Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Being the Official Discussion Forum for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea™


Visit us at the HYPERBOREA web site!




You are not logged in. Would you like to login or register?

1/23/2018 2:10 pm  #1


Switching to AS&SH

Background: My ideally sandboxy Hyborian Age campaign is about 8 games in and tonight is game night. We are commencing with AS&SH starting with this game.


  • We have been playing Dungeon World (DW). The players have enjoyed that system.
  • Consistent with what I've read as far as criticisms of DW, it is fun for players but nerve-wracking for referees. The rules pressure the gamemaster to constantly complicate things that maybe don't need complicating, and I need something with more crunch on my side of the screen to feel confident that I wasn't "cheating and fiating." DW, I'm certain, compliments a certain style of gamesmastery. But it doesn't happen to be my style. Not saying I want to "tell my story" or some codswollop, but I do prefer to have more of an idea of what's where and who's who than DW's freeform world-building suggests.
  • I'd run Pathfinder for years, but finally abandoned it because, by 5th level, my pulp fantasy game turned into superheroes with constant choice paralysis. Excited to discover the OSR "movement" I found AS&SH to be the best iteration of the "just right" light-rules system I grew up with. It felt like the designer had synthesized all the cool 30's pulp mag weirdness and I had in my own brain.
  • Though I wasn't using AS&SH's default setting, the system itself seemed perfectly suited to my Gygax-/Arneson-infused version of Howard's world. I was stoked enough to purchase the physical book (happy to see the second edition just released!).

The Complication: The players, unfortunately, aren't excited to switch, to say the least.

  • Player 1 greatly enjoyed DW enough to become an expert on the rules and the spirit of the game. He suggested I run DW how I wanted, omitting the rules I didn't like. It was tough explaining that it wasn't my rules-lawyery shoulder demon nagging me about doing DW "correctly." The game really does fight you if the referee ignores or alters the rules governing their side of the screen. I had to assure him that all I learned from running DW--offering tough choices and failing forward among them--would carry over to the new game.
  • Player 2 took one look at the 600-plus rulebook and threw her hands up in frustration. "I don't want to learn another system!" I had to assure her the rules weren't any more daunting than DW and certainly less so than Pathfinder. Then it took several minutes to suss out why her converted priest character couldn't cast spells in "prohibited" armor. Whoops.
  • Player 3, a fellow DM and fiction author, probably understood best my frustrations with DW, though he enjoyed the game. Like me, he has an itch for old-school play and is looking forward to me dropping old D&D modules into the setting (even Tomb of Horrors, at his suggestion!). He does, however want to maintain the DW practice of constant questioning to develop backgrounds and keep the players in what we both call "in-character head-space." At this, I'm happy to oblige, though I worry about my not-entirely-conscious tendency to give "plot-armor" to characters with well-developed backgrounds... (which might be his own extremely sly Tomb of Horrors strategy, now that I look at it...)
  • Player 4 just started RPGs, has only played two sessions with my campaign, but has a great creative mind and wonderful shamelessness when it comes to roleplaying. He wasn't too happy about switching, because he had a definite plan for the class abilities he wanted for his mole-man (reskinned halfling) barbarian-thief. Surprised to see there wasn't multiclassing in AS&SH, I decided to incorporate OSRIC multiclassing. I also assured him that the DW-style class abilities would be available to purchase as special training techniques. There's not a lot of magic items in Conan's world so i thought that was a good way to simulate the effects of magic items on PC capability at higher levels. Then again...


Anyway, I guess I'm reaching out for good tidings and advice. I am a decent, exerienced referee, so I don't need general pearls of wisdom on keeping butts in seats: but I need to sell AS&SH tonight hard, because I really want to keep using the system. Considering the context and compromises I've outlined, any suggestions about what I can try or highlight about AS&SH to get my players as exited about the game as I am will be appreciated. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nervous.png


* And yes, I realize that "keep playing Dungeon World" sorta suggests itself ...except that if the system bothers me, then I'm not having fun and that equals no game at all. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/bored.png


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
 

1/23/2018 2:42 pm  #2


Re: Switching to AS&SH

One point: priests can cast spells in armor; they just have a chance of spell failure. It depends whether the player wants to risk it. Since (armored or not) priests make crummy combatants, I think it would be stupid to armor up and blow most spell rolls. But that's the player's choice.

