Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Killer Modules are a GOOD THING!

There's yet another thread over on Dragonsfoot about killer low level modules.  Actually, there are two, one specifically about B2 Keep on the Borderlands, and another about low level modules in general

These modules being 'killer' teach players a valuable lesson.  You don't need to kill everything that moves in the dungeon. 

Now, I realize that there are benefits to throwing a few softballs toward new players to keep them interested in the game.  You don't want to be a dick DM and just slaughter their 2 hit point Fighter with a kobold in the first encounter and laugh about it.  Instead, you should encourage them to roll with the punches and get back on the horse when that happens.  If you're playing Super Mario Brothers and get killed by that first Goomba, you don't give up, throw the controller across the room, and never play the game again. 

With an RPG, especially one that has potentially deadly combats like low level Classic or AD&D, don't encourage the 'precious snowflake' mentality of PCs until after the players have some experience.  If you are an experienced gamer, then sure, go ahead and start fleshing out your character before the dice hit the table.  You're likely smart and experienced enough to know not to charge the owlbear with that 2 hit point Fighter.

But for people just starting out, get them used to the game, including its deadliness, before you encourage them to really develop those fragile low level characters.

And definitely quash any ideas that D&D should play like Diablo or something, where the goal is to 'clear the level.'  The goal is to get the loot, not to fight every monster down there.


  1. The use of nuisance monsters is one way to discourage a clear-the-level mentality. Allow players to by-pass nuisance monsters, but make the nuisance monsters deadly.

  2. Sometimes, as a low-level character, it's best to listen to your gut and go home when the party decides to FIGHT A BEAR. That elf would have lived a long, happy, profitable life if not for SOMEBODY's insistence that "we don't need to go get spears and form a hedgehog, we can take this bear easily!" Lesson: When your comrades do something you KNOW is dumb, run the other way.

  3. Good points all around. Thanks for linking to those threads.

    I always believed that B2 'assumed' that characters would cling to the Keep for a bit before venturing outward, exploring the 'outdoor' encounters and then making their way to the Caves.

    Definitely need to re-read B2 again!

  4. Paladin--I agree. Especially if there are some nuisance monsters with no treasure if they take the risk to attack.

    Dave--at least the bear was blocking the way to some good loot and a magic sword...not that it would have done your Elf any good.

    Scott--thanks. I need to actually read B2 thoroughly one of these days. I've never run, nor played through it.