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Oh, I just thought of another drawback with the Stone of Recall… what if you’re like six months away from home base. That’s the sitch in my campaign right now. They’ve trekked through jungle for over 180 days diegetically (57 sessions). If they had to warp back to Port Nyanzaru and then wanted to go back to the dungeon they would be kinda miffed…
Any PCs whose players don’t make it disappear, and players new to the scenario come in with new characters. This may or may not involve some specific conceit in the fiction, depending on how much we care. (Bland filler characters usually don’t cause caring, while having some highly specific player character suddenly appear requires an excuse.)
OK, that sounds similar to how we do it, too. But again, that’s for a situation similar to yours: same core group all the time, pretty much (some “guest stars” occasionally) . I’m thinking that for a world more open for multiple groups, multiple expeditions, multiple constellations etc it might be trickier?
At other times we’ll do the quick reset thing voluntarily: abstract the party out of the dungeon at the end of the session with a few quick dice rolls, and have them start again at home base at the beginning of the next session.
This seems risky to me, in case those die rolls end up SNAFU. Whoops we accidentally an encounter of three beholders, five oblexes, and twelve slaad with each with their own custom spell list. Let me just get out my books… wait, where’s everyone going?
As an aside, the first time I made a Labyrinth Lord character it took me a couple of days and I still got things wrong.
I like the idea of “lost” tables, I had a city book (… Midkemia? Or something that sounded like that?) that had that idea but for cities.
Searching for it, I didn’t find one for the dungeon but I did find a rule similar to what Eero describes, here on The Alexandrian. Weird how when you look for your glasses you find your keys I like his system because you can die, lose gear etc (reminiscent of the Exploration/Lost in the Dark tables in Veins of the Earth). And that you don’t have to roll if you can make your way out on your own. The connection to real-world playing time is also good. What it doesn’t do solve some of the other issues here (mostly that sometimes you don’t want to go home, you’ve set up a good camp near your ultimate goal. Or sometimes you want to move your base.).
OK, so let me sum up the four approaches so far, and their pros/cons.
(Either safely, with Stone of Recall or handwaving, or super dangerously, with The Alexandrian’s brutal tables.)
(With differences in group composition handwaved, or via a “what did you do when off-screen” random table)
(And so people have multiple characters, one for each group composition)
(“I’m sure our cleric wouldn’t mind casting Identify on these gems even though her player is missing”)
So, still open for other ideas or nuances on these ideas & interested to hear how other people have handled it.♥
I talked to some rando strangers on the subway a few weeks ago (because I heard them say the phrase “short or long rest” so I went over to them and started blabbing D&D with them) and they were new to the game and one of the questions they had was this. I told them the pros & cons of what we do and said that it was a hard problem. (The other Q was if replacement characters, if PCs die, should be same level as the rest of the group or start at a lower level – again, I told them that we’ve tried both & both had some serious cons – I guess I wasn’t selling D&D particularly well )
(The other Q was if replacement characters, if PCs die, should be same level as the rest of the group or start at a lower level – again, I told them that we’ve tried both & both had some serious cons – I guess I wasn’t selling D&D particularly well )
What it doesn’t do solve some of the other issues here (mostly that sometimes you don’t want to go home, you’ve set up a good camp near your ultimate goal. Or sometimes you want to move your base.).
In successful campaigns of this style, you just make a new character if it seems like yours couldn’t plausibly be here or if you don’t want to take them out of the adventure where they currently are.
Yeah that one hurts and it’s one of the reason I wouldn’t run West Marches style (or my own west marches lite version of it) all the time. I also really like it when the characters get shipwrecked or lost in the underdark for instance, and I’m not sure there is a way to have your cake and eat it too here (but I hope I’m wrong as I have been many times before).
I guess same here – really hope it’s possible to square the circle here♥
Also when you play this way new players coming in are never plunged into the middle of a dungeon with a bunch of stuff already in progress which they don’t have context for. Most importantly they get to be part of the discussion about where the party is going and what they are going to do for the next 4 hours which is pretty important for making it a good first experience I think. At the same time it feels like an improvement over just running a series of one shots because players who do end up coming back get to use there same characters, and whatever knowledge they’ve gained about the world still holds.
