Monday, June 08, 2015

The D&D Thirty Day Challenge, Day 5: Favorite Die or Dice

Plain and simple. This guy...

I don't use critical hit or miss charts. We, meaning my players and I (because if it's good for the players then it is good for the monsters as well) roll this die and narrate some kind of heroic attack on a critical hit or dismal failure on a critical miss, incorporating a complication with the body part that this is rolled on this die. The results are quite fun. Results can be anything from a hurt foot that slows movement to a full on cleaving off of a body part, based on an eyeballing of the damage roll total. I love letting the players describe their own critical hits. They generally are not so fond of describing their fumbles, however. So, I'll handle that for them.

The D&D Thirty Day Challenge, Day 4: Favorite Game World

Since this is a D&D challenge, I am going to stick to things with the Dungeons & Dragons logo on it. That will include officially licensed and approved products. Fortunately for me, my absolute favorite setting falls under that umbrella.

I love the Judges Guild "Wilderlands of High Fantasy" setting, which is approved for use with Dungeons & Dragons. These products are kind of raw. Granted, over the years there have been some refinements to the setting products by other publishers and writers.  Deep down, there is just something fulfilling about this, dare I call it, bare bones setting. The hex-crawl nature is an obvious throwback to Avalon Hill's "Outdoor Survival." It is also the home to my favorite module, which I will post about in a few days.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The D&D Thirty Day Challenge, Day 3: Favorite PC Class

In 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook, on page 24, it is stated:

"No more than three rangers may work operate together at any time." 

If my memory serves me right, the intention of this rule by Gygax, et. al, is that since rangers are on the fringes of civilization protecting the settled lands from beasts and even worse, they tend to operate with no one to count on but themselves. There is something very adventurous and alluring to that idea. 

To all you ranger apprentices, (see what I did there?) since you are going to be out there in the wilds all by yourself with only two other possible rangers to give you a hand, you need to train hard. Cleaving bugbear skulls asunder with that bastard sword and knocking arrows repetitively as you hastily move from the cover of a hundred-or-so year old Spruce to the concealment of brambles and underbrush, all the while as you are under attack by a volley of arrows let loose by a patrol of savage gnolls, takes a certain level of fitness. Here is your workout to prepare:

The ranger is my favorite class. There is something appealing about being the shield between the wilderlands and the populated villages, towns, and cities; wandering the wilderness seeking vermin to exterminate. I like fighters, as well, but to me, the ranger stands out as a proper specialist. Aragorn is most likely one of the main ancestors for the D&D ranger, as disputed by D&D geeks across the internet. No matter. He is a good example and good inspiration for the class, at least in his appearances in "Fellowship of the Ring."  

Serving as a mcguffin since 1954 A.D./ Shire Reckoning 1418 
I think what I like the most about the ranger, and in particular the 1st edition ranger, is their surprise ability. In the absence of a Perception/Spot Hidden skill check that many modern RPGs frequently use, the "X chance in 6" is a fast and simple way to determine if an ambush is successful. "Rangers surprise (q.v.) opponents 50% of the time (d6, score 1 through 3) and are themselves surprised only 16 1/3% of the time (d6, score 1)." In the 1st edition game, that is a significant benefit to have. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The D&D Thirty Day Challenge, Day 2: Favorite PC Race

My favorite player character race is...

I can hear it now as gamers cry out, "BORING!!!"

I like humans for all of the same reasons that many other gamers will play anything but a human. I have often heard, "I am a human in real life. Why would I want to play one in a fantasy story?"
It's a valid point. I don't exclusively play humans. My current 5th Edition Cleric of Pharasma (the DM is using the Pathfinder setting) is a Half-elf. I tend to like dwarves. My first character ever was a hobbit, later to be renamed a halfling because of some law or something. 

I tend to stick to humans for a few reasons. First, no matter what edition I play, the human is the go to easy "build" in the language of young gamers today. I need to write down nothing or almost nothing concerning the race. In 5th Ed., I do have to add the ability score mods and off we go. That's still simple. I like to lean on the class and make that shine. That might be a big reason why I grovel at the feet of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. It's a game of all humans*. However, what it lacks in player races, it makes up for in classes.

