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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rappan Athuk Castles & Crusades Campaign

Well, I've been planning it for a while, and I have finally kicked off my Rappan Athuk/Bard's Gate C&C Campaign.  I love these adventures from Necromancer Games, and I feel they fit a more Old School game far better than the 3.0/3.5 system that they were designed for.
This campaign's an amalgamation of Bard's Gate region materials/2E/'91 Black Box materials and kicks the party off with "Rising Knight."  I have taken the liberty of modifying "Rising Knight" materials to fit the Rappan Athuk mythos.  Take a wild guess at who the "Horned God" has become.

The first session was actually a pre-rising knight session and consisted of one player test flying the system.  He is a good friend of mine, originally weened on 2E and 1E material and wanting to return to that style of play.  We kicked him off on his own so he could "test the waters" as you will, of Castles & Crusades.  Since we did not have the entire group together yet, I ran an initial adventure for him, adapting the 1991 D&D black box module "Escape From Zanzer Tem's Dungeon."  My friend rolled up a half-orc barbarian that would make Robert E. Howard proud. 

The opening of the story see's this barbarian warrior delivering a basilisk to one Zanzer Tem in the city of Bard's Gate.  Upon delivering the creature Zanzer placed a spell upon the half-orc and had him shipped off to Zanzer's personal salt mines.  Where no reason was ever given for the existence of the mines, I have given it a sinister one, funding the revival of Zanzer Tem's patron deity (again, guess who.)  Along with a blinded cleric and the ass of  con man, Axl, the PC made his escape, to find himself far to the south of Bard's Gate.


The Campaign, as I currently see it will be comprised of my own plots and story overlaying the following:

Escape from Zanzer Tem's Dungeon (TSR)

Rising Knight (Troll Lord Games)

The Wizard's Amulet (Necromancer Games)

The Crucible of Freya (Necromancer Games)

Tomb of Abysthor (Necromancer Games)

Rappan Athuk (hopefully the new edition that is currently being worked on!) (Frog God Games)

The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (TSR)

And possibly moving into and ending with 

Throne of Bloodstone (TSR)

The Modular style of Castles & Crusades allows me to easily incorporate all  of these supplements into one large Orcus based game, and still fit well into my OSR mentality and feel that I want for this game.  (You'll see where Baba Yaga comes in as I write more of the player's experiences.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

First Thoughts on D&D Next Playtest

It's funny that I've started an OSR blog and the first thing that I happen to officially post is regarding a new school playtest of Dungeons & Dragons.  As anyone who knows me knows by now, I have been pretty sold on running my games under the Castles & Crusades/Siege Engine system for some time.  In fact, if they like what I am writing, it looks like my first published modules could be released under that system!  That aside, and with what I dig about that system (OSR style play, but streamlined) it might be strange that I am not posting regarding said system (I will be later.)  However, I have been waiting on the 5E system since it was announced.  Lately I, along with many OSR folks, have been sorely dissapointed by the recent posts made about Next.  I was a bit taken aback by the rules light approach that I found when I was finally able to download my playtest.  Of course, I can't give away spoilers or rules info, do to the agreement that was required by WOTC to get this material, but I can still voice some pre-play opinions.  As I will point out, it seems that several ideas here were "borrowed" from Castles & Crusades, but WOTC-ified.

1 As originally promised, the game seems to be built around an ability driven skill based system.  This hearkens back to 3.X, but is different and far more bare bones.  It looks, to my eyes, like an amalgamation of 3.X and C&C skills.  It seems OK at first glance, though I think I like C&C's Siege Engine mechanic more.

2 As with point 1, something seems to be C&C inspired in the Saving throws (think of C&C's "all ability scores have saves associated with them" mechanic.)  Again, I like this, but we need to see how WOTC's version of this plays out.

3  I'm uncertain about how I feel about the "rest" rules.  I'll have to see how they play out.

4  Electrum is back in play; an unneeded currency that was still missed.

5 Armor rules seem fairly solid.

6 Weapons seem, to me, to have a distinct Advance Dungeons & Dragons 2E feel to them.

7 Magic, as it currently stands, appears to be primarily Vancian (I'll take time to do a reasonable write up on Jack Vance and Vancian magic in a future post) in nature.  This excites me greatly.

On a non rule related note, the adventure that comes with the playtest is a portion of B2- Keep on the Borderlands, with credit even given to Gary Gygax!  Someone has done at least a little bit of listenting!

I will have more info as this is tested.