Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Castle Mordha 0

So next week I'll start with Castle Mordha proper, spending a month digging in to classic D&D. One thing that amused me during the first stages of character creation was how some of the younger players took the original D&D rule of 3d6 in order for the stats.

One of them looked at a state block with a 15 strength, 13 constitution and nothing below average and declared that this wasn't the character he wanted to play. I asked him what type of character he did want to play since there are no human class stat minimums and the demi-human stat minimums started at 9, so he qualified for every class, and I hadn't even given the class descriptions yet. "I don't know," he said, "but not this."

"Why not?"

"I dunno. Because."

He then began agitating to be allowed to roll up a second character, which I was going to allow everyone to do eventually, but I wanted them to finish the first set before then. His second PC ended up with a 16 charisma and 14 dexterity, but a 5 constitution, which by the players lights made that PC all but unplayable, ever. I still don't know what intangible thing was wrong with the first set of rolls.

I did have one 'hopeless' character as one of the boys rolled someone with no stat above 10 and several below 8, but I'm forcing Kris to stick with her PC who maxed out at a 12 dexterity but a 7 wisdom and 8 charisma. Kris accepted this with equanimity, possibly because the idea of an unwise, abrasive Artisan appeals to her, just because there are so many ways to be unwise and abrasive that can be fun at the table, but possibly because she knows the character might have a very short lifespan.

The other incident was that when one of the kids first characters started with a couple of 16s and a 14 the others commented on how that was unfair compared to their rolls. The adults explained that this was all part of the game, and some of the fun comes from the challenge of making gold from dross, but it did highlight the difference of character _generation_ where the dice have a larger role to character _creation_ where the player has much more control, and therefore more initial investment, and therefore a stronger sense of table etiquette that the PC is not to be kakked by a blob of green slime falling on its head when the PC enters a room and forgets to take precautions.

It also reminded me of a moment from my wayward youth when a brother & sister pair of friends were rolling up PCs in my home brew super-hero game, which included some random background and status tables. The sister's PC rolled really well on the status table, indicating that she was ruler of a small country. Since she already had wings she decided she was the princess of a race of eagle-people who lived inside a hollow mountain in the Rockies - a lovely super-hero concept rife with plot hooks and PC responsibilities. The brother, for some reason, was so put out by this that he insisted his PC (who had rolled 'working class/some debt' on his background/status, intended to produce a Peter Parker-type PC) was Bob, the King of Bob-Ville, which consisted of 7 cats and the homeless guys squatting in the dilapidated lower floor of his apartment's two-family building. I think we got through one session before the brother's perpetual annoyance at the comparative status gap ground the game to a halt. That his character had vastly more super-hero-y power than his sister's winged princess was meaningless; in his 14 year old brain that she was a princess and he was a pauper was enough to tank the game.

I suppose the first moral of the story is that randomness isn't a 100% useful shield against player envy. The second moral is that you can never tell what's going to tork off a teenage boy.

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