Yes, this is really good! That was actually one of my first sessions of D&D. The “mirror story” session! I had joined a group who did the “return to safe haven” rule; we were doing a mega dungeon rather than pointcrawl (which the orig WM was, right?). It was a really good intro to the game. I had played one session of 4E Essentials (that character also took a few days to make) and one session of B4 The Lost City (but with a non-D&D, Swedish dice pool retro game) before.
Once I start seeing the same group of people at most games though I usually do away with the “returning to the safe haven” rule so that we can add the possibility of having shipwrecks and things like that back into the game.
Yes, switching modes either formally or informally is also on the menu for our discussion here, that might be the ticket [still hopeful to stumble on the perfect rule].
(Several days to make a Labyrinth Lord character? That’s hilarious! What took a long time? Is the book poorly organized or something? I’ve never played Labyrinth Lord, but with the most recent OSR group I sometimes join, they just made a simple random generator for B/X characters: you click on it once or twice and grab one of the resulting characters. Since 1st level characters are basically identical mechanically, it works great and takes all of 30 seconds.)EDIT: Here’s the generator we use. Dead simple (I would remove the ThAC0 chart, of course, and the saving throws, both of which are somewhat unnecessary complications, and at that point the character fits on an index card with no trouble).http://character.totalpartykill.ca/basic/
(Several days to make a Labyrinth Lord character? That’s hilarious! What took a long time? Is the book poorly organized or something? I’ve never played Labyrinth Lord, but with the most recent OSR group I sometimes join, they just made a simple random generator for B/X characters: you click on it once or twice and grab one of the resulting characters. Since 1st level characters are basically identical mechanically, it works great and takes all of 30 seconds.)
“That’s hilarious! I use an app” what kinda gatekeeping attitude is that! Yes, Lab Lord is horribly organized, even worse than the orginial B/X, which isn’t easy either.
Remember that I was very unfamiliar with and confused by D&D. At the time, I was playing Fudge, SLUG, Everway, Fiasco, Fate – the most crunchy game I had ran was Trail of Cthulhu. Sure, I had GURPS but I was utterly confused by it. It’s not just a question of intelligence, it’s a question of not having the cultural capital or understanding of the tropes. What the heck is Dexterity? I hadn’t played video game RPGs either. (I was pretty into Magic (the card game), but Magic only has two stats per character (“power” and “toughness”).)
We were using LL-AEC and it seemed like every stat had its own way to get a modifier, I had to understand what each stat meant, how to attack, how to save, how to use thief skills (I was monk), etc etc.
I’m proud af that I managed to figure it out at all, let alone that it took two days.
Now that I know D&D better than my own pocket of course it doesn’t take many minutes to whip up a character.
Last summer at a con, I was there to play Magic but someone saw my T-shirt and said “hey you, yes you with the fifth edition shirt! Come here and sit down!” and told me that they were a DM, that everyone at the table just had rolled up a character using an app and that I should do the same. They didn’t have PHB’s available. I told them that I don’t have a smartphone but how about if I make a champion, I’ll use the standard array 15 14 13 12 10 8, go human so I’ll just add one to all and not have to worry about other features. I’ll put the +3 in dex and +2 in con. I get 12 hp, second wind, I’ll grab a rapier and duelist style. I’ll go leather, I think that leaves me with AC 14.
Bam that took like 2 seconds! It’s all about being familiar with whatever game you’re using and that comes after time. Lurkers, please don’t be discouraged by Paul’s laughing at it taking time to make a character.
