I’m not giving up.

 

Just wanted to pop in and give a quick update on my journey through AD&D, Chasing the Dragon.  As a few of you know, family life has gotten complex with a third baby due in June!  So between that and work, I’m having to prioritize my free time.  So what does that mean for Chasing the Dragon?

First, the online AD&D group that I’m GMing is still waging war against the Cult of the Reptile God!  I anticipate that group to continue for another four sessions or so.

Second, after baby is born, I’m hoping to start another local AD&D group.  I’m not sure whether I’ll be GMing or playing, nor am I sure which module we’ll be traversing.  But it’s in the works.

Third, as far as madcleric.com is concerned, I’m going to give myself the freedom to post more sporadically.  The video blog method seems less time-intensive at present, so I may use that as a more primary method of communicating.  That said, I’m going to make an effort to be more present on Twitter to interact on all things AD&D and gaming.

While this post is (understandably) short and (unfortunately) focused on what I’m doing.  I hope it will encourage you to stop and take inventory of your gaming life.  Are you making sure that most important things in life are being taken care of?  There’s nothing wrong with dialing the gaming back just a bit for a season.  We take short breaks, so that we can fully engage again in the near future.

Thanks for your patience with me.  And I look forward to chatting with you all soon.  If you don’t follow me on Twitter yet, make it happen!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Different Genres in D&D

I’m still getting the technical stuff worked out, so you’ll need to turn your speakers up and I lost the last five seconds or so.  But we’re making progress in the right direction.  Enjoy!

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Jason’s reading list:

RPGs
D&D 5e Player’s Handbook
D&D 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide
N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God (AD&D; currently DMing)
Star Wars RPG: Mask of the Pirate Queen (currently playing as PC)

Other books
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Playing at the World by Jon Peterson

Recently completed
AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (3rd read-through)

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

Can you provide your players freedom of choice?

It all started out so innocently–just a normal, every-day mattress fire started by our cleric.  You know, in a wooden inn.  And in the end, the Golden Grain Inn (from N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God) was in ashes.

This, my friends, is the danger of giving players freedom to choose.  It’s possible that they may just burn the inn down!

Now this came as no surprise to me.  As a player character, I’ve roleplayed as arsonist a time or two.  I’m sure you’ve seen it happen too.  But these sorts of character actions cause a problem for us: offering freedom to players often constrains the story.

In the case of this unfortunate fire (which occurred in last Monday’s session, mind you), we now have a major set piece in ashes.  But beyond that, as the DM, I’m faced with a really complicated conundrum: how do the [bad guys] respond?  The module does not have much fluff about these folks.  So now the storyline has been shaken.  Where do I go from here?

While many GMs would default to railroading the players (thus limiting the players’ freedom), some would abandon the storyline altogether (thus limiting the GM’s freedom).  But I think there’s a better way to handle situations like this when players throw the story into a tailspin.  The answer?  Consequences.

For every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.  And that is what the GM must be prepared to do.  Here’s how you can do it with ease:

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Making Good Gamers Great Gamers

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Jason’s reading list:

RPGs
AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide
D&D 5e Player’s Handbook
D&D 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide
N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God (AD&D; currently DMing)

Other books
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Playing at the World by Jon Peterson

Recently completed
Star Wars: Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston
U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (AD&D; played through as a PC)

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

How can you have a great AD&D experience online?

Good games don’t die.  They adapt with you.

This is a lesson I’m learning, as I’ve just begun DMing an AD&D campaign online using Roll20.  Of course, your skin may crawl even hearing such a proposition!  Playing AD&D online?  Doesn’t that violate the very nature of the game?

Well, I will admit that there are several setbacks to playing AD&D online.  But they’re not insurmountable.  Instead, if you take on those setbacks one by one, in the end you’ll find yourself enjoying AD&D in a whole new way.

An AD&D group like you might be used to.  The good folks of GaryCon.

Playing AD&D online will not be the AD&D of your earlier years.  It will be a new thing.  That’s what good games do.  They don’t die–they adapt with you!

Here’s how you can enjoy a whole new phase of AD&D online:

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Should you reconsider D&D alignments?

You’ve heard it said–maybe you yourself have said it:

“There’s no point to character alignments in D&D or any other roleplaying game.  It’s an unnecessary hindrance to players!”

Or if you’re a proponent of alignments, you’ve seen the eye-rolls from players and other GMs.  I mean, who really takes those kinds of rules seriously?  Should alignments even exist in roleplaying games?

Well, I am taking those rules seriously, as I play my way through First Edition AD&D.  And I’m not simply finding them tolerable, I’m actually really enjoying the rules on alignment.

As someone who played 4th Edition D&D consistently for about four years (and has even dabbled a bit in the last year, believe it or not), I’ve experienced the other side of alignments.  In the 4e Essentials book, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, alignment is discussed in this way:

“A character’s alignment describes his or her moral stance.  Many adventurers…are unaligned, which means they have no overriding moral stance. … Most people in the world, and plenty of adventurers, haven’t signed up to play on any team–they’re unaligned.  Picking and adhering to an alignment represents a distinct choice.

If you choose an alignment for your character, you should pick either good or lawful good” (Mearls, Slavicsek, and Thompson, pg. 43).

As I’ve played 4th Edition, my experience has been that 4e alignment rules functionally led to no alignments at all.  Which is fine!  I just think it’s an unfortunate drift from their original function.  So why were alignments originally written into D&D?  And how can their rigorous use  actually benefit our games?

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Is it possible to lose at Dungeons & Dragons?

There was only so much that could be done about the slime.  We did what we could to scrape it off our barbarian and thief.  The barbarian himself smashed a lantern over his head to burn it off.  But alas, within mere moments, they were gone.  Dead.  Transformed into slime themselves.

And so, the druid, cleric, and fighter–our lieutenant–made the long walk back to the inn in Saltmarsh.  And that was the end of the story.  Period.  The module was over, the enemy undefeated.  We had failed.

Seriously. ALWAYS LOOK UP.

We’ve probably all heard the anecdote about a parent walking in on a D&D game and asking, “Who’s winning?”  The players all groan with the son or daughter responding, “Nobody wins, Mom!”  The parent then leaves the room confused, but glad their child isn’t out doing worse things with worse friends.

But the other night, when we completed The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, I busted out laughing and said, “We just lost D&D!”  So what exactly happened last Friday?  How did we lose in the game of D&D?

A problem for DMs to deal with

I’m learning that some AD&D modules (The Village of Hommlet and Saltmarsh, in particular) have points at which players can make the wrong decision.  And if they make that wrong decision, the module concludes.  The players have failed to achieve their goal.  In Hommlet, the players all perish.  That’s easy to deal with, because you can simply roll up new characters and pick up where you left off.

It’s not so simple in Saltmarsh.  If the players make the wrong choice, the bad guys leave town.  And it’s hard to beat the bad guys, when they’re gone!  The module is over.  Do not pass go–do not collect $200–do not move on to module U2!  And we made the wrong decision.

When players make poor decisions like this, it puts the Game Master in a difficult spot.  Does she stay true to the module?  Does he let the players fail?  Or maybe retcon the decision and give them a second chance?  Beyond these questions, should modules even be written this way, where a binary choice can be so damning to the characters and the story?

As someone who “lost” The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh–as someone who went away disappointed not to experience the end of the module–yet as someone who was happy with how the story ended, let me share my thoughts on what you as a DM can do to prepare for these moments if and when they come:

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