I have been trying since October to get my old gang together over Google Meet to play a simple game of D&D. The easiest version the rally old gamers around is B/X, so I went with the best version of B/X, OSE. not knowing if my high school chums still had anygaming supplies, I sent them table copies while keeping my hardbacks..
Most of the guys had moved away in the great post college diaspora, and in the ensuing decades, engaged with that thing that dooms most regular playgroups: Real Life.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with jobs, relationships. or families, those things are kind of the point of what being an adult is about. Gaming is supposed to be what is between these things.
I have made three attempts since our last game in November to play, but one or more of the okd group were unable to make it. My oldest friend in the group, a man I have known for nearly forty years, (he was my first DM in my high school gaming club) has always made the time.He and I agreed to a few things going forward: weneed a larger pool of players, preferably other people who were part of our old groups, and secondly to play with whoever shows up.
the best example of that kind of revolving troupe play is called West Marches style after this famous campaign. The primary conceit is that no session ends in the dungeon, and that incoming characters who “know” members of the group can acquire a copy of the campaign or dungeon map and pick up where the others left off.
Peter Dell’Orto runs his DF game this way, as seen on his website
I have triedto model my play by post campaign this way as well, by his example.
Going forward, however I will recruit players, their characters will start in the Brass Bell, a tavern in the war ravaged city of Dunmoore, and make their way out into the empty lands, depopulated by plague and the incursions of the necromancer. Whoever can show will forma group and head forth to adventure, and be back in town before we end for the night.
My primary patron, Gabor Lux has just released a city supplement for 1e/OSRIC, which is readily adaptable to any OSR ruleset, and comes with awesome maps.
The port city is full of intrigue and has several layers of dungeon, with multiple entrances and a variety of inhabitants, from the typical bandits, thieves, goblins, orcs, low rent undead, up to animated armor, trolls and mimics, but also including weirdnesses such as floating eyes, a small army of paladins striving to see every last corpse properly buried, and acollection of doors that lead to strange places.it would be easy to port in Through Ultan’s Door here.
The NPCs have a good selection of interesting magic items and peculiar abities like magic resistance or magical luck.
This was originally drawn for a Troika! project by Christopher Mennell, but I decided to stat it out for OSE.
Obulex Mindless, carnivorous, starfish-like monstrosities that occupy pits. Dwell exclusively underground. AC 5 , HD 8* (36hp), Att 1 × swallow (1d6), THAC0 12[+7], MV 10’ (3’) SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (5), ML 12, AL Neutral, XP 1,200, NA 1 (0), TT C ▶ Surprise: On a 1–4, due to stone-like appearance of upper surface. ▶ Swallow: Affects whoever has fallen into its gullet. A single attack roll is made and compared against the AC of the target, the creature’s arms sweep up and push the victim within. ▶ Trapped victims: Cannot move, automatically suffer 1d6 damage per round. Can attack the Obulex only if they had a short weapon (e.g. dagger, short sword) in hand when trapped.
Treasure is found excreted into the pit in which it dwells.
More of my artwork found its way into Warlock! Goblins, including most of the stock art found in my Goblinoids stock art pack. Good Stuff! Fire Ruby Designs just keeps putting out expansions to the Warlock! system, inspired by both Warhammer and Fighting Fantsy gamebooks, and almost all of them have included my artwork. I keep buying them for portfolio purposes, although it would be fun to play.
The bulk of this evening’s OSE game involved the creation and introduction of a new character, for an old player, Darren, a member of the gaming group that James and Stanley belonged to with me in the late eighties to early nineties.
Also present and observing was a new player, Ralph, who wanted to see how we rolled.
After the party had defeated the coffer corpse last week, Lance had run upstairs to the relative safety of the prison level, and awakened Ashanti (who replaced the minimally defined halfling I had originally had there, and gave the same backstory, having had her party scattered by the coffer corpse and owlbear/ giant rat combo.
Darren was surprised to see how stripped down the OSE assassin was, as they have d4 hp and no longer have open locks (handy for getting to your victim) or any method of concocting poisons as they did in AD&D. I think I will resolve that as a poison saving throw to acquire venom from deceased creatures. He also opted to put his second highest roll into Intelligence; I will reward that with better information and lore results; the only mechanical effects are more languages.
Once regrouped, a skelly followed them up and was turned.
Both Ashanti and Aria were interested in dealing with what was below…without a light so Ashanti made a series of stealthy rolls and was able to open doors and get next to …something… in the darkness of the crypt level without being seen, but wisely fled rather than engage. Still got xp for this.
Upon her return, Aria impulsively descended, and slew the skelly, but retreated as well.
