Thursday, December 3, 2020

OSE- Frustration

Last night, the party entered Cavern B without any real fighter-types. They had the NPC thief search the wall, he made a comment about the orc head. The party fell for his trick and found themselves flanked by the guards from rooms 7 and 8. Things were actually going pretty well, then the drow died because the orcs fighting him rolled 20 and 18 on their attack rolls. The magic-user, who is AC 9, was attacked by orcs who rolled 2 and 4 before he put most of them to sleep. The assassin got cut down because one orc kept passing his morale checks, but she lived because I let PCs survive to negative hit points equal to their level. The party gave up and left.  

The loot was a bunch of shitty spears and a handful of electrum pieces. 

One player is very frustrated because his characters just keep dying. One player doesn't like how disposable they are. I'm personally frustrated because we've been playing since fucking July and we have two 2nd level characters and a revolving door of dead 1st level chumps. 

I mean, yes, they went in without any fighter-types...but the AC 1 drow should've lasted longer than one combat, right? 

So, a couple of conclusions I am reaching: 

-The Caves of Chaos is an absolute garbage dungeon. It's a shit load of risk for very little reward, and it's boring. Fuck, some parts of it are downright insipid. 

-Old School D&D is kind of a shitty game when you play it RAW. 

What's really weird is that I don't remember having these problems running AD&D, or running Cyclopedic back in the day. 

One point of light from last night: One of the players rolled up a mycelian, and I'm super excited about that. 

My "OSE druids are trash" analysis is forthcoming. Last night the group analyzed the druid one more time before we unanimously agreed. 

In other news, Savage RIFTS had a session 0, but more about that later. 




13 comments:

  1. B2 is a meat-grinder of an introduction to D&D. A MEAT GRINDER. Players who approach it head on die-die-die...even "experienced" players. It's saving grace is that...written for B/X (or OSE)...character (re-)creation is fast. But the paltry rewards at the low end of the cave complex does NOTHING for party morale. I've had many groups abandon the Caves for greener pastures (assuming they survived TPKs from goblins and kobolds).

    I write all that by way of empathizing.

    I don't know about OSE, but I can tell you what I've learned recently playing AD&D about the DIFFERENCES between "normal" (OE, B/X, 'basic') D&D and the Advanced game: its sheer complexity forces a different mindset from its participants. For the players, they are forced to approach the game as if they were in the world (worrying about buying boots will do that to you). For the DM, you're forced to approach the thing like a job (in order to incorporate all the game's complexity). That goes a long way.

    And advancement is FASTER. Rewards come SWIFTER. Monsters have higher x.p. values. Magic items give x.p. Leveling occurs faster (based on success). But because of the game's DEPTH you frequently finding yourself - players and DMs alike - CARING ABOUT things other than the speed of advancement (MUs, for example can find new spells withOUT advancing in level).

    It's glorious, man.
    ; )

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    1. I use the Advanced Genre magic rules, so the party's m-u can learn spells as determined by his intelligence.

      As for approaching it like a job... I don't want to approach my leisure like a job, thanks. My job makes me tired enough already. ;)

      I think I've got some solutions on deck, but that's a different post.

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    2. Hmm..."job" was probably the wrong term. "Serious thought/intent" is more of what I meant. Maybe. Ugh! I need coffee this morning...

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    3. I've done a lot of work on the campaign in terms of maps, lore, rumors, towns, etc. A lot of it isn't player facing yet.

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  2. B2 is Vietnam in a Tunnel.
    Every single room is DEATH. Plus, as you've noticed, there is very little treasure.

    I suggest you drop the Caves and replace the site with StoneHell Dungeon. It is in a duplicate dead end canyon, with an upper works which is a learning zone, and 12 lower levels. The dungeon has lots of empty rooms and enough treasure on level 1 for eight-ten characters to level to 2nd.

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  3. B2 is Vietnam in a Tunnel.

    Every single room is DEATH. Plus, as you've noticed, there is very little treasure.

    I suggest you drop the Caves and replace the site with StoneHell Dungeon. It is in a duplicate dead end canyon, with an upper works which is a learning zone, and 12 lower levels. The dungeon has lots of empty rooms and enough treasure on level 1 for eight-ten characters to level to 2nd.

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    1. I appreciate the suggestion. I've heard of Stone Hell, but there got to be a point where there was kind of an inundation of "must read" OSR dungeons, and a lot of them I let fall by the wayside.

      The party has expressed interest in just ditching the Caves o' Chaos and going back to a sepulcher they had been exploring near another town.

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    2. When I ran my Karameikos campaign a while back, I put Stonehell dungeon in the hex where B2 is supposed to be located, so the players were able to visit the keep, but instead of the Caves of Chaos, it was Stonehell. (And the lore actually fit together really well, because Stonehell dungeon is a prison that was built and then abandoned by an empire, and the Caves of Chaos are canonically pretty close to the Karameikos–Thyatis border).

      My group was pretty excited to get away from the tedium of the crypts underneath Barrowmaze for a time and try a different dungeon, so they went to the Keep, explored the first two levels of Stonehell, and at one point, my brother (who was playing with us) outright said, "I hate this place and don't want to be here." And everyone else pretty much agreed.

      So they fucked off to the Sea of Dread and went looking for the eponymous Isle, bolstered by another player's rousing cry, "I wanna ride a dinosaur!" (And I put White Plume Mountain on an island halfway there, which proved to be great fun).

      Point is, B2 is crap, and also most published mega-dungeons are crap, and the old adage ("Trying to run someone else's dungeon is like wearing someone else's pants") also holds true most of the time.

      Really, the party should have just stuck with delving the surface-level barrow mounds of the Barrowmaze. Everybody agreed that THOSE were fun as hell.

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  4. B2 is not a video game. If the PCs try to bust in like Seal Team 6 and slay everybody, they will fail. Especially when they take a bunch of accountants (clothies) instead of actual Seals (Fighters). Also, are you rolling Reactions? You're not playing "RAW" if you're not rolling Reactions.

    If the monsters don't just attack, maybe they talk to the PCs. If the PCs come in guns blazing, they get what they deserve. But the Caves of Chaos have a bunch of factions. You have to play one off the other in order to gain advantage.

    But yeah, a frontal assault against a fortress where the PCs are outnumbered 50:1 is absolutely a death sentence and there's no problem with that.

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    1. In a lot of cases, B2 straight up tells you what the monsters do. The orc guard sounds the alarm, and the dudes in room 8 move to flank attack the party. The fire beetles in the minotaur cave are hungry and attack. Minotaurs (at least in OSE) straight up attack anyone.

      I think part of the issue might stem from the other games they play... all of them are involved in games of D&D with more "heroic" modes of play. On the other hand, I used to play Hackmaster with two of these guys in college... they should know better. XD

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    2. Ooh, yeah. You've gotta let reaction rolls and morale checks overrule what the module says or B2 doesn't come close to working at all.

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  5. As others have said; Caves of Chaos is brutal. I have ran it many times with different groups, inexperienced and veteran, and it will eat you up, especially if your players go in "guns blazing".

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  6. They don't necessarily go in with guns blazing, but they do tend to get a little bit bloodthirsty. The kobolds made a peace offering and the players decided to try and kill them all anyway. Hell, there was even a pretty long debate over whether or not to kill an orc who surrendered after he gave them the information he promised. (They did let him go in the end, and they even let him take his weapon since they demanded he leave the caves.)

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