Category Archives: Ask The Readers

I Can’t Make Up My Mind

Recently I decided I should finally give BECMI a chance. I asked a couple of friends if they were interested in creating characters to which they agreed. We initially planned to meet two weeks later to start playing, but we had to reschedule. At the moment the game is still in limbo.

In the meantime I worked on a simple adventure to get started while also thinking about the bigger picture. Since the first planned meeting fell through I thought I might have enough time to start working on a campaign world of my own. Since previous attempts have often ended up in flames, I decided to follow Michael Shorten’s example and start with just three hexes.

During my two-week vacation I planned to sit down and do some prep work, but I ended up playing Elder Scrolls Online with my wife. That was a lot of fun, but I didn’t come any nearer to my goal of creating an interesting campaign setting to play in.

In the meantime I was also invited into Michael’s Ultima-based PbP game which borrows mechanics from Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, which is among my favorite retro clones. It’s simple, elegant, easily hackable, and I can pretty much run it without having to look up rules all the time. Reading these rules again made me question my decision to play using BECMI rules. There’s a certain charm to these rules, but I just feel much more comfortable with White Box. *sigh*

At the moment I am torn between sticking to BECMI and changing to White Box. I guess I could probably use S&W Whitebox as a base and borrow concepts from BECMI if needed. My players probably don’t mind either way. Sure, we might have to reroll characters but that’s probably done in something like 10 minutes. While I am trying to make up my mind, my anxiety also comes knocking. My fear of failing as a GM is so high that it totally paralyses me sometimes.

My gut feeling is to switch to Whitebox since it’s the easier system of the two. I am also quite familiar with it, while I haven’t really run or played BECMI yet. Last but not least there are the issues with the descending armor classes, THAC0 etc., which I find a bit cumbersome. It’s no real deal breaker but just something which may cause stumbles. If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

#RPGaDay 2019, let’s do this one more time! (Days 1 to 4)

You all know the drill by now. I drop off the face of the Earth for a year, and come August when the stars are right, I awaken from my slumber and crawl back to the blog to share my stories and ideas form RPG a Day. Now it is #RPGaDay2019, and I’ve been doing this since 2015. Here is the first post from #RPGaDay2015.

Back then I posted most days, but for the last three years, I’ve been doing video entries for RPG a Day. In recent years I began to do two posts for each day, one in Spanish for the Desde la Fosa YouTube channel, part of an RPG project here in Puerto Rico with a couple of friends, and the English videos I would post in my personal YouTube channel. I’ve always collected them here in the blog, and I plan to do it again this year.

For #RPGaDay2019, the creator Autocratik changed things around, and instead of phrases or questions each day. Instead, we have one-word prompts that give participants leeway on how they interpret the concept and their response. It’s been great and reading the posts and watching videos form participants I can tell the format has been a success.

What have I written about? Continue reading #RPGaDay 2019, let’s do this one more time! (Days 1 to 4)

Somewhat Disconnected

I realised today that all the adventures I have run in the past five years have been set above ground. One was on a snowy mountain top in the treeline in the dead of winter, one was in a fictitious Google office block in Mexico City, another in a Colombian jungle against a drug cartel, yet another was in the Spiderhaunt forest in the Forgotten Realms. No dungeons!

All the adventures I have played in the past five years have been the underground headquarters of an evil magician in Shadow World with a mix of old tech and fantasy, an underground undead infested cave system, and orchold and a hobgoblin cave system.

The last adventures I have published have been a  cave system used by an evil magician but behind it was a lovecraftian old gods site and a cave system filled with (avatar inspired) cat people ruled by an assassin were-tiger queen.

I haven’t published an above ground adventure in 3 months.

So I wonder why I don’t run dungeons?

I suspect there is an element of GM-snobbery going on. I tend to look down my nose at dungeons and bring up all those arguments about who built them and how do the inhabitants survive if this place was abandoned for centuries or how do all these chaotic evil races coexist so happily in this closed environment. I also don’t like dungeons because there is no one to talk to. There is no reason not to put intelligent beings in a dungeon but then you need to be able to justify why they are there and be prepared for your players to ‘charm’ and extract huge amounts of information about the dungeon and its workings, how to avoid traps and guards etc.

I think I am in a minority as the megadungeon seems really popular part of the whole retro gaming scene as does doing/clearing old style dungeons.

One of my failings as a GM is that my descriptions tend to fade away. I may start an adventure giving vivid and rich descriptions of the locations to set the scene, like “The corridor is heavy with the stench of burning pitch and the blocks of stone that make the ceiling are blackened with soot, the yellow light of the torches reveal the passage way to be disused and filled with standing puddles of water. The stones of the walls are slick with green algae and rivulets of water run down the mortar joins. Drips from the ceiling fall into the wide puddles that ripple with with every drop and the sound echoes along the corridor. ” but by the third dungeon corridor this is starting to slip towards “it is a 20m corridor, lit by pitch torches, there is a ironbound door at the far end with a burning torch either side of it.

By the fifth corridor I have described the same stone working techniques, the walls are still wet and the torches are still burning, the players are either imagining it or they are aren’t.

Interestingly, I don’t have this problem with my PBP game. I think as there could be a day or so between describing one room to the next, laying on extra atmosphere feels less like banging the same drum.

So how many of you enjoy clearing dungeons? Am I unusual in avoiding that as a location or backdrop for adventures?