As for general question, I'm a big believer in "DM's table, DM's rules". Players don't get a vote on the system or rules used. Their recourse, if unsatisfied, is to find another DM. Personally, I feel you've compromised too much already (but again, your table and your rules, including how much you want to compromise). In any case, good luck! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/smile.png


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

1/23/2018 3:14 pm  #3


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Thanks, Blackadder! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png
Yeah we found the rules for priest armor failure after the search. The question was: why and what's the penalty if she does were armor, because our loooong 3E background had our brains separating spells into "arcane" and "divine" categories, the former incurring spell failure %, the latter not. Her priest died at the end of last session, torn apart by deinogalerixes (giant shrews), rendering the matter moot, anyway. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png


As far as finding a new DM, trust and standing friendships plays into it. I want to keep playing with them as much as they want to keep playing with me. They're indulging me this foray into a rules system even though none of them asked for a rules switch and they all felt: the game isn't broke, so why switch? My job tonight is to make them as excited about AS&SH as I am.
 


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
     Thread Starter
 

1/23/2018 4:35 pm  #4


Re: Switching to AS&SH

I'm pretty close to a Howard purist when it comes to the Hyborian Age, at least as a base.
I switched to AS&SH for mostly the same reasons you did, and I'm also running a Hyborian Age campaign.

That said, I find AS&SH very accommodating to Hyborian Age play. Magic is more present than most people think in Conan's world. It just has to be approached differently. I also use +1 and sometimes +2 weapons as non-magical but very skillfully crafted versions. They recently found a +2 shield with a legend it was created by Frost Giants.

The priest could be a Cleric if she wants to wear armor.

The Barbarian might not even need to multiclass, as they fit the Barbarian thief role pretty well as is.

It's pretty fun to convert modules to the Hyborian Age. I've run Rats in the Walls and Ghost Ship. We are about to play Sightless Serpent, and I plan on running Fane soon after. I'm also planning on running Ravenloft and the Desert Nomads series sometime.

Long story short, just give it a run and I bet they like it.
It's still taking a little adjustment at my table. The Assassin in my game is still getting used to the fact that all PC's aren't natural combatants (something I personally dislike about modern fantasy games. In OSR games like AS&SH fighter classes fight better, other classes do other stuff well).
Mostly we are all having a blast though.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
 

1/23/2018 6:30 pm  #5


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Because of their typically high DEX, thieves and thief subclasses are pretty good with missile weapons. Flaming oil or holy water (not to mention acid or contact poison, if available) is always nice.

Engaging in melee with them, under any but the most desperate circumstances, is... not optimal. Really, the hit dice say it all: d8 and up, you can melee (for the most part); d6 and under, don't.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

1/23/2018 7:57 pm  #6


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Agreed BA23, and I love the different roles and not all characters being great at combat for no reason. My player is still getting used to it however.


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
 

1/24/2018 7:07 am  #7


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Jimm.Iblis wrote:


  • Excited to discover the OSR "movement" I found AS&SH to be the best iteration of the "just right" light-rules system I grew up with. It felt like the designer had synthesized all the cool 30's pulp mag weirdness and I had in my own brain.
  • Though I wasn't using AS&SH's default setting, the system itself seemed perfectly suited to my Gygax-/Arneson-infused version of Howard's world. I was stoked enough to purchase the physical book (happy to see the second edition just released!).

The Complication: The players, unfortunately, aren't excited to switch, to say the least.

Anyway, I guess I'm reaching out for good tidings and advice...but I need to sell AS&SH tonight hard, because I really want to keep using the system. Considering the context and compromises I've outlined, any suggestions about what I can try or highlight about AS&SH to get my players as exited about the game as I am will be appreciated. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/nervous.png

Perspicacious snipping employed, my three sequins of wisdom are:


  • Emphasize the "rules-light" and freedom of AS&SH: I make liberal use of the Non-Standard Task Resolution to emulate what PF and 5e do with backgrounds, feats and skills. E.g., the Cleric of Apollo is good at healing, music, poetry, etc. Let your players know they should be suggesting things to you (I guess in DW-fashion, but I've never played it), and that just because it isn't on their sheet doesn't mean they can't try.
  • I use my own setting, too, and have a short list of house rules, but think AS&SH shines when you treat even 1st-level PCs as "heroic in stature": the vast majority of NPCs in my world are 0-level, and creatures are BTB.
  • Lastly, I'm liberal with the treasure, since they're heroes, not murder-hobos scrounging for coppers. I realize this one is a personal choice of the flavor of my game, and not necessarily "weird" in the way AS&SH is.http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

