03 September 2020

Religion and Community

This is mostly a rant about the operation of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.  

In general  our church focuses on doctrinal teachings and how we're different from protestants or catholics,  etc etc. In practice, based on my own observations of people I know who join the church and nonmembers I know who have had some degree of exposure to the church,  the community and general loving atmosphere created by members within the church  is just as important as any actual doctrine.

This is completely contrary to what the church teaches even though meeting friends and common believers gets mentioned but not focused on when we teach about the sabbath. The whole idea of a church being a community is mentioned in the scriptures in a few places, yet its not something that we really focus on teaching.  The church teaches doctrine and belief and faith, and that is always what has kept me in the church; I could care less about community and making friends in the church, blah, blah, blah. Then again I am strange and actually enjoy being alone.

It does makes sense that community is such a big part of the church; all religions throughout history ultimately  have been a set of communal practices to one degree or another. The essential nature of community within the church is the only way to explain YSA(young single adult) wards. Spanish and other foreign language wards make sense to some degree because the service is actually in a different language,  but YSA wards only make sense if the church cares more about young people being part of a community of their peers than the actual doctrines of the church.

This juxtaposition simply really annoys me because I care about the theology of the church and don't think the presence of a community should be any part of why someone joins the church or even participates in the church. It irks me so!!!

05 August 2020

What is a Class?

Dungeons and Dragons is a fundamentally class based game, I think that is fairly self-evident from the earliest versions of the game. Any skill-system was tacked on in the later development of the game, and whether taking the form of non-weapon proficiencies of AD&D or the skills of the Rules Cyclopedia or WOTC D&D, these skills never worked in harmony with the classes. What exactly is boundary between a class ability and a skill or a skill and a feat? I think the impetus to add skills to the game came from a misunderstanding of what a class is.

There seems to be an instinctual tendency to view the D&D classes as somehow equivalent to the Social Class of a character. This probably goes back to the original game when it stated that high level fighters could become barons. In modern times a class is most often associated with a defined 'archetype', and these 'archetypes' tend to get more and more specific so that they make the base classes irrelevant. Whether you see it as representing the social class or the archetype of a character, this view of a class necessitates the addition of a skill system. 

If fighter is a PC's social class, then this means the character is a fighter and will always be a fighter unless some drastic changes happen in the fiction of the game world wherein he jumps social classes. Therefore, in order to allow this fighter to learn any skills not granted by his fighter levels there must exist a separate system to allow him to learn them. If the fighter wants to learn to Sail, he isn't going to get that ability by doing more adventuring and gaining experience and subsequent levels, he has to spend time training this new sailing ability completely unrelated to his fighter class. Thus was born the myriad of skill systems that have been invented for D&D. This essentially means a person's profession is independent of their class and that people automatically gain abilities based on the status of their birth. 

On the other hand, we can directly equate a character's class to their profession. Characters gain skill through their class and they improve those skills by leveling up their class. This necessitates the ability for a character to multi-class. Training in a new class is literally training a new profession. If a fighter wanted to learn to sail they would spend time training and gaining levels in the Sailor class. Skills do not need to be separated from class, they are what make a class what it is. A person can be a Noble and also a fighter and a courtier and a spy. There is no need to explain how a fighter suddenly became a thief. These are simply professions that can be trained; If the fighter is born a Noble, that is their identity not whether they are a fighter or thief. Social status can be completely divorced from skills and profession.

21 July 2020

The Purposes of Maps in RPGs

This is a follow up to this post and this post

First I think it is important to differentiate between the game world and a mere map. Your game world exists independent of any maps or notes you might make. The game world exists in your mind and is brought to life during play; that world changes based on the play of the other participants of the game and leaves your control once play has begun. A map is simply a tool to facilitate the game, either to make running the game easier for you as a DM, or to give the players a sense of the reality of the game world and their place within it.

Page 212 of Thematic Cartography and Visualization 3rd edition by Terry Slocum, Robert McMaster, Fritz Kessler, and Hugh Howard states, " Cartographic design . . . is driven by two goals: (1) to create a map that appropriately serves the map user based on the map's intended use, and (2) to create a map that communicates the map's information in the most efficient manner, simply and clearly"

How does this apply to maps in an RPG?

First, we need to determine what the intended use of a map is; this can be complicated and varied, especially in RPGs. This is the reason I advocated for a series of maps to cover different uses in my last post on the subject. We shouldn't be trying to mash what should be 3 or 5 or 7 different maps into 1 just because we want to be able to do everything with one map.

Second, we have to determine the best way to communicate information to the map user; this again will vary map by map. In some cases hexes will be more useful, and in others a scale bar would be better; there are multiple ways to communicate the same information, and how we do so is dictated by the intended use of the map.

Given a baseline that intended use, or purpose, determines how we will design the end product, I think it is prudent to outline some possible purposes or uses of a map in an RPG and how that might affect design. A brief outline of different types of maps is discussed here where maps are divided into the basic category of reference, thematic, and battle maps; I will be differentiating map use at a somewhat more granular level.

