Friday, January 6, 2012

Archive Post: The Hommlet Files

I keep forgetting about Archive Thursday.
Here's two posts from the UG, regarding Hommlet and associated subjects. By dint of overwhelming mass suggestion, I've decided to run Greyhawk this evening. In Fact...
By God, It’s Time to Go Back to Hommlet! 
hommletOriginally posted Dec. 30, 2009.

The Village of Hommlet was the first Module I ever DM’ed. I think it’s the first adventure I DM’ed, but I  don’t quite recall. I was writing my own stuff, right off the bat and there’s a good possibility that I put my friends through some weird little ecological disaster of a dungeon, before initiating them into the joys of T1.

Back then, during our first year or so of play, we didn’t have a campaign. One of the four of us would decide, or be chosen, to DM and the rest would pull out characters from our notebooks, or roll up some new ones, assembling a level appropriate party for whatever the DM du jour had in mind.

This sort of tournament style of play isn’t nearly as satisfying as a true campaign. But, the year or so we spent on one-shot adventures, was a fabulous learning experience. Each one of us DMed on a regular basis, honing our skills and learning from one another. On a Friday night, in my friend Mel’s bedroom, I ran T1.

Even then, during my green, first forays into DMing, I knew it was one hell of a great module. 26 years later, I recall very little of that gaming session. I do remember how well the game went. We all had a blast and the experience encouraged and inspired me to continue with my apprenticeship as a DM. I also had my first DM Evilgasm, as the players, who had accepted Turuko and Kobort as adventuring cohorts, were shocked and surprised, when their trust was rewarded with treachery.

It was the only time I ever ran T1. I think it’s time that I rectified that little injustice. So, this coming year, I resolve to run The Village of Hommlet again. If anyone would care to join me, let me know. We can all compare notes and have some fun, seeing what we, as well as our players, do with this classic adventure.
Well, I've got to get my ass in gear and finish prepping for tonight. I'm excited by the prospect of running T1 again, after all these years. But first, one more Hommlet related re- post.  
Gygaxian Supernaturalism - Or, What Happens to Hommlet's Rufus at 8th Level?
Originally posted July 11, 2011

The Gods are Watching You!

From T1:

Rufus Is also lawful good, and when he reaches 8th level he has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount‘s behalf. 

Some Quotes from the DMG:

Page 81

Why then the increase in hit points? Because these reflect both the actual physical ability of the character to withstand damage - as indicated by constitution bonuses- and a commensurate increase in such areas as skill in combat and similar life-or-death situations, the "sixth sense" whith warns the individual of some otherwise unforeseen events, sheer luck,and the fantastic provisions of magical protections and/or divine protection. (Emphasis mine.) 

Page 25

Whether or not the character actively professes some deity, he or she will have on alignment and serve one or more deities of this general alignment indirectly and unbeknownst to the character. 

Page 79

By means of skill, luck, magical protections, quirks of fate and the aid of supernatural powers, the character making his or her saving throw takes none or only part of the indicated results - fireball damage, poisoning,being turned to stone, or whatever. (emphasis mine.)

There's more relevant material, such as that involving alignment languages, the penalties for changing alignment, etc. Hell, it's "passim" throughout the AD&D rulebooks!

One more quote.

From Deities & Demigods, this time. Page 9:

Otherwise, the accumulation of hit points and the ever-greater abilities and better saving throws of characters represent the aid supplied by supernatural forces.So. The supernatural realms and the relationship with deity is very, very important in AD&D. And an integral part of an AD&D campaign world.

Now, back to Rufus.

8th level! One step away from Lord. He's already gotten 3/2 attacks. Rufus is about to become a Superhero!

Rufus Is also lawful good, and when he reaches 8th level he has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount‘s behalf.Now, Rufus wouldn't know what 8th level means. Would he? As you might suspect, I'm going to make the case that yes, 8th Level would indeed, mean something to Rufus.

Gygaxian Supernaturalism! (With Thanks to Mr. Maliszewski.)

He might refer to it as becoming a Superhero. I don't think the text states that Rufus is a follower of the Cugel fellow, though Burne is. For the moment, let's assume Rufus is as well. It's likely, the cult of St. Cuthbert would have it's own title for 8th level. Or, maybe Superhero is more widely used.

The point is, that in a world where Leveled Characters are so closely married to the gods and supernatural powers, a Fighter as high as 8th level, especially one as well connected as Rufus, would have an idea of where he stood with his god, church and the Greater Supernatural Realm.

So, what might the Viscount have said to Rufus?

"Return, when you have witnessed the Vision of the Cugel at Noon."

Or, something.

In a world so tightly wielded to the supernatural powers, being a leveled Fighter, serving a deity, perforce, might be somewhat akin to being part of a Mystery Cult. Rufus would know when he had crossed an important threshold and we might assume that 8th level represents just that! An important threshold. Because not only is that the point at which Rufus was ordered to return, but because it was known that he would recognize his entry into 8th level. It could simply be that every level would be considered important. Or, maybe just every one above, say 5th.

At what point does a Fighter start noticing that he's a pawn of the gods?

Hell, he's probably been having dreams, nightmares and visions, sent by St. Cuthbert, and/or Planetars, lesser servants, etc., for quite some time. Not to mention nasty, demonic beings, or deliciously enticing ones, trying to make him swerve from his LG path.

The idea that the gods are giving characters all this aid, which increases at every level, yet have virtually nothing else to do with them is rather problematic. Gods just aren't the type to be so altruistic and helpful, without ever being more noticeable. Or, demanding! Characters serving under protest, as it were, might be subject to more subtle treatment. Or, not! Those more involved with Churches and Organizations, might also only see signs of the deity "out of the corner of their eye," as it were. Or, they might find themselves more directly put-upon.

Rufus' deity has been helping him out with Hit Points, Saving Throws, etc., to the point where Rufus is 8th Level! He lives and moves in a supernatural reality and the gods have a vested interest, however small, in his doings. PC Level ties into this relationship directly! While it's easier to see with Clerics and MU's, as a Fighter gains levels, he's also becoming more tightly enmeshed within the schemes and powers of his deity. Whether he wants to, or not!

It makes perfect sense, that he would be able to see and track the progress of this relationship, at least somewhat. And that he would notice the effect, his relations with the divine, were having upon him. His church, certainly his deity would know!

Established signs, omens, etc., not to mention the possibility of initiatory rituals of a sort, would fit in just perfectly.

Maybe the journey to visit the Viscount is a ruse and the Powers that Be, want to get Rufus out of Hommlet so they can test his worthiness to operate at 8th Level.

Oh, apparently Burne and Rufus are lovers. I don't really see St. Cuthbert as the sort to have a Sacred Bander wing of his army. Further research is called for!