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Re: (TFT) Quiet
We learned fantasy role playing the hard way. We heard about it and made up
our own rules. Never seen a book, or funny shaped dice, or manual, or a
module, or any of the trappings before. a good friend who had been on
vacation, came back to Baton rouge and described it to us. My best Friend
took the description and drew a map on one side of a sheet of graph paper,
the rules on the other side. That's right, the rules were on the back of
one sheet of graph paper.
The simplistic combat system was flawed by a [move - attack - move the
rest - next players turn] system that allowed people faster than ones own
character to get in, hit, and continue on out of range where one couldn't
strike back. If a wolf came at us (they had almost twice the move of a man)
it could move to just outside of our movement range and wait till the next
turn. We didn't know any better so we closed the distance as much as we
could. On the wolf's turn My best friend it step up one, attack, and then
move away until it was just outside of our movement range again. We
immediately realized that we were going to lose the fight.
It never occurred to us that the combat system was unfair in not
allowing us to strike back at the wolf when it was adjacent to us. So we
ran from the wolf and shot it to death with bows. When we ran into
something slower than us we used the wolves? tactics on it and found
ourselves dancing around the ogres like immortals (they were too slow to
catch us and didn't have bows).
In the sense that a system is fair if the same rules apply to both
sides, we found the game to be intensely satisfactory at the time. We even
found ourselves believing the rules to be an accurate model of reality.
Everyone agreed that wolves are fast and dangerous, and this system seemed
to justify that. Ogres are dumb and slow, which this system also seemed to
justify. That wasn't the only flaw to our hear-say game.
All the maps were quickly used up and frequently had to be redrawn.
Another facet of the movement system is that one used a pencil to count out
their moves directly on the graph paper map, and then made a dot to mark
their position when they were done. Next time they moved they would erase
the mark and use the pencil to count squares again. After a single fight
there would be an area of smeared and blurred terrain that was hard to
distinguish, and impossible to record new movements on without risk of
erasing a hole in the page. One could find an old map and see markings on
it which were a blow by blow record of a previous adventure. A curiosity
for reliving the experience. Exact moves were there. The trail of the
adventure could be followed. Set backs and detours couldn't be missed. It
should be no surprise that when we finally got our hands on a copy of the
first published role playing game, we didn't even notice that its movement
rules were even less than ours. Almost non existent.
The next evolution came from my best friend's younger brother. At the
time there were many GMs (they were called DMs in those days) and many
groups. Every second Friday at middle school we had two hours for "clubs
day". A D&D club had been formed, and a lot of new people were given their
first hack & slash experience. GMs had even started to confer with each
other. "Joe wants to take his character from you game on one of my
adventures." Ground rules were laid and there was even talk of forming a
collective campaign setting. At that age though, most people would take
turns GMing just so they could give each other items they had always wanted.
But GMs were aware of each others differences and some GMs had multiple
groups of players. Groups that never actually played at the same time with
the same GM.
The younger brother had a long time player who's character had done
very well. He had made it to the title level of the fighter class and had
gotten his own castle to go along with it. One day with a group of players
clamoring for action, and the younger brother with nothing prepared, he
decided to take them against a castle that belonged to a player they had
never met. They sacked the castle with ease and got a LOT of treasure.
When the fighter lord got home he found the front gate smashed, everyone
hacked to pieces and some bodies that were still burning. In the throne
room crawling along the floor was an old servant with a mortal wound. "They
were too good. -Gasp- There was a wizard, and some fighters, -gasp- and I
think a thief..." And with that he expired. The player immediately
realized he had be sacked by another group of players.
Now were starting high school. The player does nothing but collect
wives. "I'll breed my own guards and raise them into real fighters." He
puts all his money into live stock. "No one thinks to steal it, and Hell!
It breeds." He had become a nomad. His character sheet would be and entire
notebook. Genealogy, wives and children?s names. Ages, and abilities. He
became a great Runequest player. Every GM wanted him. Just to set the tone
if for nothing else. Then he started keeping journals at the game table.
The journals were written purely from his characters perspective. They were
biased, and hilarious. Some times we would just read them out loud and
laugh at adventures past. I started giving his characters experience for
doing that. Those journals were amazing. We never realized one could get
so into character.
My best friend said he remembered the exact moment when I went over the
"deep end". My TFT campaign had started me to questioning AD&D. Its lack
of a real movement system, its lack of magic item creation, and its
unfairness to the monsters. On request I still run AD&D games.
It had been a long hard adventure for the players because I was trying
to give the monsters and equal chance at survival. This caused the players
to pay closer attention to what they were doing. Apparently they were
noticing, on some level of consciousness, that the bad guys and the monsters
weren't rolling over dead as easily or as willingly as they used to. So by
the time they got to the very end of the adventure, the players as a whole
were mentally exhausted and paying very, very close attention to every thing
I said or described. At this point, I concluded that AD&D was not a fair
game to the monsters. The numbers themselves were rigged. Monsters got one
to eight hit points per dice, but the players got up to ten with an
additional chance of bonuses for high constitution that could bring it up to
twelve. That and the fact that not one player character had died, but they
had killed about a hundred of my monsters, confirmed in my mind the
injustice of it all. so at that moment when the party of adventurers drew
their weapons to slay the last bad guy, the big evil wizard behind it all, I
decided that he was my personal pet and he was going to do what ever he
could not to die so he could figure out a way to even thing up the next time
he made a secret lab guarded by a hundred "terrible" monsters. So I did
what came naturally considering the level of attention everyone was paying
to every word I spoke. I started talking.
"Wait! Wait! Wait! I didn't do it, I was framed, I've been locked in
this room and left for you to kill while the real bad guy gets away. He did
it so you would think he was dead, and he could ambush you back in town
The players stopped cold. They had never heard anything like this
before. And they had a special place in their hearts for this bad guy so
apparently the wanted to make sure they got the right one. Now all I had to
do was talk my new persona out of the room so he could make good his escape.
"I'm actually a scribe he hired a while back to do some research on a
spell and I figured out what he was up to. When I confronted him about it
I, I don't know what happened. But I woke up trapped in this dungeon hedged
in by hundreds of monsters. thank goodness you're here. Now maybe I can
They seemed to be biting. I remember they asked some questions, and it
started to get a little edgy until I had him show the characters where the
treasure room was and insist he didn't know what kind of traps it might
have. By the time they finished counting the money, they didn't even
realize he was gone. They didn't look for him, and were ambushed back in
town while sleeping. From then on the monsters were hunting the characters.
Even finding a dungeon after that was a sigh of great progress. The role
playing had begun.
David Michael Grouchy II
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