Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Session

Well, the first session of our old-school game has come and gone, and it was generally pretty excellent.

It's been 20 years, roughly, since I played this particular game.  Yet I still seem to remember all the rules.  Like when to make morale checks, and listening at doors and business.  I forgot to pay my taxes one year, but I remember that the first time the monsters are damaged, they make a morale check.  WTF, gamer brain?

Anywhoo, we are playing this game using and  I've done 4e games online this way before, so I knew the drill, but we did have a few technical problems.  One player couldn't get on Skype (she could hear but not talk) and one couldn't get on Maptools, but generally, it was working.

Perry, the DM, set up tokens for our characters - mine was a gay little elf-boy in green tights with a bow.  Considering that Fingolfin is a plate-wearing, sword and javelin wielding veteran of Duke Stev the Gynecologist's (I will explain this later, I promise)  very inventively-named "Elfguard", this did not seem appropriate.  But I can deal with it, so we continued.

We found ourselves in the tavern of Guido's Fort, along the river a ways from the town of Threshold.  A prosperous-looking fellow entered, and began waving around a large bag and shouting.  Apparently, he had recently inherited a castle, but it was full of monsters, and he wanted to hire "Extermination specialists" to clear it out so he could, presumably, live in it.  Several of us raised our hands, and were promised 100 gp each to clear the place out.

Our party of 4 consisted of Fingolfin, the elf, Hanz Verboten, a scrawny thief, Zhanna Titova, an impressive-looking female Cleric of Petra, and Elric something or other, a weedy-looking Wizard.  We looked for henchmen, but apparently none were available - not even stupid farm kids to hold our torches and carry stuff. Disappointing.

Fingolfin and Elric immediately sat down and started copying each other's spellbooks.  Somebody muttered something about "secrecy of the magi", but both of them ignored it and promised never to tell!

Then we loaded up Fingolfin's mule (Bill - it's a tradition) and hiked the five miles to "Castle Caldwell". To say that the place is unimpressive is an understatement.  It's not very big, and appears to be 1 level - a rancher-style castle, as it were.  Leaving Bill outside, we head up the ramp to the main doors, unlocking them with the key provided by the owner, Harold "Harry" Nuckols.

We were then confronted by a hallway with doors on either side.  Starting on the left side, we instruct the thief to listen and see if anything is inside.  He listens carefully, and announced that he hears "Nothing - quiet as a tomb".  This is not terribly reassuring, or surprising - he apparently hears things about 30% of the time...

With the armored elf and cleric blocking the door, we open it, and check the room.  It appears to be an abandoned dining room - tables and chairs covered in cobwebs.  So we toss the place.  Harry did promise that we could keep everything we found!

And boy, do we find stuff.  There is a bag under one of the tables, full of silver coins.  Hundreds of them!  What an excellent start to the day.  Worked for five minutes and already we made more than most farmers do in their ENTIRE FILTHY LIVES!

So we drag the coins outside and bury them in the side of the dirt ramp for later retrieval.  Then, back to the 2nd door!  This time, the thief actually hears something - it's a loud argument in an unknown and unpleasant language.  He tries quietly opening the door, but he sucks at that too, so the short, ugly humanoids that are arguing inside stop arguing and look at the door.

4 of them, 4 of us, and they are standing in a room with literally piles of coins!  Like, BIG piles.  So Fingolfin shouts in Orcish (see ROTS #5) - "Surrender or Die!".  The goblins don't speak orc, don't like elves, and come up with option 3 - CHARGE!  Which they do.

They are met with arrow and sling fire from Elric and Hanz, and a javelin from Fingolfin, who decides not to use the "encounter ender", or sleep as it's otherwise known.  One goes down with an arrow in it, and the other 3 splash up against Zhanna and Fingolfin.

We learn a number of things about this version of DnD in this first combat.  Things like - there are no criticals. 20's are automatic hits, but that's all.  Goblins apparently have very high morale, that's another thing.  Oh, and ALL spells are Dailies - Perry and I got a good laugh about that one.  Also, weapon skills are ree-donculously overpowered.   I'll get into that in a totally separate post.  So we squish 2 more of the goblins, and seriously wound the last one, who promptly surrenders.

After a brief discussion, we decide that we can't trust the goblin, can't talk to him, and therefore elect to squash him.  Zhanna also decides that goblins remind her of "beastmen" who apparently Petra has issues with, so, towel-time (as in, you're going to need a towel to get all the goblin off your armor).

Then we check out what the goblins were arguing over.  Literally THOUSANDS of silver and copper coins.  After some discussion, we drag the table over from the other room, use the other table to build sidewalls and skids, load the coins onto it, and drag the whole mess back to town behind Bill the mule.

We then use the coins to buy, in no particular order, 1 cart, and 3 more mules - we would have got draft horses, but Guido didn't have any for sale. It's now midday, so we retire to the tavern, get some fresh towels and booze, and call it a day.  Ahh, the life of an adventurer!


  1. I have read on a few internet sources (Dragonsfoot and were my starting points) that good old Harry was actually a fellow named Ron Charulsky. The castle seems to have been named after the cover artist Clyde Caldwell. Another interesting name in the credits is the typesetter, Betty Elmore...

    In my obsessive need to try to fit old school encounters into a framework that makes sense, I HAVE come up with a theory about those first two rooms. I will float it out there once you have been by any other areas that it might spoil.

  2. Thanks for posting the recap! I've been reading Thieves World over the last couple of days, so coppers, silvers and gold have been on my mind. Will be interested to read more developments on the clearing of Castle Caldwell.

  3. I love the Thieves World series. It got hard to follow after a while, so many different authors and storylines, but I liked the concept and Sanctuary a lot.

    Looking at encumbrance, though, I can see why thieves like Hanse would go for jewelry.