Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Keep Yet Again! (B/X Weekend Part 1)

So my wife and I hosted our nephews for "movie and pizza night" on Friday, while their parents celebrated a romantic anniversary in a night on the town. After watching a truly terrible movie that they brought over (I won't even go into it, as I could write pages about it and frankly, I'd prefer not to promote it in any way, shape, or form), we went and got milkshakes, rented Coraline (which turned out to be excellent by the way). And then sat down for some gaming.

Now I should give you a little background here; these kids have been hanging out with us for years, we're like a second set of parents to them. They think we are great fun, and they especially think they're Uncle's games are fun. However, while we've played many hours of Blood Bowl and Warhammer 40K, and even some InSpectres, Capes, and Pantheon, we've never actually played a "traditional" RPG like D&D. They're knowledge of an RPG is Fable or Fable 2 for the XBox.

So that night, after my wife had gone to bed, and after a couple rounds of "Once Upon A Time..." (the Atlas Games card game), they asked if they could play D&D and so we did.

The kids are aged 15 and 12 (at that age where they can barely stand being in the same room together), fairly bright, athletically gifted, healthy and happy, with no religious upbringing. They have played WoW before (though the older kid said he stopped playing a few months ago because "it just gets boring after awhile") have their own cell phones and computers, and three or four game consoles, so they are totally electronically saavy. They've also read the Hairy Bottom books and the LotR movies. They like tactical war games like Call of Duty 4 and Splinter Cell. They are probably the target demographic for 4E D&D.

So of course, I broke out the B/X and Keep on the Borderlands.

What a blast. We played from around around 12:50am to a little after 3am and they "couldn't believe we played for two hours!" The time for them flew by, they were having so much fun. Total converts.

I had 'em roll 3D6 straight across for all their attributes, and we didn't get into the adjusting thing. S (the younger) rolled Str 10, Int 17, Wis 9, Dex 8, Con 13, Cha 4. I ran down the list of characters and he asked what would benefit most from the high intelligence. Magic-user, of course. Then when he found out the magic-user could wear no armor and wield nothing but a dagger, he said "tell me about that elf again." He ended up making an Elf. I read all the spells available offering little description and no judgment. Sleep was the no-brainer spell (though he was frankly intrigued with Charm Person..."so I can charm one person every day? and they'll be in my power for a week or more? I can put together an army!").

Z, the older, rolled Str 8, Int 15, Wis 8, Dex 12, Con 10, Cha 7. He used to play a paladin on WoW, and I explained the cleric class, but he wanted to play a straight fighter ("just to make it easier while learning the game"). Not liking his scores wizard-leaning scores, I allowed him to roll over ONCE more: Str 18(!), Int 7, Wis 6, Dex 13, Con 8, Cha 13. "I'm 7' tall and 300#!" Looking at the Con 8, I pointed out he was probably more like 350, and not all of it muscle. He reluctantly agreed.

Once again we returned to B1: the Keep on the Borderlands. Once again the guards asked everyone's name. Z, whose character HAD been the "Mysterious No Named Guy" decided he had better Christen himself and announced himself as "Master Chief." What? Oh, right, the Halo guy.

"S the Wise" (he named his PC after himself but with the added honorific) ended up with more money than Chief and so got stuck footing the bill for private rooms at the Inn and stew and beer at the Tavern. I love how new players (these kids, my wife) agonize over what to buy to eat. Z is a little quicker to say, "does it really make any difference whether we buy the soup or stew?" To which I reply, "well, the soup IS pretty watery...and the stew smells really good and looks hearty." S: "I want the stew!" Z: "Dammit, it doesn't make any difference don't blow the money!" JB: "Well the stew looks like it might be more satisfying..."

In the end, they went with soup and free water on the side. Turns out they only took the private rooms 'cause they were afraid they might be robbed in the "common" room. Later (after they found some ca$h), they happily said "I want my private room again!"

This is what I love about table-top RPGs. This kind of stuff is a non-issue in most computer games; heck it's a non-issue here, too (except how much money you end up blowing)...but it's these choices that end up defining your character as well as putting yourself into the MIND of your character. The only type of computer game that (IMO) that gives you this type of immersion is FPS games...and yet they are so bloody limited (pun intended).

Anyway, S allowed Z do do the negotiations for hirelings as it was agreed his Charisma 4 would have a detrimental affect on getting folks on board. Two failed attempts and they finally hit pay-dirt with "Bud," a man-at-arms who would go along for 3gps, 8sps, and 10% of all treasure found.

Fast forward to the Caves of Chaos. The PCs decided to enter the first cave and made their way up after slinging a loop of rope over a tree by the cave mouth. Lighting torches and heading down the corridor, they were jumped by half a dozen wandering goblins. The battle commenced! The plate mailed fighter with the two-handed sword attacked last after the goblins struck him. One hit with a 20 (I forgot to not use my lucky dice) and did a full 6 points dropping him to 1 (did I mention lucky dice? I rolled 8 or 9 6s for initiative in a row, and my nephews made me start rolling another D6...I still continued to roll 5s however).

Poor bud took two sword blows killing him, but the elf and fighter managed to down one or two goblins, and the suckers broke and fled. Looking at the sorry state of themselves, they decided to return to the keep for a bigger party. First, though, they looted Bud of the money they had given him, as well as his own purse!

Arriving back at the Keep they obtained healing from the Curate (did I mention he had loaned a backpack to the fighter, as he did for my wife's Elf?), and apparently felt emboldened enough to try it again.

Adventurers are nothing, if not a foolhardy lot.

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