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Seth “Adam” Surber
Software engineer, Chen Tai Chi Practitioner, And Role-player
Software engineer, Chen Tai Chi Practitioner, And Role-player

Seth's posts

Got to run my first session tonight. We used the starting scenario for page 204. It took us about an hour to create characters and crew: Hawkers made of a whisperer, cutter, and a spider. Then an hour to run our first score and down time. Everyone is excited for the next session they are even making plans for their next score.

I was very pleasantly surprised how well the rules worked and how they encouraged creativity and interaction with the fiction at the table. I'm looking forward to exploring the system more. 

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#RPGaDAY 2016 Day 2 - We were playing D&D 5th edition, the party was mostly Gnomes. The wizard and the cleric convinced the rest of the party to help them create a bear costume. Then with the use of magic and a wand of magic missiles they defeated a squad of Orcs, while in the bear suit. The bear got dubbed Lighting Bear. Every where the party goes they spin tales of Lighting Bear to promote fear an awe of Lightning Bear. It was a blast and has added new cannon to our game. 

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#RPGaDAY DAY 1- Dice, the weight in the hand, the loud thumb as they rattle in the dice tower, and the sense of randomness is hard to beat. 

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yipee, this arrived today. It looks very good. 

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1) AD&D 2ed, I got start playing the B/X editions, but second edition is the edition I played for years.

2) Cyberpunk 2013, This is the first game I really loved to GM, The mission based, and episodic feel made it easy for me to learn a style of Prep.

3) After a long hiatuses from gaming post-college, I was looking for something different and Sorcerer hit the spot. The idea of kickers, bangs and the grid on the back of character sheet reignited my love of RPGs. I think this is a game everyone should read and play, lot of good idea for the more narrative or story focused players.

4) Archipelago III, This is a game my wife will play. It's pure storytelling but because each player has a destiny chosen by another player the game stays focused. I also like the verbal challenges and back and forth until a scene is better than it was imagined. I admit this game is too much of a story game to meet my desires from RPGs but it is fun and amazing.

Honorable mentions:

1) First Edition World of Darkness, I ran a campaign all through college. The importance of a relationship map for game prep and truly being forced to improvise was a great learning experience for me. We did ignore the meta plot though.

2) Apocalypse World, This game codified a style of GMing I was attempting to achieve but not always reaching. This is the other game I think everyone should play, because it does what it does amazingly well.

3) Trollbabe, This game is a great teaching game, it teaches a low prep style of play that works great. Players characters are the nexus of change, and a question to be answered in play, help me even today, running D&D5e.

4) HeroQuest II, How the story and narration demands help set difficulties was eye opening to me, and really made me think of conflict resolution instead of task resolution.

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I've made my first foray into miniature game rules. The games look fun, and have some innovative mechanics. but I still can't see my self painting miniatures, or building terrain.

I'm getting ready to play some Pathfinder and 4th edition D&D both of witch can be played in a miniature focused way. Recently, I gave the Chainmail rules a good read through, I wonder what D&D be like if the easy scaling up and Down of the conflict system of Chainmail was maintained verses the alternate d20 rules. I'm glad to see role-playings roots in war games, they both want the player to experience a story, think strategically, and emotionally. It's exciting to see how RPGs have evolved from war games into the games I enjoy playing and running today. That's a long way for a games like Fiasco, Fate, PTA, or TechNoir; not so far AD&D2nd Ed., Risus, D6 Fantasy, or Iron Kingdoms.


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I've recently finished playing a few sessions of Moldvay's B/X D&D.  I written up this short review of my experience.

Moldvay Basic / Expert D&D

As a kid I was introduced to D&D with the Holmes Edition, and still have my beaten up book. I choose the Moldvay Basic D&D to play because there are digital copies available. Moldvay’s rules are simple, easy to understand and follow. Out of all the early edition, I think these are the most approachable rules. The Mentzer BCEMI and Rules Encyclopedia made the higher level more clear, but the game changed from adventuring and dungeon crawling to running and ruining kingdoms.

Character creation is quick, with few choices. Some players liked how character are emergent from the rolls. Instead of starting with a character concept the dice lead you to create a character you would not have. Characters are not very customizable by the rules, but each player does add a bit of personality and backstory, marking them individuals.

First level characters are fragile, expect your first several to die before one will live to 2nd or 3rd level. Often beginning character will have an Armor class of 7 and very few Hit Points. This is not all bad it encourages the player to be more creative and teaches them that the sword is not the only solution for dealing with conflicts. The game says to role-play encounters leaving resolution to GM fiat, but he should find a resolution that logically follows from the fiction.

When we played as kid we had a house rule where first level character are extraordinary and start will max hit points. This helped fixed the high mortality rate of low level characters; but It also let us use combat to settle most conflicts.

This emergent style of play seems to continue through out the rules. Combat is abstract and leads to rolling the dice and then interpreting and describing the results. Having reaction and moral roll also enforce this style of play, forcing the GM to respond to the dice and players actions. Rolling initiative every round can make or break a fight, and adds needed uncertainty.

Moldvay clearly defines the steps in a turn or a combat round. This makes it easy for new GMs and players to learn and play. When playing with a map and miniatures and using the strict turn oder it easier to play than many of todays complex boardgames. He even spells out how to create an dungeon or wilderness adventure that works well with his strict turn order, and assumed character motivations. He describe most thing you will encounter in a physical conflict, and give you simple rules to follow. Combat can be a little repetitive, a problem with all D20 variants.

The rules are mostly combat focused but they express tell the DM to determine a chance for any other action, always making the impossible possible and keeping balance of risk and reward in mind. This discourages fudging of die rolls to tell a specific story, and encourages you to the let the players and the dice tell the how the events resolve. Then the GM and the players describe those results.

The Examples of play, encourage the players to play their alignment and have minor conflicts between each other, and compromise to keep party unity. The example also do a great job of explaining the rules. I encourage Players and GMs of current editions to read these rules and the examples, for it will make the game more solid.

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The "How to Write Good" segment on contrivances was excellent.

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Here is my much abused and well played, Eric Holmes classic D&D. With the release of 5th edition, I've been thinking of playing some old school D&D. Now to decide between Holmes or Moldvay?
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