Yesterday I started a new campaign set in my City of Bones setting, which I was looking forward to. We ran through a few basics and rolled up characters, and went straight into it; the characters were all new recruits of the local thieves’ guild, sent to complete three tests in order to become full members. Of the three tests, they choose to visit a tomb first… and in no time at all, one of them was dead, another crippled, and the Priestess and Thief carried on, encountered some skeletons, failed to turn them, and everyone was quickly cut down.
It was a bit of a downer for all concerned, despite– overall– an enjoyable couple of hours and a good test of the ACKS rules. Afterwards, we had a discussion as to why it all went so wrong, and came to the conclusion– obvious in hindsight– that it was all down to how the players were approaching it.
We’ve been a group for a few years now, but all that time has been playing 3.5 or Pathfinder, and the players have got use to playing with those systems, with the power expansion, encounters that are often more balanced than not, certain expectations of what to do in an encounter (i.e. kill everything).
I’m use to the Old School approach of caution, preparation, fleeing to regroup and come back later; checking for traps with 10′ poles, wind-up toy dragons, and relying more on player description of a character’s actions rather than mere dice rolls; bringing along hirelings and henchmen, using tactics. My Monday night group have quickly become experts in this style of play, which is not surprising since they were all brought up playing in this way (and my dad taught me, and now he’s back playing with us, which is cool). They’re veterans really.
The Sunday group is out of practice. They’ve been wrapped in cotton wool, and not use to the harshness of Old School play. I’m thinking I should have explained it a bit more to them, but I forgot that they might not now how it worked; my fault, and a mistake I shall rectify before we start again next session in two weeks time. Really need to send them a copy of the Primer, which should help get them into the right frame of mind.
Has this happened a lot with other groups, especially with veteran gamers who have brought new blood into their Old School games? How’d you handle it, and get them to get into that frame of mind? Any advice?
Getting them used to rolling everything in order, with a mere 3d6, was a bit hard too; and amusing when I offered them the choice of rolling for hit points or having the maximum, and them opting to roll, and the fighter getting a measly 1 hit point (he went down first, and died first).
Ah well, live and learn.