Sunday, 24 October 2010

One-on-One Gaming, Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Funny Accents

So, as previously mentioned, I'm running a short Duet campaign with my girlfriend, to introduce her to the hobby. Last night was the first session, and we both had a blast.

While I love writing adventures, planning worlds, and generally being a DM, my previous attempts have been met with... mixed success. From the player who wanted to do nothing but punt gnomes and get drunk (in character, luckily), the two newbies who were put off by the other players attitudes (i.e. wildly breaking the rules and making shit up to justify it), and a variety of Play-by-Post forum games that collapsed after naught but a few weeks, I was worried that possibly I just wasn't that great at GMing.

But, at least, I rock at duets.

The Microlite 20 system is a small joy to run. It strips out the splat-bloat of the 3e era, and brings things back to 4 classes, 4 races, and very light rules, with a distinctive 3e feel (AC, not THAC0!). Even then, I've found it great for freeforming with - you can easily drop a few rules here and there and still get a perfectly serviceable framework for quick and dirty fun. NPCs can be made in seconds using PC rules, or just ruled on the fly (I work a three-tier system - you're either Bad (no bonus, maybe a penalty), Decent(no bonus to +2), or Great (+3 or higher). Makes for very easy NPCs, and most rolls can be ajudicated at the roll (i.e., Halflings have Bad strength, but wouldn't incur a penalty to pull themselves up a rope). Simple.

For the adventure itself, we started with a classic - "You all meet in a tavern." The lady doesn't even play RPGs, and she's heard that line before! After making her entrance, and chatting with an ex-adventurer dwarf (whose missing eye made her mindful to always check for traps) about the abandoned Wizard's Tower atop The Great Big Ominous Hill Outside Town, Twiggy the Witch (nee Twiggy the Epic) set about collecting a party of merry misanthropes to join her for some looting and plundering.

- Dave the Unsubtle, Halfling Rogue - tiny, aggressive, mercenary - a Kender in all but name. Known for his entertaining asides, cynicism, and being barred from more taverns than there currently are on the continent.

- Harry the Half-Orc - Fighter by name, Fighter by Intelligence score. Was promised a new sword for joining the party, and first grab of any non-magical pointy things found in the Tower. Loyal, but not particularly well-kept.

- Iona, Elf Druid - was originally concieved as a River Tam-style combat/nature savant, but ended up as a haughty vegetarian with a dickish streak.

So, after resting for the night, and getting any last-minute needs from one of the local caravans in the morning, our intrepis heroes set off, for glory and adventure!

I wanted the game to have more of an "adventurey" feel - less combat, more puzzles and discovery. While there was a brief fight with some Kobolds, the first session was made up of finding out about the tower, the inhabitants, and a few clues about the wizard (Mordenkainen - but not that Mordenkainen!) from his diary. She also managed to find a ward to protect her from the nasty beasties in the basement (Thoqqua - she expressed an interest in the weirder D&D monsters...) and even managed to prise enough clues from the Wizard's diary to bind one of them to her service (her party might need a bit more muscle, so I thought it would be a lovely flavourful way to do it mid-dungeon).

After running the first combat, Twiggy's style started to become apparent - let the others do the fighting, try and back them up with arcane artillery/find ways to turn the fight to their favour. I think the next couple of combats will have some more set-dressing, to allow for a wider variety of indirect combat actions to spice thing up a bit, or I might suggest a Wushu-style "stunting" mechanic, maybe even a FATE-style level of narrative control... but we'll see.

So, positives: Adventuring, discovery, interacting with NPCs, being clever with puzzles/traps

Negatives - too much dice rolling (she had a bad streak, which I think threw her a bit).

Next session will be next week - I will keep you posted!


  1. Ello again. This blog just brims over with your quirky sense of humour. I kinda miss that at the table. Always a spot waiting for you (and the missus) should circumstances change

  2. :D

    Keep your eyes and ears open - sometime before Xmas I'm going to run some kind of one-shot game, possibly in a pub somewhere warm for a few hours! Again, you and the wife are invited for some brief drinks and gaming!

  3. ahem! Of course she has heard of the sterotypical fantasy tavern. She was just surprised not to end up in a brawl/unconscious/thrown onto the river!

  4. Hey, you never threw a single punch!

  5. Just let us know when this great occasion will be. A warm pub with good grub, nice ale and a great game sounds like class x