Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Blah Blah Retrospective

This post will contain no kvetching about 2020's various disasters. 

So early in the year I shelved my Powered By the Apocalypse urban fantasy setting that spanned two different games. I switched to Troika and simultaneously started up a 5e game of Saltmarsh. 

Saltmarsh died pretty quickly, and I think it would've died off regardless of anything that 2020 brought. After spending most of a session watching the party get their asses handed to them by the snakes in the well, spend more time trying to avoid paying full price for a room at the inn than they did on the actual adventure, and then planning an elaborate revenge on the snakes in the well, I kind of just let the thing quietly die. It is more than likely my last attempt at 5e, and certainly my last attempt with that group, for a variety of reasons. 

Troika looked one way in my head (2e Spelljammer) and ended up another entirely. (Papercut Monty Python) I like the system, but at least one player did not. Ultimately I just let it go because I found it too silly to really invest in. 

In the summer, I started up a homebrew setting game of Old School Essentials with a good chunk of my old college group. It's had ups and downs, and the players have had some difficulty adjusting from the playstyle of more recent editions of the game. We continue on with it, especially since I've figured out that the Caves of Chaos are utter rubbish. 

I got a group together and made characters for a Savage Worlds RIFTS game set in the Vampire Kingdoms, but we still haven't started it, and honestly I've kind of lost my enthusiasm for the idea. 

KantCon got cancelled. They had it online, but I was very, very tired of online interaction, so I skipped it. 

I have discovered that I absolutely hate gaming online, and I do it right now only because I have no other choice. 

Gaming adjacent: 
-Briefly flirted with GURPS 3rd edition, but ultimately did not engage 
-Picked up a grip of stuff for Mutant Crawl Classics, and I want to run it 
-Got some bundles for DCC and Modern AGE, haven't looked at them 
-Picked up Cyberpunk RED
-Finally got around to playing the PC game adaptation of Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and I've enjoyed it muchly. 

That's it. That's gaming in 2020. 

Hope you all have a better 2021. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

You Down With MCC?!

 Today, I stopped at Half-Priced Books while waiting to go get blood drawn. (Nothing serious) I was in the neighborhood, and I hadn't been to HPB in months, so I thought I'd peek in. As an aside, it's good to see a store taking pandemic measures seriously* by actually enforcing the limit on customers in the store, etc. Anyway, that's not what you're reading this for. 

I found a treasure trove of Mutant Crawl Classics modules for $5 each. I snapped up each and every one of them. There was a limited edition core book there as well, but I wasn't going to shell out fitty bucks for it. Really, I just wanted the modules for when I'm in the mood for Weird-Ass D&D, or maybe if I ever decide to give Mutant Future another run, or roll out my gonzo AD&D Tarraxian setting from like 11 years ago. (JFC...) If I ever do decide I want MCC, I can get a copy of the rules, brand new, for $32. 

It was a nice find. I also saw hardback copies of White Box, Labyrinth Lord, and the original Black Blade edition of OSRIC. However, I've pretty well decided on OSE as my go-to rule set, with the Advanced Genre options should I choose, and I've got the wonderful little White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game should I decide to go the simpler route. (Plus, they wanted $40 for it and I think I can get a new copy off Lulu for less than that, even if the cover sucks.) 

Meanwhile, I pick my way sloooowly through Cyberpunk RED. The rules are very similar to what I remember form high school and my CP2020 days. (Hacking being the exception, of course.) I don't know if I'll ever run it, but 1.) that's never stopped me before, 2.) it's a beautiful book, and 3.) R. Talsorian is just a lovely company and I'm happy to support Pondsmith and crew. 

There will be little gaming over my winter break, but that's usually the case. I'm not resuming OSE until January, and I'm not starting Savage RIFTS until January either...though inexplicably I find myself losing interest in it with each passing day. (That might be the seasonal depression talking.) I may, if I can stir up the gumption, run the holiday-themed DCC module "The Old Gods Return," which I snagged from the recent Humble Bundle. I think my girlfriend was hoping for a Christmas-themed game of Little Fears, but that game is so inextricably tied to Halloween in my heart that I don't think I can ever run it outside of October. 

Lastly, I was reading John's blog over at Playing Dice with the Universe (link in the sidebar) and I think his assessment of 5e might explain the OSE crew's behavior in the Caves. (Two of them are presently involved with 5e.) Having been incentivized to kill everything, all the time, the poor bastards have simply lost the ability to approach a dungeon with any other mentality. 

That's all I've got. Perhaps I'll do a 2020 retrospective, like I usually do, but I have the feeling that will be a short and discouraging read. 

...okay, last thought: every one of these MCC modules could have totally been an episode of Thundarr the Barbarian, and I love that. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Fuck the Caves of Chaos, Part II

 Alright, so.... 