Let's start with the Player Map. Any map given to the player needs to embody a Sense of Place; to give them the feeling that the world presented to them is real and they have a tangible connection to it. But a Player Map must also contain concrete actionable information; specific spatial elements must be displayed in a manner that can impact the decisions of the players. So to sum up: A Player Map must present information to the players in a manner that (1) enforces the reality of the game world and (2) affects their choices within that reality. 

These maps can be in a variety of scales and styles, yet I feel they should all be from the perspective of a character in game world. This can mean from a fictional cartographer or from the point of view of the players. Point of View maps tend to be larger scale, best used to show small areas like rooms, or view down a city street; though they can also be used to make panoramic perspective maps of an entire country side. This is where the map is really a work of art and less a functional map. To provide more functional maps to the players I recommend trying to emulate real world maps that fit the genre and time period, whether it be medieval, modern, or sci-fi. Of course there are no 'real' sci-fi maps, but I think a diagrammatic approach like that used for modern bus and rail systems captures the feeling of most science fiction settings. Modern maps should follow the standard street maps or topo maps that are most common these days, you may even feel that an existing modern map is appropriate for your world. For quasi-medieval games (like D&D) player maps should really be emulating historical maps like the Mappa Mundi or Da Vinci's overland maps; player maps really shouldn't look like they came out of a Tolkien novel, medieval people did not think in the same terms that modern people do and the in-game maps should reflect that. A great resource for viewing what historical maps actually looked like is the David Rumsey Map Collection.

 Any other maps that you create will by their very nature be DM maps, and though players may glimpse these maps from time to time, these maps will be made with the goal of helping you, the DM, to run the game. What specific maps you will need depends on your style of DMing. If you use miniatures you will probably make use of battle maps with large scale grids where 1 inch equals 5ft, but if you run 'theater of the mind' then such maps will be useless to you. Given that, I'm going briefly touch on some different maps that a DM may find useful for different purposes.

First up is the general reference map. What do I mean by that? Well, I don't mean a map that just has all the information you think you might need during the game; in this sense a Reference Map allows the DM to track the location of the players and measure the distance to any given location. Basically it is a reference of the spatial coordinates of any important locations in the game world. You may find a modern-style topographic map useful to track elevation changes, and a hex grid is extremely useful for measuring distance at a glance, but this reference map could be as simple as a series of points and interconnecting lines(also called a node map) with a few notes denoting distance between each location. There are many different types of reference maps, and you should use whichever one will serve your purposes best.

A climate and/or biome map may also prove of use. A Climactic Map informs the DM about the weather and flora and fauna that PCs might encounter in any given area. When creating a climate map, the Koppen Classification system is pretty standard, although there are some newer systems that expand on it.  You can use a climate map as guide to google a real world location with the same climate and just use that place's current weather in your game, or the map can just give you a rough idea of the type of weather that should be occurring in any given season. You could also create tables or code a random generator to create realistic weather for any given day based on the climate. Climate can affect the Biome, but they are not the same thing. In any event you have essentially the same options in how this map will affect your game as above, you can pick and choose from real world locations, just keep the general idea of the biome in your head, or make complex tables for each biome.

Last, but not least is the Political or Wargame map. A Political Map informs the DM of geopolitical tensions and the behavior of NPCs on a more granular level. This map shows the DM not just where borders are and which countries are most powerful, but it also allows you to get in the head-space of the characters in the world. Just by looking at the map it is easy to determine who an NPC might be rivals with or loyal to, prejudices arise out of geography and community and what is a political map, but a map of communities? There are many ways make a political map, you could make a modern one with delineated country borders, or you could make a dot map of each community being a different color based on their allegiance. Another option is to use the classic hexmap derived from wargames, not every hex needs to have an allegiance, there could be neutral or wilderness hexes with no meaningful population residing there. The benefit of this method is being able to also play a war game in the world without having to make a different map just for that purpose.

There are of course other types of maps each with their own purpose, but I think this covers the essential uses of maps in most Role-Playing Games.

12 July 2020

D&D Story 3: B2 The Keep on the Borderlands

You can listen to the audio recording here, I'm just including the transcript for part one here, where we talk about the keep and how my dad DMed in general. we originally recorded this on January 9th 2019


