A couple weeks ago, I decided to start running AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, i.e. "first edition") again. My players are my children, ages 9 and 6. They, of course, are far too young to really parse out the rules, but since I'm the Dungeon Master I can simply ask them what they want to do and then tell them what dice to roll. Isn't that how everyone plays D&D these days?
So far, the players have been remarkably fortunate: neither has lost a character, despite occasional missteps. They've also made remarkable progress as far as advancement: the elven fighter just reached 4th level, and the halfling fighter/thief is 2nd/3rd (and only a couple hundred x.p. short of leveling up). They do remain rather "cash poor" and their cache of magic items (a single +1 dagger and a suit of leather armor +1) is rather light, but they are otherwise doing all right. Heck, they've even acquired a pair of henchmen (a half-elf fighter and an elven magic-user); hopefully, they'll last longer than the last two they had.
[both were gored to death by perytons]
My DMG has been getting a workout this week...my fingers have seen more flipping-and-turning then any time in the last twenty years (I suspect it was more back in my 3E days, but I can't say for sure). I've used the poison rules, the unarmed combat rules, hirelings and henchmen, training and advancement, character expenses, animal pelts, item saving throws, overland movement (mounted and non-), morale and loyalty, x.p. for magic items, two weapon fighting, cost for NPC spell use, negative hit points...and probably a couple other things I'm forgetting at the moment. However, it's been a LOT more than my B/X and OD&D games of recent years...enough so that I've found myself prepping (i.e. reading and researching) my DMG many mornings, trying to stay "ahead of the curve" for the coming exploits of the day (we're still on vacation over here).
It's been glorious.
Part of this I'll credit to the adventure module I'm using: UK2 The Sentinel (by Graeme Morris) is pretty good, really showcasing a lot of the bits and pieces from the AD&D game that sometimes gets glossed over. Illusionist magic, ingestive poisons, humanoid shamans, disease, wilderness movement through multiple terrain types, and a profound lack of ready-made NPC hirelings...all these things have forced me to re-familiarize myself with stuff I haven't thought about in years. And I admit I've quite missed the potential for this level of detail.
Still, they've somehow managed to muddle through.
[*24 hours later*]
A half day of gaming later, and the kids are STILL alive, though they did lose another henchperson. Actually, they're quite well: the halfling has advanced to level 3rd / 4th (or will have once she completes her training) the party has acquired a second magic weapon (a hand axe +1) and the henchwoman magic-user secured TWO new spell books.
Money remains an issue. Total party wealth is just under 2,700 gold pieces, much of which is tied up in high priced gems and jewelry. This is a problem because the territory of Berghoff (the module's mini-sandbox) consists of a half dozen small villages, most with less than 500 inhabitants) doesn't have the kind of infrastructure to change treasure for currency. Of course, there's little to buy in these towns anyway and (or more pressing concern to the players) little manpower of "adventuring" variety to be hired. That supply has been nearly exhausted...the elf (my son's character) is making the 100 mile roundtrip journey to the farthest northern town ("Hallbridges") in hopes of finding more mercenaries. Rough.
It's just interesting (amusing?) because I can vividly recall conversations with players back when I was running a B/X campaign about how "useless" treasure was because there was "nothing to buy." Huh. Well, even in a town that boasts little in the way of shops or goods, there's always something to spend money on. Sofia's character hasn't gotten around to buying a cart yet, but it's only a matter of time (she's purchased one in every game we've played prior - Holmes, B/X, and OD&D - so there's no reason to think she won't eventually get around to it). And the hiring and equipping of henchmen has turned into nearly as big a cash sink as training costs.
Which is great! Because it keeps the party hungry and on the move.
That being said, it's pushing me to fill out more of my "campaign world." The kids have gotten to a point where they need larger population centers (which I don't have). They've been unable to find the thief an actual trainer in these little villages (doubling the halfling's training time) and now they're asking where they can find a cleric capable of raising the dead. I have no answers for these queries. But I will...eventually...and I'm looking forward to seeing where the AD&D process takes me.
Problem's been, it's been hard to get a "breather" just to plan that far ahead. But (as of today) "vacation" has ended and the kids are back in school (much as they can be) and I should have time to fill in some of these gaps. Maybe even put together some cheat sheets to help me with run the game without all the page flipping...a few playing aids would go a long way to improving the game's delivery.
But we're enjoying ourselves. I'm enjoying myself. I'm not worrying about the fiddly-ness or weirdness of the rules; I'm just trying to run them. And so far, challenging or not, the game has been a pleasure to run. I forgot just how much I like this edition.
All right, that's it for now. Kid needs my laptop.
[by the way, the title of this post comes from the fact that we've now been required to use the infamous unarmed combat rules from the AD&D DMG on multiple occasions...and it's worked! That is to say, excess fiddle aside, it doesn't derail the game, and it's fairly fun (watching the halfling throw herself against the legs of a half-orc and bounce off was darn amusing). In my youth, I used the much simplified unarmed rules found in the Unearthed Arcana, but that was mostly because they were easier to parse; since I'm older, wiser, and definitely not inclined to open the UA these days, the DMG version seems just fine]
***posted Tuesday due to unforeseen computer delays***