I decided to cut my post in half, first half on the Temple of Elemental Evil and then this on what I wanted to talk about today...zero level.
This has got me thinking again about the whole zero level kick off to a campaign. I have this module and want to run it. Yet, as I said in my comment to Jeff, I have players who balk at the idea.
I understand why they do. There are several reasons. One of them is my own GADD (Gamer ADD). I will be running a game for a little bit and then something new/old will come into my field of vision and I will turn towards that one, wanting to play it or run it and the game I was running gets left int he dust. I am trying to avoid this. Yet, it can happen. Another reason is that, as was pointed out in Jeff's blog comments, 1st lvl. PCs are rather fragile in 1st edition. Plus, as a zero level, they don't have ANY real skills to rely upon. No spells, no combat prowess, no thief skills, nothing. Yet, the players who talk and squawk about this are losing sight of what I believe a zero lvl. game is about. It is an chance to forge a bond with the other players from the very beginning of their adventuring career.
The module in question is called Treasure Hunt, N4. In it a bunch of people are captured by slavers and the ship is wrecked on the shore of a small island. The PCs are these captured people and must survive. Kind of like Survivor, the real game! In it, the DM tracks what the PCs do and helps him/her guide the player to a particular class.
The amount of potential in this module is staggering. Every since I found it, by chance, at a gaming store awhile back, I have been in love with the idea of zero lvl. I think it is one reason I want to try the new DCC beta on some players.
I think my games are much more story based than rules based. The DM of our Temple game broke it down this way, there are two kinds of games. Simulation, trying to be as much like that era you are trying to play and story based. I disagree to an extent, but that is for another blog post. My point is that, yes a zero level game is going to be scary. You have a d6 of hit points and you can't hit anything unless you roll REALLY high. But, I'm not that much of an evil DM. At this point, I want the campaign to continue. I'm not going to throw things at you that the player can't handle. UNLESS, there is a story based reason behind it, or I want to teach my players that running away is a valid option.
Side note, there was a TPK I had the last time I tried to run a zero level game. They characters were all first or second by this point. The fighter rushed into some brush to find three gnolls. He mixed it up with kobolds and decided to attack. He died, the mage/cleric tried to stop them and died, the ranger tried to get away, and died while trying to dodge out of the way of the blades in a small copse of trees and the thief died as well. They didn't run when they realized what it was that they fought. My players have a tendency to stand and fight regardless of the odds. I had to spank them for it, and I will again in my upcoming 1st ed. campaign. They need to know that running away is a valid excuse and one that SHOULD be used on occasion.
I think it is one problem with some gamers. Especially those that were raised on anything after 2nd. edition. And, even that edition has some issues. Players began to think they could survive anything. A DM was going to "balance" the game. Where did this idea come from?
Anyway, sorry to get off topic.
The last thought I have about the zero level concept is this. It is an intriguing idea. It helps a DM with that age old question of where do the adventurers meet? There is no inn they need to meet in, no sudden command from the king to find brave adventurers. The PCs are all normal folk, swept up into something much bigger than themselves. They BECOME adventurers. That is what I think will make an amazing game and an amazing campaign. PCs are born, they are forged!