Lance    
Okay, so we're going to talk about module B2 keep on the Borderlands. First we're going to start with the introduction section. My first question for you is: did you play or run any games with this module with groups before you did it with us children?
 Bruce    
Yes, I did. It was with our friends, Dwayne Hanson, Mark East, And oh, I can't remember his name now, Eastern, Bobby Easton.
 Lance    
Do you want to describe, Do you remember exactly what you guys did there?
 Bruce    
Basically we follow the prescribed module numbered encounters. I wasn't very creative. I just took what they said was supposed to be there and that's all. So a lot of the rooms are totally empty. And you know, not even a trap or anything. I didn't start developing other things for those empty rooms until I started working with my children . . . Also had one adventure with Lance's namesake and his two sisters. But they went through that place pretty rapidly because of the lack of things to do in them. It was quick, anything in this room, No, On to the next room. They went through the module rather rapidly.
 Lance    
So you always just ran the module, you never actually played through it. 
 Bruce    
Correct. 
 Lance    
So the only time you've played it is when I ran it for you.
 Bruce    
Yes.
 I'm not sure if you actually played at the times I did it. I don't remember. I've run it a couple times. I don't know who played.
 Bruce    
I never played in it except for when you were running it.
 Lance    
Okay, next question: How many times do you remember running this module for us? I know it’s more than once 
 Bruce    
for you guys, almost every time you brought a new person to play with us. I ran it almost every time. So like, it's got to have been at least 10 times.
 Lance    
Okay. That's more than I thought, I knew it was a lot, but 10?
 Bruce    
Yeah, I'd say 10 
 Lance    
Okay, do you remember, Well, you said basically every new character so that answers that question. I was gonna ask which characters 
 Bruce    
all the new ones
 Lance    
Was there anything you altered or consistently altered that you can remember?
 Bruce    
Yes. the speaking voices
 Lance    
I don't think that was this dungeon. I think that was the other one.
 Bruce    
Oh, yeah, that was the other one. Okay, no, this one. This was the keep on the Borderlands. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, things that I would alter would be in the valley itself. Whether or not the inhabitants of the Warrens would see you coming and would attack from hills go out into the valley, that was always altered. And which group saw you coming and which group would then attack. Every time we played it, it was a different group.
 Lance    
That's interesting. So you made you made them be proactive and not just stay in their layers. I don't think I've ever done that, or been in another group that does that
 Bruce    
Yeah. Well, you know, when you think about it, they're not going to just wait for you to come on them. They're going to have centuries out. They're looking for people coming up the valley. And so every time you guys played one time, it'd be the kobolds. One time, it'd be the goblins one time, it'd be the ogres. One time it'd be this one. Every time we played it would be someone else.
 Lance    
Yeah. Okay. So, general question about all modules in general. So you know how the descriptions are pretty brief. And they don't have A lot of detail, right? Do you prefer them to be brief? So you can add your own detail, or do you prefer more detail? So you know what exactly is there and how they'll react?
 Bruce    
Well, when it's just the outskirts? Yeah, I prefer brief so that I can do whatever I want. But when there's actually something that needs to be done here, and these are the people or occupants that are there doing this. No, that actually needs to be more detailed than what the module has. Because I wind up having to change a lot of the stuff each time that's played. Because of the players that are coming. Are they going to be able to be strong enough to take on this threat? If so, are they too strong for the threat and are just going to walk through it and that should never be the case. In my opinion, it should always be a challenge, but then it shouldn't be so much of a challenge that they can't do it. I mean, yeah, they might get hurt and decide, they themselves decide they don't want to continue, but they truly had the ability to go through it and that I left up to the characters. The inhabitants of the dwellings, though, when I got to the inner workings of each section, each group of combatants, they all had a specific task that you were supposed to do. either get them to join with you or totally annihilate them or get them to fight with others or whatever. If you were not if you did not accomplish that task, then you would not receive full experience points for that encounter. Yeah, you get the experience points for killing them and finding their treasure and stuff. But if you didn't do what was actually necessary for that particular group, there was an extra bonus that you would not have received. The idea is to be proactive and try to actually rule whomever you find. And only on a couple occasions were the adventurers able to do that. And they got all kinds of bonuses for doing that.
Lance    
Okay, um, so, the book recommends a party of six to nine first level characters. First of all, what was the most common number of players? What was the most, what was least, and with small groups did you give them retainers and Magic items to start like it  recommends in the book?
Bruce    
Yes. And the smallest group was three. And yes, they each had they each had a retainer. So I guess the total number of groups, I liked the amount of people that were actual participants in the game itself, I'd liked about six people. But as far as retainers and stuff I could deal with effectively about seven or eight. That includes retainers and participants. The most I've ever had was 10. And that was a nightmare.
Lance    
Well, I remember, well it wasn't this game. Speaking of large groups, I remember You DMed a Group of 14 players.
Bruce    
Yeah, I remember that one too. That was more than a nightmare. The trouble with doing it that large of a group trying to keep everybody occupied and keep their attention and give everybody something to do. was so difficult for me that as you say, I only did that once. 
Lance    
Okay. So usually had six to seven PCs.
Bruce    
I'd say five to seven five to seven. Yeah.
Lance    
Okay. so, on the first page, it recommends the monsters of the different caves act together and act intelligently. That's kind of opposite. Well, a lot of people recommend to have the monsters act as smart as they should be. But people think of Goblins  And kobolds as stupid,
Bruce    
which they technically are supposed to be.
Lance    
So the book recommends Yeah, the act intelligently. how Well, did you follow that, you kind of already touched on this and, you know, how much did they actually act to get work together?
Bruce    
