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Friday, March 20, 2015

Most Misunderstood Rules of Your Early Gaming Years



I'm pretty sure I mentioned this before, but when my parents got me the AD&D books to fully start me on this hobby of mine, they bought me dice and the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide. I didn't have a Monster Manual, but really, it wasn't even needed, as the DMG had the nice monster reference in the back.

All you needed was on those charts although one thing did confuse me - why did Ogres have an HD of 4+1 - wouldn't it just be easier to show it as 5 hit points?

Yeah, I didn't know your rolled monsters HP - I assumed the number in the Hit Die column was hit points. No wonder my players blew through my adventures in those first few months. I think it was when I purchased my first module - A1 - that I realized HD and HP were different values.

So, what was your most misunderstood rule from your early days of gaming?

22 comments:

  1. I think that time was our biggest source of confusion. Keeping track of how much time has passed for movement and combat and particularly just plain exploring a room always threw us, leading to the inevitable, "Your torch burns out conversation." In the end of course we just ended up winging it, but early on there was much consternation.

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  2. How d4 was used; we thought you read all the numbers on the bottom face/ Daggers were great for damage. ~smh~

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    1. We did that too.
      Probably the worst was just looking at the map only for Keep on the Borderlands and just randomly making up stuff that happened in each area rather than reading the book. It was after a couple of play-throughs that I was paging through the booklet and said "Hey, this has entries keyed to match the numbers on the map!"

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    2. No, I think you got that one right.

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  3. I don't know if this counts as "confusion." But something we did quite wrong (when I was 12) was we missed the rule about not being able to go up more than one level in a given adventure. Add this to the fact that our GM (who was also 12) put way too much treasure in the dungeon, and we had really high-level characters really fast.

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    1. I always felt that rule was hogwash. I still play without it!

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  4. I remember reading that a "turn" was 10 minutes long, which one group I played with interpreted as meaning that each player got 10 minutes (no more, no less) to do whatever he wanted to do before the next player could do anything. I didn't stay with that group for long.

    I also know someone who said that his group, like Chris C., missed the rule about not going up more than one level in an adventure. They also had a player who bought copies of the modules and read them between games. He led his group through the Caves of Chaos to the minotaur lair, where they found "3 pieces of jewelry worth 1,600,900, and 600 g.p. respectively". This player then went on to browbeat their DM into interpreting that as including a piece of jewelry worth 1.6 million GP, instantly bumping the party from 1st and 2nd level to 9th or 10th level.

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  5. For the longest time I thought XP reset to 0 at each level. This meant it took a veerrry long time to level up. Once I discovered my mistake I did that math and let the players level to where they should have been had they not been resetting their xp each level.

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  6. Your parents BOUGHT you books? My Dad kicked my azz out into the yard with a rake & tarp (early gladiator weapons) for a delightful afternoon of "Show me the grass, boy, not a leaf, not a leaf, not a leaf to cover it . . . "

    He drank a little back then.

    A year or two later, my Dad (who never actually carried a cocktail into a department store; that's what dashboards are for) bought me U1 SinSalt in the Bloomingdale's Toy Department. First module I ever was bought. I colored every single picture in the thing.

    But never any books. My buddies had them.

    (Enough of the rambling about how we all got our original gear)

    My young band of mouth-breathing droolers had trouble with the concept of getting-in and getting-out (yes, it would later haunt us in dating years) at a loke such as CavesOf or Bone Hill. Gear is heavy, treasure is heavy, wounded people are heavy, and monsters call alarm when they can. We did know about torches since we spent so much time in the woods around our homes, but food? Eff that.

    Basic To & Fro quartermastering was our problem. And that bastard hermit in CavesOf dogged those parties for days and days.

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  7. When I was seven, I got a copy of The Forest of Doom. I read the to-hit roll as "add 2D6 to your skill". Pretty soon I was unstoppable! At least I got some arithmetic practice :/

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  8. for a while I played using huge sheets of graph paper where the dungeons were mapped to 10 feet to the inch and we played like it was a boar that got slowly revealed. so more of a misunderstanding than a complete rule snafu.

