Of Keeps, Borderlands, and Kids…..

It appears the revival of our 4E D&D campaign will be sporadic, due to crazy weekend work schedule rotations. To still get our gaming fix, and to preserve my sanity from the madness that is running high-level 4th edition, and to toss a bone to a friend of ours who is a bit of a TSR purist, I’ve started running a mixed AD&D game on Friday nights.

When I say mixed, I mean it. It’s primarily AD&D 1st edition rules and characters. However, I brought in 2E’s Non-Weapon Proficiencies to give some variety of abilities. On top of that, I’ve decided to run the original B2: Keep on the Borderlands despite it being a “Basic” D&D module.

We’ve had three sessions so far. The first one was kind of awkward. Aside from getting my players used to the old, pre-d20 system rules and “old-school” play, the first session was also a reminder about why I usually don’t like my players drinking at the game table. Also, I made the mistake of printing out a fan-made player map for a handout. I say mistake because I grabbed the first cool one I found, which Google brought me upon this post at A Rust Monster Ate My Sword. Take note that spot that says “The Cursed Mound.” It’s not in the original (I’m guessing a campaign specific addition?) And my players HAD to go there.

Sure, let’s go there!

However, refusing to be the kind of DM to tell players to pick something else, I made up a single-level dungeon crawl for the area. Our second session would entail an ancient burial site of a Paladin that was a hero to local peoples generations ago. The site has been defiled, and a creeping evil cult has given off negative vibes that has caused the dead to rise in the form of zombies and skeletons. Oh, and I had the cultists actually be smart-ass Kobolds. Because, c’mon, Kobolds are like pure magic at level 1.

Especially when they barricade the entrance to the burial site with a huge wooden door with holes just big enough to spy out of and jab spears through. There was also a 2 foot tall gap between the door and the corridor it was set in. This was important, as it explained that after the Cleric set himself on fire attempting to throw a torch at the door (rolled a 1, and I’m a dick) that the Kobolds found this a perfect moment to lob a flask of oil at the party. The cleric was okay, but I damn near killed the Cavalier with this action. Luckily, the Ranger had some oil of his own. He dipped his arrows, shot through the fire infront of him, and managed to roll a 20 to score a hit on the bugger who was preparing another cocktail for the party. Boom.

Giving a little help, big time.

Maybe I’m a little rough on these guys. Maybe 4E has made them forget how to retreat. All I know is 2nd session ended with about 17 zombies and the cleric getting knocked out. They survived the encounter, but it took a lot of resources out of the party. I decided to give them a bit of an edge on the next session.

Last blog post, I was debating how to introduce my buddy’s 8 year old son to the hobby. We had settled on Mentzer Red Box D&D, but then I had a crazy idea. I offered to run the game again Saturday night, and asked if the guys would be cool with the kid playing with us. Everyone was down, and it was settled.

I showed up that evening, lugging with me some extra goodies. We hadn’t been using any minis so far, but I decided to modify the dungeon a bit to accommodate some tiles and figures.  I re-based some Mage Knight figures to fit D&D scale, and I gave the kid the mini of his first character: a freaking beefy Lizardman warrior. His eyes lit up like Christmas, because I knew what he wanted to be.

For his stats, I gave him base Armor Class and Hitpoints of a Lizardman. I’m allowing him to level up like a Fighter, but instead of specializations I’m allowing him to make Bite and Tail attacks along with his Longsword.  I allowed him to roll stats (although for Strength I went ahead and penciled in 18….come on, first game!) We worked him into the story by saying he was a good Lizardman, who didn’t like the Lizardfolk’s bullyish ways. He tracked the party down, and asked to join them in their endeavor.

The kid totally loved it. I sat him down with the miniatures, teaching him combat in boardgame fashion. But then I informed him he didn’t have to just bite or swing a sword. I encouraged him to use his imagination, and we could make all sorts of cool things happen in the game. He went straight to using his tail to grapple Kobolds, using his “Lizard Senses” to aid in searching for supplies, and he got into role playing with the guys no problem.

The kid, whom we shall call by his character name Sharpfang, paid attention the whole night. He was well behaved, he quickly learned concepts like rolling to hit, the differences in dice, and most importantly to balance imagination and role playing while still staying within the “rules” of the game. He waited for his turn, he never interrupted, he asked smart questions. This was kind of a big deal to me; Sharpfang has had trouble before paying attention and keeping interest in things, including his studies. Everyone was floored by how much he got into it, and how fast he picked it up. If anything, I’m happy I got him started in something that he can potentially learn a lot of things from. He’s already picking up problem solving, number recognition and social skills from the game. It’s also given him and his father something to do together, which is always a bonus.

The gang had fun, the kid did especially, and we’re all looking forward to the next session.

Capping off the Weekend

Just as a nice cap off to my geeky weekend, I got to spend Sunday night seeing muthafucking RUSH.

((I didn’t record this video; but I was sure as hell there!))