Thursday, May 01, 2008

Look out! It's the wizard's ghost!

My buddy Stuart likes to doodle while he plays. Usually he does abstract geometrical stuff, but last Wednesday he produced this:

He left it on the game table so I had to scan it in. Stuart talks a bit about this session over on his blog. I'm kinda bummed to see our Gygax memorial campaign end with the conclusion of the Moathouse. Certainly, a good pile of the blame lies at my feet. Endeavouring to play AD&D 1st edition by the book is generally an exercise in masochism. The starting spell charts and training rules were like an albatross 'round the campaign's neck. And Wednesday I discovered first hand what a pain in the ass the weapon type versus armor rules can be. Maybe if we had something like the old Judges Guild product Dungeon Tac Cards that would have sped things along a bit, or simply having a slick character sheet where you could record all the modifiers. As it stood, I was just doing lots of extra look-ups on a chart with no real fun added to the game.

The back half of the session was fabulous. The players figured out that brute force was not going to work against the evil cleric Lareth the Beautiful and his soldiers. So they started getting creative, like setting ambushes with flaming oil. I really dug it when removed a door from its hinges and then used it as a mantlet shield to force their way in, toppling several of Lareth's men. Finally it came down to just the PCs against Lareth and his nigh-impossible-to-hit Armor Class.

That's when Doug declared that they were going to attempt to overbear Lareth. Bless their miscreant hearts, that was the first time I've ever been in a AD&D game that actually used the overbearing rules. And it worked, too! Four PCs (two were down by this point) against a single man was just overwhelming. So congrats to them for making Beggar Mobs work in their favor.

It was beautiful. Knocking down orcs or whatever is always a good time, but what really excites me is when the PC party starts looking for creative solutions, when they go from being a thrown-together gang of stumblebums with swords to an elite cadre of well-organized crimefighting criminals.

Unfortunately, that's not exactly where my players go to get their buzz. There's a bit of a gulf growing in my group as far as preferred playstyle. I would have happily ran lots more AD&D, or some OD&D, or Castles & Crusades, or lots of other Retro Stupid games. Stuart and Doug seem more interested in the modern kung-fu-superheroes-with-swords mode of 3.x and Exalted.

I'm not prepared to run that sort of thing right now. Or maybe ever again, I dunno. So Doug's going to take a turn GMing Exalted, but with an alternate setting involving the great frozen north. That ought to be interesting, especially considering that the dice pools used in White Wolf games make no friggin' sense to me whatsoever.

Here's my character idea in a nutshell: a caveman who found one of those 2001 monoliths, but in handy daiklaive form.