Saturday, February 14, 2009

Salting the Steak

I was listening to an outstanding episode of Return to Northmoor entitled "D&D and Story Games: Will they Blend?" There is a lot of really excellent content in this episode and the second part, and if you are listening to our actual play episodes you'll probably hear some of the suggestions put to practice.

One point that really hit home was Doyce Testerman talking about playing 4e without tweaks first. He related a story about a guy who didn't get a job because he salted his steak before tasting it. There's no way to make an informed decision about the taste of the steak once the salt has already been added.

And I salted True20 before tasting it. That was a mistake.

I'm an inveterate tinkerer. I love to play with systems. That got the better of me after reading True20. I totally see myself in the following quote from Uncle Bear: "I am a rules hacker. I could take a perfect system and find something I wanted to change, or try to improve, or add to in some fashion. That is my nature. That is part of what makes things fun for me."

In my defence, it is a little hard to know what a system can do without actually playing it. I would have started the game differently were I to start now.

First, I would have started the characters at a higher level, probably 6th. Hit point bloat is not an issue due to the Toughness save. This would have made them much more capable in all the ways that mattered.

In the first encounter in Ravenwood, fighting Hygelac's warband--the first combat in which the group was involved--the warband would have been minions. The characters would have mowed through them, which was how it had been envisioned. This would also have lessened the impetus to create the Iconic Weapon house rule.

While the combat bonus from the Iconic Weapon house rule would have been unnecessary, I think the standardized damage still has a place. If one wishes players to choose weapons for their characters based on style, a standard weapon damage for all weapons will achieve this.

As for 2d10, this is something else I think I'd still use. I prefer bonuses to be really meaningful, even at lower levels. 2d10 helps to achieve this.

All that being said, I am planning on running True20 with rules as written, no house rules. Whether that will be a one-shot or the next campaign, remains to be seen.

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