I never thought I might say this, but I have fallen in love with White Box D&D or more precisely with the retro-clones inspired by what people call D&D 0e. One reason why I am so enamored with the system is that it’s extremely easy to run and to play. The number of rules you need to know is absolutely minimal.
I also enjoy the fact that player skill is more important than character abilities. I know that a lot of roleplaying game fans utterly despise something like this, but I think it can be a great thing. It definitely helps players to get more immersed and more invested in the game. In more modern games you roll to spot a trap, you roll to disarm it etc.
In White Box games you have to describe to the GM how you are looking for said trap, how you want to disarm it. This often forces the players to think instead of just rolling the dice. The fact that the system is inherently deadly also helps to keep the players on their toes. In more modern games people tend to be way more reckless. Of course your mileage may vary.
I also like the fact that it’s extremely easy to make up new stuff on the spot, create house rules, add or change things without breaking the game. White Box allows you to be extremely creative while running the game. I usually improvise a lot in favor of preparing everything and this GMing style works great with rules-light games like White Box.
I also recently stumbled upon A Hero’s Journey which is pretty close to the kind of OSR game I wish I had written. It includes basically every class you could think of, uses damage reduction for armors, adds rules for magic weapons that grow with the players, and much more. White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game has the way cooler character sheet and is a fantastic White Box game in its own right, but A Hero’s Journey just hit the right buttons with me!
I also got White Star when it came out, but I haven’t given it a very close look back then. Now, with my new love for all things White Box, I definitely should give it another chance. I am first and foremost a Sci-Fi fan after all!
This week I will run the third session of our Buck Rogers XXVc campaign and I think it’s time to share a few thoughts. Overall things have been running smoothly with a few unpleasant exceptions.
To familiarize me and my players with the setting I decided to run the introductory adventure included in the box. It is a bit linear but aside from that I didn’t think it would be as bad as it turned out. We quickly realized that the adventure was either very badly balanced or it meant to be lethal. The first encounter was with three thugs equipped with a laser pistol, a heat gun and a microwave gun. Especially the heat gun was a big issue. 2d6 damage can easily kill almost any 1st level character. Ouch! I think I wasn’t really at the top of my game at the time, otherwise I would probably have given them different weapons.
The next encounter was another group of RAM thugs. After barely surviving the fight with three thugs the author of the adventure thought it was a great idea to let them fight against as many thugs as players in the group plus the NPC they had in tow. Guess what! Each enemy was armed with a heat gun! Yay! A few lucky rolls by the GM and the player characters are toast … literally.
Starting characters also have pretty weak skills which makes healing very unrealiable. If you play rules as written, Buck Rogers XXVc turns deadly pretty quickly. The technology book talks about the advances in medical technology in the Buck Rogers universe, but alas there’s nothing like a stimpack, health potion, etc. which I could give to the player characters to make things easier. Eventually I did just that and invented single-use “stimpacks” which they could use to heal quickly if necessary.
The skill system has a few issues as well. New characters basically suck at everything. Even if I let them make easy tests all the time, their chances to succeed are usually below 50%. Things will probably get better as the characters level up, but until then making skill checks is usually pretty frustrating. Aside from that I am actually glad we gave Buck Rogers XXVc a try. My players seem to enjoy playing their characters, they love the setting and overall we are having a lot of fun. I think I just need to get a better understanding of how the game is balanced.
This past Sunday, Puerto Rico Role Players held its 20th Geeknic. The name of this latest edition was: Make Geeknics Great Again! (No relation to a certain political campaign, just a joke while trying to be topical!)
We’ve been doing these picnics for geeks for some time now, and I’ve written about them before on a few occasions. We went back to the Guavate Recreational Area in Cayey. Located at the end of the porcine delicacies road (click on the previous link to learn more) in the Carite Forest; we’ve held previous geeknics there, and while the location is sadly unkempt, the lush forest and the breeze just invite you to game in one of the many large gazebos. Continue reading Out of a game, a campaign!