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Author Topic: [AD&D] First Time DM'ing it  (Read 3307 times)
Kevin Vito
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« on: December 23, 2010, 11:30:52 PM »

When two members of the regular D&D3.5 game I play didn't show up, my DM decided to call the game off.
I suggested playing a game of first edition AD&D with the people who did show up.
I've never DM'ed a game of AD&D, so I stepped up to the plate and gave it a try.

First I had everybody roll up characters. I house-ruled a lot of the more confusing tables away and allowed the players to take 15 in two ability scores of their choice before rolling 3d6 in order for the remaining ability scores. I like the idea of finding a compromise between random chargen and more controlled chargen. The players seemed to like it.
We had three characters in the party.
1) a human cleric/magic-user. Had a dexterity of 3. Worshipped the goddess Lady Gaga in the hopes of gaining her divine favor so that he might one day overcome his disability and learn to dance. His spells were written in the margins of his holy book. The orcs allowed him to keep his holy book when they locked him up (the orcs are evil, yet they respect religion.)
2) a young elfin thief.
3) a dwarfen fighter. He rolled a 17 for dexterity.

I started the party out in an orcish jail cell with no equipment. Using a femur from the skeleton they shared the cell with, they managed to grab the key ring from the slumbering orcish guard. After arming themselves with bones and chains, they escaped the cell to find that the orc was not sleeping normally, but was in fact in a drug induced stupor from smoking a purple herb while he was on the job.
After stealing the orcs equipment and locking him in the cell, they freed another group of prisoners in a neighboring cell. Those other guys were used as henchmen.

The dungeon was randomly generated as the players went through. Random treasures and monsters were placed, though occasionally I came up with some stuff off the top of my head without any tables involved.
The highlights:

At one point, the party found a chimney, and considered climbing up to get outside. They decided to seek out a different exit instead. As they dug through the ashes, they found human bones and an iron ring. The ring turned out to be a magical ring of swimming, but our heroes never discovered this.

The party went up some stairs and found a door. When they listened at the door, they heard the sounds of orcish soldiers and their women having a party in the next room. Rather than fight, they decided to explore the rest of the dungeon to find a different way out. They end up coming back here later.

The first battle fought was against a single goblin servant with a shovel operating a furnace. After killing him, the party took his shovel and picked up various other random items in the room to use as weapons. These were used against two more goblins that ran into the room after they heard their friend die. After killing these other two goblins, the party went into the next room to find a combination storage room and servants quarters.
They found a bunch of barrels full of salt and dried meat, so they decided to sit down and eat. The meat smelled somewhat like pork, but something was off. The heroes decided not to eat it for fear that the meat might be human. When they went into the next room, they found a sort of butcher shop with a bunch of strange animals in cages. These animals were six legged creatures, about the size of dogs, with soft brown fur, long necks, and grinning childlike faces. They stuck by their decision not to eat the meat.

In the next room they found a bunch of goblin zombies laying on a heap on the floor. The zombies rose up and attacked the party, but were turned by the cleric/magic user. After the battle, they found some kind of clay seal on the floor that bore some kind of demonic symbol. This was the spot where the zombies were laying before the adventurers walked in.
The cleric shattered the seal with the goblin's shovel, and a box was found underneath.
The box contained a spring dart trap and a pair of magical bracers of armor. The bracers were lime green and had a pair of snarling faces painted on the elbows. The cleric took these.

After that the party went to the main hall where they found an alcove guarded by four badgers and a human fighter wearing a strange helmet with a glowing green visor. The cleric/magic-user cast charm person on the man and got him to call off his pets. When they found out that the man was the quarter-master of this dungeon, they persuaded him to let them into the armory. In the armory, they found an unlimited number of scimitars, small shields, and suits of leather armor, along with their own gear that was confiscated by the orcs, and a +2 sword of dragon slaying (rolled on a random item table.)
The dwarf took the sword. After asking the quartermaster about it, he found out that the sword has slain two different dragons. When the sword's master attempted to slay a third dragon, his luck ran out, and he himself was slain. The dragon took the sword and placed it in this armory. The quartermaster revealed that the dragon was the lord and master of this dungeon: President Flamedrinker. When the players realized that they might end up fighting a dragon, eyes bulged, and grievances were uttered.

The cleric/magic-user ordered the quartermaster to show the party to the exit. The man pointed out that there were two exits.
The main exit was in the great atrium where the dragon slept and guarded his treasure.
The rear exit was in the orcish barracks through the door where the party heard orcs laughing and partying.
The party decided to leave through the barracks.

