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Messages - Dave R

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 15
1
I'm running a house-ruled version of ACKS, so that puts me in the B/X camp.


I've got a soft spot for AD&D too. I'm unlikely to revisit it now given my other options and commitments, but if I do I'm going straight to the source, not filtering it through OSRIC or any other clone. The baroque is part of the charm.

2
Haven't read Hostile, can't help you there. I can address the rules side.


Learn, teach and embrace the skill system and especially the rules on task chains early. This is central to the whole system.


Set a limit on the number of terms in character creation, so PCs are all roughly in the same ballpark. OR you can rely on death in char-gen as a balancing mechanism, but that really only works if everyone's rolling completely honestly in person so they have to stop while they can. As soon as someone nudges a die, or the GM has mercy and lets "death" mean stop rolling and play the character, you end up with the stereotypical geriatric admiral with all the skills alongside more reasonable characters.


Run a trial combat before it counts. Traveller combat can be deadly - not quite as deadly as it's sometimes made out to be, since if you win, or even lose in civilized country, you may be able to be patched up. But still more deadly than D&D.

Speaking of which, when you say "older, experienced players" - what system(s)? I've had better luck teaching Trav to brand new players than I have to players who've only played D&D. It's just... different. Your optimal moves are different, your attitude in combat has to be different, your reflexes are different. People who try to play it like D&D in space get very frustrated.


House rules to consider - the book modifier for unskilled checks is -3. I ran that out of the box my first time out and I didn't like how it discouraged players from even trying unless they had to. Next time out I'm using either a -1 (Stars Without Number does this) or a - equal to each character's highest skill rank (abstract, but works at a meta-game level).


I've also tried rolling initiative in combat only once at the start, and having the various dodge/react penalties change your count until the end of combat instead of end of round. I really liked that one but only got to see it a couple of times.

3
So here is a question for all of you out there. What would you like to see as new products for Traveller or Cepheus Engine?


About the only thing I need or would buy is stand-alone adventures. Problem is I'm finicky on adventures; a lot of what's published I don't consider good.


As a benchmark, One Crowded Hour which sometimes gets praised I consider to be a great idea with terrible execution. Should be presented as more of a "here's the situation, here are some game aids for the GM, now what do the players do?" Instead we get a linear scene-based progression that assumes PCs actions. You can derive an open adventure out of what's presented, but it's needless work compared to what the writer should have done themselves.


Not sure if that helps you or not.


Cepheus. Great community rolling there with tons of product. A shame Mongoose didn't just OGL again...


Mechanically, Cepheus = Mongoose 1e + [minor house rules]. Fans insisting they're separate games is the equivalent of insisting that OSRIC and AD&D are separate games, or that OSE and B/X are separate games. If you can't run an adventure or setting published for "Cepheus" in Mongoose 1 or 2e I don't know how you're running a game in the first place.

4
Quote from: Philotomy Jurament;1145723
I'd like to see more "drop in set piece" kinds of modules. No big backstory. No big plot. No "adventure path," just useful sites that a DM can drop in and integrate into his campaign. Example might be things like:

  • A necromancer's tower.
  • A dragon's lair.
  • An inn with NPCs and encounter tables.
  • A bandit lair (keep/cave/camp)
  • A supplement with a couple ship plans and crew details (e.g. merchant ship, pirate vessel), plus some seaborne encounters.
  • Etc.


I came in here to post something like this. You'd think there'd be more of these already. There are a few, but some are marred by being highly campaign specific when they need not have been, or just being bad.

And it's implied, but I'll add "with all necessary prep work done." A surprising number of published adventures of all kinds leave some prep to the GM. Which is okay if it's for something outside the walls of the adventure, but if every GM who uses it is going to need to work up a map, or an order of battle, or an NPC reference sheet, why not include that in the first place?

5
You've got to print/copy the charts as soon as players have level 1 characters. Each player should have every chart their character uses. It's not a small difference in speed and overall experience.

6
Quote from: Simlasa;1140599
Is an adventure automatically a 'railroad' just because a dungeon layout is linear?

I didn't say anything about linear dungeon layouts. Which shows you know it's an issue. But since you mention it, a couple were literal straight lines when mapped by the players. I mean there'd be corners and stairs, but as a node map you quite literally advance from one to another with no choices whatsoever. Back or forward. And sometimes back isn't even an option because you're locked in or on a do-or-die mission. So yes, that is both linear and a railroad.

Quote from: Simlasa;1140599
Not that all DCC dungeons are linear either.