Apparently, there is now an Advanced Players Guide for OSE that has shit in it that the boxed set books don't have. That's kind of aggravating, considering I've not even had them for a year. 

Last night, the players decided to buy a bunch of hunting dogs, which are better and cheaper than 1st level fighters, and take them into the caves. 

I didn't want to run a combat between like 8 dogs, the party, and every orc in Cavern B. I used the mass combat rules from the Cyclopedia. It sucked just as much. 

After initial success, the players decided to do a "stealth" mission, but they literally do not know how to explore a dungeon without seeking out unnecessary combat. The magic-user's sleep spells and a lucky hide in shadows roll saved them. 

The orc chief used the secret door to go to Cavern C. The players camped outside Cavern B. The orcs marched a force from C toward B and the players ran and hid. The orcs from C secured B. 

The players ran back to the camp and tried to buy more dogs. There were no more dogs. Meanwhile, I was going to have the orcs trap the corridor with the noise-jangling net and then just have like ten of them fire on the party with crossbows and just end this fucking shitshow.  

Then I decided fuck it and had an earthquake cave in the Caves of Chaos in the night. 

The players decided to go loot Cavern B. If that trap had actually been there, they would've walked right the fuck into it. Right. The. Fuck. Into. It. 

Instead, there was a glowing portal unearthed by the quake. The party avoided it and started looting the Type D treasure I had placed. Then they discovered a floating ball of protoplasm that disintegrates shit. It disintegrated one of their dogs. They hid, then ran. 

Keep on the Borderlands is going into the box that I use to store shit I eventually plan to take to Half-Price Books and trade in. The same might happen to about half the classic modules I own. 

We're not playing again until January. Come January, all the dungeons are going to be weird. No more rooms full of orcs and goblins and shit. I'm not ready to go full-on "acid fantasy" (whatever the fuck that means), but I think I've had enough Caves of Chaos type garbage for one lifetime. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

OSE Frustration Follow-Up

 So upon some analysis with my comrades today, we've discovered that we don't need to introduce a bunch of rules like "shields shall be splintered" and "class-based damage" and whatnot. In fact, much of the problem stems from the fact that the Caves of Chaos are fucking garbage. 

The minotaur, who is significantly more dangerous than a normal minotaur (above average hp, wearing armor, has a magic spear), has way less treasure than he should. The orcs in Cavern B should have Type D treasure, and they are broke-ass motherfuckers. I have to go back and look, but I'm not sure there's enough treasure between Cavern B and Cavern C to make up a Type D treasure. 

Oddly enough, compared to the usual Type J treasure, the kobolds in Cavern A were *bankin'.* 

I do want to add the shields rule, and I'm strongly considering class-based damage so that people use weapons as a matter of style. However, I think for now I can just stick the correct amount of loot in the Caves o' Chaos. 

I might also redesign some of the unexplored areas. While I thought it would be cute to have old-school dungeons dotted randomly across my campaign map, maybe I should be a little more...discerning. 

I must also mention that, if one is using Keep on the Borderlands as written, it's much more lucrative to attack and rob the citizens of the Keep. Just sayin'. 

I'll make some adjustments and we will see how next session (December 16th) turns out. 

Now, to finally tackle our disappointment with the OSE druid... in another post. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

OSE- Frustration

Last night, the party entered Cavern B without any real fighter-types. They had the NPC thief search the wall, he made a comment about the orc head. The party fell for his trick and found themselves flanked by the guards from rooms 7 and 8. Things were actually going pretty well, then the drow died because the orcs fighting him rolled 20 and 18 on their attack rolls. The magic-user, who is AC 9, was attacked by orcs who rolled 2 and 4 before he put most of them to sleep. The assassin got cut down because one orc kept passing his morale checks, but she lived because I let PCs survive to negative hit points equal to their level. The party gave up and left.  

The loot was a bunch of shitty spears and a handful of electrum pieces. 

One player is very frustrated because his characters just keep dying. One player doesn't like how disposable they are. I'm personally frustrated because we've been playing since fucking July and we have two 2nd level characters and a revolving door of dead 1st level chumps. 

I mean, yes, they went in without any fighter-types...but the AC 1 drow should've lasted longer than one combat, right? 

So, a couple of conclusions I am reaching: 

-The Caves of Chaos is an absolute garbage dungeon. It's a shit load of risk for very little reward, and it's boring. Fuck, some parts of it are downright insipid. 

-Old School D&D is kind of a shitty game when you play it RAW. 

What's really weird is that I don't remember having these problems running AD&D, or running Cyclopedic back in the day. 

One point of light from last night: One of the players rolled up a mycelian, and I'm super excited about that. 

My "OSE druids are trash" analysis is forthcoming. Last night the group analyzed the druid one more time before we unanimously agreed. 

In other news, Savage RIFTS had a session 0, but more about that later.