Friday, August 10, 2012

Vacation and Roleplaying

Vacation roleplaying with newbs in a rural Pennsylvania cabin? Priceless.

I've been on a short vacation since last Friday (just got back to work this Tuesday...yes, mourn for me). And for about a week before that I was gearing up for said vacation. So posting has of course been absent for over a week, but it was worth it. I know people say this all the time, but I really needed the recharge of that vacation. Part of the reason it was a great time was the fact that I had no Internet access. The web is a huge time suck for me, especially when it comes to gaming stuff (including, of course, reading and writing blog posts).

I brought my copies of B/X with me, as well as Jonathan Becker's B/X Companion, so that I could read up on them again. I've recently posted about how I would prefer to play original Basic D&D rather than use retroclones, and I decided I wanted to do some re-reading of B/X (and the new stuff from JB, including the Complete B/X Adventurer, which I just got in the mail!).

It wasn't even a consideration in my mind that I would be doing any roleplaying that weekend. My wife is understanding of my hobby and even takes an occasional interest and asks how a session went, but she has expressed no interest at all in actually roleplaying. It's just not her thing. And I'm okay with that.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when SHE brought up the idea of roleplaying this weekend. I was sitting on a sunny afternoon reading through Moldvay's Basic Set, minding my own business, when the impossible happened! Now, if my wife is not a roleplayer, the other two folks in the cabin (friends of hers from college and owners of the cabin) are even further removed from the hobby. But my wife persisted, and I was shocked, but found myself willing to run a short session and teach some total newbs the ropes of the game!

Quicky character, character SLIPS.

So, I pulled some stats from a copy of the B1 module I had on hand, whipped up some quick characters after asking the players what they wanted to be, and we got down to it.

I outlined the class options, and my wife chose to be an elf, which she named Sally. Her female friend chose to be a thief she named Bob (and by the way, Bob was a woman). The husband of Bob the thief wanted to play a wizard, who he called Willy. So, the party created, I started them at the mouth of a dark tunnel. Their characters had heard rumors of treasure in the depths, but also of great danger to those who would venture below.

The players seemed to instinctually discuss marching order, something I've seen experienced gamers forget about all too often. They soon came upon some goblins. Willy wanted to talk, while Sally the elf wanted to smash them with her flail (my wife insisted on having a "ball on a chain" and rolled her eyes when I pointed at myself and told her she already had one in real life).

Anyway, they killed a couple goblins but one fled deeper into the tunnels. The party pressed on, intent on riches. They came to a large cavern where there were more goblins waiting, having been warned of the coming of adventurers by the goblin that had gotten away from the first combat. The party dove into the fight, and the goblins surrendered after a few of their comrades fell. The party decided to take the goblins as prisoners and tied them together with some rope. The goblins promised to lead them to treasure.

The party found a chamber filled with pools of lava, on the far end of which was a pile of treasure. They sent the thief, the character with the highest Dexterity, to cross the lava and get some booty. She came back with the goods, and the group was happy! The goblins urged them to go down another passage to find more goodies, and the part obliged. They opened a door to find a huge creature hunched over a fresh humanoid corpse, eating away. The creature noticed them, and stretched up to reveal a ten-foot-tall minotaur!

The beast attacked and the part was forced to fight. It was a fairly desperate battle, with the wizard and the thief getting low on hit points and my wife being plagued by some bad dice rolls. However, they eventually killed the creature, and decided it was high time to leave the caves. That's where we decided to end the session, as we needed to get ready for dinner.

We had a fun time, very light hearted and we laughed a lot. I told them that that's the point of the whole thing: have fun and try not to take things too seriously. I clarified that there can be serious moments in a session, but things usually also get pretty funny. For super newbs (people who barely know that roleplaying exists let alone have any interest in the hobby), my wife's friends were pretty open to the whole experience.

I give big props to my wife for suggesting we play in the first place! It's definitely outside her comfort zone. But she loves me and wanted to surprise me, and said she "thought it would make me happy." She was right on that count! I'm a lucky man indeed!

The session taught me some things: I could stand to be more easy-going and light-hearted about my gaming. I mean, I'm not super serious during sessions, but I could be less tense about pleasing players. If they're into the game, things will naturally fall into place and people will have fun. And since I didn't have a lot of time to prepare, I decided to let loose and let my winging-it instincts run free. Granted, they were newbs and the cliched scenario I came up with was pretty generic stuff. But I took my audience into consideration.

I also moved things along quite fast, moving things along when things seemed to be getting a bit bogged down. As players, the group was less cautious and thought out than most RPG veterans. But that "recklessness" on the players' part was refreshing. I knew I had to keep them from getting bored more easily than RPG vets, and remembered that I had to be sure to include scenarios that required each character's class abilities, so everyone would feel useful.

This experience also reaffirmed my ever-growing love for Basic D&D. We got going in no time, and it was fairly easy to show them that roleplaying is sort of like "a board game without a board, and with more imagination thrown in."

Anyway, it was an all-around good time! Any gaming is good gaming in my book, and surprise gaming is a rare treat!

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