Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Would Speed Up Game Play for YOU as an OSR DM / Player?

I'm still tilting with windmills over here, just in case you are wondering ;)

Alright, what slows your game sessions down? What would speed them up (besides cutting out all of the bullshitting, but what fun would that be ;)

For me, it's the damn tables. My original 1e DMG from back in the day has worn pages where the Combat Tables are, we referenced them so much. THAC0 literally was a blessing.

Thank god the Item Saving Throw tables were barely referenced, as there was no way in hell those were being memorized.

For everyone that claims to memorize all their charts, I can probably five players who can't, or won't. More power to you, but I still need the numbers to reference.

What behind the scenes activities by the DM can be streamlined to facilitate smoother play by all at the table without losing any of the gameplay?

Any DM'ing secrets you wish to share, or do we have to resort to torture? My gaming group is fairly skilled with torture. And fire. Oh, and combining the two with a flaming mine cart and a screaming orc...


  1. Can't think of anything. There's not an edition of D&D (except for 1e) where I find the game bogs down doing anything. (1e I still have issues with segments and weapon vs AC and all the other fiddly bits). But then again, I've achieved pretty much perfect system mastery for OD&D, B/X D&D, and 3.x

  2. My big secret is that as a DM I rarely look at the tables, I have a "feel" for what number will hit and what won't. It's better to move things along than get hung up on being 100% accurate.

  3. Random generation is done before the game even begins. Even then is is superseded by what makes sense. Damage types were only referenced for new players needs, most of us know them by now. I have custom made sheets for my DM screen depending on the environment we will be in i.e. Woodland, forest,, urban and so on.

  4. Hm; probably the biggest thing is to use C&C type intiative - have each PC act fully on their own turn, not Moldvay style movement/magic/melee phases, or Gygaxian 1e segmented initiative (however the Hell that is supposed to work). For online games I also use cyclical initiative (as in 3e etc) to speed things up, but for tabletop rolling init each round works fine.

    I include monster THAC0 in their stat blocks - my ogres look like AC 5 hd 4+1 hp 19 THAC0 15 dam 1d10+2.

    For OSR I keep the saving throw tables to hand, 95% of saves are rolled on the "Fighter Level 1-3" stat line, though. :) I think 3e style Fort/Ref/Will saves work better and can be included in monster stat block, for OSR the best thing would be to reduce the Gygaxian table to 3 columns based on CON (poison), WIS (mind control), and DEX (fireball).

  5. I was doing individual initiative rolls and my players volunteered to do group rolls with Dex bonus as a tie breaker instead - halved speed of battles. I loved marvel MSH for having one main table for game but i disliked it in other games. Part of my return to DnD (after 20 years BRP)is that i only need AC and HP and i have yet to reference a monster book in last 6 months (player just gave e second ed cyclopedia). My current rule set has too many choices so ill do a lite version for newbs. Spell summaries handy too.

  6. I often forget how special powers of creatures work. Do Grey Oozes split when hit? When creatures like this are referenced in a module I often have to stop and look up how they work.

    I also use the reaction roll which means I often need to try and think up reasons why humanoids are friendly. With a decent reaction bonus the party often get on well with gnolls, goblins and orcs and I need to come up with valid reasons for each. It's tricky.

    Sometimes THACO still gets me. Depends how late in the night it is. Mostly I roll to hit and only think about working out THACO for rolls that are close enough that they might hit. Doesn't happen often but when it does at 2am it's a struggle.

  7. Two things come to mind that obstruct our table mojo:
    1. Wandering monster roll sends me off to obscure tome. (I've got lots) Sometimes this is due to my lack of prep. Not always. Having to convert the monsters on the fly makes this incrementally worse.
    2. Player X gets Analysis Paralysis and throws off the rhythm of things. If anybody has a gentle solution to this I'm all ears...

    1. ...And so far with your "perfect OSR" theme, your thoughts seem to be not so much on content, but with format and technique.


  8. I prefer charts to formulas. More meaningful results possible, and I hate remembering formulas.
    What would speed up play for me would be modules without so much useless text.
    Room entry: Obvious Thing -> Inobvious thing

    There's no fucking reason for all that garbage text. Fuck any module over 20-30 pages, and 90% of them should be under 15. Book modules are horse shit, and they suck; they're failed fantasy author wank. Vomit.


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