1/24/2018 8:45 am  #8


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Jimm.Iblis wrote:

Thanks, Blackadder! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png
Yeah we found the rules for priest armor failure after the search. The question was: why and what's the penalty if she does were armor, because our loooong 3E background had our brains separating spells into "arcane" and "divine" categories, the former incurring spell failure %, the latter not. Her priest died at the end of last session, torn apart by deinogalerixes (giant shrews), rendering the matter moot, anyway. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/lol.png


As far as finding a new DM, trust and standing friendships plays into it. I want to keep playing with them as much as they want to keep playing with me. They're indulging me this foray into a rules system even though none of them asked for a rules switch and they all felt: the game isn't broke, so why switch? My job tonight is to make them as excited about AS&SH as I am.
 

I game with my friends as well and I too would like everyone to be happy. Out of the nine folks I have one maybe two give a thought about the campaign during the week. They mostly show up have a good time for 3 hours then go home.  I however put in much more thought and have more responsibility for the game.  This is not bad, the work I put in is my fun / hobby. 

If I feel hamstrung by a rule set or just want to try something new I change without guilt.  If someone does not want to participate for a time because of the system used then we part as friends and move on. As a GM and sometimes player I feel like If someone preps a four hour game for me I'm gonna play it and strive to make their experience fun as well. 

I would think that if they are friends then they would want you to have an enjoyable experience as well.  




 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

1/24/2018 9:01 am  #9


Re: Switching to AS&SH

I've switched my long running (9+ years) 1e campaign to ASSH. Mostly because they reached a high enough level of play (9th-11th) were things get a bit challenging.

At the moment 4 of the 5 have created a thief subclass character. There are jokingly gonna try to have a party of all thieves :-)

So far: scout, assassin, legerdemainist, and I think a purloiner might be a second legerdemainist.

I am thinking about suggesting the last person try to be a monk. Mostly because they get cure disease at 1st level. Which is helpful in a world where one can become a zombie from a bite. At least, that's my opinion.


What? Me worry?
 

1/24/2018 9:10 am  #10


Re: Switching to AS&SH

This may be a terminology issue? But AS&SH already accounts for multiclasses with the subclasses. Warlock = F/MU, Legerdemainist = MU/T, Purloiner = C/T, Shaman = C/MU, etc. It's one of the really nice parts of the system, I feel, and a great bit of world building all on its own that I feel doesn't conflict much with a more Howardian take. What more do the players want from the classes? Have you gone over the various subclass options with them so they know what's out there?

One player in my group came to us from Pathfinder. Once she played AD&D (and later) AS&SH, she gained the zealotry of the firmly converted. I'm sure your players will come around. Just don't at first make them responsible for much other than deciding on their class and telling you what they roll. Keep all the rules learning on your side until they find their feet. Then they'll start wanting to know more on their own.

 

1/24/2018 4:01 pm  #11


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Thanks for the advice and kind words everyone! http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

The game last night went great, in unexpected ways.
The players I anticipated having problems (P2 and P4 from the OP), had, to my surprise, come in having studied the rules and were excited to give them a try. P1, as always, accommodated whatever I was doing because he just enjoys playing.

It was P3, actually, DM of his own 5e game, who was the most visibly and vocally daunted. First off, let me preface by saying he is a dear friend, wonderfully creative, and was probably having a bad day to boot, so forgive the way the following paints his personal character. I think the issue was how, between Oe and 5e, similar terminology means slightly different things and old school play has far less action-movie or anime-influenced superheroics at any level. I like to bring up Conan the Barbarian 82 at times like this, and how in the climax fight with Conan and Rexor, it was just two guys beating each other to death with blades, no crazy flips and twirls and kung-fu--until, you know, "Do you want to live forever?" as a brief interruption of the supernatural--and that's sword-and-sorcery (do I need spoiler tags here if anyone for an iconic 36 year old film?http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/confused.png
).

