Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Session One Report

Session One ended early Sunday morning. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon how you look at it, the game was rolling along and keeping me so tied up in things I forgot to get pix of live play, OR of the post game table! We kept pushing for just ‘one more room’ to the point that my Wife had to come remind me to fire up the grill a few times.

I allowed players to show up ‘anytime before 5 PM’, so we had a rolling start which allowed me to help each player get his Primary Character and Loyal Follower written and geared up. I related an abridged version of the campaign intro, dumped them at the entrance to Dim X, and began describing the old worn spiral stone steps that lead down into Room 1 of Krawlspace, the upper level of that megadungeon.

Aside from the break to grill and serve food, we played from 5:30 PM to almost 2:30 AM Sunday morning. Roughly eight hours of old school D&D fun. This translated to two separate excursions into Dim X, the first lasted for six hours of dungeon crawling campaign time, with a break in between, and a second excursion which didn’t last long, under two hours of campaign time before they retreated to rest, and we called the game just before 2:30.

We had a new guest player, one cancellation, one late arrival, and two no-shows. The party managed to maintain a decent size, running with from seven to ten characters the entire session. Between the methodical, thorough veteran approach to dungeon crawling that was used, and some excellent early dice rolling, the players did very well, and avoided any major calamities. There were two character deaths, three characters reduced to -1 HP, and one who was poisoned, reacted quickly, made two dice rolls, and was lucky to be ‘revived’.

The mix of characters was not what I had expected. Apparently Kobolds and Barbarians are very popular! Of the 12 player characters created Saturday, there were three Kobolds and three Barbarians. Only one Elf, and NO Dwarves! The racial breakdown was Humans: 6, Kobolds: 3, Hobbits: 2, Elves 1, Dwarves: 0 (and Fauns: 0). Not what I had expected. Here’s the other shocker to me; no one played a Cleric. Seems like old times.

Everyone was very enthusiastic and aside from some unavoidable slow moments during game play, a good time was had by all. It was one of those sessions where you KNEW that if we were teenagers back in the early 80’s, we would’ve played right through until Dawn. But alas, players have families and Sunday plans, so I think playing until almost 2:30 AM was quite a surprise (especially considering a few of them drove over an hour to get here). I sent the players home well fed and satisfied, and we talked about arranging the details for the next game day.

Here’s a scan of the player map thus far:

I decided to hand out experience immediately after it was earned, so after each encounter, I told the party the total experience which was to be divided equally. Most of the encounters were of the Wandering Monster variety.

Within the first room the party found a Bumble named Nozzle, and his Welcome Inn; an extra-dimensional tavern of sorts, with a warm fireplace, cots, and a seemingly endless supply of free stew, ale, tea and biscuits. After some serious paranoid role-playing, the characters partook in the services provided. Kobold Henchmen were available for hire, but no one could afford any at that time. The Bumbles are the stewards of Krawlspace, they clean halls, remove corpses, reset traps, and make the entire place inviting for adventurers. What these Gnomes receive from all of their efforts is not known, and they remain just another mystery and oddity of Dim X.

The Northernmost set of rooms, The Terrible Temple, took up a large portion of the day, as it involves swiveling fountains, levers, evil clones of the characters, and a large rift from which 1d4 Vile Spirits emerge each round while living beings are within the temple proper. The whole system of levers and swiveling fountains is rather complex, but ultimately pitted one character against the clone of another character, trapped alone in one of the side rooms.

The party also found The Cartographer's Crypt; a room within which the restless spirit of the dungeon’s architect exacts his revenge upon his former masters by attempting to reveal the dungeon’s secrets via crude drawings and messages on the wall (which are constantly wiped clean by the stewards within).

One major battle was in the room entitled The Pool and the Predator, a secret chamber guarded by a Gargoyle. This beast slew one character, and rendered two others unconscious. Just prior to this encounter the party had slowly made their way through a long niche filled hall choked with dense, silvery mist (called the Fourteen of Smithereen due to the fourteen mysterious iron statues in those niches, each of an Orc with a strange name). Upon exiting, they found themselves caked in this silvery glitter like residue. Little did they realize at the time that this mist temporarily enchants all metal to +0 magic. A few of the characters declared that they were spending a couple turns cleaning it all off. Once they faced the Gargoyle, and realized that it was only struck by magic items, they were second guessing that decision. Nevertheless, one of the characters rendered unconscious in that melee dropped his silvery glitter covered Battle Axe, which was taken up by no less than two others as they finally dispatched the Gargoyle in this melee which was probably very close to turning into a total party kill.

Within that room the characters found their first treasure trove. It was a hard won pay-off, to be sure. One dead, two unconscious.

