Monday, February 27, 2012

20 Questions

Branden's survey has made for some interesting blog posts, so I figured I'd join the band wagon....and yes, I would jump off a bridge, assuming the rest of the old school D&D bloggers were doing it...

This info is for my Labyrinth Lord campaign. It's still pretty fresh, so some of this info is likely to change as time goes on...

1. Ability scores generation method?
3d6 straight. Players determine character race and class after rolling. We've created a binder full of characters anyone can use. You can pick what you want to play out of that binder. There are plenty of good, mediocre, and lousy characters to choose from. Every once in a while, someone shows up with a bunch of rolled characters to restock the population.

2. How are death and dying handled?
You die at 0. Unless you make other arrangements, the other players are free to loot your corpse, but do not gain experience for gained treasure. 

3. What about raising the dead?
If you can find someone to cast it, and you have a bunch of money (or are willing to take on a quest), we can probably work something out.

4. How are replacement PCs handled?
I've had people take over retainers or other NPCs. They can also find replacements (from the character sheet binder or something of their own creation) when they head to some sort of civilization. If they are in the middle of a dungeon crawl, I'd probably have them stumble across another party or individual.

5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else?
Group rolls a d6 vs. the bad guys. In the case of a tie, the action is simultaneous. I let the players go first, then I go. If a PC or NPC dies during a tied initiative round, they still get their strike in.

6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work?
Critical hits happen on a natural 20 only and do double die damage. Strength and bonuses from magic items do not double. Critical hits roll on a d20 table to determine location and cause scars (which mostly just look cool). Rolling a 1 will always miss the target. On the following round, you go after the PCs and the NPCs while you fumble around and try to regain your composure.

7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet?
All armor is assumed to include a helmet of some sort. Magic users could purchase and wear some sort of helmet (preferably with ram horns on the sides). It doesn't come up much, but I could see a couple traps or specific locations where I might give a bonus if the character has a helmet.

8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly?
Yes you can, but only if you fumble. Firing into melee is at a standard -4 penalty.

9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything?
Running can be a very wise decision.

10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no?

11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death?
Just like above. Playing traps, spells, monsters, poisons BTB. If the bug bears don't get you, the yellow mold will.

12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked?
I'm not too strict with encumbrance. Just trying to keep things within reason.You shouldn't be carting around an entire adventuring supply shop plus your life's savings every time you leave the house. I am experimenting with tracking torches and rest periods, though. You'll also be expected to tick off rations for each day away from civilization.

13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time?
No training or extended down time required, although you will need to rest before leveling. You can only get new spells by discovering them in treasure and copying to spell book. Large cities may have a Mage's Guild willing to allow copying for a fee (or quest).

14. What do I get experience for?
 Most of the XP will come from treasure at 1 XP per GP. No XP for magic items. Some XP will come from killing stuff. Occasionally XP can be gained from completing tasks. You've gotta get the treasure back to your base of operations before you get the XP, though.

15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination?
Some combination. It depends on the trap. I roll behind the screen for people actively searching. If you are moving through the dungeon at the exploratory pace, I give passive rolls. If you are running or moving quickly, you do not get the passive roll.

16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work?
Retainers are encouraged. 0-level men-at-arms and non-combat retainers do a morale roll at the end of the adventure and during dire situations. Charisma bonuses and general treatment bonuses will apply. Classed retainers expect a 1/3 share of found treasure, do not require "end of the adventure" morale rolls, but may desert in dire situations (again, general treatment and charisma bonuses apply).

17. How do I identify magic items?
Most must be identified through use or casting Identifiy (from LL AEC). Potions can be identified by sipping or consulting an alchemist.

18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions?
 You can find magic items. You might be able to buy something on occasion, but the owner isn't likely to know about the magic properties. Potions can occasionally be purchased from alchemists or temples.

19. Can I create magic items? When and how?
 Sure...I haven't worked this out yet. I'd need to review the rules in the books. Definitely not at low levels.

20. What about splitting the party?
 If you really want to, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Bradley Keep - Session 2

Bradley Keep is the name of my Labyrinth Lord sandbox campaign. The goal is to highlight some of the best that the OSR community has to offer.

