Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where To Begin A Dungeons And Dragons Game?


Beginnings are always difficult. This is no less true for a Dungeons and Dragons game we've planned for this weekend, to celebrate American Thanksgiving with some friends.

I've two places from which to begin the adventure: one, a decadent, crumbling city in the throws of an economic slump; two, a small town on the borderland, surrounded, on several sides, by ancient ruined cities and temples. Depending on which place the game starts will affect the tone of the game. If it begins in the city, we start with a bustling, urban feel to the game. If in a town, the tone is bleak, windswept, insular and isolated.

The city gives us more opportunities for rumours and varied character backgrounds. But the town provides more focus, as is easier for me, the DM, to manage and circumscribe the adventure options.

The outdoor map, above, is a small slice of the 1981 Dwarfstar Games Barbarian Prince game map. Barbarian Prince is one of the microgames that I always wanted to own, but found far too expensive in the resale market to justify purchasing. Fortunately, you can download a free digital copy from the above link, courtesy of the games licenseholder, Reaper Miniatures. Over at Sigils & Sinews, the author is running a solo Barbarian Prince game which I am following with interest.

The Barbarian Prince digital map is one that I can appreciate and would prefer to employ in my games, since it uses the sort of mapping style that I prefer, and the digital map can be printed at a resolution that makes it easy to add notes and icons to the map for quick reference. The Barbarian Prince map also uses a hex id system (similar to the SPI or traveller subsector maps) that allows one to keep separate notes on the contents of each hex.

11 comments:

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Wow, this all sounds so very intriguing.

:(

If only I knew what you were talking about. *Sigh*


~Elizabeth :)

K-Slacker said...

My vote would be for town. Tighter focus and quicker kickoff.

Also, I never got the hang of urban adventures.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Elizabeth Mueller said...
Wow, this all sounds so very intriguing. If only I knew what you were talking about. *Sigh*

~Elizabeth :)


LOL! Elizabeth, you're not the only one reading my blog that has made that comment! Several of my non-D&D playing friends and relatives have remarked that I seem very earnest about my love for the role-playing game hobby, but I may as well be speaking a foreign language, since they have no idea what i'm talking about!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

K-Slacker said...
My vote would be for town. Tighter focus and quicker kickoff.

Also, I never got the hang of urban adventures.


Urban adventures, in my experience, really stretch the skills of the players and the DM. Not a bad thing, but i've DM'd 4 games in the last year, so i'm a little rusty!

Christian said...

I like urban campaigns. They take a lot of work before play starts, but after a few sessions the scenarios pretty much right themselves.

Sean Robson said...

Man, I completely forgot about Barbarian Prince! It was a solitaire game and I played it all summer while my friends were on vacation with their families. I even used the included miniature for a D&D character which reached the lofty heights of 15th level fighter.

Tough choice for starting your game, though. Either option sounds like great fun.

Matthew Slepin said...

I agree that the BP map is great. There is also a lot to be said of using a map with names and things that then force you to fill in the blanks. What is "Donat's Temple" over to the east? Looks kind fo classical. Is "Huldra Castle" to the south just a name; was it built by dwarves, or is it maybe an actual dwarven fortress?

What scale are you going to make the hexes?

A Paladin In Citadel said...

One hex = 1 days travel

I used the map for a game on sunday afternoon and it worked really well, although it gave the players a few TOO MANY options, since I let them view the whole map

Scallop Skulled Skald said...

Where To Begin A Dungeons And Dragons Game?

A tavern!

**ducks thrown tankard**

Scallop Skulled Skald said...

I've two places from which to begin the adventure: one, a decadent, crumbling city in the throws of an economic slump; two, a small town on the borderland, surrounded, on several sides, by ancient ruined cities and temples.

Since I am subject to a bit of Yankee bias, I see this choice as: Las Vegas, or Central Ohio?

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Scallop Skulled Skald said...
Where To Begin A Dungeons And Dragons Game?

A tavern! **ducks thrown tankard**

Seriously crossed my mind...