Monday, November 15, 2010

Coming soon to a table near me...

It feels great to finally be caught up with post number 15 for the Daily Blog Challenge.

As I mentioned a few times in the past few weeks, my regular gaming group is taking a break from our 4e campaign. For a few of the players, this campaign was their first extended experience playing D&D of any flavor. It is also my first experience at running a campaign of this length. In the two years since the campaign started, I think we've learned a lot about our strengths and weaknesses as RPG Gamers. There are a few things that, given the opportunity, I'd go back in time and change. Right now, I feel like I've made the campaign my story, rather than the groups story. Roleplaying is pretty limited, with many of the characters being more of a set of stats on a sheet of paper with an odd quirk or two, rather than having any real personality. I think it's the nature of the world we've created. I was kind of terrified of losing control of the game. 4e is so dense with rules that it is hard (for me at least) to do anything on the fly. I've railroaded and the players went along with it. It can be easier for both sides, that is for sure.

I'm really curious how the players will react to a game which requires more roleplaying and features less tactical combat. Since I'm going to have at least a month of downtime, while Dave acts as GM for the Gamma World, I'm going to try to put together a few things together. I like the idea of putting together a few adventures using different play styles and systems. A lot of the old school systems and clones, and some of the newer pulpy systems like Savage Worlds and Hollow Earth Expedition, are rules-lite enough that the players should be able to pick up on how to play, and get a pretty good feeling for the style of play after just a session or two. Additionally, I'd like to open the table up to an extra player or two. I know a few people that are interested in checking out a game. The ongoing campaign probably isn't the best place to try to indoctrinate these guys into the hobby, but a convention style demo game over a night or two could be perfect.

Once Dave's Gamma World adventure wraps up, I'm planning on throwing together a pulpy monster hunter game using the Savage World rules and the Rippers setting. In Rippers, the players take on the role of Victorian era monster hunters, utilizing body parts from slain monsters to augment their characters, known as Rippertech. Essentially, they end up sort of like a crew of Van Helsings or the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or something.

Following the Rippers game, I think I'm going to try running one of James Raggi's adventures, most likely Death Frost Doom, using the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules set. I know that most of the players are pretty big fans of the film that inspired the adventure, which will remain nameless as to hold up the surprise for the players. I hope they get a kick out of the combination of old school D&D mixed with a creepy investigative horror.

Hollow Earth ExpeditionFinally, I'm going to try running something using Hollow Earth Expedition. I think at least a couple of the players will enjoy the two-fisted pulp tales of adventure offered by the setting. The game mechanic, using the Ubiquity system, is pretty interesting. Ubiquity, which attempts to offer very cinematic game play, uses dice pools to determine successes and failures. It also stresses that the focus should be on cinematic action story telling over excessive dice rolling and has built in rewards for players who (at least attempt) to pull off exciting feats of daring. The mini demo I played at Origins this summer was a blast and I think we can have a lot of fun with it.

Depending on how those three games progress, we'll make some decisions about what is next. I want to try out Realms of Cthulhu, Low Life, and other Savage Worlds settings. Plus there are all the other OSR options like Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, and Swords & Wizardry. I'm hoping to do a bit of development of a setting for each of these games, allowing us to return and play more adventures linked to the trial game, essentially setting up a sort of sandbox we can return to if we choose. I'm planning on using pre-gens, because I find that creating characters before you really understand how a game is played can be a real challenge. If we do return to any of these worlds, at that point the players would be able to create their own characters or continue to play and develop the pregen. I'd also like to turn over the reigns to other players in the group to take a shot at GMing something if they are interested.

If anyone reading has any experience running any of the games mentioned and has suggestions for making good one-shots or know of good online resources for the games, let me know. Additionally, if you have any suggestions for introducing players used to playing tactical RPGs like D&D 3.5 and 4e to less tactical games which feature role playing.


  1. Well first and foremost suggesting for easing people out of post 2000 D&D - Matthew Finch is one of the guys to really popularize the term Old School Gaming.

    I like Savage Worlds, but Im fairly certain I botched the damage rules when I ran at the con.

    For Hollow Earth, take a listen to this -

    As for LoFP - got a copy of Call of Cthulu around?

  2. Thanks John. I know about the Primer. I posted it on here a couple days ago. It was the document that made that really clarified the conceptual differences between the games.

    I'll check that podcast on Hollow Earth. I've heard some of shows on The Game's the Thing, but not that one.

    Finally, I actually played Call of Cthulhu tonight, and have plenty of books lying around. I agree for sure. I know at least three of my players are going to totally dig the combination of the two styles of gaming.