Date: Sunday February 27, 2012


  • Dorf the Dwarf (Dan) 
  • Stikky Fingas - Human Thief (Allen) 
  • Torthorn - Human Cleric and Behemoth - Boar Hound (Dave) 
  • Linus the Couragous - Human Fighter (Jen) 
  • Graelyn Thorn - Elf Magic User/Cleric (Retainer) 
  • Gail - Human Cleric (Retainer) 
  • Larvay - Human Torch Bearer (Retainer)
The adventurers spend nearly an hour investigating the Eldritch Library. Both Dorf and Gail stumbled across magical scrolls among a number of scrolls describing knots. They were passed over to the Graelyn who later identified the spells (scroll 1 - Dancing Lights & Burning Hands; scroll 2 - Invisibility, 10' Foot Radius). Not much of interest was found among the books. While the group was investigating the library, Stikky decides to hit the basement and check in on Gail and Larvay, who were left to guard the treasure. Larvay had organized the coins by denomination and accounting for the totals - 2428 GP, 10,641 SP, and 57,642 CP. Seeing that everything was (literally) "in order", he returned to the 4th floor.

Determining that they found everything worth finding in the library, they took the lift to 3, where they discovered an elderly Magic User trapped inside a circle of salt. He explains that he was trapped during an experiment to bind demons on this plane, and offered the party a reward of 100 GP. Knowing about the amount of treasure already secured from the basement, they started questioning the magic user, who quickly lost his temper. Torthorn assumed the MU was actually a demon of some sort who was attempting to trick them. Dorf grabbed a large crystal off the table, and Stikky grabbed a book bound in human skin (Communications and Signaling the Beyond) off the desk. They leave the prisoner trapped in the circle and head down a floor.

On the second floor, they find a key and a diary. The diary, of the MU's apprentice - Argyle Timmons - explains that he had fled the tower because the Uravulon Calcidius (the MU) had become murderous and cruel. Since they didn't find much else, they decided to head back to the sub-basement and decide on how to get all that treasure out. They try the key from Argyle's bedroom on the large steel door and it works. Torthorn decides that the strange fish on the top floor were "unnatural" and needed to be destroyed. He convinced the rest of the group to join him and they take the lift back to the observatory. The charges into the water only to discover it was acid (some truly strange, possibly alien, fish!). He quickly dissolved as the rest of the party looked on...

Stikky and Linus volunteer to head back to the Heavy Betting Giant to see if they can secure a cart and some donkeys. They hear a few sounds in the forest along the path, but never see anyone (or anything). When they get back to the Inn, they learn from the proprietor, Trevor, that the bandits had taken off earlier that day. They secure a cart and a couple donkeys and sleep, planning on heading back in the morning. Those in the tower set a watch. No one disturbs them through the night. In the morning Stikky and Linus arrive with the cart and they begin loading out the 10 chests of coins. Unfortunately, Gail was struck by lightning during the load out and died. With the exception of Graelyn (multiclass), the party members all achieved 2nd level due to the huge amount of treasure pulled out of the tower.

With the loading complete, they head back down the path. Again, they notice some sounds in the woods and Stikky is struck with an arrow. He survives the wound and takes cover behind the cart. The rest of the group charges headlong into forest after their attackers. Stikky takes one out with an arrow, and the rest quickly learn about the wrong end of a sword, pick, and dog bite. They recognize the dead as the bandits from the inn. They find some gold and a gem on the bodies. They get back to the inn, relieve Larvay of his duties, and hire Worstad, Garwin, and Bargar (men at arms) to join them on the trip to the keep. A cleric of St. Cuthbert, Halca, approaches, as she is also on her way to the keep. They agree to allow her to join them on the road.

The trip was rather uneventful. They did find additional information about Stonehell Dungeon from a group of travelers on the road. While camping out, the party members learned a number of additional rumors from the men-at-arms in their employ. That morning, they quickly dealt with a small band of goblins. Eventually they arrive at the Keep and are admitted. They give their names to the scribe Felix and learn of the basic laws. They meet with the banker, Hubertus, and make arrangements to leave their score from the tower in his vaults. We wrapped the session as they made their way to The Traveler's Inn.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bradley Keep - Session 1

Bradley Keep is the name of my Labyrinth Lord sandbox campaign. The goal is to highlight some of the best that the OSR community has to offer.

Date: Sunday February 19, 2012

  • Dorf the Dwarf (Dan)
  • Stikky Fingas - Human Thief (Allen)
  • Torthorn - Human Cleric and Behemoth - Boar Hound (Dave)
  • Graelyn Thorn - Human Magic User/Cleric (John)
  • Dalia the Just - Gnome Fighter
After a few minutes to let the players introduce their characters, the crew set east from "The Realm" looking for fame, fortune, and glory to the east. Man once had firm control over these lands, but over time, many of the strongholds of law have collapsed into chaos. Bradley Keep is one of the last bastions of law under the rule of the king. 

