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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    I keep seeing threads popping up about running a sandbox style game, or ones with "Old School Feel" or "Classic Dungeon Crawls". It thought it would be interesting to keep a Actual Play log of the game I'm running right now on these boards. It is using a BECMI retro-clone, but in addition to reporting on what actually happens in play I will be making some observations that can be applied to any system.

    Right now, for me, "Old School Play" (in particular, D&D) involves the following, in no particular order:

    1. Random Encounters. Both in the dungeon and out. These encounters are in addition to any planned encounters, and may vary based upon location, terrain, etc.
    2. Random Treasure. For everything. Both planned encounters and random encounters. So, if I run a pre-planned adventure more than once, the treasure handed out is always different.
    3. GP=XP, ergo, encumbrance rules. Since in older editions the bulk of XP is gained from finding and retrieving treasure, it makes sense to stick with the encumbrance rules. When handled properly, encumbrance doesn't slow things down very much at all.
    4. Magic is less common and jealously guarded. Magical items are not sold in stores, clerics can't cast at 1st level, and the number of spells either cleric or magic-user can cast is drastically reduced. Wizards do not automatically gain the knowledge of new spells at each level, only the ability to cast more spells.
    3+4. Multiple Trips. When #3+4 are combined, multiple trips are often needed to clear a dungeon (especially at low levels). The inability to easily heal injured party members combined with a maxed out carrying capacity means that a dungeon crawl is punctuated by multiple trips back to town to rest, heal, upgrade equipment, and level up (multiple trips also mean more random wilderness encounters!).
    5. Reaction Rolls. Both random and set encounters use reaction rolls to determine what NPCs will do. I use the standard 2d6, adding the highest PC Charisma modifier and modifiers for role-playing, circumstance, etc. That troop of goblins the characters stumble across will not always attack, therefore (see #6 for more info).
    6. Not always balanced. Encounters are not always "balanced". This encourages PCs to come up with strategies other than "attack, attack, attack". As an example, the random encounter tables I use have entries for goblins, kobold, etc. as well as trolls, ogres, giants, etc. And I use this chart regardless of level.
    7. Overland travel uses hexmaps and can get you into random trouble. Placing lairs and mini-dungeons in a lot of hexes is a great idea.
    8. Plot. Hooks. Everywhere.

    I will expand on these points later, or if anyone has any particular questions. In general, though, one of the most defining feature for me of Old School Play is randomness. Points 7 and 8 are the two that lend the most to "sandbox" style play.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Thoughts on Character Background
    So, Mike Mornard, who was one of the original players of D&D with Gygax and Arneson, has said that "the story is not what you plan in advance, it is what happens as you play." With that in mind, I prefer my players to come up with as minimal a background as possible. Less than 100 words is a good goal in my mind. Everything else should come through interactions with the game world. Of course, that means a character can elaborate on their background as much as desired, but I feel this should take place in play. I feel that "The broad plains stretching before him remind the Tikal the barbarian of the countless days he spent with his tribe, riding the shaggy ponies of his homeland" beats the pants off of "Tikal grew up a horse nomad."

    Actual Play
    Play begins with the assumption the PCs know each other, somehow, and being given the following plot hooks:
    • The merchant Clifton Caldwell has purchased the Old Antilles Castle, some 5 miles west of the town. He has been heard inquiring about "qualified eviction personnel".

    • A group of wealthy merchants and town worthies have purchased the Old Mill on Fogor Isle, with the intent to turn it into a "mixed use development", whatever that is. Long plagued by giant insects, consortium is seeking those "brave and stout of heart" to clear it.

    • An elven merchant name Sindar needs a package delivered to Selenica, far to the north

    • A fearsome beast has been terrorizing the forests to the north of Threshold, severly reducing the amount of logging. The local logging companies have offered a handsome reward for the creature's head.

    • Hakeem the merchant has been on the lookout for adventurers to take on an unspecified job

    • There have been rumors of a temple dedicated to the evil gods to the northwest, just outside of Castellan Keep. The caves around the temple are said to be filled with the lairs of many loathsome humanoids.

    • Goblins have been raiding along the border of the Black Eagle Barony. The Baron is suspected to be involved. Of course, the Baron is suspected to be behind every misdeed and ill omen.

    • A local and very popular cleric named Aleena has gone missing and is presumed dead. The Patriarch of the Church in Threshold is offering a sizable reward for her safe return, or information about her death.


