HomeMainBlog PostMonsters & Magic: High Praise For A Game I’d Never Play


Monsters & Magic: High Praise For A Game I’d Never Play — 7 Comments

  1. "I was looking for something which oozed with classic fantasy atmosphere, was easy to play, yet which extended its playability into areas usually covered by more modern games — personality conflicts, playing with scenic and thematic aspects, exploiting the narrative tropes of classic swords and sorcery adventure."

    The thing is, you don't need particular mechanics to do ANY of those things. People can and do manage all of those things with a system as simple as B/X. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a more elaborate system actually works AGAINST achieving things like theme and immersion. Having run various RPGs of different types over the years, I've found that – in general – the more moving parts there are in a system, and the more ways a player can control the mechanical aspects of it, the more the game becomes about charop and minmaxing instead of roleplaying. At least for most players.

  2. @TheShadowKnows: I agree with you. However, ours is a very "old school" POV. "New school" tends to want mechanics and rules for things that do not need them from an old school POV. It's a completely different style of play and way of thinking. At least Monsters & Magic seems to be a well-done new school overlay — and one that is unlikely to lead to charop and mixmaxing, because it is from the "narrative rpg" branch of new school, not the "character design" or the "tactical combat" branch.

  3. I guess you're right and my point of view is too different. To me a truly "heroic feat" is something like getting lucky, rolling max damage, and killing an ogre with a single blow. Or taking out the master vampire with a lucky use of Dispel Evil. It's not really something you can plan in advance by putting "Cleave" (or whatever) on your character sheet. If it's that dry and predictable, it seems neither really heroic nor like a feat to me.

    True story: in one of my AD&D campaigns the a party of 6 3rd and 4th level characters encountered four bugbears. It should have been a decent fight but not a potential TPK. Instead, they all rolled HORRIBLY and I rolled well, and in a couple rounds five of them were down and bleeding to death. The only uninjured character, a 4th level dwarf fighter, had to take on four bugbears singlehandedly. He proceeded to do just that, killing all of them in six rounds while suffering NO hits himself (and with no fudging from me – his AC was really low and my luck went sour). Although one of his companions had already bled to death, he was able to save four of the five. This was truly an HEROIC FEAT which the players were still talking about YEARS later. I struggle to imagine a mechanical system for resolving feats that would produce anything so memorable. Does anybody really talk fondly about "the time they used Defensive Strike"? If it's written down on the sheet, that's pretty much EVERY time, right? So how much impact does it have, really?

  4. @TheShadowKnows: True enough, but that's still a character-build-oriented issue, not so much a narrative one. Really, I think there are two old schools.

  5. @TheShadowKnows – Pardon me if I say it, but it seems like you're a bit stuck on the name of "heroic effect." You still can roll really high and really low, you still can go down in a fight that you should have been able to win. All the things you describe can pretty much happen when playing Monsters & Magic.

    By putting "Cleave" on your sheet you can do a special move. Nothing more. It will make you more effective against enemies that you outrolled by far by allowing you to spend some excess points for attacking another enemy. It doesn't control how high you roll, it doesn't automatically apply, but you can use it if and only if you roll high enough compared to your opponent's stats to use it.

    So, none of this replaces rolling high or low. The system also does not claim that it produces memorable moments by mechanic.