The Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Discussion Forum



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 Post subject: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 12, 2011 2:47 pm 
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My background (for better or worse, can't change it now) is a bit different from most of the RPG enthusiasts I've met. I grew up in the 70's and 80's in Western Nebraska in a tiny ranching town. No one I knew played table-top role playing games. The closest thing played to them were board games like Clue, Risk, chess, checkers and Monopoly. I read a lot of fantasy novels (mostly classics like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, L'Morte de Arthur and Canterbury Tales) though and was fascinated by the descriptions of dragons, monsters, heroes and their deeds of daring do. I used to draw maps of fantasy lands on grid paper just for fun. A couple of my friends and I would make up our own games using action figures, hand drawn maps, dice and various bits and pieces of other games. In retrospect, I think we pretty much invented our own versions of games like D&D Miniatures and Warhammer without even knowing that those games existed.

We'd pretend to be our favorite heroes from movies and TV shows but not really in the sense of an actual role playing game with rules and stuff. So we RPG'd but without the "G" :) If you've ever read any of the Calvin and Hobbes comics, that was pretty much my childhood only I had more than one stuffed animal that I talked too :)

The only other games I played were video games starting with the occasional trips to a faraway land (about 80 miles away) where they had video game arcades at the mall and pizza place. Later, my grandmother got me the all-new Atari 2600 and I was hooked on console games. The first RPGs I ever played where you created a character and leveled him up as he hacked monsters and found treasure was on the NES.

The NES games of Heroes of the Lance and Dungeon Magic were my introductions to the game aspect of D&D. I've played a lot of video game RPGs on my computer and consoles ever since.

By high school, I began to hear tales of a table-top game of D&D, but usually as second-hand stories about "those dumb D&D nerds". No one in my school played them. I was curious but it was too far to go to other towns to find players and there was no such thing as The Internet, at least not for regular people, back then, so I couldn't just look them up online.

The first session of D&D I ever witnessed was when I was in college. I watched them play a couple of sessions before attempting to join. They were nice enough and I had fun visiting with them, but I couldn't really get into the game. It was too complex with too many things to remember (I believe it was 3rd Ed that they were playing). Most of the time, it seemed like everything I wanted my character to have or to do was not allowed. It also seemed like they spent more time arguing over what to do and what could be done than they spent in actually doing anything. I gave up on it and went back to my video game RPGs.

Now that I live in Vegas and we have da interwebz to look everything up on, I have been able to try all kinds of table-top games. I love the conversations, friend-making, good natured (mostly) kidding etc. that go on in these games. They are so much more 'alive' than even the latest video game RPG. But I still find the ones I've tried to be too complex. Even with Pathfinder and D&D 4e, there is still too much emphasis on "doing it right" or following the rules. In the video game RPGs there are rules too of course, but the A.I. "looks them up" and keeps track while I get to focus on what my character wants and is experiencing. Having to dig through manuals (paper or online), argue the vague points in the rules with people, stop the action to crunch the numbers etc. detracts from the immersion in the characters' experience somewhat.

I guess what I'm looking for is a role playing game in which a group of people can get together, create fun characters to role play and then run those characters through all sorts of dangers, challenges and quests all while making up stories about them on the fly.

I recently found a .pdf of something called "Dave Arneson's Black Moor" by Zeitgeist Games in 2005. I haven't managed to figure out how to play it with a group yet, but have read some of it and it looks promising. In the preface, Arneson basically said he wanted to make an easy to understand game where players all worked together to tell their own high fantasy story with the characters they controlled being the heroes of it. It's funny that in the intro he describes the way that even that nacent pre-Blackmoor game got a bit complex thanks to his wargaming buddies. He says "...the same Napoleonic guys that had hassled me before about the assorted minutia came around with tomes on medieval weapons! "So, Dave, what can this device do?" I thought I had escaped all that stuff..."

I like strategy games like Chainmail, Risk, DDM, Warhammer etc. just fine, but I guess I'm looking to "escape all that stuff" too. Complex war games are fun but their kinds of details and mechanics get in the way of high fantasy storytelling and grind it to a halt all too often.

Now all I've got to do is find a way to make this game I've found (or another one along the same vein) work in a group setting. I know I got a little long-winded there (must be the storyteller in me :), but I wanted to explain why I don't like the "crunch" that shackles every table-top game I've tried so far. Any suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 13, 2011 2:10 pm 
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Lord of the Regency Council
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Hello Dukethepcdr!

Welcome to the Comeback Inn!

Rules complexity is certainly something that varies alot according to taste. If you think that the later editions of D&D involve too much consultations of rules found in a number of books, perhaps an earlier edition of D&D could be what you need? My personal favorite is the Rules Cyclopedia. Quite a big book, but it contains everything you will ever need to run a campaign of any level.

Or, if you are willing to try something a bit different, you might want to check out Savage Worlds. All the rules needed are contained within a single book which until recently was sold for as little as 10$ (new). I see that Amazon lists higher prices for it now, but if you cannot find it at an acceptable price, I suggest waiting for the Deluxe editon which should be out soon for ca 30$.

I'm sure that the others will have other suggestions. I based mine on the idea that you were going to use Blackmoor as your setting :)

-Havard

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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 13, 2011 11:02 pm 
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Thanks for the info. I'll check out that Rules Encyclopedia.