Another difficult melee, with a few scares, was a simple roaming pack of Zombies. That was the final encounter, after which the party licked their wounds and we called it a night.

Rooms encountered and left for later were the Moldy Mess chamber, with the annoying skeleton named Heckler; and No Moss, a chamber with a huge 15 ton round boulder which clearly rolled around (due to the recessed tracks of it’s various paths).

One other room of note, in which the party encountered a group of Kobolds arguing about who would drink from The Mermaid Fountain, produced two interesting moments. Graffiti on the wall read “These waters heal wounds” and below “So drink deeply, but only from the falling water”. The assumption was then that drinking the spouting water would heal you. One of the Barbarians, reduced to a single HP after a nasty pitfall, decided to do just that, and drink from the falling water. All of his wounds were instantly healed, but he missed his save vs. poison, and dropped dead on the spot. Interestingly, one of the players had a fast burst of inspiration when his loyal follower has poisoned by a Giant Spider just before entering The Terrible Temple. The character snatched up the Hobbit’s body, rushed him back to the magical fountain, and put his mouth under the falling water. I gave him a % chance to survive the poison based on his CON of 8 (he rolled 05), AND he needed to save vs. poison to survive the fountain. Both rolls were made, and the player earned the only Style Point of the day, for quick thinking under pressure.

All in all I am satisfied with the session, and I am looking forward to future dungeon crawls within Dim X. One thing’s for sure, at this rate I have enough dungeon made up for a very, very long time.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


Secular Transhumanist said...

I've already got some ideas that I'm going to Vik for my own campaign. Sounds like you had an absolute blast!

Pictures next time. We demand pictures.

JP Bradley said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all; and certainly some ideas that might be, 'ahem', appropriated for my own dungeon.

I look forward to reading more.

Jeff Rients said...

Inspiring stuff!

Anonymous said...

Very cool account! I loved the cartographer!

- Zulgyan

Sham aka Dave said...

Thanks guys! I'm surprised they didn't cover more ground, but there were plenty of challenges and surprises and the Gargoyle in particular was a good encounter.

Did I mention the fact that the cavernous tunnel leading to The Pool and the Predator was a narrow, descending, single-file only one? The Gargoyle was heard cackling as they lined up and descended into the cave.

If we can play more often, I'm sure the party will mature and become a well-oiled dungeon crawling machine again.

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff. I'm glad everyone had fun! The Mermaid Fountain would have thrown me for a loop--very creative.

James Maliszewski said...


Anonymous said...

Are those blood stains on the map? You guys must really be pretty intense :)

Sham aka Dave said...

Are those blood stains on the map? You guys must really be pretty intense :)

I was wondering if anyone was going to ask...what the heck are those stains!!??!

Yes, not to gross anyone out, but it's blood. Intense doesn't begin to describe our D&D sessions...

Not to lessen the impact of a bloody dungeon map, but...our mapper ate his filet on a Chinet (SP?) plate on top of the map, and some of the, uhhhh "juices" leaked through!

Good catch.

Anonymous said...

Do you mind sharing your rules for Kobold (and faun) pc's?

Sham aka Dave said...

Not at all Wulfgar. They can be found here:


Which is also linked in the top right of the blog.

Even 2d8 for abilities didn't stop some of the players from wanting their very own Kobold character.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Very cool. I like the new classes you've worked up as well.

What did the players think of running OD&D? Had they played with the original rules before or did you use AD&D or Basic/Expert "back in the day"?

Sham aka Dave said...

Wulf: I think everyone is coming around to OD&D gaming. It's not a huge leap backwards from our AD&D days, especially at low level. I think the 'no spells at first level' bit prevented players from trying a Cleric (and really, NONE of my players ever liked being the 'healer' anyway).

I often had to remind them to be more decriptive in their actions. For example:

Player: Check for traps.
Me: OK. How are you checking for traps?
Player: Looks at me funny, then gives some verbal description.

I think in the end it's just fun looking for treasure in a mysterious place while you try to stay alive. I tend to make a huge deal about the rules, but this session could very well have been AD&D 1e or Labyrinth Lord, and I don't think the players would have noticed any difference (except possibly during character creation).

We played my home brewed AD&D/Arduin campaigns back in the old days, so the players are fairly used to the 'anything can happen at anytime' thing I instill in my games.

A few of them had a chat with my Wife (who doesn't care for D&D since her characters die) about how Dave (me) is famous for killing characters! They've evolved to the point that they understand that 'I' don't kill them, though, it's the dice, bad luck or poor decisions that kill characters. I was a proud Papa when I recognized that they understood this nuance.

Scott said...

Sounds like perfection. :)