Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Playing the game wrongly

Het Oog des MeestersToday's post is inspired by the fact that quite a few bloggers have, at one time or another, heard the comment that they were playing the game wrong. Usually it was said by either an older person (eg. a brother) or a total stranger (eg. at a Con). In my case it was me who discovered that I was playing the game wrongly.

As said before, my first contact with RPGs was in 1985, aged 13, through the game 'Het oog des Meesters'; basically a simplified D&D game in the sense of less rules and sparser tables. To be fair, it also had some interesting features which did not occur in the D&D games, on which I will undoubtedly write in future posts. We started out with three friends and though the circle of players grew slowly but surely, we did not have an experienced player around who could act as 'mentor'. And so we had to develop our own play style.

I vividly remember the first dungeon I created. It was a castle (I had a preference for buildings because the sample adventure that came with the box was placed in a building as well) and every room was stocked with one or more monsters. Without even playing a single session, I was already bored with the 'standard' goblins and orcs, and thus I ended up with a set of rooms full of high-level opponents; a totally awesome, if not entirely realistic, castle. I sent my little brother in, who just had rolled his very first 1st level character, and he immediately faced his first encounter; a gigantic ape, one of the thougher monsters from the book.

He somehow managed to kill it. And although I cannot remember how it went, I can imagine that a very plausible scenario would include me willing him not to destroy my creation by dying in the very first room and thus fudging dice results. Point is that he survived, albeit barely, and stumbled into the second room severely wounded, where he died after a few combat rounds.

I realized that something was amiss. With the current setup it was clear that he would not stand a chance to defeat any monster beyond the first encounter and since my creation was, in my view, perfect, it meant that we were playing the game wrong. The only logical solution was that characters were automatically at full health after each and every encounter! How else could you play this game and survive!?

Luckily, it took not much time to find out what roleplaying was about and what roles the 'boring' low-level monsters could play in exciting adventures.

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