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Friday, July 09, 2010

Master of the Desert Nomads in the World of Onn

Last week on 7/1 my Thursday night gaming group began running through one of my favorite module series from B/X D&D - X4 and X5, the Desert Nomad series. It's a litmus test for the Core Rules on more than a few levels and central to why they exist. I created the Core Rules because they are the game I want to play in the style I play.

With the simple framework the Core Rules are based on (Swords & Wizardry and the d20 SRD) after 2 sessions and about 6 combat encounters (and various interaction encounters) I have to say I'm extremely pleased with the results. So far, the only change I made to the module (other than cosmetic changes to place it in the Great Waste of Ossus) was to change the NPC that grants the quest that sets the adventures in motion (and this was only because I wanted to have him accompany the party and they didn't need another Cleric).

Not to give anything away for those who are playing in X4 currently or have a Referee considering running it, but the module has thus far been 100% (actually 110%) compatible with the Onn Core Rules. I say 110% because using Swords & Wizardry's single save mechanic meshes just fine with the creatures in the module, or using the standard saving throw mechanic from D&D (most often the monster save as a Fighting-man of a level equal to their HD). Attack rolls (Ascending or Descending depending on your taste), damage, spells, magic items...everything works as if it belongs and was always there.

The module recommends a level range of 6-9th level per character but a total of 50 levels for the entire party. The characters running through the module are a 10th level Spellblade (about the same as a D&D Elf-class), a 10th level Ranger, a 12th level Cleric, a 9th level Ranger (who died and was replaced by a 9th level Fighting-man) and an 11th level Magic-user - for a party level of 52, slightly higher than the recommended levels, but with less players and no real hirelings (although the surviving Ranger has some small insignificant animals companions, with the crowning achievement of an Owlbear companion, for the most part these are non-combatants).

Thus far there have been 2 major encounters - one Soul Eater and an Evil Patrol of a Magic-user riding a Wyvern with 3 hasted Troll foot soldiers. The party has been banged up and hurt by these and a couple of smaller encounters - to the point where after dealing with the Evil Patrol the party was travelling and didn't have time to fully heal, encountered some aquatic creatures (and defeated them after some more damage was inflicted) and when the one ranger got in the water to retrieve one of the creature bodies, a large crocodile laying in wait got a couple of bites on him and killed him.

This module thus far has been more interesting to run than at any other time ran it in the past for D&D and despite the PC death thus far, the players are having fun.

The addition of using Onn's Target d12 skill system has been a boon as well for the module, having preconverted all of the various "10% chance to notice the wyvern flying in fom the setting sun" (hey that's a Detect Hidden/Secret check agains a target of 12) or "1-in-6 chance to find an object lost in the swamp" (another Detect Hidden/Secret check against a target of 14) references has streamlined the module's mishmash of skill-type resolutions (not that I consider this a flaw in any way, but I prefer a loosely defined skill system personally so this was a boon to me).

All-in-all, thus far every pace I've put Onn Core rules through has been what I'd hoped (using the 2nd printing for its final playtest run has been very helpful as well). The real measuring stick I use to determine this though is the enjoyment of my players, because without them (and the players that came before them that allowed me to lay the foundation of what has become the Core Rules) this would just be another project that sits on my shelf with all the other games I don't play.

An additional cherry on the top of my pie was also the fact that the player that had the Ranger die rolled up a 9th level Fighting-man from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. That seems to be my break point in character genning, and he wasn't hardcore generating, as he had to wait on me to answer questions he wanted information on while I was continuing the adventure for the living PCs. Just pure awesomeness (to me at least).

Onn-ward Adventurers!


Dalamon WolfMage said...

Was definitely a great time. I would like to mention, murky, 6 foot deep water is ALWAYS questionable at best. He wanted to hop in, he knew the consequences; I hope. :-D

James Bobb said...

Well, fortune favors the bold...or is it the foolish?

Or is it just a saying that evil has spread so that those do-gooder adventurers get bushwacked while being bold and foolish?