Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Save or Dying! And an Announcement

Okay, first for the announcement.  I was looking over my posts just now and I saw that I started blogging my way through the Monster Manual in September last year.  That's unacceptable to me, so I'm forcing myself to start up the Ultimate Sandbox again.  Expect the posts to start rolling in soon enough.

And now for the game mechanic stuff.  Now a lot of the design decisions in later iterations of D&D have come about as a way to make the game less deadly.  Or less unfair, depending upon your perspective.  Chief amongst the changes the game has undergone is the nerfing of save or die effects.  I'm personally ambivalent about the subject; in principle I like that the save or die stuff is there to keep the players on their toes, but I've also seen some characters killed in pretty crappy and unsatisfying circumstances.

There's a simple way to alleviate save or die effects.  It only works if you're using the optional death's door rule of death at -10 hit points, but to be honest I never see games being run with out it.  Anyway, this is how it goes: if your character is hit with a save or die effect, roll 1d10 and subtract the result from 0.  Voila, that's how many hit points your character has left.  You might die outright, but it's less likely.  I don't think I'd use it in a regular game of D&D, but in something more story-based like the Dragonlance campaign I might put it into practice.  It seems like a good rule to me for preserving story flow, for DMs who like that sort of thing (which I do on occasion).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works - Initial Thoughts

Castle Zagyg finally arrived on Monday.  I haven't had a lot of time to read it (I have too many comics to read, as well as Grant Morrison's Supergods) but I'm quite impressed with what I've seen on a casual browse.

For those that don't know, Castle Zagyg was released a few years ago by Troll Lord Games, and it was to be the first in a proposed series detailing Gary Gygax's Castle Greyhawk, the original D&D campaign.  Alas, Gary wasn't able to complete the project before he died, and now it's somewhere in publishing limbo, almost certainly never to see the light of day.

For anyone who has been following my presumptuously named Ultimate Sandbox series (on hiatus, not dead!), Castle Zagyg is a vital piece in that campaign.  I want to centre the campaign around Castle Greyhawk, and I want to make said castle as authentically Gygaxian/Kuntzian as possible.  To that end, Castle Zagyg is the only possible starting point.  So when I saw it available as a Buy It Now on EBay I didn't have to think very hard about snapping it up.

A few thoughts.  The dungeon map is much sparser than I was expecting.  I've studied the various maps of Castle Greyhawk that have appeared on the Internet, and they use every available space on the page.  The Castle Zagyg maps (part of which are visible above) are much more spread out.  I'm not sure if it betokens a change in the way Gary's game developed, or a desire on his part to make a more commercially appealing product to modern sensibilities, or something else entirely.  They're still cool maps, though.

I'm also pleased to see that the book doesn't stray too far from the monsters in OD&D and Supplement I.  My initial desire for the campaign is to use only the things that appear in the original D&D booklets, and Castle Zagyg is set up in a way that will let me do that.

I can't wait to really dig into this product, which means that the Ultimate Sandbox posts will probably remain on hiatus for a while longer.  (Currently they're being delayed by the fact that I have to prepare for actual gaming, something I haven't had to do in years.)  I'm sure I'll post more about The Upper Works in the next month or so, when I find the time to read it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Castle Zagyg is mine!

Holy shit, I just bought Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works!

I'm stoked.  More when it arrives in my hands in a week or so.