Monday, July 12, 2010

Actual Play: Back to Basics

Recently, I came to an important realization about my choice of games: I have a greater tolerance for system complexity when I am a player than when I am a GM.  Unfortunately, that realization came several sessions into our Fantasycraft game.

Fantasycraft is an excellent system with a lot of pieces that I like, but it hovers on the edge of my desired complexity level (its predecessor, Spycraft, was just over that edge), falling somewhere inside "games I enjoy playing" but just past "games I enjoy running".  The upshot of this realization was that our group had a talk about what we were doing and where we were going, and of the various options put forward we decided to go back to where it all began - well, for me, anyway.

My first exposure to roleplaying games was the Basic D&D set with the Erol Otus cover: a green dragon rising from murky waters as a spear-wielding warrior and a sorceress prepared for battle.  I honestly don't remember anything about that first exposure, aside from the name of my character, Goldtree*.  But I was hooked.

Later, I moved to AD&D (and scoffed at the idea of racial classes). Sometime after that I discovered GURPS (and scoffed at classes & levels in general). Then came college, and Shadowrun, HERO, and a host of others.  After college, online gaming got me into Vampire and the associated games. 3rd edition brought me back to D&D and 4th pushed me away again.  At some point I lost, sold, or gave away my D&D boxed sets, but through a half-dozen moves, three or four major purges of my collection, and a flood, I managed to keep ahold of the hardback Rules Cyclopedia.

And that's what we pulled out.

I started the characters in the Known World, in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos - and if you're like me the memories are already flooding back.  The characters are young adults who have just embarked on their Shearing, hoping to prove themselves to their families and communities.  I gave them 3d6 in order for their abilities (to howls of dismay from the players) and 3d6x10 gold each to equip themselves with.  We collectively created some more or less tenuous connections between the characters, I gave them some rumors to investigate, and we set off for adventure.  Before long, they were on the road, bearing packs laden with torches, rope, and a ten foot pole, hired by a local merchant to clear out his newly purchased and monster-infested castle, in return for a sack of gold and a mule**.

We played our fourth session tonight.

It feels good to be back.

* - Gamers familiar with the book will remember the elf Silverleaf from the example of play.  Clearly, I was determined that my character be better than him.  It is a minor miracle that I did not continue this train of thought and come up with something even worse. Platinumforest, perhaps? The only defense I can offer is that my age was somewhere on the high end of single digits.

** - the mule, of course, was to carry all the treasure they looted.  Confident, aren't they?

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