13 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017: Day 13

13. Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

The game was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. First edition.

Auldwyn (of Ket?), a reclusive magic-user of great renown, began his career with 1 or 2 hit points, which made him rather concerned about his life expectancy. Each time he levelled up, I would roll his 1d4 for hit points gained, and it would land on 1. By the time he retired at 9th level, he had fewer hit points than the average 2nd level fighter. This led to a character whose primary motivation was to seek maximum power with minimum risk, which meant a career of impeccable planning and avoidance of direct confrontation. Was Auldwyn successful? Most definitely. In his entire career, he never suffered a single hit point of damage. The downside is that the game felt more like a conceptual strategy game than a role-playing adventure game. When I retired him, I decided my next magic-user would be his polar opposite: daring, charismatic, devil-may-care, somewhat foolhardy. That was Magoriah Fantez (of Hardby). He was a spellcasting dandy. He had the good fortune not to roll a 1 for hit points every time he gained a level, but even if he had had Auldwyn's curse, I think I still would have role-played him as the swashbuckling sorcerer I wanted him to be. If it shortened his lifespan, at least he would die gloriously.* Since then, I stopped obsessing about a character's frailty. At least, that's what I tell myself.

* Magoriah Fantez died in a blaze of dragonfire after recklessly challenging a red dragon to single combat. He was 13th level.

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