Saturday, August 31, 2013

D30 Days: Day 1 How I Got Started

Well, folks, here is the small tale of how I got started with D&D.  When I was about 10 or so, I spent the night at my cousin's house.  He was an avid AD&D player (1st Edition).  Of course, he always ran the game stoned, but that's a topic for another day.  Now, I was never let in on the game, since he was much older and didn't really want to teach me, but after I pored over the rules and became fascinated by them (and it should be mentioned that his rulebooks were jacked - they had all fallen apart and he had everything in folders). 

I had to figure out where to start from scratch.  Well, after some failed attempts at figuring out what to buy, I picked up the pictured "black box" basic set.  This was a current set when I was about 12 (yes, it took some time to get any money when I was young - we were poor),  This box came out about before the (awesome) Haunted Tower and Goblins Lair sets, set in the Thunder Rift world.  I immediately began learning the rules and playing the game with my best friend and my brother.  I only had two players for about three or four years.

Later that year, I picked up the still-unbelievable Rules Cyclopedia, which I still use.  I proceeded immediately to run a Monty Haul campaign replete with +5 swords with special abilities and so many heaps of treasure it would make Donald Trump vomit.  Also, because I just didn't know any better, the characters wound up being Grand Masters of their weapons by about 14th level.  They were unstoppable.  There was no real setting, no real end-game, no goals beyond the acquisition of cool things.  But it was fun!  I could throw any monster at them and it would just sort of work itself out and we all had a blast with it.  We didn't worry about the things we do now, like "Does the story make sense?" or "Are these rules balanced?" or "Is this system broken?" or any number of other things.  It was a simpler time.

I jumped right into 2nd Edition after this, and ran several long campaigns.  I resisted 3rd Edition with the best of them when it came out, but I really grew to like it after the revisions hit the market.  When 4th Edition came out, I bought the books, took a few looks, and quickly traded them for old supplements.  I still don't like that system., and when Pathfinder came out, I instantly bought it.  Let that be a lesson, Wizards:  backward compatibility is very, very useful to many of us.  But then I discovered the OSR movement on the internet, and I was hooked on products like Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, and especially Swords & Wizardry.  I love the wildly creative atmosphere the participants in the movement have generated, and it's a brilliant star in a dead RPG sky.

All this said, I am looking forward to getting my next campaign off the ground, and giving some guys who haven't played with old-school rules for decades a surprise.

Friday, August 30, 2013

D30 Days

Well, it looks like my desires to get this blog rolling again brought me this little gem via my blogrolls.  I will be participating.  Hopefully I don't fall behind.

A Fantasy Movie You Gotta See

Ok, so I love Asian cinema.  It's no secret amongst my friends.  Weirdly enough, I really don't like Eastern roleplaying games or settings...  Strange, but true.  I just steal the spells and inject them into a typical game.  I saw the first half of a movie last night that is worth a look:  Woochi.  The CGI is a little, well, CGI, but 90% of the special effects got a wide-eyed "wow" from me when I saw them.  It's got some intense action, and the characters are funny on top of that.  A decent dose of comedy and 1970s-style camera angles interspersed with modern action filmmaking.  It's worth seeing for the demon rabbits alone.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pathfinder - Why I Love It But Why It Hurts

I haven't done a blog post like this in a while.  With life returning to normal after my divorce, I'm beginning to get back on track with game-related activities (and no, I'm still not running my OSR mashup yet - world building takes time, my friends).

I want to talk about Pathfinder for a minute.  Now, as a veteran GM, having run BECMI, AD&D 2E, 3E, and 3.5 (amongst other systems like MERP, GURPS, and more), I will say that Pathfinder is a system built for a tinker like myself.  It's great fun to translate the game world into mechanics - it provides a whole different flavor of play than what I find in the OSR, although the older versions of "our game" are by far my favorite due to their modifiable nature and wheeling-dealing mechanics.  Pathfinder gives me my fill of "let's see what happens if I..." as far as rules go.  I love to fiddle.

That said, I'm delaying running the game for a reason I think others can appreciate:  potential rules overload.  I like to give players the opportunity, with systems such as this, to run either iconic characters or the weirdest damn things they can create with whatever available supplement exists.  I've run some strange parties before, and it's always great fun.  However, I am dreading getting to that higher-level point that exists past 12th level or so, where combat bogs down and a three-hour encounter is common enough to drive me nuts.  But I love that everything makes sense and interrelates.  Everything is handled the same way throughout the system.  I can do so much with it, but it hurts so bad.

I'm not posting this looking for rules solutions.  I'm just blowing off steam and giving you an insight into my mania.  I remember running v.3.5 at 15th level, and it could be a real bitch.  Pathfinder fixes some of the on-the-fly numbers you had to come up with, but I purposely never used and probably still won't use the big bads like dragons or wizards on my end of things because of the amount of crap I have to familiarize myself with.  Too lazy, you say?  Maybe.  But being familiar enough with 30 spells to decide on the fly what I want to do is a pain, not to mention a bazillion feats at higher levels.  In fact, feats are my main problem ahead of spells.  Who the hell can memorize all that?  I sure don't want to look stuff up constantly.

I suppose you're asking why I even wrote this if I love the system anyhow, and will run it eventually?  Well, just something I had to vent about.  Sure, I could keep everything to below level 10, but that ruins the crazy things I want to do on the planes and in sub-dimensions, where shit gets real.  I don't know. I'm perplexed.  We'll see how I move on Pathfinder eventually, and I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, to ramp back up my GM skills, since I haven't run in about 6 or 7 years, and have been preparing a game world for the last 3 months, my OSR mashup with custom everything that is geared utterly toward sword & sorcery play will be what I run.  I'm hard at work on class revisions (they won't be published here since it involves wholesale plagiarism to put together a players' document), spells, and my world's very own bestiary so that I don't have to hunt through supplements.  Yes, it's a book just for me and the players.  All I'll say is it's Swords & Wizardry as the core rules, with a crapload of bolt-ons.  It should be fun!