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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 160 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: non-nostalgic D&D  (Read 9965 times)
lumpley
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« on: August 21, 2007, 07:59:33 PM »

I never played D&D. I played some AD&D 2E in college but it was hardly even a thing, it was all GM handwaving and role-, not roll-. But now it's the Embassy Suites at GenCon and Ben comes up to me and hell yeah I want to play D&D with him. Basic set Tom Moldvay (ed) D&D, vintage 1981, red cover, saddle stapled AND with holes punched for your 3-ring, baby.

Ben's the DM. Alexis' character's the elf. Julia's character's the fighter. Rich's character's the fighter too, and the self-proclaimed leader of the group, and Rich is the caller. (Yes, the caller. It never really came up, but if it had we'd've been ready.) Tony's character's the halfling.My character's the magic-user. I had intelligence 14 but wisdom 4 and I played that bastard subtle. I was the leader's advisor and I gave not a single one piece of wise advice, just butt-stupid smart advice.

In no particular order:

1) Tony used his high-pitched halfling voice. We were arguing whether to kill the helpless scary monster-people and Tony said, "it's okay that we're fighting, families always fight, like when my family gets together for Thanksgiving or Second Thanksgiving." A halfling! Second Thanksgiving! My favorite.

2) Apparently the scary monster-people were goblins, but I have no idea what that means. Ben made them scary monster-people, with this creepy crossbreeding/inbreeding/miscegenation thing going on, like that one Lovecraft story. I'm not thinking too hard about the politics of it, because they're treacherous, and I like that feeling.

3) We rolled our stats in order and then chose our class, no do overs and no fiddling. I got 2 hit points and 120 gold. I chose magic missile for my spell, after discussing charm, sleep, and light. Alexis chose sleep for her elf. My guy and Tony's halfling were lawful (no good or evil in this game) and everyone else was, like, neutral at best. This mattered and was funny, when we were arguing whether to kill per (1).

4) Know what? That's a fun game. It has some nonunity quirks, like "wait, to sneak I roll a d6 and try to get low, while to throw my flask of oil I roll a d20 and add my dex bonus? Okay..." but dude whatever. "As a group, you can a) talk, b) flee, c) fight, or d) wait. Which are you doing?" AWESOME. (And Julia's like, "fight! Fight! Fight!") And then we fight and first, movement; second, missile; third, melee; fourth, magic. Tidy and clear as you please, no room for IIEE fuckery or DM handwaving to rob you of your relevance.

5) My magic-user got killed by a witch's arrow, same as Rich's fighter. Tony's halfling and Julia's fighter went down under the goblin chieftain's guards' meat cleavers. Ha ha! A funny joke: the DM's girlfriend's elf character was the only one who escaped the TPK, and she got the magic sword. It was the WHOLE D&D experience.

6) I was telling Drew about it in the elevator. I was waving my arms and telling him about the time Julia rolled a natural 20. He stopped me with this look. "Hold on Vincent, this wasn't a nostalgia thing for you, was it?"

"Nope."

"Not ironic either, was it?"

"Nope."

"Just plain, genuine enthusiasm, huh? Just because it was a fun game."

"Yep."

"You indie guys are weird."

The end.

-Vincent
« Last Edit: August 21, 2007, 08:03:48 PM by lumpley » Logged
rafael
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2007, 04:09:41 AM »

That's a great story. Personally, 2E AD&D is my game of choice when it comes to dungeon-crawling. But I can dig the Basic, too.

Was this a straight-up dungeon-crawl, or did you start in a village? Was there a Boss character that you had to take out, or any other kind of predetermined objective (Bargle, perhaps?).

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Rafael Chandler, Neoplastic Press
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2007, 04:37:00 AM »

That's great.   It's certainly possible to have a lot of fun with that game, but I'm curious to hear what the game itself did to facilitate that fun.  It sounds like the fun was playing a kind of silly game with friends, and the game itself could have been almost anything.

A month ago I was going to introduce some friends to D&D, and seriously thought about using the ol' Red Box stuff.  Ultimately I decided that while 3.5e arguably has more stuff to manage, it doesn't have the same "roll over, now roll under, now look up on this chart and remember Armor is negative" thing, so the learning curve is probably a little less twisty.

P.S.  My friend Rich's family has Second Thanksgiving.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2007, 05:04:11 PM »

The idea of non nostalgic D&D really hit me as odd, to read it - all D&D is nostalgia, as I grasp it. It's all 'yeah, we have goblins like in that book, and fighters like in that other book and wizards like in that movie' - it's all a reference to something long cherished, or atleast long cherished by someone. But I think nostaligia is being used another way here - your not playing it for a nostagic twang from using thaco, or calculating encumberance or some such. Your actually just using thaco cause it's part of the game, for example.

