or: How Mentzer Basic Saved my Brain
I've been trying to hack together a first couple of levels of the Vaults in preparation for actually getting together with my gaming group and throwing their latest batch of PCs into the grinder (yes, there will be actual grinders... and chessboard rooms... and my own twisted take on the Hellevator... and fonts of arcane weirdness... and Sealed Evil in a Can galore...). Now, I have to say that writing up a traditional dungeon for 3E is... problematic. Even with the d20 SRD (long may it reign) open in Firefox there's just so much cross-referencing and bookkeeping to be done.
While taking a break from transcribing notes (and modifying to my 3E/Tome Series/homebrew hack as I go) to read a little nostalgia-soaked Mentzer Basic I suddenly had a minor epiphany, one which will be very familiar to many of the oldschoolians out there:
"It's all in here. Why the hell am I reinventing the wheel?!"
And slap me with a three-day old fish if almost everything I need isn't already in the little red box.
Tricks and Traps. Kinda...
Ok, that's the basics. What about Retainers? Check.
Monster Reactions? Check.
Loot as XP? Check.
Spellbook costs? Check.
Status effects? Check.
Halfling size modifier to AC? Check. 0_o
As for what little either isn't in there, or that doesn't quite work as I want; well, I've got 20 years as a gamer and linear yards of gaming books and pdf printouts to fill in the blanks. Surely it's not beyond me to make 'old D&D' appealing and playable to a bunch of regular gamers?
Maybe it's just because it's a nice sunny Easter Monday. Maybe I'm getting lazy(er) in my old age. But it looks like Vaults of Nagoh will actually be going old school, rather than just smelling a little old and fusty. Don't get me wrong, I still love 3E as a system (at least when it's been suitably rehacked by yours truly), but there's just too much damn homework involved to build a megadungeon with it from scratch (disclaimer: IANAMonteCook). Spreadsheets are not for fun, and swedging my way through pages of legalese is a job; not a hobby.
Apart from the question of which particular flavour of retro-stupid I'll be using (I'm leaning towards a quick-and-dirty, easy-on-the-brain LL/C&C hack atm), only one other problem remains:
Who do I have to kill to open up a space among the blessed 137? ;)