Saturday, 19 July 2014

Scarlet Heroes, Solitaire RPGs and Nostalgia

Now, here's the thing. I began gaming with Basic D&D many years ago and I have held a singular affection for that style of gaming, and particularly the Mystara background, since then. Every so often I want to get back to these gaming roots, but the actual rules of D&D no longer work for me. They are clunky and there are better systems out there that do the same thing now. However, I still want that old school gaming experience, so I have been casting around for rules that do the job.

First off I bought Castles and Crusades. It has much to recommend it and the SIEGE Engine that drives it is a particularly neat mechanic. It will also run the old D&D adventures with a minimum of reworking which is a major plus. Unfortunately it really requires a group or a player with henchmen for characters to stand a chance of surviving. I downloaded Kevin Crawford's Solo Heroes from RPGNow and was presented with a means to adapt C&C to my needs: a game with just one or two player characters and no need for a supporting cast of henchmen. It looked like just the ticket until I backed the Scarlet Heroes Kickstarter and obtained those rules.

I instantly loved the Scarlet Heroes character generation system which is very freeform and gives you many options. I loved the basic four character classes with no fancy pants monks, necromancers or other rubbish as optional classes. I super-loved the traits system that is part of the character generation and experience process. Using the traits I could make my character into any of the other character classes that D&D added. So, my fighter takes the traits Hunter and Empathy with animals, and he effectively becomes a ranger. Cool. I found the rules simpler than C&C, and they are loaded with material to help the GM-less solo adventurer too. Clearly this was exactly what I needed and so I have decided to start an intermittent solo campaign.

The Game
The game uses the Scarlet Heroes rules as modified in the house rules section below. The campaign background is that in Gazetteer 1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos for Basic D&D. I plan to use the Basic D&D adventure module B1-9 In Search of Adventure and attempt to play the scenarios solo using the mechanisms in Scarlet Heroes to help adjudicate decision making.

I was tempted to meld elements of Scarlet Heroes with Castles and Crusades, but have decided to go with Scarlet Heroes initially to see how the system pans out. There are a lot of things I really like about it and I shall write a review of it in the near future once I have used it a bit more, and hopefully Broneslav's journal will give you an idea of how the game plays.

I hope to post something about this game once a week, but it will certainly be intermittent, depending upon how much time I can devote to playing it and writing up the adventures.

House Rules
Scarlet Heroes has a very simple experience system, where you get 1xp each time you complete an adventure (however you define adventure). It takes 2xps to reach level 2, 4xps to reach level 3, etc. I would like a system where progress is more obviously seen to be happening, so I shall use the Basic D&D Fighter's experience progression table for all character classes in Scarlet Heroes. I hope that this will mean my character keeps on track with how the scenario designers envisaged progress.

I shall use the Basic D&D spells instead of the Scarlet Heroes spells. Conversion of the former to Scarlet Heroes is very simple and it keeps me wallowing in that old school nostalgia for just a bit longer.

I shall use the Basic D&D encounter tables and monsters for the same reason I am using the spells.

I am also using the tables from the Karameikos gazetteer to determine the character's social status, family, etc.

Broneslav Torenescu (S16, D14, C15, I12, W10, Ch14, F1, hp9, AC4, Sword 1d8+3, Bow 1d8)
Human (Traladaran)
Traits: Torenescu Family Member 1, Hunter 1, Keen Vision 1, Good Education 1, Empathy with Animals 1
Goal: Prove that he is an adult following the Shearing Ceremony
Quest: Deliver a message to the Torenescu factor in Threshold

Broneslav is a not-particularly significant part of the wealthy Torenescu clan, one of the few Traladaran clans to have prospered since the Thyation invasion of Karameikos. He has just come of age and undergone the Shearing Ceremony. This is a Traladaran ritual where the young person is sent out into the world to make something of themselves before they return home as a full member of their family. The head of the family is using this opportunity to send a message with Broneslav to the town of Threshold in northern Karameikos. Once he reaches Threshold, the adventure will really begin.

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