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Author Topic: [Basic D&D] Module B1: In Search of Adventure  (Read 6478 times)

Posts: 11

« on: June 07, 2006, 03:08:14 AM »

Hi my name is Julian and this is the first session report that I have done for the forge or anywhere else.

I am writing this report for three reasons.
1) It’s the first time that I had GM’d a game for several years and I relearnt several lessons
2) It shows that exciting play can overcome old prejudices
3) The idea to go for this adventure was inspired by a forge session report, thanks Forge

My RPG group consists of 2 women and 3 men (including myself), we are all in our late twenties or early thirties and started playing together about a year ago. We have played mainly Vampire and SLA with a few one shot attempts at other stuff. Our last attempt at D&D fell rather flat, it was a d20 steampunk adventure that lacked tension and had a rather confused plot and feel.

I got an answer-phone message yesterday morning that the SLA GM would not be able to GM that evening, did I want to bring some of my board games? This is the usual filler when we don’t have a full group, I have a large collection of Euro games. However I had read of a report on the Forge of a Basic D&D run using module B4 (one of my favourites) and though I didn’t have that any more, I did have module B1 and a set of red box rules.

Lunch time was spent writing a one page rules sheet including rule changes to make the game faster and less deadly to low level characters. I also made up a quick character sheet using excel. When I got home, I raided a couple of games for figures and found my old roll up map and dry wipe markers.

The group was initially sceptical of playing D&D due to previous bad experiences, but when I gave out the rules sheets they began to lighten up and get ready for exploration. They noted the rules for the quick recovery of spells and hit points thus taking away much of the potential problems instantly.  The group made a balanced party of fighter, mage, thief and cleric. Their two henchmen were a dwarf and an elf. It took about 40 minutes to get the party ready as most of them had never played Basic D&D before. This gave us about 2 hours of play.

B1 is not a plot driven dungeon, it is purely explore, kill and loot. Very early on the party was checking out some dead bodies that they had come across when they were attacked. I got out the roll up sheet and drew the corridor on it then placed the figures down showing the party and the attacking bandits. The players eyes lit up, this was old skool adventuring with stuff to kill and no social or political skills to stop a blood thirsty rampage to destruction. Mega-cool. Due to the quick recovery rules then the mage was happy to let fly with his magic missiles rather than cower at the back, the group was on for adventure. The map came out several more times during the evening and helped people work as a team, ‘move behind the dwarf so you can use your bow’.

Over the evening the group explored a good chunk of the dungeon and encountered several groups of monsters. I used the module as the basis for what was where but improvised details as I liked. I added spider webs in a corridor outside the room where a giant spider had its lair. When the party burnt the webs then the spider charged them through the smoke getting surprise. This encounter also showed the benefit of my hit point recovery rules, the mage was taken down to 0 hit points, normally a kill, but with the aid of the cleric he survived. The spider was also interesting as the player of the fighter really hates spiders and so the fighter didn’t want to go near it. I hadn’t expected the dungeon to seem real enough to pass that psychological test of gameplay.

The evening finished with the group falling down a trap door to the lower level of the dungeon, they all survived the water, by the actions of the fighter being able to shed her armour and dive in to help the others. In fact the group had a nice spread of work, the mage and priest created light, the mage fired offensive spells and the priest healing, the fighter was a machine of death and the thief found secret doors and traps, all the players were involved.

Overall the evening went well and the players turned from being sceptics to wanting to continue the adventure next week. I won’t run this one long term but it makes for a good change.

What I learnt (and re-learnt) from the evening was:
In RPGing a change of scene and style can be a good thing
Old systems can cut it if you get rid of a few rough edges
Old adventures can have some nice ideas (pit trap into a water pool, etc)
Keep it simple, it’s easier to add complexity than remove it
Don’t be afraid to get out the plastic and metal figures, use them to illustrate not just to wargame
Give your players an action overload once in a while
I need to up the difficulty a level for next week, I tend to start easy with a new campaign as ignorance can kill unfairly early on.
I need to place one magic treasure targeted for each of the players, the fighter got a magic spear, now the others are looking in hope and anticipation.