Well kobolds and goblins hate each other. So getting them to work together is difficult, at best, getting them to work against each other. And you're the one to inaugurate that, would have been fairly easy if that's what you thought you were supposed to do. The goblins and hobgoblins get them to work together Yeah, but the thing is the hobgoblins made the goblins slaves
Lance    
well and like all of the different cave groups like there's Knolls and goblins and, or I think, I don't think there's actually goblins, I think just hobgoblins But yeah, 
Bruce    
All of the larger 
Lance    
like the the temple and all that stuff,
Bruce    
yeah the hierarchy is the further back you go the more powerful the beings are And the more powerful the beings are, the less they deal with the lowest level of power and they have beings in between that deal with them for them. If a runner from the kobolds came to the temple, they would have been shot on site. But if one of the larger things like the knolls or the hobgoblins came, they would have at least listened to why they were intruding before they killed him although the people in the temple they could go anywhere they want and they would have to receive respect from all the lowers or else They would have a mass genocide and start over again with that particular group with people that would do it the right way with the right authority. That's how I played it anyway.
Lance    
Okay. So it also recommends that the keep, the actual keep itself can act as a home base for the players. How often did we actually make use of that? 
Bruce    
quite a bit. It was a place to restock. It was a place to sell stuff when you're all full. And it was a place to, someone lost an arm, to recover through magic means that arm. only once Did I make them carry the severed arm with them back to the temple to have it reattached. Most of the time it was just magically regrown.
Lance    
Okay, let's, Can't find the exact quote, I think it's on page one, it recommends. . . So if exploring the wilderness, the, when the players go out to go find the caves of chaos, they have to go through the wilderness. And it says if they go off the map, they recommend you to make your own wilderness map,
Bruce    
which I did.
Lance    
And was that associated with the map from the expert set or not?
Bruce    
I think it was, but I did it before I had the expert set. And so I had to modify that map to match the expert set once I got the expert.
Lance    
Okay. I guess well, I'll mention that later. . . how long, so back in the early days, how long did character creation take for you usually? Well for your players starting out?
Bruce    
I could just get four characters created in about an hour and a half, maybe two hours max. And I would tell the people look, the first time we're here, we're going to do nothing but create characters. And if we have enough time, we'll give you an example of how your characters work in a game scenario, which would, I would leave about a half an hour for that,
Lance    
And you often use pre-generated characters for new players?
Bruce    
I loved using that because they didn't know what they really wanted. And would get stats, that are way off the charts or something that they didn't want to be. But they want to be this and their stats don't work that way. So by having pre generated characters, I let them see okay, this is what's needed for this type of character. Now, later if you want to generate your own character, Bear in mind, These are the numbers you want for this type of character. About eight times out of 10, they would go with a pre generated character. And maybe after they've played for good four or five games, want a new character, and that's where their new character would become an NPC. And eventually, if their character that was pre generated by me died, which they had a tendency to do, then their other character that they generated would then takeover,
Lance    
So did you ever restrict certain classes from the game? 
Bruce    
Yeah
Lance    
  if you didn't want elves in the game? 
Bruce 
Oh, no, elves were always included. But the only thing that was restricted was the sorcerer class where you didn't need to memorize spells, 
Lance    
which wasn't even in The basic game 
Bruce    
correct, so there were people that tried to tell me that you could have that and I kept telling not in my game. Oh and time traveller
Lance    
of the seven basic classes you never restricted those? 
Bruce    
No, never 
Lance    
okay. But basically things from ad&d or
Bruce    
Yeah, elves, not elves Pixies. You know, and oh, what was the other one? Someone? Someone wanted to be an orc. And I wouldn't let them be an ork. Yeah.
Lance    
Okay, so that, okay, that answers that. Okay, so in here it gives, it generally talks about that they're gonna have to journey to the caves of chaos to the wilderness. So how, how often did or how much did the players actually travel through this wilderness off the road? Did they, actually How often did we actually explore?
Bruce    
That was mostly a rare thing. I would tell them if you want to find this, if you want to do that you've got to go through here to get there. And that was to, you know, just give them a little bit different taste of what's available, such as the meadow behind the cave, the caves. When they came through the temple, they had to go through that meadow because if they'd gone back out, the amount of chaos that they had caused would put all of the monsters out in the valley with the caves. And you did not want to go that way. Go this way, right, going the other side of the river or the road, to the river, the spiders, other things like that, or something that was obtainable. But you had to make an effort. And if you were staying too long, something in that area would become much more powerful than you and drive you out.
Lance    
But most of the time we went along the road straight to the caves?
Bruce    
Correct. And most of the time, you didn't encounter much. If you did, it was mostly bandits or other merchants traveling the road. 
Lance    
Okay. it talks about, it talks about playing different NPCs and monsters, you know, being their personality, How easy was that for you to play these different monsters and NPCs
Bruce    
as long as I could keep to the story, and keep the attention of the people, fairly easy, because it's pretty well laid out and what they're supposed to be doing. But when the players would decide they want to do something different than what's in the story of the Module became more difficult because I'm trying to steer them on to the game rather than the ideas of youth. just exploring, well, can I do this? Can I do that? And yes, you can do that. But that's not what the storyline is about. It’s not what you're supposed to be doing. And I have to do it in such a way that they know that I'm not leading them. that becomes difficult.
Lance    
Speaking of NPCs, Did you, How much did we actually interact with the people in the keep?
Bruce    
other than to get what you needed out of the people in the keep? Not much.
Lance    
So we didn't just go and talk to them to find out who they were?
Bruce    
