|Isle Of The who? A 10th grade creation ...
I cooked up a new dungeon, a serious dungeon, a ruined castle with a moat and undercrypts and under-undercrypts. Now I had the Fiend Folio, so the place was swarming with annoying jermlaine, bouncing with gorbels, coffer corpses and death dogs, or was it devil dogs? There was a Christian chapel - just one of many religions in the World of Atalona!
I made a punk-style collage homemade DM screen, cut dungeon tiles from manila folders. We'd never had a tactical display last year, but I had my players buy minis for their characters, and used my own small collection augmented with counters from Squad Leader and Citadel of Blood. Every hit in combat I rolled a quick d6 for hit location, just for flavor mind you (that's one habit that's stood the test of time...). I resolved to heed the sage advice of the Great Gygax and play almost entirely by the book. I think my players even rolled chances to have psionics, to no avail, and weapon vs. AC modifiers were definitely a part of play.
Well, eight months later, my players were in revolt, one going so far as to intone the name of Asmodeus repeatedly to see if I would kill the wretched party by rolling the chance for the Devil Lord to appear "by the book." The whole experience left a sour taste on AD&D that explains my current appreciation of the looser spirit of the Basic game I never played.
Who's to blame? Me ... and him. Please turn to page 86 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. There you will find a rule whereby even the character who has played completely true to class and alignment must fork over 1500 gp in training fees to reach second level. Those who are merely "superior" in their adherence must pay 3000 gp and it gets worse from there.
WTF, Gygax? An exemplary thief who has reached 2nd level by earning nothing but treasure has not earned enough treasure to pay the advancement fees. Nor has any merely superior character of whatever class. I think I enforced a flat 1500/level and it still was extremely unpleasant for characters having to take out loans from each other.
It's one thing if you put toxic rules that have clearly not seen playtest, conceived in a fit of hate for "Monty Haul" campaigns, in a book that bills itself as mere guidelines. Another thing entirely if you start and continue the book in the high spirit of ex cathedra pronouncement - this is the One True Ruleset!
Ah, no, I'm not bitter. But I'm also not nostalgic. Good educators eventually come to know that students take everything you say literally and seriously. Yes, the stride made in gaming in the 90's promoted a few cliches that don't necessarily guarantee good fun (see under: heavy-handed board game catch-up mechanisms). But they also brought a huge increase in professionalism to the field, helped along by Magic and its multi-thousand dollar purses resting on arcane interpretations of wording.
|Then again, DMG let me roll up this bitchin' random demon.
I'm just wondering if any of you gentle readers had similarly lousy experiences with by-the-book AD&D. Was I the only insecure 16-year-old with more book larnin' than horse sense out there? And more generally, what have you learned from failed campaigns?