Thursday, August 12, 2010

A New 1E Greyhawk Campaign

So I've written all this stuff about adapting 4E to Greyhawk (see what I did there?) and now I turn around and start a 1st edition AD&D game in it instead? Why would someone do that? "Because he finally came to his senses" I hear some of you say  - no. I have several motivations:

1) These are my gaming roots. Granted, I started with Basic, but that $12 Player's handbook was an object of desire for well over a year and for most of the 1980's when someone said "role-playing game" that picture above is what was in my brain. AD&D was the center of that universe and even now it's the one that's burned into my brain - levels, weapon damages, spell effects, magic items, 88hp Huge Ancient Red Dragons - I still recall much of this as if it was yesterday. I don't expect to recapture the magic of being 13 and finally getting a +4 Defender for my ranger, but I do want to take a tour of it again and see how it works now. 

2) The next generation is here and learning about everything from Atari and Intellivision to Warhammer 40,000 to D&D. I have kids who are interested in these things to differing degrees and in different ways and I want them to feel like they know about as much of this stuff as they care to learn. I have a vision of taking them to Gen Con and entering in an AD&D game one day and a 4E game the next and having them able to talk Keep on the Borderlands, slaying Snurre, fighting the crab in White Plume Mountain and dying in Tomb of Horrors with the greybeards like me, while still being able to talk to kids their own age about laser cleric builds and fighting the kobolds in Keep on the Shadowfell. My interest in games and my interest in history are combining here in a powerful way and I can't really resist it. 

3) (Combo special) It's fun, it's easy to run, and I have a ton of material for it, much of which I have never run all the way through. All of the classic modules - A series, C Series, D Series, G series, S Series, U series - I have all of those! And I have people to play them! Living in my house! It's awesome!

Besides these my wife started late in 3rd edition and a couple of my players started with 2nd and never got to do some of those touchpoint adventures from 1st, so I'd like to let them experience them in their "original language".

Some of this interest sprang from a blog entry by Bullgrit here  where he analyzes the old adventures and figures out that hey, they actually did work pretty well mechanically as far as treasure and advancement.

So how will this work? The 83 boxed set will be my primary reference for world material. The current plan is to start with the Temple of Elemental Evil. I've never run the original and I want to try, and I don't want to do it via conversion. It's a classic, and I want to give it a shot. That should end at roughly 8th level and will lead into...

...Against the Giants, another classic. I plan to run them in order as written, which I have never gotten to do past the second one. Once this is finished they should be around 12th level and ready for the D series.

D1-2-3 in order, as written, is another set that I never ran. I played through D1& D2 and into D3, but never went beyond. I know they are fun and I still have stories today of some of the stuff that happened in those things. 

Then finally, Q1 to wrap up the whole thing. Never played, never ran it, know it's a little weird compared to a traditional dungeon module but by this time they should be up to it. They should finish up around 15th level which is pretty damn high in AD&D. 

There are other modules I would like to use - N1, the Saltmarsh series, the Slavers series, and the S modules - and I will if I get the chance, but this is the core path I have chosen for the backbone of the campaign.

 Now the continuity part - some of these have already been done in my Greyhawk campaign. Should I start over? Should I change it? Should I even care? I have several thoughts:

1) Stat over with a clean slate, CY 576 welcome to Greyhawk hope you enjoy your stay. This is pretty easy to do and the kids won't know the difference. 

2) Rewrite - just replace the old limited notes and memories I have of these ancient occurrences with the new ones as they happen. Not a big deal.

I'm not totally satisfied with either of these so I'm leaning towards option 3: Timejump/Retcon

Greyhawk was created in the 1970's and the campaign dates in the booklets go up to the 570's with most campaigns taking place in the 570-580's game time and the 1970's-1980's real time. 


What if 1980's = 580's, 1990's = 590's, and 2010 = 610? Now when I say "that happened 25 years ago" I mean it in both senses - real time and game time. I think it has a lot of possibilities. Old characters largely aren't adventuring any more because it's been 20 years. Old threats creep back in as people forget and new generations arise. Maybe the Hill Giant chief isn't the one my ranger killed, but there would be a new one and if the drow are up to their old tricks again then who's to say the same plot is being attempted? We ransacked the spaceship in Barrier Peaks but what if more than one section of the ship fell to Greyhawk? I never ran or really even played much of the TOEE so I don't have a problem there (except that TOEE will be following the RttTOEE in my Greyhawk - oh well, it still works) and the rest of my planned adventures are reasonably likely to reoccur so this works pretty well. The famous (in my Greyhawk) "Dyvers Thieves' War" now happened 15 years ago, avoiding all kinds of weird conflicts since one of my current players in my 4E game helped start it!

I actually experimented with a smaller scale version of this during a 3rd edition campaign. In 3E the PC's need time to craft magic items if they choose to do so as it can take days to weeks to craft things. I ruled that whenever we stopped in a town or other safe base type area that real time between sessions = game time passed in town. This allowed them to use some of those crafting feats without slowing down the game for everyone, and it stretched out the campaign time too as I had a problem with someone going from level 1 to level 10 in three months which is how it was going at that point. I like it better when it's more like a year of game time, even if the number of actual sessions stays the same. It also helps with the role play opportunities as even if you only met this NPC bartender 3 sessions ago, if it's been a month of real time then you've known him for a month and he might let you in on something  he wouldn't tell a stranger. It worked well in that campaign so I will use it in this one too.

 Next: The Rules

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