Here is my promised follow up post to my write up of Marmalade Dog 21, about the AD&D session I ran using a scenario from my campaign.
Urman the great is an archmage who has a stronghold on Ogre island. He sends adventurers to get information and items from the ancient city that is overrun by ogres, pirates, and other things. In this scenario, the rumored black crate, was on a ship caught in the same storm that nearly took the ship the players were on. The black crate is a large steamer trunk that agents of Urman send special items to him. He hires the newly arrived party to go and retrieve it. He gives them a magical lock that will return the crate to him. It has been magically hidden, so he can’t just find it himself, and being an archmage, has other things taking up his time.
It was a fun session and +Laura Rose Williams drove from Lansing after a meeting and a birthday party, just so she could play in my game. That was so cool! Her druid decided to cast a spell against some giant spiders they found when they decided that they wanted to go check out the ancient college of magic. She lost initiative, and got bit twice, and failed her save versus one of the bites. That was in less than the first hour of play. Laura said, “What is this DCC?” Which got a big laugh, as many at the table play DCC. I met Laura last year at Marmalade Dog, and we both played our first DCC last year.
I let her use the magic user, who had a spell that ended up saving another player at the end of the game.
I was supposed to have pre-gens ready for the players, but I had technical difficulties. So I had an idea that everyone liked. I hand wrote character templates on index cards. I started with just the random magic I rolled up from the tables in the DMG. Weapons and armor, potions, scrolls, wands, and miscellaneous items. I then figured out THAC0, number of hit dice, minimum ability scores, saving throws, and base abilities for thief and monk, and number of base spells for spell casters.
These were 5th level characters, and based on the experience points to get a magic user and illusionist to 5th level, the druid and the thief were 6th level. Other than one magic item I rolled that I did not remember being a cursed item, and another that required exceptional strength to use, the others worked out well. I re-rolled those two items. I then had the players roll stats, and if they rolled really bad, would have at least the minimum stat needed for that class. That gave it a bit of customizeability that the players liked. I let spell casters choose whatever spells they wanted. The players really liked the amount of things settled for them, but that they still had a hand in creating their characters. I didn’t time how long it took, and of course, most of the time was taken up by spell casters choosing spells.
With most of the choices they made, and certain magic items, a first level party could have played this scenario and completed it. They avoided combat for the most part, and did a lot of bluffing their way through. Of course, there were several key rolls I made for the bad guys that made it easier for them. One NPC just missed his roll to realize there was an elf and a cleric of the wrong religion present that really made things easier for them.
The players really liked that this was a sandbox scenario, that I didn’t force their hand. I let them go into the college of magic that is abandoned and full of nasty things. They lost the druid to giant spiders and decided to leave. A raging flesh golem crossed their path, but didn’t see them. A different roll, and they’d have had a fight. They just walked past a group of goblins arguing over guard duty, and bluffed their way into standing watch on the wreckage of the ship so they could explore it.
I told them that I didn’t come up with a good name for the wrecked ship, and The Storm Witch was suggested. What a great name! I’m keeping it! The crate wasn’t there, so they managed to go to the tavern that served the pirates and got a lead in the general direction of the crate. It was decided to use the ancient aqueduct system to travel above the city. This allowed them to avoid most encounters, and lookouts and others didn’t manage to see them up there running around.
They had an encounter with a harpy that charmed three of them, but the cleric used his wand of fear to drive off the harpy, and dispel magic to break the charm. They were sneaky and managed to avoid detection until they got in sight of the crate being guarded by 8 ogres. The illusionist used invisibility 10′ radius to get them close enough to use the two potions of ogre control that Urman gave them, and convinced 6 of the ogres to go check out a fight, and those six convinced one of the remaining two to join them.
Then they waited until those 7 were out of sight, and used a wand of paralyzation to freeze the last ogre. They then ran up and attached the lock before they could be stopped. Goblins ran up and shot them, and knocked the illusionist to 0 hit points before the magic of the lock and crate took them out of range. It was a challenge to grab the illusionist and keep him from falling off without one of the one’s grabbing him also falling. After a string of hilarious rolls of failure to attempt to grab the illusionist, the last thing that worked was feather fall, cast by Laura’s wizard, and they completed the mission and were congratulated and thanked by Urman.
We got done an hour early. This was because they only fought when they felt they had to, and withdrew when the fight was going against them. Had they had more fights, or not been as sneaky, the outcome would have been much different.
I made them give back the index cards, because I plan to type those up and can make templates based on levels. That’s one thing I really like about OSRIC, that it groups all the information you need on a given class into one place. It has every class from the AD&D Player’s Handbook, except monks and bards. AD&D bards are too complex, I will use one of the other OSR bard classes going forward. I will reserve AD&D bards for NPC’s, as they will be rare.
I will write up a separate article on my templates, and have an example that is typed. In addition, a cheat sheet with limitations for each race would be needed. My goal is something small and portable, either index cards, or maybe a booklet with all the information in each.