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Monday, February 13, 2012

Gamer ADD and AD&D

It's no secret I have a strong preference for historical settings with a bit of fantasy thrown in for flavor, usually the folk beliefs of the peoples living in the setting at the time, sometimes something a little more fully fledged fantastic or even more gonzo stuff. When I set up a new D&D or AD&D campaign I usually take and create a quasi-historical setting with a new world and all the D&D monsters and toss in some real world cultures, usually from around the same time and place, so I know how they'll interact. I have found over the years that my players prefer a more "straight" fantasy D&D world, flavored with the cultures of our Earth to an actual historical setting, although they're usually cool with a historical setting if you leave in all the D&D-isms they've come to expect- Goblins, Orcs and other Humanoids, all the PC races, flashy, destructive Magic-User spells like Fireball, et cetera; which is why the 1139 AD Cornwall campaign is working so far, no restrictions.

That said, I am walking a fine line with my B/X campaign set during the Anarchy, I've been reading a lot of stuff about medieval England; which is really just supplemental to the knowledge I already have on the subject, but I need to refresh and build up my knowledge of that specific time and place. I understand this is more for me than it is for the players, but if I am not enjoying the setting, then it will show through into my game. The players are just as happy to be playing here as they would be in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos or the Kingdom of Furyondy, as long as they still have the opportunity to explore dungeons, slay Orcs and get some gold for their efforts.

My semi-secret plan is to start another game set in the same time and place with another group and have the two games influence each other. I may expand this to include an internet based game at some point too, but I am fearful of the new technology and DMing for a group of people I don't know, so that's in my "we'll see" category. I am ambitious enough to think that this game can last long enough to have players reach Name Level and have an effect on the civil war between Stephen and Matilda, or even start a new faction if they really want to. The current game is B/X and I am pretty happy with it, although the new Adventurer, Conqueror, King System looks like something I may want to check out.

I'd also be lying if I said I didn't miss AD&D, at least a little. Those bastards at WotC managed to announce the re-release of the 1st edition AD&D books at just the wrong time. I'd just about finished reading the Moldvay Basic book and was doing a lot of comparisons anyway. AD&D has a lot of nostalgia value for me and everyone I play with, even my kids, because I started them with it. People in my B/X game were already a little wary of the whole "Race as Class" issue, then we started taking casualties and the AD&D "Death at -10 HP" rule was sorely missed. My new Schrodinger's Adventurer rule hasn't seen play yet, so we'll see how it works out.

Speaking of house rules, I am having some trouble getting new house rules to stick; people just forget about them and so do I. I love "Shields Shall be Splintered", but it's useless if we never remember it. The d30 rule only gets used every now and again, usually when Dalton remembers it and reminds one of the other players to use it, or uses it himself and sets the example for the others to follow. The only "House" rule everyone remembers to use is the unwritten, never explicitly stated, I might face a player rebellion if I revoke, "Natural 20=Critical Hit=Double Damage"; every D&D or AD&D player I have ever played with has used that rule. I see on some blogs that some DMs don't use it to inflict double damage on PCs, but I have always figured what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The only thing I insist upon is that players roll 2 separate dice for damage rather than doubling one, and that strength and magic bonuses are only added after doubling.

Anyway, now everyone is all talking about AD&D again with the impending release of the core books and I am all caught up in thinking things like "Wouldn't it be nice to add a few more Class options? Multi-Classing? More PC Races", all those little rules that drew me into AD&D in the first place. Well, that and the fact that D&D was being marketed to kids and AD&D to adults. On the one hand I know a bunch of people would be pretty happy to switch things over to AD&D, on the other hand I really want to continue the game I have going with the rules set I have. Simple is nice. I am intrigued by the play possibilities of the stronger magic. The lack of multi-classing possibilities has significantly limited the number of non-Human PCs, which I like. There hasn't been a single Halfling yet, there were three Dwarfs and they all died, and just one Elf, she is still alive. The first adventure claimed the lives of three Dwarfs and two Magic-Users, I wonder what that says about the adventure? Other than Magic-Users should avoid the front line.

Should I switch to AD&D? Lance and at least two of my kids want to, Lee Ann favors AD&D, but is open to B/X, Mona doesn't care what rules set we use, I haven't asked Dalton yet, and Audra is brand new to gaming, so it doesn't matter to her. B/X was my idea to make the game simpler and faster; I also wanted to experiment with trying out gaming like it was 1981.

I went out and did some gaming on Saturday. I played a D-Day card game with maddeningly incomplete rules, as the Allies, I suffered a marginal defeat, but I think over the course of the game I figured out what the intent of the rules were. I played a tank battle board game from Milton Bradley, I think, that was sort of like a cross between Battleship and Stratego, I defeated Lance soundly at this. I played a Gladiator game called Arena Games that Lance had been wanting to teach me for a while, I also defeated him soundly at this. I then played Seven Wonders twice and lost both times, once badly, to Lance's 13 year old daughter. These new miniatures came in the mail while I was gone.

Heritage 25mm Historicals, they were Heritage and historical, I was compelled to bid, they needed a home.

Heritage Archers, same with these lads.

Martian Metals Wizard and Flunkie, you can't have too many flunkies, am I right? These are my first ever Martian Metals miniatures too.

This guy was just billed as "Wizard", the miniature itself is marked Ral Partha 1982.

These were billed as Ral Partha and Grenadier, I can attest to the Archer being Grenadier, he says so, the other guy either didn't arrive in the package or disappeared after I opened it when I got home that night.

Not pictured here are the two other guys that were inexplicably included in the package, a pair of older miniatures that I would guess are Grenadier, but I don't recognize them and they are mounted on bases that I am loathe to try and remove them from. They have a Norse/Saxon look about them, both have round shields, one with a tree on it, the other plain wood; one is armed with an axe, the other with a sword. Both are wearing chain and spangenhelms, the axeman's conical with a nasal. Both are bearded.

This book came in the mail today.

I said I was reading a lot about medieval England, this is the first book I have gotten specifically about the Anarchy. Currently I am reading 1215 - The Year of the Magna Carta, which is nearly a century out of date for my game, but keeps referring back to the previous century for comparison, which I was pretty sure it would when I bought it. King John is only two generations removed from King Stephen and the Empress Matilda after all, he is the grandson of Matilda and the Grand-Nephew of Stephen.

These miniatures came in the mail today too.

They are a variety of medieval axemen and I figured, no pun intended, that they might be useful during my quasi-historical B/X Anarchy campaign. They also have pride of place as the last things I am getting from EBay this month, as I ran seriously over budget by accidentally winning more of these miniatures than I expected to.


  1. The 2nd to last mini pic Grenadier Archer is accompanied by a Ral Partha Wood Elf Spearman. He's supposed to carry a wire spear topped by a lead spearhead and pennant/ribbon.

    Have you checked out Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Companion? It should mate well with B/X, but provide AD&D options and feel. An artwork free edition is freely downloadable.

    It could be the best of both worlds for you. LL is B/X with teeny tiny differences.

    1. You know I hadn't thought of that, and me being a member of the Labyrinth Lord Society that should have come immediately to mind. I never checked out the AEC before, I will now though.

  2. Replies
    1. According to the seller three are Gripping Beast, three are Old Glory and the one on the right end, with the horns on his helmet, I can confirm is a Grenadier. Gripping Beast and Old Glory don't apparently mark their product though.

    2. By three of course, I mean four. I had moved one of each apart from the others looking for a marking on them and then just counted the ones sitting there where I'd gotten them from when I replied. Sorry for any confusion.