The Kids are All Right

Friday and Saturday I ran the D&D game that I talked about earlier, using D&D (actually LL/BFRPG) with a bunch of house-rules that took it a bit closer to Mac’s house-rules.  I could have run it straight, I suppose, but where’s the fun in that?  I did keep it close enough that I could use material published for D&D and retro-clones with only such conversion as I could do in my head on the fly, which let me use Amityville Mike’s Stonehell as the dungeon.  I even kept the name, explaining it in game a corruption of “Stone Hill” (which the PCs figured out by casting Read Script on one of the tapestries in the ruined banquet hall).

Overall the sessions went extremely well.  We got off to a slow start Friday when the youngest spent a bunch of time finding a place to buy and then purchasing a war dog.  I have no idea where he came up with the idea, but since that kind of creativity is something I want to encourage, I went with it…though it cost him all his starting money plus borrowing some from the party.  It turned out to have been a good purchase, saving their bacon at least twice Saturday when they finally found some non-empty rooms in the antechamber: first against the giant rats and then the Orcs attracted to the sounds of the fighting.   The kids were a little frustrated at first, I think, with how much of the area around the entryway was empty, but since a big part of this exercise was to get them used to the idea that there was not a single right way to play D&D (coincidentally the way their GM, who’s also their mom, runs things) I stuck to the key as written and just used their encounter with the Dwarves examining the Architectural Masterpiece to tell them what general direction to go to find trouble.

The party consisted of:

  • Umbry (played by the mom), a Rogue (Mage/Thief),
  • Hermia traveling under the name Horatia (played by the eldest daughter, 12), a Charlatan (Priest/Thief).  Charlatans are genuine Priests, but not of the false god they pretend to worship in order to bilk people.
  • Revenge (played by the middle son, 9), a Fighter
  • Oxy-lock (played by the youngest son, 7), a Mage
  • King, the war dog…Oxy-lock’s pet

Two of them “died”, reduced to 0 HP, but were saved by timely miracles from Hermia/Horatia.  Basically I scrapped the whole clerical magic system and replaced it with the ability to make saving rolls asking the god for blessings and miracles–so the equivalent of Cure Light Wounds counts as a “miracle”; the intent was to make clerical magic feel more miraculous and not just an alternate spell list for a different flavor of mage.  This worked really well in play, and the two characters who were saved from death by Cure Light Wounds were sufficiently impressed that they are now converts to Hermia’s make-believe God of Good Fortune, Horatio (yes, her god is Horatio, and her nom-de-guerre is Horatia, after the god).  She managed to cast it twice because she rolled really well the second time.

Another thing that pleased me a lot was the way the Morale rules (bog-standard D&D) ended the combats without always fighting to the death, and the way they negotiated with a captured Orc to get useful intelligence about traps up ahead and then didn’t slaughter him out-of-hand.  I did decide that the critical hit rules I was using were still a bit too deadly despite the fact that I deliberately avoided creating any kind of insta-kill or damage multiplier, so I’ve toned them down a bit for the future.

Everyone had a good time, and the mom was particularly pleased at how the kids were catching on to the differences between the way we handled things, despite many cries of “You’ve got to be kidding me!” from the youngest when rulings didn’t go the way he expected–but since he sometimes said that for things such as the fact his 7 STR Mage couldn’t wield the battle axe they got from the Orc chief, which wouldn’t have flown in his mom’s game either, I didn’t let it bother me.

I’m looking forward to running this again in the near future.

7 thoughts on “The Kids are All Right

  1. AmityvilleMike says:

    Joshua,

    Thanks for deciding to go with Stonehell for family time D&D. It’s always a big kick for me to hear that families are spending time together exploring a place called Stonehell and having a great time doing so.

    I’m in complete agreement that the morale rules are truly one of the shining lights about old D&D and, without them, I wouldn’t have taken some of the chances in stocking the dungeon the way I did.

    I hope Stonehell has the pleasure of your company again in the near future and you take the time to regale us with tales of those exploits.

    AmityvilleMike’s last blog post..Pardon the Interruption

  2. Joshua says:

    Stonehell is great, and we’re looking forward to returning as soon as we can…which won’t be for a couple of weeks. I’ll be sure to post some more about it when we do, though.

    It really hits the right spots for me as a combination of dungeon as a place that various creatures actually live in, and dungeon as a place where there are just wacky, inexplicable things that the inhabitants deal with one way or another (like the way the Orcs use the lightning trap as an alarm).

  3. Andreas Davour says:

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus (well me and Mike singing the same song anyway) and say how much I love morale rules.

    One thing that I think is so bad with newer editions of D&D is the way the reward mechanic works. You don’t get XP for money so it don’t pays being smart and giving quarter. Instead you’re supposed to kill for XP. Meh.

    Morale is such an excellent way of subtly tilt the game in that direction. Also, the discussion going on on e.g. Grognardia about moral compass and alignment makes me think about the value of morale rules.

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