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Post Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 5:07 pm 
 

I do not think TSR ever truly knew what they had in Greyhawk. The adventures are not cohesive and just "placed" where convenient.

It always seemed odd to me that there was never an honest attempt make a real "campaign" out of the thing.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:23 am 
 

bbarsh wrote:I do not think TSR ever truly knew what they had in Greyhawk. The adventures are not cohesive and just "placed" where convenient.

It always seemed odd to me that there was never an honest attempt make a real "campaign" out of the thing.


Exactly as I have always felt.  For all the brickbats it's received over the years, at least Carl Sargent's From the Ashes attempted to create a cohesive background to draw from and put certain places, events and cretures at the forefront of adventuring in Greyhawk.  Most of the reverence seen for Greyhawk material is nostalgia, and nothing more.   But you also have to remember it's a product of it's time, which was when no one was doing the sort of adventuring world we would later see with Forgotten Realms (where sourcebooks were released about various regions in the world, along with a very detailed box set defining the campaign world).
  It's really too bad what happened to the Forgotten Realms, because the first few (1st edition) supplements were quite well done and very useful.  I would have loved to see something for the Forgotten Realms in that format, or at the least something along the lines of Sargent's Marklands, Iuz and Bright Desert (from Rary the Traitor) encompassing other lands of the WOG.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 3:27 am 
 

As far as I know, TSR wanted to substitute the Forgotten Realms as the flagship campaign for 2nd Edition AD&D.  

As I understand it, they dropped Greyhawk because of its associations with Gary Gygax and AD&D.

From a publishing standpoint it would make sense to build an entirely unencumbered product for future sales.

From a game loyalist standpoint, it makes less sense.

Greyhawk was never all that well-visualized to start with.  It is entirely true that the modules were just sprinkled all over the world map without any real storyline.

Of course, it could also be argued that Greyhawk was a more realistic continent because it was not dominated by a single storyline/conflict...just like a real world is a multitude of storylines.

I never really bought the idea of a "campaign" world in the sense that a world might be dominated by a single conflict.  I prefer the concept of a "setting," which is a place where lots of different adventures take place.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:36 am 
 

I should've remembered Zeitgeist Games :oops: ; I was there a few days back--thanks, ShaneG.!

The reason I asked is that I remember on WotC's website in late 2004 a note that said that WotC (words to the effect) would be ending produciton of all Dragonlance-related items in 2005.  In fact, here is that item . . . (from the Dragonlance website's news archive):

"Dragonlance Adventure Game Cancelled
11/19/2004
The following is a joint statement issued by Wizards of the Coast and Sovereign Press, Inc.: Wizards of the Coast and Sovereign Press, in a joint decision, determined that development of the Dragonlance Adventure Game would cease. At this time, there are no plans to develop the product further, and there are no plans to release the product in the future. (my bold) Both Wizards of the Coast and Sovereign Press are excited about the Sovereign Press Dragonlance 2005 product line-up, and a revised product schedule will be released soon."

As has been pointed out in this thread, there are new DragonLance books, etc. out there for sale . . .
Then I read (same site) that WotC seems to have sold almost all or all of the old TSR worlds (Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, etc.) to another company(s)!!  Makes one wonder if Hasbro/WotC bit off more than they could chew; on the other hand, this could lead to some interesting ideas for the original DL, FR, --- even Greyhawk :?:  :?:

  

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 4:59 am 
 

Well I know they got the rights back for Ravenloft, though I doubt anything will come out for the setting - as they seem to only wanted it for the remake of the module Ravenloft into Expedition to Castle Ravenloft (which I plan on picking up).

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Post Posted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:00 pm 
 

Part Two of my WBITD rant:

Ridiculous Character Levels, Monty Haul DM's and why we pubished G, DG & H


Narratio resumeter...


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Post Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:12 pm 
 

How do you kill a 23rd level thief/ranger/cleric half hobbit?
Or
The genesis of Gods, Demigods and Heroes


By mid 1976 we took notice of an increasingly ludicrous phenomenon: ridiculous PC levels and absurd Character combinations coupled with grotesquely improbable racial/species combinations.

Prurient aspects aside, how could you possibly explain a half hobbit -- half orc PC? Just how invulnerable did a fighter have to be to make 25th level? 30th? 35th?
Was he armed with a nuclear powered energy weapon? A light saber? A +12 Dancing Vorpal Blade?

