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[Game Mastering] Keep on the Borderlands & Beyond


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1 minute ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

Apparently we're discussing the propriety of conversational drift in message board threads.

 

Ironic, innit. :B):

Yup. 

That too. 

 

Maybe there is an idea for a random tavern conversation generation chart in this somewhere...with three base columns and several sub columns. 

 

KotB has a tavern or pub, right?

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Did ANYONE really care if an adventure was for Basic D&D or AD&D?

 

Or did people just run with whatever D&D game they were playing? I know Grump has run Keep with AD&D both 1 and 2, and Pathfinder. Maybe other games too?

 

SEE! TOPIC!

:lol:

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20 hours ago, Doug Sundseth said:

 

I think the final result of that was that Coke ended up with a larger market share at the end than they had at the start. If I had more respect for their business savvy, I might suggest that this was the intended result all along.

 

You are pretty much correct. However, when it was suggested that Coke had done this with this intention, and had planned the whole thing? A senior executive publicly remarked, "We aren't that smart. And we aren't that stupid."

 

13 hours ago, TheAuldGrump said:

Looks more like an RPG based on Gormenghast.

 

The Auld Grump

I built a Gormenghast once, using a PDF castle kit... Bloody huge, and no real purpose, other than to build it.

 

After reading the first book, I sort of thought that was the whole point of Gormenghast (the castle, not the book).

As a vain attempt to steer back to topic: I absolutely adored KotB because the FIRST time I tried this whole D&D thing, I had NO frame of reference and NO idea what an adventure would LOOK like. I learned about D&D and roleplaying in general from an article in a magazine, and thought it sounded like fun. I bought the Holmes set on sale at Spencer Gifts, and realized that first of all, I was going to have to dragoon a group into playing it WITH me, and that the included module ("In Search Of The Unknown") was completely unkeyed; I had no idea what monsters to put where, or what treasures they should be guarding.

In later decades, someone at the D&D factory postulated the "older cousin" model. The best way to learn D&D was to have an initiate who already knew the game guide you through the process of character creation and the basics of roleplaying and the first adventure.

This is true. All their current beginner products tend to follow that model -- to make it easier for the newbie to understand and advance and learn the game, even when there's no "older cousin." And that's great.

But I had no older cousin available. I was the first in my town, I'm pretty sure, to learn about and introduce the whole RPG phenomenon. And I was using a product written by grown men, FOR grown men, who pretty much already understood wargaming, miniatures, movement, and so on, and were writing for others of their kind, not eleven year old boys. I had NO idea what I was doing.

So I made it all up. And my D&D group loved it. And something like a year or so later, upon obtaining KotB, we created new characters just to do it all over again. And we loved it again. But it was commented that KotB "made more sense," in that orcs would have certain treasures, whereas giant rats would have others, and the minotaur would have them BOTH beat.

KotB was the first sandbox module, the first to say, "Here it all is. Go nuts. Put in as much or as little plot as you want. Kill the baby orcs, or don't. Do it all your own way." Hell, at the time, even the primitive video games that existed had narratives on rails, where they could be said to have narratives at all. KotB, you could go ANY durn way you pleased. And yet, there was enough detail and cohesion to hold it all together.

As far as beginning players go, (and especially beginning DMs) does it GET any better than that?

Edited by Dr.Bedlam
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6 hours ago, PaganMegan said:

Did ANYONE really care if an adventure was for Basic D&D or AD&D?

 

Or did people just run with whatever D&D game they were playing? I know Grump has run Keep with AD&D both 1 and 2, and Pathfinder. Maybe other games too?

 

SEE! TOPIC!

:lol:

I never cared.  I stole from here and there and used whatever came to hand.  I eventually decided to stop 1st ed because the Wilderness Adventures Guide was "one too many books" (guess I canged my mind when 3rd ed came around) and totally skipped 2nd ed and went with one of several homebrew systems that my friends and I developed.  I sure used those DnD adventures (or at least pieces of them) during that time frame though.

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I was more into 2e, but the best campaign I was in was for Spelljammer. It wasn't until I looked at the Spelljammer books with Grump that I realized how much the DM had changed things.

 

Jeff had a Nexus World, where all travel was measured from and to.

 

You had to go to the Nexus before going anywhere else.

 

And Nexus was pretty much entirely seedy spaceport. The Grif getting into fights in the spaceport bars was a given! :lol:

 

The Keep on the other hand was everything a fantasy game should be, except for lacking a seedy bar.

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For me the best thing about Keep on the Borderlands is that the random encounter tables actually listed the location the creatures encountered had come from. Those locations had set populations so it was easy to reduce them as members were encountered elsewhere. This was basic common sense (at least it was to little 14 year old me back in the day). I was astounded that a number of later adventures did not include this important information and that wandering monsters were just supposed to magically appear out of wandering monster land and their deaths have no effect at all upon the existing monster populations in the area. I'd often have to go and do it all myself manually.

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8 hours ago, Balgin Stondraeg said:

For me the best thing about Keep on the Borderlands is that the random encounter tables actually listed the location the creatures encountered had come from. Those locations had set populations so it was easy to reduce them as members were encountered elsewhere. This was basic common sense (at least it was to little 14 year old me back in the day). I was astounded that a number of later adventures did not include this important information and that wandering monsters were just supposed to magically appear out of wandering monster land and their deaths have no effect at all upon the existing monster populations in the area. I'd often have to go and do it all myself manually. 