The rest of the group was preparing to follow, and Lance went with Ashanti to stow his halberd safely in one of the cells so that he could use mace and shield. Ashanti took the occasion to search the cell with the chained skeleton, and opened the secret door there. After acquiring a torch; she entered a tunnel three feet wide and high, and clambered some distance to a rusted grating that served as an escape hatch for the original inhabitants of the tower. Limited by her strength (and a failed open doors roll), she returned to report, leaving the rusted hatch unopened. After an inventory of hit points, they decided to travel to a nearby farm and spend some time healing.
After resting up in the barn, they were able to assist the farmer when a giant insect leapt out of a burrow to eat one of his goats.
Taking time to ready, they fired arrows at it, avoided its acid spit, whiffed at it with a halberd, were missed on a bite attack, and felled it with another arrow and a solid swipe (nat twenty, natural max damage with 18ST) of the polearm and finished a 4hd Ankheg.
They climbed down into its lair, and over about three hours, were able to pry almost a thousand electrum pieces and a silver ring worth 100gp from the walls of its burrow, lined with resin like something out of the Alien franchise. The lawful cleric was kind enough to split some of this with the grateful farmer.
Collectively they bagged a few hundred xp, enough to raise Drucila to level 2. They returned to town to requip and Drucila loaded Sleep into her book from Aira.
Mechanics I will be using going forward: the secret doors roll is ideal for finding needle in a haystack items that involve spotting a specific something in a pile or fully concealed, like a ring embedded in the resinous walls of an Ankheg’s lair, amidst hundreds of coins similarly embeded.
I come back to BX games from many years playing games with skill systems, as have some of my players. I have seen a number of attempts to graft skills onto BX era games that were unsuccessful, but I have seen ways to use existing systems within the games.
For example, there had been a blog that proposed use of a saving throw to represent a class feature that is level and class based; I believe it was in a post called “Save vs Awesome” that I can no longer find
The gist was that each basic class has a saving throw that they excel at, and that ought be used when a class related action is taken that has an uncertain outcome; wizardly endeavors resolved with a save vs spells, and for our poison using assassin, save vs death for handling and preparing poison… an ability check of that prodigious intelligence could identify ingredients, how best to extract it, and how to forensically recognize its use.
While in town, there was discussion about manufacturing spell scrolls, which I like to use the Holmes Basic suggestion of allowing Magic users of any level to create them, at a cost in materials of 1d6x100 gp per spell level, but they decided to hold off on both that and the more expensive spell research option.
After resting in town, and requipping their disposables, and upgrading Lance the fighter’s armor to plate, they headed back to the brigands’ tower.
The night before they arrived, there was a screeching sound while Aria was on watch. Naturally, she woke the others and went out ascouting. Eventually she came upon a football sized owl pellet. She returned and told the others, who agreed that whatever it was should be hunted down.
I used the secret doors mechanic for tracking, and after getting a little lost, they were able to track it to… the brigands tower.
They geared up, and for some reason, decided against having the fighter use the high damage polearm and had him charge in with a light club and shield. Aria, not knowing its HD, cast sleep at it. Lance pasted it, but was struck badly. Abbyee immediately cured a few points of his damage. Lance attacked it again, the owlbear whiffed, and Aria grabbed her sword while Drucila prepped a molotov cocktail.
Lance, Abbyee, and Aria all hit, and Drucila set it on fire,finishing it.
After surveying the area, and finding two bodies, a crushed dwarf (Derek of the Axe) and a gutted cleric (Janosh), from whose remains they recovered 16 gp, 8 sp and 8 cp, all evenly divided, along with a mace (given to Lance as an upgrade to his club) and a fine looking dwarven axe, engraved with an interlace pattern (snatched up by Aria). Suspecting more missing adventurers, they gutted the owlbear, and happily found only the remains of giant rats.
Keeping with their standard anti-undead procedures of performing proper burials, they buried the hapless dwarf and cleric, and looked for a place to dump the body of the owlbear so as not to attract scavengers.
When they had last approached this area, it had been raining and dark, on the return they were occupied with prisoners, so this was their first opportunity to really get the lay of the land.
The former brigands’ lair was situated on a hill with a sheer cliff like drop down to a rocky beach beside a river that flowed south back to town. Aria used her rope and grapple to descend, and spotted two cave-like openings, one about 15 feet up, the other at ground level. Once on the shore, she became interested in a log sunk into the water a few feet from the shore that she soon surmised was a mooring post.
Carefully, without entering the caves, she ascended and reported the area as safe to dump the body without poisoning the river.
They did, and could smell roasting meat all night while they stayed on the upper floor of the tower, sleeping to refresh spells, with the usual guards posted.
For their location (and precautions) there were no random encounters that night, but some of Abbyee’s spells went to heal Lance, who had been hurting. They descended to the ground level and then through the trap door, with the elf leading.
At the foot of those stairs, she was surprised bya skeleton, and stabbed for a small amount of damage, and was able to fire an arrow at it.
Much planning vs weapon types vs undead gad been going on, but my players have played so many systems that they didn’t know what applied here.
