I have a 16 year old niece who hangs out at our house. (O.k. She's my favorite niece. Don't tell my other nieces.) She's a few years older than my oldest son but likes to play video games with them and comes to my wife for motherly advice and conversation. My wife told me other day that my niece had started hanging out at a game store near her place. (Not knowing about it, I checked it out. Unfortunately for me it is geared toward Magic and other collectible card games.) Well, when I came home this evening from work, she's here. She comes up to me and says, "Uncle! Can we play D&D?"
Stunned silence and then I reply, "Of course we can!"
So I pull out the Basic D&D rules, borrow a 1st level character from my son and away we go. I make up a scenario on the spot. A creature has taken a little girl from a village and dragged her into the woods. The villagers asked our hero to get the girl back. She tracked the creature through the forest to a burial mound that had been broken into. The chamber in the mound smelled horrible but she cautiously went in. The room was a shambles with broken furniture scattered all over the place, trash strewn about and, apparently, one corner being used as a toilet. She found the little girl whimpering in a pile of rags. She grabs the girl and heads for the entrance. She notices a door in the wall near the rags while she is heading out. Then, a figure looms in the doorway, growls and attacks. Our hero sets the girl down and meets the creature with bared blade. It's an orc! (She loves the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings so I had to throw one in.) They battled back and forth and after taking a wound she finally put the brute down.
After returning the child to her parents she went back to the mound to examine the door. She managed to pick the lock and enter the room beyond. (The character's a thief.) In contrast with the first room this one was untouched. Dust coated the floor. The tapestries, though rotten, still hung from the walls. In the middle of the floor was a stone throne with a skeleton sitting on it, sword grasped in its desiccated fingers, gold band encircling its skull. Of course, as soon a she touched the sword (cautiously, with her sword) the skeleton came to life. Our hero reacted quickly, swinging her sword savagely and beheading the skeleton with one blow. Thus, she collected a long sword and a gold head band. She then heads back to the village to a heroes welcome and needed recovery time.
The whole session took about 45 minutes and she said she had great fun. I'm a happy man at the moment.
This story also illustrates one of the reasons I love Basic. I can make up adventures on the spot and have the session be successful. There is only one other game I can do this with and that is BoL.
I have so many games and so little time that some games are almost criminally neglected. Heroes & Other Worlds (HOW) is one of them. I've had these rules for quite a while and haven't done them justice yet.
As I've said before, probably ad nauseam, I loved the original Melee rules and played the programmed adventures to death. For some reason, lost in the mists of time, I did not get In the Labyrinth, the rule set that expanded Melee into a complete adventuring system (though I really wanted it) . Well, HOW does just that. It not only expands the system but it tweaks it also. HOW adds another attribute to the player character, Endurance. Endurance makes the player character more durable. Damage and the cost of casting spells are deducted from Endurance first before reducing Strength. In the original system damage was deducted directly from Strength.
I'm currently using HOW to run my youngest through the programmed adventure Death Test. Why Death Test? I had originally planned to run him through the programmed adventure included in the book but he liked the name Death Test better. More dangerous sounding. I sent three "thugs" with him. He created a wizard so I sent three warriors with him. One archer and two swordsmen. So far he's made through the spider room and defeated the bears. I can't wait til we find time to continue.
I'm a little late with this but Mr. Brandon of Heroes and Other Worlds fame has published a new edition of his science fiction game Rogue Space. I don't have the new edition. Yet. But I really like the first edition. You can find more info at his blog by clicking the image (created by Mr. Brandon's talented wife)or by clicking here.
The tavern was dim, the shuttered windows keeping most of the fierce midday sun at bay. Intef took a sip from his beer-straw and looked across the low table at his companion. “Do not become a soldier, my young brother. It is a miserable life. In the summer you boil, never seeming to cool. In the winter you freeze. You march all day and sleep on the rocky ground at night. The food is
terrible, when there is food. Do you know that when it is cold enough, water turns solid?” “I have heard of that. I thought it was but a traveler’s tale related to impress the gullible,” replied Djehuti. “But I want to travel. I want to see the world as you have.” “The only part of the world I have seen is the desert outpost I am posted," said Intef. “Miles away from anywhere, surrounded by sand and scorpions and asps. Once in a great while the sand people stage a raid. That is all that breaks the monotony. Then it is blood and fear and the smell of death. No. You will continue your studies as a scribe. I am now Greatest of 50. The outpost commander cannot remember a soldier so valiant or a one so quickly promoted to Line Leader, then Standard Bearer then to Greatest of 50. By Montu, I will soon be the Commander of 250! Then higher. Even a Division Commander!” “But...” “No! I cannot be a scribe. I could never hold the symbols in my mind. You must do it. Then you will work in luxury for a high official or a noble. If you apply yourself you may even become a scribe in the royal household. Then, with me holding high rank in the military and you holding high position as a scribe, we can can forget the wretched mud-brick hovel we grew up in and lift ourself to a higher station. No more rooting in the mud as farmers and laborers.” Djehuti sighed. “But brother...” “Swear to me. Here and now. Swear to me you will stay and become a scribe.” Djehuti looked crestfallen, “By Thoth and Seshat I give my pledge: I will stay with my studies and become a scribe.” “Good, young one. Intef’s eyes took on a faraway look. “One day we shall be a family to be reckoned with. With your skills with the stylus and blade and my skill with the mace, we shall make it so. One day. One way or another.”
Two ambitious brothers from an impoverished background. What will be their fate? Will they survive and thrive in ancient Kemet? Or will they fall to political intrigue or be destroyed by some nameless horror?
So, long about 1980 a show debuted on TV that changed my life: Thundarr the Barbarian. I was never the same after watching that show. Gamma World suddenly played a much larger role in my life. Mutations and magic suddenly seemed a logical mix. I pulled out Star Man's Son (Daybreak-2250 A.D.) and read it again. Twice. Good times. Gaming was an unlimited vista of adventure. All because of a cheesy sci-fi (yes, I said it. Sci-fi. Not SF) cartoon. I wanted a sunsword (and Princess Ariel, too, in an innocent way.) It was only a few years later that SF and fantasy became rigidly separated in my mind my mind again but while the cross-over lasted, it was pure magic.
Well, yesterday I discovered a DVD set of the complete series at my local library! I promptly checked
it out and will now forced my kids to watch the first episode.. They did not have a choice. They liked it and will watch more episodes with me but I know it doesn't hold the magic for them that it did for me when I was their age. Oh well. Nostalgia, here I come!