Friday, August 28, 2009

What D&D Experience Are You After?

I had the opportunity, recently, to play D&D with several new players.

I was at the cottage during the summer, and one of my cousins, who plays D&D 3.5, suggested that we organize a D&D game. I was open to the idea, and, coincidentally, had just finished reading a free adventure from Dark City Games, The Sorcerers Manor, which I decided to run. Dark City Games publishes Legends of the Ancient World, which is a free retro-clone of The Fantasy Trip. The also publish several TFT-compatible adventures, two of which (The Dark Vale, and Wolves on the Rhine) I have purchased. I had brought several copies of Labyrinth Lord with me, and convinced my cousin that we would use the Labyrinth Lord rules, rather than his D&D 3.5 rules.
There were 8 of us: me, my D&D 3.5-playing cousin, and one brother-in-law, who had played C&S back in the day, as well as another brother-in-law, 3 cousins and a nephew who had never played RPG's before.
We played the game old-school. Everyone got an index card to keep track of their character, and they rolled 3d6, top-to-bottom stats.
I ran The Sorcerer's Manor, with some conversions to Labyrinth Lord, and we had a blast. And this despite the fact that I am in no way a good DM. The reactions of the new D&D players were what interested me the most: all of them were totally immersed in the story, reacted with enthusiasm, animation and apprehension to every situation, and drew all sorts of interesting conclusions from the information that was given (which I wove back into the adventure). After that first game, every time I went back to the cottage, I was accosted and asked to continue the game we had started.
From talking with several of the new players, what they seemed to enjoy most was the mystery and sense of the unknown. They had no idea whether they were capable of defeating the foes they faced, and they enjoyed role-playing the non-combat encounters, as they were never sure what reaction they would receive from the NPC's. Weeks later, one player was still talking about the terror he felt during their first encounter with a shadow, which seemed unaffected by their attacks.
For me, this is the sort of experience I am after when playing a role-playing game. Facing the unknown, your heart pounding, and your mind racing, as you try to tease out clues or defeat some seemingly unbeatable foe. This is part of the reason I like old-school gaming. I like not having the stats on every monster, or knowing that every encounter is scaled to my power level. The players in the game had the most fun when they were fleeing for their lives, carrying one of their downed comrades, and hoping they reached the manor gates before they were run down by the pursuing foes.

1 comment:

banter said...


A while ago we had talked about a old-school campaign. Are you still going ahead?

If so, I'm game, could we meet and discuss?

Please respond to this and let me know.