Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Playing D&D in Public with Strangers

Last night was the scheduled bi-weekly Planet Algol game in association with Red Box Vancouver, during the previous week a new guy showed up on the RBV forums:
"I have never played any sort of tabletop rpg but have always been curious about it. The extent of my dnd knowledge is rooted primarily in Neverwinter Nights and the sequel for PC. Is there a place around town to welcome strangers such as myself? I would also mention that I'm 29, hopefully that isn't too old to start…"
The next RBV game was the aforementioned Planet Algol game, so I invited him to come down and attempted to hook him up with an intro to the setting and a list of influences, his reply?
"...I'll read up on my Heavy Metal on sunday and fast forward through Flash Gordon to any part where Queen is singing the theme song."
Dude owns a copy of the Flash Gordon movie?!?! He sounds like a natural for this campaign!

Anyways, Monday night rolls around and I head down to the RBV hangout...a hive of scum and villainy (actually a nice coffee shop that kindly puts up with our shenanigans). I try getting there early and don't see any of the RBV regulars when I get there but soon a stranger comes up and asks if I'm Blair and the new guy and I get down to business.

We start up generating a character and he's taking to this stuff like a fish to water. He rolls 3d6 down the line and end's up with a character with a 3 intelligence! We're using the LOTFPWFRPG which states that if a character has a sum ability score modifier of less than zero than they can reroll their statistics. To his credit new guy actually almost went with the 3 intelligence character, he seemed almost enamored with the idea! The next set of ability scores included an 18 wisdom...this guy runs HOT and COLD!

At this point nobody else has showed up. One of the regular Planet Algol players from the original campaign who made it to the previous RBV PA game "had made plans"; the RBV guy who instigated my involvement had to go see some boring lawyer dude go "Blah Blah Blah"; and the other RBV guys who played at the last RBV-PA game had their characters iced, so now I was wondering if it was just going to be us two?

I momentarily considered just chatting a bit, showing him how to make a character and talking about the game; but than I slapped myself in my imagination "Pull yourself together! If JB Blackrazor can play with one guy in A FREAKING BAR I can certainly DM-up and give 110% for this stranger who's interested in playing oldschool D&D; think of the future generations Blair...do it in the memory of TARGA!"

So I proceed at RAMMING SPEED! (which really only meant that I got him to roll up what kind of funny-colored Algol Man he was and helped him buy equipment...the poor guy only rolled 50 gp for starting money...what an introduction!)

Than RBV stalwart DM & owner of a wardrobe full of Converge shirts Johnstone shows up; he's sick, with a nasty flu/cold that I just kicked, but he's here to game...he even did his awesome funny voicesrole playing, even though you could tell it was hell on his throat!

As Johnstone's character had been rendered unconscious by the guardians of the Autarch's Voluptuary during the previous adventure, and I had written up content for exactly that kind of situation, we played for a bit to resolve what happens with his captured character. Although the dude didn't get anywhere, it seemed to serve as a great demonstration of play for the New Guy (who is named Cam; I'll just call him Cam from here on).

Johnstone rolls up a new character, and makes him a three eyed, scaly, creepy Shereshi; Cam goes with a Cleric (I relented on my NO CLERICS! policy on order to give Raggi's game a good test drive; at least in LOTFPWFRPG they aren't better fighters than fighters, and there's no weird "priests of the god of swords who can't use swords" phenomenon, although those rules are probably just a legacy of attempts to keep OD&D magic swords in the hands of Fighters...) and had chosen to randomly roll his race...a fire newt/toad pigmented Shuzakh Man.

The game starts and I dangle two solicitous NPCS...one who leads to the Autarch's Voluptuary (the site of Johnstone's previous unfortunate adventure), and the other who leads to THE ASTEROID!
The party takes the bait of THE ASTEROID! adventure and off they go.

Like I said Cam was a natural, although I'm not a "ROLE-PLAY or you're PLAYING IT WRONG!" guy in the least, he immediately was thinking and acting "in character," while Johnstone is an awesome ham...shredding his poor sick throat for the sake of the show!

At this point I'm going through the poorly organized sheafs of papers, maps and booklets in my "grief-case" and I realize...I had forgotten the map I made for THE ASTEROID! adventure!

I had ran the same adventure with the original Planet Algol group the previous day, and I had the map key and notes, so I decided TO FREAKING GO FOR IT and try and replicate the map from memory while acting like nothing was wrong.

