Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You can change original D&D in a heartbeat

Summary: GOBLINS: As halflings, only green.

Something that I didn't really get as a kid playing D&D was how easy it was to change it. I supposed it's partly because I came to D&D during the heyday of the publication of the first AD&D hardbacks, which contained a strong thread of "this is the one true way to play D&D."

That seems silly now, but we have a long D&D publishing history to look at now, and you can anayze these things with context like what was going on at TSR Hobbies, and with Gary Gygax, and so forth, and start to understand. Now it seems crazy to me that anyone tried to standardize something like D&D, or that you should worry if one game played by slightly different rules than another. I get why kids, especially, would worry about this, but really...transferrability between campaigns never made sense. When I walk into your campaign with the four wands and two magic rings that my wizard character got because he started as the NPC henchman of a thief I was playing, and that thief stole those items from a PC in a game, and then gave them to his mage, and then my DM was lax enough to let me make that NPC into my new PC just because he suddenly had a bunch of magic items...that's just ripe for abuse.

Furthermore, as far as I can tell, everyone ignored lots of the rules in AD&D. Weapons versus Armor Class seems to have been a favorite. So despite the pleas of Gygax & Co., the game was different all over the place.

But that's not what I wanted to go on about. I'm simply enjoying the extreme simplicity of the Swords and Wizardy retroclone of original D&D, and noting how easy it is to add a new race or class to the mix.

For example, a post on Grognardia mentioned the idea of using goblins as player characters, specifically to replace halflings. I've got a special place in my heart for goblins, so I immediately adopted this idea when setting up a campaign for my son. He doesn't realize it yet, but at the moment, goblins are central to just about everything.

Whether we'll get very far in exploring these ideas remains to be seen. I've done no more than jot a few ideas down...I'm trying not to get too far ahead of him.

This simplicity is of course based on the fact that there are so few darn rules. We started generating house rules as soon as we started playing...although, to be fair, these are mostly just things I remember from AD&D that I adopted on the spur of the moment.

I suppose, as a kid, I would've been more interested in the powers of goblins, and therefore not very interested in goblins, who have no special powers. Drow were popular, and powerful. But now I'm interested in goblins as representing a downtrodden race, considered monsters. And I'm also interested in a world where people live side-by-side with such a race.

I imagine our play will change a lot if it keeps up. I'm just glad there is so much free material out there on the net that we can experiment with to try this out.

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