Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Random Thoughts

Nothing really coherent, just a few thoughts.

- Re-reading the AD&D Dungeoneer's Survival Guide and these posts on AD&D has reminded me of just how many rules AD&D had. GURPS gets a lot of flack for being rules-heavy, but I don't think it's got more than AD&D did at its peak - maybe less. Rules for everything are in AD&D somewhere, tucked in some corner (the DSG has rules for how many rounds monsters are distracted by diversions, and which IQ levels it works on, for example). AD&D really got fiddly. The base was seemingly simple, but it wasn't really meant to be modular even though we all picked and chose the rules we used.

- I hate figuring out how big something needs to be on the surface so it matches up with things under the surface. I dunno, is a 300' keep big? The Keep on the Borderlands is that big, so should my ruined upper works of Felltower be larger or smaller or what? Gah. What if my mountain is too small to fit my cool level idea? This part of making dungeons sucks. I remember why I ran so many modules and Dungeon Magazine adventures.

- I found my complete, hand-written (and dot-matrixed printed) notes for the Dungeon of Death - a spot my 1st edition GURPS players delved into in a horrendous series of trips. My players picked "The Dungeon of Death" off the map because it sounded like the coolest place to go. I tried to make it so, and since I have no players from that campaign in this one, perhaps I can recycle bits of it . . .
20 years on, I can look at the map and tell you what's in a room before I look it up. Scary.
(This was written and played years before they ever made that official supplement about the place. Probably didn't have duergar commandos and shadow demons and fights on railing-less walkways over a lava pit, either. Heh).

- I also found my A1-4 Slavers series notes for my 3rd edition GURPS game. I wonder if I can legally post that kind of thing, since it uses names of noteworthy characters from copyrighted material. I should find out, not that I have a server to stick it on. And notwithstanding it's full of house rules, bizarre spelling errors, and it's generally useless. But I found it.

- Yeah man, art from Q1. I ran that module in 4th grade, and Lolth was killed with a retributive strike from a Staff of the Magi.

- it looks like no sessions of DF on the Borderlands until January. So the PCs can have yule-tidings with the Castellan, perhaps, if they're all good this year. If not, Santa Orc will bring them stockings full of garbage. (Yes, I ran that using the Ork! RPG rules. Fun.)


  1. Those AD&D posts are really cool. The game that Gary intended is very different from the game that emerged among your average teenagers. Though I pretty happy with Moldvay/Cook, because if ever someone needed an editor, it was Gygax. And yet... I'm pleased that much of what is criticized in AD&D is dealt with and/or balanced by the parts that people mostly ignored.

  2. I'm with you there. It's frustrating because the rules balance out if you know all of the pieces, but they are hard to understand and scattered all over the place.

    It's overwritten, but you can tease the rules out of them. It's no wonder I didn't really play them "correctly" as a teen. How could I, looking now at how messy they are? At least we had fun, though.

  3. Three-books AD&D has lots of needless complexity, but everyone I knew just followed the spirit of the preface to the DMG - there was enough uniformity that you could in theory move characters between campaigns, but nobody expected Roger's Game to play just the same as Seth's Game.

    My principal memory of AD&D is "a mechanic for every occasion" - when I moved to Rolemaster, it all seemed much cleaner, because just about everything used the same basic resolution mechanism.

    If you do want something hosted, I'd be happy to put it up under

  4. @rogerbw - I felt the same way about Rolemaster, actually and the nascent GURPS - once I figured out this one resolution method, I could keep referring back it it.

    But I ran a great AD&D game nonetheless, one I still have fond memories of (and no cringing, wish-I-hadn't-done-that moments memories of). I certainly didn't do it by running all of Mr. Gygax's rules as written, even if I knew them all at the time. Which I almost certainly didn't. :)

    Not to bash on AD&D, though. I'm just saying, it's not a rules light system by any stretch of the imagination, and it's simplicity is illusory IMO.

  5. Absolutely - I'm not trying to bash anything. Insofar as I have a point, it's that there's so much variation in AD&D1 that it's not really meaningful to talk about it as "simple" or "complex" until you know how that particular instance of it is being run. It pre-dates the kind of explicit rules options one found in Rolemaster or GURPS, but I think one can still distinguish between Platonic "all the options turned on" and "all the options turned off" instances of AD&D.

  6. @rogerbw - Understood. Yeah, and I suspect for most people, with AD&D as all other games, the RAW doesn't survive long in contact with actual play. The platonic ideal is probably more of an ideal than a reality, which is fine IMO. As long as we're all having fun. But it's best to at least try the RAW to judge the game even if your judgement ends up being "I can't figure out the RAW . . ." As a kid though I think I didn't have enough knowledge to do so. Self-taught AD&D GM is a rough way to go. Still, it was a fun game and I should post about it, since I did a few interesting things in it, like split-group play.


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