Appendix – The D&D rules sheet, slightly tweaked post gameplay.

Character creation
All characters created at first level
Roll 4d6 for each statistic and take the highest 3 dice for a total from 3 to 18
Attribute bonuses are 3:-3, 4-5:-2, 6-8:-1, 9-12:0, 13-15:+1, 16-17:+2, 18:+3
Pick a class, fighter, magic-user, cleric, thief, dwarf, elf or halfling. Halflings may choose any 3 thief abilities of the 8.
Give yourself maximum hit points for the class at level 1 (plus Con bonus)
Roll 3d6 * 10 as starting gold and equip yourself
Magic-Users, Clerics and Elves start with 4 (+Int bonus) level 1 spells in their books (or from their god). Magic users have 2 level 1 spell charges, Clerics and Elves 1.
Alignment note, Law and Chaos, these are not good and evil but strength of personal moral code, do
you perceive the world in black and white or shades of grey.
The group may have a couple of henchman with them, henchman creation rules are the same but only
use 3d6 per statistic and roll for starting equipment (tables at back of B1). Each henchman must have 4 personality key points (e.g. greedy, helpful, afraid of the dark) to aid the role-playing. The DM may some times state that the henchman is doing something as an NPC, though most of the time they will be under direct player control. Henchmen can be controlled by anybody at any time as required.

Thief skills
Climb wall starts at 60%, Hear noise starts at 30%, all other skills start at 20%. Add 5% per Dex bonus point. Skills will go up at 5% per level.

Dungeon crawling
Movement, the party moves at 60’ per minute, when exploring.
The party needs some light, torches burn for 60 minutes, flasks of oil for 240 minutes.
The party may regain hit points and spells by resting. For every 5 minutes rested the party will regain 2 hit points per player and 1 spell per player. If the player is in negative hit points then they only gain 1 hit point per 15 minutes of rest.
There are wandering monsters, these will be tested for every 40 minutes with a 1 in 6 chance of appearing.
General tests, roll d20, get under attribute tested to pass. Typical tests are, Wisdom to notice detail, Dexterity to fast react to an attack, Strength to swim, etc.

Spells do not have to be memorised, you can cast any spell as and when you want as long as you have an unburned spell charge. Burned spell charges are regained by resting, see above.
Sleep spells will have a save against them, other spells as written.

Armour will be totalled as for 3rd Ed D&D not old basic D&D. AC9 becomes 10, 8 becomes 11, 7 becomes 12, etc. Basic armour is 10, leather is 12, chain is 14 and Plate is 16, shield adds plus 1.

As Basic D&D rules, Fighters and Dwarves will get +1 to hit at second level.
Fighters and dwarves will get +2 to hit at third level, all other classes +1 to hit
Roll d20 for a hit, high is good, combatant needs to roll the AC of the target or higher to hit. If you hit roll by weapon type for damage (add strength bonus) and remove for opponents hit points.
All combatants are out of combat at 0 hit points.
At negative hit points, each time they are struck (including the hit that sends them negative), roll a d8 and add the Con bonus (or creature level), if the total is less than the negative hit points then the combatant has died. Monsters and Henchmen will have to roll for morale if combat is going badly.

Totalled after every encounter. Party experience is 50Xp per level of monster plus 50% per bonus ability star of the monster. Rooms may give 50XP to 300XP dependent on danger and party success.
Treasure gives 1 XP per GP recovered.
Party experience is divided by the members of the party, with full members getting 1 share and henchmen getting half a share. Experience required for level 2 is 1000 points except Elves who require 1500 points. Level 3 requires 3000 points (4500 for Elves). Party Experience is given out at the end of the session.

There are 100 copper (CP) to 10 silver (SP) to 1 gold (GP) coin.
An unskilled labourer would earn 5s a day, a semi-skilled labourer will earn 1g a day and a craftsman 2 to 5g a day.

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2006, 09:46:51 AM »

I don't think that it's simple nostalgia that makes many of us here remember old D&D as being pretty functional. As long as it's just a well tweaked version of Dave Arneson's chainmail wargaming scenario about dungeon delving, it works pretty well. It's really only after the problems of trying to confound it with simulationism that things get really messy with D&D.

