Friday, February 26, 2021

Starting Over

Wonder if I've used that title for a post before. Probably more than once.

I've been cooking a lot lately by which I mean 'a lot more than usual' (and by lately I mean the last month or so). I've really tried to be attentive to what I'm preparing as far as food for my family and what they/we eat...not only to ensure proper nutrition for growing kids (and for geezers like myself that need to *ahem* slim down) but because a variety of good, solid foods, well-prepared taste better and are less detrimental to your health, energy, and longevity. 

Also, it's cheaper. Who doesn't want to save money?

Fortunately, I live in Seattle which is positively overflowing with a cornucopia of foods, reasonably priced, all year around...more than I'll probably ever have time to learn or try, let alone master. Others aren't so lucky..."food deserts" abound in this country, and in a society that's mostly forgotten how to grow/raise their own food, that leads to a variety of problems. 

Me...I'm blessed. My grocery bills are half what they were, we're wasting less food, eating better, and the only thing it costs me is time. Time, that most precious of commodities. Being mortal (as we all are), you really come to appreciate that resource, especially the less of it you have.

Today, I have a little extra (time) because it's Friday during Lent, so the food prep is ultra-simple. Thus, I have time to punch out a quick blog post. 

Tuesday's AD&D session saw the death of my players' first, main characters. Out of spells, down three party members and wounded to the point of exhaustion the survivors were forced to retreat from an elite force of hobgoblins (the leader was dressed in plate and shield). Valens, the 5th level elf fighter (with a comatose Jesse - 4th/5th level halfling - lashed to his back) broke from the rest of the group and jumped from a cave ledge 50' above the ground, using a bracelet of swimming & climbing to try to gouge handholds in the cliff face as he plunged toward the canyon floor. 

He landed on his right leg and shattered his ankle. 

[this was a bit of a rough one. The character was not attempting to climb the wall but, instead, break his fall using the magic item's ability to "give the wearer a very strong gripping and holding ability" ...much the same as a high level monk. As the climb vertical percentage given by the item - 95% - is about the same as a 7th level monk, I allowed that the character could remove 30' from from the potential falling damage (as a monk of that level can fall 30' and take no damage) with a saving throw to mitigate damage from the last 20'. He ended up being reduced to exactly 0 hit points by the fall and, given the circumstances, decided to allow him to remain conscious in exchange for a serious, debilitating injury]

The hobgoblins were not about to give up pursuit, however, as the party's raid had killed some 30+ of their number. As some members of the war party raced to fetch a rope ladder, crossbow bolts rained down upon the elf, as he struggled to cover the hundred yards or so to where the party's horses had been tethered near the entrance to the canyon. Holding his shield +1 above his head (he had tossed it out the cave mouth before tossing himself) and using trees for cover, it was a valiant effort...only a natural 20 would be enough to hit him.

Unfortunately, he fell pierced through the neck.

Something like this.
"I can't believe Valens got killed!" my son exclaimed Wednesday morning over breakfast, probably for the 10th or 15th time. "He was so beefy!" And he had been: 5th level, 40 hit points, an AC of 1 thanks to magical leather armor and an 18 dexterity, a +2 long sword, etc. My daughter's character (a fighter/thief) hadn't been nearly as fight-worthy, but she'd been plenty formidable in her own arena, and exhibited bravery, cleverness, and compassion (for both henchmen and foes alike) on plenty of occasions. 

They had, however, been nearing "retirement" anyway due to AD&D's restrictive level caps on demihumans (the halfling had already reached maximum fighter level and the elf was but one level away). One way or another their adventuring days had been drawing to a close. And - thankfully - neither child was particularly torn up about their deaths (i.e. there wasn't any crying or fussing or begging for a "do over").

And so they rolled up new characters. Trying something different, we used Method III from the DMG and ended up with some pretty solid characters; Diego even had good enough stats to be a paladin. Instead, he wanted to try a half-orc fighter/assassin and only changed his mind when he realized his starting age (per the DMG) would put his character at Middle Aged (for a half-orc)...and one year away from Old Age!

"This game sucks!" he said. "How did I end up being such a geezer?" Well, learning two different professions takes a lot of time, and orcs aren't known for their longevity...something about the 'evil, corrupting magic' leeching out the lifeforce. Ah, AD&D: so good at balancing itself!

He decided to be an elven assassin instead. His sister's new character is a half-elf cleric/ranger

[I'll note, the boy considered a half-elven assassin because they have a higher level cap (11th instead of 10th), but eventually settled on the elf race because its superior bonuses and abilities were a decent trade-off]

For multiple reasons (which I hope to describe in a future post) we have decided to reinstate alignment in the game (sorry, Alexis!). At the moment, its inclusion means little (other than the players had to choose alignments for their characters and these were limited based on their classes): the cleric/ranger is lawful good and the assassin is lawful evil. There is no restriction on rangers adventuring with evil characters (unlike the rules for paladins) and we have decided the PCs are half-siblings, there being only a 30 year age difference. sum up, we are starting the campaign over from scratch. And this time, I'm not using published adventures (at least, not to start). The bulk of our Thursday session (yesterday) was spent equipping their characters, exploring the village in which they found themselves, and locating some sort of adventure to be had. Hopefully, we'll be able to run through it in the next day or two: the local witch needs some powdered kobold horn to complete the potions of diminution she's been commissioned to brew, and she's a little too busy (and old) to go tracking after them. A small hillside lair is known to be located a couple days ride from the town...and if nothing else, sending them off on the quest (with a promise of payment) was enough to get the pair off her property for a few days....

We'll see how this turns out; those giant weasels are pretty vicious.
; )


  1. Really cool story I’d like to hear more of the new campaign when it starts

    1. Thanks, Oze. I’d still like to tell some stories about the players’ prior adventures one of these days...but I’ll share the new ones if they seem appropriate.

  2. Sounds like you're having a great time with the kids, I'm hoping to introduce my daughter some time soon (although she already likes Castle Ravenloft).

    Just a curious question regarding PC deaths in your campaigns/worlds, and players coming to play in one of those worlds again: do you ever leave small traces around of previous characters (weapons, trinkets, letters, rumours, etc., stuff more or less easily traceable to the previous owner) for other (or the same) players to find, or do you always restart with a fresh canvas?
    I'm thinking if your kids will be able to find traces of their previous characters?

    1. I certainly have in the past. Often when there is a TPK players are anxious to get back to where the dead PCs got gakked (especially if the fallen had any decent loot!).

      But even when that's not the case, when new PCs are going through an adventure they've done before (especially recently) they'll ask after deceased "friends" and whatnot.

      In the story related above, this was actually the group's second (and far more successful) foray into B2. An earlier attempt (with new 1st level characters) met with death and betrayal pretty swiftly. They then went back to the Caves with their 3rd - 5th level group and started carving it up. However, this was several weeks after their "old buddies" had met their ends and there wasn't much to find (despite the PCs following up rumors of them at the Keep).

      The new campaign is starting far from Alderweg and the Borderlands and I haven't yet decided if it's the same millieu. If it is, then there will be a good deal of extra magical treasure in the hands of the hobgoblin clan (should any party make it back there)!

      I usually only start with "blank canvass" when bringing together a completely new (or mostly new) group of players, unless A) changing game systems (including D&D editions) and/of B) the group as a whole is fatigued with the familiar. However, "B" has only happened a couple times in my lifetime of gaming...I've found that most players prefer some continuity.

  3. There is a wonderment of maps and stuff on Vaults of Pandius that can be turned into adventures.

    1. It's been a while since I checked out VoP (I've uploaded some files there myself, over the years). I'll take a look...thanks!