Player 3 grumbled about his "low" stats, low for 5e maybe, though in Oe they were far above average (S8 D9 C12 I13 W15 Ch18). I explained play doesn't revolve around stacking huge bonuses to D20 rolls. Only 10 hit points? complained he after rolling a 2 for his second hit die. I explained everyone in the world's hit points are way lower than in contemporary editions of D&D (Demogorgon=200 hit points!!). When he looked at the simplified character sheet (I will have the group switch to the standard in a few sessions), he complained it all looked like complicated nonsense. He didn't like that his 2nd level witch-doctor had but two spells--though I explained the game encourages exploration to build up spells known. After several attempts to explain how fluidly all the weird old-school terms and abilities would play, he basically said its fine and didn't care, to which I responded, "I'd rather you not 'not care' and give the system a chance."

Conversions completed (we'd gotten most of it done last session), we got to playing, and the rules impacted play very little. After a lengthy stretch of dungeon-based sessions (a fusion of B4 The Lost City and the introductory scenario from 2d20 Conan core book), the PCs were on route to Zamboulafor city-based intrigues. Player 3 got to use his high Charisma, which he thought meant nothing under the old school rules, when I assigned a "Simple" (5:6) difficulty to haggle a good price with the city brokerage for the party's stolen horses and military equipment. I explained that unlike 3rd edition and later games that had fixed or arbitrarily scaling difficulties, tests in AS&SH were tailored to individuals, i.e. the same haggling role for the mole-man barbarian/thief would be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible. That turned Player 3 around a bit, and he started participating in role play more at that point.

So, the rest of the game was mostly roleplay, intelligence gathering on the uproar in Zamboula following recent events nearby the city and within. The Temple of Ishtar's high priestess tried using the party's dead comrades' possible resurrection as a bargaining chip to coerce them into a quest on their behalf. The mole-man went to join the Chapel of Bel's Thieves' Guild and learned they had recently been rounded up and executed by the satrapy--following the theft of three museum-piece weapons from three different prominent citizens). A ton more leads and hooks were put on the table. Meanwhile, the PCs are invested in learning as much as they can about the eldritch demi-god they inadvertently helped summon in the session before last. By the end of the the night, everyone was having a good time and roleplaying amongst themselves and interacting with NPCs with gravitas and panache. There was a whispered conversation by the temple nuns that the barbarian-thief and legerdemainist strained but failed to overhear. I explained to the witch-doctor, Player 3, in-scene but who'd not otherwise deigned to attempt, that he was welcomed to try to overhear the nuns though there was significantly greater difficulty than those trained to "hear noise." He got lucky and made it on a 1 in 20. First time in 30 years anyone's cheered a 1 on a d20...

Here is one major massive awesome thing I personally appreciated in an urban intrigue scenario under AS&SH's tweaked-at old-school rules, which reminded me of something I'd lost in the years since the release of 3rd ed. Me and the players role-played straight away. All of them did their best to describe gestures and affectations and suss out advantages that could aid in the present social situation.

In my 3.X/PF games Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate checks interfered with or substituted for role-play. Players that lacked the abilities kept quiet, "let the bard (or mesmerist or beguiler, etc.) do their thing" was the consensus. Not saying my 3plus games didn't have great role-play, but the skills and numbers and die rolls needed to have their say too. A dumb lie... but a high Charisma, maxed out Bluff, and a natural 20 meant stuff like this. Under Dungeon World, mechanics and rules interfered even more directly. A player attempting to negotiate with an NPC made a "Parlay move," rolled, and under the rules I had to respond with a DM move based on the roll. Ugh.

So, yay!. Yes, in AS&SH a high Charisma might adjust an initial attitude or serve as a fall back mechanical function for otherwise lengthy and boring events (like haggling with a brokerage), but for the most part, we were all roleplaying out hearts out--not rolling dice and checking social skill mechanics. That more than anything brought be back to the fun and wonder I remember from playing AD&D as a kid.

So yeah, long story short, I'm glad I didn't stage any combat encounters like I initially intended to "introduce the system." AS&SH spoke for itself in how quietly it hummed in the background during a great urban role-play session, stepping up with a simple check when needed (liquidating mundane loot, overhearing a whispered conversation). Everyone had fun and are at least halfway converted, and excited for next Tuesday's game. Some guys will burst into a room with crossbows, then, to give combat a whirl.
 


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
     Thread Starter
 

1/24/2018 4:19 pm  #12


Re: Switching to AS&SH

That was a great read! I felt your enthusiasm as you explained the success of the "old way" over rules based role-playing! Rolled a crit on Gming my friend! Well done.


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

1/24/2018 4:25 pm  #13


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Awesome stuff!


