Thursday, March 10, 2011

[D&D] The AD&D Treasure Trove

No, the Treasure Trove isn't a booklet of wealth and magical items. Well, it might be, but that's not what I'm talking about. No, I actually own a treasure trove of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons materials. So many, in fact, that I'm a bit baffled about where to start with them. I don't even really know what all I have. It's somewhat daunting.

I've begun to dig into it, however. For years, I've been wanting to introduce my kids to Fantasy Role-Playing Games, but I've been putting it off until the youngest could read more-or less unassisted. Well, he finally can, so I suppose it's time to buckle down and whip up a game. It's going to be tough, though. When I was a teenager, I literally could (and often did) spend 10-20 hours in a given week working on that week's adventure. I'd create non-player characters. I'd create detailed maps, room descriptions, and locations. I'd describe in detail what the characters saw, what they experienced, what the other characters in the game did and what they had to say. I wrote new spells, new abilities, and wove everything together into a story replete with unexpected twists and turns, logical behaviour that the players could actually predict if they worked it out, and often complex puzzles, quests, histories, songs, poems, and prophecies. If the players found a book, I told them what it looked like, what it was made of, how heavy it was, the color of the ink, and anything else they might possibly want to know. That was important to the game, not only because it gave tremendous depth and flavor to the experience of playing, but it also challenged the players in a unique way - they couldn't know what was important or what wasn't simply based on how much detail I used to describe it. EVERYTHING was incredibly detailed, so they had to think like their characters, analyze all the information they had, and then role-play their chosen solution.

Now, bear in mind that in addition to all of that work, the game sessions themselves lasted anywhere from eight to fourteen hours. We'd start playing around six in the evening, and it wasn't unheard-of for us to finally stagger out into the morning sun at eight the next day. Monsters were slain, puzzles were solved, dice were rolled, and a great deal of food was eaten in those sessions. And then I had to calculate experience, figure out treasure, provide details on magical items acquired, and then write the adventure for the next week.

Plus, my campaign was always very open-ended. I tried to accommodate whatever the players would reasonably ask for their characters to do. If they wanted to skip the main quest I'd anticipated and hop on a boat to faraway lands instead, I didn't stop them. As such, I couldn't get all that far ahead in designing my campaign, even assuming I had the time to get far ahead, which I really didn't.

It got so crazy trying to keep up with everything that it actually caused me to create the most detailed magic item ever made. The Warband was actually a huge amount of work, but it was a reaction to my desire to avoid having to make up the knowledge of "sentient" magical items on the spot - which was really hard, and often resulted in my players writing out page after page after page of "questions I ask my magic item when we're sitting around the campfire at night." Just once, I wanted to hand somebody an item and say "here's everything it could possibly know. Don't ask me any more questions." It sorta worked. But I digress.

Anyway, I'm poring through my old AD&D materials, with the goal of creating an intro campaign for my kids, and then moving on to more intermediate stuff once they get the hang of it. All in the least work-intensive way possible, since I just don't have the time.

One of my ideas is to use technology. Luckily, I have some - I own the AD&D Core Rules 2.0 software, which has a whole bunch of features including RTF versions of most of the manuals, some map-making software (two of them - one of which is overly basic and the other of which is overly complex, but I have yet to find anything better), and some tools for typing up character sheets for players and NPCs alike. I also own the first 250 issues of Dragon Magazine as PDF files, which should yield some adventures, magic items, and other useful stuff in an easily-accessible format. Plus, I have the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas, which should make it easy to produce maps I can use as I need them.

But what I mostly need are pre-written adventures, preferably set in the Forgotten Realms, for low-level characters, using the 2nd Edition AD&D ruleset. Turns out, that's not so easy to find online, and I don't have Dungeon Magazine as PDFs. I really wish I did.

At some point, I may post an inventory of all the AD&D stuff I have - or perhaps just the Forgotten Realms stuff, as I'm pretty sure I've paid for at least one of Ed Greenwood's cars. Right now, though, I'm struggling with the joys of installing software intended for Windows 98 on a Windows 7 computer. Ugh. I think I failed my save vs. old software.

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