The party went back to the door where they heard the partying. They attempted to convince the orcish captain that they were fresh new mercenaries recently hired by the dragon. He didn't buy it. The cleric commanded the quartermaster to kill the orcish captain with his badgers. From there the party proceeded to battle the five orcish soldiers and the three orcish women. The women dealt more damage than the soldiers in the end. One frenzied lady managed to wrestle the elf thief to the ground and nearly strangled him. After the dwarf killed the woman, the cleric healed the thief.

The party went through the exit and found themselves in a courtyard surrounded by orcish archers on the walls, with an iron portcullis blocking their escape. After the first round, the sounds of a dragon roaring and flapping his wings were heard.
The heroes killed the orcs in the left tower and gained control of it. They found a crank in the tower and learned that there was another crank in the other tower. It would take two men on each crank one full round to lift the portcullis.
The dragon came down and perched on the right tower. After one of the orcish archers missed on an attack, the dragon punished him by pulling him out and biting his head off.
The heroes decided to run back into the dungeon, with only the dwarf staying behind to try and fight the dragon.
The dragon started off by throwing the corpses of three orcish archers at the dwarf. All three missed.
The dwarf pulled out his longbow and managed to land an attack on the dragon, taking out the first hit die. For his flavorful description of the attack, I rewarded the player by giving him a reroll on his next attack.
The dragon retaliated by activating a hand held device that caused the temperature within the dungeon to rise. The rest of the party had a choice between being cooked slowly within the relative safety of the dungeon walls and almost certainly being incinerated by the dragon's breath weapon. They opted for the latter option.
They all took advantage of my flavorful-description house-rule, describing their attacks in interesting ways in order to get second chances on attacks that missed. With a little luck and a lot of fighting spirit, they managed to beat hit points out of the dragon. The thief and the cleric were both badly burned after failing their saving throws against the dragon's fire breath. The dwarf managed to climb the tower and land a devastating killing blow on the dragon using his dragon-slaying sword.
The dragon's device was switched off, causing the dungeon to cool down and return to normal temperatures. The dwarf and the henchmen went after the treasure in the atrium, and found piles of gold along with two magic items.

The first magic item was some kind of dragon-skin suit. The suit was used to resurrect the cleric/magic user. The catch was that the scaly dragon-skin would be grafted onto his skin forever. The second magic item was some kind of ventriloquist dummy. The soul of the elf was transferred into the wooden body, and he swore that he would get his old body back some day.

There was too much gold in the dragon's horde for the heroes and their henchmen to carry off by themselves, so they looked around for mules or horses. They found the orc's stable, but the beasts inside were not normal animals, but instead larger versions of the caged creatures the party found before.

After sending the quartermaster and his evil badgers to prison and showing the dragon's severed off to the people of a nearby village, the heroes went back to their homes and their lives.
The elf went off to try and get his real body back.
The cleric, having pleased Gaga, finally learned to dance.
The dwarf went back to his job as a nanny, taking care of two spoiled rich children. He used his new sword to frighten them into good behavior.

Everybody had fun. The players thought I went too easy on them though. Next time I'll make my dungeons deadlier and I won't give out so many magic items.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2010, 01:44:19 AM »

Hi, nice account.

So they could just keep describing their combat moves in the hope of a reroll? That's an interesting one - certain a more powerful effect than (potentially) getting a +2 to hit for describing a move. And I guess if you say no to a new roll, that's it, the roll missed, move on?

Sorry I'm not commenting on the whole thread, it just struck me as elegant in some way, so I wanted to note it. I've mostly thought about rolls where you do a bunch to try and modify it, including some narration to bonuses method, but when you roll, that's it.

I am thinking that in a way, if the GM has decided you will win, he just keeps handing you rerolls. But on the other hand it would become increasingly obvious that this is happening. So if it happens, it's not veiled. Hmm, I'd probably stick a set limit on the number of rerolls possible per attack, if I used it. Just musing...
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Kevin Vito
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2010, 01:33:30 PM »

Hi, nice account.

So they could just keep describing their combat moves in the hope of a reroll? That's an interesting one - certain a more powerful effect than (potentially) getting a +2 to hit for describing a move. And I guess if you say no to a new roll, that's it, the roll missed, move on?

Sorry I'm not commenting on the whole thread, it just struck me as elegant in some way, so I wanted to note it. I've mostly thought about rolls where you do a bunch to try and modify it, including some narration to bonuses method, but when you roll, that's it.