From immediately behind Aria, Abbyee turned the skeleton, which ran off.
They proceeded to the dungeon, where they found another skeleton attempting to stab someone in a cell.
Aria blasted it to smithereens with a magic missile, and they discovered the famished halfling Hildegard barricaded within, having spiked the cell door shut. After giving her a ration, and hearing that there had been 5 in her party, of which three were now accounted for, and that everything had gone south when Calvin had opened the box (a sarcophagus with an effigy on it) and four of the other coffhad opened as well. They asked what she wanted to do,which was to return home to the Rolling Downs, but balked at giving her arrows… and cast sleep on her to make sure that she didn’t do them any harm from behind. Again, they did not investigate the jail cell with the hanging skeleton, except to notice that it was wired together.
They descended to the level of the crypts, and posted a guard while Aria investigated a nearby wine cellar/storeroom. Therein she was attacked by the same skeleton that had met previously, and after another light injury, she cut it down with the axe, releasing a little black smoke when she did so. This attracted the attention of 6 giant rats that were nibbling on the stripped corpse of Hildegard’s companion Ludwig. The rats advanced, but failed a morale check upon seeing the party, and retreated.
At this point, a coffer corpse,the nominal boss monster, stepped out of the room, and resisted Abbyee’s attempt to turn it,and proceeded to choke her. Drucila molotov’ed it, scoring low enough damage as to not invoke its special feature, and then Lance smashed it with his mace. Abbyee, freed from the downed creature, then advanced into the room, stepping over it,and she then turned two skeletons that were advancing from within.… The coffer corpse then arose again like the antagonist of a slasher movie, causing Lance to flee the burning, walking corpse. (The others made their saves) It snatched up Aria by the throat,who chopped at it for real damage, accompanied by the hissing and whispers of black vapor as it was struck, but not enough to put it down for good. Next round she cut it down , but they decided to retreat at this point
Minimal treasure was acquired, due to the strategic withdrawal, but they only returned upstairs and haven’t left yet.
Xp so far was 175 for the owlbear, 30 for the CC, 20 for the skeletons with the ‘rescue’ of Hildegard TBD. So far not enough for Drucila to advance.
The entirely of their encounters dealt with a restock of the area, using a selection of wandering monsters from the outside area (the owlbear) and a standard table result for a party of adventurers, and added in what the results would be of a few interactions; the thief opened the coffer corpse’s tomb, which released it to choke out the thief, and activated the skeletons, some of which were turned, once the coffer corpse rose again they failed their saves and fled. Two of them ran to the main floor, and died at the hands of the owlbear. The halfling barricaded herself, and the magic user fled to the storeroom to be eaten by rats. (Who stripped him is a question for another time).
I frequently use captured or otherwise imprisoned npcs as a means of providing in-story means of providing backup characters in case of near tpk.
OSE Play recap with the old group we used google meet, and haven’t seen eachother in over 15 years!
Stanley, playing Abbyee Southpaw, a Lawful cleric 3 of the spider goddess from Petty Gods, and Lance, a fighter 2
James, playing Aria Silverwind, an elf 2 with sleep and magic missile
And Drucila , a human magic user1 with protection from evil.
We started the main party with 4200xp and retainers at 2100. Characters were rolled with 4d6, dropping lowest, and arranging stats by preference, max hp for first level. Only one character, Lance, bought up a stat by reducing another.
Starting money was the base rolls only.
Two days from town and during a rainstorm, they came upon a brigands lair while the brigands were hunting, and sought shelter within.
After a quick survey of the area to rule out hostiles, they set a fire in the fireplace and began to search, enough to realize that the ruined tower with its collapsed roof and leaky upper story had been very recently inhabited.
One such sign was a bit of graffiti that matched a heraldric shield device of a group that had beenpart of an army that had laid siege to their town a few months before.
Checking through the arrow slits on the damp upper level, they determined that the glow of the fireplace could be seen from the entrance due to the front doors and most of the furnishings having been used as firewood.
They also saw several lanterns approaching…
The elf was also able to spot a secret trapdoor due to rain water draining around its edges.
Lance, brute that he is, was able to rip it clean from its hinges, which left it obvious where they went, as if the barricade of the empty doorway and roaring fire weren’t enough of an indication that they had been playing goldilocks, which factored in their decision not to parley with the larged armed party approaching.
Down they went, Aria scouting ahead and finding a door below that led to two more doors.
A quick check of the left showed a row of cells,and to the right a staircase further down.
They decided to head deeper in, and kicked in the next door into… a crypt. They all froze, and decided immediately not to mess with any of the 4 plain sarcophagi or the two with carved effigies, and prepared defensive spells to deal with the brigands they could hear approaching.
Lance’s primary weapon was a polearm, due to poor starting cash rolls, and he carried a sword and club as backup… with 18 ST it was quite effective.
