GenCon Game: Back to Basics

With all the craziness in the past couple months I’ve been sadly neglecting my preparations for GenCon, which is now less than three weeks away.  Oh dear.  I’m running two games this year, one of which is a game I’m running specifically for folks I only see at the convention and is not in the normal GenCon schedule of events (invite-only sounds a bit elitist, but it is an apt description).  The other game I scheduled without much thought, simply because I knew I wanted to run something but had no idea what.  Thus it reads like this in the schedule:

Back to Basics
Come check out what this old school thing is all about with red-book Basic D&D, circa 1981. Elf is a class, thouls lurk in the dark, and brave adventurers search forgotten dungeons for lost riches.

So here we are with less than three weeks to go and I still know nothing about this game.  At this point, it’s clear I won’t have time to write something new, but fortunately I have a two year campaign full of stuff to reuse.  The one I like best right now was used fairly recently, which means it’s suitable for characters in the 4-5 level range.  I wonder though if that’s too demanding for the implied intro level of this game?  Experience has shown though that it’s extremely unlikely that my game will be full of neophytes.  In fact, one such person is unusual.

Usually this kind of game contains a few different types: first, folks who will jump at any old school sounding game no matter the content.  Second, folks who are active new school players but curious or nostalgic about the old school stuff, and find this an easy way to test the waters.  Third, somewhat older gamers who remember the old stuff fondly and have young children with them whom they’d like to indoctrinate.  This final group is probably also attracted to the fact that my games are almost always open to all age ranges.  Having once been a young a gamer myself (I was 15 at my first GenCon), I try to leave agism at the door.

So, the question is, will a level 5 character be overwhelming to such players?  I’m inclined to think not.  Fighter and thief characters will basically be augmented only by slightly higher numbers, and perhaps a magic item or two to understand (though often this will simply be something with a plus or two, and my character sheets always include a combat section that includes all modifiers tallied for quick reference).  Clerics and magic-users may be a bit more complex with 7 spells a piece.  I do expect some number of experienced players at the table though who might volunteer for such characters, and my practice is usually to bring along more characters than necessary so there’s ample choice on the table.  If the players want to choose all fighters and thieves, I’d be OK with that (actually it sounds kind of awesome… hmm, perhaps I should just orchestrate it that way.)

As a post-script, I noticed when reading my description I specifically mention the race-as-class feature of Basic D&D.  My character generator has been tuned though to use my house rules, which includes a race/class split.  I’m kind of torn on what to do about that.


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