I play a lot of D&D and for quite a while I've been trying to run a more 'old school' style game in my 4th edition campaigns. Right now, I run a Chaos Scar/Tomb of Horrors campaign
on Mondays at a game store, D&D Encounters
(an official Wizards thing where you run one encounter a week from a module) on Wednesdays, and my 'real' game is 4e Temple of Elemental Evil
on Fridays late at night.
Temple is cool, but in 4e it doesn't feel 'old school' or, really, all that fun. I saw a post on RPG Net for this Dungeon Crawl Classics Beta and once I took a glance at the 'occupations' chart I knew I wanted to run this. So I talked to my Wednesday group, and they agreed to try it out and play it on Free RPG Day (this Saturday).
Last Friday I ran a quick DCC thing before my Temple game. I had three players roll up a single 0-level plebian, and then had them fight a single orc with no weapons or armor. I was just trying to gauge what an appropriate challenge was in this game, as there's no xp values in the beta book.
Two of the three characters died! And the survivor almost perished too, but my dice ran cold at the end. We all died laughing, though. We've been playing 4th edition - a lot - since it came out, and it feels really bizarre to die so quickly.
I started DMing in around '89 as a kid. Second edition was my game. And I am really looking forward to running a game where i don't need to print out poster maps and plop down miniatures. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love 4e, but this game will definitely bring some spice into our lives.
This thread will chronicle our campaign. The players all seem extremely into this, so I'm assuming it's not going to collapse when I run the Free RPG Day adventure. We'll be playing it on Wednesdays at our game store (The Dragon's Den in New York, about an hour north of New York City) after we finish our Encounters session.
My idea for the campaign is simple. There's a lich called Thurfang Bormaug who has created dungeons called spell-crypts. Each one powers one of the lich's special spells, each of which is keyed to a different color. The heroes will end up seeking out and destroying the power gem at the heart of each dungeon, which will deny the lich the use of that spell and thus make him less of a threat to the world.
The heroes will have an ally/patron, a witch called Golila the Mazarine. She is a rival of Thurfang's and is guiding the heroes on their quest (and helps hide them from Thurfang's scrying. He'd surely squash the heroes otherwise).
So basically the campaign will involve the heroes hex-crawling, searching for the next spell-crypt, then going through the spell-crypt and dungeon crawling until they find that crypt's power gem, then move on...
Tonight was our preparatory stab at Dungeon Crawl Classics. Each player rolled up 3 0-level PCs, and then we did a couple test-fights. I framed them as "premonition dreams of the witch" - she's having visions of their possible future and now knows they will be relevant to her very soon.
The following summary is also posted here with a few pictures, including a map of where the heroes' village of Greywood is located....right here
. Greywood is a village from an ancient issue of White dwarf, part of "The Search for the Temple of the Golden Spire". As fate would have it, Samantha gave me all her dad's old d&d stuff for christmas. It's from the late 70's/early 80's, and is perfect material to raid for this campaign.
Listed here is the player name, followed by his/her three characters. This group consists of people aged from 20-35. John Z
Dwarven Herder, with sow (female pig)
Gregory, Elven Sage
Gong Farmer (cleans outhouses.. this guy has epic stats. Greg called him "the GG Allin of dungeon crawls")Greg
John Doe, Potato Farmer with a hen
Grym, Wizard's Apprentice (with a high int and a luck bonus to spell damage)
Edison, Elven ArtisanKrista
Skip, Corn Farmer with a mule
Galla, Halfling Gypsy
Smacky, Armorer (Does an iron helmet do anything?)Matt
Hezekiah, Corn Farmer with a sheep
Mr. Boscrow, Halfling Trader
Carlisle, Slave Tom
Arvin Twiggins, Halfling Trader
Jonathan Growhaven, Potato Farmer with a cow
Freedric Goldwynn, Urchin with a stick, a bowl, a 14 intelligence and a very low agility (-3)Samantha
Madam Mysteria, Halfling Gypsy
Goatswyn, Dwarven Herder with a Goat
Our heroes lived mundane lives in the village of Greywood, west of the Kitezhan Mountains and just north of the Vermillion Steppes (MM10 on the big Aereth map on this site). The citizens worshiped Uleth, the God of Peace. Nearby was a spire upon which lurked a witch who went by the name of Golila the Mazarine. Only her brother and servant, Lergwe, lived with her. The spire was also home to Caliron, the Cantankerous Giant of the Fog. The big fellow flung rocks at any who he saw.
Golila slept and dreamed of those she would meet soon. She dreamt scenes from alternate realities, battles which never happened - but could have....
A call went out through the streets of Greywood. Three kobolds had barged into a barn and were eating everything. Who could possibly stop them?
A mob of eighteen citizens decided to try! They headed to the barn, and decided to have John Z's dwarf herder lead a bunch of farm animals through the front entrance to distract the kobolds. The rest of the heroes would pour in through the back entrance and pummel the kobolds before they knew what was what!
(I decided that the heroes each got a +5 to initiative for this attempt. Unfortunately for them my kobolds rolled very high for initiative.. they went second in the order!
The intiative order:
Krista's gypsy fired a sling bolt from the far side of a window. She struck a kobold in the head. Blood trickled from the wound. Her armorer busted in and missed with a hammer. Then Skip the farmer plunged his pitchfork through a kobold's back and flung its' corpse through the air (a critical!
). Two kobolds remained.
John's dwarf burst in the front door, riding his beloved sow and leading a charge of farm animals. He rode up and missed a swing at a kobold. John's elven sage crept in and missed a kobold. John's gong farmer made his way to a kobold on the ground like a navy seal. Crowbar in hand, he whacked the kobold already hit by a sling stone. The kobold screamed in pain and turned.
