Looking to the Horizon

I’ve been running Tomb of Annihilation for about 15 months; I started running two separate campaigns. The campaign with my daughters sputtered out. Coordinating a group of teenagers involved in theater is a task I’m ill-prepared to tackle. For the campaign with a few of my high school friends, they’ve entered the Tomb of the Nine Gods.

Meanwhile, I started playing in what will likely be a once a month First Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign. This was my first foray into 1E AD&D. I rolled up a half-elven Druid, with a penchant for communing with dirt. The evenings adventure was Journey to the Rock.

This weekend, while not working at our retail shop, I spent reading through parts of the remaining adventure. There are some very interesting set pieces, but less social interaction opportunities than I like.

I also began thinking in earnest about what comes next. Based on our rate of play, I think we’ll be wrapping up the adventure sometime in May.

Do we continue with the characters into higher levels? The whole campaign revolves around the Tomb of Annihilation. Do we have enough interest to move

Or do we grab some dice and roll up new characters? As the keystone of the campaign wraps up, we’ll have a conversation. Personally I’ve been thinking that the next game I run will not have an artificial time constraint The Death Curse in the Tomb of Annihilation puts an arbitrary time pressure on the adventure, and at the beginning of the campaign, when the pressure is most salient, there are lots of options to explore; In other words campaign building content is left on the cutting room floor.

For the next campaign, I want to leverage a system that slows down the pace of play. I’ve considered Burning Wheel, but believe the system could be a barrier for the whole group. Also, I’ve been contemplating what it means to use rules to which I don’t have ownership. The Open Game License and many Creative Commons Licenses provide such ownership. I’m also considering Whitehack as another option.

Likely, I’ll be running 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons with the following likely modifications:

Gritty Realism (Rest Variant): short rests are 8 hours and a long rest is 7 days.

Steel Thyself (Reaction Option): a reaction option I wrote-up based on the Whitehack. I see this rule a bit as a counter-balance to the Gritty Realism option.

Wounds from Dropping to 0 HP: I’m perusing different options to put some additional teeth behind dropping to 0 HP. My current inclination is to look to Whitehack’s injury mechanism. From my translation of Whitehack: A character that goes below zero HP should write Grievous Injury on their character sheet. While the character has a Grievous Injury they recover hit points at the normal rate, but cannot go above 1 HP.

To remove a Grievous Injury requires that the character be treated by a healer - via a vocation or miracle - or the player may choose to gain a permanent disadvantage (e.g. limp, scar, lost fingers). The disadvantage is noted next to an attribute on the character sheet and can be used by the Referee to force disadvantage on relevant tasks.
I’m not proposing using that rule verbatim, but would look to translate that rule. In particular I want to push the decisions and bookkeeping onto the players.

The goal of these adjustments is to encourage more downtime activity as well as to put pressure on the players to think about the consequences of combat. Surprisingly, I’m looking to reduce the lethality of the game, but increase the consequences of combat.

I’d also like to revisit Bonds, Ideals, Traits, and Flaws. I think the easiest tweak would be to have a review of BITFs at the end of the session and award Inspiration for each of those touchstones. Players would then be able to stockpile more than one point of inspiration.

For now, I’ll keep on enjoying our Thursday night tradition of delicious food, homemade beer, and adventuring through the Tomb of Annihilation. Evil thought: What if lifting the death curse changes the rules of the campaign to the above house rules? Acererack’s lasting impact. mwah hah hah