31 January, 2010

Baron Xavier's Legacy: An Opening

Scene 1: In which our characters awaken in a large room. Lying on cold metal tables, they have vague recollections of who they might have been but they have no idea of why they are here.

Scene 2: In which our characters are escorted to their private quarters, where they are given free reign for the night.

Scene 3: In which the premise of the game is described, and our characters have their circumstances explained.

Scene 4: In which our characters start their first investigation and have their first chance to properly explore the setting.

Scene 5: In which our characters reach a climax within their investigation, and start to define how they will work as a team.

Scene 6: In which our characters face their first deep moral decision.

Game concludes with the players really thinking about where they'd like to go.

These days, that's about as strict as my planning process gets.

As I said in a previous post, we're playing D&D. Old School D&D.

It's not so much that I hate old school D&D, it's just that I think there are a lot of clunky things about the system. THAC0, Saving Throws, Random Attributes...A lot of stuff has improved in recent versions of the game, I don't know if improved is the right word. Maybe it's better to say that the game has evolved and matured. I liked 3rd edition, because it streamlined a lot of effects. It got rid of using percentages for skills and d20 for combat, it made the whole game more coherent and user friendly. But a few of my favourite settings didn't come across to the new platform (Dark Sun, Ravenloft [although this mantle was taken up by White Wolf], Planescape.). Then the game became even more user friendly, some might say "dumbed down" in it's latest incarnation, but I've already ranted about this.

We're playing 2nd Edition AD&D, the beast in all it's bloated overcomplicated glory.

I toyed with the idea of explaining the history of D&D to my new players, explaining why it was played in certain was, what has changed since then...all the boring stuff, but the stuff which really sets the game in it's proper place. I decided against this and just played. These players don't need to know my personal gripes with an antiquated system, they are simply here for a good game, and their actually paying me to GM for them. So I'll just give them a good game.

The game is being played at a dojo for capoiera and brazillian jiu-jitsu, the players are the advanced students and teachers within the dojo. So they understand combat, I'm not going to confuse them with what might work in combat and how weapons or tactics might be used. The trophies along the walls, and the t-shirts they wear for international fighting competitions shows that their combat experience is far beyond mine. It's a bit different than playing with computer-headed nerds who never had to fight, never broken bones in physical conflict, it's different to the gothic wannabe social animals who frequent many of the theatre style live games I've been a part of.

It's weird, and very different to many of the other groups I've played with.

8 players: 6 male, 2 female (one of whom is my wife).

It shouldn't be too surprising that three of the players have taken on the role of fighter. There's also a ranger, a cleric, a mage, a druid and a gypsy. A decent mix, and thankfully no rogues...I don't have to put up with percentile bonuses for rogues when everything else in the game uses d20s.

I've adapted the Baron Xavier setting to a more traditional D&D format. Originally it only had humans in it, but since these players want a traditional fantasy game I've made some adaptions. It began as a human only setting, really focusing on the different beliefs of people and how they hold to their beliefs to gain strength within themselves and within their cultures.

But the D&D races are easily ported across.

The city becomes a bastion of half elves, resisting a vast human empire. The scattered kingdoms to the east become a mixture of elves and other races, all hoping that the city doesn't fall to the human empire, but unable to unite due to their ancient rivalries and petty feuds. One of the beauties of AD&D 2nd Ed are the half-vistani from Ravenloft, they work perfectly as Baron Xavier's gypsies. Monsters roaming the wilderness remain unchanged.

Our group is presented with some racial options and they select 3 half elves, 2 humans, 2 half-vistani/gypsies, and an elf.

Final demographics of the group:

1 Female Gypsy of the Half-Vistani/Gypsy race (played by Leah, my wife).
1 Male Druid of the Half-Vistani/Gypsy race.
1 Male Ranger of the Human race.
1 Male Mage of the Elf race.
1 Male Cleric of the Human race.
1 Female Fighter of the Half-Elf race.
2 Male Fighters of the Half-Elf race (I'm really going to have to split these guys up somehow...ideologically, or otherwise).

I can get some good splits through the group along racial or occupational lines. So that's a nice direction for potential storylines to take.

The first session worked pretty well, but that's enough typing for tonight. Tomorrow a bit more detail about what happened, what we learnt about the world and how I've subtly changed the game system to a more story oriented paradigm, rather than a sequential slugfest.
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