THAC0 Really Was Stupid

9 February 2011 by
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We played another session of The Outsiders campaign last Saturday, and we kept having issues keeping combat rolls straight.  The whole “rolling high to hit a low number” caused confusion on multiple occasions.  While this was particularly true for players new to AD&D, even I (the DM) had a hard time explaining it and keeping it straight.

I have decades of experience with AD&D, RPGs and negative Armor Classes – but I’m out of practice and routine play.  When planning the upcoming gaming weekend for our college group, Richard (“EvilDM” here) and I talked about how we were all probably rusty on the mechanics and the rules.  We used to be able to quote rules “chapter and verse”, and instantly find passages in any rulebook.  But those days are long gone.

The problem with new players, is that they have yet to have those days.  And, in the current stage of our lives (work, kids, wives, mortgages, responsibilities…) where we only get to play one Saturday evening every couple of weeks, we probably won’t have those days anytime soon.  We played a bit of 4e early on, and while there are things about it I don’t like; it is certainly more accessible from a mechanics standpoint.


There And Back Again

3 February 2011 by
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So our group has started a new campaign and gone back to playing AD&D; somewhere about 1.75e (as Richard calls it).  We’re using the 2e rules, but allow for character classes from the 1e Player’s Handbook, Unearthed Arcana and Dragon Magazines.  So, why go back to AD&D?

Last summer we started playing a 4e campaign, beginning with H1: Keep on the Shadowfell.  Having a pre-made module is essential to our campaign, as I don’t have the time to create my own adventures.  We made our way through the module, and it was rather enjoyable.  However, by the time we were finishing, we were by and large disillusioned with 4th Edition:

  • Combat seems to be the sole focus of 4e. Game mechanics such as non-weapon proficiencies (2e) or crafting skills (3e) are basically non-existent in 4e Core Rules.  These aspects of D&D have always been a large part of my games.  Additionally, the module had very little in the way of traps, puzzles or uses for the party’s skills.
  • Combat was extremely slow. This has been a major point of discussion in the #dnd Twitter world, and is a generally accepted fact.  A single encounter would take an hour or two, with much of the time spent picking which power to use (for both players and DM).
  • Combat is an exercise in micro-management. There are simply too many conditions to keep track of – Marked, Bloodied, Eye-bitten, etc. (more…)

Bypassing Half a Module

24 January 2011 by
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One key aspect of being a DM is adjusting to what the party throws your way, and boy did they throw a curve ball my way…

My gaming group has recently started a “1.75e” campaign, embarking on the classic AD&D adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”.  In preparation for the first sessions I read and reread the 20 pages of the module that outline the who, what and why of Hommlet.  I felt I was comfortable to play out the conversations and scenarios the party would generate upon arriving in Hommlet.  Little did I know that I wouldn’t need 90% of what I had prepared…

This first session had the players developing their back-stories in a communal fashion, developing their motivation for adventure, and setting out for Hommlet.  Playing true to the module’s origins, the campaign is set in Greyhawk, and the party is based in Verbobonc – which is to the northwest of Hommlet.


Friendships to Last a Lifetime

19 January 2011 by
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In my last post, I started talking about this blog post by Arcane Springboard at This is My Game. My initial thoughts and memories about the Red Box and my first experiences with D&D spiraled on for several pages, and I never got past the 6th grade.  I thought I’d go ahead and finish out my thoughts on D&D and how it impacted my friendships.

My longest lasting friendship was not forged over D&D, but it has been strengthened. Royce Roemisch has been my best friend since 7th grade.  I clearly remember forging that friendship talking about King’s Quest II, as we walked back from a local class field trip.

That common interest of computer games sparked a lifelong friendship.  We quickly delved into Computer RPGs such as Ultima and Bard’s Tale.  I’m not sure why we never tried D&D in Jr. High or High School.  It was probably because we didn’t know anyone else who played.  I really wish we had.

Fast forward to college (Louisiana Tech) and first close friendship (and first real roommate, Patrick Jacobs) was forged over arcade games and PC games.  In our sophomore year, we started going to the Wesley Foundation and met Jeff Bolger.  He was an avid AD&D player and was currently DM’ing a game.  We joined and were hooked.  Jeff introduced us to Richard Markley, and we played in his games for years after that.


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