No, like the innkeeper. Yeah, you knew who he was because you'd see him frequently. The blacksmith. Yeah. The captain of the guard at the gate. Yeah. Those people you had much contact with and you knew their personalities and they knew who you were and some of them liked you. Some of them didn't, you know, that was all in the module itself. But I did throw a couple of urchins in there. And they were fun because they would do things that would distract you from your task. Someone stole one of the favorite swords of someone and it was the effort to go get that little urchin
Lance    
okay, so talking about the wilderness How would you actually, just cuz we usually went on the road. So how would you actually describe that to us? Usually would it just be 'ope you're there now, or how would you describe that?
Bruce    
on describe the type of road It was? Yes, you cross this little bridge on a small creek. There are trees right aligning the road or Meadows on the road. Oh, there's a hill over here. You know, are you suspicious of the hill? Are you suspicious of the trees? Are you suspicious of the bridge across the creek? If you're suspicious, then we take time to figure out what's going on. If you're not suspicious, roll for encounters if you have an encounter, whoops. If you have no encounter, just continue on.
Lance    
Okay. You wouldn’t describe the square or anything?
Bruce    
No. 
Lance    
Okay. Oh, it talks about okay. I want to read it. So, “as a judge moderator referee the DM is constantly dealing with the players just as the referee of a sporting event the DM must be fair he or she cannot be out to get the players nor should he or she be on their side. All the time the DM must be neutral.” And then it goes on.
Bruce    
Yeah
Lance    
so how neutral were you? 
Bruce    
I wasn't; I was a Monty Hall. And the reason behind that is if you kill off everybody on their very first adventure, they're not gonna want to play anymore. If you give them everything on their very first adventure, they'll get bored. So the trick is to have a happy medium between being monty haul and being the devil's advocate so that they will want to play again. That was a difficult thing to accomplish. But I thought I did pretty good. Most of the Time.
Lance    
Okay. So here it talks about keeping track of time.
Bruce    
That was my most difficult part. Yes. 
Lance    
Because it also talks about in conjunction with is keeping track of your resources.
Bruce    
 Yes.
Lance    
 So we didn't really do that as much? 
Bruce    
No we didn't, your rations usually lasted as long as you needed them to last. The weight that you carried generally was enough that you could carry it. You had this much time to go through this area. It took that long unless you had an encounter. You know, it's just time was really basic in its usage. Okay, I did not really elaborate. Well, you took 10-15 minutes to find this trap door in the meantime, you got attacked. no, I did not do that That often.
 Lance    
And then it talks about treasure and experience. So it recommends that the DM divide experience evenly, and that the players can divide up treasure however they want. And there. Yeah. So how did you work that out?
Bruce    
Yeah, the experience value was given out evenly most of the time. If someone made a fantastic hit and killed more than their fair share, Yeah they would get extra bonuses because they are doing what their character was designed to do. So like if a magic user cast paralyze to all the people in there in there and then everybody goes through and kills them. Yeah, they get their experience for killing each individual thing. Shared but the Magic user got a special bonus for paralyzing everybody 
Lance    
Yeah. What about like if thieves found some treasure and kept it to themselves? 
Bruce    
then they kept it to themselves as long as they didn't tell anybody. 
 Lance    
But did they get experience with that?
 Bruce    
I don't remember. I might have given a few people experience for that. But it wasn't the norm. Because most of the time, even the most devious humans that we know. Were very honorable. And they didn't play their characters the way they should have the way they were aligned. It was interesting. I couldn't I couldn't get someone to actually play an evil backstabbing thief.
 Lance    
No, that's why mom made us call them spies. Yes. so experienced, um, did you, Did you ever give like when dividing experience divide some of that to the retainers? 
Bruce    
Sometimes, if the people who were using the retainers use them in their skills properly would give it to the retainers. But that was only in the case when their retainer was another character that they had rolled up and wanted to continue to play. If there were normal NPCs No,
 Lance    
okay. Cuz because basically, it tells you to include include your retainers in how much you divide. So if you have three characters and two retainers, you divide by five, right? but the retainers only get half of that; half their share.
Bruce    
I did read that, but I didn't like that. And I would do that if they had rolled their own retainer. I would do that. But if they were playing a retainer that came through the game, no, 
Lance    
Okay, so here it recommends to read the module thoroughly and maybe even up to three times. So how many times did you usually read a module before running it? And how many? How well did you get to a new module before you ran it?
Bruce    
I am not good at reading. I'm also not good at memorize verbatim. But I am very good at getting a general idea as long as I read something four to five times. And I did read several times through from cover to cover all the modules that we played, certain sections I would read in more in depth because that's where I wanted the characters to go through, areas that Didn't feel that were that important. I would read only twice maybe sometimes. And if they went there, I would tell them wait a minute, I got to read this make sure I got it right. And everybody was fine with that. It seemed you know, for the lull in the gameplay and that gave them a chance to check on all their stats and everything else. But most of the time, I would use the book, the module to jog my memory, okay, what's in this room number, oh it's got kobolds in it. Okay, I know what this one is. But that's basically how I ran the systems.
 Lance    
Okay, um, so here it talks about how the keep, how most of it, The floor plans aren't detailed and recommend you make your own floor plans. Did you ever do that?
Bruce    
Sometimes, not always. I did when I felt that the floor plan would actually make a difference as to how the game was going to run. But most of the time, I would say no, I took whatever they said, and I let the players map it out Specifically
Lance    
 Okay. we were talking about pre generated characters. Oh, rumors. How did you handle giving players rumors before the game? Because it recommends that each player knows at least one rumor.
Bruce    
Yeah, didn't do that that much. Because I figured all of you were new to the area that you're going into. You have no idea what's going on. You all need to figure out. You all need to get your own rumors. You all need to understand something. I always played as if you were not from the area that you're adventuring in. because you never adventure at home because you already know what's going on at home. 
 Lance    
Home is boring. 

