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Lunchtime Game Session #1
So, we've actually had a couple sessions of the lunchtime D&D game so far. We're still working out the kinks of playing for such a short period of time, but I'm hopeful it will work out. We'll need a few more sessions under out belts to know for sure. I'll write a post to sum up each session so far.

The first afternoon we got together was devoted mostly to making characters. I had five players, and they rolled up a Cleric, Fighter, Thief, Magic User, and Elf. Out of these, both the Cleric and the Thief had but a single hit point, and the Elf only two. My predictions for their success were not good, but I figured we'd just roll with it and make new characters if need be.

Of the five players, two had prior experience playing old school D&D back in the day, one is a roleplayer with a strong preference towards character development over hack-n-slash, one is almost a complete neophyte, and the last one is a complete neophyte (never played an RPG in his life). Sadly the last one was also the Cleric with 1 hp. It took about 40 minutes to make the characters, which I think is not bad considering most had little clue what they were doing and needed help. In the last 20 minutes, they interacted with a few folks in the starting town and picked up a couple rumors.

The rumors they found were as follows:
1. The river road has become dangerous to merchants who travel it, being the frequent pray of bandits.
2. A small village to the north is having trouble with goblins, and the local authorities have thus put a bounty on goblins.

Keep in mind that this is a sandbox, and that there's a ton more stuff out there. These two rumors they picked up by random chance, the first because they went to the tavern specifically to look for such. The second because they went to the Steward of the Keep to ask what kind of reward they might expect for taking care of said bandit problem. Unfortunately, the party seemed hell-bent on following the very first lead they came across, and uninterested in talking to locals more. We'll see how this bites them in the ass later.

So the party made plans to travel the river road in search for the bandit raiders. They even managed to hire an assistant to one of the recently hit merchants to show them the location. I was excited that we may be seeing our first hireling so early in the game.

And that's all we got done for session #1.
July 2nd, 2009 - 08:29 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

Lunchtime Game Session #2
One thing I should point out about Session #1 that I forgot to post: we did all this in the company lunch room, where there's a lot of foot traffic. We talked about playing somewhere else next time, but for character creation we didn't care much. A lot of people hovered curiously, and some even stayed to watch the first 20 minutes of play. Visions started to come to me of having a mass of people interested and turning this into some kind of West Marches style game. Anyway, on with session #2.

The thief was absent, but the others decided they would pursue the original plan without him. We also learned the Fighter would be out for the next two weeks after this. We played in a closed meeting room, and nobody came to watch. My visions of too many players to accommodate were quickly vanishing.

The players proceeded down the road, and discovered on the opposite side of the river where the attack occurred was an old dilapidated manor house. Figuring the bandits were likely within, they sent their guide home (so much for our first hireling.) The players then spent half the session figuring out how to get across the river. Eventually they sent the elf and magic user across, the elf leaving behind his armor, and the two managed to find an old rowboat near the manor (amazing luck here, I only gave them a 5% chance of finding it).

The then managed to enter the old place at the worst spot, and were attacked by a giant snake (4 HD!). They managed to kill it, though it took the Cleric out in the process. I'm surprised it only took one of them down. They dragged their lost friend out of there, tossed his body in the boat, and made their way back to town.

They got some XP out of this, given the monster was such high HD and they only had to split it between 3 players. The only real treasure though was the armor and weapons of their fallen comrade.
July 2nd, 2009 - 08:39 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

Lunchtime Game Session #3
This session happened two days ago, and brings us to the current state. We had only three players (both Thief and Fighter now absent), but we also had a new body interested. I set him up with a character creation guide and set him on his way while the rest of us got to playing.

The players returned to the old manor house and explored several rooms, finding only a longsword stashed behind some old wrecked furniture. They then stumbled into the main hiding place of the bandits. They had made so much noise the bandits were well aware of them, and laid in an ambush. However, the elf was being reasonably careful in the lead, and so I just gave them straight surprise rolls. However, the bandits ended up surprising the players and the elf took a nasty sword hit.

I should point out that I am using crazy idea #3, and rolling on critical hit charts when a player is first brought to 0 hp. A second hit after that will always kill them. The cleric had bad luck, and ended up having his head maimed by the snake which amounted to a quick death anyway. The elf, however, made it out with just a broken arm. No more bow use for the elf, and he's at -2 to use his sword left-handed.

At this point the new guy has his character ready, so I introduce him as a captive of the bandits. They've got him tied up and in their own boat, along with much of their ill-gotten gains. My written material called for 6 bandits plus their leader to be here, but I decide to be nice and have the leader off making arrangements with their fence.

The bandits had heard the players bumbling about the manor, and started loading up their boat to get the hell out. So we have two bandits loading a boat, four laying in ambush, a captive, an elf with a broken arm, and a cleric and magic user standing behind the elf. So what do the players do? Continue attacking naturally. Sigh, one of these days I'll get some players who are clever enough to realize when is a good time to run away.

