Friday, July 1, 2022

Shownotes for S2E1


Theme                                     Enchiridion

Welcome                                 148 Barovian Castle

Part 1 (post ad break)              Odin

Combat                                    RPG SOUNDS “The Boss is Here”

Some  FX:                      


  1. Great start. I'm very eager to see who our cast of miscreants will be.

    I made the unenviable mistake of getting completely caught up and now I have to wait for the next episode.

  2. I promise to keep 'em coming out on time, Jordan! Thanks for listening!

  3. Wow. I didn't expect that. Congrats in subverting expectations but not in an awful Last Jedi way. I got serious Dead Rabbits vs. Natives and The Veiled Society vibes. The movie is a bit into itself and long but check out Gangs of New Yorks amazing score for inspiration.

  4. Hey Ned - glad you liked ep1 of the new season and thanks so much for that great recommendation - I had thought to raid every gangster film in history for easter egg materials, but oddly, I had not thought of GoNY. I should have - I bet it'll be a goldmine of cool ideas!

    1. Yeah it was panned a little on release as being kind of long and into itself. But it's a pretty accurate picture of the lawlessness and culture of the time. Kind of D&D'ish in that there are very few firearms involved in the violence.

      Just to touch a little on your rules changes for Season 2. One thing I often see is complaints that Thieves and Halflings are "bad" in both B/X and BECMI. In my experience running and playing (and having the privilege of even playing with Zeb Cook at cons) much of this stems from group initiative.

      Without using the modest Init bonuses (page B7 in B/X) the Thief and to a lesser extent the Halfling are greatly hampered. Two things hose them, first they are incentivized to make Dex their best score as it's their prime requisite. They also can't wear good armor (Halfllings can) so without a good Dex defense suffers. Even more crippling in B/X and BECMI a high dex doesn't grant a bonus to the miserable thief skill chances in early levels. Individual initiative also greatly increases the chance of a backstab, even when played theater of the mind as a thief acting first can get the drop. Halflings get double hamstrung because the rules allow them a racial initiative bonus (+1) only usable with individual initiative. Now, you might be thinking, like hell I'm going to roll 8d6 for initiative and bog the game down. I agree. In my experience a great compromise is to roll Good Guys / Bad Guys as normal but then just add the appropriate + or - which is likely to only be a couple of party members.

      Example: Morris Bresenfoot Halfling 1 with a Dex of 14 would have a total Init bonus of +2. Gary Four-Fingers Thief 1 with a Dex of 15 has a +1. Mary the Mauler Fighter 1 has a Dex of 10 and no bonus, she wields a Longsword.

      They're fighting 4 x Goblins in the Kings Wood.

      You'd roll 2 d6, good guys get a 3, bad guys get a 4

      Initiative order is
      Morris (a "5")
      Goblins and Gary (4)
      Mary (3)
      (any two-handed weapon users would go here)

      Anyway, I am as pro-rules light as they come but also want the classes to all get their shine. This method is fast, dice light, and would give the rogue-likes a chance to use their abilities. How many backstabs did Aradine even attempt in S1?

  5. This makes a ton of sense. Poor thieves in BECMI. d4 hp and having the most dangerous job in the group just add to what you've already pointed out. One thing that makes it less of an issue for me: since I'm the only player, there's no pressure on me to make all the PCs equal, or even close, in power. Some are going to be tougher and stronger, and since all the PCs are mine to control, there's no feeling of unfairness or having one player suffer with a weak character. One thing I have considered is giving dex bonuses to thief skills. They are so poor at early (and even mid) levels that they are a net negative. Try to move silently and sneak up on that ogre? Fail. Maybe it would have been better not to try that strategy at all and just lure it into an ambush.

    1. Not to drag us into the carrion crawler hole but it's an interesting topic. I also agree there is no promise of class/balance in most 'basic' D&D versions. That's a feature, not a bug.

      To put a point on it thieves get the short end in all the areas we've discussed but they also advance very fast out of the real death zone of 1st and 2nd level.

      B/X and BECMI follow the 1,200 and 2,400 pattern to hit 3rd. A Magic-User at 2,400 is still 1st level. An Elf (the most "powerful" 1st level class) needs 4,000 to get to Level 2.

      Maybe a staggered advancement using your episode pattern would make sense. Just following the ratios it would look something like (using the S1 '10 Episode' marker), 10 would be the bar for medium advancers. Maybe 8 for the thief.

      8 - thief
      10 - everyone but elves (and maybe magic-users)
      11 - (maybe magic users)
      12 - elves


      Looks pretty good and in the spirit of the B/X / BECMI advancement pattern. Your thief despite their shortcomings would be level 6 in episode 48 while the vastly more powerful (and in a role playing sense aloof and distant) elf would be hitting level 4.

      Anyway, regardless you have a listener for life but the mechanics of this stuff is fascinating to me.

      I actually sat down and did an 'in media res' actual play recording of 1 of each BECMI class (7 total) getting ambushed by some hobgoblins (7 and a leader). With a couple of caravan NPCs getting in the way. Even with a very rules light system, and just a broad sketch of the battlefield, no minis, no precise movement -- it took me an HOUR to write it all out round by round, attack by attack and record it. And this was no narrative or editing or sound effects, just me, and some pencils, dice and graph paper. So I felt a whole new respect for what you do and the time it must take to put these together.

  6. I've been thinking of doing just that, Ned - staggered leveling, but also slightly faster leveling than last season. 2 years to level 7 is a *long* time. Too long, so that's one of the tweaks I'll be making.

    1. Oh nice. Yeah staggered leveling is as old school as it gets so it fits right in line. Looking forward to your revised system.