After a few days of travel, the group came upon The Heavy Betting Giant, a serviceable inn providing food and shelter to weary travelers, as well as the farmers and laborers living in the region. The party immediately notices a group of less than savory types at one of the tables towards the back of the room. They attempt to interact with the group, but quickly realize these ruffians would best be left alone. As the evening continues, Dalia performs a song for the patrons, and the group quickly wins over both the owner and patrons of the inn.

The ne'er-do-wells loosen their tongues as the liquor continues to flow. The party overhears an argument over whether or not Del Lorenzo was going to show up. Stikky immediately perks up, as he recognizes the name. Del Lorenzo is well known in certain circles for staging ridiculous break-ins...and now he's late. These guys were supposed to be breaking into an abandoned, lightning ravaged, wizard's tower to the north. They plan to wait a couple days for Del Lorenzo, and if he doesn't show, they'll investigate on their own. 

The party decides to jump the claim first thing in the morning and get directions from the tavern keeper, who is happy to oblige. He warns them that the locals steer clear of the area. The group hired Larvay as a torch-bearer/porter, Linus the Courageous, a human fighter, and Gail, a cleric to join them. In the morning, the group of 8 head to the Tower of the Stargazer, just as the sun crested the hills to the east.

After an uneventful journey north, the group began investigating the area around the tower and discover the body of a man. Stikky immediately recognized the corpse as Del Lorenzo. Everyone was a bit intimidated by this discovery, particularly given DL's reputation. The group quickly entered the tower and discovered two entrances to the basement. They successfully navigate a secret door and end up in the in some sort of grim laboratory. Dalia noticed some strange mirrors in the back of the room and managed to survive some strange effects. Unfortunately, she wasn't as lucky when she got to the forth mirror and her duplicate exited the mirror and challenged her to mortal combat. Unfortunately, the party could not react in time, and after a few poor roles, the doppleganger overtook the gnome, striking her dead.

The party used a strange lift to enter the basement of the building finding a huge treasure hoard behind the a deadly energy field. After some trial and error with the levers in the corner of the room, the party secures the treasure, only to realize there is significantly more than they can carry out of the place. They leave Larvay and Gail (two retainers that had just met the previous day!?!) to guard the treasure while they investigated more of the tower.

On the fifth floor of the tower, they discover a huge telescope that allows them to view the surface of a far away planet. After fiddling with that for a while, they descended to level 4 and investigate a library. Finally, in the final room visited, a ghost materializes at a table and challenges them to wager their soul in a game to access to the Eldritch Library. Torthorn overcame the ghost (we went head to head with a game of Zombie Dice and the player beat me fair and square). We decided to wrap the game as the characters entered the library.

What will happen next? Will the retainers still be in the basement when they return? How will they get all the treasure out? What else will they discover in the tower? What will they find to the east?

I think all the players enjoyed the game. Running Tower of the Stargazer as an introductory adventure put a different spin on an opening game. There is very little physical conflict in the module. Only a few monsters exist in the module. The fun comes from the investigation of the various objects and devices found within. It was a novel experience for most of the players, as they were always expecting a physical threat to be behind the next door.

If you've read or played Tower of the Stargazer from Lamentations of the Flame Princess, please reserve any commentary or spoilers for a couple weeks, because my players are likely to read this and still have a few floors to investigate.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bradley Keep Begins Sunday

I'm finally getting back behind the screen this weekend and I'm quite excited about it.

At the release of 4e, I decided it was time to try my hand a Dungeon Mastering again. Regular readers will know that I had a huge lapse in gaming throughout most of the 90s-00s. Even when we did play D&D "back in the day", we never really got too deep into it. The desire was there for me, but not the means. We just couldn't get ourselves organized enough to do it properly.

That 4e campaign ran for a few years, and eventually we were all feeling completely burned out with the system. As I got more involved with the hobby, and started to read more blogs, I discovered all sorts of games out there. Savage Worlds, Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX), Hackmaster, Call of Cthulhu, and, of course, the OSR titles all caught my attention. As a group, we decided to take a break from 4e on Tuesday nights. I also opened up the opportunity for the players at my table to run some one-shot type adventures. Allen ran Call of Cthulhu, Dave ran D&D Gamma World, I ran Mutant Future, Labyrinth Lord, and HEX. We had plans to get back to 4e, and we tried, but the little remaining luster had really worn off.