Bruce    
Yes. That's why you're out Adventuring
 Lance    
anyway. Okay, it also talks about marching order and callers and mappers. Did we do marching order? Did we ever have one person in charge as a caller? And did one person do the map or we work on it together?
Bruce    
Usually one person did the mapping. But everybody would try to tell the mapper that they did it wrong I noticed. And also, one person being in charge didn't not always work well, because,
 Lance    
well, oftentimes, Cassie would kind of be our leader, but I wouldn't call her the caller.
Bruce    
No, she was definitely not the caller,  in fact I don't think we ever had a caller, everybody had what they thought they wanted to do. And if it helped out the game, then we'd do it sometimes if it didn't help out the game. I would let Jared do it just to get everybody else involved. 
 Lance    
Well, what about the caller with the with your older groups?
 Bruce    
 with my older groups, Yeah, definitely, there was one that was in charge and everybody went along with that person, different person would be mapping. And everybody would try to help the mapper understand exactly what was visually seen for the map. In their idea, it brought more color to the map more understanding. Because when you talk to someone and tell them something, this person is going to get this out of it. That person is going to get that it's just like watching a crime scene in many people around the corner.
 Lance    
Well, what about marching order, did we often actually use that?
 Bruce    
Yeah, sometimes, you'd put your most heavily armored person in front and your most weak armor person in the back which most of the time worked out unless you were being attacked from the back without knowing it. which happened a lot. You know, also, they never really understood that your weakest person should be in the middle and protected on both sides.
 Lance    
Yeah. Going back to maps, did you correct the player's maps?
Bruce    
I wouldn't say I corrected them. But I would tell them when they go back into the area that something's changed, and they don't know what it is, they're going by their map or something's not right. And therefore, they would have to revamp because they didn't get it right the first time.
Lance    
Yeah. Um, let's see, what's this? How many Okay, so how many game sessions did it usually take for us to go through this module? 
Bruce    
this module? Oh gee. Depending on who it was, Took as few as, the fewest sessions it took was five sessions. The most was something like 15 sessions. Yeah. And that I would equate to the age of the people. The older they were, the easier was to go through the session. The younger they were, the more difficult it was to go through 
Lance    
Um, it also recommends at the end of each game session, not necessarily the day or anything, but you know, when you want to end the session, it recommends going back to the keep and leaving the caves.
 Bruce    
Yeah. it Does suggest that 
 Lance    
did we, did you actually have us do that? 
Bruce    
Sometimes I would. Unless you were in the middle of something and you would have, just to get back to the keep would have taken too much time, to get back to the keep and rest there. And we didn't have enough time in The time we had allotted to play the game, right at which point we would just say okay, freeze. No one gets experience points this time around because we don't have enough time to calculate it. We'll pick up where we left off when you come back
Lance    
and it also recommends if you're gonna rest during the game, like it talks about resting in the dungeon and possible encounters, did groups you ran often rest inside the dungeon? 
Bruce    
Oh, yeah. And sometimes they'd receive encounters and sometimes they wouldn't it depended on which dungeon they were in. And how rested everybody was. If, if everybody was totally exhausted, and they had to run shifts, and the random encounters, if the random encounter roll said that you encountered something. You guys wouldn't get any rest at that point. If you didn't get any random encounters, then you would get the rest that you needed.
 Lance    
Okay, so then there's a whole background section in the start section, which is kind of same thing. Did you read, Did you often read these big introductory sections to your groups?
Bruce    
to the groups most of the time? No. I would try as much as I could to recite the general idea of what was happening if it was actually necessary with some adult players. It was, I would photocopy sections, and then cross out parts that I did not want them to see.
Lance    
Okay, um in the background, it talks about the realm of mankind. Did you see that as one kingdom? Did you try to incorporate that into the map of the expert set?
Bruce    
I think the realm of mankind was supposed to have been the base. everything else was an ancillary to that 
Lance    
you're on the Borderlands of the realm. 
Bruce    
And so, with that in mind, that part would be given to them because they're supposed to already know all of that. It's the other stuff that would be questionable whether we give it to them or not, because the other stuff would Be rumor, hearsay, did they hear this as they were walking through the town? Did someone else say that? then that stuff is what would come up
Lance    
Okay, so the very beginning it has the watchmen ask the player, ask the characters what their business is coming here, and they can't come inside unless they say something reasonable, were you strict about that? 
Bruce    
