Thursday, May 30, 2013

Miniature Contest and the Expeditions in the Northlands

Miniature Contest

Have you signed up for a chance to win a free Reaper Miniature? 

You have until 11:59 pm tonight EST to make a comment in the original post about the contest, in celebration of d20 Dark Ages's 200th post. 

I'll announce the winner sometime tomorrow.

The Expeditions in the Northlands

I ran another session of my "West Marches-style campaign" last night. Everybody had good time, especially me. There wasn't much gold or experience to be had by the party (there were 10 characters after all), but they achieved their objective for the evening, finding a monastery to St. Cuthbert. And then everything wrapped up as they went back to town. 

If you haven't tried this style of campaign before, I suggest you do. It's perfect for people with busy schedules. As a referee, you don't have to worry about developing long range storylines to only have your players trample all over those storylines. The players themselves set the objectives. 

This sandbox-style campaign really suits old-school play. I know Ben Robbins, the DM who ran the original West Marches campaign, used D&D 3.5e. But I'm really enjoying using Swords & Wizardry. Prep-time is fast and enjoyable again--unlike in 3.x where stat blocks just become a huge burden.

I can't even think of running a game like this, which uses random encounters, using 4e. In 4e, a combat encounter is meant to last for about an hour. Our sessions have about 4 hours of actual play time (not counting preliminary preparations, leveling up, post-game chat, etc). Last night the PCs had about 4 encounters in that time, but they also had lots of time for exploration and getting to know the lay of the land.

They encountered:
--an angry badger.
--a road side shrine which they didn't enter for fear of poisonous snakes.
--a strange campsite of gray earth beneath a mysterious dark tree which had rotting ropes dangling from it.
--a ruined town which had carnivorous hawks (which they avoided), a tower with zombies in it (which they ran from and sealed back up), and a large group of bandits (which ambushed them and demanded tribute before letting them go).
--a good view of the surrounding lands once they reached the top of a bluff.
--a dark forest which ended in a low wall, and beyond a wheat field
--the monastery itself which had a small band of wild dogs, a small church infested by giant rats, and a dormitory where skeletons arose to attack them.
--And then they had to get back to town, by circumventing the the ruined town with bandits in it, and enduring the howling of wolves in the dark of one night.

That's a lot accomplished in four hours.

But that's how pre-3e versions of D&D work.

And we're playing again this Sunday!

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