One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rogues in the Death Star

This may have been the map our DM used.
There have been a few campaigns that I've run or played in during my time playing RPGs that have been pretty awesome. But the one that will always stand out in my mind will be the one we just called the Thieves Campaign.

It started the summer that the 3e Players Handbook came out. It wasn't meant to be anything more than a filler game until we could get the whole group back together again. There was just the two of us plus the DM.

The DM had just come back from a vacation in Germany. He had visited a little place called Rothenburg. He was excited because he had this map of the town and he wanted to use it for D&D. Add to the fact that we wanted to try out this new edition of the game and the DM's copy of TSR's Den of Thieves and we had a winning formula. The adventures of Ringo & Rictor began.

That night we had our first argument about Attacks of Opportunity. But we also had a lot of fun. We planned a heist and stole a bunch of gems. We made enemies with the Guild of Assassins and a notorious thief who shunned Rothenburg's Thieves Guild named the “Owl”. We made friends like Marcy a fellow thief who always tried to out do us, and Baruck who sponsored us to the Guild in the first place.

I'm not sure to this day how much the DM used from this
book, but it did provide the foundation for one of the
most memorable campaigns I've ever played in.
As things progressed and people came back from vacations the campaign continued. The rule was that you had to have a least one level of Rogue or Bard. It was a low magic game and I remember have a magic dagger that I cherished. If there was something that earlier editions got right it was that magic items should be unique and rare. We managed to create our own secret hideout from the underground lair of a band of serpent-men we defeated. Above it we created a bakery as a front and staffed it with an ex-gang member we befriended.

Those early days of my roleplaying career were probably some of my best. The newness of it all. The sense of mystery and fear. The rules had little to do with it. In fact the more we learned the rules, and the more serious I took the game, the less fun I ended up having. Ringo & Rictor were a lot like the Grey Mouser and Fafhrd. They were thieve's but they had a code of honour and they protected the city of Rothenburg from those that would do it harm. Of course a man has to eat so if a few things had to get nicked along the way so be it.

So aside from some nostalgic babbling here are the morales of this story. The best campaigns can and usually do arise from adventures that grow organically. Magic items are much cooler when they are rare and unique. Don't let the rules get in the way of the fun. Don't let yourself ruin the fun by taking thing too seriously. I guess the thing here is that line from Princess Leia in “A New Hope” to Grand Moff Tarkin. “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers”. To which Tarkin replies, “Not after we demonstrate the capabilities of this station”. An yet the Death Star was destroyed by Luke. An inexperienced pilot who turned off his targeting computer and trusted in the Force to guide his shot. The greatest of our gaming constructs are vulnerable to the smallest of things. So don't sweat it. Let go and just enjoy the ride. 

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