You’ve probably heard that this last weekend was the whole D&D Live thing. It streamed live via Youtube, Twitch, and Peacock. It was sort of a virtual WOTC pat itself on the back event.
OK, yeah. They did announce two new products. And there were some celebrity actual plays. I do admit there were a lot of the celebrities were folks who’s work I have followed over the years and have enjoyed. And even some panel type discussions. I didn’t torture myself with whole thing but I did do a lot of skipping around and watching as much as I could until I started to feel sleazy.
I understand that this was just a corporate marketing push. But they could have at least been a little more subtle about it. Watching as little as I did, I still couldn’t help feel like I was being force fed saccharine. As soon as I got through the sales pitch for the time share then they’d give me a free set of steak knives.
Well, it went pretty good. Our little group kicked off the 5E Sword & Sorcery game. As I said before I took a lot of the rules from Xoth.
The party consists of a barbarian, monk, druid, and courtier. The courtier player couldn’t make it so an NPC (Fighter/Rogue) stepped in to keep them from totally getting their butts kicked.
This was combo of Session 0 and intro adventure. Actually, we did a lot of the Session 0 stuff before hand via a Facebook Group. It was pretty simple at the beginning. Guard a merchant caravan through the desert. What could go wrong? At first, not much. Some bandits tried to sneak into the caravan at night and steal some stuff. No problem for our group of adventurers.
Then I did a little railroading. OK, a lot of railroading. I wanted to create an event that would give the characters a reason to bond even if it was against a common enemy. So the player characters (+another guard) got drugged and wake up in chains. They had been handed over to a bunch of slavers. Since I pulled this little nasty narrative trick on them, I did give them each an Inspiration Point.
Of course, the barbarian rages and breaks his chains and the fight begins (without a real plan by the party). It was bloody and tough fight for the PC’s who didn’t have any armor or weapons. The NPC who really saved their bacon was the no-name, no-class, lowly NPC guard. With just damned lucky rolls, he was able to wrestle the Slaver Boss to ground and keep him occupied for half the fight. Ah, when the dice decide that they want the story to in an odd direction, that’s a cool thing about gaming.
The party frees the other slaves and quickly realize that the slavers weren’t nice folks and that they only had about half the water they needed to make it out of the desert. It was a tough trip and a couple of the NPC’s died along the way but they made it to the big city and new they are looking for that bastard merchant who double crossed them.
And on a final, I’ve already had a couple of folks inquire about starting a second game. But more on that later.
Well, it’s been a year of almost no gaming at all. Sure there have been little tiny blasts of playtesting something or a little one shot but nothing solid.
Finally, I just made the time to do some gaming. Half the players are from the Thursday Night Crew and the other half are pretty much brand new. Of course, the extra challenge is that half the group has never gamed with the other half. So we’ll see how that goes. There was a very early no politics rule right up front.
So what are we playing? Well, the newbies have only been exposed to 5E so I thought that was the best way to start before throwing them into an old school game (which IMHO would be easier to run online). Plus it’s the only books that everyone has access to. Now I did cut down on choices and options and our campaign is going to be mostly based around Xoth with some extras thrown in to make it have a bit of the weird tone and inspiration from Hyperborea.
I have high hopes that this will be a fun one. I’ll do some random posts about the antics and few things that I feel are just neat. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish up planning their first adventure.
Well, I opened my mouth and the gang answered. So looks like it’s time head back into the DM chair. Sure I’m an old-school guy and that’s what I prefer but about half the players are brand new and their only exposure is to 5 E. So I figured I break them in gently and run 5 E. I know. Like many others, I’m still a bit miffed about a bunch of the crap that WOTC has pulled but I’ve already got the core books so what the heck.
When 5E came out there was a rush to make it more old school. I even was thinking that way. Thinking more and more about it. There’s more than just game mechanics when it that old school style of play. There’s rulings not rules. Flying by the seat of your pants and making up thing as you go along.
Many of us old timers complain about the reliance on skills. It’s OK to hit those skill uses with the rulings not rules. In general, I go towards the “Tell me what you’re doing and then I’ll tell what to roll”. If the description is good enough then there might not even be a need for a roll. And how difficult is that check? Well, it depends. Just think about: “I search the room for traps.” “I search the desk for traps.” “I search the desk drawer for traps.” And “I search the strange box that we found in the desk drawer for traps.” So make it up.
