Saturday, February 12, 2011

Old School AD&D Game: 9/17/2010 Recap

Yes, 9/17/2010 was a long time ago - nearly five months.  But, I thought it might be fun for people to read the recaps from an "old-school" AD&D game I'm running on Friday nights for a few people.  This Friday night game is typically scheduled once a month, and was originally the "time-slot" for a home-brew D&D 3.5 campaign for our friend Brian.  That campaign ran for 13 sessions (it was planned that way) and after it came to an end, our buddy Sean took over the time-slot and ran a d20 based Call of Cthulhu campaign through the Masks of Nyarlathotep, which most people seem to regard as one of the best RPG adventures ever written.

After a while, interest in the Masks campaign faded, partially due to a haphazard schedule - it was becoming harder and harder for people to keep their Friday nights clear.  And partially, we found that trying to run a "serious" horror-based game on a Friday night after a long week of work while we were drinking beer and single malt scotch and eating pizza was just a little difficult.

Back in September of last year, I offered to run a "one-shot" (which is now, as my friend Cal says, rapidly turning into a "72-shot") of an old-school AD&D module.  I asked the group if they were interested, but the caveat was that we would use the original 1st Edition AD&D Rules, and I would create everyone's characters for them and write their backgrounds. 

Five players agreed to play, and I designed their characters.  I was going for a maximum "old-school" feel, so the group includes an illusionist, a totally out-of-place monk, and the ubiquitous elf fighter/magic-user and halfling thief.  The party was rounded out by a human cleric, a half-elf ranger, a human "scout" (thief), a dwarf fighter/cleric, a human fighter, and a human paladin (the party leader).

[Purist will rightly point out that dwarves were not allowed to be clerics in traditional 1st Edition AD&D until the publication of Unearthed Arcana in 1985.  So, yeah, I used that book.  Sue me. And technically, while we are ostensibly playing 1st Edition AD&D, I am using OSRIC for some of the rules to just move things along more quickly, and OSRIC allows dwarves to be clerics.]

Once the game is finished, I'll post the character backgrounds, including how each character feels about the others.  There's some really funny stuff in there, and the backgrounds require people to really stretch their acting chops to pull them off.  As an example, the human paladin's character description partially read:

"Sir Clennan speaks in a thick Scottish brogue and likes to let other people know when they are wrong, not because he finds himself superior (although that is a side effect), but rather because he assumes they would want to know that they are wrong and would be grateful to have the error of their ways pointed out to them.

Sir Clennan's paladin mount is named Silverheart the Third, which he acquired after his two previous mounts were killed while on adventures with him.  His favorite weapon is a longsword he calls Argent Death IV, a most excellent weapon recently acquired after your previous favorite weapon, Argent Death III, which you lost in a tournament to an opponent who had obviously been cheating."

You can see that this is not a "serious" game, but it has taught me a lot about AD&D, mainly, how I used to play it incorrectly.  That's probably a topic for another post.

The first session consisted of the five players (each playing two characters) meeting in (where else?!) a tavern.  The two hours of in-character dialogue that followed while they all talked about their upcoming quest went about town procuring supplies was by far one of the best RPG experiences I've had.  After this, we actually started the written adventure. 

The following "recap" was written by Brian, player of the human scout, Dougal, and also his "back-up character", a human monk named Li Mu Bai's Cousin.

"Thanks to Martin for dredging up his personal, mom-signed book from 1981 to spin us out this amazing Old School adventure.

Last night, our primary characters (along with our "red shirt"--ahem, "back-up"--characters) met at a tavern called the [insert gerund or adjective] [insert animal / beast].  Once there, we learned that our rag-tag group of adventurers consists of Sir Drinks-A-Lot (Franz's old geezer), Sir Boasts-A-Lot (Ferguson's Scot-sounding windbag), Sir Flits-A-Lot (Cal's diva elf), Sir Smells-A-Lot (my stinky scout), and Sir Sings-Off-Key-A-Lot (Carney's musician-worshipping frost barbarian).  After many an ale (and Lady Gaga
meat-related joke), our stout party set out to examine the dessicated corpses of various beasties slain after spewing forth from an ominous-looking cave in the countryside outside of The High Exalted And Most Righteous Duchy of Bob.  Oh, I meant Geoff.  Anyway, from the brine floaties, Sir Worships-A-Frickin'-Musician learned that the dead tell no tales, particularly when they were as dumb as a post in life; we did manage to learn, however, that the cave monsters came from "the inside."

Thusly, we set out for the mysterious cave.  A "sennight" later, we arrived at a cave with openings intermittently blocked by Star Trek-esque automatic doors.  We eventually timed it right and entered passages and rooms with more sliding doors and access panels; there were elevator shafts (can you dig it?), door panels with red and green buttons, and credit-card-shaped access cards made from purple bone.  The party was attacked by a Lurker From Above and readily dispatched it, although Sir Flits-A-Lot was a little bummed we didn't also encounter a Lurker From Behind.

In five more sennights (aka two-and-a-half fortnights), we will resume our august journey into Geoff's subterranean bowels."

So there you have it - the first recap of our foray into playing Old-School 1st Edition AD&D. The recap of the second session is here.

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