What takes time for us is rolling up all the backstory (“OK, now let’s roll to see which alignment your father-in-law is”) and selecting spells and gear. Counting out all the gear weight was one of the things that took time when I made that first Lab Lord character. Now we have the inventory sheet makes that part easier but still choosing what to get takes time. And that’s fine. I want them to be invested in their characters. They’re not just throwaway piles of number. That’s relevant to this topic, too, because that makes the “different characters for different constellations” part tricky. I as DM also get more confused. It might still be worth it, it might still be the best tack to take, but it’s something to think about.
I know that D&D has a “fast pack” system where you’re like “I’ll just grab Pack B from the last page of B4 The Lost City” or “I’ll just grab an Explorer’s Pack from the PHB”. (A similar system for spells would be great.) But my players like to be really picky about their gear. As Veins of the Earth puts it “Toothbrushes have handles filed off”.
5e is simpler mechanically than B/X, RC, let alone the AD&D variants. A 5e char fits on an index card, too. Sure, there are D&D games that simpler still; Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Searchers of the Unknown comes to mind.
(And obv you can grab a pregen or app-generated character for 5e too, and they usually have backstory, gear, spells etc all selected. That’s what I do for all the new players at our table; I’ll point them to the pregens for their first character – optional, but they’ve went for the option. I think it's good, you get table experience on how the game works, on what the various numbers are for, what gear is commonly in use etc and then you're usually eager to make your own.)
Oh, wow, Sandra. You’re really misrepresenting me here. I didn’t mean that, “hey, you can do it if you have this handy app!” Rather, I meant, “It’s so dead simple and quick that some people can even just whip up a random generator and it’s simple as pie.”
Well, you were saying that in the context of me saying that the first time I made a Labyrinth Lord char, it took me a couple of days and I still got things wrong. You called that hilarious.
Which I thought was kinda a weird context because I was not familiar with D&D.
The point I was trying to make is that the reason it takes a long time to make 5e chars is fourfold
2 and 3 is time consuming in other D&D based games as well. With Maze Rats you even have to generate your own spells!
Most OSR-style games (like Maze Rats, say) have a quick and easy way to “roll up” characters which don’t require a character concept or any understanding of the game.
Well, it’s good that you’re familiar with Maze Rats because that’s the perfect example that I can refer to for the following point.
One reason some of our characters take a really long time is because we are rolling on a system, in the book Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, that rolls up like how many siblings you have etc. That’s not a core part of the game but that’s a lot of what takes time for us. It’s similar to the tables in Maze Rats on page… the page numbers are confusing, but the tables numbered 6 through 12.
Rolling tons of dice and writing everything up w/ pencil takes a lot of time.
I agree with you that the texts aren’t great, and I could imagine someone struggling with them (I probably would, too). In practice, though, at a B/X table, no one ever needs to pull out a book or reference it, so long as a handful of people are familiar enough with the rules (except for equipment).
Familiar enough with the rules. Which I am with 5e. And, these days, with B/X too for that matter. (That said, I have to reference the saving throw tables. When we played LotFP, which is wonderfully well laid out, I just recorded my abilities and spells, and when I needed to roll saves and stuff I just looked in the book. I.e. I used the book to replace a lot of my character sheet<3)
You roll your stats, choose a class and alignment, write down your saving throws, and roll a spell or write down thief scores.
Because you know to do that. You know how the whole prime requisite XP thing works and how the different abilities have different modifiers etc.
The tricky step is buying equipment - the most and only time-consuming part of the process. I think D&D5 makes that easier in most respects (you get a “starting loadout” based on your class and Background and what-not) but harder in others (instead of just buying off a list, you need a book and to look up the equipment loadout in each of those sections).
Well, this isn’t a difference between 5e and B/X. You can use the standard loadouts (“The Fast Pack” in B4) or you can buy it yourself.
But, more importantly, at most D&D5 tables your decisions in character creation mean something - your ability score allocation, race choice, Background choice, spell choice, and so forth all should go together in an intelligent way.
Yeah, that’s a good point. I guess I am kinda strawdolling here because we used LL-AEC which is more similar to 1e than to B/X, and does have some confusing choices. I’ve played a lot of B/X clones as well (in fact, we were playing LL w/o AEC with one DM alternating weeks and LL with AEC alternating weeks – the latter had also implemented ascending, 3e-style AC).
