Thursday, September 25, 2008

On being the DM....

I'm kind of new to this whole blogging thing so bear with me.

I have been given far too much credit for my Dungeonmaster Kung-Fu when in fact, many of my earliest dungeons.....all of them in fact....were completely random dungeoncrawls, hacking apart monsters with rubbery tentacles, dodging fiendish deathtraps and gathering loot.

Not much of a plot in any of them.

I ran several different published modules and after purchasing The World of Greyhawk boxed set, decided then to start adding undying antagonists, (Notice I said undying as in they didn't die, not necessarily undead.) plotlines, background and all that other cool stuff.

I have to give credit to one of my friends who introduced me to the Forgotten Realms for switching on that little light in my brain that took my campaigns to a different level.

I had passed by the FR boxed set numerous times and I admit, I was reluctant to buy it. Face it. Money was tight, and the Greyhawk set WAS very pretty. (Not too much substance really. It's almost written like a modern day census of any major metropolitan area. With hobgoblins.)

If it were not for my friend telling me about this amazing FR boxed set and this bearded lunatic named Greenwood, I don't think I would even have any interest in playing anymore.

To me, the FR stuff back in those early days was what Dungeons and Dragons was meant to be.

I still consider Greenwood to be one of the most creative designers that has ever lived and were it not for the FR stuff, Dungeons and Dragons would have gone the way of Rock'em Sock'em Robots.

Our adventures in the FR campaign were simply the best!

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better.......

The Ruins of Undermountain!

Overwhelming doesn't quite do it justice.

This was a dungeon that ALL Dungeonmasters used to dream about!

(We simply never had enough graph paper.)

If you are fortunate enough to own the first Undermountain boxed set, (The follow up set was crap!) I suggest you try fleshing out that beast! It's not impossible, but it's like building your own space shuttle with your ass. No hands. Just your ass.

Now, here's my thought.....

Personally, I never liked the way they started to "fix" the AD&D system. I think TSR basically gave Gygax the shaft and while I think the FR stuff was used to slowly push him out, it really did a lot to resuscitate the dying dragon.

The system, while never perfect, worked. Sure, empty hand combat was far too complicated and it always seemed to me that they only put in partial rules for psionics. (I was never a math guy and that bullshit was all numbers. Don't even get me started on Traveller! I had to ask my math teacher for help figuring that stuff out!)

But in the words of a famous Dungeonmaster......"Wing it!"

Either let it happen, don't let it happen or bounce a D20 and see what happens.

But I guess some people have to have a rule for everything.

Honestly, I don't know what it is, but I still enjoy gaming even though I have virtually no time for it anymore. I enjoy coming up with gaming ideas and scribbling them into crumbling notebooks that I have had for over 15 years.

While I loved being a player, I think I enjoyed being the Dungeonmaster far more.

Even if I was working with an imperfect system.

Creating or sharing in the creation of a world that challenged and entertained my friends (And caused the gruesome deaths of a few of their characters...heh...heh...heh.), was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done in my life.

If you have never DM'd a game, then you should at least give it a try. It's a lot of time and effort, but it has its own rewards.

In the words of a very wise Dungeonmaster......

Shut up and roll!


JM said...

Even though Holmes/Moldvey D&D was my first crush, Mentzer D&D was my first date, and Traveller was my 2nd base; AD&D was our game.

No it wasn't quite perfect, still isn't. But in true Gygaxian spirit, we found ways to compensate We really did 'imagine the hell out of it' in more than a few cases.

But it's that same do-it-yourself spirit that has lead me to D&D 0E (circa 1974, three little brown books - Traveller sized/digest sized - from the white boxed set). Those rules are very similar to AD&D, minus allot of the additional clutter stuck in as standardized tournament rules for RPGA.

Actually, Antihuman, There's no reason a person couldn't 'go Greenwood' on Greyhawk. Sure, there'd be some work cut out for he who should attempt such an endeavor, but it all starts with one room ... That's how Ed did it. It could be an interesting experiment and not too much different than fleshing out Undermountain...

Speaking of Undermountain, ever consider adding levels to it? Troll Lord Games, who do Castle and Crusaders, is/has been publishing Castle Zagyg - Yes THAT castle Zagyg by EGG himself. Not only that but MANY Judeges Guild modules would assist greatly ... If I were running YOU in Undermountain, I'd use'em.



Dungeonmaster said...

Actually, what i thought would be a neato thing to do would be using the Dwarven Forge stuff to create an actual 3D model of Undermountain.

I think it's possible but it would cost about half a million in bits from Dwarven Forge.

But wouldn't it look cool?

I will get with the Mighty Girth and get your particulars so we can get in touch.

Take care of yourself!

Your friend,