Fortunately Johnstone had a coughing fit or something, and said that he had to run home and back, which would only take 10 minutes. I live in the neighborhood as well, so I explained my predicament to Cam; dashed home; grabbed the map; got suckered into taking my dog out for a quick potty break (she hadn't pooped all day so I was worried about her dropping a bomb!), and dashed back to the coffee shop.

The party explores THE ASTEROID! and survives "splitting the party" (new guy is new and Johnstone is a man of sterling integrity playing a character with a 7 intelligence), finds the strange ruins, and eventually find some loot...some sort of fancy silvery rifle. Cam shows his steel and immediately grabs the rifle!

Like I keep stating, this guy is a natural: the NPC that instigated THE ASTEROID! adventure came along (he needed some muscle for his exploration) and soon Cam was planning on how to ice the NPC for the sake of a better loot split.

Alas, shortly afterward the party has a Random Encounter! with the randomly rolled Maximum Number! of savage degenerates. Cam's character calmly shoot one of the degenerate creeps down with his fancy new rifle; unfortunately he doesn't use his memorized Sanctuary spell before the party is mobbed by the savages and his cleric is rendered unconscious by the repeated application of human thigh bone clubs to his person.

The two survivors flee to a safe distance and see that the creeps are hunched around their prone companion, so they start plinking at them. The creeps fail a morale roll and split the scene...while dragging the unconscious cleric with them, and get away. However, the surviving PC is gratified to see the fancy new rifle lying on the ground and snatches it up before the two survivors split and attempt to make it back to civilization.

I gotta say Cam was a great sort about his fallen PC; first time playing a pen and paper rpg, first character, and he totally isn't fazed and takes it in stride. He even makes some (accurate) cannibal comments/jokes!

At this point things are looking pretty grim for my NPC...Johnstone's character has the rifle and some fancy hepatizon and ruby jewelry looted from the ruins; the NPC offered to lead the party to THE ASTEROID! in order for a share of the profits, and you can just tell he's scheming on when to ice the NPC.

Fate intercedes when the duo reach the fringes of civilization...a Random Encounter! with a three cheap thugs who look to be aiming to get that fancy hepatizon and ruby harness. This actually is kind of a blessing in disguise, as when combat ensues it allows Cam to play the NPC during the fight.

Alas, Johnstone's scaly freak is stabbed into unconsciousness and the Cam-piloted NPC (which was a hobbit sized Pulvi) is picked up and cast into a bottomless pit...although his head is dashed into paste by a collision with a ledge 100' below.

Death #2 for Cam...and again he isn't fazed; in fact again he seems amused by the circumstances of his death...as any red-blooded D&D player should be!

And Johnstone's Shereshi? He comes to with his wrists bound and wearing a slave collar in a slave pen while a slaver is paying several gold credits to two cheap thugs, one wearing a hepatizon and ruby harness and the other carrying a fancy silver rifle....


  1. Fancy silver rifle, fancy silver sword... seems like the hot new weapon is always cursed to bring death to the wielder.

  2. INT 3 and WIS 18?! I would love to have seen that character in action. Some kind of idiot-sage?

  3. Forgetting the map is the worst! Nicely saved.

  4. I thought about that sanctuary spell my entire drive home.

  5. @ Anonymous: I swear it isn't intentional, but it sure seems to be a recurring theme in my games. Oh well, it's quite "genre appropriate."

    @ DrBargle: It was actually two different sets of stats, but in my regular AD&D Algol game there have been several Mutant characters (who use a d20 for stats, rounding up to 3 or down to 18) with similar weirdo/idiot-savant statistics!

    @ barratarai: I usually scan my maps and save them on my iPhone so I can't forget/lose them...and than my iPhone starts running out of juice at the game :)

    @ Mxlplx: Haha, don't worry, my regular groups, who have been playing continuously for YEARS regularly forgets to use a magic item they got early on that slows down enemies...and have had many, many beloved characters die in situations where use of this item would have let them escape.

    @ Brutorz Bill: Thanks!

  6. I'm guessing your talking about The Eye Of Retarding Destiny (best name ever - thanks Tekumel) from the Algol campaign.
    Yes, it has only been used as a last ditch attempt at fleeing by Rodan. It makes for an interesting emerging story of Rodan's survivor mentality. I like that.

  7. "...in fact again he seems amused by the circumstances of his death...as any red-blooded D&D player should be!"

    Right on!


  8. That sounds awesome, I couldn't come this past week because I wasn't in the city but I'll be at the next time you run for sure.

  9. @ B. Portly: Exactly, Rodan the Survivor!

    @ Graham: Thanks, I'm looking forward to it! I'm working on an additional adventure option for the next session...a giant floating statue...