You, Sandra, may be able to create a 5E character (as you did in your post) in under 30 seconds, but that’s basically because you have a good memory, right? And you can’t keep creating new and unique characters that way.
That’s not the part of them that’s unique. Actually that’s one thing that I really grew sick of with LotFP, that I pretty much only liked the specialist and the casters. So a lot of my characters were the same thing all the time.
My experience of 5E has been that we spend an hour, sometimes at each session, just checking and double-checking abilities, hit dice, spells and cantrips, feats, and so on.
B/X has abilites, hit dice and spells. Cantrips are spells. Feats is an optional expansion and not part of the core 5e game.
For instance, changing one ability score means going through all your skills and recalculating their totals.
Yes, the original character sheet was badly designed there.
I made a character sheet for 5e that instead of listing every skill, just had the ability scores listed twice, without and with proficiency, and then under each ability score a list of those abilities checks, saving throws and attack rolls that are trained. For example, on the first page is the cleric and you’d see she has strength +2 and +4. For the mace, which is listed, she’d use +4. For strength save, which is not listed, she’d use +2.
This character sheet never caught on, not even in my own group, so obv there’s a couple of things about it that are unappealing. People like being able to see everything even redundant things..?
I think I’m gonna design a new sheet incorporating some of the lessons I’ve learned since making this one. It’s been 4 years.
But keeping the lack of redundancy, the idea of not repeating that same number for every weapon, every skill, every save, every spell etc.
That said, the new official sheet—(check out “Character Sheet - Alternative - Print Version.pdf”); it groups the saves and skills next to the relevant ability so you can updated them at the same time.
And I don’t really see how you can disagree with me on this when you, yourself, have created a whole new class - the Searcher - precisely to get around this problem!
The Searcher was designed as a reaction to The Black Hack. It is much simpler than The Black Hack and other D&D games. Except “Searchers of the Unknown” which it is heavily based on, except balanced with real 5e classes.
Remember, the Searcher does not have Strength, Dex, Con, Wis, Int, Cha, Armor Class, Saving Throw – all things that B/X and even The Black Hack also has! It doesn’t even need gear since you get 1d8 damage w/o choosing a weapon or looking at weapon stats.
The Searcher has HP, HD, Fighting Ability (starts at +5), and Non-Fighting Ability (starts at +3). And when you roll damage it’s always 1d8+NFA. That’s it. You step in it? Roll NFA to avoid dying. You wanna go aggro on someone? Roll FA to do it.
But what the Searcher does have is plenty of room for traits, ideals, bonds, flaws, backstory etc.
This all enables far less consternation when it comes to questions like “how do they get back home every time?”, because it’s relatively easy to make new characters. I can see that if you WANT greater character identification, 5E’s way may be a feature and not a bug (the Backgrounds and Traits, Bonds, Flaws, and Ideals alone tell you SO MUCH about a character). But the OSR philosophy is that you don’t know any of those things about your character until you’ve played them for a while. Different approaches.
What I’m saying is that this is a Backgrounds/TIBF issue, not a B/X vs 5e mechanical simplicity issue. I’ve played Lab Lord with backgrounds from 5e added in (and the backgrounds were generally well received in the OSR community when 5e came out). I’ve played 5e without backgrounds.
The only reason this is even remotely relevant to this thread is because it really affects how careful you have to be about questions like “how do they get back home?”. It’s worth considering how much time and investment is involved in character creation when we look at such questions and decide on what our solutions might be. I’d be far more concerned about continuity and character sovereignty at a 5E table than I would be at a B/X table - that affects what kinds of “did we get out safe?” random tables I would write or use, how seriously I would consider rescheduling to make sure a certain adventure can be resumed, and so forth. For another example, a 5E version of this would need to address resting, as well, since it will be very important to determine whether the adventurers starting or resuming the next session have had a short rest, long rest, or otherwise.