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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 14, 2011 10:16 am 
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dukethepcdr wrote:
Thanks for the info. I'll check out that Rules Encyclopedia.


Duke, in all seriuosness, check out Dragons at Dawn. It presents Arnesons style of gaming in a very rules light and flexible framework. Notwithstanding that I wrote the game, I think its right up your alley. It never lets mechanics get in the way of "The Story" as Dave put it.

However, another thing for you to look at would be Microlite 20 or even better, Microlite 74 They are great free products that really stremline D&D but use all the familiar mechanincs.
http://www.microlite20.net/
http://www.retroroleplaying.com/content/microlite74

Although I agree with Havard that the Rules Cyclopedia is a great product, it is not a "rules lite" version of the game (its about 200 pages) and probably not what you are really looking for at this point.

BTW, welcome to Blackmoor!

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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 14, 2011 11:26 am 
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Rafael - Retired Admin, sailing on the "Mordred".
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In that context: Check out "Lamentations of the Flame Princess". It's really like the Rules Cyclopedia or Basic Fantasy RPG in feel,
but the ramifications and tone are more adult-oriented, and the game is, while far from perfect, very beginner-friendly.

I would suggest trying one- or two-session adventures, perhaps Cthulhu Dark Ages, or some older (2e) stuff from Dungeon Magazine.


(Oh sorry Aldy, post has been on my screen all day. Sorry to compete with your game! :wink:)

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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 14, 2011 12:01 pm 
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One option, sadly out of print, might be HeroQuest (the old Milton Bradley version, not the newer RPG with the same name). It's role playing on a board with pretty simple rules and great for group play. The "take turns" philosophy is great for encouraging teamwork and my group always said that we all win or all lose together, no matter which characters get knocked out of the action during the session or which one happens to complete the quest. And next game you start over with the characters all healed up and ready for action again.

It has the advantage of being a board game so each adventure is both visual to the players and self contained. It can be played in a couple of hours.

You also can maintain campaign play. Characters get better as they find gold and magic items. It's easy to house-rule as well. The original game came with ten adventures, which can last for a while especially if you re-do any quests where the group doesn't succeed the first time.

It's a great game for the family as well, and one that non-gamers seem to enjoy a lot. My kids learned RPG play using this game.

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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 14, 2011 12:05 pm 
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Rafael wrote:

(Oh sorry Aldy, post has been on my screen all day. Sorry to compete with your game! :wink:)

Nah, 'sall good. :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Aug 14, 2011 12:13 pm 
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If you want something newer and in print, there are a series of board games by Wizards of the Coast which are based on their 4E line of Dungeons & Dragons.

The 4E rules (to me) are kind of complex and such, but the board games might be what you are looking for because they streamline the rules and the design is for players who aren't rules lawyers.

The plan is to have three games all compatible with one another:
1. Ravenloft (a vampire's castle)
2. Wrath Of Ashardalon (a dragon's lair)
3. Something with Drizzt is coming soon (dark elves)

These are simplified versions of 4E and are designed for family or group play. They are done on a board, have power cards for pre-determined characters, and have a simple enough game system that players don't need to be uber-geek to understand them. They are very visual, with boards and plastic miniatures.

Another bonus (?) is that they are designed to be played without a Game Master. Everyone gets to play a character. I've tinkered with using these as a regular RPG and it works fine that way, too, but it's neat to see that you could play with the group and not just DM. (I have this issue, since I'm really the only DM in my group so I hardly ever actually get to play a character.)

Each of the first two games have 5 different characters to play, and they are mostly interchangible so that you actually have 10 choices. (Soon to be 15 when the third game gets released.)

Again, my interpretation of your post is that you want something like a RPG but also a social game where you can play but not stress out. These may be the answer.

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Marv / Finarvyn
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Visit my Blackmoor OD&D board
OD&D since 1975

"Don't ask me what you need to hit. Just roll the die and I will let you know!"
- Dave Arneson

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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Dec 18, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Lord of the Regency Council
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dukethepcdr wrote:
I recently found a .pdf of something called "Dave Arneson's Black Moor" by Zeitgeist Games in 2005. I haven't managed to figure out how to play it with a group yet, but have read some of it and it looks promising. In the preface, Arneson basically said he wanted to make an easy to understand game where players all worked together to tell their own high fantasy story with the characters they controlled being the heroes of it. It's funny that in the intro he describes the way that even that nacent pre-Blackmoor game got a bit complex thanks to his wargaming buddies. He says "...the same Napoleonic guys that had hassled me before about the assorted minutia came around with tomes on medieval weapons! "So, Dave, what can this device do?" I thought I had escaped all that stuff..."


How are things coming along Dukethepcdr? Did you ever find a system and group to play with? :)

-Havard

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Currently Running: The Blackmoor Vales Saga
Currently Playing: Daniel S. Debelfry in the Throne of Star's Campaign


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 Post subject: Re: The Quest for a Simple Yet Fun Table-Top RPG Continues!
PostPosted: Dec 21, 2011 7:15 pm 
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Serf
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Warriors of Mars.
Barsoom, with the books to read, the gazetteers to peruse, princesses to rescue and hordes of evil to fight.

Buckle on your sword, mount your faithful thoat, and prepare to slay the treacherous Ulsios who threaten your lifestyle!

oh, and the movie is in March 2012

:P


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