Sunday, April 23, 2017

White Plume Mountain part II pre-summary notes

I don't time to write a game summary tonight, but here are some highlights, specific and vague.

- seven players.

- less than seven survivors.

- Whelm and Wave's guardians were overcome.

- Just about every spell the PCs had was cast . . . except those that went down with their casters.

- They faced Nix, Nox, Box, and Cox.

Fun session. Quote of the night might have been from the player who runs our new Scout in DF - "GURPS is both harder and easier." Yeah, in lots of ways. We'll really enjoy getting defense rolls again.

Gaming Logistics I: AD&D, no minis

Unachimba suggested, and one of my gamers echoed, that I should do a post about what I bring to game when we game.

Well, today is part II of White Plume Mountain. What do I need for that?

Not very much:

- three rulebooks
- a module
- note sheets
- AD&D Adventure Log sheets
- DM screen
- some magic item cards]
- bag of dice (not pictured)

That's it. I really don't even need all of that, but I prefer to have it all handy. If it was a Unearthed Arcana-era game, I'd need at least one more book, possibly two (the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide.) That's a fraction of what I "need" for GURPS, but then again, that's because I run GURPS with a hex map in a megadungeon and use minis. My game isn't truly designed around portability, but this AD&D two-shot absolutely is. When I run GURPS Lite at school, I use all of GURPS Lite, one record sheet, one note sheet, and six dice. I don't even need anything except the dice and record sheet, really. My AD&D game is built around that same principle.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dungeon of Signs on S1 & my comments

There is an interesting and solid look at S1 Tomb of Horrors.

Review: S1 Tomb of Horrors

I have mixed feelings on S1. It's one of the first adventures I owned. I ran it multiple times (my cousin's thief Blackstar went there at least once, and lived). I think I mis-ran parts of it because of the difficulty of the text. It was fun, but it was also a bad influence on us. It set the tone for a lot of play - traps were lethal, often with no save; treasures could sometimes be stingy; games were meant to be hard.

It certainly had to influence the killer dungeons back in the day. DMs often bragged about how lethal their dungeons were. PCs were playing pieces to be expended trying to beat the dungeon. S1 was an example of the type, even if it's more of a puzzle than a monster maze meant to dice up your characters through combat.

But it's an interesting dungeon. It's tough, but it's not impossible. It punishes greed and lack of caution. It's a thinking person's dungeon, and quite possible to get through if you're careful and the GM is fair. It deserves the designation "S" for "Special" but for us elementary school aged gamers it was just one more example of How to Play the Game Right. The modules were gospel, and this was a gospel of strict and lethal play.

It's a module I'd like to run for an experienced group. I like what it's inspired (The Mud Sorcerer's Tomb is an homage that one-ups the original in many ways). But again, it may have been better if we'd never touched it back in the day. We'd have done better with something less special and less lethal.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

GURPS Lite in the Classroom, Session #2

I ran another, very short, bit of GURPS Lite for my speaking-skills student.

First, though, I needed to give him two bits of information about the game.

Skills - I told my student that skills are just what you are especially good at. You can try anything, given the right situation, but your listed skills are just what you do well.

Criticals - I told him 3-4 always works, usually especially well. 17-18 usually means a really bad failure - it doesn't work plus something goes really wrong. That came up his first roll when he rolled two out of three dice and could see he'd failed. Yes, 6 and 5 versus an 11 fails . . . but what if you roll another 6?

Next, we picked up with his character in the dark room.

He carefully searched the room, and eventually found a broken-off wooden handle from what used to be a wooden spoon. (This wasn't planned, but I figured, he searched carefully - I used this Search roll to determine how long it took to find anything, with only a critical failure meaning he'd missed this in his cautious feeling around in the dimness.)

Then he tried to scrape a hole in the door. The door was much too thick for that.

Next he tried to pick the lock with his broken wooden spoon handle. It didn't work; in fact it got stuck. (He missed his default Lockpicking roll by 10.)

All of this woke up the orc guard, who saw the door jammed. Not realizing in his just-woken state that this was a bad idea, he jammed in a key and opened the door. Instead of a shackled prisoner, my student's PC jumped out the door with his wooden shiv to attack.

We stopped there, and agreed to extend the time for GURPS a little next time.

Next up, a simple combat.

And even more chances to explain actions in English, which is practice he needs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

AD&D Adventure Log sample entry oddities

I have two fully intact copies of the AD&D Adventure Log. I owned one other which I took apart to use in play in various campaigns.

