Saturday 16 November 2013

This year, I have been mostly playing...

Okay, so it is not even close to the end of the year. It isn't, is it? Please no, where has the time gone...

I picked up a copy of Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer Edition. I thought that I'd best see what the fuss is about. 10 years late. As I said something of the sort to the guy behind the counter, I realised that if I listed the games that I had run over the past 12 months you would struggle to tell that it wasn't sometime in the mid-1980s. In 2013 I have run games using:

  • Several iterations of Classic D&D (including BECMI/RC, Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and Adventurer, Conqueror, King System)
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
  • Classic Traveller
  • Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e

Even the games on this list that have been published in the past few years are clones, simulacra, new editions, or what have you of game systems published about thirty years ago. Given that my next game will be either Marvel Super Heroes or Classic Traveller, and that the 'serious' campaign in gestation is a d100 fantasy game heavily inspired by Griffin Mountain, and you've got a picture of a man hopelessly stuck in the past - but I like it here! - like some kind of gaming Doc Brown.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Climbing High Xamen

More from the party's attempt to recover the Crown of Kings...

The climb up the slopes of Xamen was relatively straightforward. You know the kind of uneventful session. One that begins with a terrible rainstorm, which leaves the party seeking the shelter in a cave. And in true Fighting Fantasy style the party have the option of three cave entrances; one so small it would need to be crawled through, one reeking with a terrible musky stink, and one with a path of tottering hoof-prints leading inside. And that’s the one that they chose, within which they found a dead SHE-SATYR, body distorted by terrible muscle spasms. The party innovated with the materials at hand, and decided to prop the rigid body up in the cave entrance to serve as a kind of scarecrow. Unfortunately, the She-Satyr had crawled into the cave to die from a terrible disease, and the party contracted the Dire Tremblings (which slowly began eating away at their SKILL). Yes, that kind of straightforward; contracting a deadly disease within twenty minutes or so of starting play!

Knowing that there was a village of She-Satyrs somewhere higher in the mountains, the party decided carry the body with them, and amazingly (for these players) engaged respectfully (respectfully?!) with the village shaman. The She-Satyrs were careful not to touch any of the diseased party, but gave them hospitality and a few gifts - including a spear - before ushering them out of the village before nightfall. They were advised that Colletus, a holy man living higher in the mountains might be able to help. And, sure enough, in the rough alcove within which the party sought shelter after dark there was a message from Colletus. Written on the stone, it advised travellers to turn back, but that if they must go on they could find him near the Groaning Bridge.

After resting there for the night, the party pushed onwards and upwards. They soon came to a vast crevice, along the edge of which the path continued towards Mampang. There was, however, what appeared to be a rope swing that could take them across the chasm. The party discussed the safest way to use the rope swing, before inspiration struck: they don't HAVE to try to mess with every thing they encounter - certainly not in a game built on a Steve Jackson gamebook!

The party soon arrived at the Groaning Bridge. With rare appreciation of the treacherous nature of Titan, the party decided that they should tie a rope to Ho Lee and send him, cautiously, across. Sure enough, the bridge made a human groaning sound which grew loader and more agonised with every step, until - POP! - the bridge vanished beneath Ho Lee's feet. He dropped down, before the rope grew tight and swung him against the crevice wall. But he twisted his body [making a SKILL roll] and absorbed most of the blow. Mopsy and Cramer hauled Ho Lee out of the hole and, after catching their breath, decided to call out across the chasm for Colletus.

The blind holy man - eyelids painted with startlingly staring eyes - appeared from around a corner, mere yards further up the path. He tried to persuade them to turn back, that Mampang contained only death and misery, but the party were insistent. Convinced by their noble cause, Colletus led them across the crevice so that they could talk in safety. He cured them of the Dire Tremblings, before providing them with advice on the interior of the Fortress of Mampang, warning them of the deadly Throben Doors. However, it had been many years since his own attempt to kill the Archmage, and what he could remember was vague. Seeing the spear given to the party by the She-Satyrs, he enchanted it so that it would be particularly harmful to the evil residents of the Fortress [though as no-one has the Spear Special Skill, going 'by the book' it will still be hard for the PCs to hit anything particularly scary with it - perhaps I should have had Colletus enchant their swords...]. He then gave the party directions that would allow them to approach Mampang by a little used route.

The Fortress of Mampang sits within the crater of a dormant volcano. The party approached a narrow tunnel through the crater wall. From inside, they could hear snoring. Cramer, the most stealthy of the party, took a look inside; four guards slumped asleep, discarded jars of wine scattered on the floor. After discussing for some time on the best way to sneak the whole party past the sleeping guards, Cramer - devotee of Slangg, God of Malice, remember - decided to sneak up on the sleeping guards and slit their throats. The party stole the black and silver armour of the Mampang guards, but Cramer's reward for her 'heroism' was to be disguised as a prisoner and 'dragged' by Mopsy and Ho Lee to the vast, foreboding doors of the Fortress.

The party near their goal...        

Monday 4 November 2013

One Hundred Percent Yes

Newt's lovely looking OpenQuest 2e

After The Crown of Kings concludes (probably tonight, with our face-to-face group convening over Google+ - except for my wife, who I hope will join me at the table rather than play from the next room on her laptop), I'm increasingly drawn to the idea that our next game involve plenty of percentile dice. Thing is, as well as several out of print d100 fantasy games, I own OpenQuest, RuneQuest 6, and Magic World to draw from. I've also got the in-print Legend, but if I'm going to play that, why not just play RQ6? That's not to say that YOU shouldn't play Legend at is $24 cheaper (or one 25th the price...), but given that I own RQ6 (plus lots of MRQII books), I may as well play the 'refined' version. 

I know that the *right* answer is to take the best bits from each, and build my own game, but I do like being able to run a game from a single book - or at least, a small number of directly comparable books. 

I like OQ2e for its simple but comprehensive skill list and the way that the game runs smoothly at the table, with next to no fiddling about. I like MW for its character creation, which uses 'culture' and 'profession', providing a bit more flavour than OQ2e, but avoids the extended chargen process of RQ6 by allocating the skill points so neatly - in good sized blocks - that generating a PC is almost a quick as it is in OQ2e. Actually, it does what I was trying to do with my 'Hammerstein!' templates, but far, far more neatly. I like RQ6 for its elegant combat system (to what degree would using some variant of that break the simplicity of OQ?). Can all these be shoved together? Is it worth bothering, or should I just run a game straight from the book?

And where to play, one which worlds....