Friday, February 26, 2010

(oops, this was supposed to be a reply to my last post. Sorry.)

Thanks, everybody, for your responses.


"Question then--how did you determine who did what in which order within the group? Do you group actions according to missile/melee/spell with actions needing to be announced before initiative is rolled?"

It depended on the individual DM. We pretty much went around the table: What do you do, Bob? What do you do, Frank (and, often, would go around the other way the next time). Other guys would go: Okay, any movement? Andy missiles? Any magic? Okay, melee. (I think that was the order). So a little of both, really, but nobody felt left out or passed over. We each got to do something when it was the group's turn so it worked out.

But we all moved at the same time, so it was pretty easy for a few of us to gang up on whatever bad guy needed it most. Or whatever. I recall that a round would go pretty fast, even with a 6-10 players, each having 1-3 characters and henchmen.


"It's more simulationist..."

You say that like it's a good thing.

"Your example of play is an example of bad/incompetent play."

See, now this is an example of busting on my example without giving one of your own. And I specifically asked you not to do that. Please give an example of good play, instead of just criticizing an example I made up while waiting after work for my ride to get there so I could go home. (Which is why I asked for a counterexample in the first place.)

Initiative Rant

Can someone explain to me the appeal of individual initiative?

When I started gaming, we had just plain initiative. We'd roll a d6 and the DM would roll a d6 and the higher roll went first. If we tied, it was simultaneous.

Sometimes we'd win initiative and then lose it, so the monsters would go twice in a row. But sometimes we'd lose and then win, so we'd go twice in a row. We didn't know, from one round to the next, exactly what would happen. The tension of having to wait to find out was excruciating sometimes, but it was part of the fun.

And then, all the whiny little crybabies who had extremely high dexterities wanted to use the individual initiative modifier (which as I understand it was intended for use in one-on-one, very important or climactic duels). Usually, our DMs would tell them to sit down and shut up.

(Sure, some of you started with Holmes, who had you go in order of Dex. This doesn't work for me because:

a) The DM has to roll for (or assign) the Dex for all the monsters, which is one more thing he doesn't need on his plate, and

b) All the guys with an 11 Dex clump up and have to roll off anyway. So no real advantage there.)

I don't remeber 2e, but it seems to me it worked the same way as 1st. (Although I had at least one DM with his own weird system...)

And then, along comes 3e. And enshrined in "The Way Things Must Be Done!" is the individual initiative system. And I'll admit, when I first saw it I thought it was pretty cool. But then actual play happened.

I can't count the number of times I saw a scene like this:

The party is lined up down a 5' corridor:

DM: "Okay, Bill you go first."

Bill: "Really? I'm like fifth in line!"

Buttinski Other Player: "You can move through the others; we're not in melee." (Puts book back down, smug look on his face.)

Bill: "Um, okay, sure. But we kinda lined up like this for a reason, didn't we?" (Looks around for reassurance)

DM: "Oh, just go already, willya? We're burning game time here."

Bill: "Okay, I guess I advance up to the front."

DM: "Finally! Okay, now the monsters go. Bill, I guess you're the only target. All four of them attack..." (Rolls dice for what seems like forever) "Okay, that's 37 points to your ... first level Cleric." (Looks up) "Sorry, dude."

Bill: "Y'know, it seems to me THAT'S WHY I was lined up so far back in the party!"

DM: "Whaddya gonna do? It was your turn!"

And that's it. It's your turn, even if it doesn't make a lick of sense.

So, please, somebody, explain to me how individual initiative is a good thing.

And before you blast my example, provide one of your own. I'm not kidding here; I've lived through and/or seen that same kind of thing many many times (the last was a couple of weeks ago). Sure, I've played with a lot of groups that don't do common sense, but I kind of like to try it every once in a while...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Additional to my last post...

One thing I should have noted about the dwarf jumping into the pit the second time...never in my gaming career have I laughed so hard at a trap. The first time, when the dwarf (who, frankly, nobody liked) charged down the hall, he fell straight in the trap. We thought he was dead.

