Thursday, November 11, 2010

Getting Rolling Again

The blog that is, not the gaming. The gaming has gone on pretty much nonstop. Currently the club has two games going. Monday & Thursday we run Pathfinder. Currently in the first installment of The Soul of the Smuggler's Shiv. PC death rate has been fairly high, but we've got quite a few new gamers still getting their feet under them. The Tuesday & Friday group is classic 1st edition. The players are getting by with sets of OSRIC rules, but I'm running it strictly 1e. All 1e rules trump any OSRIC variations. Kind of cruel yes, but it keeps them guessing in the dark alot. That's always good.

The Pathfinder game is going alright. It's actually a better group of players than the 1e group. I think there is a better chemistry overall. And the players are more cooperative overall. But I must say Pathfinder is not my favorite. It's by far better than 3.5, but my rules light tendencies come out again. Pathfinder has streamlined alot of the combat rules of 3.5 and things tend to run fairly smoothly. Lots of folks like the streamlining of the d20 system. While it does streamline play, I find myself not really liking it. My reasons are not entirely favorable towards players however. I love having somewhat contradictory rules for die rolls. High for saves and to hits, low for ability checks and skill checks and a myriad of variations in between. It keeps them in the dark, keeps them guessing.

I suppose it's becoming clear what kind of game I like to run. I like to keep a high degree of uncertainty in the game as far as players are concerned. It's far too easy to lose the feel of the adventurous aspect of what characters are doing, especially with good or experienced players. But even younger inexperienced players can gain that false sense of self confidence because they "know" how things are done. I don't know how many times I get tired of facing the question, "what do I need on this roll?"; or its twin question, "Do I want High or Low?"

Too late, your dead.

And what about the classic gaming we all know and love? Well, I continue to default to my true love: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons pre 1990. However, I'm still a bit torn. Why? You may ask. I'm still leaning towards an even rules lighter approach. Yes, the older I get the more I am drawn to a truly rules light approach. Now, I'm not saying 1e isn't Old School. It is, but what I've wondered lately is what Old School really means.

I had vehement debates about this very topic online in several places last fall. I must say my vehemence has tempered somewhat. First I'll plug Chris Heard's 4e Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Chris' game is a classic example of a game rich in story and setting and roleplay. Yet it's 4e. Sure the combat is a little generic due to powers, and the skills and such make player effort at problem resolution a little less than I would desire, he still does a very good job.

So, is it the edition or the GM and players? Well, we all knew that it was a combination of both, no matter what side of the argument we came down on. The thing I've realized is that _I_ have a style of play that _I_ like. It's not best or better or anything like that except for _me_. And the players I play with have a lot to say with the success of a given gaming session.

Which leads me to the explanation of my last short little post. I think my apparent wishiwashy Charlie-Brownness is due more to the vagaries of my players than me. You see, I run a rather public club. We have to make up to thirty different gamers happy. It's going to be a textbook case in compromise every year. If they demand 4e and I can't dissuade them otherwise I sort of "owe it" to the club to grant their wish. It doesn't mean I like it; just that I have to keep the club running. I'm just glad they chose to play 1e for a little longer.

So where would I be, given the choice? I'm not sure, but I'm leaning more and more to early basic or OD&D style of play. In fact there have been some truly kewl developments in that area lately. But more on that later.