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.