Monday, June 1, 2015

We'll go to Very Distant Lands

Come on grab your friends!

I've been watching a lot of Adventure Time! lately and thinking the Land of Ooo and Zarth have some similar vibes. Both are fraught with weirdness; both have bizarre locations galore; and both have remains of lost civilizations scattered about. Granted, the same can be said for many fantasy settings, but –apart from the plethora of nonhumans in Ooo– I can see Zarth as a darker and slightly weirder humanocentric shadow of where Jake and Finn get mathematical on evil-doers.

Monday, May 11, 2015

House Rules?

Crypts & Things (in case you didn't know) is based off the excellent "0e" retro-clone Swords & Wizardry. It follows most of the standard "D&D-isms", such as Character Classes, Armor Class, Hit Points, Spell Levels, and so forth. Where it differs is in some of its extra rules and some of its re-interpretations of the existing ones.

Without getting into extensive quoting of the rules, C&T includes some fun stuff like a Luck mechanic, rules for Sanity and Corruption, and some fun tweaks to the standard PC classes. Rather than an attempt to add complexity, the changes add more to the flavor of the game than the mechanics. d101 is after a pretty specific feel here, and while Zarth is a great setting for that kind of pulp swords & sorcery, the game is not "tied" to one setting. A fact I for one appreciate.

I've always been leery of too many house-rules. It can raise the specter of "Why are you playing that game at all?" While I have not used these rules in actual play yet, I can say they seem to flow from a common motivation and thus have a more coherent feel to them than random "patches" stuck on someone's D&D game to assuage players or DMs for perceived mechanical failures.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Looking at Zarth

I really don't know who –if anyone– will find this information useful. I backed the Crypts & Things Remastered Kickstarter and have been looking at the beta pdf. I mostly picture this blog as a place for me to work on a few thoughts about running a game with the rules and setting, as well as about the genre in general.

Looking at the map (I don't want to post images or specifics about the beta rules doc unless d101 says it's OK). It's very evocative with its colorful names ("Drowned City", "Mt. Terror", etc.). The map and write-ups are also deliberately vague and brief, leaving plenty of room for customization and exploration.

Without delving into a lot of specifics, the overall tone of the world is one of dark & wild fantasy. It's gonzo, but not doesn't stray too far into things like genre-bending or blending. (There are dinosaurs, however!) It's a Leiber, Moorcock, Howard world. Conan would be right at home. It's a dying world, but not 100% nihilism. Zarth is a weird place: it's been weird a long time, and it's going to stay weird.

All these things make it an appealing setting to me. I love setting fluff, but I've come to recognize that overly-developed settings can be a detriment to a campaign when players aren't all up to speed on the intricacies of the world they are playing in. I'm enough decades from my school days that my group doesn't have time to pore over a new gazetteer or setting document every time we switch games.

On the other hand, I still believe that some level of setting detail is important if you want a cohesive campaign as opposed to just dungeon-of-the-week. Of course the DOTW model is fine, if that works for your group.

I think my goal with the setting would be to familiarize myself with it and develop a few hooks based around the teaser bits the rules provide. I don't want to saddle the players with a lot of setting info to digest, but maybe a bullet list with a few of the highlights in terms of history or current features.