Unless you’re a gamer that lives under a rock then you have probably heard that 5th edition is jismming (is that a word?) all over our collective faces, necks, and chests July 15th with the release of the Starter Set, and get this, a free version of the core rules (or what they are calling Basic D&D) in a pdf download. The Starter Set is DM focused coming with pre-gens, advice/rules, and an adventure for levels 1 to 5. The free Basic D&D is the core of the game with character creation rules for levels 1-20 with four classic races and classes. It will also include some monsters, game rules, and magic items so you could technically play full campaigns with the free pdf if you so desired. The traditional core books will have a staggered release (a sort of refractory period between jisms if you will) with the Players Handbook coming August 19th, the Monster Manual September 30th, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide November 18th. The PHB will have the fuller contingent of classes, sub classes, races, and the rest of bells and whistles. The DMG will provide the traditional world building/campaign guidelines and magic items as well as some of the promised modularity in terms of variant rules. I of course pre-ordered all three core books. It also looks like WOTC is going to try and focus on adventure paths this time around, especially after giving the core rules away for free. The two entries The Hoard of the Dragon Queen (8/19/14) and The Rise of Tiamat (10/21/14) are set in the Forgotten Realms. I am not sure how I feel about this. It just seems like yesterday’s news, but I guess they want try and appeal to the largest segment of the audience.
The reaction to the free Basic D&D was pretty amusing. I personally thought it was a great move and a lot of others on the interwebs were in agreement. However, there was a fairly vocal contingent that took a dump all over it. I have never seen a company take so much shit for trying to give something away for free. A friend of mine said you’d think they were giving away free syphilis or something. People are screaming that it is not enough, giving us a gimped game, with chants of an OGL or nothing. WOTC has stated that they have plans that they will announce later detailing the license structure of 5th edition and it seems like there will be a system for being able to sell individually created stuff, so will see. On a side not it would be ridiculous for WOTC to ever do an OGL type thing again. It was probably the worst business decision they have ever made, great for consumers, but ultimately terrible for them.
My own gaming has been a little stagnant of late. I have prepped the new introductory module for the Slaver’s A-series published in the re-released hardcover collector’s edition using the OSRIC system. The game has been put on hold as sadly one of the players, who is my best friend, is dealing with the final stages of his father’s battle with cancer. I am still playing in the 4th edition Against the Giants game and we have slowly ground our way to the last bit of the final module. My Dwarven fighter Karl Laggerbelly is a beast of a defender. I have to say that the published modules in 4th edition have really not been great. Even with Chris Perkins writing the giants ones, I just find the combat system ill-suited to the traditional dungeon crawl. The best 4e games I have played in or run have been homemade with an eye towards the mechanics of the game. Lastly, I have been slowly working my way through the new Runequest rule book. I really like the system as it brings back a lot of fond memories from my youth. I am amazed by how much more complexity they have added to the system. I had the thought that with the gritty style of play that can be created that the system would be great for a Dark Sun setting. With a little work the Folk Magic could be re-flavored as psionics. So I have that percolating around my brain, we’ll see what comes of it.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Runequest on April 2, 2014|
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Well Runeslinger almost did it to me with his latest post outlining his new campaign with Runequest’s 6th edition rule set. What do I mean by “did it”? well that S.O.B. almost made me buy another fucking game system (notice how I externalized blame to avoid culpability for my behavior, a classic addict move). It’s wasn’t like he was really even talking about the system as the series is more about the campaign he is developing, but just dropping the name and his subtle mention of hit locations was as good as dangling a crack pipe in front of Mayor Rob Ford. I thought there might be some danger when I read his initial post about the game, but like the newly sober clutching a one week chip I confidently dismissed any concern of a relapse. However, with each additional post the monkey on back whispering those sweet nothings got louder and louder. I haven’t broke yet, well not a full on snap, but I did open the link that he so kindly provided to the Runequest website where you can conveniently order the latest edition of the game along with lots of old supplements. After my hands stopped trembling and the cold sheen of sweat running down my back dried, I was able to close my browser. Safe for now.
Lately I am far enough along in my recovery and “summer of George” gaming experiment that I am not so easily swayed. I mean I have only bought one game book over the last year and I am not really counting that because it was the OSRIC rule system and I already own all the 1st edition D&D books, so technically I don’t think that counts, or at least that’s how I am deceiving myself. Runequest, however, holds a special place it my heart. I played it pretty much exclusively throughout high school and undergrad, way more than I had ever played D&D. We used the Runequest 2nd edition rule book and only that book; it was the special or limited edition version if I am not mistaken. Think about that for a minute, a decade of fun campaigns and shenanigans with just a single red book. It makes me want to kick my own ass when I get wrapped up in the business model of WOTC and their drop trow and shit out volumes of product approach.
The resolution mechanic revolves around the d100 (you want to roll low), which I found revolutionary at the time. Combat seemed more realistic in that you could attack and parry. There was individual hit locations with their own hp so you could hack off a limb or noggin, particularly if you went through a phase were you played barbarians with 21 strength and 21size who gravitated towards two handed weapons (I can only imagine what dynamic or conflict I was trying to work through), sometimes even cutting through an opponents weapon to do so. There was also special critical damage based on weapon type like impaling, crushing, and slashing. I read on the Wikipedia page that the combat system was an excellent simulation of battle more so than say AD&D but was ill suited for larger scale or mass conflicts involving multiple combatants because that said realism would be too time consuming. This made me chuckle as many of our sessions consisted solely of mass battles, standing back to back with my comrades in arms beating back the evil horde of the week. In our games a sea voyage meant two things: 1. Rolling to train and 2. Being boarded by pirates.
In terms of character generation, the system was classless allowing for a lot of flexibility in building whatever concept you had in mind. Although, I always felt that the system favoured more martial builds. Given my lack of creativity, my characters were usually based off of whatever fantasy series I was reading at the time. For example, some version of Silk from Eddings Pawn of Prophecy series was always lurking around ready to flow out of the shadows an impale your nads with his daggers. The skill system was pretty robust as well, especially coming from ad&d. We even used the map of Gloranthia (the default setting but with almost no info provided in the core book) for every campaign. The names of the cities always stayed the same but the inhabitants and culture changed based on whatever world we created. So in summary, Runequest was pretty fucking awesome back in the day and I can’t wait for my copy if the 6th edition rule set to….er I mean….ah fuck you Runeslinger 😉
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