    Now, one conceit about this campaign is that I am using the B1-9 series of published modules for the Basic D&D games. Some of the plot hooks given involve those, some involve adventures hinted at in other publications but not fleshed out, and some are my own work.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Doorhandle's Avatar

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    1. Random Encounters. Both in the dungeon and out. These encounters are in addition to any planned encounters, and may vary based upon location, terrain, etc.
    2. Random Treasure. For everything. Both planned encounters and random encounters. So, if I run a pre-planned adventure more than once, the treasure handed out is always different.
    3. GP=XP, ergo, encumbrance rules. Since in older editions the bulk of XP is gained from finding and retrieving treasure, it makes sense to stick with the encumbrance rules. When handled properly, encumbrance doesn't slow things down very much at all.
    4. Magic is less common and jealously guarded. Magical items are not sold in stores, clerics can't cast at 1st level, and the number of spells either cleric or magic-user can cast is drastically reduced. Wizards do not automatically gain the knowledge of new spells at each level, only the ability to cast more spells.
    3+4. Multiple Trips. When #3+4 are combined, multiple trips are often needed to clear a dungeon (especially at low levels). The inability to easily heal injured party members combined with a maxed out carrying capacity means that a dungeon crawl is punctuated by multiple trips back to town to rest, heal, upgrade equipment, and level up (multiple trips also mean more random wilderness encounters!).
    5. Reaction Rolls. Both random and set encounters use reaction rolls to determine what NPCs will do. I use the standard 2d6, adding the highest PC Charisma modifier and modifiers for role-playing, circumstance, etc. That troop of goblins the characters stumble across will not always attack, therefore (see #6 for more info).
    6. Not always balanced. Encounters are not always "balanced". This encourages PCs to come up with strategies other than "attack, attack, attack". As an example, the random encounter tables I use have entries for goblins, kobold, etc. as well as trolls, ogres, giants, etc. And I use this chart regardless of level.
    7. Overland travel uses hexmaps and can get you into random trouble. Placing lairs and mini-dungeons in a lot of hexes is a great idea.
    8. Plot. Hooks. Everywhere.

    ...So, you're playing a roguelike?

    Joking aside, this looks very interesting and I would like to see how this continues.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Please note that some of the items on my list are a direct product of the system I am using. For instance, using 3.5 would result in spellcasters with the ability to cast many more spells per day at low levels than in earlier editions. Also, since XP is gained from defeating monsters as opposed to gaining treasure, encumbrance becomes less of an issue and it also, I believe, funnels characters into combat (makes parley, running away, sneaking in an out, etc. less of an option).

    I forgot one point, however:

    9)Character creation. I have become a firm believer in rolling 3d6, take them as they fall, although I actually use a slightly modified system which presents each player with five sets of attributes, rolled 3d6 take them as they fall. This encourages players to build a character based on the die rolls as opposed to pre-planning a character, then moving the die rolls around (or using point-buy). One nice thing about the earlier systems, I find, is that ability scores are less relevent, and it is entirely possible to play a fighter with low Strength, or a low Constitution, etc., and still have a viable character in play.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    After some discussion the group decides to search for Aleena, the missing cleric. For those not familiar with her, the Mentzer Red Box (the introduction for me and many others to D&D) featured a couple of solo adventures, kind of "Choose Your Own Adventure" but with dice. In the first solo adventure you run into this cute cleric named Aleena and join forces exploring a rudimentary dungeon. Aleena is slain in short order by a magic-user named Bargle the Infamous. After escaping, you return to town to rest, deliver Aleena's body to her temple and purchase new equipment. You then head back to the dungeon and explore more of it, fighting goblins, skeletons and more as well as getting a basic introduction to the game.

    The dungeon the characters decided to explore was this one, from the Red Box.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    I'm a big fan of this and at one point was even considering building a random dungeon element (a list of 100 room concepts) and rolling for each room.

    I will say that (especially at low level) if you are going to nerf the prime-casters then you really need to give them something to make up for it.
    Annoying Gamer says - Hollywood is sooooooooo unoriginal. Hey, check out my dual wielding drow Drazzit!

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by DJDeMiko View Post
    I'm a big fan of this and at one point was even considering building a random dungeon element (a list of 100 room concepts) and rolling for each room.
    Some of the earlier/retro-clone systems have random dungeon generators. I often randomly generate smaller dungeons. I use the random generater feature on Dungeonographer and the random populator in the Adventurer, Conquerer, King (ACKS) rule-book.

