Tuesday, June 16, 2009

AD&D Experience: The Slow Boat to China

Tonight was the second session of my new weekly Tuesday campaign of AD&D 1st edition. Prior to the beginning of this game, it had been some six years since I had run even a short game of the older editions (Cyclopedic), and probably six years before that since I had run a regular campaign of the older games. (AD&D2) I had forgotten how very different the experience point system is. The party dealt with seven giant rats (of the semi-intelligent Sumatran variety, zounds!) and had received a miserable 70 experience points, which was then split five ways. Even with ad hoc awards for entertaining play, clever ideas, etc... at this present rate, it will take even the "fast track" classes ten sessions to level. I'm all for a slow paced game, but this seems a little extreme.

It is a bit odd to return to a time when treasure wasn't meted out by level, where even a lowly first level character might conceivably find a powerful magic item. The odds are not great, but they are there.

It will take some time, I suppose, to find the right balance of monetary treasure placed (since it is worth experience) and experience handed out for monsters and other obstacles. It is a very different experience, indeed.

It is also worth noting that I am tossing out the rating system and training rules from the 1st edition DMG as written. They do not fit the style of the game I am running. I might introduce something in the way of training, but it will not be the time and gold sink of the old rules, nor will it force me to "grade" the players on how they adhere to stereotype.

More on experience later.

I will say that this is the most fun I've had running a game in a long time. My wife says she can hear me DMing exuberantly from upstairs, and that I sound like "my old gaming self."

Aside from one technical hiccup, Skype delivered our Vermont based player so that he could participate in our session. I continue to think about the possibilities that Skype now affords me.


  1. As DM never ever used any D&D training rules. Anything is a better money sink that that boring, broken concept.

    Yeah that's right my character wants to pay to go to school when he could be out kickin ass instead.

  2. I used a very simple training system about ten years ago. This time around I was thinking of something along the lines of Barbarians of Lemuria, where the characters have to have a bit of down time between adventures before they level up. I'm not a big fan of "poof" leveling. I also like my campaigns to span some time, and perhaps having mandatory downtime to learn new spells, meditate, practice with weapons, etc. would be a good way to stretch out the time between adventures.

  3. This is how I plan to spend time between adventures from now on.

    My most recent game has poof leveling, if your char sheet was ready you could level at anytime other than middle of combat/"scene". For me levels are an out of game abstraction of continuous improvement due to gaining "real life" experience. Bringing it in game with training or what not breaks immersion.

    Curious, why don't you like poof leveling?

    Most players I've played with or DM'd were lolly gaggers and there was no problem stretching out time between adventures. The opposite issue (puttering around instead of adventuring) was a more often occurrence.

  4. That is most excellent. I'd have to adjust it since the amount spent and the prices for various alchohols in my game don't quite line up. I'd also be curious to see if Jeff grants experience for treasure captured, since in this way you could "spend a penny twice" by capturing gold and then going carousing. Still, that's a damn fine house rule.

    I don't like poof leveling simply out of a matter of personal taste. I always envisioned the actual advancement of a level as something done during a period of rest, reflection, and montage.

    Now, I have been known to allow PCs to level while in the dungeon or wilderness (on extended adventures) if the adventure is particularly tough, but even then I never allow it during the play session; the player must wait to level until we call it a night.