Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not Sure What All the Fuss is About

Well, looks like I'm going to be getting back into some regular gaming now that the summer is over.  My buddy Perry, who I have been playing DnD with since basically forever, is running a once a week, 1-hour Old-School Sandbox game.  We're playing with Rules Compendium R.A.W.  I rolled up an Elf.

Now, I'm normally a Dwarf guy myself - and I could have played a Dwarf no problem, I got a decent enough set of stats.  But I liked the idea of the elf.  Access to any weapons/armor and spellcasting?  You betcha.  So was born Fingolfin the Elf.

It's been a really long time since I read these rules, and I have to say, there is some seriously senseless shit in here.  I've gotten a little punchy in the past with Ole Trollsmythe about the preposterous "D&D is Always Right" garbage that some people spread about, and I see nothing in these rules that changes my mind.

First off - some spells are ridiculously overpowered.  Sleep, just for example.  I like the no saving throw aspect of that.  Light is handy - I'm particularly fond of how blinded people can't attack or move.  Saving throws are very difficult to make, so good luck on that.  Other spells are just absolutely fucking useless, and other stuff is just... so arbitrary.

Like... encumbrance.  This is a flat amount for all characters.  Over 800 cn, and you're at 3/4 move.  Over 1200 and you're at half.  Functionally, this means that my 130 lb elf can haul 119.9 lbs of gear around at 60' per whatever.  In real life, I weigh 230.  120 lbs of gear is fucking brutal.  Roman legionnaires didn't carry that much, and Caesar called them "human mules".

Plus, a 90 lb halfling with str 5 can carry THE SAME AMOUNT OF GEAR.  And my spellbook weighs 200 cn!  WTF?  Even my university collected works of John Milton textbook didn't weigh 20 lbs.  Also - I love the spell selection.  Everyone gets 2 spells, but one of them pretty much has to be "Read Magic", or you won't ever have more than 2 spells.  So why not just give everyone 1 spell and Read Magic?  We'll never, ever know.

I could really go on for hours here - but truth be told, I'm actually really stoked to play this game.  I know this style well - and the rules of the slog are pretty straightforward:
Thou shalt not open doors when you don't know what is behind them.
Thou shalt map like a motherfucker.
Thou shalt NOT get in any stand-up fights if you can help it.
Thou shalt talk first, then fight.
Thou shalt have the thief check EVERYTHING. (even though the rules give a lv 1 thief about a 1/8 chance of actually finding anything - how do they ever get to be high-level thieves?)

Also, we found the most amazing example of gamer OCD - the Vaults of Pandius.  http://www.pandius.com/index.html  If you ever want to run a Known World/Mystara sandbox - head over here - there is a generation of material available.


  1. Wow, I never realized how broken the Cyclopedia encumbrance rules were. They're buried pretty deep, too ... I spent 10 minutes trying to find encumbrance in the table of contents, finally finding the reference in the movement section, IIRC.

    I'd be tempted to boilerplate the AD&D encumbrance rules onto the Cyclopedia.

  2. Yeah, the whole encumbrance section should just read "Buy a mule". Which is what I did, incidentally.

  3. We're trying to run the whole game RAW, or at least using Optional rules from the Cyclopedia. It's already a tough go. If we were house-ruling, I'd be tempted to use LOTFP rules whole-cloth.

  4. Maybe you can convince your pal to switch to a different ruleset?


    BTW, I apologize for my condescending tone over on Discourse and Dragons. Not cool.

    Hope your new sandbox campaign is a blast.

  5. Yeah, I was pretty chippy in that thread. I also apologize for my tone there. Heat of the moment, happens to all of us.

    We played the first session last night and it rocked! We are looking at the LOTFP rules, as well as Dark Dungeons. I'm kinda having fun with the rough edges here, though.

    Also, I notice that you are over in Calgary. I get through there fairly often, as my father-in-law and other family live there. I would be keen on sitting down over a beer next time I'm in Cowtown!

  6. That would be cool.

    Interested to hear a post-mortem of your game! Hopefully you will post that soon?