I am thinking that in a way, if the GM has decided you will win, he just keeps handing you rerolls. But on the other hand it would become increasingly obvious that this is happening. So if it happens, it's not veiled. Hmm, I'd probably stick a set limit on the number of rerolls possible per attack, if I used it. Just musing...

The players only used one second-chance per round anyway, even without me having to set a limit. There were a couple of instances where players wanted to save their second-chances for later rounds though. I allowed it.

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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2010, 03:05:08 PM »

I think it's very different when they choose to only reroll once, compared to when they cannot choose to reroll a second time (ie, a one reroll limit is in place).

Rolling on (hur hur), what happened to the badly burned rogue? Dead along with the cleric?
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Kevin Vito
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2010, 03:26:17 PM »

The cleric and the thief both died, but came back (sort of).
I like the idea of resurrection that comes at great personal cost.
The cleric was resurrected with the magical suit of scales. It grafted onto his burned skin and gave him permanent scaled skin with a -1 penalty to charisma.
The thief's soul was placed inside the wooden doll body. That seemed to be punishment enough judging from the player's reaction.


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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2010, 03:53:01 PM »

Oh right. I mixed up the elf as being the cleric and everything.

Yeah, it's problematic with death. Like if someones reading a novel where a character dies and they don't happen to particularly care about it, it's not a deal breaker. But in roleplay - well, like gold backing a dollar, death backs meaning. When people just shrug about their characters death, particularly if they come back/get resurrected, it topples the thing that backs meaning. Indeed I'd challenge any writer to write a novel where no one in it can die, yet the story doesn't just involve people gadding about and acting on flights of whimsy.

So yeah, I can feel the need to make a great cost to death. But I'm not sure the player feeling any level of punishment works aids in that?
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Cliff H
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2011, 07:46:43 AM »

The cleric and the thief both died, but came back (sort of).

It's a little funny that a game in which two of the three characters die ends up being described as going a little lite on the party. That's resurrection for you though. I remember when a friend of mine ran a briefly lived Iron Kingdoms campaign for D&D 3.0. He gave a quick rundown of how things were different there mechanically from the baseline game, and when he said death was final and resurrection was not available at all, I swear you could feel the cold chill blast through everyone at the table. There were nervous glances from person to person. Death was final? But... but... Let me tell you, that made death really mean something. Unfortunately, this presented a problem in that the rest of the game was still built on an engine that assumed death was in fact not final, and there weren't any other modifications to the rules that made combat any more survivable. Did wonders for ratcheting up the tension in combat though.

I wanted to ask you about the house rule you introduced in which a flavorful action description got a reroll. Did you go into the game with that idea, or was this something that you introduced on the fly for some reason? You also noted that the players took to it readily. Did they do so because they liked it, or because they needed it? Is your group the sort to put in that kind of extra narrative effort anyway, or only when they'd otherwise be hosed? Basically, it seems like you introduced an option that encouraged greater scene decoration on the part of your players and did so quite successfully, in a game that, in my experience, hasn't generated that in the past. I'm curious to know what gave it wings and how to best reproduce it.
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Kevin Vito
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2011, 02:14:26 PM »

I wanted to ask you about the house rule you introduced in which a flavorful action description got a reroll. Did you go into the game with that idea, or was this something that you introduced on the fly for some reason? You also noted that the players took to it readily. Did they do so because they liked it, or because they needed it? Is your group the sort to put in that kind of extra narrative effort anyway, or only when they'd otherwise be hosed? Basically, it seems like you introduced an option that encouraged greater scene decoration on the part of your players and did so quite successfully, in a game that, in my experience, hasn't generated that in the past. I'm curious to know what gave it wings and how to best reproduce it.

I introduced the houserule before the fight with the dragon, both to make the fight more survivable and because previous fights were a little too light on narration on the player's parts.
The fight with the orcs had a little bit of narration, but for the most part whenever a player's turn came up they just announced their attacks and rolled. I needed some sort of carrot and stick to force the players to add a little more color commentary to their actions. The fight with the dragon served that end nicely.
The players took to the rule initially because they needed it, but once they got into the swing of it they started narrating for narration's sake.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2011, 03:38:34 PM »

One thing the riddle of steel RPG had were....can't remember the name. Destiny points? They were kind of like XP, but attached to the player, not the character. Your character dies? You make a new one, but with the XP you'd accumulated in destiny points.

It depends on whether the tension you want in your game is to be based on players wagering their carefully harvested resources, or based on characters, with whatever attachment the players as audience had to them, potentially dying. The riddle of steel one is to support the latter. Nethack is an example of supporting the former.
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