Monday, July 2, 2012

Old School AD&D Game II - 6/29/2012 Recap

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm running an Old-School AD&D adventure for the Friday Night "Beer & Pizza" gaming group I'm a part of.

I finally decided on using Labyrinth Lord along with the Advanced Edition Companion as our system, and I'm already liking it better than using OSRIC, like I did last time I ran an old AD&D Adventure. That's nothing against OSRIC at all - I actually think it does almost too good of a job of cloning 1st Edition AD&D, and I just decided that for this game, I don't want all of that baggage.

I made pre-generated characters for the group, and when creating them, I knew I liked Labyrinth Lord already. I hadn't played B/X D&D since way back in around 1983 or so, and I'd forgotten how "simple" a system it is. I'm so used to stuff like Pathfinder, which I do like, but more and more I'm finding that on a Friday night after a long week of work while drinking a few beers and joking around with the gang, a more open and flexible system like Labyrinth Lord or even Savage Worlds is more my speed. I was able to create game mechanics of the characters extremely quickly - all five were done in less than 20 minutes. The backgrounds and equipment took a bit longer.

The group is going through the old module S4: Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, which I'd kept secret from the group, and interestingly enough at the end of the first session, I discovered that one of the players has actually run this adventure before back when it first came out. he claims that he doesn't remember it, which sounded pretty accurate since after an entire session he didn't realize he'd DM'd it before until I just mentioned the name of the module before we left.

Here's a quick recap and background of the first session.  If you ever want to play through this adventure, then I guesss this is the obligatory SPOILER ALERT alarm. You've been warned.

Module: S4: The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth
System: AD&D, by way of Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion 
Number of Players: Five (Brian, Cal, Jeff Franz, Nick, and Sean)
Session 1: 6/29/2012; 7:00pm - 1:30am (actual D&D time roughly 8:45pm - 11:15pm)
Food: Two extra large pizzas, Klondike mint-chip bars
Drinks: Tap Room #21 Lager, Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA, Boatswain Chocolate Stout, Coca-Cola, Water
Other Games Played: Bohnanza


Adventuring Group: The Lucky Fools & Gloaters

Dolok, Human Druid (Brian): Dolok is one of the wolf-nomads, and thanks to something that Arkhein from Rather Gamey mentioned on Google+ the other day, I made Dolok a cannibal essentially. His tribe of the Wolf Nomads comes from right near the border of Iuz where there is an undead infestation, but there are no clerics among his people, so they have adopted the habit of eating the corpses of anything they kill in order to prevent the body being used to create an undead creature. To help with this, Dolok has filed his teeth and keeps his finger nails very sharp. He usually have bloodstains on his mouth and hands, frightening most people and giving him a bonus to intimidate people if he chooses. However, people are so scared of him that he finds it difficult to bond with people.

Lord Flemin Ormstraad Corond, Dwarf (Cal): Lord Flemin is the third cousin, twice removed, of Prince Olinstaad Corond, leader of the Principality of Ulek. Lord Flemin does not have a lot of "official" duties, but is well-known as a consumer of large quantities of ale. He's been sent away from Ulek to learn new scientific techniques which can better his people, and so far he has amassed several notebooks worth of new brewing technique to share with his cousin when he returns. The combination of his drunken slur and very bad accent makes him difficult to understand, and many of the adventurers wonder why they had to outsource the job of "dwarf" to someone from Ulek instead of getting somebody from Irongate or Sunndi. Lord Flemin carries a unique magic item - a ring that will talk to him and offer suggestions if magic-items are sacrificed to it. When it speaks, it uses a confusing language full of terms that Flemin doesn't understand, but he trusts it enough to have sacrificed a Staff of the Woodlands and a +5 Suit of Elvin Chainmail to it so far.

Benedictus, Human Cleric (Jeff): Benedictus is a follower of Fharlanghn, god of Horizons, Distances, Roads, and Travel. He prays religiously every morning before setting out to adventure. He drinks honey straight from the jar several times a day. I'll have more to say about Benedictus as we continue but I'd rather than it reveal itself naturally through adventuring since most of my players read this blog.

