Friday, July 23, 2010

The New Old Campaign - House Rules

I thought I ought to post the house rules I am using for our basic red book campaign, so here they are:
  1. Max hit points at 1st level 
  2. Natural 20 to hit = maximum damage for that attack
  3. Natural 1 to hit =  dropped weapon unless shooting into melee, in which case it means an ally is hit
  4. 0 hit points= unconscious, not dead.
  5. Anyone can "bind wounds" as their action for a round or after combat. Binding wounds adds a d3 hp to a wounded character and wakes up an unconscious character. It does nothing for a dead character.
  6. NEW - Monster XP = 100xp per hit die
#1 is there for simple survivability and is an old favorite in every edition
#2 is as close to a "critical hit" rule as D&D needs in my opinion. I have a crit chart I used for a lot of 3rd edition but I like the simplicity of this rule better.
#3 is to counterbalance #2 and add a little humor to the game. It gives a reason to carry a second weapon, and it can also add a little danger to an otherwise routine fight. I've seen some games where Nat 1 = free attack from an enemy and I might experiment with that down the road, but I like this for now. Plus this one discourages firing into melee but doesn't completely rule it out.
#4 is to give one last tiny chance to characters before they die
#5 helps in a world where 1st lvl Clerics get no spells and healing potions are pricy. No skill or stat rolls, just a little bit recovery that can make a big difference.
#6 is new because leveling past 1st has been taking a long time and I just read about this on some other old-school blogs and like it a lot. It makes a big difference at low levels and then doesn't matter so much as they progress. I'm fine with a system where gp's = xp's but I've always thought the monsters should contribute more and with this change, they do.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Old Campaign: Interlude

After the last few sessions I am having a bit of a crisis of conscience. I like the old-school B/X rules but I am worried that the parade of character deaths might discourage the boys from continuing. It's worse than I even remember as far as the death rate. My "bind wounds" rule helps a little, but 1 hp or even 1d3 does not put a fighter back into fighting shape, it just keeps him from dying and maybe lets him shoot a bow from the back of the party. They have started to see 2nd level as the safety zone - lots more hit points. They have also already asked if there's a way to play an elf that doesn't need 4000 xp's  to get to 2nd level. So I'm tempted to make some changes. 

We're going to finish the Keep as-is - no major changes. I was planning to run them to the Isle of Dread after this, but now I'm not sure. I had also planned to start a 1st edition AD&D campaign this fall using the Temple of Elemental Evil after they had some B/X experience under their belts. I do like my little homebrew "Dragonport" world but the Temple belongs in Greyhawk, and I don't really like world-jumping low-level characters. Plus Lady Blacksteel has not been a player in the B/X games but I would like to expose her to 1st edition. 

So my answer is this: Dragonport (the New Old Campaign) will continue after the Keep as a side campaign for me and the boys and anyone else who wants to play. It probably won't have a regular schedule but I don't want it to disappear and I don't want to convert it to a different edition - Labyrinth Lord, maybe, but not another edition of D&D. I've always wondered how a high-level BECMI game would work and hopefully we'll get the chance to explore it. I will finish out the map and place some more of the classic modules, figure my wandering monster tables, and generally flesh it out. Plus I can use a new version of the same map for my Mutant Future games down the road as a prequel campaign. 

As soon as we finish the Keep I am going to figure out a night to start the TOEE campaign with the Apprentices and the Lady and possibly some of the friends from my other 2 campaigns if they can find the time. I have 2 PHB's and a DM Screen coming via ebay and I need one more. I'll post my house rules here once I've decided what they are - probably PHB + a few items from UA, Max HP's at 1st level and that's it. We will play on a regular night or afternoon every week as much as possible so it will be the standing game and Dragonport will be more of a fill-in.

All in all the old-school future looks promising and I feel pretty good about the solution to my problem. Now if I can find time to squeeze in some Star Wars d6 and another Supers campaign everything will be perfect.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The New Old Campaign - Part 7 (July Sessions)

Having the party back together again at the Keep the team heads back to the Caves. Moving into the same cave they have been exploring for a week now and head stright back to where the goblin guards used to be. There are no gobbos, but they do find a locked door. Smashing it open they see a room full of hobgoblins. A big fight breaks out with 6 heroes on one side and 13 hobgoblins (males and females) on the other. It goes on for 9 rounds and all of the evil humanoids are slain but Thaddeus II falls as well.  The group decides to head back to the Keep as everyone is beat up.