Is this from a specific edition?
I'm not finding this at all.

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14 hours ago, BlazingTornado said:

Is this from a specific edition?
I'm not finding this at all.

 

The purple box facsimile of the original.

 

Example:

 

Quote

d6

 

1 — Owl bear from 34., below
2 - 2-12 giant rats (AC 7, HD Vi, hp 2 each, #AT 1, D
1-3 plus disease, MV (40
1), Save F 1, ML 8)
3— Gray ooze from 33., below
k 4-6 — Nothing is attracted to the noise

 

Had that been a later module the owlbear and grey ooze would have been additional monsters that simply appeared without depleting the local monster population. This became lazy sloppy writing in later modules where the authors did not stop to think where these monsters were coming from. I like the fact that the monsters in B2 were finite and random numbers would deplete their population instead o somehow adding to it.

 

Quote

Wandering Goblins: 6 males (AC 6, HD 1-1, hp 3 each,
#AT 1, D 1-6, MV (20'), Save NM, ML 7). Each will have d6
silver pieces. (They are patrolling and carrying messages back and forth. The group will also be carrying
several bags (d6) of fairly good foodstuffs — not worth
much, but quite suitable for human fare.)

...

... COMMON ROOM: There are 10 males (AC 6, HD 1-1, hp
3 each, #AT 1, D1-6, Save NM, ML 7) and 14 females and ^
6 young (who do not fight) dwelling here.

...

... (DM Note: Goblin losses cannot be replaced. If they are
being soundly defeated by intruders, the goblins will
attempt to hide or flee east. Those who do so will go from
area 17. to area 23., inform the hobgoblins, and join forces
with them, so adjust encounters appropriately.)

 

Therefore it's reasonable to assume that the wandering goblins must come from the common room otherwise where do these limitless magical extra goblins come from?

 

Another really nice thing about B2 was that the monsters had food supplies and living arrangements. A lot of later authors didn't bother to give their monsters bedrooms or larders and instead they were just encountered in often empty rooms in a rather uninspired, waiting to be killed, manner.

Edited by Balgin Stondraeg
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Balgin's got the right of it. KotB was a functional ecology of monsters, albeit a bit crowded.

One of the first "clever" moves I ever made as a DM was to rule that no wildlife bigger than a mouse could be found near the Caves of Chaos. I did not tell the players this; I simply fudged the rolls when the players "went hunting." They either encounted nothing, a Wandering Monster, or a scene where something had happened -- dried blood spots, a pile of offal, and nothing more. Even the birds were quiet (there weren't any). 

Once they encountered the Caves, the Elf figured out what the score was. "No wonder there are no animals... not even birds or squirrels. This bunch has been EATING them!"

 

Everybody had kids to feed!

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I also agree with this "ecosystem" approach to KotB.  When I have run the CoC in the past, especially recently for my kids games, I like to make the players move from wherever it is they are from (not a Borderland) to the Borderlands.  This allows the players to stop at frontier cabins and settler's steads along the way to get the lowdown on the area.  Local farmers and shepherds can tell the players of stolen cattle and marauding humanoids burning down homesteads and carrying away prisoners and livestock to feed their growing numbers.  This helps to motivate the characters before they even get to the keep.  Instead of going to the local tavern to find a reason to adventure, characters come inside the keep looking for rumors about the Caves.  Get a local scout to point them in the right direction (perhaps handing them a handy player's map) and maybe put up a wanted poster promising a bounty of a silver piece per humanoid ear delivered, and they are off to the races.

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3 hours ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

Balgin's got the right of it. KotB was a functional ecology of monsters, albeit a bit crowded.

One of the first "clever" moves I ever made as a DM was to rule that no wildlife bigger than a mouse could be found near the Caves of Chaos. I did not tell the players this; I simply fudged the rolls when the players "went hunting." They either encounted nothing, a Wandering Monster, or a scene where something had happened -- dried blood spots, a pile of offal, and nothing more. Even the birds were quiet (there weren't any). 

Once they encountered the Caves, the Elf figured out what the score was. "No wonder there are no animals... not even birds or squirrels. This bunch has been EATING them!"

 

Everybody had kids to feed!

Grump had raids on the Keep's supply caravan. The main reason the Keep even cared about them.

 

Then we started pushing the Borderlands further North, and created our own settlment.

 

Gawd, I HATED the red dragon in the new area.

 

He wasn't just evil, he was a complete brocolli.

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23 minutes ago, PaganMegan said:

Grump had raids on the Keep's supply caravan. The main reason the Keep even cared about them.

 

The novelization actually STARTED with that.

 

24 minutes ago, PaganMegan said:

Gawd, I HATED the red dragon in the new area.

 

He wasn't just evil, he was a complete brocolli.

 

Such is the nature of dragons. If they can't kill you for one reason or another, they'll annoy you half to death.

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55 minutes ago, Dr.Bedlam said:

 

The novelization actually STARTED with that.

 

 

Such is the nature of dragons. If they can't kill you for one reason or another, they'll annoy you half to death.

I don't think anybody in the group had ever wanted to kill a dragon half as much! :lol::grr:

 

He would flame us, and then just continue on! Flaming us because we were THERE! Horses, caravans, men at arms, merchants, just flame and keep going, leaving carnage behind him and LAUGHING!

 

I think Grump can make us scream just by putting Cinder on the table!

 

Flaming us was ENTERTAINMENT when he was BORED!

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