So last weekend I queued up for my first old-school D&D game via the Google+ video chat facility. Very nice; technically it worked without a hitch for me, and was much smoother and easier to run than I expected. This was with my good friends from Boston, with whom I had my longest-running regular weekly D&D game from 2000-2005 or so.
- D&D really is goddamned fun to play!
- I think we all continue to become better D&D players, and it's really a pleasure to watch happen. Truly it has been said, "Superior play makes the game more enjoyable for all participants" (Gygax in the AD&D PHB, p. 109)
- One of the key play tips that I'm reminded of: Don't keep any surprises from your fellow players. When we were first playing together about 10 years ago, many of us (including me) we fall prey to a "cinematic" desire where we'd pull some special tactic in a fight that no one else knew about, and get some spotlight moment where everyone was agog at our PC. Don't do that. Like any sporting group, the rest of your team needs to know about any special moves, feats, spells, secrets, equipment, or plans that might come into play: that way, they can plan and likely improve on your idea. We're so much better at this now than we were before.
- I spent some time playing solo D&D in the last year, and I think that very much paid dividends in how I built and equipped my PC. If possible, I might recommend that anyone go through the old-school meat grinder in which they expect to lose a score of PCs or more, very quickly. I've got a whole folder-full of dead solo PCs that I used up -- and every time I did so, I picked up some new lesson that I should keep in mind while playing D&D, or the surprising effectiveness of some minor item on the OD&D equipment list.
- Target 20 doesn't look any different to the players than 3E-style ascending armor class. I was somewhat surprised that I've been using "Target 20" for a few years now, and this never occurred to me until another DM ran it, with me as a player. In either case, the player rolls d20, adds attacks bonus, and tells that to the DM, who does the rest. The difference is really in whether the DM utilizes old-school, one-digit AC stats (adding & comparing to 20 on the fly), or new-school, double-digit AC stats (subtracting old AC from 20 and documenting that in advance).
- Roles are not synonymous with classes. Of course, the new-new-school rage is to talk about WoW-style "roles" -- which aggravates me right off the bat, because it's yet another step away from concrete, in-world language and descriptions ("tank" and all that). But even if you accept that, what struck me in this game is how it's a misunderstanding to think that original D&D classes were locked into any particular party roles. In our game, we had two 2nd level dwarven fighters -- one a heavily-armored, slow, front line shield man; the second lightly-armored, quick, crossbow-focused, and highlighting dwarven scouting/ listening/ detection abilities. Exact same OD&D race and class; two totally different party roles.
- In setting up a webcam for the very first time ever, I was somewhat frustrated by my inability to find any way to technically test it before going online with others. After the fact, I found a very nice website that would do that: TestMyCam.
- Knowing that Google now wants to force consolidation of all your accounts with them, I actually made a new email address just for use with Google+ to prevent that. Call me a privacy nut if you like; it's not paranoia if they're really out to get ya. :-)
A very nice game, and a very nice tool! Unfortunately, due to time constraints a computer setup issues in my apartment, it's unlikely that I'll be able to do this on a "constant" basis. But hopefully some more games will occur in the future.
Read the other guys' takes: