Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Players Handout

Quick post as I'm distracted by getting a new job and probably having to move house.

In relation to last week's post, I've become less enamoured of player handouts of late, particularly for new (or rusty old) players. The PHB has plenty in it to be digested without handing out a pile of further details.

So, I've been thinking about what the implied world of AD&D is like and if what is implied in the PHB is directly contradicted by the implied world of the DMG, I'm tending to go with the PHB because both the players and I know what's in the PHB while the players generally do not have or want access to the DMG. Basically, the PHB is an enormous handout all on its own.

In particular, the tables in the DMG for the frequency of the classes seem pretty unlikely to me unless they are seen as special cases. For example, the chance of a particular class looking for employment as a henchman is for some reason not the same as the proportion of characters who take up that class generally, or the chance of having an "interesting" encounter with a class is likewise not reflective of how many such NPCs there are. Either of these may be valid, of course.

Some of the problems with the clash between the implied reality and our personal models of what mediaeval society should look like can, I think, be fixed by saying that most NP classed characters are in fact unable to attain a certain level on their own steam. This is something I've tried in some recent game settings - basically only extra-special characters can be hero level (ie, 4th) or above and so there are very, very few NPCs generated even in large towns and cities who are capable of throwing lightning bolts, raising the dead, or even curing disease.

This seems to have helped to keep the games grounded in a pretend-AD1200 English setting while leaving room for some substantial opponents here and there.

I wanted to get into other ways of doing this but I've got flights to book and forms to fill and other non-interesting things to do. Maybe next week.

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