Thursday, April 9, 2015

Puzzle, Person and Class in the Old School

Lauren over here mentioned her fondness for the Old School D&D puzzle solving method which is simply, you the player, who were assumed to be of above average smarts would solve  the puzzle yourself or not and the game would progress from there.

There are a lot of good things to say for this method.

#1 It take emphasis off combat and on to other aspects of the game

#2 It make players and GM's think

#3 It negates the need for a thief class  and instead just lets stat rolls handle challenges like lock-picking and lifting a purse and the player, the surprise system  handle stealth and the players handle being clever

#4 With the right kind of group its very fun.

However there are downsides.

#1 Its slow and some people may want to get onto the next part of a story or something more interesting and less frustrating

#2 Lots of groups don't like puzzles and/or really just want combat.

#3 It requires a longer attention span and more time at the table than some players these days can manage. Remember OD&D was originally created and  played by middle aged men in a world with much less distractions and spending time there was much easier without the web or face book or any of that . Sure it lead to mediocre research and bad rules, such as the lock-picking rules or the thief class in general but it lead to a much richer game and a bit of politics here, a better hobby.

#4 Pigeonholing. Simply, the old school method tended to pigeonhole players into playing certain classes.

Let me explain this. One core idea I think that has been forgotten in D&D is the idea that not every class was for every person

It was kind of assumed the tricky guy would play the Magic user, the supportive guy would probably play the Cleric and the straightforward guy would play the Fighter. Yes sometimes everybody played the Fighter, support fighters, tricky "thief" fighters and such were common but generally the MU and Cleric were played by certain type  of people .

We assume this was a bad thing and I think we were wrong on this. People generally are happier playing to type, still are.

Now I suppose folks wonder where this idea was lost, well it started to fade in actual play, probably back in Lake Geneva .

As the game went on, new classes got introduced and from what I can figure from my research, this was to address in game reissues and player demand, The Thief since people wanted to systematize the role, the Cleric (though it proved to be a solid roll in itself) to defeat a PC vampire (Sir Fang ) Monk beaus people wanted to play Kwai Chang Kane from Kung Fu  The Ranger to sub in for Aragorn and so on .

This muddied the waters a bit and in time it became assumed that the class would provide the bulk of the  abilities not the players choices.

Now that wasn't all bad, it did open D&D to a broader audience and made the game more approachable as well but maybe  the assumed high level creativity was lost.

Still that creativity is inherent in  nature of the game and if it something you want, its not hard to make it happen. After a bit of adjustment, you may find you players love it.

Or not and if Roll DC17 Disable Device to  defeat the traps suits you better, go for it.

As always the #1 rule is "if you are having fun, you are doing it right."

My Weakness, Prep.

A comment by one of my posters Lauren Farrow mentioned the puzzle aspect of D&D and that got me thinking about my weaknesses as a GM.

Simply, I don't like to prep. Most of the time that doesn't hurt my game since I am very good at improvising and am able to fake a fully prepared game off the top of my head

However that approach has  weak spot . Puzzles  . My puzzles are never as good as they could be, they aren't well drawn, very complex or the kind that require player skill to solve.

In the past this wasn't an issue since my my players weren't into puzzles and weren't that good at them.

My recent groups though,  well, they can blow through a fairly complex , multi-variable puzzle in no time flat. Being they are of the video game generation and I am not  only have they been exposed to far more visual puzzles than I have, they are actually good at them.

What this means for me is, time for me to step up my game. Do a little more prep where needed and shore up my weaknesses. This a good thing though since it will mean for for fun for everyone, me included.

Once I get past the teeth grinding boredom of prep anyway.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Intro To My Never to Be Run Supers Game

In case anyone is wondering, this is not an April Fools post. I hate pranks.

A few posts back I mentioned that I suck at running Supers games and as such this intro won't get run any time soon.

However at one point I had planned to run a games based loosely on the Marvel  Civil War plot line.

As it happens my group plays Shield Operatives from the Reformed Avengers . There is a bit of a rotation but the consistent team leader is Shockwave, a sonic powered super with a police background played ably by my gaming buddy T.  His boss is theoretically Tony Stark when Stark is sober and functional. Since  he usually isn't ,  a powered armor super named Fireforce who was basically guilt tripped into taking over for Stark fills in.

Intro: Its about 10 years in the future and a lot is on your mind, your role in the new  metahuman registration law , budgetary issues with Shield and how not to get nearly killed on the next call out.

Exhausted and dirty you are returning from your more or less successful mission to take down the Reaver and his gang of super  powered criminals  when walking up to HQ, there is a sudden titanic  explosion

Iron Man hurtles to to the ground in a shower of sparks

Slowly lowering to the ground    with an angry plasma fire is Fireforce   the assistant Section  Leader  "Stark!" his voice  roars "You tin plated little  despot, wanna be dictator!"

Stark  fires his repulsors from the ground which hit  Fireforces force field "Nice try, Tin Man but I've made some upgrades." Fireforce grabs Iron man and hits him with a Thunder Puncher  shattering his helmet sending him into the wall."what next, Concentration camps for the powered  , you so of a ..."

War Machine, oh yeah he's called Iron Patriot now  moves quickly to help Stark

"Stay out of this Rhody." Fireforce growls as his titanic armor turns "E-Frame Go!" an Exo-Skeletal X rack attache itself to Fireforces armor. The rack looks heavily armed with energy Gatlings and some kind of rockets. It comes up to speed with an ominous whine

Roll for initiative!