Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Investigations into a Fantasy Campaign

(other than Pathfinder, that is)

Reading some rulebooks and playing some Pillars of Eternity has me thinking about some other options at the table.
  • Re-read RQ2 a while back and got the itch to try it out. I like Glorantha enough to play there but I'm thinking about using Caverns of Thracia for the first run, maybe setting it in a more Roman-type setting than Dragon Pass. For a test run I don't need to overthink the setting.  
  • I re-read the 5th ediion D&D PHB too and I feel like I should give it another chance. I was all fired up about Pathfinder and coming off of 4th Edition when I last tried it. I might be more willing to find it's strengths now as simpler and faster definitely has its own attraction again. Thinking about using Thracia here too. Also considering Ptolus, as I haven't run a big city based campaign in a long time. Or I could pick up Temple of Elemental Evil again ...
  •  I'm all over the Mutant Crawl Classics Kickstarter and that got me thinking I should really re-read the original DCC and of course that has me thinking that we need to try it out too. I'm thinking Stonehell would be a good fit for it after the initial carnage of zero level.
  • Then of course looking over my Stonehell notes, we could have played some Labyrinth Lord at any time the past few years and probably had a blast. 
So many adventures - faster and simpler is huge. All of these games look like a good time waiting to happen. 


Adam Dickstein said...

But...aren't they all largely the same aside from RQ2?

I always have this feeling when discussing or hearing about Labyrinth Lord, DCC, 5th Ed. - that they're all just D&D with house rules added.

Couldn't you combine the best parts of each in Blacksteel Fantasy, or something?

Blacksteel said...

Well, probably and that might happen down the road a ways. There are way too many "White Box" or "Red Book" editing jobs out there and that's a pet peeve of mine. These three (Plus RQ) are the ones that stand out to me on the simpler end of FRPG's. They each have a different feel though.
- Labyrinth Lord is pure Moldvay Basic but when you add in the Advanced Companion it opens up into a nice little game that still avoids most of the complications of later editions. It's a nice mix of just enough detail but still simple to run and play. I don't really care about any other "D&D with one thing changed" retro-clones because I like this game better.

- DCC is quite a bit different than the older stuff. It looks retro as all get-out but it uses the 3E approach of everything is a d20 + mods vs. a difficulty class. It has the three saves of 3E. But the magic system is one where casters have to roll to cast their spells (among other differences) which drastically changes the feel of the game. It also has a dice-shifting mechanic because it uses those extra-funky dice like d14's and d24's so that in some cases instead of piling on modifiers you just shift up or down a die type or two. It's still simpler in that there are no feats or that kind of mechanical complication but it is mechanically quite a bit different than most D&D type games.

- 5th I mainly want to try because a) it's the new hotness right now and b) sometimes it takes me a couple of tries to get the system and c) a simpler faster game that's less of a supplement treadmill but is still plugged into official D&D stuff has some attraction right now.

So DCC is mainly a "This looks cool but how does it play?" kind of thing and D&D5E is more of a "maybe we got off to a bad start as re-reading it I like it better now than I did before so let's give it another try" kind of thing. Heck it took me two years to come around on D&D 4th after our first session was a disaster. It then took me two years to come around on Pathfinder as I was running multiple 4E campaigns and just didn't care. It took me two years to give the FFG Star Wars a try too so this is not a new thing.

Blacksteel said...

Oh and one thing I encountered in my DCC research: I sometimes forget that there are people out there who have only ever played D&D, usually older D&D. So when a retro-looking game stealth-bombers in "new" mechanics the near-universal mind-blowing of mechanics that have been in other games for 30 years is pretty funny. The main example I am thinking of here is rolling a die to cast a spell - there were multiple reviews where this was hailed as a revelation in handling magic. The fact that it blew some peoples' mind blows MY mind because we were doing this back in 1985 in Fantasy Hero. It goes back at least that far. It's a standard part of GURPS going back to at least 1988, to Shadowrun in 1989, the Deadlands games to 1996, and Savage Worlds to 2002, among others. And yes, there were various degrees of failure, complications, and negative effects for bad rolls and bonus effects for good ones in most of those games. DCC does some fun things with it but it didn't invent it.

Kelvin Green said...

I've had an itch of late to run a fantasy game using Savage Worlds. I ran an Eberron campaign a few years ago using the ruleset, and I'd like to give it another go.

That's not a suggestion for you, as you seem to be on the way to making your pick; I'm just musing on the subject.