    I will say that (especially at low level) if you are going to nerf the prime-casters then you really need to give them something to make up for it.
    We're using the BECMI Rules Cyclopedia (well, technically we are using a retro-clone of it) so the spellcasters come "pre-nerfed", if you will. First level magic-users start play being able to cast one spell per day, so usually stock up on 4-6 daggers. Because of how Ability scores and modifiers affect combat, they aren't that much less likely to miss targets then 1st level fighters. They're low number of spells per day is how the game was written, and I don't feel there is any need to "make up for it" (as long as one in using the specific system).

    Incidentally, the constant discussion on balancing fighters and spellcasters amuses me, simply because the discussion rarely seems to focus on reducing the power of spellcasters. In my opinion, BECMI probably got game balance between the classes the closest.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    Some of the earlier/retro-clone systems have random dungeon generators. I often randomly generate smaller dungeons. I use the random generater feature on Dungeonographer and the random populator in the Adventurer, Conquerer, King (ACKS) rule-book.
    Didn't the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide have an appendix devoted to random dungeon "creation"? Books are in storage...does someone else out there recall this being the case?

    FWIW, I'm thinking of the original AD&D DMG with the efreeti on the cover.

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    Didn't the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide have an appendix devoted to random dungeon "creation"? Books are in storage...does someone else out there recall this being the case?

    FWIW, I'm thinking of the original AD&D DMG with the efreeti on the cover.

    - M
    Yep. Appendix A, page 169.

    When he said random generation, my mind went to the DMG too.
    The above comment most likely comes from no real experience.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    It's funny, I don't remember ever actually using the random generators (except maybe treasure) back in the day; I would painstakingly assemby a dungeon room by room, taking care to make sure it all made "sense" and was ecologically sustainable. I never really DMed AD&D much anyway, so don't remember much about it.

    Now, for the most part, smaller dungeons and one-shot lairs are all random, and even the larger dungeons I'll just randomly generate a map using software. And you know what, I find it to be just as much fun, plus a lot easier and faster. I'll expand more on random generation once we get to talking random encounters.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    Right now, for me, "Old School Play" (in particular, D&D) involves the following, in no particular order:

    I think your list is just not right. My list:

    1.Randomness: I say this is a very important part of Old School. But in all aspects of the game, not just random tables. From one minutes to the next, no one knows how an Old School game will turn out.

    2.Let the Dice Fall where they May: When an event that might 'shake up' a storyline in a game happens......it happens! When the characters take over a year to find the Crystal Penguin and are just ten seconds from putting it on the stone and ending Global Warming...and the character with the statue trips and fumbles and breaks it.....and it's a final game changing event....That Is Old School.

    3.Death: Simple enough, characters die all the time. And not the silly thing where the DM just says ''you all die''. It's more the idea that death can and will happen at any time.

    4.No Rules: Simple: the DM made the 'rules' as they were, no matter what any rule book might say. A player could not say ''I do this and that'' as the DM always had the final say about 'what' happened.

    5.No Game Mechanics Balance: There was maybe a vague chart somewhere, but basically no one cared about 'balance'. When a player saw a lich, they would just shrug and keep playing. No one cared about balance.

    6.No Player Safety Armor: No old school player would ever ask a DM to save a character. An old school player might be very, very attached to a character....but they would willing accept bad things that happened, even up to character death. No matter how much a player worked on a character, they would just accept what happened in the game.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    I think your list is just not right. My list:

    1.Randomness: I say this is a very important part of Old School. But in all aspects of the game, not just random tables. From one minutes to the next, no one knows how an Old School game will turn out.

    2.Let the Dice Fall where they May: When an event that might 'shake up' a storyline in a game happens......it happens! When the characters take over a year to find the Crystal Penguin and are just ten seconds from putting it on the stone and ending Global Warming...and the character with the statue trips and fumbles and breaks it.....and it's a final game changing event....That Is Old School.

    3.Death: Simple enough, characters die all the time. And not the silly thing where the DM just says ''you all die''. It's more the idea that death can and will happen at any time.

    4.No Rules: Simple: the DM made the 'rules' as they were, no matter what any rule book might say. A player could not say ''I do this and that'' as the DM always had the final say about 'what' happened.