In the original Greyhawk, in Rob Kuntz's campaign (if it had a proper name at the time I've forgotten it), in any of the "original" and "true" campaigns, a 12th level fighter was like Conan and  12 level MU was like Thulsa Doom ; awesome and bigger than life even in a fantasy setting.

In all the campaigning of my own (where I was DM), the highest level ever reached was a 10th level hobbit thief that was the most incredibly lucky hobbit in the universe; I swear that if he needed a 3% saving throw to get through whatever incredibly rash and foolish stupidity he'd just blundered into, he'd make it. My dice or his, him rolling them or me, somehow he'd make it; a textbook example of a charmed life. The highest level any of my personal PCs ever made was a 12th level MU; I felt like I was incredibly powerful and nearly invincible.

When we started getting letters about how boring adventuring had become for the writer's 34th level cleric, or how hard it was to craft adventures for a group of PCs that had a group average of 28th level, we were mystified. How in the hell were people reaching these preposterous levels?

We discovered a phenomenon responsible for part of it. I think it was Jim Ward that coined the name in a short story/article he wrote for me that become the archetype of this phenomenon: Monty Haul. (For those of you too young to remember a game show called Let's Make A Deal, Monty Hall was the host and gave stuff away, sometimes really neat stuff, other times dumb stuff like three goats or some such; getting the dumb stuff was known as getting a Zonk. You had to pick a box or a door; some good, some Zonks.) Monty Haul DMs had a room every 20 feet down the corridor and had one or more monsters in every one, and copious CPs or SPs or GPs, and magic artifacts lying around like a Goodwill store. In other words, 1000s of EPs every adventure; Experience point inflation of the worst sort. A typical 8.5 X 11 sheet of graph paper map might hold 25K of EPs, or even more!


Well, DUHH! No wonder it was boring; all it was was slicing and dicing stuff up with very little rationale or story line. PCs ended up with hoards of loot the size of Bill Gates' fortune. EP inflation was clearly getting out of hand. PCs were killing off whole pantheons.

When I started as a DM in late'74-early '75, my economy was similar to latter 19th Cent. costs: good meals for 25-50 coppers (Cents), a shirt for one SP ($1.00), a good, serviceable sword for 5 or 10 GP ($50 to $100) and so on. Finding a gem worth 100GP was really great. I mean, a PC could live well for a long time on the equivalent of $1000. The PCs in my campaign actually survived by selling odd stuff they acquired like extra arms, gems, etc. A hoard of 800 SP divided amongst 8 or 9 PCs was a windfall. If an NPC wizard wanted 125 GP for a Healing potion, you went out and earned it in the course of several adventures. Finding such a potion was marvelous; agonizing over when you were beat up enough to warrant actually drinking it was tough.

On those rare occasions when the group would amass or find a lot of loot, like managing to knock off a dragon for instance, then prices when up just like in a real inflation, or "wandering" merchants came by with a few goodies that effectively sucked the money out of the campaign.

Gary and Rob and I sat down one time and addressed the problem of level inflation. We chewed on the topic for some time and came up with some generalities. (I freely admit that I do not remember exact figures here; I am giving the flavor of the discussion with numbers that seem to be correct after all these years.) In D&D terms, how tough was Thor, Norse god of thunder? Mars? Zeus? Conan? Elric? Fafhrd? The Grey Mouser?

I seem to recall that we came up with a level rating somewhere around 25 or 28 for Thor, maybe 30 or 32 for Odin, etc. These were DIETIES! Conan was like 16th or 18th level, 18/00 Strength, 17 or 18 Constitution, etc. This being the case, we reasoned, how could any PC ever achieve 35th level in any kind of "realistic" (admittedly a funny term to apply to a FRPG) campaign?

Thus was born GODS, DEMIGODS & HEROS; a printed source to show how preposterous these inflated levels we were hearing about actually were.

I printed more than one article (I seem to remember writing one) about how to suck excessive money out of campaigns.

It was as effective as spitting into the wind, and ultimately as satisfying. DMs everywhere still kept imitating Monty Haul, and PCs that could wipe out entire battalions and obliterate whole pantheons continued to proliferate.

--Next Installment—Bizarre racial mixtures and preposterous skill combinations.


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Post Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:46 pm 
 

In our case, we often had parties of 9-12 players (usually add 2-4 to that  for the # of PC's in the games), with levels widely separated from 1st up to 12th or thereabouts, so treasures were somewhat larger than normal.
 
