Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This Guy Has Game!!

One of my stated goals for 2014 was to begin playing Dungeons and Dragons again.  Actually, my goal was a bit more lofty than just playing D&D.  I set the bar high by tasking myself with playing games in several different formats:  Moldvay, Mentzer, AD&D, and even 5th Edition.  Since I live on an island I'm fairly isolated from the gaming community. So as an additional goal, playing in a virtual environment was also included (a necessary inclusion, I might add).

Well I'm happy to say that I've been able to knock out not one, but two goals over the last several weeks.  That's right!  This guy has game!  Now bring on them kobolds!

I responded to a Google+ post seeking players for a Moldvay Basic campaign set in the World of Greyhawk.  At first I was a bit worried.  There were a few house rules being added that I felt could possibly change the character of the game.  After speaking with the organizer/DM and being assured that the new rules would not change the overall flavor of the Moldvay set, I agreed to take part.  I'm so glad that I did.  We have been playing every Thursday night over Google Hangouts and the experience has been everything that I had hoped for.  We've had taverns, goblin battles, intrigue, roleplaying, character death, and magic.  I can't even begin to explain the rush of nostalgia I feel when we get together for our sessions.

I'm playing an elf.  I actually dislike playing elves (for reasons that I may explain in another post) but I chose to create one for this campaign for two reasons.  The first reason was based upon my desire to recreate that magic I experienced on that first night back in 1982.  I played an elf that night and I thought it would provide perfect historical symmetry to play one again upon my return to D&D.  The second reason was more of a logistical choice though.  At the time I joined the group, we still did not have a magic-user and were low on fighter types.  Due to the high mortality rate of Moldvay Basic D&D, I did not want to play a regular squishy magic-user.  I thought that by choosing an elf I could provide some much needed magic while still adding some brute force and fire power.  We did gain a true wizard shortly thereafter but by then my decision (and my character) was made.

The campaign is taking place west of Woolly Bay in the foothills of the Abbor Alz.  The DM has heavily modified a commercial adventure and set it in Greyhawk.  I must say that he has done well with his conversion.  His setting fits organically with the original and had I not known otherwise, I would swear that the town of Skogenby had always existed in that location.  It has been fun to have Greyhawk as the background setting.  Though we have not ventured away from our starting area, elements of Greyhawk proper have crept into our game.  For instance, our party recently stumbled upon several ancient texts written in Old Oeridian.  It may sound simple, but for me the inclusion of a Greyhawk language in our session last Thursday opened a floodgate of memories for me.  I can't wait to see what else the world has to offer after my long absence.  Did I mention that I love this game?

The DM's house rules also fit well.  At first I was worried that having multiple house rules would detract from the Moldvay set.  I wanted as pure an experience as I could get for my return.  But after the first session I quickly realized that the rules added by the DM only enhanced Moldvay instead of tainting it.  I'm happy with the additions and may actually steal a few of the new rules when I begin DMing again.  I will list them in a future post if anyone is interested.

Fortunately my character hasn't died yet.  After six game sessions I'm still only first level though (damn that 4,000 XP mark for elves) so my longevity could easily change on any given night.  I'm trying to play intelligently to keep him alive but I can't control fate or the dice.  My elf has been in some sticky situations but so far has come out relatively unscathed.  Wish me luck for tomorrow night's expedition.

I hope readers will forgive me for posting more about this campaign from time to time.  I'm having such a blast that I can't help but want to share my experiences with others.  I wish you could all be there and take part (especially my frequent commenters).

So....two more goals down!  Now I need to find other games so that I can return to the other systems.

I'll close for now, but as always I'd like to leave you with a few questions:

*  Do you prefer "pure" D&D or are house rules the norm?
*  What is the best/favorite house rule you've encountered in your games?
*  How about the worst?
*  Are you aware of any Mentzer, AD&D, or 5th Edition games that are seeking players?

Thanks for you participation and comments.  Most of all, thanks for reading!


  1. I think it's a strength of the game that it can be modified (perhaps even improved) by the players, but that's not everyone's opinion.

    I look forward to you comparing play between the different editions.

    1. I have to agree with you 100%. House rules usually improve the game but I have witnessed a few stinkers in my time. The beauty of it is that a rule that does not work as intended can simply be removed.

