Every PC hurts, sometimes. Healing in table-top role-playing games. You can use spells, scrolls, potions, but then there’s the long and short rests. A combat lasts 2-3 minutes. The party is wasted. You hear it come from the players, “we rest!” Are there other ways to handle the 5 minute work day of an adventurer?
Matt Bohnhoff emails us
Story time! I promise it’ll be relevant by the end…
I woke myself up coughing at 3 this morning and halfway through one epic hack I felt a muscle in my back spasm painfully. I knew that by morning it would hurt to move at all. In an effort to mitigate that, I moved to the floor and spent the next couple hours gently stretching.
Fortunately I had a fresh episode of Gaming and BS downloaded. I really appreciated you guys keeping me company as a I writhed around on the floor in the dark hours of the morning.
Gabe comments on AD&D
“I feel like I can’t. I feel like I’m ineffective.” :joy:
Is anyone running an OSR game (or, as in Sean’s belated case, a “down-toned” 5e) whose players are not saying this?
Edit: But, seriously, I’m glad things are going well with 1e and you, Brett. Old school is probably my favorite mode in which to play, but I’ve been pretty glum about my 0e lately, because my group has faced some issues similar to what Sean has dealt with recently in his 5e. Brett’s joy in and enthusiasm for 1e has reinvigorated me, however.
Harrigan replying to Gabe on AD&D
I think it takes players who aren’t afraid to fail, who enjoy challenge and exploration more than just kicking ass in battle after battle, and who just kind of get the ethos of old school play. As much as I love big chunks of the OSR (I actually like it more now than when I was running it in the early 80s!), there are loads of bits that leave me cold. Many of the original systems and retroclones are laden, I think, with antiquated ideas and mechanics – at least for my tables. But as soon as we move into post-modern / neo-OSR systems like The Black Hack, Mork Borg, Forbidden Lands, Troika, Mothership and the like, a whole gaggle of us get excited to play. We want the mood and the vibe without weapons that do different damage based on the size of the creature, per class to-hit tables and half of the other things that have Brett excited in his AD&D game. 😉
Some of the modern systems slew pretty close to the original games, but directly address some of the things that bug players who are coming at the scene from a different headspace. Best example – The Black Hack, which I often espouse love for, is a mildly modified version of 3d6 roll down the line for chargen. That can result in some pretty awful stats, the kind that make some players think the PC is ‘unplayable.’ But TBH has a sweet leveling mechanism that punches that problem in the face: every level, you have a chance to increase every stat. It’s really fun watching people go through that process, and to watch the system give those bumbling PCs a leg up.
What’s up with your 0e game? Is it S&W White Box?
Gabe wraps it up…
Oh, man, how I would love to run (and build) Swords & Wizardry from WhiteBox! Our base actually is Complete, and, all game theory aside and judging by how my players like to do things, I think this is for the best. Listeners have heard about our game before: it’s Swords & Wizardry Complete, so heavily modified that (referencing some in-game fiction) we now call it Bards & Battles.
I have sat here on the couch now for about an hour composing multiple drafts trying to explain our situation. I think our current game environment is so atypical and puzzling that I’ll try instead to address it through a series of bullets.
- My players’ previous experiences with D&D are 2e only. In the case of one player, this is solely through video games.
- My players have experienced no other tabletop rpgs, with the exception of one player (if I remember right) playing a session or two of FFG Star Wars.
- My players want to play no other game than Bards & Battles.
- This group began as a casual home group, in which I actually discontinued my original S&W game and migrated my players into a friend’s 1e game so that I could run Conan 2d20 for others.
- As a result of the pandemic, one of these former players asked me to run (at-that-point-“casual”) D&D online, to which I consented.
- Session 0 concerns. There was no Session 0. We began Bards & Battles as a casual, “beer and pretzels” game.
- We started fresh with an utterly original, homebrew world (my favorite mode of play), which might have led to some Session 0 (or lack thereof) concerns…
- I told my players that they may detail (and thereby “own,” in part) any area in our emerging world. The players later told me that they interpreted this to mean that their PCs, who originated from these areas, were “important” to the emerging narrative (and hence entitled to a degree of “plot armor?”).