The only time I can remember a "monty haul" dungeon was one time where the party defeated a 15th-level magic-user in his dungeon at the end, and we ended up with about 300,000 GP worth of coins (everything from platinum pieces to coppers, including adamantine pieces (8 GP = 1AP) and items.)  If I remember, we split it up where the higher-level PC's got a larger share of the coins and items, and the lower-level PC's got a smaller share.

However, one other time I ended up (1st-level barbarian fighter) with a deck of many things and got TWO draws at the deck;  one draw had 25,000 XP and receive a second draw, the second draw had 50,000 XP. (More like "Press Your Luck" than "Let's Make a Deal"! :lol: ).  This would qualify as a "monty haul" of XP's!! 8O

That sent me from mid-1st level up to seventh level at one fell swoop.  {I would imagine normally, that a higher-level character with the deck of many things getting 75,000 XP would've maybe gone up one level, but . . .  :oops: ).  
Looking back now, I would think that maybe I should've gotten only 10% of the XP, one draw at the deck (with a second draw being an object of some sort), or something else.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:34 pm 
 

In our case, we often had parties of 9-12 players (usually add 2-4 to that for the # of PC's in the games), with levels widely separated from 1st up to 12th or thereabouts, so treasures were somewhat larger than normal.


Gee, I must have missed something. Since when did the size of the party of adventurers have anything at all to do with the loot found?

Loot was an element of the setting or scene. If half a dozen PCs are slumming around some dinky little pissant/local bandit's hideout, and all he had managed to amass was a couple of rusty daggers, a rent hauberk and dented shield, and a handful of low quality stones worth a paltry 67 SP, that would be an object lesson to them that they should seek fame and fortune elsewhere.

It should be inherent logic that large hoards or payoffs present dire chances of disease, injury, death or dismemberment. It should not be the equivalent of six punks getting into the vault of Tiffany's through dumb luck and stumbling onto a stash of riches that would fix them up for life... As a DM, where's the fun in that?

As to the phenomenal luck with the Deck of Many Things, that was an aberration that the DM should have handled differently. No matter how your group visualized promotions, that was way too fast and sudden.

For the longest time, it seemed that some players saw going up in levels as some sort of process that saw Peewee Herman morph into Arnold Schwarzenegger, thereby having more blood to shed and gobbets of flesh to be carved off before succumbing to the cumulative effects of all those wounds. In reality, HP were supposed to represent the amount of time/fighting a PC could engage in/endure before falling victim to that fatal blow, acquired through experience.


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Post Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:12 pm 
 

My personal highest level character was an 11th level magic user. Took years to get him there. Never had a chance to make 12th because, while I was on vacaction, they guys started D1 and the entire party got wiped out. So came retirement.

We played a great deal of D&D back in the day, and it took a long time for us to attain even fifth level. We were always broke - and it even became a long running joke on how our PCs were generally poorer than the almost everyone we met.

But we were never bored. Whether it was the stress of staying alive at first level or the uncertainty of what lay ahead at fifth level, the game was good.

I like to think we were fairly well balanced. But I sure got a sense of the Monty Haulism that existed from visiting various conventions each year. It was absolutely great to see people with characters that had magic item lists that ran two pages. 8O


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:21 am 
 

yeha i have to admit i am quite paltry with treasures. always gets the group thinking that if they want loot, they have to fight something harder. keeps the balance just nice and the focus on the game. gives me far more adventuring plots too as they are always looking for things to do to get some cash.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:44 am 
 

I've seen the balance go too far the other way though - people boasting "oh, I've played for six years and we never got past fifth level" etc etc...  Which is kind of sad that some people never got the experience of playing characters up to higher levels.  

I have played in some very long running campaigns, where characters have managed (eventually) to rise to 14th- 17th levels, or even on occasions higher.  Good play at this levels tends to be much more on a diplomatic level with less 'dungeoneering' and more negotiating between sovereigns.  It is exciting to be running around at first level where even a single goblin can kill, and - run right - it can be fun at higher levels too.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:37 pm 
 

red_bus wrote:I've seen the balance go too far the other way though - people boasting "oh, I've played for six years and we never got past fifth level" etc etc...  Which is kind of sad that some people never got the experience of playing characters up to higher levels.  