Oh, there are better, more elegant and more effective designs than D&D to be sure. But there's something powerful about the basic gamism and exploration elements.


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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2006, 09:48:10 AM »

I forgot to say above, did they hit the pool room? That's everybody's favorite part of that particuar scenario. Because drinking from some of the pools or contacting them comes down largely to gambling.


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Posts: 11

« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2006, 01:05:24 AM »


This haven't got to the pool room yet, I'm hoping they will find it and try a few tasters though.
The party explored the SW quarter of the upper level then wandered north and feel down the pit into the pool.
The session finished with them having just fished themselves out of the water.

I have decided to double the numbers of monsters in most of the lower level encounters to up the danger level to the group this week.

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2006, 11:45:05 AM »

Sounds cool, make them make some hard choices about having to run at some point. :-)


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Posts: 11

« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2006, 12:34:30 AM »

Well we had the second session for this module last night and the group seem to be enjoying it.

The party had ended the previous week's run having been dropped down a pit trap to the lower level, they got them selves together to find that an Ochre Jelly on the ceiling was blocking the entrance of this cavern. The party moved back to the wider area of cavern to get past the Jelly, but one of the two henchmen got attacked. He then tried to make it to the pool to wash of the Jelly's acid but died on the way, despite a brave move from the party cleric. The increased danger level of the caverns had taken their first victim. The party soon discovered that the Jelly was afraid of fire and chased it away from their henchman’s body so that they could recover his equipment.

Wandering through the natural caves the group encountered various strange rock formations and a glowing purple mould as well as a group of troglodytes. The next major encounter was in a room where they came across a scattering of coins and 9 skeletons lining the walls. The Cleric casts detect magic and finds that the skeletons have some magic around them and so does something among the coins. I’m beginning to add more fantastical descriptions to stuff as when the cleric casts detect magic I described it as ‘Everything darkens down and you can see a weak blue glow from the skeletons, you also notice something on the floor is glowing’. Of course when the cleric picked up the silver flask off the floor there was a fight with the skeletons, figures came in useful again. I made an error in this fight the cleric got to use cure light wounds despite having previously used her spell slot on detect magic, oh well the fight was tight and both the thief and the fighter were close to death.

After this encounter the party meet the ‘comic relief’ encounter of the dungeon. They had found a route back up and were very surprised when a gnome popped his over the top of the funnel that the thief had climbed up. Baz, Gaz and Daz are part of a party of gnomes, they are re-forging weapons and armour looted from the caves while the rest of them look for more materials. The party got to trade with the gnomes and get a minor equipment upgrade (weapon sharpening, +1 damage for 1 week, for 1 weapon each). They also have a quest to find the gnomes friends.

Towards the end of the three-hour session, the party found the remains of four of the other gnomes and battled the kobolds that had killed them. They took the gnomes kit back to Baz, Gaz and Daz and received information about the location of the library. Which they went to search straight away and encountered some poisonous centipedes. The centipedes save vs poison or die attack, I migrated to save vs poison or take damage equal to the amount failed by. On reflection I will change this in future to a strength loss, regainable over time. The session finished in the library with the party having gained a couple of spell scrolls.

Overall we had a good session and everybody got to use their class abilities, the only noticeable disappointment was when the cleric failed to turn any of the skeletons. The players are keen to run this dungeon for one more week before the simplistic gaming fatigue kicks in, then its back to SLA. We haven’t got to the room of pools yet but they have been told it exists, via one of their encounters.

After the session I mentioned the forge and GNS theory. Steve had come across it before but the others had not. I presented it as the players prime approach to how they react to a situation.
Simulation is what will my character do considering the society, physics and situation?
Gamist is how do I (, or the group,) beat this encounter or campaign?
Narrative is what will make for the most interesting story line?
It’s not 100% accurate, but gets the main message of GNS without worrying about deep details. By the way I’m normally a simer who dips into gameist and narrative areas without really thinking about it. I’m probably a 60/20/20 split in favour of sim as my default style.

