Thursday, February 2, 2012

Return to the DMG

Let's pick up where we left off.

P. 25 -- "Each player character will automatically expend not less than 100 gold pieces per level of experience per month." The mechanical logic behind it is sound enough if  you're playing a game where acquiring giant heaps of treasure is assumed. But the implications of it bother me...
LANDLADY: Sorry about this, Mister Thrashovore The Bloody-Handed, but your rent's going up.
THRASHOVORE: Again? It just went up last week!
LANDLADY: Well, yes. But now you've gone and killed the Pale Green Dragon With Luminescent Spots what's been hanging around our swamp. So we have to charge you more.

P. 31 -- Why can't I be an expert in Humanoids & Giantkind - Demography? This NPC sage can. And he/she gets to cast some spells too. Could be a fun PC. Kinda useful, not a powerhouse, guaranteed to bring some interesting complications into the group (who's going to carry his pile of encyclopedias?). But we're looking at a game that doesn't want you to play that way. Not for any clear reason that I can see; maybe it just never occurred to Gary Gygax that someone would like to have a PC like this. He missed out.

P. 34-35 -- I dig the little cartoons. Not in an ironic or mocking way -- these are clearly the work of someone who's having fun with the whole idea behind D&D. Some of them are terrible failures as jokes, but we can't all be Rich Burlew. I'd award someone a pile of bonus XP for doing this in one of my games.

Also on page 34, discussing henchmen, we learn that they are "useful in individual adventures as a safety mechanism against the machinations of rival player characters...". What kind of machinations are we getting up to?

P. 37 -- "YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT." At last, RPG scientists have found the Unified Field Theory connecting AD&D to Ars Magica!

P. 38 -- I like the idea that low-level cleric spells are a result of godly behavior, mid-level spells come from the god's servants, and high-level spells are a direct gift from the deity itself. You could build some fun roleplaying encounters with this concept, or even structure a campaign around it.

P. 39 -- So a couple pages ago, I wasn't allowed to ask my henchmen about their alignment or religion. Now I can't ask about their spellbooks either? Seems like a forced scarcity. The interpersonal economy of Gygaxian D&D is weird.

New goal -- get people to use the phrase "the interpersonal economy of Gygaxian D&D."

P. 47 -- "Naturally, the initial adventuring in the campaign will be those in the small community and nearby underground maze." [Should that be "initial adventures"?] That's not natural unless you make it so. By the time I ran my first D&D campaign, when I was all of 14 years old, we were primarily moving from one large urban area to another through unforgiving wilderness, playing with the plots of kings and mystics. I don't think we ever went into an underground maze. Not that you can't, just that you don't have to, and so we found our fun in the fresh air instead. There's nothing wrong with dungeon-crawling, if that's what you like. There's something wrong with assuming it's How To Play The Game.

Okay, looks like a lot of rules for flying and sailing coming up next. Take 10, people. We'll regroup in a while.

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