Yes, that’s why it’s relevant. I agree. I do want invested chars. And I do want to figure out a mechanic that addresses this.
Remember that the og WM used 3e. Not B/X. It was plenty complicated to make a character.
I made a character sheet for 5e that instead of listing every skill, just had the ability scores listed twice, without and with proficiency, and then under each ability score a list of those abilities checks, saving throws and attack rolls that are trained. For example, on the first page is the cleric and you’d see she has strength +2 and +4. For the mace, which is listed, she’d use +4. For strength save, which is not listed, she’d use +2.This character sheet never caught on, not even in my own group, so obv there’s a couple of things about it that are unappealing. People like being able to see everything even redundant things..?
p>Well, you were saying that in the context of me saying that the first time I made a Labyrinth Lord char, it took me a couple of days and I still got things wrong. You called that hilarious.Which I thought was kinda a weird context because I was not familiar with D&D.
Yes, our characters with so many spells and so many TIBFs do have more choices than a “here’s a random cleric spell” character but a lot of the other rules are simpler.
How many have died? Not counting their henches and bosses and, like… uh one character took his young son with him and the son died and they’ve taken on a couple of escort missions (“take me safely to place X and I’ll give you Y and here’s Z in advance”) and those NPCs have all died but counting only player characters, we’ve had 13 deaths in the last year. That’s fewer than I’ve experienced as a player in B/X or 1e games. Considering we play a couple of times per week. I’ve ran a couple of one-shots at cons and no-one died. The 13 deaths are over our two home campaigns: six sessions of KotB and 57 sessions (so far) of Tomb of A.
Two level one characters, one level two character, four level three characters, one level four character, three level five characters, one level six character, and one level seven character have died. This an artifact of the “replacement level” rule in Tomb of A where you reenter at the party level instead of starting over. A rule I don’t like, as outlined in that thread.
"“Sounds great. Did the party returned to the outpost at the end of every session? If not how did you handled situations of one players not being present and their characters being entangled in the unfinished journey?”It was a stated policy that the party should try to get back to town before the end of each session, making each game a different sortie into the wilderness.In practice this happened about 70% of the time. If a game did end with a group still out in the wilds it just meant we had to schedule another game with those same people, and that those characters couldn’t play with another group until they got back to town — really not any more trouble than scheduling a normal game.I also tracked parties coming and going on a calendar in game time, so even if you had played your character making it back to town you couldn’t join another party that was leaving before the game date you got back. So yes you could camp for 5 weeks in the woods during one game session if you wanted to, but you were effectively unable to play until the rest of the players “caught up” in game time."
Nice! Thanks, Sandra. It’s great to see someone taking such careful measure of the game, instead of misremembering and making things up. 13 deaths in 63 sessions? Sounds like a delightful ratio.
It’s been pretty good. Far fewer than in our LL/LotFP games, but, a non-zero amount making it still a risky endeavor to adventure here. And it’s been throughout the campaign at all levels. I wouldn’t want it to be as lethal as LL/LotFP was. I’m ok with them never dying. But it’s not up to me, it’s up to the gloracle and to the player’s choices.
What’s the presence and availability of healing magic
They have plentyful access to minor healing magic (and bardic songs of rest) that heal up their HP. They haven’t gotten access to Heal or Regenerate so they still walk around one-armed and on peg legs.
Healing potions are rare. There’s a 10% chance that a market class VI has one in a given month. Port Nyanzaru is a market class I and they get 15 such flasks each month. Sometimes it’s been a real fight between the PCs to be the first to shop so they can stock up on flasks. But they are far from Port Nyanzaru now. They are in TPK City deep in the T9G. They’re pretty SOL when it comes to finding healing potions. That said, they have a herbalist in the party, he can make healing potions if he can find the ingredients (about a 25 GP value, XGE p130).
revive/raise dead or similar magic in these games?
That’s the maguffin – there’s a machine that, while it runs, makes it so that you can’t revive or raise dead. So that’s the quest, to find this machine and find out more about it and decide what to do with it.