Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The New Old Campaign - Session 1

We have 3 players each playing 2 characters, all level 1:

Aubrie - Amelia the Halfling and Dorelda the Cleric

Apprentice Blaster - Apollo the Elf and Logan the Fighter

Apprentice Red - Horace the Dwarf and Skullduggery the Magic-User

DM Notes: I allow multiple characters because low-level D&D PC's tend to die a lot and I don't want anyone missing out. Three characters is pretty tight for most dungeons, and rather than having them track a bunch of men at arms and torchbearers I would rather just let them take a 2nd character. Also, Skullduggery was the only chaotic character and expected to be troublesome based on the earlier practice runs but I allowed it - the best way to learn these kinds of things is by hard experience.

We begin at the staircase down to Zenopus' Basement. The party turns south and heads in to Room B. They showed an admirable amount of caution with the dwarf being very careful about noting that he was using his infravision to check the niches in the room. It still didn't help when he marched a few more feet into the room and triggered the 4 skeletons hiding in those niches to attack. Three rounds later the skeletons are crunched and the party has tasted their first combat. That went well, although Logan was down to 3 hit points due to a vicious scimitar hit.

A bit more exploration (and door smashing) and they ended up in Room G, with the dwarf facing down a giant rat and the rest of the party charging in. The combat that followed was the strangest I have seen in a long time, with no fewer than 4 "1" 's rolled by attacking characters and one round seeing nothing but single-digit rolls by all 6 characters. The 5 giant rats in the room were eventually vanquished, but the dagger-tossing Skullduggery managed to hit Apollo the Elf in the back who turned around ready to off the mage only to roll a 1 on HIS attack roll, tossing his sword at the mage instead. This fight lasted 4 rounds and there were no major injuries.

After a little more exploration the party kicks open the final door of the session and sees a wizard working at a table, an obvious fighter bodyguard, and some statues. Horace the dwarf moves into the room first shouting in common "Do you mean us harm?" (Not exactly a rousing battlecry, and the players erupted into laughter almost immediately). The wizard responds by speaking to his pet fighter "Kill them" and by firing a magic missile back at Horace. Battle ensues, lasting all of 2 rounds. The party wins initiative and the evil fighter is wounded but Skullduggery is unfortunately left in a very exposed position and the fighter moves up and kills him in a single blow. The wizard flees out of a door to safety while the party concentrates on finishing off his minion, which they do. The group pauses to search and loot the room and Apollo the Elf finds Wolftamer, a magical sword and the first serious loot of the campaign.

We decided to stop here and the party returned to the town above to rest and recuperate.

DM Notes:

- So many 1's! I was worried for a little while as the Apprentices were not at all shy about shooting through other characters even after I informed them that a 1 is an automatic hit on your ally in that situation. We ended up with 2 characters shot in the back just in this 1 session.

- I am trying to run this as clean as possible but I am already seeing room for some house rules. The combat sequence is a little messy with 3 players and 6 characters and 20 years of individual initiative coloring my thinking. Moldvay basic has an odd sequence for combat, that being Movement - Ranged attacks - Magic attacks - Melee attacks. Putting movement first means that the melee attackers run up in front of the missile/magic attackers, getting in the way of area effects and opening them up to accidental backshots. My thinking now is to have shooting first, then spells, then all movement, then melee. It makes a little more sense to me as far as making teamwork a little more doable. Shooters would shoot, then they would move towards cover while the melee crew charges in and attacks. I'm not 100% sure yet but I do want to stay with group initiative to try and encourage more teamwork for now.

- The only casualty was Skullduggery and even Apprentice Red himself agreed that he got out in front a little too far. Logan the fighter spent most of the session at 3 hit points and Apprentice Blaster got very squirrelly with him, assigning him to rearguard duty for most of the game but charging him in when needed.

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