B1: In Search of the Unknown

So I’ve spoken a couple of times about running games at the library and about how I’m playing OSRIC over Skype on Sundays. Now the two great flavors have combined!

I borrowed B1: In Search of the Unknown in order to sun an OD&D/OSRIC game of my own. The two rules sets are similar enough that I could that I could run the game as-is (no conversion). My understanding is that this actually makes the game easier for the players, but it is my first time DMing the system and I was OK with it. That is, I wasn’t comfortable tweaking the system yet, but I did just put the girls through a TPK!

Prep

I spend more time on prep that I had thought that I would. OSRIC is comparatively rules-light alongside 3rd and 4th editions and I expected to run a more narrative game. However, the module is written for beginning DMs as well as beginning players. All the of the treasure and monsters are pooled in the back for me to assign where I would throughout the dungeon.

After some thought, I dumped the monster stats into a spreadsheet (including the encounter tables for the two levels) and printed them out to keep as a separate reference. Combined with the notes that I had taken during my read-through, I felt as if I could play it by ear.

Character Creation

Only two sisters showed for this session. I very briefly outlined the differences in play style between AD&D/OSRIC and Pathfinder, which we had played before. We spent the next 15 minutes making two characters and sketching out a third.

The girls rolled 3d6 six times and applied their stats where they would. Then I read the class choices. For simplicity’s sake, they were both playing humans. We ended up with a wizard and a druid. I read out the relevant stats for their ability scores and classes and then handed them the OSRIC and AD&D Player’s Handbook for them to choose their spells from.

Since the party was low on muscle, I suggested that the wizard hire a bodyguard for a portion of the treasure she might recover. I let her roll to see what she could find and she ended up with an NPC pirate (thief 0) wich worked out quite well as doors were to be found locked approx 1/3 of the time.

We only sketched out the pirate in the barest terms. The whole process for all three characters took about 15 minutes. It might have taken longer, but I assigned some starting equipment and told them that they could purchase some retroactively later.

Game Play

The adjustment to OSRIC went very smoothly. I wasn’t calling for checks, so the girls responded narratively. They are still learning /where/ to be cautious, so the pacing felt a little odd to me. there was also some disagreements over how to act and what direction to take. I calmly informed them that their discussions took time and I dutifully ticked off the 10 minute increments and made the random encounter checks. Luck was with them and they didn’t fame any random encounters all session!

The entrance to the Caverns of Quasqueton was a long tunnel leading into the large stone outcropping that rose above the dense forest. As the characters progressed deeper, they hit their first real obstacle, the absence of light! I hadn’t assigned ny lanterns or torches, so I let them roll to see how many torches each character brought with them (3d6 in total). Torches only last an hour, I cautioned, so they elected to only burn one at a time.

The first room they encountered was the kitchen. The door opened with no trouble, but the odd, long construction puzzled them. Detecting no noise and seeing nothing of interest in the dim torchlight, they turn to face the opposite door without even entering.

This second door was locked. The pirate bodyguard knelt to work the lock and, having failed at her first attempt, redoubled her efforts. Thus she did not hear the giant centipedes which snuck up behind them from the kitchen. A short but fierce battle ensured wherein the wizard was bitten but survived the poisonous bite.

The door was finally opened to reveal the dining hall. A decomposing corpse of an orc lay among overturned chairs. It had put up quite a fight! However they found nothing of interest and returned to the entrance.

From the entrance of the complex, the party went east and then south. Their map making wasn’t quite up to task (Did I mention that we weren’t using miniatures or a grid?) a westward door brought them back into the entrance hallway, which they did not fully realize until they followed it north again and back into the door to the complex! Shenanigans were called, but rather than return to where they had gotten turned around, the girls chose a new direction to explore.

Northward, the party trudged through a long dark hallway with no doors. The hallway turned right and continued for nearly twice that distance before zig-zagging and ending at a door.

Incautiously, the druid steps up to the door and falls through a large pit! The druid and the only lit torch fell 50 feet and landed into a subterranean pool. The torch was instantly extinguished, plunging everyone into darkness.

DM: You are in danger of being eaten by a Grue.
Wizard: What is a grue?
DM: To quote the internet, “Kids, ask your parents.” [the Druid] You fall into numbing cold water over your head. It is pitch black and you lose all sense of direction. What to you do.
Druid: I let go of my torch and… umm….
DM: The water seeps in under your padding and armor. You can feel the cold seeping your strength. Your clothes are immediately soaked but your leather has only just begun to absorb the water and grow heavy.
Druid: I take off my armor.
DM: You’ll need both hands for that!
Druid: I let good my wooden shield.
DM: You fumble at the leather and try to pull it off. Your cold fingers have trouble with the knots that fasten the armor. It’s getting hard to hold your breath.
Druid: I drawn my knife and cut the armor off!
DM: Done. You’re still submerged though.
Druid: My shield! It is made of wood! I grab hold of it.
DM: It is too dark to see and the wooden shield floated away the moment that you let go but…
[I finally roll the chance to drown, per the module. I give a few bonuses because she lost her armor and thought of the wood floating, which could have been used to orient herself. Success!]
DM: As you flail about, your arm breaks the surface of the water. You clutch at the shield. It isn’t enough to keep you afloat by itself, but with a few clumsy strokes , you reach the side of the pool and crawl out, shivering.

The girls banter a bit. Being sisters, the wizard took some delight in needling the Druid, but had no way down short of jumping herself. She offered to throw down a lit torch, but could find no way to do that without it landing in the water too. The druid was on her own.

The wizard was content to wait and see what happened, so I continued to focus on the half-drowned PC. The druid found a wall and cautiously followed it in hopes of finding a way up. In the very next chamber, she found a water spider, which made short work of her in the dark. Several venomous stings put an end to her.

Afterwords

Despite ending the session in tragedy, everyone had a fantastic time and is eager to play again. We discussed what to do for a replacement character and settled on taking over the pirate/thief, who was fleshed out with stats and upgraded to level 1 before we packed up for the day.

So far, I am very pleased with the transition to OSRIC. Admittedly, we did very little that actually required rules. I think that the two quick combats didn’t even last as long as character creation. Add a couple of skill checks about the thief and the rules usage at the table was about 50/50 between creation and game-play. Everything else was handled narratively.

I wasn’t terribly challenged by running the game, but that’s OK. I’m in no hurry to ratchet up the action just yet. Meanwhile, I’m trying to keep a finger on the pulse of the game and pace it according to what the girls are responding to. That is a skill I want to hone and I’m thankful to have a willing or blissfully ignorant group to practice upon. 😀

Unfortunately, I won’t be around to run the second session on the third Saturday, which is the normal schedule. We won’t resume until the first Saturday in March and when that day comes we have room for more players!

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~ by Hunter Rose on February 6, 2012.

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