Friday, January 28, 2011

AD&D/OSRIC campaign - many books, many meaningful options

Last night was the forty fifth (45) session of my AD&D campaign "The Dark Ages." This party continued on their explorations of the deep Dwarf Mines that had been discovered. These mines are "Moria-like" in their vastness - roughly a half-mile between main junctions. The party had one member knocked below 0, rendering him incapable of combat for the rest of the game, and a ranger that kept getting whacked by dice and monsters, but somehow managed to survive. Surprisingly, all of the hirelings lived. There was a lot of laughter about that!

First, a picture:

Yes, there are three OSRIC books at the table - my hardback and two softcover prints. My apologies for the bad cell phone pic. When I spoke about the availability of AD&D 1e books to this group, I got the impression that OSRIC was just considered "easier" to get? Maybe that's my own impression, but I may invest in a couple of 1e PHBs to pass along. Still, we end up using the OSRIC books as much as the PHBs. It makes me smile, though, to see the pace-setter for the retroclones steadily chugging along. Many of the other clones get more press, but OSRIC seems to have amassed quite a bit of traction under the radar. If one of the more vocal "OSR" publishers got behind it in a major way, I wonder what would happen?

A couple of notes from the game:

Guys?!? Help! They're eating me!
A way to make your  sub 1HD or 1HD small insect or invertebrate creatures a lot tougher? Have them in a swarm. Take your basic centipede. Depending on the D&D you play, or how you implement your 'pede, it probably does minimal damage by itself and is 1 or 2hp and has a weak, non-lethal poison. Not so tough!

However, put them in a swarm (for purposes of movement and grouped together to attack the same target) but have them attack individually, and take damage individually, and you could have 6 to 10 small creatures suddenly acting like one big tough one. 1 centipede attacking ain't nothing. 8 to 10 attacking at the same time... one target and now you're rolling lots of d20s at once and players are turning various shades of green and blue. My worm swarm last night chewed through one guy and took aim at another before two quaking hirelings chucked oil and torch (thank you Dr. Holmes, for the nice oil rule) at the cluster, burning them up. (The swarm can cut both ways, I ruled that the oil and subsequent burning applied to the entire swarm.)

"Make your player's meaning choices have meaningful results." That has been one of my personal implementation issues with sandbox campaigns. The players are free to do as they like, including chasing their own tails and never finding anything meaningful in their trips. This can dissuade them from continuing on, if they are the type of player who is after a quick hit. So while I will not spoon feed a guaranteed ending, I will also make sure that the major choices, the destinations and the things they seek, have the possibility of meaningful results, especially over a period of time.

My Dwarf mines are based in part on ICE's implementation of their MERP "Moria" supplement. It's a fascinating book about how to run Khazad-dûm and I've used it for generating my Dwarf mines. It is completely random, I have an organized one-pager that allows me to quickly determine what they'll find and it's contents and then my own improv on the area they are exploring. To that end, though, I sprinkled some meaningful results that they could find randomly (or perhaps follow clues they may find...) so that in the end, their choice to explore what is a random dungeon does have some odds of finding something.

They hit that last night with a wandering monster encounter. The party holed up in what appeared to be a 40 foot tall tower in the mines. In the middle of the night, they awoke to soft whispers and someone trying to enter the tower - and they were speaking in Elf! They ended up being the only survivors of the elf encampment that had been utterly wiped out by orcs a couple of weeks earlier. Definitely meaningful - they had been lost in the mines for weeks, barely surviving and starving to death. Now the players are not only heroes for rescuing the elves, they also gained some valuable information on the mines.

I won't spoon-feed results, but the results are there and I'm doing a better job of ensuring that. I probably walk a fine line between Alexis's uber-realistic-uncaring world and the more standard fantasy hero game. I'm never 100% comfortable one way or the other, which is probably a good thing.

Line of the game, by Mazlor (played by David): "Bet you 5 gp you won't eat them!" - said as Talos, the druid, opened a door and a swarm of worms with humanoid faces greeted him.

(edited to clarify what I meant by "swarming")


The Happy Whisk said...

45th session. Wow. That's great.

Bree Yark! said...

ChicagoWiz said, "Many of the other clones get more press, but OSRIC seems to have amassed quite a bit of traction under the radar. If one of the more vocal "OSR" publishers got behind it in a major way, I wonder what would happen?"

What do you see an OSR publisher doing with OSRIC beyond what is already available?

ChicagoWiz said...

@BreeYark - I think what LL/S&W have done is through marketing and visibility outside of our niche. I think a more vocal publisher could bring the same to OSRIC. More eyeballs means more players means more AD&D goodness. Capitalize on the discontent at WotC and we could have a bit of that energy come our way.