Give me some titles then, I'd love to check them out. I played 4-5 published ones and flipped through a few more after that campaign ended, so I don't claim to have checked literally everything they've published. But everyone else I've heard from says my experience was typical.

And again - I like DCC the game. It's a good base for a longer campaign for a GM willing to do the heavy lifting on adventures and encounters. It's just the adventure catalog being heavy on railroads is a weird thing to have for an OSR-adjacent game.

7
Quote from: Mercurius;1140257
I've noticed people speak highly of DCC


It's a fun game and I recommend it. It's especially worth playing a funnel as a one-shot; for a longer campaign I think it'd best to do most of the heavy lifting coming up with adventures, despite their published catalog (which are almost all railroads).

Quote from: Mercurius;1140257
which seems to be the crown jewel of OSR games.


Wut?

Every single retro-clone of any variety is a better OSR game than DCC. DCC lacks xp for gold. It's got a low-granularity xp table that's almost to the point of milestone/level up when the GM says so. Unless I missed them it lacks rules for wandering monsters and dungeon exploration. The published adventures being outrageous railroads are opposite of the OSR best practice of jacquayed dungeons with player choice. And mechanical compatibility with the great majority of published OSR adventures and settings is low.

Quote from: Mercurius;1140257
Specifically, what edition of D&D does it play most similarly to?


It feels to me like a spiritual descendant of AD&D. The funky classes, each with it's own shtick, the patrons and spell charts, that all feels like a road not taken, if AD&D had embraced metal instead of sanitizing in the face of the satanic panic.

Mechanically it's probably more like Hackmaster or Rolemaster. Really its it's own thing though, I wouldn't put it too close to any one edition of D&D. That it's built off the 3.5 OGL is an accident of history and legality that doesn't actually make it similar.

8
Absolutely everywhere is better than reddit. Even 4chan/tg/osrg is better than reddit - occasional trolling, but some real content in there as well. Dragonsfoot is useful - more plain old Old School than OSR, but I still get a lot from it. I don't go in swinging about DCC or LotFP, I talk about AD&D or systemless, but still. K&KA is even more grognard old school/anti-OSR than Dragonsfoot but if AD&D is your interest it's okay.

What's best though is to run a game yourself. You need one rulebook, one adventure, and most importantly the decision to use all the rules later editions stripped out. That's encumbrance, tracking time and resources, wandering monster checks, reaction rolls, morale rolls, and xp for gold. OSR is the game that emerges out of using all that, not a subreddit.

9
Quote from: oggsmash;1135334
missing how characters choosing to have a very narrow focus is a SW problem

In the abstract it's not, but when it happens three times in a row with different groups, and the third time is after the GM warns players making characters they should consider diversifying, it certainly is a problem in the as-applied sense. And, yes, if I'd been the GM for all of those I'd give a stronger warning or even exercise a veto over too-narrow character builds. Then again, when I'm the GM I can choose another system for fantasy, one where class roles actually work how players expect and want them to. And I can save SW for the swashbuckling games that are in its wheelhouse.

10
I've done a lot of D&D and Savage Worlds, and I come out the opposite. I like both, but fantasy is my least favorite use of SW, to the extent I'll no longer play it.

In a good SW game players are swashbuckling, they're leveraging the rules to swing on chandeliers and taunt their opponents and set their fellow party members up for attacks. If you can picture Erol Flynn as a PC you've nailed a Savage Worlds campaign. So it's great for things like pirates, steampunk or Robin Hood.

Somehow in fantasy SW there's always a couple players who try to recreate fantasy or D&D class roles. So one guy's the mage, one guy's the healer, one guys the fighter - and they all insist on getting their relevant skill, Casting or Fighting, as high as possible. Then they've got that high skill and they insist on rolling it as much as possible because they're "just playing their character, man" and because it's "optimal." Except it's not optimal, it's suboptimal, they're passing up times the best play is to buckle their swash but they can't see it. So they're fighting the system, they're frustrated because it's not going how they think it should, any players who actually understand SW are frustrated because they're not pulling their weight, and the GM gets frustrated because they swing between getting their asses kicked when they shouldn't and only occasionally curb-stomping something that should have stayed up for a few rounds when they can leverage their high skill.

11
I got lucky out of the gate on Discord, and put together a good group by recruiting from groups for the OSR and the specific game I'm running. With a sample size of one I can't be sure if that's normal or not, but it's worth a try.

