The other day for no particular reason I got to thinking about a 'What If?' scenario wherein someone else was starting a new first edition AD&D campaign. If I was invited to play, what sort of character would I want to be? Now I'm normally of the roll-the-dice-and-take-your-chances school of PC creation, so my choices would be limited by my stat rolls. On the other hand, if the party desperately needs a particular class (i.e. no one's playing a cleric) then I would be willing to take one for the team. But I got to thinking that if the field was wide open, what sort of further information would I need from the DM? Here's a few questions I've come up with to ask the DM, broken down by class.
Are you using weapon vs. AC or speed factors? That would radically affect my weapon choices.
Any weapons considered particular high or low class? E.g. would being a crossbowman preclude me from being knighted?
A first level fighter is a Veteran. Has my character been in any famous battles?
Can I play a knight or do I start out as some low class schlub with a spear?
How picky are you about encumbrance?
Do you use any crit charts or rules about attacks versus folks not wearing helmets?
Do I have any particular obligation to a military organization or feudal lord?
What sort of gods do I have to choose from?
Which gods have temples in the starting campaign area?
Do I have any particular obligation to a certain temple or high priest?
Are the gods at each other's throats, such that I would get in trouble for honoring deities besides my own?
Do I get to pick my starting spells?
Do you track material components?
Are new spells available for purchase anywhere?
Do I start out as a member of a magic-user's guild or a graduate from a mage's school?
Am I an apprentice to a higher-level MU?
Do you object to evil characters?
Am I a member of a thef's guild?
Do I start with criminal contacts for fencing goods, smuggling, obtain poisons or drugs?
Obviously some of these questions are mechanical, some are about the DM's style and some concern the campaign world. More question could easily be written for the other classes in AD&D and the various races. I'd hate to make up a perfectly decent half-elf druid only to discover after play begins that half-breeds are universally reviled in the setting and that the DM took the mistletoe rules seriously!
The point of all these questions is not to put the DM on the spot, so if you actually asked some things like the above list you'd probably do well to put it in an email before the first session. Some of these questions could end up being things the DM hasn't thought about yet for this particular campaign. That's not a bad thing. The DM is probably going to spend some time on the campaign no matter what you do, you might as well steer them towards topics you care about.
The Peridot, Issue #1 - Spring 2016: Launched!
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