[AD&D] Second Time DM'ing

Started by Kevin Vito, February 06, 2011, 01:23:45 PM

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Kevin Vito

As the great blizzard trapped myself and three of my friends in my apartment, I decided to help pass the time by running a game of first edition AD&D.
James runs a weekly game of D&D 3.5 that I used to play in.
Jim still plays in that campaign. He's only played AD&D 1E once before.
Tori is Jim's girlfriend. She's never played D&D before at all, though she does play in a couple of White Wolf LARPs.

We jumped straight into the narrative during the process of character creation.

"You wake up cold and wet lying face down in sand and sea foam" I said as I passed out pencils, paper, and my copy of the player's hand book "Your heads are throbbing. Let's see if you can remember who you are...
You each have six abilities: Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Chose two and assign a 15 to each. Then roll 3d6 for each of your other scores (in order!)"
As they did this, I explained the ability scores in detail to Tori. When they were finished, I went on.

"You all stand up and look around. You are standing on a beach. It's night time. As you look around, you see wreckage from your ship, and some people you recognize. Who here is playing as a human, and who here is playing as a demi-human, such as an elf, dwarf, or hobbit?"
They all decided to play as humans.

"You all start to remember. You were a crew aboard a ship. Let us determine your roles upon that ship. First: Who has the highest Charisma score?"
Jim had a Charisma of 15.
"Okay Jim, you are the captain. Now select your character classes."
I then proceeded to explain the character classes and their requisites.
Jim's character, the captain, was a fighter.
James played as an illusionist with full sleeves of magical tattoos. He uses his own skin as his spellbook.
Tori played as an assassin.

For equipment, the party had only the clothes on their backs and the wreckage all around them.
Everybody picked up pieces of wood to use as clubs and stakes.
The captain took a length of chain and wrapped it around one fist as a cestus.
The illusionist took an oar to use as a staff.
The assassin took nails to throw as darts.

I explained my house-rules and had everyone roll hit dice and fill out details on their character sheets.
I give fighters an extra -1 to their Thac0 and a +1 to their hit dice.
I give thieves (including assassins) an extra -1 to their AC in addition to their dexterity bonus.
I use the modifiers from basic to make everything more simple and consistent.

As they looked around their surroundings, they found that they were on a small jungle island with only a single building.
There was a tower in the distance with pipes that glowed intensely with unnatural colors.
It looked less like a tower in fact, and more like a machine, and less like machine and more like a musical instrument.

The heroes decided to go explore the tower.

Kevin Vito

I think I need better procedures for wilderness exploration.
I decided that the tower was only ten miles away. I wonder if I should have placed it farther than that.

Whenever the party traveled a mile:
1) I had the party announce which direction they were headed in, then roll to see if they got lost in the woods and strayed off course (7 out of 10 chance). I did this to get the party to see other parts of the jungle as they would have just gone in a straight line otherwise. I ended up dropping this halfway through though as it only ended up being really annoying.
2) There was a 1 in 10 chance each mile to stumble upon a random encounter.
3) I described the scenery each mile, and tried to incorporate some kind of interesting, useful feature every other mile.

During the course of their trek:
The captain made a torch
The assassin climbed trees to get a look around from a higher vantage point (and also to gather fruit)
The party found a river with clean water and stopped to eat and drink there
Crumbled, overgrown stone ruins were found (but not explored)
The party was surprised by a human-sized trapdoor spider. The captain killed it in a single blow. When the party searched the spider's burrow, they found two inhuman skeletons at the bottom each with scimitars, round shields with white hands painted on them, and strange iron disks piled at the bottom shaped like oyster shells.
The party was also charged by a rhinoceros-sized rhinoceros-beetle. With clever positioning, they were able to get the beetle to ram into a tree, then off of a cliff. The party did not look down the bottom of the cliff (the bottom of the cliff had a door carved into it that lead to a derelict temple filled with treasure.)

The party did not find any of the treasure that was hidden in the ancient ruins, nor did they find the tribesman's village, nor did they encounter the orcish patrol or the tribesman's hunting party.

They did reach the base of the tower in short order though. There they encountered a family of baboons domesticated by orcs and used as guards.

In hindsight, I should have had the party do two random encounter rolls each mile. The first one would have been for wild animals only (1 in 10 chance). The second one would have been for humanoid patrols. The party rolls a twelve sided die. On a 1, the party encounters a hostile orcish patrol. On a 12, the party encounters friendly human tribesmen.

Kevin Vito

The tower was randomly generated as it was explored. It ended up being a lot bigger on the inside then it was on the outside, and it didn't make any sort of sense at all.

Some highlights:

I first described the orcs as looking like pig faced creatures with glistening snake-skinned bodies.
The snake skin was not their true skin; the scales were actually little iron discs attached to a skin-tight body suit that conformed perfectly to the orcish proportions. Their true skin was milky-white and translucent like that of a maggot.
The pig faces were not their true faces, but were in fact masks. Their true faces resembled those of primitive sea creatures with bulging luminescent eyes and wide mouths filled with long, needle-like teeth.

The party only ended up fighting three orcs in the sleeping quarters. They totally lucked out on all the wandering monster rolls, but all the room contents rolls just gave them a lot of empty space with no monsters or treasure.

The party did find a shaft that lead upwards into a treasure room, but they did not climb the shaft.
They stumbled upon a trap door that nearly dropped the illusionist into a sealed off room with a desk and a lamp.
After breaking down a hidden door, the party did find a secret room with an elevator. They only went up to floor six though, and even then they didn't explore it fully. They encountered a friendly human paladin who had wandered into the tower through 'The Long Stairs'... all the way on the other side of the world.
The party decided that they had had enough of the maddening tower, and left.

They wandered back to the beach with their newfound ally following them. They encountered a giant spitting snake, and a shadow creature. The latter was defeated by the illusionist by throwing the lamp he took from tower. The former was defeated with chopping.

When the party got to the beach, they encountered three orcs and a metal cannister that floated around. The illusionist used illusionary snakes to scare the orcs away. The cannister caused the tower to sprout arms and legs and lumber through the jungle. The party rolled to disbelieve and saw through this illusion. The captain smashed the cannister open and found a brain inside.
With the brain destroyed, the orcs and the NPC paladin turned into tribesmen and the tower disappeared.
With the help of the tribesmen, the party built a raft and made it off the island to a nearby penal colony.

All in all it was pretty fun.
I kinda wish the players had explored a little more though.