01 March 2014

Dungeons & Dragons: 40 Epic Years

It's been a while since I've updated this blog. The level 1-20 D&D 3.5 campaign I was running came to an epic close, the Pathfinder game I was running had too many players move away so the remaining players decided to switch systems for a while to the original Deadlands as a sort of break.

This year, however, marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the Original Dungeons & Dragons. A game that I truly wanted to pay homage to this year. So in honor of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, my group wanted to go back and play some old-school modules. Some of my players have only ever played Pathfinder, others have only gone so far back as 2nd edition, but we want to go back and play some 1st edition so we can get that old feeling. Technically, 1st edition's release is only in its 37th anniversary, but I don't think I could convince my players to go back as far as Original. It was still a tad rough back then.

The first module we're going to be running is the short but amazing S2 module known as White Plume Mountain. This module is generally considered to be one of the best from the 1st edition modules before they became adventures in 2nd edition on. In short, it is essentially a "funhouse" dungeon; a series of random rooms connected by hallways with little to no explanation as to how or why whatever strange encounter came to be in the room. These style of dungeons have fallen out of favor as of late but I personally love them. Who wants to fight an entire dungeon of just kobolds or any singular type of enemy because "that's what makes sense"? It gets boring fast. I say throw in a dragon in a massive room with no hallways enabling its egress. If the players care how it got there, they can come up with their own reasons. I say it adds to the flavor. Makes the world seem more mysterious.

So the players end up going into an active volcano (cool) to recover three powerful weapons of legend. Each wing has at the end one of the weapons, and its generally acknowledged that one shouldn't really allow players to keep them beyond the length of the module, due to their ridiculous power. Luckily, this isn't a problem for my game, as we're going to be using pre-made characters with gear packets. However, therein lies the problem. While other stand alone modules such as S1 (more on that later) have suggested characters with suggested gear, S2 does not. If you're aware of recommended pre-generated characters for 1st edition characters from levels 5-10, please let me know.

Should the delve into the ridiculous White Plume Mountain prove fun and fruitful for the players, I plan to run them through the rest of the S series of modules as well, which includes the infamous Tomb of Horrors, The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. If nothing else, at least Tomb of Horrors. I couldn't very well plan a game in honor of Gary Gygax and not run through his most notorious adventure. I think perhaps though I will end up using the 2nd edition Return to the Tomb of Horrors adventure, as it has more lead in and story to it.

Finally, I've decided to let this blog stray free from its OGL boundaries for the time being, primarily focusing on fantasy tabletop games. D&D 5th edition (I can't bring myself to call it the marketing-friendly D&D Next) is being released this summer, and I plan on buying pretty much every book I can get my hands on and going into that edition full force. This blog will probably reflect that once that happens.

Again, if you know a good source of pre-generated characters for 1st edition let me know, and I'll be updating when we get started with the new game. Thanks for reading!