15 September 2009

Old School Dungeon Gaming Time!

To take a break from playtests of Monster of the Week, we've been playing some Dungeonslayers.

It's a nice old-style game, and appealed to me because it had a fairly basic, consistent core system. That's in contrast to many of the old school rules I've looked at that attempt to replicate old style D&D warts and all.

I sat down with How to Host a Dungeon and ran through one to build up some background for the game, which was fun in itself and gave me some maps and a general history of the area that provided me a lot of ideas.

First session had only two players, and I set out to run them through the starter dungeon in the main Dungeonslayers pdf. We managed to get through that in one session (with one fatality) and that left those two characters at a decent level. The system works pretty well and provides a good framework for that sort of adventuring - in our case, not taken very seriously. There was a tendency for some fights to get a little tedious as bad rolls led to things taking a long time to die. We got some creative use of tactics to split up one huge group so they could take it out piecemeal. That's the kind of cool stuff I want to encourage, so I was pleased when that happened.

Next session had a couple more players, who had to join on as basically the expendable henchmen of our higher level elves. I had planned to take them through the second sample adventure from the Dungeonslayers website, and indeed when we left off they were nearly about to begin it. The maps derived from my How to Host a Dungeon game really came into their own here, with their journey to find the bandits they're hunting full of sidetracks, getting lost in a swamp, amusing townsfolk, legends about the devilish swamp dwarves and last but definitely not least, a juvenile owlbear attack.

I'm looking forward to next time, when they actually assault the bandits (and begin to uncover clues about how much stuff they are walking over the top of).

Reading Update

Kage Baker The Empress of Mars: A nice story set in the shadow of her epic Company series. Only tangentially related, but good in its own right. Feisty, outcast Mars colonists versus everyone! Huzzah!

Seth Hunter The Time of Terror: Another Napoleonic naval adventure, broadly. More specifically, it's earlier (Robespierre is the chief antagonist) and our hero spends most of the book as a spy in Paris and smuggling things back and forward. Good stuff, but grim (being about The Terror, hard not to be).

Chris Wickham The Inheritance of Rome: A big, solid history of Europe from 400-1000. Lots of interesting stuff in here, although because of the book's scope, detail is lacking. It paints a picture of the fall of Rome being less catastrophic than had been previously thought, and follows the various aspects that were preserved and the new things that arose after. I'd been aware of the revision of the "Dark Ages" into something somewhat less of an oubliette of history, and this cleared up the reasons that view has come to be.