Thursday, September 1, 2011

September: Messing with games that you shouldn't

During a discussion with my friend Barking Alien it became apparent that we had some vaguely similar thoughts on a theme for September and so we are going to tread a similar path and call it "messing with games you shouldn't" month.

For my part, there are two main topics:

1) I've been playing around with d6 Star Wars tweaks ever since our campaign was called due to rules frustration. I'm convinced that it's still a good system but I'm also convinced that it's in dire need of a serious revamp to clear out the clutter that has accuumulated around it over the last two decades. I will be putting up a series of posts where I do just that and hopefully end up with a game I could actuly hope to run again.

2) I've also decided to go ahead with my Temple of Elemental Evil conversion to 4th edition D&D. Not only is it possible, it's good and very faithful to the original. If it goes well the the Giants and Drow series will be following along next year.

Now there will still be the usual session summaries and I'm going to post some more ICONS as well, but these other things will play a big part this month. I may work in some one-off posts on some other game change-ups as well - I've also decided to do some work on converting Neverwinter to a full-on sandbox for 4E. I'm not sure When I'm going to get to run it so this is a lower priority. I'm pretty sure I've got at least one Rifts post in me, and maybe some others as well.


Dangerous Brian said...

A 4th ed version of Temple of Elemental Evil?I'd love to see that. It was playing the 3rd ed computer game version that persuaded me (a natural conservative when it comes to game systems) to give 3rd ed a go.

Perhaps 4th ed ToEE is what will finally get me playing 4th ed? So far, I've only Dm'd it in a single abortive campaign. I've never really had a chance to use a 4th ed PC.

Blacksteel said...

4E is a weird duck compared to the other versions in that I don't know anyone that's been able to really get it from a read through - I didn't even finish the PHB before i put it aside in disgust for a year.

Then I decided to give it another whirl with the Apprentices and trying to figure out new rules to an old game with kids who had never played before was a disaster so I dropped it again. Finally, between making I'll some characters, talking to a friend, and listening to the Radio Free Homett podcasts, I sorted some things out and started a campaign and I've been rolling ever since.

Part of the problem is the presentation of the PHBs which are great for reference but not so great for learning the game. All of those powers look alike until you get to try them out with a party and start to see burst vs blast and all creature vs all enemies in action and see the subtler differences between these things.

I went retro with my main campaign redoing Pool of Radiance because it gave me something to compare or push against as I ran, TOEE should work out similarly and it looks like a lot of fun so far. Plus I get to run the kids through a classic old adventure using the current rules.

Since the boys don't read the blog I'm leaning towards posting my notes and details here ask go. If you think that would help, let me know.

I don't get to play much either but if you go back and look under the 4e tag in January and February you can see my posts on the times I did get to play - cleric and a fighter so far. I actually get to play again tonight and I'm looking forward to it,

Dangerous Brian said...

That would be awesome. I'm currently reading through all your 4th ed posts -and have been since I posted my first comment a few hours ago. I Dm'd 4th ed briefly, running the War of the Burning Sky campaign, but I was disenchanted by how long it was taking us to get through each module - 13 modules, 6 sessions per module, with a group meeting 1.5 times a month is a LONG time. So I basically abandoned the campaign. Even so, despite having Dm'd 4th ed, I've never actually played it. And I'd dearly love to give it a try after spending 3 hours reading up on your adventure reports.

Blacksteel said...

As far as running it, the Apprentices' TPK is pretty educational in just how badly things can go wrong. I will note that in the Monster Vault they changed the goblin hexers powers to end of next turn rather than save ends, so it's likely they would have survived that encounter under the new rules.

I'll also say that we average about 2-3 encounters per session, mostly due to excessive chit-chat. With quest XP you technically only need 9 encounters to level up, so if you can get 3 done per session you would level up every 3rd get-together which is a good steady pace. Ours is closer to every 4th session, but I have discovered that skill challenges take a lot less time than combat encounters so I'm going to try and work in more of those in the future.

As far as playing, teaming up with the wife on the gladiator bestdown twins was the most fun I've had playing in a long time. Characters built with the intention of working together can be very strong and pretty cool to play.

Blacksteel said...

Dangers of posting from the phone with autocorrect - "beatdown twins"

Dangerous Brian said...

I think the biggest problem we had was, that with two or three weeks between sessions, the players never really had a chance to "learn" their characters properly. Which really slowed things down.

And yes, I read your write-up of those two characters. Very vicious.

Blacksteel said...

Yeah it helps a lot at the beginning if you can work in some kind of every week schedule or play some longer sessions so that those initial "oh hey I get it" moments don't fade too quickly.