- In my view, as the game developed, the players grew quite attached to their characters, so much so that they exhibited signs of “turtling,” as well as negotiating for “character shields” that now threatens to upend the inherent tone of old school play.
- I began to feel like the Referee’s (my) gaming culture was at odds with the players’. In an attempt to reach a place of shared understanding, I reread S&W to highlight core assumptions of old school play and reinforced these principles to my players.
- I admit that my professorial demeanor can be argumentative and aggressive, bordering on intellectual bullying…
- Which probably resulted in a player “walk away from the (virtual) table” moment, much like the recent incident that has occurred between Sean and Jeff.
- My group has “made up,” but I remain as uncertain as ever. I don’t feel like I can get a read on my players’ expectations. I feel like we have a fundamental gaming culture disparity; theirs seems very informed by video games and, consequently, argues that tabletop gaming likewise should be a “walkthrough” (which can be true for modern rpgs but is not at all how I want to run old school). In their culture, I still feel, encounters should be balanced and “beatable.” All dungeon features should have a “purpose.” All “side quests” should be explored. The game world waits on player actions. PC death (if there is any at all) should be heroic and meaningful. This is not how I want to run the old school mode of play. For this style, I would use a different system, because Swords & Wizardry provides all the wrong tools. But my players don’t want other tools.
- At the beginning of the year I “gave up” Swords & Wizardry and (what I’m beginning to think of as “casual” or “passive” gaming) to run Conan 2d20 for specific people. I’m wondering if I will do so again, self-selecting, in the pandemic age, among all other gamers on the Internet. I’m not sure if I should do this, if this might be considered “elitist” and insular and not at all beneficial to the gaming community at large.
- Hence I’m pretty “glum” about it all.
Thanks again for your care and interest, @Harrigan, and for this opportunity to organize my thoughts and feelings on this subject!
Rory comments on AD&D
I have not played much this year – but I have to say my dissatisfaction with 5e and exhaustion at the mass of options for pathfinder/3e has also drawn me back to AD&D for when I do get back to the table (or finally get into Foundry or somesuch).
I reflect back on the decades of joy I had running AD&D – and like Brett I have a soft spot for Greyhawk and the Duchy of Geoff.
Going to start with modified B1/B2/Haunted hall of Eveningstar, mix in some homebrew, then gradually have orcs, bugbears. ogres and giants start organized raids out of the mountains – as well as isolated reports for weird, unknown monsters appearing in the high valleys of the Barrier Peaks…
Plus MAGIC ITEMS – lots of cool MAGIC ITEMS – as you said in the episode – finding really cool, weird, powerful magic items rather than having everything come from your class (5e/pathfinder I’m looking at you) gives them a reason to adventure.
(I still want to use speed factors and to hit modifications by armor type – but I’ll have to accept that I have an incurable mental deficiency in that particular area and that my victi…ahem…players will probably not enjoy such oddities).
I’m super glad you’re game is going so well Brett, like Gabe said – this episode’s enthusiasm was invigorating.
Oh – and the last time I tested AD&D a staunch pathfinder player (who was very touchy about not having skills) mentioned he wanted to draw a picture of a villain who had escaped – so he could show it around town.
I said sure – go ahead – you would have studied calligraphy & likely some illustration back in your monastery – roll me a d20 to see how good your likeness is.
Dude rolled a natural 20 – so I said – “Your monk is a natural artist – he can draw incredibly life-like scenes and his picture of the villain is perfect”.
Watching the light go on in his eyes as he realized we could just make this shit up at the table and his character now had a cool new “skill” made a huge difference.
Laramie on Healing
I think this is a tricky subject in gaming, as “realism” tends to be counter to “fun”.
One more random system to throw in the hat… it’s from me, so YOU guessed it… HACKMASTER.
A wound is healed based on severity. A 1 hp wound takes 1 day. A two HP wound takes 2 days to become a 1 HP wound, then another to heal completely. 6 HP wound? 21 days (6+5+4+3+2+1). Really puts a premium on magic healing, and traits that heal faster.
The most important lesson? The best way to deal with damage is to not take any.