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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The First Game of Our New Campaign - Part 1

We finally got together on July 11th to play the first game of a new campaign. Originally we had planned for five or six players and ended up with three. I was very happy to have three, believe you me. So here I was, a middle 50's experienced OD&D ref who hadn't played or reffed OD&D since 1980*, two 30-something players - one of which had played the Basic D&D 1980 boxed set, and the other had played some 3rd edition D&D (I think that is right) and the 3rd ed players' 10 year old son who had never played before. To further set the stage, this game was being played with only the original 3 little books in the white box (5th printing), no supplements or other materials, just the house rules and extra monsters and magic I am creating just for this campaign.


I gave them a stack of pre-rolled characters which they were happy that I had as it got us into playing quickly. They just had to outfit themselves and then we started. The 10 year old had one character and the two adults had two each to make five characters in the game. The party thus consisted of an elven Fighting-Man/Magic User who chose to be a Fighting-Man for this adventure, a dwarven Fighting-Man, an elven Magic-User, a human Fighting-Man and a human Cleric. What follows now is an attempt at a summary of the events. If the players remember anything different, please bring it to my attention and I will edit where needed.


I told them, you have all met and have decided to throw in together and make a go of it. You have heard a couple of rumors over the last couple of days and are deciding if you want to pursue one of them or do something else. I try to always give the option tell me where you are heading.


Rumor #1 to the northwest off toward the frontier there are isolated homesteads and small farming communities where they are being hit by bandit raids and occasional incursions of monsters. Help is needed in the area and employment is available at 5 gold pieces each to track down and put an end to the bandits.


Rumor #2 to the northeast, further away from the frontier it is reported that a farmer is missing, having fallen down a hole that just opened up in the ground. After a minor investigation by the local Shire Reeve (sheriff) a Hero of some renown, the farmer was declared dead after the Shire Reeve discovered an previously unknown dungeon. He did not investigate further and the farmer was not recovered. The presumed widow is not willing to admit that her husband might be dead and is determined that someone should go into the dungeon after him.


After a brief discussion the party decided to pursue Rumor #2. As no encounters were rolled, a quick three day trip was made to the site. After some discussion with the farmers wife during which they were a bit vague but implied that they would seek the rescue of her husband and after being freshly provisioned by the lady, they descended by rope into the hole, a depth of some 50 feet or so below ground level. At their request the lady untied and dropped the ropes down after them. The lady indicated that the farmer had rope that could be dropped for them to climb out and promised that she would be checking to see if they had returned.


Upon reaching the bottom of the hole, they discovered that the dungeon corridor they had descended into was blocked to the west by the collapse of soil from the hole, but to the east it was unblocked and appeared to be abnormally clean. They lighted their torches and started exploring. After going a short distance they came to a corridor to the south while the main corridor continued to the east where it came to a T. After some discussion they decided to investigate the corridor to the south, it dead-ended with a door on both the east and west walls at the end of the corridor. It required some effort, but they opened both doors and took a quick look into both rooms and then decided to investigate the west room first.


While this room had various old furniture and other items in the room. They did not locate any secret doors or anything else of significance except along the south wall there were 3 large boxes or chests with lids and they were not locked. When they tried to open them, out of each came a roughly man-size floating blob that exhorted them to leave in no uncertain terms, speaking very strongly about being disturbed. The players exited the room hurriedly and shut the door behind them without learning anymore about the creatures/entities or the contents of the boxes/chests. As an exercize for the reader - make a list of what the players do and do not know about these creatures/entities.


**As a brief aside, I should note that in my game alignment plays an important part. Some brief comments follow and a more detailed treastise will be posted at a much later date. Lawful does not mean Good, but Lawful tends more toward good than not. Neutral is someone that is consistently in the middle and always avoids the extremes. Chaotic does not mean Evil, but Chaotic tends toward evil more than not. I also start players as Neutral unless they have declared themselves to be one thing or another. You can decide for yourselves what direction these characters appear to be heading. :)**


They then started searching the east room and found a few things including a bit of coin. The main development in this room was that they discovered a hidden door in the south wall. Opening the door they found a long narrow corridor and after a bit of discussion they all decided to explore it further. Once they had all entered the corridor the hidden door slammed shut behind them of itself. Without investigating this development they proceeded down the corridor.


