carefully in the GNS forum, not here.

So, thanks for chiming in - check the topic on this thread before posting to it again - and maybe kick around a GNS notion or two in that forum - and I'll see you then.

Best,
Ron
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Rob MacDougall
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2003, 01:53:22 PM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
Before this thread gets old, I just wanted to say thanks for your great and definitive post about Dragonlance.


Paul, you’re very welcome. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.

Quote
I do have another contender for the first metaplot-driven AD&D scenarios, but I'll get to them later.
Did I miss this? Perhaps a new thread?


The series I was thinking of was the AD&D “Desert of Desolation” modules: Pharaoh, Oasis of White Palm, and Lost Tomb of Martek. Pharaoh was, I always thought, one of the all-time great D&D dungeon crawls (along with the original Ravenloft, also by Tracy Hickman). But the adventures got more scripted as they went along. Looking back on the third, “Lost Tomb of Martek,” it almost seems a parody, or at the very least a blueprint of all the ways to railroad a D&D adventure. Witness:

- the module begins with the PCs watching a battle between two mighty NPCs (a djinni and an efreeti). The battle exists only as boxed text. The adventure makes it clear that nothing the PCs do can possibly affect either NPC.

- the PCs travel through a string of mini-dungeons and mini-“dimensions” – each one leads to another and there is only one way in, one path to follow, and one way to escape

- at one point the adventure as written cannot continue unless the PCs allow themselves to get captured – something we all know D&D players will often fight to the death to avoid (this scene caused me great anguish each time I ran this adventure)

- not once but twice in the same adventure the PCs find themselves “at the end of the world” - if they leave the map, they literally fall off the end of the world into the Abyss

- at the end, they bring to life a 3rd mighty NPC and then get to watch – floating above the desert in an indestructible force cube, the ultimate passive observers – as he resolves the fight between the other 2 mighty NPCs

Now I don’t know how many people played this adventure and I’m sure it didn’t have the same impact as Dragonlance, but it is interesting as a historical document, especially as it was written by Tracy Hickman (who would go on to head the Dragonlance adventures & co-write the novels), at precisely the moment before he made the jump from writing D&D adventures to writing fantasy fiction.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2003, 02:05:07 PM »

Rob, I'm puzzled by your claim that these are dungeon crawls. The original dungeon crawls, other than the assumption that you were going dungeon crawling, were totally non-railroaded. They were "meet the map" adventures, and you could go anywhere the passages led, or your abilities could take you. In fact, it was perhaps this element of freedom that first drew me to RPGs.

Open railroading was a later development to ensure that "stories" occured rather than just random monster bashing. That's when stuff like Ravenloft shows up with it's "pick a PC to have a dream" style of force.

Mike
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Rob MacDougall
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Posts: 160


« Reply #33 on: February 12, 2003, 02:05:22 PM »

I wonder if this thread is likely to get much farther in chronicling the origins of 2nd Edition AD&D, since it seems of the people here (myself included) jumped the AD&D ship before or when 2E arrived.

A thread talking about other games in a historical way might be in order. There’s always the danger of it becoming just a list of personal anecdotes, but there are worse things. I’d like to give a shout out to Paranoia, which shook down many of my assumptions about what gaming “was.” And I’d be very happy to see an intelligent defense of the early 90s White Wolf Storyteller games - they do get dumped on so - but I’m not the one to offer it.

Rob
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Rob MacDougall
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Posts: 160


« Reply #34 on: February 12, 2003, 02:21:40 PM »

Quote
Rob, I'm puzzled by your claim that these are dungeon crawls. The original dungeon crawls, other than the assumption that you were going dungeon crawling, were totally non-railroaded. They were "meet the map" adventures, and you could go anywhere the passages led, or your abilities could take you.


Well, I was just using "dungeon crawl" to mean an adventure in which the PCs are in a dungeon, moving from room to room. But your description does to me describe Pharaoh and even some of the early Dragonlance adventures for the most part. And my memory may just be failing me, but I don't remember any "pick a PC to have a dream" in the original Ravenloft adventure. (Though there is the Very Big Stick of the fact that the PCs are trapped there by the mists until they can kill the vampire.)

I was drawing a distinction between these "transitional" adventures (that combined scripted introductions and endings with elements of standard go anywhere dungeon crawls) and later "railroaded" adventures, where the amount of PC freedom declined considerably.

In these later adventures, you can literally see the railroading on the map.
That is, the map from Keep on the Borderlands or Expedition to the Barrier Peaks or Pharaoh looks very different from the map in Lost Tomb of Martek. The former has rooms and tunnels going all over the place, the latter is a straight line.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #35 on: February 12, 2003, 02:31:30 PM »

True enough, Rob.

The transitional adventures, as you call them, are kinda schitzophrenic. They have maps and whatnot, but there is also the timeline or other metagame set of events that keep them going. So, in Ravenloft (I played the original modules; maybe it was the second one that had the dreams), you have this interesting 3D map of the castle, but I never used it. What was the point? The players entered the castle and said we look for the entrance to the lower level. Was I really going to describe things room-by-room when they were mostly empty anyhow? No, the description was more like, "After a while of searching about, you discover the stairway down in one of the turrets (or wherever it was). The room detail just wasn't important to the plot that the rest of the adventure provided.

I remember now thinking how odd the whole thing was.

BTW, I played these adventures out using a homebrew system and set in a corner of a world of my own creation, long after I had stopped playing D&D.