Dulcinea cast pro vs evil on herself, and Abbyee cast it on Lance.
First order of business when the door was yanked open by ten spearmen in leather and shield was to cast sleep. 13 HD affected, and only three saved. Lance charged out and brained one, followed by Abbyee with her mace, and Aria with her bow and a natural 20. They quickly stripped and bound the captives, and prepared to politely interrogate them. This was facilitated by Lance bashing another who tried to pull a knife on them.
After a fistful of super low reaction rolls, I got a 12 and the beans, such as they were, were spilled, after a Samuel L. Jackson monologue from the others.
They moved their encampment upstairs after gagging the prisoners and deciding wisely not to sleep in the crypt (Abbyee has an 18 wisdom).
While they got a fistful of copper from each, along with weapons and armor, a better search in the morning revealed 200gp and 160gp worth of furs from a trader the brigands had robbed, along with a freshly killed deer. They paused to properly bury the dead to avoid creating some species of revenant, and frogmarched them in to town with their gear slung behind them.
I used 25% as the base rate of sale on used cheap goods, so they made an additional 133gp and received xp for defeating the foes as well.
A great deal of listening, great open doors rolls, and a lack of interest in stretching themselves too thin. Real ease of use of THAC0; Stan was my first DM back in 1982.
Lets see how this tower restocks itself next week!
Veroigne is a barony to the south of Northport that has a propensity for megafauna. From the stirges preyed upon by a blessed dire dragonfly, to the dire hares hunted by dire wolves, all are large, most are feared, but none as much as the Beast.
Known for burrowing, burning, and devouring, the Beast strikes terror in the peasantry of Veroigne.
In truth, it is a Dire, Terrible, Fire Slorn of tremendous proportions, and immense lifespan.
Terrible, dire fire slorn, has DR 7, ST 40 there is only 2 DR on its eyes. Essentially a firebreathing, 8 legged bulette. St 40 DX 12 iq 3 HT 12 Hp 40 per 12 will 10 fp 12 Mv 6 tunnel 4, dodge 9, SM+4 (about 30 feet long) DR7 externally, DR2 eyes and inside its mouth Bite 15, dam 4d+1 plus 2d follow up, Breathe 3d of fire for 1 fp Hard to kill+2, slow regeneration, res to met hazards, injury tolerance 2 to fire (1/4 damage after dr) Lifebane (scorches the earth when it steps Unkillable 1: (takes 200 days of torpor to recover to 1 hp after being slain, and then another two days to get to full, but usually Sleeps all winter)
Tales of the beast being slain numerous times have led to rumors that there are many, but in truth there is only one…
My party, consisting of Aethul, a spellcasting ranger, Kirpich, and Earth Priest, accompanied by a Walking Wall Earth Elemental, Balir Ironhide, a dwarven warrior, and the NPC’s Dionisius Dispatha, a faun Swashbuckler abandoned early on by his player, Marlena DuBois, a seasoned apprentice, and Snoffi Rosslovich, a seasoned guard who has been in service to Kirpich for some time.
Hired by the usurping Baron Pequenaud to rid the land of the Beast, our party was quickly distracted by a ruined tower, which turned out to be full of vampires, which they apparently thought one of was the Beast, despite signs of a ravaged countryside with big flaming footprints…
Eventually they got the idea, and pursued it to a burning copse of trees where it was napping. The cleric loaded everyone with resist fire, and Marlena successfully cast sleep on the creature, allowing it to be webbed with spidersilk and rope, and then stabbed in both eyes, with an arrow and a saber.
Blinded, it lashed out, blasting with its ineffective fiery breath. Its epic armor was resistant to all but the most forceful of their attacks, and they kept aiming at vitals despite not being able to penetrate its armor, but the size of its scales did allow for attacking chinks in armor and deliberately stabbing between the larger scales. This was done effectively by those with stabby weapons, but the two axe wielders were forced to simply chop and hope. Trying to emulate a Lawrence Wyatt Evans character , Marlena first cast Extinguish fire (this had worked well on a Skull Spirit previously) and later followed up with Ignite Fire, causing some internal damage. Aethul, who had previously ensnared it with spider silk (since burned off) created water inside of it, which caused it some distress. The faun stabbed the roof of its mouth, and got his arm bitten off for his troubles. Balir ended up crippling two of its legs, and as it tried to dig its way out, Kirpich blew the last of his fatigue casting earth to stone, and encased its head in several tons of rock. Burning its own fatigue, it pulled the stony plug out of the ground, and soon collapsed due to suffocation.
Characters will find a way.
A$$holes will try to find a way into any avenue they think they can find, and it is our duty to repel them whenever possible.
This blog stands with the Elf Game Blog in that respect; I like Old School Gaming, but I do not accept that vile racist shits should be allowed to dominate our hobby.