But then when he realized he'd forgotten his nifty stick, we just howled. Priceless.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tonight's adventure was brought to you by the letters T, P and K!

My twice-monthly AD&D game? It was a bit of a fiasco. We started out in the dungeon (it's that kind of game, we pick up right where we left off). We had picked off a few hobgoblins already, but they weren't aware that we were there.

Then the elf Magic-User found a concealed door. It didn't look like the hobbo's had found it, so we went that way (we were looking for our erstwhile comrade who had come this way and hadn't come home). Downstairs, we found a couple of hobbos, who we took out, and then there was a door and behind the door was a table on its side, with two humans behind it, with crossbow. They fired upon us, so the dwarf charged them.

And fell right in the pit trap, just ahead of the table.

Well, we fought them for a while and were afraid we'd be pushed back without our comrade, when we finally put them down. We got the dwarf out and planned to evacuate the dungeon immediately, getting back to the horses.

That's when the dwarf realized he'd left his Dwarven Battle Club down the pit. (Really, it's just a mace, but from a roleplaying standpoint it's pretty important.)

So, we go back to fight more humans. (About half of the party are humans, also; these are bad-guy humans we're fighting.)

So, the dwarf jumps down the pit and the rest of us engage the rest of the humans who keep coming. Finally, when we're out of healing and down most of our hitpoints, we prevail. The dwarf has his stick, so we head out after a perfunctory poking about.

Things are getting serious down here, so we decide to go home.

But, upstairs, the hobgoblins have noticed that we killed their buddies, so they're hanging out. We can't sneak past, so we try running -- despite having two dwarves and a halfling in the group. No way we can get through that, but downstairs looks like it'll only get hairier. The elf Mage says it's our only option. So we go for it.

The results, of course, were entirely predictable. The one surprise came at the end, when I almost got out. Y'see, I'm the only guy in the game who didn't roll his own character. There was a guy playing him, but he had to drop out, so I inherited him. I've been leaning toward getting him killed for a while now. And since I was closest to the exit, and the hobbos weren't hitting me, I seriously thought for a minute I'd survive and have to keep playing this guy.

But they finally got their act together and took me out, and shortly after they dropped the halfling.

And that made it a total party kill.

Afterwards, we learn that the elf was wrong. If we kept on the way we were going, we'd have found both the treasure AND THE EXIT. But we listened to him and tried to get out.

So, next session, we get a whole new world (possibly; the DM isn't sure if he's even going to use Greyhawk next time...)

But one thing is sure: We're not going to listen to the guy who played the Magic-User any more.

- - - - - - -

But, on the plus side, Herself didn't mind me going out gaming on Valentine's Day. According to here, every day is Valentine's Day, so it's okay.

I sure did pick her well, didn't I?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Scenario from Alignment

I get a lot of thinking done on the way into work.

Today, I was thinking about alignment. (No, I'm not going to try to define it or anything else that might cause controversy. Sorry.)

Alignment in D&D came directly from Chainmail. And there's this one little line in Chainmail that says:

"Neutral figures can be diced for to determine on which side they will fight, with ties meaning they remain neutral."

Keep in mind that this was written for wargames. My assumption is it was for the referee's aid in planning scenarios ("I'll just check and see whose side the elves will fight on ... oh, tough luck, good guys!"), although one could let the players roll for themselves.

But how would that work in a roleplaying game? Instead of a die roll, you'd send a delegation -- and that's where the player character come in.

Now, you'd want to make sure that the party was mostly, if not all, of one alignment. (Some more 'immersion' type roleplayers would probably enjoy having an all-Lawful party with one guy who was secretly Chaotic ... but a lot of groups would find him out and then kill him instantly. You have to know your group.) You could have some neutrals, and it would be good to have a representative if possible (elves, for instance, are in both the Lawful and Neutral columns -- so if going for a neutral tribe of elves, it might help to have an elf in the party.)

If you have a large war, or a lot of little wars, you could build a whole campaign around this idea. And if not, you could still make an adventure out of it.

Anyway, I haven't done much with this idea, but I thought it was too good to just ignore.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions? I'm open.