Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

The theme of the weekend gaming blogosphere was QUESTIONS.  Brendan posted a survey on DMing rules styles, and then I was tagged by the Evil DM.

This is a classic case of "do as I say, not as I do..."  We're currently playing AD&D, and trying to play as by-the-book as possible, and that means stepping outside my comfort zone and seeing things from a different perspective.  I'll answer these questions assuming I didn't currently have a social experiment in 1979-style AD&D running in my regular game slot.

Ability scores generation method?
3d6 in order

How are death and dying handled?
Zero hit points, d-e-a-d

What about raising the dead?
Definitely, at the local church.  For money. Unless I'm going for a gritty, horror-themed D&D game, my default approach supports Raise Dead.

How are replacement PCs handled?
A level below the lowest character in the group.

Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
I prefer Individual initiative, but Group initiative works best for large groups and kids (which usually describes my groups).

Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
I prefer Crits as max damage, not double damage.  (But players sure love that double damage).

Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
It's an assumed part of the armor class.  If a player ditches their helmet, their head is AC 9.

Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?

Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
Be prepared to run.

Level-draining monsters: yes or no?

Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
Yes, that comes with the territory.

How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
Too strictly for the player's taste.  Systems like LOTFP or ACKS that simplify encumbrance calculation really help split the difference.

What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
Return to town or any civilized spot for rest and recovery to gain levels.  Low level magic users need to be near their teacher, but by mid-levels they get their own spells through research and scrolls.

What do I get experience for?
Treasure and monsters.  I tend to give small, occasional ad hoc awards to the kids gaming with us when they exercise ingenuity and good problem solving skills.

How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
Proper description will allow anyone to find traps, but dice rolling can also work if the thief searches the right area.

Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
Retainers are necessary for survival, and morale is checked as required.

How do I identify magic items?
Experimentation and use

Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
It's not common, but definitely possible at the right market

Can I create magic items? When and how?
Both my preferred clone rules (LOTFP and ACKS) have excellent magic item creation rules

What about splitting the party?
Not recommended, but allowed

How is alignment used?*
Alignment reflects cosmic allegiance, and is not a straitjacket on behavior.

Are demi-human level limits enforced?*

*Those last two questions I added, but they seem to be common fault lines in OSR games.

What made you decide to write a blog?
I became a regular reader of some blogs and decided it looked like tons of fun.  Huge Ruined Pile was one my favorites back then, until it went MIA.  Once I actually became a blogger, I discovered there are a ton of great blogs out there.

What would you say has been the highlight of your blogging career to date?
Most of the folks who read my blog are fellow gamers, and enjoy either D&D or Call of Cthulhu, so I tend to think we have a ton in common.  Far and away the best thing about blogging is seeing ideas bounce around amongst the blogs, and picking up new ones from the rest of the gaming community.

Name your favourite animal.
My dog.  She licks the side of my face sometimes and is always happy to see me.

What has been the best thing to ever happen to you?
My dad brought home a copy of the 1981 Moldvay boxed set for basic Dungeons & Dragons on the way home from work because he thought I'd like it.  How awesome is that?  He's a great guy; one time he got me tickets for Die Walküre for Lincoln Center because I love opera, even though it bored him to tears and he dozed through the last act.  I've been able to see Siegfried at the Met as well, but I haven't seen live performances of Das Rheingold or Götterdämmerung yet.

These days, my wife and family are the bringers of great joy.  But I would't be the same person without developing that deep love for fantasy, games, and literature, back in 1981.

You are in a lift with a Nun, a middle-aged business man, a Karl Marx look-alike, a twenty-something female charity worker and Stephen Hawking. The lift shudders to a stop, the lights go out. There is a high-pitched scream followed by a thud. The lights come on and the Nun is lying dead on the floor with a knife in her chest. Who did it and why?

I saw that exact movie.  Stephen Hawking did it, because he's secretly the devil, and when the lights go out again, someone else is going to be killed.  All the people on the elevator have dark, hidden crimes, and their souls are being collected to pay for their awfulness.  For instance, the female charity worker once cheated on a test.  Stephen Hawking has no mercy for cheaters, especially when its a math or science test.

Name your favourite colour.
Orange.  It's the color of Broncos jerseys and pumpkins.  I have a ton of orange shirts.

What has been the scariest thing to ever happen to you?

I had eye cancer and needed to have a major operation.  I still have the eye, but the vision in that one eye isn't great.  All hope of me playing professional baseball was gone (not that I had any to start).  The cancer was totally gone, but that was pretty scary stuff.  Luckily it was a long time ago!

You are about to break the world record for the tallest house of cards in front of a crowded room of onlookers and world press. All of a sudden, some idiot parent allows their errant child to charge over, knocking into your table, sending your world record beating attempt crashing around you. What do you do next?

I wake up in a cold sweat, and tell my wife we should never have kids.  Then she tells me, it's too late, we have three of them.  I can't stop screaming after that.

If you had to spend a month on a tropical island, what four luxury items do you take with you?

Notebooks, graph paper, and and a package of mechanical pencils.  I'd finally get the Black City done.  For the last item, I was considering some weights to stay in shape, but maybe that's not such a problem on a tropical island.  Instead, I'm now thinking the last thing would be a book -either The Worm Ouroboros or The Chronicles of Amber.  Both are hefty reads that are on my list to read again.

Once on your tropical island you are allowed to have one person of your choice to stay with you. Now this can be anyone famous, living or dead, fictional and from any period of time/history - loved ones are not allowed - who do you choose and why?

Dejah Thoris.  Because she's a famous pulp fantasy adventurer and would help with campaign inspiration.  She'd be along for her mind, you perverts.

What has been the worst impulse purchase of a totally useless item (one you convinced yourself into believing you needed, but didn't)? What was it, and do you still have it?

4th Edition.  Luckily, I ebayed all the 4E stuff well before the WOTC announcements.  Honorable mentions still in my gaming closet include a huge box full of these little plastic Pirates of the Spanish Main plastic cards/models, or maybe the Heroclix Watchmen collector set, which we've never actually used in a Heroclix game.  Total impulse buy.  But most of the time I ruthlessly divest gaming stuff that I no longer intend to use.


  1. Can I have your PotSM minis? I brilliantly decided to start running a piratical game with min-based naval combat right before finding out PotSM was discontinued.

  2. Another person whose favorite color is orange! It's nice to know I'm not the only one!