No. Because most of the time, they'd say, well, we're here to adventure. We're here to kill bad guys or something along that line. And then the guy, depending on who they were, if they could take a joke or not, that would determine whether or not I was going to let them just waltz in or give them a hassle.
Lance    
Right. Okay. Oh, it also talks about PCs being well Basically criminals and the catching and punishment of criminal PCs did that ever happen? 
Bruce    
Yes. There were several criminals that were caught and punished and also got away. But basically, there were no no one that survived from your attacks into this place. No one that survived would have been just scot free.
Lance    
No, I mean like player characters
Bruce    
Oh Player Character . . . Well, I never I never had any player characters that wanted to be bad guys. Like I said,
 Lance    
like steal from the innkeeper and stuff. 
Bruce    
Yeah. Most of the player characters that we had were, how shall I say, They were basically good people trying to help out. That's what it seemed like to me. Because no one would ever try to get a true rogue. No one would ever try to get a conniving Bard. Granted, those aren't the names of the characters that are available to play, but that doesn't mean your character can't do those types of things if you want. And no one ever did. So I never had to punish anyone. closest to punishing anyone was when Jared when he was too young, not knowing what his limitations were wanted to go into the arena and fight the fire giant, 
 Lance    
which wasn't this adventure. 
Bruce    
No 
Lance    
we'll talk about that later. Oh, okay. And then there's the rumor table. How'd you handle out us getting access to some of the rumors?
Bruce    
Well, most of the time If I felt you needed a particular rumor, I would roll up and see if I got that rumor on a roll of dice. When asked, Can we hear any of the people next table over? Or do we see anything? If they asked, then I would roll up and see if they got something that would lead to them going on an adventure. If I felt that the rumor that they had received was would send them right into the fray so strongly that they would encounter things beyond their levels to accomplish. I would make the rumor sound so horrifying that they wouldn't go on it yet. but it would still be the same rumor it just there's more embellishment to it, making it more difficult. If it was something that was really quick and easy. Yeah, yeah, the rumor came out is something quick and easy.
 Lance    
Okay. it talks here about the inner Bailey and access to the inner Bailey can be gained. If the adventures perform a heroic act on behalf of the keep. So basically, they can't gain access to the inner Bailey unless they prove themselves, you know, 
Bruce    
correct. 
Lance    
How well did you enforce that?
Bruce    
Pretty much. Their charisma roll would also have something to do with that usually, you know, like convinced Well, look, I went out and did this and this and this. And then if their charisma roll was high enough, then the guard would be impressed and say, Wait here and go get someone of higher rank and then come back and Oh, you are the guys that did that. And then give them access. It wasn't an automatic entrance into the Bailey. You know, even if someone from the inside the Bailey gave them the assignment to do something, it was never automatic. Not until you had done enough heroic adventures that everybody inside the Bailey are recognized you. That's when you get automatic entrance.
Lance    
It says here, the party might become traders operating out of the keep hoping to find adventures as it's traveling the surrounding area. Did we ever become traders?
 Bruce    
No one. None of my players ever became traders in this particular module. I never gave them the option.They would have had to come up with that theory and idea on their own and no one ever did.
 Lance    
Oh, here's an interesting bit, in describing the corporal of the watch it says he admires outspoken brave fighters and can easily taken in by a pretty girl. Did that ever happen?
 Bruce    
I tried to make it happen, but most of the time, the people that were playing the pretty brave girls didn't appreciate the tension. because they're either too young or married.
 Lance    
Alright, so it was a player problem,
 Bruce    
yeah, it was a player problem. It wasn't a well, it might have been my problem, my ability to portray that. but basically, it never really worked.
 Lance    
let's see. Talking about the Guild merchant, it says that he'll buy and sell gems. Did We ever make use of that? 
Bruce    
You tried several times. And he tried to gyp you as many times as you tried to sell him stuff. And depending on your charisma, determined whether or not you were able to get him to give you a reasonable price for the gems. you guys usually weren't very successful. but I never told you that.
 Lance    
Okay, so in the description of the priest, so he's got the priests and his two acolytes and he's supposed to betray us. You remember that? Did that ever occur? Did we take him with us and he betray us?
Bruce    
Yeah, a couple of times.
 Lance    
Did it ever kill anyone? Did we all die because of it?
 Bruce    
No, never did anybody. never did any party all die. A lot of times people did get to get to death, but not Die and were able to retreat to the point where they could restore the health of the injured person and nobody went off on their own chasing him or his acolytes that survived 
Lance    
So the priests wasn't extremely detrimental to. 
Bruce    
It was during, it was essential to the game but not essential to he wasn't there to kill you specifically, otherwise he would have stayed and killed everybody. no matter how many acolytes he loses
Lance    
