Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Cow in the Attic - Players POV

Note this is authored by Boris the Bagger, who will be posting his own thoughts from time to time.

Like Rob said, he was going through a phase of trying out several game systems. This was after 2nd edition AD&D hit and none of us seemed interested in it. We were searching for the next system we could latch onto. I think we gamed twice a week back then, in person (what a rarity these days).

Rob always had Harnmaster lingering in the background. We were entering a game system we had no experience with. We’d just left a 1st Ed. AD&D where all three of us could pretty much quote every monster HD and damage and what was on what page in the DMG. Neither D nor I knew much about Harn, but I liked the maps and the few articles I read were excellent. As I recall, the combat system was interesting, having to treat individual wounds and one hit could ruin your character for months. We went from a system that promoted fantastic, heroic characters, to a system that promoted realistic characters dealing with harsh realities of a medieval world.

So the infamous ‘Cow Adventure’. Hmm. Rob had run a few sample combats for us to get used to that part of the game. But anyone who knows Harn knows that is just one star in the sky for that system. Where D and I started to get frustrated was when we walked to an inn that was two days away and we were being killed by rain. The weather was draining our fatigue every few hours. I remember thinking we are going to die because of shattered showers. I’m not sure why we didn’t have any food, but do remember the cow hunt. Now Rob and I disagree with this section, D (the one member of our group who can remember what we rolled on the dice as well as the events) said we first tried to hunt, but I lost the trail six times, then we found a cow pasture and tracked a cow, but again I had trouble tracking it. When we spotted the elusive bovine we were so fatigued neither of us could hit it and the damn cow ran away.

This has become an inside joke for us over the years. In retrospect I believe the problems were with the system expectations of the players and our ability, players and GM to conform to those expectations. We were used to being heroes who laughed at hordes of evil critters. Food was not something to be worried about. Weather? What weather? With Harn we were just Joe Shmoo fighters who got hungry, got sick, got tired, and needed to pay attention to the smallest of details.

I guess if there is a moral to this story its to understand the philosophy of the game as well as the rules. Rob spoke about immersion in an earlier blog and while it is essential for a campaign to have depth it is also important not to drown your players in it. Back then Rob was more rules oriented and D and I were less patient. The good thing that came out this was the next system we tried was, GURPs, and that’s the one we latched onto. After that, I had no trouble killing cows.

1 comment:

Jeff Rients said...

The first time I ever really understood the difference between "realistic" and "what I want out of an RPG" was when a newly minted MERP pc was nearly kicked to death by a mildly irritated milkcow.