Wednesday, April 23, 2008

good people, good game, good times

So last night I ran a one-shot dose of OD&D for three guys who came to Illinois for Bob Bledsaw's funeral today. We had a pretty good time. I took a set of maps of Bledsaw's design and stocked them myself. Well, I stocked as much of them as I could on such sort notice. I posted the background for the session yesterday a few minutes after I got done writing it.

Using the City State setting and those maps was a bit of a risky move. I'm a huge Judges Guild fan, but I only recently got into Bledsaw's Wilderlands. All the players at the table were Wilderlands fans going back decades. Me? I finally bought a copy of the big d20 Wilderlands box set like two weeks ago. (Note to RPG Pundit: Dude, I wish I had taken your recommendation sooner. You were totally right on that one.) Prior to that I owned Unknown Gods (which I loved and used in several Greyhawk outings), Ready Ref Sheets (which again got used in Greyhawk), and a single issue of Pegasus. I have a boatload of stuff Bledsaw published, but little that he wrote.

Still, it was our Bledsaw memorial, so I felt I had to give it the old college try. The table talk occasionally went over my head. For example, the cleric was a Tharbrian human. I have no idea what that means, but clearly the other two players felt that was important to know. And the PCs were surprised to find goblins at night outside the City State's goblin reservation. I didn't know a thing about this goblin reservation, but I ran with it.

We generated PCs using my method in the appendix of Under Xylarthen's Tower. Each player got to make two PCs for this expedition. James Mishler of Adventure Games Publishing ran twin elf magic-users, Periwinkle and Samiam (pronounced "Sam I Am"). Periwinkle was third level and Samiam was second. Shane "Plaag" Glodowski, keeper of the lore at the Judges Guild section of the Acaeum, played Cheis Longshot, an elf swashbuckler, and Bjorn Cold-steel, a dwarf hero. Due to events in play Bjorn gained the additional names of Door-opener and Bull-slayer. John Barns played Algor (later renamed Algar because he got sick of the Al Gore jokes), a third level cleric of Odin, and Harn the Barbarian, a swordsman.

You couldn't ask for a better bunch of guys to play D&D with. They stay focused on the mission and had their dungeoneering act together, but we also had a lot of fun with the roleplaying element. Shane's stupid, filthy dwarf did a good job getting the party into plenty of trouble. The twin elves were like the Smothers Brothers of pointy-eared magicians. And you could tell Harn the Barbarian was just itching to tread the jeweled thrones of the Wilderlands under his sandalled feet.

I'm not going to give you a complete play-by-play. It was a fast and loose game where I spent a lot of time flying by the seat of my pants armed with a half-ass dungeon key and some random die charts. One of my favorite bits of the night would be when Bjorn saved the party from Necro Gas by sticking his finger in the nozzle just moments before one of the elves set off the trap. Necro Gas drains you a level if you make your save and drains ALL your levels if you fail it. I totally made that up. Then I put it in the first level of the dungeon. I'm a jerk sometimes.

Another part that amused me was when one of the elves successfully bypassed the stone demon face that spit fire, only to end up waking up the minotaur on the other side. Most of the party were still on the wrong side of the trap when the minotaur started swinging his bigass flail.

Here's a quick list of some of the things on the dungeon key that the party managed to completely bypass:
  • Baba Yaga's three nieces
  • The Goblin Casino
  • The Chamber of Ten Million Beetles
  • The Wretched Kobold Slaves Polishing Smelly Orc-Boots
  • The Hidden Realm of the Cyclo-Men
For benefit of the players, here are some mysteries solved:
  • The dude made out of smoke with lightning for eyes was a spectre of maximum hit points. He was guarding the grave of a dragonlord.
  • The staff made out of stone would become of a Staff of Power if stone to flesh was cast upon it.
  • The goblins in the red hats were part of the gobbo mafia that ran the casino.
  • The purple mushrooms were deadly poisonous. The Red Hat Gang gathers them as tribute to the Three Hags.
  • Had you grabbed the Silver Volume without taking the proper precautions, it would have summoned an angry three-headed snake-balrog. Ool Ploonkif does not mess around.

Big thanks to the players for making last night such a kickass time. And thanks to James for picking up the tab at dinner and selling me his extra copy of the Players Guide to the Wilderlands.

In the comments to the last post, Gameblog reader culix asked if I would be publishing this adventure. I don't think that is going to happen. I don't have the rights to the maps, for one thing. For another, I have much sparser notes than my last project. But GMs should always feel free to crib stuff from here for use at their own table!


  1. The Wilderlands were my introduction to D&D, back in sixth grade.

    I've actually been thinking about running a C&C game in the Wilderlands, with the Castle Zagyg modifications.

  2. Nice post, sounds like a great time was had by all. I might just borrow a few of those ideas. I like the small descriptions, just enough to get my creative juices flowing, rather than actual in-depth descriptions.

    You should make a post of these short, under eight word ideas for keyed areas. I'd bet you could whip out five dozen of them in no time.


  3. I am deeply envious of you. Sounds like great fun.

  4. Sounds like a terrific time and an appropriate tribute. I'm sorry I had to miss it!

  5. Settembrini5:12 PM

    To chime in, tonight was game night, which means "Wilderlands" these days.

    After the Half-Orc got greedy and opened the humungous sarcophagus, a Huge undead guy fingered him to death (with the spell).

    The others already were miles away.

    They went to Tak-Shire/Viridistan, to sell loot and prepare for the leg to Rappin-Athuk. They also visited a Sage, and when they left him they said: "A valid character class indeed! I should have taken a sage!" They struck some deals on finding more Philosopher´s stuff, only to find Tak-Shire surrounded and besieged by Black Orcs, the spawn of Orcus! Not only is Orcus lending a hand, he´ll also be IMMENSELY amused that a huge and stupendeously powerful undead is roaming the plains of Viridistan.

    Next week is Chainmail or BattleLore week for the Siege, it seems.

    Thanks Bledsaw!

  6. Great post; sounds like a very fine time at the table.

  7. It was a great game. A very fitting tribute to Bob Bledsaw.


  8. Jeff,

    Thanks for the awesome session! It was probably the best one-shot session I've ever played in, second only to delving in the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk at Gary's own table (We all died. There were ghouls.)

    It was exactly the kind of game Bob would have loved, too, a wonderful mix of fun and action, adventure and combat. It was all about getting together with friends (new and old) and having a good time exploring new worlds (or in this case, dungeons).

    You did Bob proud. Thank you!

  9. Consider your awesome adventure idea officially cribbed, for the game I'm running this monday.