Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Non-larp post

BEWARE: this topic will NOT be about Larp!
This will probably be the first topic not about Larp and for a long time it will also be the only one not about larp.

It will be a topic about TABLETOP RPG!

Long before I participated in a Larp I played AD&D and Star Wars D6. It was in those days that I started to really love role-play and started asking questions about this thing called 'larp'.
Now I'm pretty sure a lot of larpers also play tabletop rpg and it's for those people that I want to talk about XDM!

XDM (X-treme Dungeon Mastery, but it also stand for the X-treme Dungeon Master aka the person running a tabletop using the XDM rules) is what I've been looking for for a long time. If I'm Parsifal then XDM is my Holy Grail (when speaking in terms of tabletop role-play).

Since my early days of tabletop role-playing I was missing something. Not knowing what I was missing led me into buying all kinds of DM guides, Gamemaster guides, books with new systems, etc.

A year ago I discovered Castles & Crusades from the hand of Troll Lord Games. This was a mix of D&D 3rd edition and good old AD&D. I thought my search for the ideal tabletop system was finished. I introduced it immediately to my new campaign Mythandir Chronicles and off we went.
But it still wasn't perfect. For me the perfect system is one that provides rules, but doesn't complicate the game for the DM/GM/... And while C&C makes a good show of making the game simple I still had to look up some rules while running the game.

In comes XDM
So while C&C was not yet perfect it was the best I had found, so I still used it and vouched to re-read the rules again and again until I would know them by heart.
But then I stumbled upon something called XDM. X-treme Dungeon Mastery, hmmm strange title, but wait I recognise one author: Tracy Hickman. Yeap the same guy who co-wrote the very first fantasy book I ever read: Dragonwing from The Deathgate Cycle. This was one of the people who made me fall in love with fantasy. So on a whim I pre-ordered the book (earning some XDM levels along the way :-) ). When the book arrived I read it and was amazed, bedazzled, stunned, ... you get the point. They were talking about fog-generators, laser beams, pyrotechnics and even magic tricks. Well I just LOVE the book!
The goal of the book is NOT to make us quit the gamesystem we all love (be it C&C, D&D (3rd 3.5th, 4th), SW D6, ...). No! It strives to make us better DMs/GMs/... by bringing the essense of the game back: yes, I'm talking about the fun.
With good examples the book explains how you can spice up your tabletop game by adding extra's. How about handing your players a real handwritten letter instead of just saying "you find a letter in which is stated...". These are all things that we find natural in a larp, but they also work perfectly in a tabletop.
This book is full of ideas for a DM to bring their games to a next level.
But that's not all, there is also a section for the players. That one tells the player to play their character, not to play a puppet using die-rolls.
Of course, this book wouldn't be complete if it would not also have it's own game system :-). XD20 is for me the same revolution as a larp that goes with WYSIWYG rules.
XD20 wants to simplify the game by having very little rules to give the XDM more freedom to focus on the game, not the rules. Ah, this is exactly the same phylosophy I uphold for my own larps :-)

XDM is written by Tracy Hickman and Curtis Hickman, with excellent drawings by Howard Tayler. It costs $29.95 and is absolutely worth the money.
Go to http://www.xtremedungeonmaster.com and go buy it NOW.

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