Playing with Dave Arneson

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Playing with Dave Arneson

Post by Havard » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:06 pm

This is an old one, but not everyone may have read it:
Spinachcat wrote:I just got home after playing Blackmoor D&D with Dave Arneson for five hours.

It was sweet and EXTREMELY educational. My inner gamer archeologist is about to explode. I picked his brain both in and out of game. FASCINATING.

It also cost me $80 bucks. It was worth every cent. Best money I've spent in years.

Here's a fun story. Dave tells us he was gaming with "a certain well known game designer" for the first time in his Blackmoor campaign and this guy backstabbed his own son's character for no reason. Dave says that in retrospect he should have paid more attention to that event.

Here's his thoughts on GMs. "If the players don't amuse the GM, then the GM will amuse himself at their expense."

Dave runs Blackmoor...not just the setting, but the game system he designed sans Gygax. It was proto-D&D but quite different.

1) THAC0 is about rolling UNDER not equal or over. So if you had a THAC0 13, you needed to roll 13 or less to hit. 1s are crits and 20s are fumbles. Attacking corresponded to your other ability / skill rolls.

2) Saving Throws did not exist. Instead of rolling the die, you had to defend to the other player via a short story WHY your character would survive what was coming at him. The player's voted and the DM was the tie-breaker.

3) SciFi / Fantasy blending was the genre. As one player put it, it was D&D meets Naked Lunch.

4) It was SO not Tolkein and not the pseudo-medieval Greyhawk. The world was odd and tweaked where magic was used to emulate technology in many aspects, but unlike the "logic" of steampunk science, this was a world were you could just cast spells to do stuff where nobody really understands the magic they wield.

5) Alignments changed DURING play based on actions. It was Lawful, Chaotic or Neutral which Dave called Selfish...

6) The +X on a magic sword represents the amount of positive magical energy in that weapon. When you meet a AC -3 creature, you need to make your THAC0 roll and you must have a +3 weapon because you need that much "positive" magic to counter the "negative" magic that protects that creature - thereby allowing your physical weapon to hurt things like ghosts and stuff. Part of going into dungeons was to retreive these things and most monsters would not weild magic items because they were "positive" magic.

7) Here's XP. If you survive an adventure, you gain a level. BAM. The world is strange, random and dangerous so power was there for those who dared, but so was death.

8) Roleplaying was just that. You were judged based how well you played your role of elf, dwarf, cleric, mage, fighter or thief. It was like, we all know about Hamlet so show us your Hamlet interpretation. The goal was to work within the cliche.

9) Everyone has Cleave. If you kill a monster, you get a free attack. And this was Melee or Ranged as long as you had the ammo.

10) We had a Caller / Leader. Yeah, we had a Leader who made large scale party decisions / story decisions and sometimes even allowed us to vote on stuff. It was ODD, but Dave says this is our character's leader regardless of our player thoughts.

It was based on we followed a Wis 8, Int 10, Cha 14 Thief. Talk about NOT a dump stat.

BTW, Dave gives out "roleplaying points" in game that you can trade in for re-rolls.

As someone who has played D&D since October 1979, this was an awesome experience to game with the dude who made D&D. There were 8 players at the game and seats were won through a silent auction. All proceeds went to the Paralyzed Veterans of America so it was a good cause.

As for the actual adventure, we went to investigate a town abandoned 30 years ago due to goblin raids where there were rumors of gigantic bugs. Fun stuff and I was the only character who died. But I died by breaking a Staff of Power while surrounded by 200 orcs, vampires and a giant so I was more than thrilled!

BTW, here's a hint if you ever play with Dave. Dave lets the players pick a mission for their adventure. When you complete the mission by returning back to town, the adventure is over. Therefore, if you want to keep playing with Dave, all you gotta do is delay going back to town...
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Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
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Re: Playing with Dave Arneson

Post by Hugin » Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:59 pm

Some interesting ideas in there that I certainly need to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing.

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