Any friendly dissin' around the table when people got killed or screwed up? By others or even just by the person who got killed to himself and others just acknowledged that 'damn, got it wrong' attitude?
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Philosopher Gamer
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2007, 06:37:48 PM »

I wouldn't say, Callan - about that nostalgia thing, I mean... D&D has a very peculiar kind of fantasy trip going, and while the old boxed versions certainly were much closer to the literary roots, even they are actually far and wide off the beaten path as far as fantasy literature is concerned. There is tremendous originality in that material when you compare it to what actually was going on in the literature of the time. I remember very vividly my own first encounter with D&D as a tabletop roleplaying game: this was AD&D second edition somewhen around -94, I think, and I was rather bemused by how primitive and artificial the game felt. At the time I'd been playing games like Twilight 2000, Runequest, MERP and such for years, and I'd also read most of the canon of speculative fiction. In that context AD&D seemed rather like... well, it was just utterly weird after I'd started roleplaying with games that went for realism and streamlined top-to-bottom design. There was no nostalgia in that meeting, even if I came to understand the roots and reasons of the game in the years to come. D&D is definitely not a game that makes me nostalgic for fantasy literature... I guess Stormbringer or MERP is, if something.

But, anyway. Nice to hear that Vincent had a good time with the red box. During the last couple of years I've myself gotten to play a session here and another there of Tunnels & Trolls, where I've had similar experiences. I've still to play a long tunnel-dwelving campaign, though; I suspect that it would be quite educative to try that and find out first-hand how, exactly, the imaginative content develops from tunnels to the world-building one sees in depictions of long-term dungeoneering campaigns.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2007, 12:28:53 AM »

I think you might be using a third definition of nostalgia, Eero. I'm refering to it being excited fan fiction on a cherished subject. I'm not refering to whether its design or writing evokes/is intended to evoke nostalgia.
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Philosopher Gamer
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lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2007, 06:34:02 AM »

You guys are funny! I don't feel any D&D nostalgia, not the way I have friends who play Rolemaster hoping to relive the glory gaming of their adolescence (which can't work, anyway). I'm clear-headed and I'm all about the game as it actually is.

James, my points 2-5 are about how the rules made the fun. Notice point 2, especially: this wasn't a silly game. It was light, it was fun, but it was a real game we were really playing. The game's rules created a dynamic between us, the players, that let us do a thing that a) was fun and cool, and b) we couldn't've done by different rules.

Callan, yes, there was friendly dissin'! Even when it wasn't trash talk, there was definitely the 'damn, got it wrong.' Like, "wait, what? There's no light? Oh that's right - SOMEONE [pointed looks] threw the lantern away."

Rafael, straight up. We started at the doorway to the dungeon, with the village behind us. The dungeon was an aboveground castle with its windows sealed up, but that totally counts.

Hey, this is interesting. We didn't have a predetermined objective - I mean, I think Ben created the goblin chieftain guy at the start of play but we didn't know about him until we met him. We started with this minor mystery - "why haven't we seen anyone from the lord's castle in 50 years, and should we keep paying taxes or what?" - which we solved almost at once - "oh, it's because of these ghoulish monster-people" - but that led to another mystery - "...who say they're our rightful lords. The hell?" We didn't have an objective, but we did want answers.

We died before we could get them all! This makes me super happy. I know a lot about what was going on but there were still parts that didn't make sense yet, and now they never will.

-Vincent
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2007, 08:07:14 AM »

It's really interesting the number of people who really, emotionally need our play of D&D to be "just nostalgia."  Mike Holmes, I'm looking at you.

The reason why it was this game and not another game is because:
1) This game has serious set-up tools.  Six players, all but two new the game, and we were up and running in, what, 20 minutes at most?  Seriously awesome situation generator.
2) There are awesome built in conflicts in the game.
3) At any stage in the game, you have a finite number of sizeable different choices which are unpredictable in their outcomes. That sort of thing makes for excellent, well, game-playing.

Also, Moldvay D&D is not particularly nostalgic for me. It was written before I was born! I never played it until Rich introduced me to it a while ago.
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Gugliandalf
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2007, 09:18:25 AM »

I never played D&D. I played some AD&D 2E in college but it was hardly even a thing, it was all GM handwaving and role-, not roll-. But now it's the Embassy Suites at GenCon and Ben comes up to me and hell yeah I want to play D&D with him. Basic set Tom Moldvay (ed) D&D, vintage 1981, red cover, saddle stapled AND with holes punched for your 3-ring, baby.