At the Keep everyone is healed up and Orick the Dwarf is recruited to join the party. They head back to the Caves after one day of rest.

Deciding to change things up a bit the group heads into the western part of the goblin lair and encounters no opposition. they spend a few hours searching the chief's room , a common room, and a storage room and much loot is gathered - finally!

Encouraged by their finds they now head back to the hobgoblin room they fought in last time and once again kick down the door. Four males and two females now occupy the room but are quickly dispatched. 

Moving deeper into the caves they come to a torture chamber with two hobgoblin torturers watching over some prisoners chained up to a wall. Some stealth is attempted here, but their shots go wide and melee is soon joined. These two scarred hobgoblins are quite tough but fate is with the heroes and they dispatch them without losses beyond a few minor wounds. Now they begin to debate what to do with the prisoners...

DM Notes - 

This one went much better than the last few sessions with only 1 character casualty and much loot found. The prisoners are an interesting mix and the debate should be interesting as well. The party is mostly lawful with a few neutrals.

I am still debating on some changes as when 1 PC death is a "good" session it seems things are still a little more bloody than i would like them to be. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The New Old Campaign - Part 6 (July Sessions)

After 3 days of R&R at the keep our heroes return to the Caves of Chaos:
  • Apollo the Elf
  • Steven the Thief
  • Thaddeus II the Fighter
  • Horus the Dwarf
  • Isidore the Cleric
  • Skullduggery II the Magic-User

Deciding they needed to pay back the goblins the group heads into the same cave they exited previously. They quickly encounter goblin watchmen near the same room as before and battle is joined. Apollo the Elf is a beast during this fight as he strikes for max damage no less than 3 times during this epic ten-round fight. It becomes a epic fight when one of the goblins runs for reinforcements and comes back with 5 hobgoblins ready to assist. Horus the Dwarf fought valiantly but was laid out cold near the end of the battle but survived. 

After the battle they discovered (among other things) a potion a discussion started about how to identify them. Informed of the possible dangers, Apollo the Elf offered Horus 150 gp to taste it. This transaction was completed and when Hours' hand faded from view they had a moment of panic then realized it was an invisibility potion. Horus then offered Apollo 300 gp to buy the potion from him and this transaction was also completed. All of this happened on the way back to the Keep to recover from injury.

After another 3 days of recovery, the team arrives back at the Caves and enters the same cave entrance. This time too they encounter a goblin watch party and engage, only to find the goblin chief and his bodyguards coming up behind them. This turns into a brutal fight for survival as these new goblins are quite a bit tougher than what they are used to fighting, and when the chief is finally slain only Apollo and Isidore are left standing among the heroes. They gather up the bodies of their friends, throw them over the back of the horses and head back to the keep. 

Here, they are fortunate enough to meet Lord Swift, castellian of the Keep, and he is full of praise for ridding his lands of that ogre (see Part 4) and saddended to hear that so many have fallen. He commands his chief cleric to raise the fallen heroes in honor of the service they have already given, though they will owe him one more service which he will disclose at a later time. The cleric complies and the group is reunited at the chapel once again. 

DM Notes -

Yeah I wussed out there. I'm trying to keep most of the party intact while playing by the book as much as I can but 4 dead characters in one trip is a lot. Plus I'm thinking about having them fight a black dragon down in the swampy section as the climax of this adventure and that will be the mission they are given. So yeah, I admit it, I didn't like the way this went and decided to stick my hand in pretty blatantly. Basic is pretty unforgiving at low levels with o hp = dead, so I am considering making some changes. That said those were 2 good fights.

The funniest part of this session was the potion-haggling. Coins were being exchanged all through this conversation as this was the first one they had found and once they figured out the dwarf had the best saves then it got serious. There has been some tension over looting dead characters, so I was glad to see them work this out peacefully.

That pretty much finished off the goblins, so next time we will see them go into the Hobgoblin lair...