Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Guest Post: Setting Out for the Lost City

Earlburt is my closest gaming friend, and has done more than any other person to help bring the games I’ve wanted to play alive at the table. He endured my first serious attempts at running role playing campaigns: first with the Car Wars Green Mountain Couriers 2033 campaign and later with my Traveller District 268 sessions. Most importantly, he played in nearly every session of the epic 2029 Campaign. This series of guest posts recounts his experiences running the classic Lost City module… and I am of course pleased that he not only wrote down his reactions but also agreed to have them published here. Thank you, Earlburt!

***

I was born in 1972, and my friends and I discovered D&D in 1979/80 in the 2nd grade. We started with the B/X boxed set (Moldvay/Cook), but acquired the hardback Advanced books mere months later. We were far too young to do anything as disciplined or sensible as reading the rules cover to cover and play them faithfully. Even if we had read them thoroughly, we wouldn’t have understood it all.

We soon switched to Advanced, but we never really saw much difference between B/X and Advanced aside from the race/class options and much longer spell lists. That is, we perceived Advanced as offering more character design options, but didn’t fully grasp the differences in mechanics. We house-ruled extensively, ignored and modified rules at will, and used modules and supplements with total disregard for the intended rule set. It mostly worked just fine, playing the way we played.

After many years of D&D we discovered other, mostly more elegant, games. A side effect of our early RPG experience was that we continued to anticipate that most games would “need” house-rules and believed that we were competent to make them. I can hardly remember playing a game we didn’t house-rule immediately, without a careful reading of the rules and a fair play test. We just didn’t bring that kind of discipline to bear.

I harbor a fondness for D&D based almost entirely on nostalgia. I also find the simplicity of B/X charming, completely aside from my personal history with it. Jeffro got me excited about running a B/X game myself, after he ran me through a bit of B2: Keep of the Borderlands. [See here and here for more details! -Jeffro] But I wanted to use one of my all-time favorite modules—B4: the Lost City.

While I have owned a copy of B4 since childhood, I had never played or GMed it. I always found it particularly colorful and rich. The four factions make for great NPC-party dynamics. And the random, drug-addled Cynidiceans are useful conduits to convey information to the players about the pyramid and underground city via non-lethal and highly amusing interactions.

Besides fulfilling my life-long wish to play B4, I was curious to play B/X as written, according to a fairly strict reading of the rules. I wanted to see for myself how it plays out as intended. To see whether it is a broken system and, if so, how. And finally, there’s no way to take Basic Dungeons & Dragons too seriously. It brings out campiness in just about anyone, and I knew it would be fun romp regardless of what we learned from the exercise.

The posts to follow will be accounts of the game, probably with embedded analysis. As of this writing, we have played four sessions—enough I think to have revealed much of what I initially set out to discover.

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6 responses to “Guest Post: Setting Out for the Lost City

  1. MrJoel October 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Reblogged this on E.V.T.S. and commented:
    ‘A side effect of our early RPG experience was that we continued to anticipate that most games would “need” house-rules and believed that we were competent to make them. I can hardly remember playing a game we didn’t house-rule immediately, without a careful reading of the rules and a fair play test.’ — Yup yup yup!

  2. Pingback: Guest Post: Nonvariable Weapon Damage, Alignment Tongues, and Rolling Hit Dice « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

  3. Pingback: Guest Post: Setting and Player Introduction for The Lost City « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

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  5. Pingback: Guest Post: Context, Cut Scenes, and the Pen and Paper Experience « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

  6. Pingback: Guest Post: Death Lurks in Every Nook and Cranny « Jeffro’s Car Wars Blog

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