My! I can't believe! Exactly the one I started gaming on in 1981!

What did you play? "The Keep on the Borderland"?

I'm almost crying from nostalgia! :-D
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Gugliandalf
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TonyLB
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2007, 09:56:10 AM »

Tony's halfling and Julia's fighter went down under the goblin chieftain's guards' meat cleavers.
Nuh-UH!  Julia's character ("Belligera" ... I kid you not!) may well have gone down to the puppy-pile of goblin guards, but Frizz Fernwater importantly was the only character to die by the goblin chief's own hand.  Big G had a choice between taking an attack on Frizz or continuing to pursue Aelthric the Aelth ... pardon me, Elf ... and Frizz was just so damn annoying that the chieftain let the elf escape while he skewered the little guy like a shish-kebab.  Crucial sacrifice!

Frizz's last words:  "It's okay, I secretly have a mithril ... wait, no I don't.  gack...."
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Moreno R.
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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2007, 10:01:42 AM »

My very first session was with that game, too!!  I remember it well, even if we went to AD&D 1st edition after a handful of sessions.

Yes, Beh, it was easy and fast the way you did the character. You NEEDED to do them fast. I remember one of our characters, played by another player. Start of the game. He had 4 or 5 HP, I don't remember. A fighter.  Open the first door of the dungeon. Rolls, surprise, hit, 6 points damege, dead.

Not counting the presentation of the game (we had never seen anything like that, remember), the creation of the characters, and the presentation of the background of the dungeon (all in all, a little mora than one hour, I think, maybe more), he played less than thirty seconds.  And stayed dead for the rest of the session.

He was the only one of us that didn't return for the following sessions. I don't think he ever played again a rpg...

Anyway, I think that it's really difficult (impossible?) to play D&D (any version) without a lot of baggage. I know people who can't stand to hear any critic of the game, they take it as a critic of their childhood of something like this. For other people (like myself) it's something like a symbol of "what's wrong with rpgs" (and the years of playing sucky games because the other players didn't want to try anything else...). So when people talk about D&D, it's like they are talking about totally different things, without muth thinking about the real rules of the game.

But I agree with other people about the fact that that Red Box was the best edition of D&D ever published. Even if it meant that you had to buy another box if you wanted to know what would happen next to your character. AD&D 2nd edition, by the other way was a xxxxxxx xxxxx of good paper...  
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Ciao,
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Gugliandalf
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2007, 10:06:43 AM »

I'll tranlsate my "Dragons in the Dungeon" D&D-red-box-based alternate setting for DitV in english and send you a copy! Cheesy
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Gugliandalf
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2007, 11:03:07 AM »

James, my points 2-5 are about how the rules made the fun. Notice point 2, especially: this wasn't a silly game. It was light, it was fun, but it was a real game we were really playing. The game's rules created a dynamic between us, the players, that let us do a thing that a) was fun and cool, and b) we couldn't've done by different rules.

I had this experience recently playing Tunnels & Trolls with Ralph Mazza and Keith Sears.  While Ralph and I played up the whole "characters being played by fifteen-year old adolescents who think they're making the next Lord of the Rings" angle, our actual gameplay was highly tactical and enjoyable for just that reason.  It wasn't a "blast from the past"; it was actually enjoyable in the present.  Like you said, light and fun, but a real game.

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Seth Ben-Ezra
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2007, 11:47:54 AM »

We did not use a module, rather we played a game using the random dungeon generator from the book. In about five minutes I rolled up the Citadel of Shadow, my totally wicked goblin-haunted castle.

I love that random dungeon generator! It doesn't do anything stupid like "there is *roll* a room that is *roll* 20 feet by *roll* 120 feet. It has *roll* a fountain and *roll* an altar with *roll* a black *roll* dog on it..."

Rather, it's just "does this room have a monster? A trap? Something special? A treasure?" And that's it.

It's just enough support that I don't have to be creative, without enough restriction that I can't be.

The background stuff that Vincent talks about was me going "I want to do a dungeon with Goblins... I'm interested in doing something vaguely politically themed... What if the goblins were the lords?"

And that was that.

yrs--
--Ben
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Parthenia
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2007, 12:13:23 PM »

You know, after playing that game I think my adolescence is complete.

Julia
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