This Saturday we had to cancel or regular Titansgrave game, because three of the players couldn’t make it, so I pulled out White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, and we quickly rolled up characters for the four players who could make it (yes, I have a pretty large gaming group). I offered the players to roll 3d6 six times and then distribute the results as they saw fit, but they decided to go all old-school and roll “3d6 in order”. This led to some pretty interesting character choices, like the highly-intelligent but not-so-wise cleric, or the all around mediocre fighter. But all these characters are actually pretty viable in a White Box game.
The session itself was 100% improvised. I randomly created a dungeon using some special dice my friend Marcus has brought with him. The world was made up on the spot and I used a lot of common tropes. The adventure started in a tavern, the “quest giver” was a mysterious robed figure, the dungeon was located under the destroyed tower of a wizard who had terrorized the whole area decades ago. It quickly became clear that we were all interested in a light-hearted game. Explaining some old-school concepts to the players I mentioned that the GM is basically God at the game table. So the player who rolled up the Cleric decided to worship St. Michael, a god clearly inspired by me.
One of the player characters fell asleep during watch, which allowed a lucky thief to almost rob them blank. Their unlucky streak continued when they got lost in the mountains and stumbled upon a basilisk. Only a couple of lucky rolls (and a mistake on the GM’s behalf) saved them from a TPK. Eventually they made it to the dungeon where they had to evade devious traps, face numerous skeletons and a pretty nasty Mimic. But in the end, they found the artifact they were paid to bring back.
What this session showed to me clearly is that White Box is a perfect pick-up-and-play kind of game. And if you’re not planning to start a serious campaign, you can easily improvise simple adventures. Because everyone knows the common D&D tropes, no long explanations are needed. The rules-light nature of White Box also has some issues. Mechanically the two thieves in the party were basically identical. This is not a big issue to me, but some more mechanically minded players might see this as a drawback. White Box also makes it very easy to just handwave things away you don’t like, which is something you often don’t dare to do in crunchier systems. Someone really wants to use a sword as a Magic-User? Let him. If you go 100% old-school, all weapons cause the same damage anyway, so it’s mostly a cosmetic thing. Even if you use the damage values given in White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, the difference between a sword and a staff is negligible.
Next week I’ll probably run something completely different, but White Box will definitely one of my go-to games in the future. By the way, my friend Marcus also wrote down his thoughts about Saturday’s game in a blog post. He focuses on the random character creation and it’s definitely worth a read!
Yesterday evening I had the chance to run my first White Box game set into the world of the Ultima series, Britannia (or Sosaria as it was known before). Overall I have to say things went pretty well.
The player characters were all humans from Earth, who got lost in a renaissance faire and ended up in front of a gypsie’s wagon. The mysterious woman inside asked them 28 moral dilemmas which determined the characters’ professions.
Yes, I actually took the questions from the Ultima games to determine which Virtue was favored the most by the players. I could have reduced the number of questions if I asked each person seperately and then picked the questions more cleverly. But since I wanted to get the answers in one big swoop, they had to go through all 28. In the end we had a Paladin, a Druid, a Magic-User and Ranger. Continue reading Through the Moongate
What I want to write about today is something which started as a very small side project which eventually got a bit out of hand. Or you could say it’s still in the middle of getting out of hand.
Inspired by a very awesome White Box character sheet, I decided to give Sword & Wizardry White Box another look. I couldn’t find my print copy anymore so I looked on the internet and stumbled upon a new White Box game called “White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game”. Leafing through the PDF immediately made me excited about running a White Box game again, something which I haven’t done in quite some time. So I started thinking about which campaign setting I could use. Since we are taking a break from our current Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign (an important member of the player group won’t be able to come next time), I already had a time and place to run a White Box one-shot.
During the last week I have been basking in nostalgia already by playing some of the games from the Ultima series. So the logic next step was to combine two awesome things into one. That’s how the idea of an Ultima campaign powered by White Box was born!
After some attempts with Campaign Cartographer I switched to the easier-to-use (although less powerful) Hexographer. Using a map from Ultima IV as a basis I created a hex map of the world of Britannia. I was actually surprised how easy that was. Sure, I had to take some liberties, but overall the map turned out great.
|The map I created in Hexographer
||The Ultima IV map I based my work on
I decided to use Ultima IV as a basis, because that’s the game which changed the series. In Ultima IV you play a character who strives to become the Avatar, the embodiment of the Eight Virtues, Britannia’s philosophical system. There’s no big bad to defeat, no princess to save, no artifact to find. Of course there are many dangers in Britannia and even if you are not interested in following the aforementioned path you can still go on countless adventures. But I wanted becoming the Avatar be a viable option for the players. The Stranger, the hero of Ultima I-III was actually supposed to become the Avatar, but in my version of Britannia, he just doesn’t show up when the campaign starts.
Continue reading Ultima & White Box