There are some things that, regardless of system or genre, are abilities which should always grease the wheels of campaign success. Of course, some campaigns will lack diversity and might be locked in very static play styles, but even in some of the most locked scenarios these key abilities will find a place, unless your Gamemaster has no imagination at all. While there are countless ways to roleplay, I suggest these four special abilities should be available in some way in the party, so much so that I think they are the starting points for creating the characters in the party.
I really wasn’t sure I’d bother writing this article, because it’s going to be a little self indulgent. However, after finishing the Great D&D module play through, the more I thought about it the more I thought that sharing this might help others.
I want to talk about each of the characters developed over time. I cannot go into the full history and background as deeply as I would like because each character would be a novel on it’s own. I just want to summarise how the characters grew in their journey as swiftly as I’m able to. Why? Many reasons, one of which is to pay homage to my awesome players that helped create the heavily appended story you are about to read. More than that though, I want to show how a simple and open rule system like Classic D&D can allow a character to grow, change and become a part of a living world.
With the Great D&D Module play through coming to an end before the end of the year, I talked to the group about what we should do next. When I put forward The World’s Largest Dungeon as an option, it was an instant winner. So, while the module playing runs down, players started talking about what they might like to play in the next campaign, and that’s where things started going sideways.
After debating on whether to use The World’s Largest Dungeon in it’s native D&D 3.5e or converting to Classic D&D, I recommended we go with 3.5e so the module can be enjoyed as intended. However, 3.5e isn’t a few books, but an entire library of books, and the options for characters started to really get out of hand. What follows is a severely truncated version of events and a few warnings about how too much choice can be crippling to the art of Role Play.
Weapon Mastery is a glorious system of combat that gives more power to the Fighter while not leaving behind the other classes. Every weapon has it’s own unique qualities, making weapon choice more than just picking the one that does more damage. The humble staff becomes an amazing defensive weapon, while Fighters will carry and use multiple weapons as each has advantages and disadvantages in different situations. However, Weapon Mastery does cause one tiny little issue; it totally breaks the system. So how can we use what’s good without breaking the balance of power?
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.