Sunday, January 17, 2010

DIE! NPC DIE! Musings on newer editions and OSR.

Some (not all) of my players who are 4th edition players complain that the old school games are just too deadly (but back to that later).

I just bet if they were running the clunky 4th edition rules they would not be so loving of the game. After a long absence from gaming, we as a group are trying to get back into our weekly game.

The problem is I have forgotten the many rules that drive the 4th edition. Like the 3rd edition the 4th edition has it's problems. While the 3rd edition was a complete monster to write for it was fairly easy to run. It just took HUGE amounts of time setting up the stats.

The 4th edition is not at all hard to set up with the DDI tools they provide. But running it is becoming a monster.

If everyone does not know their character the game stops. All information is printed on cards from the character creator for ease but still some of the players just don't learn their class. At the same time they don't want try try something with less rules.

For me my cleverness as a Dungeon Master is zapped due to having to keep up with the per round conditional stats and modifiers. Too many damn hit points! Every monster is a full character! I like less rules and more story.

I keep getting that look from some (but not all) my players when I suggest "let's play something else like S&W?"! The 4th Edition D&D is not a religion or cult but there always seems to be the fanatics. I swear to god it's a look of disgust at any idea that we actually try something else. I am an edition whore who will play any version and like it BTW.

Well friends 4th edition is burning me out.

The old versions too deadly eh? Well I just am going to have to amp up my 4th edition games if I decide to run anymore for awhile as I will be working many hours the next few weeks. It will be deadly at the Old School level.

When I pick up a copy of Swords and Wizardry plus my short and few house rules it just allows me to create. I don't need a computer program to assist me. I write these wonderful dungeons and make these cities like Raven's Keep and the entire land in just a few hours.

BUT back to the point of this musing.

The game play flows FAST! Blood flows! Very few rules to keep up with. AC, HP, Mov, and damage. I can run a huge group of monsters and NPCs with not the least bit of pause to look up rules. But players die. They die very easily and quickly. Many of the times they die with long range weapons in hand that would have dropped the monsters before they even got to the players. Strategy is what it is called.

The main strategy that I use is called DIE! NPC DIE! This saves the player's lives when they don't use strategy, for a short time at least. When there is a chance for an enemy to shoot at the party they always aim at the NPCs first. NPCs in my games die like sheep to a slaughter.

Now there is a small chance a stray arrow or attack will hit the players but the random dice roll always leans to the NPC. Many players have gotten mad when their characters had a crush on the NPC but ultimately it the player's fault if the NPCs die in droves.

I also try and help the players with the NPCs as well. Many of the NPCs will use the Ranged Weapons on the monsters while they are closing on us strategy. The NPCs will also scold and advise the players that are not using strategy. There is one NPC I really like a wise Elf bowman who has amazingly wiped out many a goblin with his bow. If I can ever get the players to play some old school I might just get to run him again.

If your Old School game is too deadly try serving the party to the monsters in courses. First as an appetizer a delicious NPC then for the main course the Players, UNLESS they decide to make it real hard for them.

Well will have to start a job for the next 10 days or so so no gaming for me for awhile.


  1. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. There aren't very many folks around here interested in a D&D that predates 3.5, I'm sad to say.

    Why should character vulnerability be considered a strike against the game?

  2. I've never moved on from 1e, so I can't answer my own frequently-asked question - what's great about the later editions that few people want to come back to the good side? I mean, we all know how cool the Old School games are - rules-lite, imagination-heavy, and as has been said, fast-flowing. Never mind pages and pages of feats and figures, all the OS player needs are four numbers - to hit, AC, hit points and weapon damage. Everything else is up for grabs.

    So who'd swap that for a game where making a character takes two hours (so I've heard) and EVERYTHING has a rule to say how it should be played?


    And yeah, doesn't character invulnerability sort of take the FUN out of the game? Where's the excitement if you know you're going to survive?