    5.No Game Mechanics Balance: There was maybe a vague chart somewhere, but basically no one cared about 'balance'. When a player saw a lich, they would just shrug and keep playing. No one cared about balance.

    6.No Player Safety Armor: No old school player would ever ask a DM to save a character. An old school player might be very, very attached to a character....but they would willing accept bad things that happened, even up to character death. No matter how much a player worked on a character, they would just accept what happened in the game.
    That's cool. I agree with some of what you say, although I might quibble with individual points here and there. I'm just trying to enumerate what I feel makes an Old School Game.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    Incidentally, the constant discussion on balancing fighters and spellcasters amuses me, simply because the discussion rarely seems to focus on reducing the power of spellcasters. In my opinion, BECMI probably got game balance between the classes the closest.
    At low levels (very low) in 3.5 casters/rogues need buffing. By level 10ish, most of the full bab classes need buffing. IMO

    I'm a pathfinder player myself and I think it did a good job of doing just that :)
    Annoying Gamer says - Hollywood is sooooooooo unoriginal. Hey, check out my dual wielding drow Drazzit!

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    We're using the BECMI Rules Cyclopedia (well, technically we are using a retro-clone of it) so the spellcasters come "pre-nerfed", if you will.
    Dark Dungeons?

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    DrowGirl

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    That's cool. I agree with some of what you say, although I might quibble with individual points here and there. I'm just trying to enumerate what I feel makes an Old School Game.
    Please quibble.


    I get to game with lots of Old and New School gamers. I can add some 'Play style ones':

    1.Old School does not scout, divine or check what is ahead. The players are just fine waiting for things to happen.

    2.Carelessness. An Old School player does not care what happens during a game. Should they find a malfunctioning teleporter they will be happy to jump in it and end up anywhere.

    3.Speed An Old School game is incredibly fast. The players really keep the pace going too. Only three minutes after hearing about a haunted tower, the players will rush off to go adventuring in it.

    All of the above are very noticeable when your playing a game of mixed old and new school gamers.

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    Craft (Cheese)'s Avatar

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    1.Old School does not scout, divine or check what is ahead. The players are just fine waiting for things to happen.

    2.Carelessness. An Old School player does not care what happens during a game. Should they find a malfunctioning teleporter they will be happy to jump in it and end up anywhere.

    3.Speed An Old School game is incredibly fast. The players really keep the pace going too. Only three minutes after hearing about a haunted tower, the players will rush off to go adventuring in it.
    We must be living in two totally separate universes: In my universe, in a proper "old school" game all three of the above practices would result in the player characters having an average lifespan of 0.2 seconds. You scout, you divine, you plan ahead, you assume everything's a lethal trap, and you work as long as it takes to get every last advantage you can possibly muster before rushing headlong into a situation, or the game will chew you up and spit you back out like cheap bubble gum.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by 1337 b4k4 View Post
    Dark Dungeons?
    Yes, we are using the Dark Dungeons retro-clone. It can be found here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    Please quibble.


    I get to game with lots of Old and New School gamers. I can add some 'Play style ones':

    1.Old School does not scout, divine or check what is ahead. The players are just fine waiting for things to happen.

    2.Carelessness. An Old School player does not care what happens during a game. Should they find a malfunctioning teleporter they will be happy to jump in it and end up anywhere.

    3.Speed An Old School game is incredibly fast. The players really keep the pace going too. Only three minutes after hearing about a haunted tower, the players will rush off to go adventuring in it.

    All of the above are very noticeable when your playing a game of mixed old and new school gamers.
    Yeah, I've got to completely disagree with the above. That style of play isn't Old School, its just careless. A party that plays like that wouldn't last a minute in one of the older modules (like Tomb of Horrors).
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    After some discussion the group decides to search for Aleena, the missing cleric. For those not familiar with her, the Mentzer Red Box (the introduction for me and many others to D&D) featured a couple of solo adventures, kind of "Choose Your Own Adventure" but with dice. In the first solo adventure you run into this cute cleric named Aleena and join forces exploring a rudimentary dungeon. Aleena is slain in short order by a magic-user named Bargle the Infamous. After escaping, you return to town to rest, deliver Aleena's body to her temple and purchase new equipment. You then head back to the dungeon and explore more of it, fighting goblins, skeletons and more as well as getting a basic introduction to the game.
    The dungeon the characters decided to explore was this one, from the Red Box.
    I still remember this vividly, didn't think much of the first scenario I bought for basic d&d mind you but the first two characters were both fighters because of that introduction adventure and its the only system I ever tried to get my sisters to play although they've never forgiven me for that!