Oh, and the description of the tavern. There is mercenaries, or it says there will be mercenaries sometimes, did we ever hire mercenaries from the tavern?
Bruce    
Yes. When there were a few of you. And the mercenaries were at best chaotic neutral. 
Lance    
Okay. Oh, a general question about the keep in general, did any party ever try to attack the keep or pillage it or, you know, act against the keep?
 Bruce    
Yes. There were two adventures where they were spending the night in the cave and the alarm rang out and there was a whole horde of I don't remember what type of creatures because you know Dungeons and Dragons creatures like goblins or whatever. They were attacking the keep and they were as far as the eye could see, that many, and therefore it was required that every resident every person in the keep was required to assist in the Defense. now this, in both cases I had traitors within the walls that were required to be found out, and only once did they get found out. and they were promptly put up on the wall shown to the enemy in a lull of when they were rushing the walls and let's see what oh yeah then then they were put in the Trebuchet on top of the tower and flung right at them which demoralized some of them. And yeah, that actually went well and that, all that was their idea when they found the traitor, hey you want a traitor here, here's one, one of your own.
Lance    
So the player players didn't try to actually attack the keep themselves. 
Bruce    
No, players never Attack the keep, that was a safe place, don't attack it. but that I think is only because I played the keep with the ruler as someone who was fair and just. if he had not been fair and just, like the Black Eagle barony, they would have made different plans.
Lance    
Okay. The cave of the unknown. Did you ever map out anything for that? 
Bruce    
I did. And I lost it Part of it went to the temple shrine. And part of it went out into a valley somewhere. Like I said, I lost the map and I don't know where the valley was in relation to this whole module. But that was with your namesake and his wife and his sister. And that's one of the earlier times I played this game. And in fact, that was the time when they threw the traitor over the wall. And right after they threw the traitor over the wall, that's when they were able to go back to the caves and find this cave of the unkown and Go adventuring in that.
Lance    
Okay, so here it talks about traveling through wilderness, talks about travel time. really annoys me. Yes. Okay. So if you look at the scale on the map, and you measured the number of squares, it's about three miles to the caves. 
Bruce    
Yes, I've noticed that
 Lance    
and it says, normal movement rate, and we're assuming this is on the road, you know, it says because it gives different rates for the forest and the wetlands, is three squares for one hour of walking.
Bruce    
That is totally ridiculous. 
Lance    
Which is, I calculated, It's about a sixth of a mile per hour. It's just over a sixth of a mile. And that's just walking because it gives different rate for searching. But you know, the walking, you're walking along the road.
Bruce    
Yeah, I never went with time movement as far as the module went with. Mostly what I did was calculate how the distances and stuff and I know that I walk. During that time of my life, I can walk three miles an hour and be very observant of everything around me.
Lance    
If we changed the scale to the time movement, each square would be about a square mile.
Bruce    
Yes, that is correct.
 Lance    
changes the whole adventure.
 Bruce    
It does.
 Lance    
Okay, so we kind of already talked about provisions, track provisions Do we ever stopped to go hunting? or run out of provisions?
 Bruce    
Yeah, if I wanted you to get a little bit more adventure into the traveling part of it. That was part of the random encounters. And if you actually had a random encounter of something that you could use for provisions, and you made the effort, generally speaking, you could get it. If your attack roll or whatever was off, then you missed and you guys had to ration your provisions a little tighter.
Lance    
Did we ever encountered the lizard men?
 Bruce    
Yes, they did. And with Cassie and you guys, you did quite well, with averting them to something else and not working on you guys. Your charisma scores and rolls were high enough that you convinced them to not kill you.
Lance    
Okay, what happened when we met the spiders?
 Bruce    
Everybody focused battle on one spider at a time. And because of that some were actually attacked and had to receive anti poison or healing potions or something, but because of the considered effort one at a time they were able to get rid of all the spiders.
Lance    
Did we ever actually find the camp of the Raiders to the south?
 Bruce    
Oh yeah. And once again, charisma and rolls were such that you convinced them that you were bandits and when you went back to tell the keep where The bandits actually were and give descriptions, then the army that was kept in the keep, went and surrounded them and forced them towards the keep. Whereupon you guys were in charge of defending the keep while the army was out drawing these people so that they get Crossfire from the keep and army
Lance    
and the Mad hermit and his lion?
 Bruce    
He was fun. It was difficult for me to play the mad hermit, but I tried my best and sometimes he was coherent sometimes he wasn't. Sometimes you guys understood what you were supposed to do. And sometimes you didn't. Going to see the mad hermit did not always end with a successful visit, and the lion did whatever The Mad hermit told him to always.
Lance    
Alright, well that's it for now, next time we'll talk about the caves of chaos.