Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Playing Yesterday's Games Today

Recently I ran a quickie beginner friendly game at the grand opening of Fife's newest gaming arena Minmax Games, if I am feeling brave I will post a link to the scenario at the bottom.

Since I rediscovered role playing games I have run some sessions of Savage Worlds, played a fair amount of Dungeons & Dragons 4E and am now running a regular Traveller game. My current experiences with 4E are not the best, this I suspect has more to do with my play style and gaming memories than the actual system itself. The system seems well balanced just not my cup of tea. I did find myself thinking back to basic Dungeons and Dragons.

[caption id="attachment_546" align="aligncenter" width="220" caption="D&D Expert Set (Source The Acaeum"]D&D Expert Set (Source The Acaeum[/caption]

My memories told me the game was quicker, simpler and just more fun.

So when I was given the opportunity to run a game for beginners I thought I would try an old school system. I eventually settled on the Basic Fantasy system. Which I so liked the look of that I even purchased a copy. As far as I could tell it looked and felt like old fashioned (not advanced) Dungeons and Dragons but with ascending AC and race kept apart from classes. Everything else looked good.

It took a matter of hours to write a quick standard dungeon bash revolving round kicking down doors, killing bestial monsters and nicking their shiny stuff. At long last I finally got to use a Rust Monster, so I can finally tick that off my list of things to do before I die.

[caption id="attachment_947" align="aligncenter" width="223" caption="Rust Monster"]Rust Monster[/caption]

Quick hit it with sticks and kick it in the face until it dies! The rust monster is the best creature ever.

The players were comprised of a group of total beginners and some with experience of more up to date systems. The newbies picked up the concept pretty quickly, tell me what they wanted to do, I told them what to roll and then explained what happened. It was the players with some experience that made me remember how clunky some of the mechanics were. Not really the mechanics as such but the missing mechanics.

The mage was not very happy when I explained that Magic Missile was not an encounter spell and even though he had a chance to sit down and have a cup of tea he was not getting it back. I realised their sheer frailty and uselessness at lower levels is why mages do not run the entire world in the standard Dungeons and Dragons universe. That and the fact that we just make it up to be whatever we like :)

The main problem was some of the skill checks. Having to roll d% for thieving skills was a bit much to a young man weaned on 4E. Unlisted skills were a problem. Basic Fantasy (like D&D before it) does not have a skills system for most things that are not fighting or thieving related. The way I always used to resolve these problems in the past was to pick the most likely ability score, roll a d20 and try to get low. The lower the better. One of the things the d20 system did was make the d20 the default roll for almost anything and make higher better.

If I ever run Basic Fantasy again, or Dungeons and Dragons, I think I will use a set difficulty level (10 for average difficulty tasks) and just ask people to roll a d20 and add the relevant ability modifier. By the time it clicked this was a much more elegant system it was too late.

As a system I really liked Basic Fantasy. It was quick and fun and, my stupidities aside, very easy to use.

Here for anyone that is very, very bored is my scenario: Two Girls, One Cup. The actual end of the scenario was never properly written and I just had to ad lib it. Creatures were designed to be easy to scale up or down depending on how well the players were doing.

[ipaper id=92150432 key=key-22aohtrvkvtegkino2f4]

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