At the other end of the corridor they found a door, passing through it put them at the top of a circular stair when is tight and steep. Going down the stairs about 40 feet or so of elevation brought them to a landing where there were three doors. They listened at the doors and could just barely hear excited voices through the one to the east, the one to the north turned out to be a storage room and the one to the south was an enormous room with a sandy floor. Entering and closing the a very thick door behind them they soon encountered an enormous snake. Its body was about a foot thick at the largest point and its head reared up to the 10 foot ceiling. It threw its coils around one fighter and bit another. They were very lucky that the ref rolled even worse than they did and they survived the encounter. The cleric healed the most injured person (and that spell was gone) (yes, I allow 1st level cleric one spell).


They then found two chests half embedded in the sand. One character was poisoned and barely survived trying to disarm a trapped lock. The cleric sliced open the poisoned finger and sucked out the poison using a liberal amount of wine on the finger and to "rinse" his mouth. In the chests they picked up a little more coin, three clerical scrolls, two flasks with unknown liquids in them, a very light chainmail suit of armor, but they could not identify the metal - it does not appear to be magical and a sword hilt. While looking at the sword hilt they discovered that neither elves nor dwarves could handle it, it punished their hand to try to hold it. The human fighter discovered that when he brought the sword hilt near some things a blade appeared. Beyond that he does not yet know what properties it has.


They continued walking away from the door and came to the far wall and then went west looking for a way out but did not find any other doors. Then as they went east the door opened and they could see the torch light on the far side. Whoever it was came toward them and quickly found the dead snake and the open chests. (No one had wondered what else might be buried in this room.) Not having any place to go they waited for the advancing party which turned out to be twelve orcs. The magic-user cast the sleep spell (the other spell gone) and rolled a twelve. Unexpectedly their are now twelve sleeping orcs. The party quickly killed the sleeping orcs and looted them. Hurrying on to the east wall they still found no doors. So they decided to get out of the room and headed back to the door.


Back out on the landing they decided to go down the stairway deeper into the dungeon. Yes, that's right deeper into the dungeon. After them had went down the stairway about 20 feet of elevation they heard many feet coming up the stairway and so they went back to the landing and - THEY WENT BACK INTO THE ROOM WHERE THEY KILLED THE SNAKE AND THE ORCS!!!


They went back down their tracks to the far wall and then along to wall to the east wall and waited. The door opened angry loud voices, they found the snake and the open chests and the dead orcs then split into two groups following the tracks both directions along the south wall. At this point the party under cover of darkness started easing directly towards the door they got about halfway there and then were discovered. At this point they run to the door, and closing it behind them hurry -DOWN THE STAIRS OUT OF SIGHT OF THE LANDING- and then remain silent, just as the door above bursts open and the other party races up the stairs. When they are heard to go through the door at the top of the stairs the party hurries down to the next landing to yet another level of the dungeon.


The only door they can open leads to the west for quite a ways then turns north and slopes upward for a long way and then levels out and turns east. This dead-ends on three doors. One to the north they can not open. One to the south opens into a circular room with 12 doors and the east door open into a small alcove. As they check this alcove out a section of wall spins and separates one member of the party from the group. As they check this out four switch places with the one. And then back again. The one then finds a door on the south wall of the hidden space and it opens in the circular room. He goes in, eventually the others follow. Once they have all entered, the door slams behind them. They start checking doors and they all open to the outside with a thousand foot drop below each door like it opens right out into mid-air. As they are pondering what to do next. (At this point we check the time and the game comes to halt for the night.)


This all for now except to note the following: Since this was the first game I had reffed in a very long time, I took note of a few things over the next few days. One I was quite easy on them, probably a bit too easy and I missed some things that I should not have. Two I decided that between now and the next game I am going to make a few posts that may give them a few hints. Three, it looks like a few more people may be able to play the next game, so I will need to work around having them separated for a bit. Four, Five and Six I leave as an exercise for the reader.


Feel free to post comments here and to go to my forum and join to post there.


*I didn't play again until the 90's and early 00's and that was a bit of 1st & 2nd Ed AD&D, not OD&D.