Saturday, June 07, 2008

Pet Peeves: Burning Oil

During the D&D game at the Launch Night last night I was struck by one of my personal bugbears, particularly with people who then talk about any kind of "realism" in D&D.

Medieval lamp oil is not kerosene. Please think about this. When was oil discovered and refined? Are there oil derricks in your world? If not please don't have people going up in flames just because someone threw something that is nominally flammable at them. You can use olive oil in a lamp, if you douse me in olive oil and then try to torch me I am going to be angry but I'm unlikely to be wreathed in fire. The best oil you can hope for is whale oil if you want to be a realist.

So if you have burning oil traps in your game, please allow me to vault over obstructions, kick people over castle crenelations and generally have a high old time because it is no more unrealistic than your inability to grasp what was invented when.

And before anyone mention's Greek Fire, did the Byzantines put that rare, battlefield weapon in lamps and wander round their cellars with it?

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UK Dungeons and Dragons 4e Launch Night

A less than stellar effort by Leisure Games and WotC that required standing outside the London Dungeon on a rainy London Evening for 45 minutes after the posted kick off time, just to get some poor food and a demo of the new game by someone who hated it, had control issues and read the box out text in the halting manner of a nine year old.

Despite this the new game is excitingly different but the design team have created a monster. Rob Heinsoo declared that the team's goal had been to "create the game that we thought D&D was as kids before we played it". He may well have succeeded but for the people who have come to love the game as it was written the new version is anathema as it throws away a lot of the conventions that emerged from the rules rather than being part of the setting. At the same time it isn't an action game that is as fast and free-flowing as Exalted, d6 or the "fu" games.

The biggest example of the problems is that grinding tactical combat against monsters really doesn't fit with the new game. The streamlined D&D minis rules allow that but the RPG has more complexity that isn't justified without greater acceptance of genre conventions. If as a GM you can't say "that's cool, it should work" you shouldn't be playing edition.

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