I have played in some very long running campaigns, where characters have managed (eventually) to rise to 14th- 17th levels, or even on occasions higher.  Good play at this levels tends to be much more on a diplomatic level with less 'dungeoneering' and more negotiating between sovereigns.  It is exciting to be running around at first level where even a single goblin can kill, and - run right - it can be fun at higher levels too.


     When it all comes down to it, you have to blend the wants of the players with your vision.  I've had groups that enjoyed tactical battles consisting of hundreds of foes at once; groups that enjoyed puzzles, tricks and traps; groups that like interactions with NPCs more than the actual adventuring, etc.  Likewise, some groups of players are more suited to playing higher level characters.  I always find it somehow annoying when a DM smugly brags about never having had an adventuring group over 5th level....what, are you killing them all off, or are you just too stupid to DM a higher level crawl?  It's like a badge of honor to wipe out your players? If they are having fun getting their characters destroyed I guess that's fine; most people I've gamed with the last 30 years or so dont' find that an enjoyable way of spending their time.
  If higher level play wasn't intended by the games creators, then why does the 1st edition AD&D PHB I have show spell selection for mages and clerics going up to 29th level? Why not just cap it off at say 18th level?  Not that I advocate higher level play like that....I've never actually been able to shepherd a party to even half those heights myself, but if that is someone's cup of tea...honestly, I never even had NPC baddies of that level, I think the highest level enemy spellcasters I ever ran were 18th level Liches (and even then keeping their spells straight was murder).
  This being said, our campaigns usually top characters out at 10-12th level.  The group I am running now consists of the original players I ran back in the late 70's and their original group; the characters are in the 12th-13th range with their henchmen about 6-7th level or so.  We only use them to game maybe a couple times a year or less (sometimes several years will go by without using this group). I have to say as a DM it is very challenging when you are dming so many high level characters with so many different powers; not to mention the NPC baddies who also have their own sets of spells, powers, magic items, etc.  I'm running them through a modified Against the Giants: Return to Geoff, and even by whittling the numbers of characters and henchmen down, it's hard to challenge a properly prepared and intelligent group of players.  I've managed to balance the adventures by bringing in quite a few shamans/witchdoctors among the enemy giants, but it's a good battle of wits whenever I play these guys and if I'm not up on my game they can thrash my best laid plans very quickly  
  While some of the most memorable gaming moments and fun I've had are the challenging lower level adventures, it is fun to explore the full range of powers available to higher level characters....after all, if you have dmed properly and the players have paid their dues, they deserve the rewards.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:57 pm 
 

Kaskoid wrote:
Gee, I must have missed something. Since when did the size of the party of adventurers have anything at all to do with the loot found?

Loot was an element of the setting or scene. If half a dozen PCs are slumming around some dinky little pissant/local bandit's hideout, and all he had managed to amass was a couple of rusty daggers, a rent hauberk and dented shield, and a handful of low quality stones worth a paltry 67 SP, that would be an object lesson to them that they should seek fame and fortune elsewhere.

It should be inherent logic that large hoards or payoffs present dire chances of disease, injury, death or dismemberment. It should not be the equivalent of six punks getting into the vault of Tiffany's through dumb luck and stumbling onto a stash of riches that would fix them up for life... As a DM, where's the fun in that?

As to the phenomenal luck with the Deck of Many Things, that was an aberration that the DM should have handled differently. No matter how your group visualized promotions, that was way too fast and sudden.

For the longest time, it seemed that some players saw going up in levels as some sort of process that saw Peewee Herman morph into Arnold Schwarzenegger, thereby having more blood to shed and gobbets of flesh to be carved off before succumbing to the cumulative effects of all those wounds. In reality, HP were supposed to represent the amount of time/fighting a PC could engage in/endure before falling victim to that fatal blow, acquired through experience.


