Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Least Serious Game

Lately, I've been contemplating rebooting my entire D&D campaign. Why?

Well, I've been gradually shifting some of the world's events in a dark direction. There are horror elements - more Gothic than anything else, although I have had a couple of body-horror ideas to make my players' skin crawl - which culminated in a near-death at the hands of what two of the players hypothesized is some kind of eldritch god. (I'm not telling.) In fact, now that we've tentatively switched to AD&D2, I've had half a mind to cough up ten bucks for the nice PDFs of some Ravenloft books.

And who is running in this campaign at the moment? A cleric named Thebabicus, a druid named Steve (whose player has, so far, shown up to two of the last five sessions), and - until recently - a B/X elf named Boss Awesome. This group of mountebanks have dubbed themselves Team Awesomesauce. Pretty hard to take things seriously when everyone treats it like a joke.

Given this, I'm tempted to just have a Poison Rain Vornado come and sweep the party off to a faraway land that's almost as goofy as they are.

The other reason I want to reboot is that I finally bought the Cook/Marsh Expert Rulebook, and it's pretty cool. I've actually started on a little project which I hope to write more about soon, which this acquisition has finally made possible. For a while, I was thinking of running a game using Basic Fantasy. Pros: Good rules, easy to run, free to download (and print, at my university), and I already have a paperback copy. Cons: Some of the rules aren't to my liking. I realize that house-rules are easy to implement with this and other OSR games, but I have this feeling like it's not worth my time to modify the rules too much. If I have to change a bunch of the rules, why not just play a game that has those rules the way I like it?

Which is why I'll probably go with B/X if I reboot my campaign. I'm debating who to invite back. I feel like having a break where we play video games for a while will ease the frustration they might feel at switching systems again, much less back to the one we started with! The slowly forming "core" group has three good players who (from what I gather) would be fine with a serious game if it was presented to a fresh audience, and one player who has a great deal of rules mastery (having spent years running the Rules Cyclopedia) but a tendency to make a joke out of things. I've started sketching out a less serious campaign, and I might invite him back to that one; alternatively, I might try out one of his own gonzo campaigns, and play for a while.

Speaking of me playing: that's another reason to use B/X. If B did want to be the Dungeon Master for a while, the Basic Rulebook would be a hell of a lot easier to learn from than AD&D2 (the latter of which has, at least in the DMG, some pretty bad advice in it).

On the other hand, I've recently started talking to a guy I've known tangentially for a few years, who has a good deal of experience running various editions of D&D (including 5e, for which I might join his campaign if he gets one going), as well as Savage Worlds. I'd certainly like to have a good number of people available for a B/X game. Plus, one of J's friends came last time, and did a pretty good job. The more the merrier... especially since I'm planning to use B/X by the book for the Less Serious Game.

That's right! Uniform weapon damage! No negative hit points! (Maybe maximum HP at 1st level, but that's it.) Ha-HA!!

I feel like this is how Barry Sonnenfeld would do it if he was a DM: darkly funny and often absurd, but very deadly to the unwary (or unlucky).

Well, it's 1:21 AM as I finish up this post. Sorry if it's a little disorganized and weird... but for those of you who play OD&D on the reg', that shouldn't be a problem, should it? :D

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