There was some desire around the table to check out Hackmaster and we asked Dave's buddy Jonathan to come in and run a few sessions. The few sessions turned into a few months, as our group's positive attitude really impressed John. He wanted to keep gaming with us, and suggested we wrap up the Hackmaster session and move on to Labyrinth Lord. The plan was to bust out as many of the classic TSR modules as he could. John is great DM, with a lot of experience (but a very busy schedule), so I was happy to give up my seat behind the screen to play with him. So far, we've cleared Castle Caldwell, rescued Princess Silvia, and started investigating a haunted house in the Saltmarsh.

We decided that we would open the world up to anyone in the group with the desire to run...just take the new set of characters off in a different direction, essentially.

Starting this Sunday, I'll be in charge of the Borderlands to the east of "The Realm". I planted the keep from B2, out there, but tossed everything else. I want to show off what the OSR community has to offer, and hopefully in the process, learn a lot more about adventure/dungeon design. Instead of the Caves of Chaos, my players will have to contend with the Stonehell Dungeon. In addition to the lizard men in the swamps, they may stumble upon the Fane of St. Toad. In the burned out ruins to the south, the Inn of Lost Heroes may appear. The Grinding Gear and the Tower of the Stargazer should feature promising, assuming they wander into the right hexes. The hexes from the recent issues of Loviatar will populate another region. Zogorion may even make an appearance. All that, without even touching the list of available AD&D compliant modules.

It will be my first time offering a hex based adventure, and probably the first time for most of my players to play through something like that, too. Although I have plenty of material to fill out the "interesting" stuff on the map, I look forward to improvising what else might be found in any given place.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

List of Available AD&D Compliant Modules

Got a hankering for some old school dungeon delving?
Have a game coming up soon and you need something to toss at your players?
Stumble across your old D&D books in the attic while putting away your x-mas decorations?
Has the announcement announcement about the WOTC reprints of the 1st Edition AD&D books gotten you all hot and bothered?

Check out this great resource: A list of AD&D compliant modules. Lots of free stuff available. All sorts of adventures for all levels. This isn't bootlegged copies of the old modules. This is currently produced stuff that is still in print! Check it out...

(I did not pull this list together. Just sharing someone's hard work with the community. Us old-school types like to share.)

UPDATE: Share this file with anyone you see fit. No credit as to where you got it needed or expected, as per the original posters request.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Upcoming Games

I haven't been behind the screen in months. I asked my buddy Jonathan to come over to introduce Hackmaster to my regular Tuesday night group. He's been playing Hackmaster for years, and it seemed best to get a pro, rather than trying to muddle through the extensive rules on our own. He had so much fun playing with the gang, that he asked if he could stick around and run some Labyrinth Lord for us. Everyone enjoyed his style, so we went for it.

The plan is to run a fairly open game, where players can rotate in and out as necessary. It also opens up the opportunity for others to take the reigns. Jonathan is planning on running a bunch of old TSR modules in a fairly static universe. We started with Castle Caldwell and Beyond, clearing the castle for a local merchant. That was a fairly successful venture, so we moved on to cleaning of "The Dungeons of Terror"® and rescuing Princess Sylvia. It's been a deadly affair (16 casualties in just 4 sessions), but we're all having a blast. I think we're heading off to learn the sinister secrets of the saltmarsh next. When I was playing as a kid, we didn't really do many modules, so it's nice to get to delve into some of the classics now.

I'm going to be starting up my section of the game soon, hopefully running on Sundays, and occasionally taking over the captain's chair occasionally on Tuesday. My plan in to run a bit more of a sandbox, out in the borderlands east of the area Jonathan is operating. Right now, I'm debating between a keep or small settlement as a home base. Since the primary game is focused on the classics, I plan on populating my region with some of my own ideas, and some of the best that the OSR has to offer -- Stonehell Dungeon, the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Modules, Small Niche Games Modules, Fight On! and whatever else I stumble upon (or rediscover in my RPG PDF directory). Eventually, I'd love to take advantage of Vornheim, Carcosa, and Isle of the Unknown, but I feel like they are all a little "out there" for our current playing style. There is always the opportunity to step through some sort of portal and end up in an alien world (both literally and figuratively), so they may rear their heads at some point.

I'm itching to get this underway, and I'll try to keep the blog updated as I move along.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Watch me talk about Darves Hill

Tim aka Samwise7 runs the Darves Hill Labyrinth Lord game at GASP. He asked his primary players to talk about the game and his DM style. The first video is Jeff and I talking. The second video is Tom (with Jeff and I piping in off camera). Tim does the interview.

Tim has a whole bunch of other really cool videos on youtube where he reviews games, talks about games, and posts game audio. Check out  his channel at