"But not all men seek rest and peace; some are born with the spirit of the storm in their blood" -REH
Rambling Conan Blog

 
 

1/24/2018 4:43 pm  #14


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Great story! Thanks for letting us know how it went.

 

1/24/2018 8:04 pm  #15


Re: Switching to AS&SH

That is splendid, and mirrors my own conversion (from D&D 5e, which was itself a conversion from Stormbringer 5e): initial complaints and comparisons with other flavors of D&D fell away once they saw everything scaled differently in AS&SH. At 7th level they're attracting followers, having a major impact on the town they're in, Sorcery is deadly, etc.

One other option I've presented to my new players is to switch classes: the newest player in the group picked up a former player's Fighter, and is thinking he wants to play a Paladin of Apollo instead. I'll probably let him after some more sessions, role-playing the proper devotions and sacrifices to Apollo, etc. I don't know that I would allow this for a veteran AS&SH player to do, and certainly wouldn't allow it to be done multiple times with the same character.


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

1/24/2018 9:55 pm  #16


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Nice game report. 

 

1/25/2018 9:07 am  #17


Re: Switching to AS&SH

I like how you acclimated to the situation and took the time to introduce older concepts to a group otherwise more familiar with newer concepts and forms of resolution. It's not that their play style is wrong; rather, it's just different than how we always did things growing up. For some, the transition will not always be easy to grasp. They want to roll a die to determine whether or not they can intimidate the savage chieftain. Others might find the transition liberating. They role-play the situation, threatening that they are holding the savage chieftain's missing son hostage, and if he doesn't cooperate, he can assume the worst. Maybe the referee makes a d6 roll, giving the players a 4-in-6 chance of success, because they so adeptly played into the fears and worries of the chieftain. Alternatively, the referee might use Table 85: Reaction to determine results, applying modifiers for CH and maybe another modifier for playing into those aforementioned fears and concerns of the chieftain. And what if the players are bluffing about holding the savage chieftain's son? Well, I would rather hear exactly how they are bluffing as opposed to having them simply tell me that they just passed or failed a bluff check. IMO (and I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir, or else you probably wouldn't be here), it is more fun, but there are many ways to have fun playing RPGs, and I'm delighted to report that a lot of our newer customers are 5e players who are curious about old school gaming and styles of play, which is great, because it is bringing younger people to the fray and some older folks who haven't played this way since the 20th century.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

1/27/2018 1:53 pm  #18


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Thanks everyone! I tried to keep your suggestions in mind running the thing, even in the scrum of battle we well know as referees that we find ourselves when our players do the completely unexpected--in character and out! I'll let you know how the next few games run behind the scenes in this thread if you are interested. My campaign log is at Scabard: Bones of Babylon -- but I haven't updated the journal in a few games unfortunately.

Regarding multiclassing, dual-classing thing, I do appreciate how the sub-classes fit the possible subclass roles, as was pointed out. At the end of the day, though, I want players to feel like they have all the options as far as building the characters they want to play. As I already had to refer to OSRIC for the halfling, er, mole-man (reskinned homo floresiensis) it wasn't much of a leap to incorporate that system's multi-classing and dual-classing rules. Is it pure AS&SH? no, but I love the attitude of "rulings not rules" that informs the entirety of all these iterations of classic D&D, and that they are all effectively compatible (being tweaks of the same game) that I can cherry pick rules and options without "breaking" anything.
 


"Role-playing isn't storytelling. If the dungeon master is directing it, it's not a game."  ~ Gary Gygax
     Thread Starter
 

1/27/2018 3:59 pm  #19


Re: Switching to AS&SH

Jimm.Iblis wrote:

Is it pure AS&SH? no, but I love the attitude of "rulings not rules" that informs the entirety of all these iterations of classic D&D, and that they are all effectively compatible (being tweaks of the same game) that I can cherry pick rules and options without "breaking" anything.
 

Indeed, and I'm in the same place: I've house-ruled my version of AS&SH, too. It's like the RPG version of jazz: knowing what rules not to include. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


"My virtue is of the quintessential sort, being distilled from the erudition of the ages. How can I be other than virtuous? I am dispassionate to the ordinary motives of mankind."
Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld
 

Board footera

“Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea”, “AS&SH”, and all other North Wind Adventures product names and their respective logos are trademarks of North Wind Adventures, LLC in the USA and other countries. ©2017 North Wind Adventures, LLC.