Saturday, January 20, 2018

Runnin' Original Dungeons and Dragons White Box Using the Chainmail Combat System

My wife's fourteen year old asked me to run a D&D game for her and her friends and cousins and I used the opportunity to run OD&D using the Chainmail combat system.
Honestly, it was a blast.

The previous game I ran for them had run a little flat, I think because being videogamers to their core, roleplaying in a town setting as a leadup to adventure kind of bored them. One kid enjoyed it but the others were kind of "meh." So this time I decided to go for something quick and full of action.

I ran off copies of the Fantasy Creatures Table from Chainmail, blank character sheets, and cleric and magic user spell lists from OD&D and let them examine these to decide upon a character or characters. I said you have 100 points (from the Chainmail point values) to either run a single 100 point value character (Superhero, High Priest/Priestess or Wizard) or you create lesser point characters and add followers or a run a group, maximum four per player as I had five players and arbitrarily decided four was enough per player. I treated the Priest as a Wizard but used Turn and Undead tables and Cleric spell list. I assigned a Magic points system, they had a set number of points and each spell cost a number of points equal to it's spell level to cast.

As for HD, I gave them a HD equivalent to their titular level in the OD&D handbook but did not restrict spell levels as to casting. For both characters and monsters, HD was actual number of hitpoints, a d6 for all damage rolls. I used a d20 for order of initiative and for savings throw, otherwise we used the Chainmail combat matrices, troop type and fantasy combat table and rolled d6 for all attacks.

The party they assembled was a Superhero named Lucas, a High Priestess of Athena named YoYo, a Wizardess named Mad Meg, another Superhero named Pingus the Brave, and one player ran a Hero named Cragalanch the Mighty with a Dwarf and a Halfling for loyal men at arms after he had saved them from death in the War of Irony.

I have to say it made my job really easy and flowed awesomely. I started them off simple : You have been summoned by scroll letter to the Iron Tower of Zelligar the Wise, a wizard famed throughout the realm and highly paid by kings and queens for his astrological and spellcasting powers. He has learned where a relic he wants is, the Crown of Command (as per Talisman board Game). He cannot go himself because he is in the midst of thirty day magical ritual he cannot leave before completion, thus having heard your fame, he will pay you handsomely to visit the labyrinth and seek the Crown--warning them with a little roleplaying by everyone that they had best not even consider keeping the Crown or, an even more dire warning, trying to use it since the Crown destroys any person it deems weak upon them trying to use it. He assures them he only wants the crown to keep it from the wrong sort. :)

So from there they took a boat journey to the isle where the ruins where and within 15 minutes were into the dungeon. They discovered a lower Shrine where a human priest led Goblins and Trolls in worship of an ugly idol, Magubliyet the Goblin God from Deities and Demigods, to the sound of drums in the deep. They managed to snek past and enter the lower level, where they found a bricked up chamber warded with goblin curses (the Wizardess used Read Languages), behind it was a fountain statue of a maiden holding a sword. Drinking from the fountain gave them an extra HD temporarily and upon speaking the statue it came to life, challenged them to a riddle, and upon answering correctly the Lawful Superhero could claim the magic sword, it was +1, had a Light Spell once per day, and could answer one question of a divinatory nature once per day but in only in cryptic rhyme.

At this point some of the more restless ones prevailed on the party to go up and simply crash the church service, they did and wonderful melee ensued. Cragalanch's men at arms almost died but they used healing potions provided by Zelligar. It all ended with most of the goblin force wiped out, the Wizardess used Polymorph Other and turned the Evil Priest into a slug (but not before he had cast Cause Disease and Cause serious Wounds on some characterrs). With their leader a slug and the trolls and most goblins wiped out, five goblins begged for their lives and were granted this if they would answer questions about the ritual and the dungeon. Turns out they were only on the isle because they use the lower shrine bt are actually from a large goblin enclave in the forests on the shores of the Great lake. They were sent packing, the spell casters rested and regained some spell points (the priestess did some healing), and then Mad meg dispelled Polymorph and once the Evil priest was bound she set to trying to torture information out of him, which led to the lawful characters engaging her in moral and ethical debate.

At one point the priest offered mad meg a place within their order, which she was wanting to happily accept but was disappointed to learn that it would mean her character leaving the instead, she cast Charm Person on the Priest, he failed his saving throw on a 1, and became her loyal and devoted friend, happily sharing information with her. Turns out they are all in league with a Queen of the realm who pretends to serve Law but is as Chaotic as they come and wants to see humanity fall to the Dark Gods. So got a plot hook in for further adventures! It ended on a high note with Fred the High Priest on the Wizardesses good side which these kids intend to fully exploit next session :)

They also got some loot and are ready to plunge ahead in the dungeon. Mad Meg got an evil magic sword from the priest and potions, spell scrolls and treasure was found in a secret compartment discovered by Lucas.

One of the most enjoyable games Ive ever played. I used the spell complexity table from Chainmail and all spellcsters had to roll to succeed at a spell, but sentient targets also got a d20 saving throw. I also informed them that spellcasters always had the option of casting a counterspell against an enemy priest or wizard but to do so they had to roll equal to or higher than what the opponent rolled in the casting, counterspells nullified the incoming spell attack.

It worked pretty well, and one thing I liked was how quickly combat was resolved. There were almost thirty combatants in the Shrine melee but the whole battle only lasted 7 or 8 rounds, about twenty minutes of game time. I let players use individual d20 initiative, then I broke the forces up into units, so I rolled initiative for trolls, then goblins, then the priest and we kept the same order throughout the battle. Goblins were one hit wonders anyway--players were delighted to discover you only had to hit one to make green and red mush. The trolls and the evil priest proved much more challenging.

Anyway, just wanted to share this. Ive always wanted to try it.