This made me laugh...hard...because I've DM'd parties that would get pissy when they made no effort at all (the pissant local bandit's hidout of your example) and yet expected to be rewarded.  "Look, dudes, you broke into the Inn of the Happy Traveller and robbed it and yeh, you got a total of 10 gp, a handfull of silver and a bag of copper pieces to show for it....youwant loot, the dragon's lair is down the street."  
  The question of the Deck of Many Things above shouldn't have been how the DM should have handled it...it should have been what in Sam Hill was a DM putting a Deck of Many things in an adventure with 1st level characters?  I think most of the questions of level inflation fall under this category also.  It's a gamers/players nature to want the best magic items/spells/levels/items/gold etc for his character..it's human nature. If the characters are running around at 35th level, then it's the DM who is to blame for crapping that mess out.  Delayed gratification is only enjoyable when it's actually delayed....unfortunately most DMs BITD (and even now) didn't seem to understand this.  It's too bad it wasn't until recently (the last decade or so) that there has actually been published material on how to run a game, how to create a dungeon properly, how to roleplay monsters and bad guys, essentially how to be a good DM.  The earlier versions of the game (when I started) just took the idea and ran...I mean, you bought G1, and there was very little in there about how to play the giants, how to DM the module itself.  I think myself, and many other starting the game during that period, would have benefitted greatly from such material. Most of the early modules seem to be written for those who have not only just a grasp but a firm hold on the entire genre and material.  This was not the case in most groups I knew of.....I know you talk of "inherent logic" but really wasn't the expecting a bit too much of some 16 year old kid running a crawl for his buddies?  It's really too bad there wasn't more explanatory material BITD to prevent these problems.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:39 pm 
 

Been a while since I played 1E, but wouldn't any extra XP be lost? I would think 3rd level would be the best you would get.


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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:47 pm 
 

Deadlord39 wrote:Been a while since I played 1E, but wouldn't any extra XP be lost? I would think 3rd level would be the best you would get.


yeah i restrict xp when its time to go up levels n stuff.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:35 pm 
 

The question of the Deck of Many Things above shouldn't have been how the DM should have handled it...it should have been what in Sam Hill was a DM putting a Deck of Many things in an adventure with 1st level characters?


Unfortunately, all too many DM's just followed the simplistic tables published in the early books.

It's too bad it wasn't until recently (the last decade or so) that there has actually been published material on how to run a game, how to create a dungeon properly, how to roleplay monsters and bad guys, essentially how to be a good DM.


A great deal of what I published in DRAGON Magazine was just that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, when I left the mag, my successors let that type of materal die out.

If higher level play wasn't intended by the games creators, then why does the 1st edition AD&D PHB I have show spell selection for mages and clerics going up to 29th level?


In keeping with my inflation gripes, this I thought was obvious; I know we addressd it in articles published and at seminars at the cons: that stuff was for NPCs so that the PCs didn't take over and ruin the campaigns.

When the PCs just got too all powerful, the skies opened up and they were enthroned as demigods and retired. It was more fun getting them there than it was once you got there. The fun was in the struggle to survive and advance. The enjoyment was in the problem solving and the battles of the wit and intuition, not slaying hordes of crudbag badguys.


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Post Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:55 am 
 

Kaskoid, to answer your question re: the size of the party . . . most modules I see usually were/are designed for between four and eight players, so a game with the number of players/PC's I mentioned (9-12 players/11-16 PC's) was double the normal-sized party.
(Some current 3/3.5e modules seem to have a paragraph or two about increasing/decreasing the difficulty depending on the number of PC's; the Dungeon Crawl Classics series is one such set of modules.)

In the particular case I mentioned, the range went up to at least PC 12th level; I and one other player were the only 1st-level PC's, with the average level about 6/7th level.  (My fault; I should have said that  originally.)

The group I was in also played twice a week for the two years I was involved, during the school year--120-140 sessions over that two year period.  I don't know if that would make a difference or not, in terms of treasure and XP's.

As to the phenomenal luck with the Deck of Many Things, that was an aberration that the DM should have handled differently. No matter how your group visualized promotions, that was way too fast and sudden.


He did  :twisted: -- not long after (real time), I was teleported into a pool of acid, then I  rolled for divine intervention but rolled divine retribution! instead and my 7th-level character was fried! :lol:  
I guess I used up my good fortune on the deck--rolled 00 (100) on 2d% needing 01-05 for divine intervention!! :)

As to killjoy's point--at the time, I was happy to have a character beyond 2nd level :D ; now, as I posted earlier, I agree with you--probably the second draw should have been for an item instead of XP's.  Heck, the party I was with then were unanimous that I should take the 25,000 XP off the first draw and stop there! :)  :!:

==================================================================

Since we're on the subject . . . does anyone know which book(s) have a description of the deck of many things?  I remember seeing it somewhere in a 1e book, but can't remember where;  and, does it exist now in 3e/3.5e D&D?  Last, what levels should a party be at before finding a deck of many things?

  
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