Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Original Dungeons & Dragons

Yeah, this blog has been silent for a bit. Sorry about that. Things have been busy over here - working in and co-owning a game store has been an interesting life experience over the past 9 months. I know a lot of you are probably interested in how that's going - and I plan on writing about it soon enough. I'm assuming that most people reading this are of the OSR type...and I can assure you that OLD SCHOOL GOODNESS is alive and well in our store! We have a biweekly SWORDS & WIZARDRY campaign happening, two weekly D&D 2E campaigns, weekly CALL OF CTHULU games, and some interest in TOP SECRET, LAMENTATIONS OF THE FLAME PRINCESS, and original TRAVELLER brewing. Not to mention the X-PLORERS campaign I mean to get off the ground.

I also ran a 3 session SWORDS & WIZARDRY WHITE BOX adventure that seemed to grip the attention of the whole store - and literally has some of the players begging to continue. That was the adventure where I used the BEYOND THE WALL chargen/towngen system which i detailed on here to some extent. I ran the players through Kelvin Green's excellent ROUGH NIGHT AT THE DOG AND BASTARD. Sadly, Balotelli wound up assassinating Genevieve, Parletothraxus manifested and began tearing people apart, party members sold each other out, and a damaged Ring of Wishes (taken from an old issue of WHITE DWARF) was used to summon a halfling sized suit of demonic plate mail. Good times. Here's the adventure if you want to use it - it can be played with any edition of the game.

All Parletothraxus wanted was a saucy evening...

Of course, I've also crossed over to the dark side and have begun to enjoy certain card games like ASCENSION, THE AGENTS, THUNDERSTONE, LOVE LETTER & THE RESISTANCE...as well as various board games like FANTASTIQA, TROLLHALLA, KING OF TOKYO, CASTLE PANIC and the like.

Anyway - I want to focus on OD&D. That's the one version of D&D that I never thought I'd be interested in - until I came across a version of 3 LBB OD&D that had been re-edited into an organized book. It incorporates various "fixes" from early issues of STRATEGIC REVIEW and removes mention of CHAINMAIL and OUTDOOR SURVIVAL. The result?

A game that I instantly wanted to play.

Now, I know that many of you are probably going to want to know where you can find this spectacular document. Well, I'm not going to tell you. Not to be a jerk or anything - but as you probably know, OD&D has recently come back into print. I don't want to get anyone in trouble - but if your Internet search skills are up to par you should be able to come across it somewhere, as there are a few versions of it floating around.

Anyway, after reading that document i was very interested in the reprints of OD&D, which I finally obtained due to my awesome girlfriend. She had ordered it for me on Amazon as a Christmas gift...and, as you may know, Amazon had some trouble meeting the demand. I finally got a copy a few weeks ago via the Barnes and Noble website. Of course, me being me, I had to make a few modifications to the box. Check it out:

I pulled out the picture in the lid and laid down some felt for some dice rollin'. I also ripped out the dividers to make more room for my stuff (old articles from Dragon and White Dwarf, Dyson Logo's awesome book of dungeons, etc.
So what is it about this game that made me want to play it so badly? Well, for one is that it seems (to me, at least) to be the most "fantastic" of all the early versions of the game. You're expected to gain powerful magic items. You're expected to run into powerful creatures right off the bat. Example: you can be wandering around the wilderness and just stumble across a castle inhabited by an Evil High Priest who will seek to cast Quest on the party. Oh, and he has 1d4 Rocs ridden by 4th level Fighting Men, along with some assistants and 60 1st level Fighting Men. Or maybe he has d10 trolls serving him. This can happen to your party any time and at any level. You can also just randomly encounter dragons at first level. You're not going to be able to fight your way out of all that - so what next? The game just seems so open - I guess this is kind of hard to explain. 

It was also refreshing to not have Thieves. Three classes, four races and go! One of the common questions i see on message boards is how you resolve "thief stuff" without a thief. To resolve that whole issue I turned to the excellent ASTONISHING SWORDSMAN & SORCERERS OF HYPERBORIA. They have a neat little d6 system for resolving checks based on your attributes and a % system to accomplish heroic feats also based on attributes. That's what that little index card in the picture is.

I've already run a few of my friends through a small OD&D adventure and they really liked it, so I hope to continue doing it more regularly. Oh, and I made a GM screen and I have decided to share it with you. Enjoy, brochachos.


Anathemata said...

This GM screen is fantastic! And I see that you have Gorgonmilk's cover on your OD&D single volume--good choice.

Capheind said...

I can’t wait to read about your Game Store experiences. I’ve always wanted to open up a game store, so now I can live vicariousely through you!

Alf said...

Really liked this article. It's helped rekindle a desire to check out the White Box editions of D&D again for inspiration...

And thanks for playing Trollhalla and Fantastiqa! :)

T. Woolley said...

Did you wholesale tear the inside illustration or was much more delicate. I ask this because I want to use the lid of mine as a dice tray also, but I don't want to destroy the shiny picture to do so.

xwardukex said...

it got wrinkled and the whatnot but i was able to get it out without destroying it.