Monday, December 24, 2007

Adventures in Gnome Town

I hit a new GMing milestone the other day. It's not on the actual list, but I'd put it there if I was making one, because it's something that in six-plus years of game mastering I'd never actually managed: I ran a complete, one-session adventure, with a mostly satisfying conclusion. I've run single session deals before, but they all were either irredeemably stupid or ended when people had to go home, rather than having an actual conclusion.

It was a bit humorous, revolving around the rescue of the son of the Mayor of Gnome Town (who was definitely a gnome) but we managed to avoid sending it completely off the rails.

Other items of note: It was almost completely improvised, and everything that wasn't improvised on the spot was less than two hours old. It was one player's first ever game, and although he spent the beginning of it slightly confused, by the conclusion he'd gotten the hang of it and happily wreaking havoc after the Mayor of Gnome Town let slip that the only way to become mayor was to defeat him in single combat.

I had fun. As far as I can tell, the players did, too, and I hope I'm not wrong in that impression. Now I know that with a little enthusiasm and an hour of prep-time I can turn five otherwise normal hours into some quick, dirty, and fun D&D. And that's not a bad thing to be able to do.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Funny. I've been looking through Iron Heroes again, in anticipation of running an actual one session scenario using it, and I've been rediscovering the best part of the book. I can't believe that I'd forgotten about stunts.

I guess I was just too busy being blown away by tokens, and having interesting choices in combat just on the PC level. Now you tell me this game has a stunt system, too? And not just any stunt system--a stunt system with some real tactical decision making, so I've got some rails. I've got some guidelines for what's too over the top, and angles for story/wacky antics players and more combat/math focused players to engage with it.

This is how my group plays. "Can I swing off the chandelier?" is a pretty standard question for the GM to hear. I've asked similar myself, when I'm on that side of the screen.

Now I know this isn't news. The stunt system, and the closely related challenge system, was kind of the point of the book. (Or a big part of it.) But somehow, I missed it.

Almost makes me want to

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Bog Standard" D&D

Can I run a campaign with the races more or less as they are described in the Player's Handbook?

By which I mean two things. "Is it possible for me?" but also "Is it a good idea?"

Because I have never done this. Even when I was running the (at least initially) core only, fight the crazy wizard in his tower, desert-y campaign, I fiddled with the races. I fiddled with a lot of stuff: it was in the desert, rather than the woodsily pastoral pseudo-European setting that the game kind of expects as default. But the races, I didn't mess with mechanically, but I did make a number of adjustments or total rewrites to the flavor that was in the book.

Honestly, it was kind of confusing. And not entirely necessary.

In a broader sense, I'm wondering if it's possible for me to run a campaign that more or less makes use of the core setting, as presented implicitly in the core rule books. Greyhawk, I guess.

I might, I think, replace the gods with a traditional mythological pantheon (Norse or Greek, most likely) on account of it being more immediately evocative. And maybe even pull some of the cultural trimmings from that mythology.

Leaving that possibility aside, though, I'm thinking, why not try to actually use what's in the book? Run a semi-standard, pseudo-European, elves like trees and dwarves like rocks basic D&D fantasy campaign. Rather than whatever strangitude I normally gravitate towards.

Because this will be for all, or mostly all, new players. And I'm not sure that saying, hey, the book says all this, but ignore it, because that's not how I'm doing it, is exactly the greatest way to get started. Could be confusing.

And what's in the book, it's got to be there for a reason, right? It can't be half bad. There's the sheer novelty of it. Less useless work for me to get stuck with. And it's really not that huge of a restriction to be under, because the information is, after all, awfully skeletal.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sort of Kind of Mostly Back

Novel's done. Finished. First draft, anyway.

Currently the big project is getting a group together for January. Still don't know how I'm going to go about teaching four new people to play D&D. Don't know how well that's going to work out, what the best way to do it is, any of it.

Currently I'm thinking, run a quick one or two session deal, pre-made adventure, something along the lines of The Burning Plague. Or write something like that, but I'm leaning towards just going with that, because that's the first adventure I ever played. Besides the rescuing unicorns from goblins junk, but that was just a two hour thing and really doesn't count. So there's sentimental value in that adventure, and of course that needs to be passed on, no matter how ridiculous it happens to be, what with it's plot that the players can't have.

And then after that, run an actual campaign, with new characters. Probably in the initial intro adventure, hand out pre-made characters, because it's a lot easier to teach the game than it is to teach character creation. (In my experience.) Then have people make characters, once they've got some idea of the mechanics of the game.