Labyrinth Lord Lives
Game style musings
RPGs can be played many ways. There are games that seek to focus nearly entirely on collaborative storytelling with only the barest suggestions of rules. There are games with all kinds of simulated reality detail.
Here are some of the things I believe this game is about:
- DM & Players together creating the world
- DM should try to provide a skeleton and provide details in response to investigations, inquiries, and random table events
- Players embroider by providing facts from character past, or by fleshing out from invented character knowledge in response to events, NPC conversations, negotiations, or by providing interpretation to events
- Danger is present but not stupid
- Dungeons, and other hostiles, can and probably will kill characters
- Death should not come in the form of railroads ( Dangerous places are the characters/players choice to enter or avoid )
- Rules skeleton is simple (see Game Rules ), but player freedom should be high.
- If you haven’t played B/X D&D before (probably everyone), it’s worth reading/glancing through the Labyrinth Lord manual: Section 2: Characters, Section 4: Adventuring Rules, and probably the start of Section 5: Encounters & Combat. All told it’s maybe 20 pages. You probably know most of it already.
- The upshot of the rules simplicity is that we can drape a layer of flavor over the mechanics that mostly ignores them, or if it’s important we can add mechanics.
Some things about the heritage of older D&D playstyles:
I don’t personally agree with always doing everything the way described in this document. Do we want to role play every search for every trap? However, I say the door is always open to talk through looking around a room. Probably the more dangerous it feels the more it will seem fun and the more it’s likely to be worth game time.
This gets into vastly different approaches towards combat danger. Do the players do everything in their power to find ways to turn combat ridiculously in their odds? Or do they expect fair fights where they use tactical powers to defeat them?
So far I’m doing a bit of both. B/X makes “fair fights” somewhat boring in the end, unless the players and possibly GM are adding spice (see the above primer). The threat of losing is interesting. Responding to some fights by running away and forming plans adds some flavor. Some dungeons may feature intelligent enemies who alert each other and group up, requiring changes in tactics. Ultimately though, as GM I have to adapt to what players feel like doing.