Why I Love Old-Skool D&D (OR: The 58-Year Old D&D Virgin)
The question was, what to play? We taught him to play Munchkin and Magic: The Gathering a few years ago, both of which he enjoyed but struggled with the rules (probably because we didn't play regularly enough, and to be fair, MtG has a lot of stupid fucking rules). We were unsure of asking him to join because our experience with MtG. Not to mention we were playing 4E at the time, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Still, I hated the idea that there was someone out there who wanted to play D&D but wasn't get the chance, so I kept bringing it up until my wife and the rest of the group agreed to play a game with him.
There was no chance in hell we were playing 4E, so I decided we should go WAY back to what I learned to play with, the Moldvay/Cook Basic D&D set. It's simple, open-ended and (in my humble opinion) ridiculously fun. I only have the book that came with the intro starter set, so I borrowed some material from Labyrinth Lord as well, but that's more than okay. It has been many, many years since I played Basic D&D, and it seems I had forgotten exactly how fun it was.
It started off smooth. I laid out the adventure hook, my players did their research looking for rumours about the dungeon, and we went right to work. They learned that the goblins liked to ambush adventurers on the road, so they came prepared and snuck up on the goblins first. The thief miraculously made her 10% Move Silently roll, masterfully creeping up behind the goblins without a sound, and then botched her attack roll (natural 1, FTW!). The goblins hit her with two sling stones on the counter attack, killing her dead.
|Yes, Virginia, characters CAN die in D&D, even from a measly sling stone. And yes, this character was played by my wife.
How did my father-in-law do? Not only did his cleric survive, but he played creatively, and really got into the game. He described his attacks, openly suggested bad things to happen when he botched an attack roll, and tried interesting and plausible solutions to in-game roadblocks to keep the adventure going (he was the one who alerted the ogre to their presence by tossing rocks down a dark tunnel, but still, he tried).
|Seriously, I know it's hard, but just don't throw rocks at it.
"I play dead!"
I gave him a surprise attack on the goblins once they got close enough. I think it was more than worth it for the laugh we all got out of it.
Why do I love Old Skool D&D? I played 4E for about two years, and never had half the unpredictable, fun and funny things happen that took place in just a couple of hours of Basic D&D. When was the last time someone played dead, ran away, or even actually DIED in a 4E game? I had a new player jump in making up fun stuff right off the bat. Most new players in 4E spend their first several games just staring at their character sheets, paralyzed with all the words and numbers staring back at them, and wondering how to use them "properly." In Old Skool, there is no "properly." If you want your wizard to cast his only spell to shield himself, and then proceed to run away and avoid combat altogether, that is a perfectly valid set of actions. In Nu Skool, you would call that "an inefficient use of character resources."
|This is either the US Government's Economic Bailout proposal, or a 4E Character Sheet. I can never be sure.
(Before I get a bunch of comments bitching about me hating on 4E again, I just want to let you know that I have another column planned which will be called "Why I Love Nu Skool D&D." Yes, like Sookie Stackhouse, I can have more than one love in my life.)
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Battle Royal for the CLAW Heavyweight Title!