Mike
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Kester Pelagius
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Posts: 508


« Reply #36 on: February 12, 2003, 07:53:22 PM »

Greetings Rob,

Quote from: Rob MacDougall
I wonder if this thread is likely to get much farther in chronicling the origins of 2nd Edition AD&D, since it seems of the people here (myself included) jumped the AD&D ship before or when 2E arrived.


If you can find a site with a comprehensive index for the old Dragon magazine (or if anyone here has a link they'd like ot share) that would probably be the best source for public, if not behind the scenes, info.  (I do recall reading about this in there, long long ago.)  From what I recall a new edition was announced in its pages well in advance of 2E which was, if memory serves, nothing at all like what the original intimation was it would be.  Also there was a promo-primer-advanced preview insert in one issue of 2E.  

Much luck.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
xiombarg
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« Reply #37 on: February 13, 2003, 01:41:53 PM »

I suppose I should post my war story before this thread gets stale. Please excuse me if I ramble.

I got into RPGs -- and D&D -- with the Red Box D&D set with the Erol Otis cover. I don't remember how old I was -- I'm pretty sure I was in grade school. Ironically, at first, I understood roleplaying, in some ways, better than I would subequently, according to some people's tastes. I didn't fully understand the rules, but I understood them enough to run my cousin (abou the same age) through a faux-fantasy adventure, using the rules more as inspiration than anything else. We used the crayon that came with the game to write the character sheet, not to ink the numbers on the dice.

The most notable thing I remember about this adventure is I didn't use the dice. I just winged it. My cousin asked what the dice was for, and I still remember what I said: "I dunno. I guess they're used for more advanced play."

Unfortunately, this marked my decent into rules-lawyering, "it must be this way" kinda play. I became determined to understand how to play correctly. Those rantings from Gygax in Dragon? I took them seriously. I got into hardback AD&D by buying the books at Waldenbooks, and I was running AD&D avidly, off and on, for my friends, about the time Star Frontiers came out.

It's important to note that I was living in West Virginia, isolated from anyone who played -- any new player was introduced to the hobby by me. To get any sort of "peers", I had to turn to the rules themselves, and I became good at the minutae -- tho even I ignored the rules for different penalties and bonuses to different ACs depending on weapon in the PHB. But I became very snotty and superior about the right way to play, as I learned to play straight from Mr. Gygax, as it were.

During this time period, as I went into Junior High, I had my first and only encounter with the sort of females from this period who didn't care about hanging with younger males that other people mentioned. My Gifted Program teacher played D&D. At the time, I thought she was very hot, and I remember hearing rumors about her getting into trouble with the boys years after I left that town...

Ahem. It's important to note, however, I didn't see any enthusiastic female members of the hobby from that point until I discovered Vampire.

Anyhoo, as I grew older, in High School, I started to drift into other games, but I was still very much an Old School AD&D player. My parents sent me to High School in Pittsburgh, PA, and I got a lot wider exposure to things there, including a new peer group of gamers, who played all sorts of games from Battletech to Twilight: 2000, and were largely Gamist, while I was slowing moving in a more Simulationist direction.

This was when I started to drift away from AD&D. The reasons were many:

1) What I called the "new look" of D&D. I'm still a big fan of the Erol Otis artwork -- I hate Elmore's work with a passion. I really didn't like this "family-friendly" version of the game that I had loved. The first signs of this was the renaming of the "Dieties and Demigods" tome to "Legends and Lore", and culminated with the release of D&D 2E -- which didn't have demons in it. AD&D wasn't the game I remembered anymore. My friend Cormac had the 2nd ed rulebooks, and I played a few times -- I liked the rules okay, but I didn't like where the game was going, theme-wise, tho I would have never been able to articulate that at the time. Superficial? Yeah, but I was in high school, after all.

2) Ironically, part of my drift was because I liked some of the "new school" books that DIDN'T have the full whitewash treatment. I liked "Unearthed Arcana", because I liked the new options, including being able to play a Drow, and the proficiency system, which gave AD&D a skill system I thought it needed. "Oriental Adventures" had all the flavor that all the other new stuff lacked, while still remaining very much "AD&D", and took AD&D out of the dungeon, which, as an odd sort of Gyaxian Simulationsit, I was tried of. See, by this point, I'd been exposed to Traveller and GURPS and Runequest and Twilight: 2000 -- I was starting to appreciate a solid Simulationist design, particularly a skill system, and a system without character classes.

3) Genre. Fact of the matter is, I grew up watching Star Trek re-runs. In my earlier years I started out reading mystery novels, and then shifted to SF. I was never very big into Tolkien or any other kind of fantasy -- in fact, most of my interest in fantasy came from D&D. I really, really wanted to play "Star Frontiers" but no one else was interested, except my little brother, who was five years younger than me. Increasingly, there were games on the market that supported SF or horror, which interested me more than any form of fantasy.

I owned the original Dragonlance novel, but never ran them. I could have cared less about railroading at that point -- but I think I sensed, without being to articulate it, the lack of power for the GM. I didn't feel there was much for me to DO. This is pretty amazing when you consider I mainly ran from pre-prepared modules -- but I improvised to connect them. Plus, I was very invested in -- and liked -- Greyhawk, and I didn't like the idea of a whole new world. In fact, I remember being pissed off when I opened the first module and found I couldn't use it with any of the other modules I owned.

Dunno if any of this is helpful, feel free to poke me about any aspect of it if it seems useful. In a sense I was a good control group until High School. My sense of dates are terrible, but if it helps to understand that chonology, I was born in '72.
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