Andrezi Ionacu, Half-Elf Ne'er-do-Well (Nick): [The first thing Nick did was decide the Andrezi Ionacu was his "human" name, and asked people to instead call him Estian Darkstar]. Estian is the son of a Valle Elf and one of the "wise women" of the Rhennee, who are the equivalent of "river Gypsies" in Greyhawk. He is not trusted by either culture due to his mixed heritage, and took to taking on odd-jobs to learn as much as he could. He is usually considered the leader of the Merry Fools & Gloaters. He gets along extremely well with the ladies and adventures with a few apprentices, all of them female. However, most men find him annoying and nothing more than a fop or dandy. He is a strict vegetarian, and carries a handkerchief with him that he uses to constantly wipe off Dolok's mouth.

Weslocke, Elf (Sean): Weslocke is a "Red Elf" from a far-off land, and has explained that his people died off long ago, and he is one of the last of his kind. Skilled with both the blade and with magic. He carries himself as though he had military training. Once again, there is a lot more behind this character, but it will have to come out during the actual game.

The adventurers received a notice from His Lotfy Grace, Walgar, the Margrave of Bissell, asking if they would be willing to be hired for a dangerous mission in the Yatil mountains, ostensibly to recover an ancient artifact rumored to be somewhere in the mountains.

The five seasoned adventurers, along with their hirelings and porters, traveled to Bissell and met with the Margrave in a fortress near the capital of Thornward. As the leader of a border kingdom constantly on the brink of war, Walgar did not stand on ceremony, but got right to the point, explaining how, in the past, the evil arch-mage Iggwilv had imprisoned the demon lord Graz'zt into her service and carved out a powerful empire for herself, based in an elaborate system of caverns that were supposedly located in the Yatil Mountains. Graz'zt eventually freed himself and Iggwilv was defeated, and her caverns looted. However, some of her treasured is still rumored to be in the caverns, although the location of the caverns has been lost. The Margrave wishes the Merry Fools & Gloaters to recover one particular item, Daoud's Magical Lanthorn. All of the rest of the magic found within the caverns would be theirs to keep, along with all of the coin, minus a 15% tax, if they can recover the lanthorn for him.

While this was being explained, several servants came into the room to wait on the Margrave's guests. All of the women chose to wait on Estian to the exclusion of all of the other guests, leaving one lone halfling to cater to the needs of the other members of the Merry Fools & Gloaters. The hafling ran away screaming from Dolok, fetched about three or four pints of ale for Flemin, and then watched Benedictus down a jar of honey and ask for more.

Estian proferred Lord Flemin as the leader of the adventurers in order to agree to the terms of the contract, but the Margrave mentioned that he had trouble understanding the dwarf, and therefore Estian took over the negotiations, with assistance from Flemin. The adventurers refused the pay the 15% tax, mentioning that now that they knew of the existence of the caverns and the magical lanthorn, there was really nothing stopping them from going on their own and keeping everything for themselves, including the lanthorn. The Margrave mumbled something under his breath about a plot hole and eventually begrudgingly agreed to let the adventures keep all that they could carry out of the caverns, and that once it had been cleared, he would recover the rest.

In front of the group, a drunken Flemin produced a powerful Staff of the Woodlands from his pack and sacrificed it to his ring, asking his ring "Is there a chance that Graz'zt is still in the caverns?" [Or it was something to this effect - I forget exactly how he asked.] A female voice from the ring said, "Hang on, I'll get him" and then a few minutes later, a male voice from the ring said something akin to, "No way, dude. He want back to the Abyss. But you never know where he could turn up."

Benedictus seemed a bit upset - he had been pushing to go to the caverns when he had though the demon lord might be trapped inside. Begrudgingly, he finally agreed to go, along with the rest of the Merry Fools and Gloaters.

