Transitions – Feast and Famine

Something new I’m doing is getting in on these Blog Carnivals hosted by the RPGBA. This months topic is Transitions and is being hosted by Hereticwerks. I’m retconning a bit by throwing this entry out there, but future ones should be a bit more prompt.

Last week we lost one of our main players in the D&D campaign, hopefully temporarily. His work is being a dick and they moved him to nights out of spite. Literally any other player could have dropped at this point and we would have been able to move on without them, but losing your tank/healer hybrid and having neither in the way of backup really puts a damper on things. On the other hand, there’s several gaming groups in my circle of friends, one of which recently changed their regular night which was in conflict with mine, peaking interest with those players in my game. So on goes the cycle…


I’ve been notoriously bad at getting new people into the game, and generally rely on the players themselves to con their friends into taking the first hit of that sweet old-school D&D heroin. The “If you build it, they will come” strategy hasn’t been kind to me over the years, but then I suppose I HAVE been running a game for the majority of them. We go through ups and downs like this over long periods of time. Two years ago I had 8 people showing up weekly, last year I had two or three at best for several months. This year we’ve been solid at three, and picking up 2-3 more intermittently. Now it looks like we’re going to ride out a pretty significant uptick for a while.

We’re picking up two more players, one should be reliable every week, the other doesn’t have a set schedule but is going to try and slot out game day as often as he can. Both are very experienced with 3e/pathfinder, so it should be interesting to watch them fumble around with 2e. The more reliable one is starting with our next game session and playing a Shade, it’s not much of a trade for losing the Warden of the group, but an experienced spellcaster will balance things out nicely. Also, as the other guy is not going to be 100% he probably isn’t going to take up the tanking role for the group either. We currently have a Barbarian that recently acquired a ring that turns him into an earth elemental for a few rounds, who is more than ready to take on that particular role.

I do enjoy running brand new players through my character creation guide. They give me insights on things that don’t make any fucking sense, and have suggestions for improvement. Pretty much any tabletop game these days is fairly convoluted, but 2e puts a lot of important choices at your feet right at the point of conception. These players are from 3e/pathfinder which has a whole list of skills that get better over time and tons of feats that require planning out pre-requisites for in order to maximize effectiveness. 2e has proficiencies, you can double up on a proficiency to get a +3 to your skill check. There are no feats to speak of, and combat related proficiencies are pretty slim. I think it messes with their heads a bit to not have a list of feats a mile long describing every possible mundane combat maneuver imaginable. In 2e you typically just declare what you’re doing, and leave the rest of it to the dice. Simple in concept, but it leaves your imagination to do the work instead of reading the description of a feat from a book.

Hopefully we pick up these two guys, get them hooked on the old-school system, and then my tank comes back to save the day and really push the narrative of the game along. They’re all around lv5 right now, so they’ve got a ways to go, and I’ve got a whole lot of dungeon ready for them. I enjoy being in a cycle of feast, but it’s challenging. Having more characters to keep involved in plot, and using their backgrounds as appropriate story tools without focusing too much on each person at a time can get tedious. As many of these players have a fair amount of experience, I can feed off of these reactions in creating the world around them. The more they poke and prod the world, the more detailed it becomes. This, makes for a much better game. I’ll be enjoying this period of feast as long as I can keep it going.

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