Played AD&D yesterday (using Appendix A for a random dungeon)

pemerton

Legend
We had our last RPG session for the year yesterday. Because some players couldn't make it, and we had a visitor from overseas, we decided to play a session of AD&D instead of one of our usual games.

Over the past several years I've been gradually writing up a AD&D variant, distilling the rules out of Gygax's PHB and DMG in a comprehensible form, and modifying classes to incorporate the best of UA and OA, to eliminate multi-classing, and to get them all on a common XP table. We used these rules to run the game.

There were 4 PCs: a NE half-orc fighter (two-handed sword specialist, looking for loot); a LN human cleric (plate, shield and war hammer, looking for ancient scrolls of his order believed to be in the dungeon); a LE elvish warrior mage (as part of my class revisions restricted to lighter armours, so wearing studded leather and carrying a longsword and longbow; he memorised a light spell); and a TN human monk (with darts for throwing like a ninja, plus martial arts for melee purposes). The latter two characters had no obvious motivation for entering the dungeon, but we didn't dwell too much on these petty details!

Not wanting a TPK as the first order of business, the PCs all started at 2nd level.

I rolled the dungeon using Appendix A: Random Dungeon Generation, and Appendix C for wandering monsters and room inhabitants (I used a 1 in 6 per 3 turns rule for wanderers; and just now I'm remembering that I didn't enforce a rest requirement, although as I now think about it I'm not 100% sure that's part of AD&D as opposed to Moldvay Basic).

I discovered that Appendix A gives you lots of branching corridors, many doors that lead to more corridors, and many empty rooms. So there was a lot of mapping, but relatively few encounters.

I rolled ear seekers as a wandering monster but the PCs didn't listen at the nearby door.

There was one room with 4 firebeetles, and an iron chest with 750 cp and 100 pp; there was then a wandering fire beetle, obviously split up from its friends. This was the main haul for the session.

After the fire beetles, the PCs encountered a one-way door at the end of a dead-end corridor, but couldn't break through it. (I allowed a bend bars roll to force the door, using the iron chest as a battering ram; but all failed.) The PCs then found an octagonal room, which was inscribed with strange runes and sigils (an ad lib by me, not coming from the random tables). The cleric cast Know History, and learned that the sigils were sigils of Chaos, and that the octagon (and other figures featuring the number 8, like 8 crossed arrows) was a sign of Chaos. The chaotic origins of the dungeon also explained its weird architecture, and suggested that the scrolls of Law that the cleric was looking for must have been taken here as loot or for destruction by the chaotics.

Looking for another path to the other side of the one-way door, the PCs found a door that opened onto a floor with a hidden pit (the monk detected it with a Find Traps roll) and a door immediately beyond it. In the pit, of course, was the dessicated carcass of a fire beetle (another GM ad lib). The PCs used the iron chest as a step to get down into the bit, and then stand at the other side to try and force open the far door. When the half-orc eventually succeeded at this, 11 giant rats (wandering monsters) came running through a door: the front line of rats fell into the pit, though enough survived to give rise to an epic battle with the monk who was down there, and then the cleric who climbed down to join in the excitement; the half-orc dealt with the face-biting rats in the doorway but (despite a to-hit chance of around 50%) was failing to deal with them, and in the end was reduced to 0 hp - once the half-orc fell into the pit, the warrior mage was able to shoot the last rat with an arrow without risking shooting a PC in the head.

Binding the half-orc's wounds restored him to 1 hp (a house-rule gloss on the AD&D falling unconscious rules, adapted from the WSG - binding wounds restores 1d3 hp), and he was able to hobble out accompanied by his friends. Unfortunately for the PCs, at the entrance to the dungeon - a square shaft, open to the sky and with stairs running up to the surface (this was my interpretation of the centre of starting point (1) in Appendix A) - were 8 orcs demanding the party's loot as ransom.

