Shadowdark looks so good!

I think there's a definitional question about compatible that probably bothers people more who came to the hobby late.

For those of us who played back in the days of the BECMI/Advanced D&D split, we knew that one system had AC start at 9 and go down, whereas the other had AC start at 10 and go down. Similarly, different attributes had different bonuses from one system to the other (BECMI didn't have percentile strength, which was a weird system anyway).

But if we chose to use a BECMI module with AD&D characters, or vice-versa, we just accepted those little differences because they were effectively inconsequential. The Moldvay Basic Rulebook "goblin" having slightly different stats from an AD&D Monster Manual "goblin warrior" didn't matter, because the stat blocks were close enough that they didn't even need to be fudged. You don't need to look up the stats for the goblins your PCs encounter in the Shadowdark rulebook, you can just use the stats exactly as they are written in Keep on the Borderlands, because the mathematical variance is insignificant. We're after playability here, not some platonic ideal of perfectly balanced game design.

Which I think is the major point Whizbang Dustyboots has been trying to make about Shadowdark. To a great degree, it's just as compatible with the monsters from both BECMI/AD&D/C&C and every other OSR game that 90% of the on-the-fly conversion is basically: "Change AC to ascending. Done."

Yes, I generally agree. If you look at the HP values for the "Ogre" in this post, they are 19, 30, and 59 (for b/x, shadowdark, and 5e respectively). My only claim here is that 19, 30, and 59 are, in fact, different numbers. Hot take! I did not expect that pointing out that different numbers are different would be a controversial claim! :ROFLMAO:

If and when that variance becomes significant is subjective. But I am reminded that Gygax begins the 1e dmg with a discussion on dice probabilities; quixotic as that may be, the idea is that a DM should be roughly aware of these things while making rulings.
 

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JohnSnow

Hero
Yes, I generally agree. If you look at the HP values for the "Ogre" in this post, they are 19, 30, and 59 (for b/x, shadowdark, and 5e respectively). My only claim here is that 19, 30, and 59 are, in fact, different numbers. Hot take! I did not expect that pointing out that different numbers are different would be a controversial claim! :ROFLMAO:

If and when that variance becomes significant is subjective. But I am reminded that Gygax begins the 1e dmg with a discussion on dice probabilities; quixotic as that may be, the idea is that a DM should be roughly aware of these things while making rulings.
My point is that averages don’t tell the whole story.

That B/X Ogre has 4d8+1? Sure that averages 19. But the range goes from 5 to 33.

Case in point: a B/X owlbear has 5HD. That averages to 22 or 23 hp. Except that the one in Keep actually has 30 (feel free to check). I haven’t seen one from Kelsey yet, but I’m guessing it’ll be close.

The point is that it’s in the range. Yea, a Shadowdark ogre can probably take another hit or two, so it defaults to the high end of the range. But it’s in the range.
 

Jahydin

Hero
Finally got to play it today with some friends and I had a blast. Remembering to always go in initiative order was kind of hard due to old habits, but once we did we it worked out really well.

Certainly going to be my #1 system for straight dungeon crawls for awhile. Like the ultimate version of Heroquest.
 

JohnF

Adventurer
Personally, I have zero interest in Shadowdark's compatibility with D&D; there are already countless other systems that do that already.

I'm much more hyped about creating my own dungeons and seeing the cool ones others make specifically for this system. 🥳
Here, here!

I tried it out last week and found it to be a b/x-inspired, 5e-informed slick and fast-playing RPG doing its thing its way. XP for treasure and carousing (not killing monsters) is a baseline vibe I can get behind! I upped my pledge the next day.
 

Jahydin

Hero
For those that have played:

When you're DMing and going around in initiative order, do you execute all PC actions at once or one at a time?

For instance, is it:
"Everyone said they were going down the corridor this round, so as a group you come across a band of orcs..."
Or is it:
"Beth, you want to go down the corridor this round, so you proceed without the group and run into a band of orcs..."

I'm inclined to run it the first way, but the book makes it sound like it should be run the second way?
 

JohnF

Adventurer
For those that have played:

When you're DMing and going around in initiative order, do you execute all PC actions at once or one at a time?

For instance, is it:
"Everyone said they were going down the corridor this round, so as a group you come across a band of orcs..."
Or is it:
"Beth, you want to go down the corridor this round, so you proceed without the group and run into a band of orcs..."

I'm inclined to run it the first way, but the book makes it sound like it should be run the second way?
I watched two of the designer’s videos to be sure of this. It’s one at a time until the situation suggests otherwise. Then you can shift to the group. I’ll say that always-on initiative really speeds up play and keeps players on task and in the moment.

Edit: If I ever run 5e again (which is unlikely), I will use always-on initiative. I enjoyed it that much.
 
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