Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ITGW 2010

So on Saturday night I ran my ITGW event for boytoy, a couple players from the Traveller game, and a "D&D-curious" friend who'd been making noise about playing sometime for a while, and one of the Traveller players friends who had apparently played a bit of 3.5 and a bit of 4e before. ("I prefer 4e to 3.5," she says. "Which I know makes me unusual." Talking to people who aren't hooked into the online scene can be very odd.) I thought it went pretty well, for a wacked out little dungeoncrawl that ended with the entire party being eaten by trolls. Everyone had fun, died glorious deaths, etc.

More people showed up than I was expecting, too--five total, and that was minus the people who said they really wanted to show up but had either a LARP or something else going on that night. The ones who couldn't show want me to run something similar another time, and some of the ones who did were talking at the end of the night about doing this as a regular campaign. Which I really, really don't have time for now, on account of the two other weekly games I'm currently playing and the third I'm planning to run myself, but I am intrigued by the idea--as is boytoy, who's considering running a similar kind of game himself. Only with "no rules." Not sure how that's going to work out, but we'll see.

This enthusiasm persisted despite the fact that the TPK the game ended with mainly killed second characters--three people had already lost their first and rolled up new ones at the table. (We introduced the new ones with Ye Olde "you run across goblins sacrificing other adventurers!") But the worlds "Bonesaw has fallen in glorious battle!" go a long way towards keeping the table energy up even Bonesaw's face has just been gnawed off by an angry troll or whatever, and everyone was pretty much treating it as a goof-off kind of thing anyway. At some point I'd love to run a more "serious" dungeoncrawl, but considering that it was a one-shot and a gang of new folks, goofy, high-energy, and high-casualty seemed like the way to go.

Tip: Players are perfectly happy for their characters to die if they die in ridiculous ways. (And they know going into it what to expect.)

Because they weren't taking it seriously, though, they did a lot of dumb things, even once it was clear that they were dumb things to do. I'm hoping that they'd tighten up a bit in a more serious game; I'd hate to think that they were doing this stuff because they thought that was how old school D&D was "supposed to be played." But with any luck, they've learned that:
  • Sleeping in the dungeon is a terrible idea. And worse the second time.
  • Monsters that are immune to sleep are scary.
  • If the rats aren't attacking you, don't pester them.
  • Making as much noise as you possibly can while opening doors attracts monsters.
  • Running means you can't map. Deciding specifically to push on in a different direction from the one that you think leads back to the surface means you will get horribly lost.
  • Having a spell saved is no good if you're dead.
They did learn, I know, that sleep is a much better spell than magic missile at that level. Several of the players pushed one of the magic-users to prep the latter spell, ("It's magic missile!") and boytoy's first character ("The Mighty Wizard Butterburr," and the character responsible for naming the place "Butterland Hollow.") did indeed enter the dungeon with that bit of magic, but they quickly learned that guaranteed damage on a single target is in no way equivalent to the ability to neutralize a horde of monsters at once.

I was pretty pleased with what I came up with to run the dungeon itself. I never did sit down to make notes for the dang thing; I had a map, my copies of Fight On! a few minutes while the players were making characters to scribble down a few ideas. So I made a deck of cards with different room descriptions on them, some from my old megadungeon, some from Fight On! and some made up on the spot or based on player speculations. When they got to a new room, I'd roll a few dice to decide whether to draw a card, roll a wandering monster, or leave it blank, and note down the details on the map.

This worked really well for the freewheeling kind of game we were playing, and would have only been a bit harder if they'd been doing basic things like listening at doors. Truly thorough investigations would have required a more involved note-taking scheme, but since this group was more interested in making as much noise as possible than careful searching and scouting, I was able to get away with a few scribbled notes.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this game went. It's got me thinking again about running some kind of regular, serious dungeoncrawl, but there's no way I'm going to have time for that kind of thing any time soon.

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