I did lose two of my first players, but that's actually better than I expected, and I just recruited more and moved on. Having a game setup that allows for easy new entries helps.

12
The Dreams of Ruin is an excellent high level OSR adventure. I imagine it's adaptable at least thematically. I have not actually dug into Godbound though.

13
I played in a couple of SW Deadlands campaigns and had fun. Savage Worlds rules encourage swashbuckling, trick shots, and taunting your enemies sometimes over attacking every round, and that's awesome. We had some sessions that felt like a Zorro scene, especially when we had more non-magic characters.

What did wear on me eventually is there's so many caster options for Savage Worlds, and Deadlands finds a home for every one of them except psionics. There's the preachers, Blessed, who are mechanically fucking awesome, and end up being more mage/clerics than miracle workers and faith healers. There's Indian shamans and creole voodooists. There's mad scientists, who do fit the setting but suffer somewhat from not having rules support for building anything larger than a gizmo with a power in it. There's Hucksters who are probably the most iconic for the setting, and their casting mechanic matches the setting better than Blessed, but then they're lost in the noise of all the other casters. It's too easy to have a majority of the party be casters, and that reminded me I was playing Savage Worlds too much, compared to when we had more gunslingers and did more cowboy stunts.

Easily solved if you're the GM, just limit casters, but most GMs don't, and not all players are interested. I still recommend it, but the more seriously you take the setting the more you may want to limit character creation options.

14
Quote from: RPGPundit;1127702
When running OSR games, what's your preferred initiative system?


Monsters roll d6 by side or type. Player characters roll individually, using their hit die as their init die.

15
Typically what I do when I'm prepping a campaign is pitch a rough concept to players.  I form a group out of people who are positively interested in the game pitch.  If I later find out someone just wanted to get their feet under the table and is trying to get me or the other players to make a switch on the order of, say, changing a Traveller game to Starfinder (or any similar change to concept or setting) I drop them.  Conversely, if someone sits it out because the game pitch isn't their thing, I make sure to invite them to the next campaign because I know they'll be on board if they do play.

I do all this not because I have a Viking hat GMing style once play starts, or because it's my way or the highway.  I do it because consensus is a terrible way to generate a campaign that's actually fun for everyone.  You would think it would be, because everyone gets a vote, but that's not how it works out.  You end up meeting in the middle on several different dimensions.  Serious versus jokey, epic versus street level, followers and rulership versus player characters only, any number of things where one extreme or the other might be appropriate to a campaign concept, but you end up in the middle.  Or if not literally in the middle, incorporating wildly unrelated requests from 4-5 different people.

That being said...

Quote from: Morblot;1116506
What would you add to the list or remove from it?


I would remove everything from that list.  I would prepare pitches for 3-4 coherent campaign concepts that you yourself are positively interested in running, AND that you might guess would interest some of your players since you know them, and ask for a vote.

Things I have done in session 0's:
Pitch a single-clan game in Legend of the 5 Rings.  Hold a secret ballot for what clan to play - I didn't vote.  Rolled with what the players voted for.
Generated a noble house for the players to be retainers and lower ranking members of, using the rules in A Song of Ice and Fire rpg (despite running the game in another system).
Generated characters, obviously.  Ask the players why they're adventuring together, and what connections they have to other player characters.  Do not start play until this answered, even if it's only in brief.
Ask for NPCs from their background.  Daimyo, sensei, and immediate family were common for L5R, but can be more general for other games.  Names and short sentences preferred over lengthy stories.  The shorter it is the more likely I am to remember and use it.  Don't just screw them over by holding their family hostage, make it positive, though in some systems very positive can require a point expenditure rather than just writing down "my father is the daimyo".
Make sure player characters have roles beyond their class role.  In a clan game, what their position is (scribe, executioner, spare heir, etc.)  In a Traveller campaign, what job they have on ship (pilot, mechanic, steward, deckhand/working passage if they don't have any obvious ship skills).  If they can't come up with one or agree to any of several suggestions, that's a sign we have a problem.  "I'm the muscle/comic relief/fish out of water" is not an acceptable position/job, it's more something you overlay on a nominal position.
Run a sample combat.
Things I haven't done in a session 0 but should:
Run a sample combat, using pre-gens, and ending in a TPK (likely, unless they surprise me).  Have the party run across the aftermath of that later in play with their own characters.
Generate a fantasy world and history using Dawn of Worlds.  Go away for a month, develop a setting and custom classes based on the players choices, run that in D&D (or whatever seems appropriate).

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