Monday, April 27, 2009

OD&D Solo Game - Wife makes me proud

My wife continued to demonstrate that she's learning the tactical lessons of fighting in dungeons this Saturday night. We picked up our solo game after a 20 day hiatus and she delved deep into the ruined tower, uncovering more mysteries. My daughter joined in the game and played a bit more reservedly, after having gotten herself in trouble the last time by being alone and surrounded by skeletons.

What Went Well

Efficient dungeoneering: I'm thoroughly impressed that my wife has learned the art of tactical use of terrain in a dungeon. Zombies approaching? Choke them at the door. Many skeletons? Form a circle and get the clubbers/blunt wielders to the front. Always have spears in row 2. Search, use poles and what-not to open from a distance. Keep your eye on the ball. She's displaying all of that and more. I'm proud to a T to watch her efficiently take apart my dungeon - well, all except my bridge of skeletons, but she's *still* working on how she'll deal with that.

She also is enjoying the power of an NPC 2nd level cleric who made a couple of Turn Undead throws which assisted her in dealing with skeletons, zombies and a ghoul. I was pretty surprised he made that roll - and when the ghoul lost initiative on the round to flee - stuck at a heavy door - the party killed him quickly.

NPCs with quirks: I am continuing to use the awesome Hireling charts from Knockspell #1. In this case, Brother Atu of some god likes to talk to himself and present a metal spiked flower as a holy symbol. My wife's character Aeli hired him on at the expensive rate of 3gp a day, but so far he's been worth it.

I have several NPCs with quirks and traits - from the stiff Captain of the Guard Equay, to the decadent and bourgeois bookseller Nicodemus, to the forgetful, singing Innkeeper Burlburr and the taciturn Dwarf weaponsmith Thumboldt. Tironell, the long standing NPC magic-user who has been adventuring with Aeli since Day 1, and her followers Rather and Turchao, they all have their small personal stamps that I've left her with. It works well because I don't have to put a lot into their backgrounds unless needed, but their quirks do feed into who they are and she remembers it.

Handwaving 1 weak monster combats: I had a nice chart set up for what the players find if they search the muck of a cavern. There's also a 2in6 chance of giant centipedes (1d4) showing up each time they search. Well, for a large party, running combat for 1 lousy centipede that wasn't going to kill (through poison) someone and had about 2 hp wasn't worth the time. So I gave it a 1in10 that the centipede would end up biting someone, and just handwaved the combat. Cheap, I know, but I just didn't feel like the endless fight with rats, and at this point, it was very unlikely that 1 centipede would do much against a posse of 8 adventurers. If it had been 3 or 4 centipedes, I would have done the combat but one? Pfft.

I did wonder if this was a good thing or not, but as nobody minded the handwaving and were willing to accept damage if they got nicked by the 1in10, I felt OK with it.

Things That Didn't Work

Not having religion/pantheons: The time has come in my wife's game to figure out how Gods/Goddesses and the like will work... and I'm drawing a blank. Pantheons are not my thing. I can do the generic religions, but when it comes to either using existing pantheons like Norse or Egyptian, or coming up with a new one, or adapting ones from a book - I'm just not excited about it. Truth be told, I'd rather NOT deal with it, but I'm going to have to have it sooner than later, so it's time to think about it. It's just not my favorite of tasks.

That's it, though, for the what didn't work. Everything pretty much flowed really well this game. Aeli was on top of her game and now she has mysteries to solve:
- The ruined tower apparently is a lot bigger than she thought.
- What does the mysterious iron key lead to?
- How to get past those skeletons on the bridge, since that seems to be the only way deeper?
- What is the significance of the very ancient books they found. (Let me tell you, coming up with book titles off the cuff is fun. I managed to bore both my wife and daughter with their descriptions and contents.)

I find myself really liking my NPC magic-user. I have to remember, he's fodder - but I've not had a mage go past 3rd level in any game that I can remember. I may have to use him in another universe if I play in someone else's game.

Sharpen your pencils, get out the graph paper and enter the One Page Dungeon Contest! A "metric ton" of awesome prizes awaits those who dare! Contest ends May 14th.


K. Bailey said...

So I gave it a 1in10 that the centipede would end up biting someone, and just handwaved the combat. Cheap, I know...Oh no that's a great move.

How many hirelings in this party now? It's like a little military unit.

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

Yes, it is and according to The Princess Wife "That's exactly the way I want it!" Ha... she's always wanted minions.

There are 2 "followers" who've sworn loyalty to her because of her actions. There is one hireling that's been hired for a month, and a couple who were hired in the current town. And now, Brother Atu. So 6 hirelings/followers, plus her, my daughter and my daughter's dog.

Benoist said...

I too want to run a Solo game for my wife. It's actually the impetus that spawned the Citadel of Eight. Though I sometimes refer to "the players", it's actually my wife for now.

I too want to use hirelings. I like the chart in Knockspell. Does your wife manage some/all of the hirelings herself? That's the route I would take, but any input on this is welcome at this point.

What should I be paying attention to, in your experience, to make our solo game successful?

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@Benoist - There's a summary post about the various solo D&D game posts I've written. Maybe those can help.

My wife "runs" the hirelings in terms of dictating what she wants them to do, and either she or I will roll depending on the nature of the roll. I am always checking morale when appropriate and I'll indicate if they do what she says or not - and sometimes I'll do the talking for them if they have something to say to her.

Benoist said...

Excellent. I'm going to read through your entries. Thank you for the heads up and advice!

Scott said...

It's cool that you appreciate the "old school" D&D rules. I especially liked the random tables in the original DM's guide that could be used for solo play.

I am thinking about devoting a few pages to the original rules on my classic game website: Dungeon Quests. Right now, it just has pages for board games and video games, but I will be expanding it soon.