Wednesday, 5 July 2017
Which is to say: I've changed my mind once again, but at least only about system this time. My new game is next week, and I decided to push for B/X instead of 5th edition, which everyone else was fine with (most are new to D&D and have no real preferences, except for one person who actively dislikes 5th, so).
It's not really because of dragonborn, it's because of the inevitable logistical nightmare of playing 5th when none of us have physical copies of the books and none of us really know the system that well. I know B/X pretty well now, the essential rules are simple enough you could put them on an index card, and there are no fiddly abilities and a gazillion customization options for character creation; for 5th, as for most later incarnations of D&D (probably even including 1st), you really need a book in hand to make a character, but that's not the case here. I like that. And yes, I'm moving from Labyrinth Lord to the source, but it's not really that big of a leap; funnily enough, I actually like the way Moldvay's Basic book is laid out better than the LL book, although the advantage of the latter is obviously that the contents of the Expert book are also worked in and don't have to be separately consulted. Still, like with all new gaming groups it's unclear if this one will even make it past the first session, so Basic is good enough for my purposes right now.
But, also, fuck dragonborn. They're easily the worst idea in the history of the game. You take this iconic, eponymous monster that has always signified "we're into the real shit now," since basically The Hobbit, and then go, "Oh yeah, you can basically play one." By the time you fight a real dragon, it's not a big deal if your party is already half dragonborn. It takes away the mystery, the awe, the sense of sheer terror, that the dragon can and should evoke.
Really, it's a problem that has its roots in 3rd edition, when suddenly a whole bunch of monster races had rules for turning them into player characters. I mean, I think the half-dragon, which is basically the dragonborn, is from 3rd. It's not a problem which stems from Council of Wyrms, the 2nd Edition setting where you play actual dragons, because I thought it retained a lot of what made dragons mysterious and interesting - and in any case I'm not even sure it's fair to call it a D&D setting, since it makes so many changes to both mechanics and fundamental premise.
But ANYway. I'm still standing my ground as far as setting goes. I've got my village: Goatmass, in the Kingdom of Elisbury (thanks, Judges Guild random name tables!). It stands on the edge of a swamp that used to be the home of a sinister cult which was subsequently wiped out, but which it is rumoured is on the rise again. The whole setup is, obviously, heavily informed by The Village of Hommlet, but I want to develop a vibe of "sinister backwoods England" that I don't think is quite there.
The main dungeon will be accessible through a crumbling manor house that used to be a cult headquarters. I also think I'll be dropping in the Keep from Keep on the Borderlands as "Castle Goatmass," and I'll probably include the Caves of Chaos as well. My thinking at this point is that both the Caves and the basement of the manor house will connect to an elaborate cavern/dungeon system to which the Cult retreated and in which it is currently rebuilding itself.
But more on this next time!