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One of the "weaknesses" of my introductory set up is that I use The Black Hack to introduce new players to Dungeons and Dragons rather than the "official" rules - which are currently 5th Edition D&D. The Black Hack rules are easy to grasp for beginners. However, I've been getting the impression that some people might want to start off with the official game - possibly having already bought the rules and wanting some guidance on how to get started.
So I prepared myself to run 5th Ed. D&D at Geek Retreat today and advertised it as such. And certainly, from the online interest I received, I really thought it was what people were looking for.
However, when I arrived the three players waiting indicated they weren't particularly interested in 5th Ed. Two of them had played my games previously so I asked them if they wanted to try MY new fantasy rules, The Code of Warriors and Wizardry.
I WAS prepared to run 5th Ed, honest. I'd put a lot of prep in, including producing laminated pre-generated characters. But unless it's asked for specifically, I'm always happier running my own systems. At least I've got 5th Ed prepared now in case anyone asks for it in future.
And I was happy to give my new game another run out.
I ran the scenario from the rules. It's set in a fairly standard fantasy world with Humans, Elves, Dwarves etc. But I allow players to create their own races if they want. Character creation is very open ended which can encourage player imagination but can lead to a tendency towards the gonzo with some groups. This, it turned out, was one of those groups.
We started out with a human mercenary illusionist, a goblin wizard (massively skilled in running away, not so good with the actual magic) and a "tentafolk" mercenary. This was from a race of octopus people. (Gonzo 1). The game started well with the characters escaping from the slavers' chains and seizing the ship. This was duly destroyed by a sea serpent, leaving them adrift on the ocean.
A fourth player arrived (Chris Dean of "I Love the Corps") who decided to make a manphibian - a scaled marine humanoid who desperately wanted to be found beautiful by sailors, a siren of the sea. (Gonzo 2).
The party washed up on an island and soon fell out with a clan of goblins - one of a number of clans disputing ownership of the island. The players then proceeded to use the rules - appropriately - to wipe out this first clan by causing the island's extinct volcano to erupt. This caused the rest of the goblins to be in awe of them and seek their help, rather than hunt them down and kill them. This sidestepped a lot of the political shenanigans I had in mind but, I think, counts as Gonzo 3.
This was a group of players keen to tell stories, act first without planning or working together and who, when they rolled a critical success, would tend to affect the story plot rather than playing tactically and reserving the right to make rerolls later in the game. I DID warn them.
At this point we were joined by two more players. One made a cannibal (Gonzo 5) whilst the other made a Cleric. In order to bring them in at this stage, they both had to be goblins.
When the party finally stopped living off the the goblins' largesse and undertook the quest they'd requested, they found themselves caught in a magical trap. Lacking appropriate ways to affect the outcome (such as rerolls) this proved pretty devastating, with the Tentafolk mercenary being reduced to sushi - literally as it turned out - and several other characters suffering massive losses to their sanity and their very souls. Given the free and easy, humorous, tone of the game to this stage and the many, many ways characters can sidestep death in these rules, this came as a shock to the players. I think it was the first time in some of their playing careers they'd seen a character die.
Lesson learnt? In my games it's fun exercising narrative control but it's still worth playing tactically and saving the right to make rerolls first. Always save the option to reroll some dice for the climax.
Trap avoided, they then proceeded to the powerful ancient Artefect which was the reward for their adventures. And then spent a further 30 minutes dancing around before seizing it. The cleric even tried to destroy it after receiving a pretty clear message from her God that destroying it wasn't The Divine Plan.
Eventually, after a bit more unintentional goblin genocide, they twigged what they'd actually got their hands on and escaped.
A mad, epic, game. I knew my game was different from traditional D&D, I didn't realise it was THIS different.
I now have a decision to make. Twice now at these events I've started with a small table and it's grown to a much fuller one. I'm also getting a core returning players. If the group grows any more, I'll have to try and split it into two tables which means I'd need another Referee. Should I try "training up" one of the returning players?
Been around since original D&D
Author of Golden Heroes, Squadron UK, The Comics Code,The Code of the Spacelanes, The Code of Steam and Steel, The Code of Warrirors and Wizardry and The Super Hack.
I attend lots of RPG conventions in the UK. I Attend non-RPG "geek" conventions to promote The Hobby using my "Choose Your Adventure" set up. I blog about both of these things here: https://rpgs4all.blogspot.co.uk .
- Thanks: 702 given/1368 received
- Playing: The odd game at Conventions
- Running: "Code" books - Comics, SciFi, SteamPunk, Anime.The Black Hack.
- Planning: Manifold multi-genre RPG. More Code Books - Fantasyand Horror next
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