furniture vs 20 years of RPGs

Due to my fake sabbatical I’m emptying the Swiss flat I live in to bring all my stuff to my parents’ basement (my old bedroom; let’s talk about stereotypes).

I decided to start with RPGs: after unloading two boxes full of hardcovers the urge to rearrange my collection was too strong to be ignored. Shame about 6 meters worth of handbooks was a complete mess. Will take me a while… and I hope the furniture will cope. I broke a shelf already.

But I made a few discoveries:

  • I found a binder full of characters for AD&D 2nd edition. Most of them are mine, around 7-10th level. I played way more than I thought. In addition to that, few characters for Cyberpunk, WHFRP and a long ton of them for Tunnels & Trolls.
  • The character sheets for Red Talorian (my BECMI MU23) and Kalanth the Black (his superhero follower)  are still lost, but I found Talorian’s spell list. Not the final revision tho. I can’t remember a few of the spells noted on it tho: Star of Orient? Flesh to Ashes? Truly lost knowledge.
  • I found some handbooks I don’t even remember having. Mostly d20 stuff. Mostly forgettable.
  • For some reason OD&D, B/X, BECMI, AD&D and AD&D 2nd register as the same game to me. Probably because they’re 99% “binary” compatible, as in “I’ll just yoink something from this, that and these and it will work with no adaptation”. d20 is a different beast. It breaks my game.
  • A stash of Miguel Angel Martin comics was hidden behind the handbooks. I love the author, used to buy plenty of stuff from him when I was 20.
  • Plenty of deadtree pr0n was also found: deadtree pr0n is soooo last century.

combat maneuvers: evasion

Over at Paul’s Blog my almost homonym blogs about evading combat. As in ACH! HANS, RUN, IT’S THE LHURGHOYF!

Image somewhat related. Yes, I play Magic, I like it.

Back to evasion… I distinguish evasion in three types, depending on the relation between the evasion itself and the encounter to be evaded:

  • no engaging whatsoever: when a group notices another group first and manages to be completely unnoticed and to put enough distance between them to make engage impractical or improbable. The best evasion type ever and, in my opinion, the best way to win any encounter with possibly hostile creatures. Crucial to this is noticing that other people are around without being noticed. In the Metzner expert set, thieves and hobbits are good at this, as are elves and dwarves at night against someone that doesn’t see in the dark are good too. Spells like levitationinvisibility, fly and silence can help a lot. The reverse situation is horrible: if you wander in the dark with a light source you’re going to be spotted first.
  • backing off/leaving combat: d20 fails at this, as usually it’s enough for the pursuers to charge the evaders to start combat again, as if nothing happened. The case is covered in B/X and BECMI, having a specific rule for this case in the DM section. This might happen because the evaders realize they’re going to succumb or because they have other priorities. The critic part is to find a way to top the engagement long enough to gain some distance: spells such as hold portal, wizard lock, web, wall of fog can be really helpful at lower levels, as can a clever use of caltrops, nets, oil flasks, frisian horses, castles or other fortification of the non-portable kind. Yes, fortified defenders have to run away too at times :)
  • running away: an hostile opponent is met, one side RUNS FOR HIS LIFE. It’s possible to flee after combat started (see previous case) or without any combat. Having no burden such as armour helps here, as any kind of help as per above. Spells such as levitation and all the above can really help. It’s also possible to do something smart, such as dropping some food or money (B/X and BECMI mention this too), try to hide and, my favourite, use the location and the chase to gain some upper hand. Such as hiding in a dark side niche while the “obvious” escape route has been made slippery with some lantern oil. Lantern oil that later will be set on fire while slipped pursuers, busy with regaining footing and unit coherency, are shot at with arrows, spells, swearing and so on. Or if there is a difference in number, fighting in a choke point (for the outnumbered escapers) or immediately after (for the outnumbering escapers) can flip the battle. Or will simply deter the pursuer enough to save the day. A pint or two of oil on fire in a dungeon corrider can be enough to dissuade pursuers :)

I actually lied. My favourite way to slow down pursuers is to cast delayed blast fireball and drop the shiny gem so that the greedy pursuer will pick it up.

Across Germany and Switzerland

The reason for the lack of posts in the last two weeks is that, well, I’ve resigned to take a sabbatical. Well, a mostly fake one. I’ve been working in IT for the last 10 years, while studying for a degree for the last four. My BSc is done and, since September, I’ll be a full-time, bona-fide postgrad student; yep, that’s my idea of a sabbatical year: after all I started studying again because I was getting a bit bored.

The last two weeks have been busy with going across Germany and Switzerland (3000+ km in two weeks), spending time with girlfriends and stuff like that. No gaming except SPANC, Carcassonne and Dominion. But I managed to visit Bauhaus Dessau, which it’s something I’ve been wanting to do since… 2002 maybe?

Posts at the usual semi-regular rate will start again soon ;)