Top 5 Songs About Death, a Laura's Dad Tribute List
You might ask, "David, you said you were going to write more. What happened to
ramping up the blogging?" It turns out adding a third weekly session to our
campaign means I'm literally just gaming all the time. I'm writing scenarios,
rolling treasure hordes! Along with my Japanese studies (over 1 year now),
learning a new programming language (Rust, which I will write AD&D tools in),
and reading D&D content, I barely have time to waste. On top of that I've been
reading some Appendix N so I don't have to be a poser anymore.
Huh, I guess I kinda do have time, I just haven't managed it well enough. Thanks
guys, this was really helpful!
Also, a bunch of characters died recently and I needed to prep some new
scenarios. Ghouls, man. Expect them.
Anyway, what I want to share today is are two lists of reflections. Our campaign
is now in its sixth Earth month (and nearly the second game year). Seven months
ago, I had never run AD&D before. Everything could have gone really bad, but
fortunately the only people who have truly suffered are the dead characters, and
the living ones. Just like Gary intended. Nevertheless, I have bullet points to
share with you, which I will expand upon in future posts, and thereupon return
to this post to bless it with additional hyperlinks.
As was the case in High Fidelity, I will not order these lists.
Five things I wish I did earlier
- Started a (DM-only) campaign wiki. I now use
to keep a markdown, git-backed wiki of everything – scenarios, maps, magic
items, monsters, PCs, NPCs, timelines, locations. Everything.
- Allowed characters to go on
With an open table, some players took more initiative than others "activating"
new characters in their stable when their current characters weren't suited to
or available for an expedition on a certain date. Players (understandably)
weren't comfortable telling other players to play X, or not wait until Y was
off 0 HP bedrest, and so on. Then, I think the upkeep and disease/parasite
checks stressed a couple players out a little. I have since updated our rules
to have a character accumulate no more than 1 month of upkeep and
disease/parasite checks if they aren't used for anything for one in-game month
(no research, training, movement, nothing). I want to encourage players to
have a stable, not penalize them for using it. I do not allow pausing loans,
hireling/henchmen costs, or domain upkeep.
- Helped arbitrate some decision-making. Not wanting to involve myself in
the rightful domain of players, I remained silent for a long time while
players debated their goals for a session, planned for an overland battle, or
considered how to resolve some problem. I realized after a while that it would
be good to participate a bit more. Not to give an opinion, but to provide
additional info or hurry things along. There were times where situations could
have been made more clear or in-world context could have been provided. There
were also times when a time limit would have been helpful. "Decide in the next
10 minutes or we'll roll for it." One challenge of an open table is when
people are getting to know each other, they don't want to be bossy. But the
game demands it.
- A/T/S/M/D/L table. Six key stats you should have in front of you for each
character at all times are AC, AC Type, how many opponents their Shield can
block, Movement speed in inches, chance to open Doors, and chance to Listen
and hear noise. I started with A/T but expanded it over time to these six
stats. I now keep them in the character spreadsheet so I can just ask for any
changes at the top of a session. You should also note any dexterity bonuses to
AC (so you can remove them during casting and charging), and bonuses to
surprise. Put a shield shape around shield numbers, a box around the doors
number for the routine door-openers, and a circle around the listen number for
the routine listeners.
- Read modules and module reviews. I wanted to start the campaign as though
I was in the 70s and didn't have other peoples' scenarios to reference, and
since I hadn't looked at any old-school modules in over a decade this was
pretty easy. In some ways this was good I guess. There were many strong
epiphanies had. But I think overall, adventures would have been better had I
read Bryce's and Prince's review standards, read reviews, and studied some
good old modules.
Five things I'm glad I did
- Continually developed a campaign document. I have a document all my fellow
players have access to. It originally contained group rules (e.g. no
real-world religion/politics), deities, month names, festival days, and our
one rule change (no sex-based ability score caps for classed characters). Now
it's expanded to contain a huge list of rules clarifications, procedures, and
other useful info for players. If i did it again I would also version control
this with git. Instead I've just downloaded it weekly.
- Tried by-the-book AD&D before changing anything. We still haven't broken
from BTB AD&D really, other than the sex-caps rule. Turns out, the game works
if you follow the rules. And it's pretty fun. So fun, in fact, that we
continue to follow the rules.
- Grew the campaign bottom-up. Following Gary's advice in the April 1975
issue of Europa
(which the Gygax 75 challenge was based on)
was one of my best decisions. We started with a town, a small-scale map, a
dungeon, and went from there. I have a continental map now but it's largely a
- Tracked characters in a spreadsheet. Knowing what characters are up to and
what date they are on is critical. This is partially also a regret, because it
turned out that only keeping track of the character's current date was not
good enough. I should have kept a more detailed historical timeline of past
- Read the rules. I read through every rule in the core
before playing and if I hadn't I would not have been running the same game.
As I've said
you cannot extrapolate from other versions of D&D and assume you know how AD&D
works. It's another beast.
Coming soon™, more details on these points, as well as some posts about topics
I've been messaged about recently. A few people have asked me questions about
AD&D and my responses to them ought to be converted to posts.
← Go back home