The Margrave provided a scant map of the area, along with horses, some guides, and a few weeks' worth of rations and bade the adventurers to hurry so that the magic items inside the caverns did not fall into the hands of Perrenland, Ket, or Iuz.

The adventurers rode to the starting place on the map, and having no definite idea of where to go, Flemin again surprised the group by producing a suit of magical elven chainmail and sacrificing it to his ring again to ask the ring which path they should take. After a few seconds, a voice was heard to say, "No way! Look where they are!" and then the first voice from the previous consultation with the ring said, "I know, right? That's crazy!" This type of banter between the two voices went on for quite a while, with one voice mentioning something about "high enough level" and the other commenting that "I'm sure they'll be fine." Eventually the ring attempted to answer the question Flemin posed, which was "Which way should we go?" The Ring answered "I don't know, Dude. I haven't been this far before. But you should totally watch out for some crazy stuff coming up. If there's like a landslide or something, do not hesitate. You gotta get outta there. Good luck, Dude!"

Flemin grumbled about the good-for-nothing ring that didn't answer his questions, but then the adventurers had a good idea - Dolok could transform into an eagle and fly above the area depicted on the map to let the group know what was ahead and more importantly, where the entrance to the lost caverns might be found.

Dolok complied and after about a 15 minute break while various players took out their iPads and looked up how far an eagle could fly on an average day, Dolok scouted ahead. At one point, he was chased by a group of giant eagles who thought their eggs were being threatened. He also saw a group of hippogryphs, several patrols of men and humanoids, and a gnomish vale. His aerial reconnaissance completed, Dolok flew back to the group to report his findings, and they began to plot out their next move.

[At this point, we stopped playing D&D for the evening. One of the guys went home, and the rest of us hung out for a bit, chit-chatting and then playing a game of Bohnanza.]

The recap of the second session is here

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Water
Listening: "Fran-Dance (Alternate Take)" by Miles Davis


  1. Very cool! I'd love to go back through some of my old favorite modules.

    Thrilled to hear your comments about B/X.

    1. Hey, thanks! Yeah, it's been awesome. My experience with S3 left a bit to be desired because I think some of the group were looking at it merely as "filler" in order to move onto something else, so there was a lot of grumbling about "what do you mean it's another empty room?" and stuff like that, and then they just tired to metagame and "skip to the end."

      However, this time, I set it up differently and told them that we'll play until they're ready to pick up something else, but with the intent that we'll come back around to finish it up. The group consists of about seven players and out of the seven, five of us have games we want to run, which range from my old-school AD&D stuff, a Call of Cthulhu game, a Warhammer 40k RPG one-shot, a Savage Worlds Weird War II game (and also potential another Savage Worlds science-fiction game), and a Pathfinder homebrew campaign. So, I think we're just going to do a round-robin thing.

      For me, I collected a bunch of old modules back in the day like the classics (G1-2-3, D1-2-3, Q1), S1, S2, S3, S4, A1-4, C1 and C2, L1 and L2, U1-3... and I've never played ANY of them. Well, once, I played in U1, but most of the time we just did homebrews, and we also took a stab a I3-5 (the Pharoah stuff) and also used a few of the B/X Modules (B2, X1, X4-5, etc.). So, I've had this itch to run all of these old modules that I got back in the day and I finally came across the right time and the right group to run them.

  2. I love the magic soothsaying ring. Not only is the sacrifice mechanic neat, but the idea that it's occupied by a squabbling couple is brilliant.

    1. It's actually an idea that I got from an article that Monte Cook wrote in an old issue of Kobold Quarterly. I've been wanting to use it ever since I read it, and it's perfect for this game. I totally wouldn't use it for a more "serious" game, or really even for a long-running campaign. The interesting thing is, there is one "main" voice for the ring, but it seems to have... "friends" that are with it whenever it's called upon.

      I gave the player whose character has the ring a few "freebie" magic items to start the game with, for the express purpose of using those to fuel the power of the ring. So, the player specifically chose things that the other players would want (such as the Staff of the Woodlands, which the Druid could totally use) just to see their faces when he sacrifices them.


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