The gong farmer recoiled but it was too late. The kobold plunged its' tiny blade into his neck, killing the gong farmer! The other kobolds missed.
Matt's farmer, Hezekiah rushed up and missed. Mr. Boscrow the halfling trader battled the injured kobold. Carlisle charged the wounded kobold and killed him. "For freedom... and food!", shouted the slave. Two kobolds down, one to go.
(At this point I remembered the morale rule. I decided not to use it, but made a note to make sure I did when it counted
Greg's turn. Edison, the elven artisan approached a kobold and crushed it's kneecap with his staff! The leg broke open and the kobold died (a critical... we talked a bit about max damage. I am looking at the rules now, and it looks like there's no max damage on a crit, just whatever the result on the table is...
). The kobolds were vanquished!I took this opportunity to talk about a rule I'd read in an old dragon magazine. It's an article called "The Restless Dead". The rule is that if a fellow character dies, the heroes must pay a "Widow's fee" and bury their friend with his stuff. If they take his stuff or don't pay the fee, the character becomes undead and comes after the PCs. The type of undead depends on the dead guy's alignment:
Neutral: Zombie or Skeleton
It was a rule designed to prevent the looting of friends' PCs as it could lead to over-powered PCs. I decided to use it just because I think it's cool and seems in keeping with this game's tone.
One thing I didn't like about the kobold fight was that not every player even got to go! I was wondering if three kobolds was not enough or too many. I'm still not sure. Another note: The fight took 7 minutes! Bizarre by 4e standards. Everyone liked it. We can get a lot done in an hour in this game!
Golila the Manarine awoke. She called out at her brother to bring her a drink. But then she fell asleep again, once more dreaming of the citizens she would soon meet...
The village of Greywood was under attack. 6... yes, 6! Mighty orcs, claws bared, loincloths flapping in the breeze were crossing a field and approaching! They were clearly hostile. Who could defend the town from such a threat? Why, our golden-hearted plebians, of course!
Greg's Elf Artisan, Edison, raced up and cracked an orc in the face with his staff. It reeled but was still alive. Greg's potato farmer used his flint & steel to light Grym's (the apprentice) oil. Wisely staying out of melee, Grym flung the lit oil through the air. The burning oil hit, covered and scorched the already-wounded orc. The orc screamed and died. (A question was asked of me as to whether the oil spread, like in a burst formation in 4th edition. I said no, it only hit and affected the orc.
But Greg wasn't done! His third character, John Doe, the one-hit point potato farmer, raced forth and plunged his pitchfork into an orc's eye (yes another critical from Greg~
). The orc died.
A nearby orc snarled and swiped a claw at John Doe, killing him. Another orc lunged at Edison, clawing him in the neck and killing him as well.
The other two orcs raced across the plain toward the village defenders. One reached Hezekiah, clawed and cut him down.
Tom's turn. One miss. Growhaven hits with a staff for two points. And Goldwyn the urchin tried to feebly tap an orc with his stick.. no.. he missed.
Samantha's trio got into it. Madam Misteria loaded up her sling and staggered an orc with a shot, but it was still alive. Then Goatswyn raced up and beat on that orc. Linnette missed.
John's Pig-riding dwarf rode up and cracked an orc in the face. Gregory followed up and finished off the orc. Gong guy missed! Three orcs left!
Matt's guys missed, except the slave. Krista rolled low on all three attacks. End of round one. Took 8 minutes for 18 characters and a pile of orcs!
Greg's go.. Grym, the apprentice, struck a wounded orc and nearly killed it.
One orc went after Arvin Twiggins. The halfling trader died a grisly death. Then I rolled to see who the other orc attacked. It was another of tom's guys - Johnathan Growhaven the potato farmer. He'd never skin another spud, for he was slain. Somewhere in the distance, his cow mooed mournfully. Krista said after the first adventure, we'd need to have a wake..
Tom's guy missed. Madame Misteria slinged an orc, and killed it. Goatswyn missed. Lynette also missed. One orc left...
The pig rider, Mr. Smithy, rode up and yelled "Let's get him Bessy!". He rode by and swung, and killed the final orc.Reactions
: They loved it. The entire table was more into this than any 4e event I've run for them. The random charts and the terror of having 2 hit points seemed to really get them going.
One thing I'm already thinking about is the fact that there's certain characters that need to make it to level one. John Z loved his pig-riding dwarf, much more than his awesome-stat poop-shoveler (that is what a gong farmer is, right?
). And Greg has his apprentice, who I am already having ideas for. We could say he is being taught by Golila! That would be really cool. I don't want him to die!
Another thing that came up was that... I need a map. I was just rolling randomly to see who the monsters attacked (if there was no obvious choice), and with so many PCs it got confusing. We won't need to count squares or anything, but I think I need to bring minis and a vague map just so we can keep track of who is where. Rules Confusion
I haven't read the whole book. So maybe these questions will be answered once I go back through the book. But:
How do you make a "perception" check? Do you? I guess you need to look for secret doors and check for traps, I'll have to see what skill that's keyed to.
If you roll up a 0-level PC who has a -2 as their stamina modifier, and she rolls 1 starting hit point, is she dead? I assumed she just had one hit point. Poor Sam!
Does an iron helmet do anything? Bonus to AC? Krista's Armorer came with one.
Do their animals have stats? Should they be used as combatants? There's already a billion characters, animals running around seems like overkill.Overall
: It was awesome. Everyone loved it. I got my copy of the Free RPG day adventure and wow, the map in there is incredible! I can't wait to run it. I'm about to give it a read. We will play it on Saturday at 12:30 PM. I'll have a report up soon after that!
Hope this is of use!