The other complaint is about the social skills. That really falls into the “Tell me first” category. Do something cool enough and there might not even need to a roll. Then there’s also the complaint that there’s no need for them. Well, I do like them but I don’t few them as “hard” skills. It’s not just roll. It’s always a description. If there needs to be a roll then I view it as a measure of those things that the player may not be able to articulate like subtle intonations, body language, and timing.
But what about healing? It’s so fast in 5E. OK. Just google it. There’s plenty of options out there. Personally, this I’m leaning for the idea of characters gaining a level of exhaustion every time they do to 0 HP. Characters end up with penalties without screwing around with a lot of underlying mechanics.
All those crazy class abilities and feats and stuff? What about that? Well, that’s a tough one. In the hey day of 2nd Edition, there were all those crazy Kits. So I’m kind of bring up those memories and how to deal with it. It’s either learn all of it. Be like most players and just know the rough abilities of each character. Or just make it up as you go along. Yeah. I’m saying that one a lot.
And sure there’s thing about “balanced” encounters and long and usually tragic back stories. Get all that crap out of the way at beginning even before you start.
Yes, I know things are different when you run at a con, FLGS, or some other public venue. However, private games. Just talk and explain to the players. Some may like it. Some won’t. Some might whine or stamp their feet and walk out. It’s always been opinion that it’s not the public and organized play that really makes the “game”. It’s all those private games that you never hear about.
No matter the edition. Remember. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Taker their stuff. And have fun.
It’s been way too long since I wrote anything about Xoth and it’s coming back to my mind with a vengeance. In case you’ve been keeping up, I’m trying to get the old gaming group back together.
I’ll admit that I have nothing against the Standard D&D type game and I can even tolerate the Cantina Scene type parties. But then there’s times when I want to go all Swords & Sorcery. For me, that means Conan and Robert E Howard. So it’s back to Xoth as one of my pitches.
I had picked some of the stuff way back when during the days of Pathfinder 1St Edition. Sure I played Pathfinder but I never would want to run it. But I liked the writing and changes so much that it always stayed in the back of mind.
This gets me to where we are today. I was searching the Internets and lo, there’s a 5E Player’s Guide for Xoth. Now this could be interesting and it is. This takes the 5E rules and makes them perfectly friendly to a grimmer more down to earth type of campaign.
Let me break the basics down for you. First, Races & Classes. It’s all human but there’s still various “cultures” that replace the mechanics of Race. There’s the Savage, Civilized, Enlightened, Decadent, and Degenerate. Each gets a stat boost and some neat skill-boosts/tricks. But each as a disadvantage. And their pretty big disadvantages. Like the Savage. +2 Strength, +1 AC, Advantage on Perception Checks. Cool right? Oh wait. You also take disadvantage on attack rolls against aberrations, undead, and fiends. It’s a cool tweak.
Then there’s classes. Of course, all of the classes aren’t allowed because they just don’t fit the setting. So, there’s no Bards, Clerics, Paladins, Wizards, and Sorcerers. The remaining have some tweaks. No archetypes that have any magical or “super” abilities. No Eldritch Knights or Arcane Tricksters. Rangers don’t have spells but they get some other tricks. And the Druid and Warlock have some additional tweaks to them. And there’s three new classes: Conqueror (sort of the Paladin replacement), Cultist (as close as you’re going to get to a cleric), and Courtesan (Bard/Social class).
And of course there some rules tweaks on spells, magic items, healing and combat. All of it giving the campaign that Howard type feel. Oh and the best part the Players Guide to Xoth is free. Available on Xoth.net and DrivethruRPG. Note: On DrivethruRPG, you’ll have to login since it’s behind the adult filter because there be boobies.
If you want a more detailed review you can check this one out.
So back to what I might do with this. Of course, I could just use it with 5E. It’s the RPG that most of the players are familiar with. But then I’m a crazy OSR guy. So I can pull up Swords & Wizardry, Crypts & Things, or even my own Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery and run with that. Sure I’ll do some tweaking and house rules and all of those rules are kissing cousins. But since I’ve got a bunch of Pathfinder and now 5E stuff, it’s really easy to convert that material into an old school game. But then Barbaric! is another of my newly found favorites. Sure it’s easy on the rules crunch and character generation but conversion will take some doing.
What’s actually going to happen? I dunno. But I’ll keep posting about it here and we’ll see what happens.