    As i recall if your reward was either a Potion of Growth or of Healing I think depending on whether you passed your save against Bargle's charm person spell.
    Never did run or play anything that involved Bargle after that until that adventure in the last issue of the dungeon magazine that had that as a special adventure and only got as far as playing in a Paizo messageboard game as a Ranger.

    Those memories are the only reason i picked up the 4e red box which unfortunately never took advantage of that nostalgia by having the villain be Bargle! Well at least not officially anyway!
    Last edited by Hopeless; 2012-11-15 at 07:07 AM.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Hopeless View Post
    I still remember this vividly, didn't think much of the first scenario I bought for basic d&d mind you but the first two characters were both fighters because of that introduction adventure and its the only system I ever tried to get my sisters to play although they've never forgiven me for that!

    As i recall if your reward was either a Potion of Growth or of Healing I think depending on whether you passed your save against Bargle's charm person spell.
    Never did run or play anything that involved Bargle after that until that adventure in the last issue of the dungeon magazine that had that as a special adventure and only got as far as playing in a Paizo messageboard game as a Ranger.

    Those memories are the only reason i picked up the 4e red box which unfortunately never took advantage of that nostalgia by having the villain be Bargle! Well at least not officially anyway!
    It was a potion of healing; I don't have it in front of me but you get it between the two adventures for bringing Aleena's body back. Not positive, but I think you get it regardless of what Bargle does.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    It's definitely one for making the save (and watching Bargle run away, and taking Aleena's body back), and the other for failing the save (and getting knocked out, and taking Aleena's body back).

    Frankly, as a solo fighter you'd probably prefer the healing potion.
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    And a can of rustoleum


    (I'm adapting this sequence into a "normal" adventure as well, to introduce Bear, Child of Rat to The Hobby).

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    Please quibble.

    3.Speed An Old School game is incredibly fast. The players really keep the pace going too. Only three minutes after hearing about a haunted tower, the players will rush off to go adventuring in it.

    All of the above are very noticeable when your playing a game of mixed old and new school gamers.
    This is the one of the three with which I whole-heartedly agree...

    We listened to the plot hook, eagerly opened our mouths and swallowed it. No "But I want to explore how my character might interact with the beggar's guild of this city", "I need to sail to Timbukthree first to buy a half-stone worth of dried carrion crawler guano before we can do anything else", or "Wait, let me show you this meme about haunted towers first...then let me text for 20 minutes...then I wanna show you my new WoW character."

    We cared about our characters, wanted them to live, complained if the DM did something horribly unfair...but by god we were going to the tower (s)he had planned, and we were fighting those ghosts. And we didn't whine about it. Plus, we walked to the game. Barefoot. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways. Carrying real rulebooks.

    - M
    No matter where you go...there you are!

    Saddest line ever...that still makes me laugh:
    "What, do you have a bunny you need to punch in front of me or something?"

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    From my experience, the "speed" aspect of it (in terms of decisions, not mechanics) came not from this reflexive "rush right in" but from this sense that the plot hook didn't need to make sense, have an elaborate backstory, or be especially realistic: "you mean there's a dungeon over there with a bunch of undead in it. And treasure? Let's go!" Don't get me wrong, I think newer published adventures are on a whole better written and make much more sense then older modules (the Pathfinder ones in particular are things of beauty). But there is a certaine naive charm about the older adventures, where a dungeon exists simply to be explored, and goblins to be slaughtered, and traps abound with no logical consistency.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Anyway, the party decides to go to the Temple to inquire about Aleena and find out what they can about the disappearance. Turns out she is the Patriarch's niece and an up-and-coming member of the Church of Karameikos. There is a nice 1000 gold reward for finding her. No one is quite sure where she is, but some investigation reveals she was headed for a network of caves that were recently uncovered by a minor earthquake. It is also determined that a oung Traladaran man, apparently smitten by her and wanting to be an adventurer, followed behind. He has not been seen since either.

    The party decides to leave ASAP and reach the caves after nightfall, but set up camp some distance away, determined to go in early the following morning. Random encounters checks for both the journey there and overnight are negative.