      Thanks for the comments and thanks for reading!

  2. How exciting getting back into D&D. I always felt that so long as you are sitting with other like-minded people around a table (Even a virtual one) having fun with your RPG then it really doesn't matter what rules you play with. I can't think of any "house rules" that past. Our current 3.5 campaign takes things from here and there like Vices and Virtues or "Awesome Points" that add flavor to the game.

    1. Yep, just playing the game is a wonderful feeling. Playing online feels a bit strange to me but it seems to be working. I'm still looking forward to that first game that takes place in-person.

      Your current house rules sound vaguely similar to ours! Care to elaborate on them? I'm now definitely interested in collecting some of the various rules used by others in preparation of DMing again in the future.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. Hey, just getting back to you now. "Vices and Virtues" are just various aspects of your character that help you role-play. The DM pulled them from the "World of Darkness" rpg. My character has Greed and Hope. Basically if you play up to these aspects to enhance the game you are awarded awesome points. You can alos get awesome points for thinking outside the box and coming up with an awesome idea or way of doing something. Turn in 3 Awesome Points and you get an additional 1d6 to a d20 roll. In a way it's similar to the "inspiration" rule of 5E D&D.

  3. Your enthusiasm is contagious! Congrats on finding a group.

    I like to keep house rules fairly simple so as not to impact the game too much but allow for a little flair and customization. No overhauling a whole section of the rules, but double damage on a natural 20 is fine. I don't really have a favorite, a best would be way too subjective and I can't even think of a worst.

    My friend, his 2 sons and I just started a 1e/2e game. Originally, my friend was going to DM but we switched at the last minute. We've rolled up characters and only just started actual play. The adventure? Keep on the Borderlands, of course!

    1. I don't think I would like a D&D game that was completely overrun with house rules. At that point, I would no longer feel like I was playing D&D. That was why I was a bit worried at the start of my game. I'm glad my fears were unfounded.

      The Keep is the best! Please keep us updated on your game. I'm hoping to revisit the KotB soon, either as a player or DM. Until then I can live vicariously through your adventures!

      As always, thanks for reading!

  4. You've got to promise not to tell anyone I said this but, as far as older editions go, I'm not sure that pure D&D is even playable as a campaign without tweaking, house ruling, or some pretty significant genre-distortion (ranks of meat-shield NPCs, 5-minute workday, DM dice-fudging, etc). My gosh, was the ink even dry on Holmes Basic before AD&D was increasing hit points and letting characters drop to negative ten HP before death?

    I agree with jdh that one of D&D's greatest strengths lies in its function as a toolbox. In fact, I'll go a bit farther than that and assert that the fact that D&D has never really "worked" right out of the shrink wrap, instead forcing players to expand, modify, and ignore content, has contributed to the game's longevity and appeal. D&D has always presented a puzzle for clever people to solve -- a hobby within a hobby.

    1. I'll keep my mouth shut. Your secret will die with me. Ha!

      That's an interesting theory about longevity. You may be on to something there.

      Good luck with your new school year and thanks for your comments Jarrett!

  5. I'm currently running 2 B/X campaigns on Roll20. The first campaign actually started out as 1st edition AD&D, only the second one launched as a B/X game. But I became so enamored with B/X that I converted the first game to that ruleset as well. The players didn't seem to mind too much, they were willing to go along with the conversion.

    I have a fairly detailed house rules document, but it's mostly intended to fill what I felt were significant gaps in the B/X ruleset. I know they say Old School is about "rulings, not rules". Well, all I've done is written down my rulings in advance so that they're consistent and I don't forget them over time. Besides, Moldvay himself encourages us to house rule, just review p. B3, second column, 3rd paragraph.

    1. Hi Brett. Thanks for you comments. Unfortunately I did not notice the new post for over a week. My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

      Two B/X games? I am quite jealous! I find it impressive that your players chose to switch their game from AD&D to Basic. That's either a testament to the Moldvay rules or to your skill as a DM (maybe both!).

      Any chance I could get a look at your house rules? I'm always curious to see how others have customized the game to meet their vision of what D&D should be.

      Thanks for reading!