(NOTE: i feel like i should mention the GARAGE SALE OF DOOM. in the summer of 2009, chris' (now ex) wife informed us that someone she knew was having a garage sale. the person's father (or grandfather...i can't remember now) was "into all the same crap we were", so down to the garage sale we went. well...she was right. i walked out of that garage sale with the following items in absolute pristine condition: the original PHB and DMG, the MOLDVAY EXPERT BOX (which i had never owned), which was filled with these gems when i opened it: the HOLMES BASIC BOOK, B2, B3, B4, and X1! the dice were still sealed in the bag with the crayon. i also grabbed all the JOHN CARTER paperbacks from the 60's/70's, all the DOC SAVAGE paperbacks from the 60's, and a bunch of other old paperback awesomeness like A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, DAYBREAK 2250 AD, DUNE, etc. chris walked out with a ton of FU MANCHU and ELRIC stuff. for all that swag i paid the princely sum of $10. i mention this only because this happened right as i was at the breaking point with 4E - and now here i was, with all this old school stuff sitting in my apartment, begging to be read and played...)
ok, so we sat down to make characters for 1E. we decided to do it 3d6 in order, no fudging or whatever else and then we'd see what classes/races we'd qualify for. rich was allowing us to use UNEARTHED ARCANA for classes only...no other wonky rules. i wound up rolling pretty well and decided to make a half elf cavalier. i rolled pretty poorly on the social standing chart so i was relegated to being a 0 level squire. i decided to make this character the son of one of my old 1E characters from the mid 80's - a paladin named Geoffrey Vannon. that made sense, since good old Geoffrey had rescued a good aligned drow priestess in one of his last adventures...so we decided that they had gotten married and that he was in the area, still being all paladin-y. the local townsfolk had been horrified at first that he had married a dark elf, but as they got to know her (and later, her son) they saw that she was a good soul as well as a cleric of corellon larethian and stopped worrying. enter: TEMPLETON VANNON, squire!
chris rolled up a scumbaggy elven thief named malthon briarwood. i liked this character so much that i decided to play his brother when this party was TPKed and we began B2...but i'll save that story for later. donnie rolled up a dwarf fighter named GUMBA and we were off. rich had discovered a site called DRAGONSFOOT and had downloaded some adventures to run us through, so we began to play one called "the disappearance of harold the hedgemage".
and. it. was. awesome. everyone was into their characters...we were engaging the NPC's...everyone was into the storyline - and when there was combat...IT WAS FAST. AND DEADLY. granted, we were playing 1E as we did when we were kids: no weapon speed factors, no spell components or segments during initiative, etc. still - it was great and we finished the whole adventure in one session. BANG. we all wanted more! we had found our game...
...or had we?
we played a few more sessions with these characters and we were all really into the game. then rich decided to run us through his favorite adventure of all time: THE DESERT OF DESOLATION. well, it didn't go so well for us. right after we set some enormous ghost-pharaoh free in the desert, we were wiped out by an evil cleric and his cultist cronies. hold person is a hell of thing - templeton was HELD at the very beginning of the fight and could only watch as the rest of the party was cut down...the last thing he saw was the cleric knocking him unconscious. fade to black...the end. our hirelings probably realized that we weren't coming back after a while. i hope that they took our cart of treasure and lived happy until the end of their lives! that was a brutal reminder as to how deadly 1E could be. still, we had a blast! we STILL talk about all that stuff at the table...and we all shudder when rich holds up the module and says he wants to continue it since my character never actually died...
the slaughter was nothing, though, compared to the next adventure chris would run: B2 - THE KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS.
i had actually never played through this module as a kid so i was excited to play it. i rolled up 2 new characters - a monk named SCREAMING DEMON and an elf assassin named JASSITER BRIARWOOD. donnie rolled up a paladin named KURGAN and a dwarven cleric named CLAUSS. there was so much awesome in that module, both with our interaction with the people in the keep and our frequent excursions to the CAVES OF CHAOS that i'll probably write it up in a separate blog entry...suffice to say that it also ended in a near TPK. screaming demon got his head caved in by an ogre during the first session, kurgan lost his leg at one point and his arm later on, finally getting impaled by a minotaur and flung across the room. clauss also lost a leg...it got to the point where we were so indebted to the church in the keep (for 3 regenerate spells and a resurrection for kurgan, not to mention the copious amounts of healing potions) that it actually became a side adventure. we convinced an NPC bugbear prisoner named BARATTA to join our group...donnie's wife cathy heard us having such a good time that she even came out of rpg retirement and rolled up a dwarven thief named BUSTY STONEHAMMER. we also had a rotating cast of people who were around for some sessions but not all - rich, anthony, and two new guys who had joined our group: jon and dan.
anyways - B2 came to a grizzly end: busty, talladine (my elf magic user who took screaming demon's place), kurgan, and baratta were petrified by a medusa. clauss went down trying to engage it in hand to hand with his eyes closed. while the medusa was busy with clauss, jassiter escaped with kurgan's squire WEMBLEY (who he had been slowly turning into a cold-blooded killer, much to kurgan's dismay) and our 16 year old torchbearer, tricia. jass gave tricia 1,000 gold and told her to start a new life somewhere else. he then snuck into the keep, retrieved what he could from his quarters, and took off with wembley...hoping the church never came calling regarding the fortune that we owed them...
now - right around this time i played in an OD&D game run by frank metzer at a local con out here on the island. this pushed me to thoroughly investigate all the older rulebooks - OD&D, the holmes basic, the B/X books, and BECMI. i fell in love with the B/X books - everything you needed to play D&D was right there in 128 pages. there was a lot of rules and stuff in the PHB, DMG, and UA that we weren't using and that we had actually NEVER used, even as kids. so why bother playing AD&D if we're not even using half the rules? i wanted to play straight up B/X, but i knew that everyone would resist the whole "race as class" thing that B/X featured...but the books were so good i had to try and convince them.
|the B/X or Basic/Expert Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks from 1981|
it was then that i discovered LABYRINTH LORD. chris had won a copy of the rulebook at the same con where we played with mentzer - so, intrigued, i ventured over to the goblinoid games website. it turns out that LABYRINTH LORD was a clone of the B/X books that i loved...and they had an ADVANCED EDITION book that made the AD&D rules compatible with the B/X ruleset...? AWESOME. i ordered both books and devoured them when they arrived in the mail. i explained LL to the group the next session and they were sold...and we've been playing that ever since.
of course, we play other games as well. we gave MUTANT FUTURE a spin around the block, as well as the 4E GAMMA WORLD. they were fun but no one is clamoring to play them again. i've run a few sessions of X-PLORERS and everyone wants to play that again - we're just going to finish up the BARROWMAZE campaign that chris is running and then we'll dive back into that game. we've also played a good deal of 3:16 CARNAGE AMONGST THE STARS lately...and i just picked up LACUNA and INSPECTRES and i'm itching to play those as well.
from here on out, i'll be making shorter posts - mostly about the games we're playing, some house rules stuff, and whatever else. it's been fun reliving my entire gaming life...hope i didn't bore you!