The half-orc was not able to negotiate, given his condition, but the elf had a go (penalised for racial antipathy) and failed, so combat ensued. The orcs only had one archer and one crossbow-wielder, and between a Light spell, archery and darts the PCs were able to kill blind one and kill two, thereby forcing a morale check, which failed. (And the monk ruthlessly pursued and killed the blind orc too.)

The PCs then returned to their village, where 5 hours rest enabled the cleric to memorise 4 Cure Light Wounds spells and thereby heal the warrior mage to full hp. Conveniently, one of the players had to go, leaving 3 to play the three remaining PCs (the half-orc player took charge of the cleric instead) to sally back in the next day.

Because the half-orc was the original mapper, and (being NE) hadn't handed over his map, there was some initial confusion and time lost trying to find their way back to the rat pit. But they found their way there, crossed over it using a rope and grapple, and then went on to find another room with no exits. Searching for secret doors revealed two of them; and a 6 on the wandering monster die enabled me to reveal the location of the third secret door, as the group of orcs - reinforced to a total of 11 - came into the room to seek their revenge. (The orcs were rolled, but it was GM fiat that decided they would be the same ones as the previous day.)

The cleric made an overbearing check to drive the lead orc back into the door, and then the cleric and warrior mage held the entrance so that the orcs couldn't all attack at once (though the orcs with spear were able to attack from the second rank). This looked like it had all the makings of a TPK, but lucky rolling by the players and some judicious Cure spells from the cleric kept the PCs up. (I think they would have survived even without the spells, but they would have felt more vulnerable, which could of course have infected their dice!)

At that point we had to end up. I didn't calculate XP, but with 570 from treasure (750 cp, 100 pp, 18 ep from the first lot of dead orcs, 17 gp from selling the iron chest, plus as-yet undetermined treasure from the second lot of orcs - 22d6 ep) plus 5 fire beetles, 6 giant rats and 19 orcs (but with XP for one beetle and the rats reduced due to being out-classed by the PCs) the XP haul is not all that grand.

I'm not sure if we'll ever come back to this, so whether or not there is another path around to the one-way door may never be discovered. For those of us with classic D&D experience, there was a fair bit of recollection of frustration with mapping, and the relative randomness of resolution. One of the group has been playing with us for nearly 20 years but has never played classic D&D before - at one point, as he was making some roll or other for his monk, he noticed that the resolution systems (X in 6 to open doors, d20 to hit, % chance to climb, etc) all seemed quite different, and queried why this should be so.

I think if I was going to try AD&D again I would really need to put the effort in to designing a more interesting dungeon - the number of empty rooms was a real issue. On the other hand, a greater density of inhabitants increases the proportion of combat to exploration and the likelihood of a TPK, so I'm not sure that that is a straightforward solution. And increasing the "story" elements (eg chaotic sigils and ancient scrolls) tends to push things in a direction that other systems are probably better at. So, in the end, I'm not sure that this sort of classic D&D is the best fit for our group.
 

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Redthistle

Explorer
Supporter
"... distilling the rules out of Gygax's PHB and DMG in a comprehensible form ..."

This. Oh, sweet Lord, this. When I saw the organization of the 3.0/3.5 rule books, I almost jumped to my feet to dance. The only thing that stopped me was that I didn't want to stop reading.

To this day, nothing aggravates me more than a poorly organized rule book that makes it difficult to find and utilize information necessary for creating a PC. The one thing that has continuously improved over the editions is the clarity and ease in creating a character.

There is a lot of useful stuff from Gygax's PHB and DMG, notably tables such as the Appendices you referred to. Using those with the 5e rules is to my own liking, but I applaud your own way of getting from the texts to the game table.
 


Igwilly

First Post
Well, I think that playing a considerably older system will have some “peculiarities” compared to new systems, and players probably will see this. The question is, if the good stuff is worth it ;)
Also, if you want to encourage out-of-combat game, the best choice is giving extra XP for non-combat moments, and missions. I think the last one was mentioned in AD&D 1E but I don’t know the other one. But that was what I did back in 4e.
On a note: I never use random tables for monsters and dungeons. I don’t trust them that much, although they are useful when you have nothing prepared.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Interesting to see - and worth pointing out to those in the "PCs should only be good/noble/heroes" crowd - that of a party of 4, 2 were evil and the other 2 were neutral...and yet you and the players made a fun game of it.