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  9. Hah! Check out http://www.gibberinggamer.com/2011/04/a-to-z-blogging-challenge-basic-set.html - I had the same HD/HP confusion you did.

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  10. I am not sure if it was a rule per say. The fact that I bought a redbox D&D on the recommendation of my 8th grade RELIGION teacher, but didn't figure out how to play until I was in 9th grade and had to ask friend after friend after friend.

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  11. Now that I've moved from coffee to bourbon - it's almost noon EST - I am starting to think our biggest oversight was in understanding that the humanoid tribes weren't just mindless creatures. They had systems of defense and warning and fighting retreat, and (Lizard Men at Dunwater) counter-attack.

    Giving the opposition credible, applicable intelligence(s) was sorely missing in our early games. Not necessary a rule thing, I know . . .

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  12. I started with Moldvay Basic, which is one of the best-explained versions of D&D, so I never really had any problem with the general rules concepts. There were some aspects of AD&D that I didn't (and in some cases still don't) understand, but I just didn't use them.

    (One rule which I apparently misunderstood was the -3 hit point limit from a single blow mentioned in the DMG. The current OSR interpretation of that rule seems to be that any blow knocking a PC below -3 is instantly fatal. I took it to mean that -3 was the LOWEST a PC could go from a single attack, REGARDLESS of overkill. So 88 points of dragon breath against a 4 hp PC only dropped him to -3 in my AD&D game, giving him 7 rounds before he bled to death. Needless to say, my players never argued against my interpretation...)

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  13. I started playing when I was 10 with the Moldvay Red Box. This wasn't a rule misunderstanding but I cartography one. I didn't understand what the elevation lines were on the Caves of Chaos map. I thought they were walls. So we all just teleported between caves.

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  14. Initiative and time tracking. We need bothered with encumbrance.

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  15. Well, the guys who introduced me & my brother to the game owned the books but never let anyone else look in them, so we had all kinds of folkloric errors -- simple stuff like reocrding "# attacks" and "Damage/Attack" on our sheets to really odd stuff like thinking lawful good meant always good while chaotic good meant *sometimes* good -- the lawful and chaotic being understood as how predictable good or evil your were (I don't think we knew you could be neutral)!
    After we got our own copy of the rules we still ignored a lot of stuff like surprise, encounter distance, initiative procedure, speed factors, all kinds of combat stuff from AD&D.
    I also remember arguing that if I bought certain a polearm it came with a free scorpion! :)

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  16. The HD as HP thing must be, well, a thing, as I too suffered from the same mistake, and as the first guy on the block with the game (Moldvay), I ended up as DM and the mistake stuck for a while. Somehow, we understood that characters got hit dice rolled to determine hit points, but did not understand that you rolled the monster's hit dice to to determine hit points...

    Yup, for the first couple adventures, those players had it easy...

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  17. For me it was a misunderstanding that kept me from TTRPGs for a long time. I somehow managed to convince my parents to buy or acquired myself a copy of the WEG World of Indiana Jones RPG. At the time, I was vaguely aware that TTRPG games lasted for real life months and even years and I was reading through the book and game to the section on "Time". Now I don't recall whether the book made the distinction and I missed it, or it never bothered because "RPG everyone knows how to RPG" but somehow I got it in my head that In Game Time = Out of Game Time, leaving me wondering why the heck anyone would want to play a game where choosing to travel somewhere would mean you couldn't play with that character for weeks (ok we get together, we decide we're going across the county, great game guys, see you next week), or where getting injured meant your character might be out of the game for months. If you think the natural healing times in some RPGs are punishing, just imagine how they must read for someone who thinks in game time is the same as out of game time. Needless to say, until I figured it out it kept me away from TTRPGs for quite a while.

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  18. Not a rule, but I had a fundamental misunderstanding that suggested players were supposed to kill every monster and find every treasure. I kind of got annoyed if they didn't find a hidden treasure and would give them increasingly blunt hints.

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  19. ' = feet " = yards outdoors/feet indoors. To be honest it is one of the rules I miss the most. It let outdoors encounters scale wonderfully.

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