We also had a quick chat about the SLA campaign and have decided to tone down the horror aspect for a time, a request from two of the players that was accepted by the GM without any argument. Overall I feel lucky to be in a group that is mature and flexible enough to give and take constructive criticism from each other as well as adjusting their game style to the game being played.

Posts: 3

« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2006, 10:51:12 AM »

Great to see someone digging out OD&D and getting a good response.  I broke out the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and ran a brief campaign about a year ago for a few friends, and it was also well received (I also tweaked things here and there to, as one poster put it, remove the rough edges).

There's just something about these basic rules that, as long as you keep JUST A GAME firmly fixed in your mind, offer countless hours of entertainment value.  I think it re-awakens the teenagers in all of us that just want a great evening of hanging out with friends, having laughs, killing Orcs and smashing skeletons, while getting into soda and chips (or these days, beer and pizza). 

Anything that brings back that old enjoyment is just priceless.  Kudos to you big time.

Posts: 11

« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2006, 12:15:36 PM »

This is my last session report for this adventure. We had agreed to finish the module this week no matter what so, I had to use GM fiat a bit more than previously to allow this to happen. Due to the previous agreement of time limits and the light-hearted nature of the run, the players did not consider this a problem.

The evening started out with the players exploring the south eastern corner of the dungeon, they dispatched a bunch of shriekers that they had met (and run from) previously, the Sreakers attracted some centipedes whom the players also dispatched. The party then went to the throne room and ran into a large party of Orcs, a mighty fight ensured which the party survived despite having 3 of their members out of combat (all 3 made their survival rolls). While resting from the combat they heard the tramping of more Orc boots, they retreated and the mage cast a Hold Portal spell on the door, this showed the strength of the revised magic system, when was the last time that a DnD mage used hold portal? The mage and cleric had also been using light spells throughout the adventure that DnD parties never normally bother with until that have the Continual Light spell. It turned the mage into a core player rather than a bit part wandering target. The Orcs bashed on the door to no effect for a while then when through a maze of tunnels to get at the party, on seeing the Orcs the party dispelled the Hold Portal, ran through the door and recast Hold Portal. Much swearing in Orchish was heard through the door.

After a while the party felt strong enough to take on the fresh Orcs and let them have it with all players blazing. In the aftermath of the fight their was a rather nice shield that included the holy symbol of the cleric’s order and radiated magic (tailoring a plain +1 shield to the target user).

The party explored the area and came across the stairs down to the lower level. I didn’t want them wandering around all the lower level (due to session time limits) and so after the first encounter, they heard the rumble of a rock fall, this blocked access to all but a small portion of that level. The area they could explore contained a pair of Zombies, after the first two round of combat in which I suggested that the Zombies were ignoring the damage they were being dealt, one of the players suggested to the group that they where immune to non-magic weapons. Cool, great idea, for the rest of the combat the Zombies were immune to non-magic weapons and the party never suspected that I changed the rules mid-combat. It turned out well, the only magic that the party had (outside of magic missile spells) was the spear and shield, I allowed the cleric to ‘shield bash’ the Zombies and then had her remember that her cure spell could be used to harm the undead. The cure spell was duly used to destroy the second Zombie. The requirement to use magic, really added tension to a simple encounter.

Back upstairs the party ran across a couple of secret doors and explored more rooms, killing more residents of the dungeon. With time running low I railroaded the party into finding the pool room, I wouldn’t normally do this but the pool room is the single best room in the dungeon and would make for a fitting end to the adventure. Carrion Crawlers attacked the party here and paralysed the mage before being killed, the rest of the party enjoyed feeding the mage the contents of various pools before his movement came back.

Finally it was time for the session’s end, the party headed back to civilisation. On dividing the loot, the characters each gained a level and a couple of hundred gold pieces as well as their previously mentioned magic items. Overall it was a successful mini campaign, I was thanked for making DnD fun rather than a grind and Phil is re-enthused over running a d20 Midnight campaign as he can see how to make d20 games work well with our group. The past three weeks made for a very good reintroduction to Gming for me and have given me lots to think about in how to place and run my next campaign (Dark Conspiracy).

I note that this thread had picked up a lot of views so I hope that some of you have gone away with ideas and inspiration on running a short ‘dungeon bash’ adventure.

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