Monday, 10 June 2013

Mixing the Races

As I've often said, I enjoy a certain amount of "reality" in my game. That is, there cannot be smoke without fire. Sorry, but it just doesn't work. An example of this is a mixing of the Game's races.

An illustration I like to use comes from the movie "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ward Bond, Victor Mclaglen et al. Yes, I know some of you will have to Google that movie and those names, no problem; you will not be the first to accuse me of being "older than dirt." LOL

Anyway, in the movie, John Wayne is in the Pub and offers to buy everyone a drink. No one, but no one, "rushes" to the bar for the free drink, it is only after it is established that John Wayne is the son of 'so-and-so' and the grandson of 'so-and-so' that an older man says: "Well now, that being the case . . . we will have that drink!"

I will point out here that, not only is everyone in the Pub is white, they are all Irish! Yet, in spite of that fact, no one was in a hurry to drink with a "stranger." We see this happen in real life even more when the stranger is of another skin color. So why is it that, in the game, everyone just assumes that Elves, Dwarves and Men rush to adventure with each other?

In the City of Greyhawk, each of the races has their section of town in which they "hang out." While it might not be "Rare" to see a human drinking in a Dwarven establishment, it is certainly "Uncommon" . . . or it should be. The same applies to an Elven establishment. While the human might be in there drinking, there wouldn't be any Dwarves or Elves patting him on the back and regaling him with their tales. He's both a stranger and of another race.

I'm not saying the races are enemies, nor that the demi-humans hate the human drinking in their midst. I'm just saying that no one is acting as though the human were a long, lost "buddy." They're going to act a little "standoffish" towards him; accepting his presence, rather than accepting him.

We won't even discuss the fact that both Dwarves and Elves hate Orcs, complicating matters when adding a Half-orc to the group.

Baring this in mind, I like my players to have back-stories explaining their presence in the group. Why is a Dwarf adventuring with an Elf and how did they "end up" with the human? This gives the game a more realistic feel.

Exclamation: "Oh Mystic! It's just fantasy!"
Reply: "You know you really need to be gaming with someone else."

I prefer something like this: The human and the Elf know each other from "back when" and are now adventuring together. They come across a group of Orcs that apparently have "someone" holed up in a crevice, or copse. The human and Elf effect a "rescue" and . . . behold! . . . it's a Dwarf! Now the three of them adventure together!

I actually enjoy running that type of scenario as well, as a way of adding a character to the game. Of course, the game can start out with the various races adventuring together, I just appreciate my players getting together and creating a back-story that explains how they all ended up together.

Sadly, I find that I usually have to create the back-story . . . I game with some very lazy players. The detail that they put into their own characters often leaves something lacking as well. They want the "hack and slash," not the role playing. Alas, they are all I have for gaming partners and so I am forced to "make do."

Regrettably, it can make for some uninteresting gaming. I do have one player that will put forth the effort, though I do need to "nudge" him to it. If it weren't for him, I'd stick to my computer games and let the others "suffer." Without me, they don't have enough people to make a game. Even then, I need to run two PCs! LOL

Anyway, that's another area in which I like a certain amount of reality in my game. What about you? Do you care about it at all, or are you happy -- as a DM or Player – to just "hack and slash?"

Let me know. I can foresee several discussions on this particular point.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Paladins Revisited

I'm currently playing a Paladin in a table top game and thought I'd take this opportunity to revisit the subject for a little clarification.

My Paladin just reached 2nd level and . . . Eureka! He can now perform Lay on Hands. So, just as a reminder; from whence comes this ability? From the "mortal" king he serves? Or from the God he serves? I believe we can agree that no "mortal" king with whom we are familiar can grant such powers to their knights.

Just yesterday I was reading "The Knights of the Crown," published in 1987, and was pleased to discover another publication that – several times – stresses the difference between "strictly religious bodies . . . and . . . a body of lay knights." And so we again find real world references that distinguish between knights of the church and knights serving a king.

I wanted to stress – again – the difference between Paladins – knights serving the church – and "lay knights" – those who serve a mortal king – to make a further point in my use of Paladins. All knights which serve a church are Paladins, plain and simple. Titles, such as Paladin, anti-Paladin, Blackguard, Crusader, etc., are simply "names" bestowed upon these knights by their individual church. To the common people they are all knights which serve a church and they are called Paladins. All religious knights are Paladins . . . and they are all Lawful.

What? Wait! Did I just say that they are all Lawful? Yes, I did. Remember, Paladins serve the God to whose service they are sworn, not an "earthly" king. That "Paladin" that just murdered an entire village of halflings is Lawful. You see, you must take into consideration that he/she is a Paladin of . . . Tharizdun. Tharizdun wanted that village destroyed and the halflings murdered. Thus, this particular Paladin obeyed the laws of his/her god. Ergo, the Paladin is Lawful.

As you can imagine, this creates some interesting conversations at the gaming table. But I extend the courtesy to other DMs that these same people – as players – do not extend to me . . . the DM is always correct. Unfortunately, I find myself gaming with DMs who are very limited in scope. They simply cannot "leave" the books. An original thought is completely beyond their abilities.

At any rate, I thought I'd throw this view out there to see what responses it might illicit. We'll see. But, as I said, this all goes towards my view that Paladins are knights of the church and serve their respective God/Goddess first and always. Any "kingly" authority must take second place to that.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Learning New Spells - An Addendum

It occurs to me that I forgot to mention that Maldin shares a similar view, regarding the ability to "know" spells. He has laid out his position on his web site, Maldin's Greyhawk.

He's even gone so far as to create a chart, showing his view of matters, which you can find here. Of course, you Gamers with a preference for 3.5 need to bare in mind that Maldin is 2nd Edition. At any rate, I thought I should insert this now, before moving on to another topic.

Oh, and for those of you who like "short cuts," Maldin's unique list of magical items can be found here.