Monday, 19 August 2019

Let's read Basic D&D: Your introduction to NPCs, Magic and Dragons

Thank you Aleena.

Deeper into the caves you venture. Frank, or the writer, here continues a narrative of your Fighter-with-No-Name carefully navigating the caves. From watching the amount of light from your lantern, to your reaction finding a "beautiful woman," wearing armor and holding a mace—a rod with a metal ball at one end—and "meditating or praying."

Aleena is cautious. She wants to help, but "watches you carefully, in case you are dangerous." Aleena, like you, is "an ADVENTURER!" (emphasis mine).

Roleplaying Prompts

While the conversation with Aleena is forced in the narrative, we are being prompted to carry on a conversation with her. "Stop and imagine what your character would say."

I think we lose these details of early role-playing prompts when discussing BECMI or B/X. Frank is not just creating the narrative of the exploration of the caves, but he is suggesting to the reader to think about encounters in town or the wilderness or a dungeon and our character's place in that world.

He is never explicitly calling role-playing out, but he is giving us permission in his presentation of the story. At this point in the history of the game, I also believe the game evolves from its beginnings in the correspondence of Gygax and Arneson.

Clerics and Magic Users and... Dragons...?

Frank is assuming of the reader that the ideas are new. Aleena explains the role of Clerics in the world without any introduction to religions of the setting. Aleena has the power to cast spells from her meditation and she heals the Fighter! 

Aleena sits down with your Fighter after healing you and discusses Magic Users. Magic is something you know exists, but have rarely encountered in town. Magic Users memorize spells from books, not like Aleena, she meditates.

Aleena waxes on about the dangers of nefarious uses of all magic, clerical or arcane—though she does not use that descriptor—as well as an immersive narrative on Saving Throws versus Magic Wands, Turn to Stone, Paralysis, Dragon Breath! and Spells or Magic Staffs.

This narrative does feel like forced exposition. In my opinion the context permits this narrative. Aleena is explaining the world to our Fighter-with-No-Name and we are coming to like the Non-Player Character (NPC). Elmore's iconic depiction of Aleena is almost burned into our heads. She is armed and in full chain mail armor.

Charisma and Wisdom

We will be introduced next to two new Ability Scores, Wisdom and Charisma, and more denizens of dungeons and caves.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:00 AM in d10


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