The new guy tries three rounds in a row to break his bonds, but it's not working. I'm rolling a very slim chance of success, but I'm still rolling, so I guess he's assuming eventually he'll get lucky. This is behind a screen though. I think he's just having a little trouble adapting to old-school style and instead of trying to think of something clever to do, relying on mechanics and luck.

Amazingly, the elf despite his broken arm kills two bandits. The magic user casts light into the eyes of one, blinding him, and again I decide to be nice and have the bandit freak out and run around screaming that he's blind rather than continue fighting with the penalty. Another bandit stabs the magic-user, taking him to zero, and again rolling a really harsh roll on the critical table (stab through the heart, instant death). The remaining three bandits fail their morale, and the new guy with urging from the others flops himself bodily out of the boat as the two bandits loading push off. The last remaining bandit surrenders, and the party now has a prisoner.

Unfortunately at this point we're over time and all have a meeting we're supposed to be at, so I rush through getting them out of their with their dead companion, prisoner, and rescued new friend. They make camp by the side of the river to try and figure out what to do next and we all get out of there.

I send out XP later, and it amounts to a whopping 24 XP each. I even gave them full XP for all 6 bandits, figuring they 'overcame' all of them. I think this group really needs to come to grips with the fact that the real XP is all in treasure, and that fighting against nasty odds really isn't helping them at all.

Well, I'm hopeful eventually they'll figure it out.
July 2nd, 2009 - 08:50 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

Lunchtime Meta-Game
OK, this should be the last post about this stuff today. Given the frequent absences, and the hope of other folks having interest (we even had another spectator at session #3), I thought it might be nice to come up with some system that handles a fairly irregular player base. Here's what I came up with, and emailed out to everyone in the office:

As many of you have noticed, a few of us have started playing an old school D&D game (using the Moldvay Basic edition, c. 1981) during the odd lunch hour. I am now officially opening this game up to anyone that wants to play. It's very casual, no commitment, anyone can drop in and out of the game as they please. I will run a session any day there is enough interest (3-6 players) and I don't have any other conflicting plans. It will be up to the players, however, to drive this scheduling. Players are therefore encouraged to plan ahead, both in terms of in-game goals and out-of-game scheduling. The current group of players is attempting to play regularly on Tuesdays, but there seem to be enough absentees that they could always use a little extra help.

The setting and a few rules of play have been formulated around supporting this style of scheduling and fluctuating player base, and follow at the end of this email. Anyone interested should see me, and I will provide you with a character creation booklet that will walk you through character creation without the need of any other material or books, except for a few dice (which I can also lend you). You might also want to talk to some of the current players to find out what they've already discovered in the game.

Setting: The Roads of Emoria

Many centuries ago the land was dominated by the mighty Empire of Emoria. Highly organized and skilled in the craft of sorcery as well as many traditional crafts, the Emorians built a mighty empire filled with various public works including most notably an intricate system of roads. The Roads of Emoria are all that remains of this once-great empire, which vanished centuries ago for mysterious reasons, though rumors abound of lost cities and crumbling ruins in the uncharted portions of the map. These roads are still used today, and retain some if their innate enchantments which seem to ward off the horrors that lurk in the darkness beyond.

New Kingdoms have risen, with castles and towns forming along these ancient roadways. The roads, where they are maintained, enable trade and travel between lands that would otherwise be impossible. Some roads though lead out into the mysterious wilderness, and it unknown just how far they extend and whether their enchantments have withstood the passage of time.

The brave and the curious travel the roads, seeking out ancient unexplored regions and the riches supposed to be left behind in the lost civilizations of Emoria. Some return with great wealth and stories of amazing adventure, but far more never return at all.

Rules

  1. Each session will begin and end either at a civilization along one of the roads, or on the side of a road. If the players cannot make it back to a road at the end of a session, the DM will roll on the dreaded Tables of Calamity to see what becomes of the characters as they race to find a way back to civilization.

  2. The time between each play session will represent at minimum 1 week of game time, and will be extended by one or more weeks due to either the passage of more time during play, or at the request of the players (eg. the players wish to wait extra time in town for one or more of their members to recover from past wounds.) Players who were not present at the previous session can therefore be assumed to have journeyed down the road on their own to meet up with their comrades at the beginning of the session. Players who will not be present at the following session can declare that they are returning to the nearest civilization along the roads, with the expectation of being at the appropriate location at the start of the next session they can attend.

  3. Upkeep of 1 ration/day will be charged of all players at the beginning of each session for the amount of time that has passed since the beginning of the last session their character was present at, instead of expending rations during the course of play. The DM may at his option move the calendar back some weeks if none of the current players were present at previous sessions. Players who have returned to town during that interval may buy rations as needed at this time, but those who have remained on the roads must pay in carried rations (those recorded on their character sheet). If unable to pay, the character must roll on the dreaded Table of Want and Neglect. All of this may be organized over email correspondence prior to the actual play session.



One of the artists complained that email was way too verbose. So I sent him the following:
July 2nd, 2009 - 09:03 am | Comments (4) | PERMALINK

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