    So, something I do when running a game is track time elapsed. Essentially, the post that starts each day is titled with the date. Since this is a dynamic campaign, plot hooks that are not followed up with will either disappear, get resolved, or lead to other events. The morning the group enters the cave is the 2nd of Thaumant (the 2nd day of spring, essentially). In addition, I am using a cost of living rule; every month requires the characters to pay a lump sum (for levels 1-3 it is 50 gp). This lump sum takes care of all incidental expenses while in civilization (lodging, food, incidentals, etc.). The first month is considered paid without eating into the PCs' starting gold.

    During the first post of each new day I also randomly roll for weather. If there is any interest, I can post the tables I have come up with for this.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Janus's Avatar

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    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by thirdkingdom View Post
    "you mean there's a dungeon over there with a bunch of undead in it. And treasure? Let's go!"
    It seems that nowadays an adventure like that would spark some long-winded debate about ethics, alignment, about how the PCs are the monsters for doing this, the writer's a horrible racist for writing it, etc.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    So, I decided to roll for weather for a couple of reasons. For one, it adds a bit of verisimilitude. It is also one of those things that pretty much calls out for random tables. Plus, if you get the players into the rhythm of expecting it you can throw in some plot related weather without drawing attention to it
    t, because, let's face it, if you never mention the weather and then all of a sudden it starts to rain…

    Each morning I roll a d6. 1-3 is clear, 4-6 is cloudy. Let's say I get a 2, for clear skies. Then I roll 1d10:
    1=precipitation within 24 hours
    2=unseasonably cold
    3=unseasonably warm
    4-10=normal

    On cloudy days the roll is a d20 with a greater chance for rain. I also have a table for type and length of precipitation, which I won't post now because I'm on my phone and it is fairly long.

    Anyway, that is how I handle weather.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Frozen_Feet's Avatar

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    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Xena View Post
    Please quibble.


    I get to game with lots of Old and New School gamers. I can add some 'Play style ones':

    1.Old School does not scout, divine or check what is ahead. The players are just fine waiting for things to happen.

    2.Carelessness. An Old School player does not care what happens during a game. Should they find a malfunctioning teleporter they will be happy to jump in it and end up anywhere.

    3.Speed An Old School game is incredibly fast. The players really keep the pace going too. Only three minutes after hearing about a haunted tower, the players will rush off to go adventuring in it.

    All of the above are very noticeable when your playing a game of mixed old and new school gamers.
    That's not "Old School". That "Newbie player" style.

    Truly Old School players have already learned that yes, everything is trying to kill them, and will plot and prepare accordingly.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: Thoughts on "Old-School Style", "Sandbox", etc.: An Actual Play Thread

    The character have made their camp just out of sight of the caves in question. Untroubled during the night, they rise early and make their way to the dungeon. Set into a hill are three entrances, large, dark openings that funnel inward towards large oaken doors. The left hand door is closed, the middle and right-hand door ajar slightly. Several PCs examine the ground outside for tracks; nothing can be determined in front of the left-most door. The ground in front of the middle door has what looks to be the track of a large snake; the right hand door bootprints, though it is impossible to tell whether or not the boots are human or other in origin.

    After some debate the players choose to enter through the right-most door and, doing so, find themselves in a large room, in the center of which stands the statue of a woman. After searching the room the PCs find a short note tucked into a crevice in the walls which reads: "Rats east, goblins north, beware west".

    Now, one feature of the older modules which has been touched on briefly is that of relevance. Why is there a note in this central room, revealing what threats await where? No reason is given. No reason is needed. There will be more on this later.

    As an aside, there are two things I am not tracking at this point, simply to let the players get acclimated to a slightly different play style. I am not rolling for wandering monsters within the dungeon, nor am I tracking time as I should be. Tracking time is important for determining how long spells last, torches remain burning, etc. It is something I feel is commonly glossed over in newer styles of play.

    According to page 125 of the Dark Dungeons book, when exploring a dungeon for the first time characters are assumed to move at three times their normal movement rate every ten minutes (and, of course, the party moves as slowly as the slowest member). This movement rate assumes the party is being cautious, searching for traps and secret doors, mapping, etc. Let us assume the slowest member in a party moves at 20'/round. They would therefore move 60' every ten minutes. So, every 60' of corridor the party traverses takes 10 minutes. Going back through corridors that have already been explored can be done at the normal rate of movement.
    From September to December of 2012 I ran "In Search of Adventure", a BECMI retroclone set in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Wiki -- OOC -- IC

    Download the Third Kingdom for free at www.thirdkingdomgame.com

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