Gaming Diary – AD&D 1st edition

30 September, 2018

Traps/Exploration.
Had another fantastic game tonight! A classic AD&D dungeon crawl. I love the uncertainty in these old style games, for even if you discover a trap, you have to examine and experiment with it in detail to discover how it should be picked if is locked, or if it is trapped how it is trapped. I love the interactive aspect. This was how I gamed in the ’80’s and ’90’s, but this has been largely lost since the ’00’s when people just roll an “investigation” check and expect to be told everything about it. No fun in that.

Magic is rare, limited, and special; equipment.
The limited availability of magic in a low-magic game also ensures you save your magic for just the right moment, which means you have to rely much more on mundane, every-day materials to solve problems (we all become MacGyver in our attempts to come up with solutions to overcome obstacles).

When we finished our dungeon crawl and made it back to a town, we took our new loot and spent a good amount of time visiting shops and re-purchasing equipment (pack animals, mounts, carts, wagons, upgrading weapon/armor, replenishing backpacks and pouches, and filling up saddle bags).

Combat, tactics, and the random roll and fate of the dice.
Combat is quick, and there is always danger, for it is so easy to die (remember, encounters are not guaranteed to be “balanced”), so tactics and planning are essential. Trying to come up with innovative approaches to overcome a foe is necessary to survive. In one randomly rolled encounter, our 1st-3rd level characters had to take on over 20 bugbears on a narrow, steep, mountain pass with a several hundred foot drop on either side. A couple carefully placed ‘entangle’ and ‘grease’ spells ensured that they didn’t massacre us, and indeed it forced them to retreat, which allowed an elfin thief to use archery and carefully timed rock falls over a ledge to weaken them further, and we then picked them off one by one. Cooperation and strategy was essential, simply relying on full-on charge into melee combat would have been assured deaths for us all.

This was followed up by a randomly rolled encounter of…two stone giants! Again, this would have been immediate death in a single round of combat for 1st-3rd level characters under normal circumstances, but a few more random rolls resulted in them being asleep in their lair, so we had the opportunity of avoiding the encounter altogether, but then we decided to take a big chance and try to kill these particularly evil creatures in their sleep. So a single die roll was made by each of us to see if we could pull off a coup de grace – and it worked…barely! A chance roll of the dice presented us with a combat we couldn’t win, another random roll presented us with the opportunity to walk away, and we relied on the fate of the dice again to take another deadly chance that ended up resulting in the instant death of deadly foes.

The experience of a game that is constantly this dangerous and potentially deadly really makes your successes and ability to walk away that much more meaningful.

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