Archive for May, 2011

May 31, 2011

Now Playing: Planet Algol setting, Apocalypse World rules

Red Box Vancouver has been branching out from classic old-school D&D lately. This is what we’re playing now:

World of Algol cover

The centerfold is hyper-sexy

I’m running a game set on Planet Algol, but instead of using the AD&D or Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules, I’m using the rules from Vincent Baker’s latest game: Apocalypse World. Most of the conversion work consisted of writing up a spell list and writing new character classes, instead of using the ones in AW. Here’s part of The Robot, although you probably can’t read it:

Robot!

Of course, the AW rules aren’t specifically optimized for dungeoncrawls or wilderness adventures. Still, I’m using them instead of B/X D&D for a number of reasons.

1. Even though I’ve run more games of D&D, I’m more familiar with AW. I’ve gotten a better handle on the dangerousness of various monsters in D&D, but the ratios between danger, treasures awarded, and character advancement is something that still eludes me. With AW, I don’t have to worry about gp numbers, instead I have more room to get descriptive with loot, both treasure and magical (or technological) devices. My only worry with AW is that characters may advance too fast, in which case I can easily slow that down. I really like the basic resolution system, too, and how it encourages mixed results instead of indicating only pass or fail.

2. AW is more cinematic and free-wheeling. The fragility of characters in Basic D&D encourages caution, careful planning, and a tendency to avoid risky-looking situations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! However, we’re working with a fairly episodic format with uncertain attendance week-to-week and less than four hours per game. A whole evening spent in careful exploration and positioning for further exploration can be disappointing, especially when you miss a game and don’t get to cash in on that groundwork. Also, me and at least some of the other players are the kind of people who like to wreak havoc on a setting, blowing shit up and tearing shit down, which is exactly the kind of play AW encourages, and which never makes for a dull evening. Characters that are tougher and more “heroic” encourage players to explore the content I’ve prepared and to get into risky situations, reasonably assured their characters won’t get killed for taking a wrong turn or something.

Even though I had booklets made up, the rules are still a work-in-progress, as I see how my various choices work out in play. Each time I run it I make little tweaks, and I imagine this will continue especially with regards to spells and magic, which aren’t present in AW. I’ve imported the Vancian magic of D&D, and I’m still testing out the best way to integrate it.

So far, so good. We’re playing again tonight.

-j

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