Turning Numbers into Narrative

I’ve been running a lot of classic Rules Cyclopedia Dungeons & Dragons lately and it was very evident that published modules were very very different back in those early days of D&D. A lot of adventures provided a rough framework which is then parsed through the rules by the DM who then painted the results into a picture for the players. The level of involvement for the DM was much higher than today, where each encounter is so meticulously detailed that even the novice DM should have little trouble presenting things to the players.

Neither the old or the new way is right or wrong, though people have preferences I’m sure. Instead of comparison though, I want to offer some advice to DMs from both eras on how to take dry numbers, and convert them into a fuller narrative picture.

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Classic D&D Module Review B1-B6

I’m currently running the entire range of classic D&D modules from B1 to M5. I thought at first I would do all the modules in the one article, but that would make for an excessively large article. Of course what I say about the modules will be subjective, as I’m giving my personal view (just feels like a lot of the internet fails to grasp what an opinion is). That said, my opinion comes from 40 years of play from the D&D brown books all the way into 5th ed. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it makes me an expert on what I like. What do I like? Balanced adventures that are level appropriate and feel like it has an ecology and story. So, let’s get on with it with modules B1-B6…

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The Essence of Class

Crossed Swords

As computer RPGs blend more and more with Tabletop RPGs the essence of character classes seem to more accurately reflect the computer game zeitgeist. The height of this trend was the release of 4th Edition AD&D, which played more like a strategy game than a true RPG. Let’s take a look at the origins and meanings behind the various common classes in the hope of revealing more indepth Role Play in the term RPG.

While I could mention many other classes, I’ll be sticking mainly with the D&D and AD&D classes as I think the majority of gamers will be familiar with what I’m talking about. I should also add that D&D refers to the Dave Arneson branch of D&D from back in 1974. AD&D is the Gary Gygax branch which evolved into what we now know as 5th Edition D&D.

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Better Gaming through Breaking Preconceptions

Whether we are aware of it or not, our upbringing and life experiences have a dramatic influence on our perceptions. We carry those preconceptions into the fictional gaming worlds and then impose our preconceptions onto the world to make them fit our understanding. Not only are these preconceived ideas at odds with many game worlds, they can wash out the true colour and wonder of the worlds in which we game. Instead, we should seek to make each game world feel like a new vibrant world filled with new experience, rather than a collection of comfortable tropes.

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Every God has its Day

Whether you are Jewish, Wiccan or otherwise, December tends to be a special time for many religions. In fact, a great many of the special events in a year are connected with religions. Not just special events either, but laws, moral values, communication, and countless things are influenced on a daily basis by religions.

However, in many RPG systems religion is chosen based solely on what it might grant a character. What I’m saying is that religions are very poorly represented in most systems, acting as little more than a statistic on a character sheet. While I don’t think there is a place in RPGs for real life dogma, I do think more time needs to be spent to properly highlight the influence and power religions have on daily life.

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