Friday, 4 September 2009

An apology, Coming Home, + Something old & something new . . . .

Sorry I haven't posted for so very long - but Family issues and my own health has gotten in the way of things again.

But, like all bad things - you can't quite get rid of me Lol.

I've been 'into' games sure - I got quite into the new 4th Edition of DnD (more of that later), but its been many a year since I've been 'in love' like I was with AD&D 1st Edition.

Sure the paper wasn't particularly high quality, and the Artwork was comical (sometimes deliberately so) but at the end of the Day with AD&D you had FUN (and lots of it, even my Mrs used to play regularly - pesky kids Lol)! 1st Edition was fun to DM and Fun to play, and even if your lacked confidence when DM'ing it still wasn't beyond the pale anyone having a go.

Then came along Second Edition, it took me a LONG time to switch over. I don't think I really changed over untill Planescape came along - and I admit I ran it and played it too - BUT I wasn't too keen on it kwim?

Compared to AD&D 1st Edition it was very 'hollow' for me - I don't know if you've ever had this experience, when you date a girl. You like her, really fancy her - but its not right - KWIM?; and you trundled on - till eventually you split up purely because of total apathy.

2nd Edition Kits were always a big issue for me (and Chris as I remember) , it made gamers lazy - rather than making the effort to craft their characters persona - looks, gear, personalty, little quirks that make them different. Jason, who loved playing Ninjas Lol had a Magic User who when she cast Magic Missile a little silver crossbow appeared in midair beside her and fired the magical bolts. We all did things like that in those days, its what made our characters all different. You see it in literature, Frodo would have been classified as a Thief. But he wasn't a criminal, rather his natural talents gave him an edge in certain Areas. Both Aragorn and Robin Hood would be Rangers - but two more different Characters I cannot imagine. It was the CONCEPTS that made them different, not Kits and such.

Kits seemed like the lazy mans way to uniqueness (and a way for post Gygax TSR to sell heaps of Books) - but it breaks down really quickly. Its WAY TO tempting to take those kits you like time and again - rather than make the effort with a new Character, who might me YET ANOTHER 1st Edition Magic User - but will be different because you don't want to repeat mistakes of character creation and personality etc.

The came the dreaded 3rd Edition . . .

I had a dalliance with. And really REALLY wasn't keen, and didn't really buy anymore books (I got the Core books, the screen and the Psionics Book) till 3.5 came out - and even then it was all much of a muchness. Feats you see, not keen - I never really liked them.

I always believed that heroic acts & deeds should come from the players imaginations, and its then up to the DM to facilitate them (hopefully, should the Dice Gods allow).

As Gary Gygax himself remarked - "The new D&D is too rule intensive. It's relegated the Dungeon Master to being an entertainer rather than master of the game. It's done away with the archetypes, focused on nothing but combat and character power, lost the group cooperative aspect, bastardized the class-based system, and resembles a comic-book superheroes game more than a fantasy RPG where a player can play any alignment desired, not just lawful good" - I personally think there was no real bitterness in that statement, and I have to agree with him totally.

Then there is the constant obsession with Skills in DnD, I DM’d for years with no real skill system - it was a real shock when I started running Call of C'thulhu and the like, and to be frank (for the most part) I find purely skill based game decidedly 'unheroic' and, well - dull.I've bought and read LOTS of Games. The worst being the Avalon Hill Runequest - a bigger and duller pile of donkey plop I have never read!

Here’s what we did (in the olden days of yore, sorry - the late 70's early 80's Lol) - jeeze that seems such a long time ago now . . . . .
Add your characters Int and Wis together, then add +1 per 4 years (rounding off) of the Characters age. Those are the number of skill slots a Character has.

1 Slot = Basic Skill, we used to make attribute tests to use skills - and used different attributes for different tasks (radically I know, not having a tethered skill system). Those with Basic proficiency used an attribute at half its rating (round off, rolled on a D20).

2 Slots = Proficient. All rolls are made at full stat rating.

4 Slots = Skilled. All rolls are made at full stat rating, any penalties applied by the DM are halved (round down) and the character cannot fumble a roll – he/she can only fail.

When using this system during a game, the Dungeon Master should use ‘ad hoc’ penalties where appropriate – its very difficult to re-shoe a Horse without the proper gear and facilities for example.

Characters are allowed to 'Train' in a skill during Adventure 'Downtime', each month adds one 'pip' (sort of like the old D6 Star Wars system) when you reach 3 'Pips' you may spend time (its up to the Dm how long) finally honing what you have learned. This results then in a new Skill at 'Basic' level, or improving Basic Skill to Proficient. It takes twice as many 'Pips' to become Skilled. You many only improve one non adventuring skill at a time, all your 'Pips' must be commited to the same skill.

The one this I NEVER allowed was Characters to take mundane skills that in any way copied actual Class Skills – that's a big no no for me. Its a game of Character Classes/Archetypes – if you want a group of Jack of All Trades – play Runequest Lol. No fuss, no changing rules, just free and easy (the way real life should be but never is Lol).

Then Came 4th, and upon reading a couple of the Books I was VERY impressed I must admit. I've bought a LOT of 4e stuff, and was on the verge of starting up DM'ing again when something struck me - the constant churning over balance meant that (pretty much) all the character types were becoming the same. Sure the descriptive text is pretty, but ALL the mechanics of Feats/Spells and the like meant everything pretty much worked the same way - wheres the fun in that. (Just in case you were wondering, that's ONE of the reasons I've been so quiet about DnD for a while, I've been going over things and re-reading EVERYTHING in depth).

Back in the 'Old Days' balance came from the Dungeon Master. If something was too powerful, he countered it with something in the Scenario or something 'unexpected' in the Game World. If a Character was rapidly becoming dominant within a group, generally it was because of his natural strength of personality - not because of the rules of a game, dice rolls, or character he chose to play (think Colin Lol, he was always the bully of the group).

As Don Turnbul (he used to be head of TSR UK) once said to me at a Con (all those years ago again Lol), "don't rely on the rules too much - always try to make some of it up as you go along; both you and your players will have more fun that way". Even Gary Gygax once said - "The secret we should never let the Dungeon Masters know is that they don't need any rules" - FFS LMAO!

What's all this ranting and raving about I hear you ask - the anser is Castles & Crusades. I've heard the name before, but only recently paid attention to it. It would be a seamless, addition to any AD&D 1st Edition (or even second edition) Fan. You only need the two Core Books and the Screen to play, and then when you realize how much free stuff for old version AD&D (or even 3rd) is out there - you are set.

When you read through it you realize its (pretty much) AD&D 1st Ed with the Combat & Saves tidied up (THACO is gone and the saves are tied to Attributes much like 3rd), what I've found is that C&C has more charm and thought in one Chapter (for me at least) than the whole 3e, 3.5, & 4e DnD Range (I'm not flaming btw, I'm sure 4e has its admirers - I was sort of one of them for a short while).

Then, if you consider C&C’s almost infinite compatibility (admittedly with a few tweaks) with AD&D/D&D (so there will NEVER be a shortage of source material, even the more exotic races from 3rd Edition are Compatible) – finding this wonderful game has left me feeling like I've come home.

Its nice, because I've been away for a long time . . . .

And don't forget - We don't stop playing because we grow old...we grow old because we stop playing.

Peace to All

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