Something I've never tried is an Appendix-A dungeon. One of these days... :)

And I for one wouldn't worry in the least about the "XP haul is not all that grand" part, as long as fun was had and everyone wants to come back for more.

Lan-"wondering what the long-term knock-on effects would be of some of your tweaks e.g. putting all classes onto the same advancement table"-efan
 

Redthistle

Explorer
Supporter
On a note: I never use random tables for monsters and dungeons. I don’t trust them that much, although they are useful when you have nothing prepared.

Way back when, I took part in a poetry and songwriting workshop. There were a number of simple ways we were taught to help us jump-start our imaginations when they were stuck in idle.

One of them was to build up a collection of photos clipped from newspapers and magazines. When in need of inspiration, the idea was to pull three pictures at random from the pile and try to come up with a story that connected the images.

I sometimes apply that strategy in using the tables to generate ideas. A lot of those notions never reach the game table, but a few of them have led to memorable game sessions.

The late Vladimir Horowitz noted (pun intended) that if he missed even a single day of practicing piano, he could tell that his skill had slipped, even if no one else could tell. I treat my imagination the same way.
 

Redthistle

Explorer
Supporter
Interesting to see - and worth pointing out to those in the "PCs should only be good/noble/heroes" crowd - that of a party of 4, 2 were evil and the other 2 were neutral...and yet you and the players made a fun game of it.

For years, I've looked at the "Good-Evil" axis as being more of an "Altruistic-Selfish" spectrum instead. Most of us move back-&-forth on that line, having both times of better interactions with others and those moments of being a self-serving jerk.

Our innate sense of fair play shows up in a lot of what we do, even if we are not completely aware of it, such as when we perform a good deed for someone else, and then "reward" ourselves by allowing ourselves some kind of treat, such as having a bit of candy when we are ostensibly on a diet. Sometimes we are very aware of it, such as when I donate blood, and always joke that I only do it for the free cookie and soft drink they give me afterward. It's a matter of keeping that inner sense in balance.

The concept of what is "fair" is seen very differently by the oppressed and by the oppressor.

"Good" people walk past beggars everyday. "Evil" people show up to help sandbag against a rising river flood.

When we game-play, our characters may do all kinds of things that we wouldn't (and likely couldn't!) do in real life. I like to think that, in some strange way, that helps us keep our values-balance.
 

For years, I've looked at the "Good-Evil" axis as being more of an "Altruistic-Selfish" spectrum instead. Most of us move back-&-forth on that line, having both times of better interactions with others and those moments of being a self-serving jerk.

Our innate sense of fair play shows up in a lot of what we do, even if we are not completely aware of it, such as when we perform a good deed for someone else, and then "reward" ourselves by allowing ourselves some kind of treat, such as having a bit of candy when we are ostensibly on a diet. Sometimes we are very aware of it, such as when I donate blood, and always joke that I only do it for the free cookie and soft drink they give me afterward. It's a matter of keeping that inner sense in balance.

The concept of what is "fair" is seen very differently by the oppressed and by the oppressor.

"Good" people walk past beggars everyday. "Evil" people show up to help sandbag against a rising river flood.

When we game-play, our characters may do all kinds of things that we wouldn't (and likely couldn't!) do in real life. I like to think that, in some strange way, that helps us keep our values-balance.
A major antipathy towards alignment systems, I think, is simply that most people assign the opposite meaning to alignment systems. "Lawful Evil is never loyal", "Chaotic Evil would never help a friend out", "Lawful Good will never compromise", "Chaotic Good must always act on impulse"; etc..

It is odd, as such is, as far as I know, never actually stated or implied by any edition; rather something...Not opposite, but rather that these alignments are general tendencies; sometimes strong ones.
 


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