This months carnival is being hosted by Mind Weave Role-Playing Platform and they want to know about dungeons.
In all my years of gaming the groups I have played in haven’t really done much in the way of dungeon crawling, our fantasy adventures tend to be wilderness or urban themed with the usual mixture of combat, problem solving, barge burning and diplomacy. That’s not to say we haven’t done them, they’re just a rarity.
The one dungeon that I do love more than all the others is the first one I ever ran in module B1: In Search of the Unknown; the Caverns of Quasqueton .
The great thing about the dungeon is that is had advice for a novice DM as well as letting you stock it yourself from the charts and tables in the back of the book. These charts had treasures; both magical and mundane plus monsters appropriate to the level of the characters. This ensured that although the general layout remained the same, you could never be sure what lurked in the next room. On top of this there are several unexplained events so that the dungeon retains a magical quantity.
I found it the ideal starter dungeon and this is why I will come back to it time and again for the nostalgia and the happy memories of me running it.
The classic red box D&D is the most old school game I have. This is the one that I really got to read and make my decisions about gaming. Sure I had the AD&D players handbook but there were all sorts of other books required whereas the red box had it all in one package.
I even have the stub of crayon and dice that came in the box 🙂
For as long as I have gamed, there have been character sheets of varying qualities and rapid advancements in modern technology means it is very easy to grab a downloadable copy of a character sheet. So I’m going to limit myself to official character sheets and the best looking sheet I ever saw for purchase could be found in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay character pack.
This product contained fifty printed sheets on a pad with all the important stuff on it and a wonderful supplement that enabled you to create a background for the character by rolling on several charts. A fun addition to the rather dry character creation process.
When I started gaming I was all up for the complicated rule systems as I was a fan of the games as being as realistic as possible.
I was going to suggest Phoenix Command but that’s not a proper RPG rather a replacement combat system which leaves me to consider another candidate and I can’t really choose between either of them.
So I guess the most complicated games I own are Earthdawn and The Babylon Project.
On first glance the game appears to promise so much in the way of background; which it has in spades and a unique resolution system which is where it gets complicated. Trying to keep track of all the different values and the different die types is a real pain in the behind.
The Babylon Project.
I loved Babylon 5 and I when I heard of a licensed role-playing game I had to have it, the downside was that at the time it was only published in the US; luckily I was going on holiday to the US that year and tracked a copy down. The game has nine or ten stats and a very complicated combat system.
The first game I ever decided to run was the red box edition of DND with a group of friends who got me involved with gaming in the first place.
I sat down with them and ran them through the classic dungeon module B1, In Search of the unknown. I can’t really recall if it was a success or a failure but I know that I made a fair few mistakes that day and endeavoured to learn from them.
Funnily enough, when I started gaming again on Skype, I decided to use this very module as an introduction for them as well as using some of the classic names for the example player characters 🙂
The latest step in the evolution of the worlds most popular RPG Pathfinder has a lot going for it. Released when Wizards of the Coast moved on to do D&D4e there were always going to be gamers who refused to change to the new edition. Pathfinder took the mantle of 3.5 and applied a lot of what I suspect to be several houserules and codified them into a single cohesive whole. This is a game where you really can get away with nothing more than the core rulebook, sure the bestiary is a nice touch but you can find all of the Pathfinder monsters on the http://www.d20pfsrd.com/ Pathfinder System reference document.
I remember the resistance offered when TSR released AD&D 2nd edition, the wailing and gnashing of teeth as gamers perceived their beloved loopholes being closed up in the new edition. There was a similar reluctance for D&D3 as the cleaner design removed many trappings of the system that some people held onto like a security blanket. I was a little hesitant to get the new edition as I had recently purchased the excellent Core Rules 2 campaign package; a suite of digital tools that enabled character creation; writing handouts, dice roller and mapper in an all in one package. The new edition put paid to me using it again which was a pity since Core Rules 2 was a most excellent tool.
Although having everything in one book does make for a monster (ho-ho) tome, it is not the largest game book on my shelf; something that I will discuss in a future top ten posting.
I think where Pathfinder really shines though are the adventure path series, a series typically containing six books which form the basis for a campaign. In an age of every increasing splat books, it is a refreshing change to see a company willing to support their core line with a series of pre-packaged campaigns. Even if you don’t use them as written you can always mine them for inspiration and use them as a basis for a new campaign.
There are quite a few other fantasy games available and many appear to draw inspiration from D&D in one shape or another.
Pendragon casts you as a knight in the tales of King Arthur which isn’t a bad thing; using a familiar setting makes it easier for players to get a sense of what is going on and at least an idea of what may happen. There is one campaign adventure available The Great Pendragon Campaign which enables you to play through the rise and fall of King Arthur. Since this is a rather long campaign, the game provides you with the chance to create and play knights from different generations, with the game clock running it is somewhat important to find time to get married and try to start a family to ensure that there are future generations to carry the family name. Since the system is derived from Runequest combat can be quite deadly and another reason to have an heir and a spare to hand 🙂
Back in the 1980’s, riding the wave of success of the Fighting Fantasy game books a slim paperback RPG appeared called Maelstrom. It was simple to play and had everything you needed in one volume and this little gem quickly disappeared until the rights to the game were recently acquired and a facsimile edition was reprinted.
Last year a brand new edition was crowd-funded and subsequently released the afore mentioned Domesday edition which rather than being a small standard sized paperback is available in both soft and hard cover. The game is set in York in 1086 and has a lifepath based character creation system that reminded me of Warhammer 1st edition and by the end of it you have not only a character but a rich background for you to hang plot hooks off of. I’m always in favour of lifepath systems for this very reason.