I must have read every single detail of the sample log a hundred times at least. I still quote "Fred 9802 talked back to Odin -- and lived!" on occasion.

It's not a sample of actual play, of course. It barely makes sense as that. But it's fun to look at in any case.

And the are so many oddities on this.

- Who wrote this? It looks like Jeff Dee's lettering.

- The orcs, gnolls, lurker above, fire giant, and umber hulk all have average HP. Most of the HP are clustered right around the average. Many of the PCs? Average on the nose or just off of it. Try it. 7th level ranger? 8d8 HP, 4.5 per die, has 36 HP. Morgan Ironwolf? 43, average is 42. Lakesla? Average is 17.5, has 18 HP.

- the dragon has 37 HP. A huge, adult, black dragon with 37 HP. I guess it was wounded? Actually, it seems more like someone tried to give it almost average HP (4.5 x 8 = 36, 37 is one point higher). If you don't know AD&D dragons, they get fixed HP per age category. An adult has 5 per hit die, and so it should have 40.

- lots of high-ST fighters. Three with 18/01 or better (and Fred 9802 has 18/91 - 99)

- one cleric (who died, heh) out of 10 PCs, yet three thieves. Come on, guys, I know it's hard because AD&D limited multi-class clerics so badly it was pure cleric or purely bad choice, but you can see how you need two here.

- Black Dougal, dead once again. His purpose is to die in the example, I see.

- characters #4, #9, and #10 all appear to have 17 DEX while #2 has an 18.

- 5th through 8th level characters, including three Magic-Users and on Cleric but no Continual Light spells or light noted from magic swords (which are fairly plentiful in the group.)

- All of the multi-class characters have the same level in both classes - no one is at one of those fairly frequent points where one class is above the other.

- I don't think I ever saw a Net of Snaring in play outside of this sheet.

- Divine intervention with backtalk.

- Stat-raising magic chairs.

Still so fun to look at, for me. All of that implied play and weirdness. And that 37 HP dragon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Prepping for White Plume Mountain, round 2 - notes

Notes about Sunday's upcoming conclusion to AD&D White Plume Mountain.

Replacement PCs?

The new PCs are being generated off the old set of numbers the players generated. If someone is missing theirs, I'll probably let them roll up 2-3 sets of 4d6 drop lowest arrange to taste. That may work out better than their lost set, or worse. It doesn't matter to me as long as a viable and playable (even if not particularly good) PC is generated.

Levels, magic items, etc. will all be done the same way as the first time.

Did the PCs leave the dungeon?

No. The two surviving PCs did not. They're hanging out with the gynosphinx who riddled them in the first session.

I am debating letting the PCs leave and come back, so the characters can heal and re-memorize spells as well pick up the replacement characters. I'm leaning towards not doing that, though, because I'd like the choices made so far to stick in a significant way. That's a little unfair to the surviving PCs, but then again, the surviving PCs have five characters' worth of magic items and some nice loot that is all theirs.


No. None at all. The dungeon stays the same. Little or no time will have passed. The PCs are welcome to explore those corridors they didn't go down last time, find Whelm and Wave in any order they like, double-kill those two bugbears that nearly killed off the Lama of the Lioness, etc. It's still right now.


One tricky bit is that the surviving two PCs are wounded. One is roughed up to 24 HP from his maximum 41. The other went to 0 and dropped negative from blood loss, and canonically needs weeks to recover.

Well, except in the case of the Heal spell. So a PC coming in with a scroll of Heal and Cure Critical Wounds (3d8+3, average 15.5) should take both of them to within a few HP of maximum. Probably, anyway - worth case is +6 HP for the F/T and the cleric is 4 HP off of maximum. But Heal will bounce her back from needing weeks off without me handing out, say, a Limited Wish and having the PCs decide it's better to save it for something else. No chance of that with healing that's needed right away.

More healing stuff?

A little bit, yes. The replacement PCs get what they rolled and a complement of healing potions like what I initially handed out (2-3 potions total). That's that.

One more session of AD&D Sunday, then back to our normal GURPS gaming. This went well, though, and I'd be tempted to try an UA-era adventure sometime in the future or play more early-version AD&D with the tweaks I made to initiative. It's been fun, even if I think GURPS combat and chargen is more of what I'm looking for from my gaming in general.
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