I also like to play humans because the vast majority of the fantasy and fiction I have read place a human as the main protagonist. If I am envisioning a hero, I find Faramir, Conan, Fafhrd, John Carter, Han Solo, a boatload of characters (both living and dead) from A Song of Ice and Fire, etc. tend to be my inspirations. 

Finally, I like humans because they have become the underdog of the modern tabletop RPGs. In most of the newer games I have played in, almost no one plays a human (convention games are different because of pre-generated characters.) I remember in one episode of "The Osbournes", Ozzy tells his daughter Kelly not to get a tattoo because he says something like "everyone has a tattoo. If you want to be different and go against the grain, don't get one." Thanks, Ozzy. Humans are my "no tattoos" in D&D. 


*There are "races" per se in AS&SoH, but they are human races that are only different in appearance and background information. They do not have different abilities like in standard D&D.  With that said, in my current AS&SoH game, there is an Elf fighter/magic-user/thief and a gnome illusionist thief in the party. Long story short, they travelled through time and space because of a freak accident on Greyhawk to Hyperborea. Meta-game info: I converted the game from AD&D to AS&SoH. The gnome now uses the legermainist class and the elf uses the base classes from the game but splits the XP between the three classes just like he would in AD&D. 

Monday, June 01, 2015

The D&D Thirty Day Challenge, Day 1: How I Got Started (part 1)

For the longest time, I have been wanting memorialize my "D&D" origin story so that when I'm in my elder years and my memory might possibly not fire on all cylinders, I will be able to reflect on some of the best times of my childhood from that magical era of 1970s and 1980s. I even have a page set aside on my blog to post my gaming history (when I do get around to piecing it together.)

Today, my friend Mark Clover of Creative Mountain Games posted on Facebook a picture announcing the "The D&D Thirty Day Challenge." I usually do not participate in the social media follies of "X Days of Y Challenge." For whatever reason this time, my interest is piqued. My writing skills are starting to get a little shabby and could use some practice. Writing posts on Facebook is getting to be a drag, with almost every discussion turning into an argument over something stupid. Therefore, I have brushed the virtual dust off of my blog. It has not been posted to in years. This is where I will be corralling my posts so I can ramble on without annoying my Facebook friends and family that have no interest in gaming (which could possibly also end up in an internet peeing competition.) This is where I will be responding to the 30 days of challenges.

Please also note, part 2 of "How I got Started" which will contain the actual meat and potatoes of my introduction to D&D is going to take a little bit of time to complete and will most certainly need to be broken into a few posts. It's probably long winded. Actually, I am certain of it! However, I just love telling that story.

With that said, if you want the BLUF (gotta love the military acronyms... this one means Bottom Line Up Front) then here it is...

I started "playing" D&D in the same manner children played "cops and robbers" with some friends in late 1979. In the summer of 1980, I begged my mother to sign me up in my town's summer recreation program because every Wednesday afternoon, one of the activities I could choose (like there really was a choice) was "Dungeons & Dragons." Sure there was kickball, crafts, and bowling trips on the other days, but D&D was the treasure to be looted. That summer, I became the owner of the Basic Set that was edited by J. Eric Holmes. It cost my mother $1! That's a cool story, as well, but will be told another day.

In the fall of that year, my mother got me the four AD&D rulebooks. That's how the fabulous avalanche began.

No posts for years? What gives?

In case you are wondering why there are no posts from 2005 until I ramble about the 4th edition Red Box many years later, it is because the Internet allows me to play magician and make postings disappear. Anything the was not related to gaming, aside from the introduction, has been "reverted to draft" so that I can see them but not the rest of the world. Even though some of the posts where just a little blurb like, "Hum, it's been X months since I posted. Time to write again." Hopefully, this will make the blog more lean (and coherent.) Please be patient while I tweak the blog a bit.