Sunday, March 10, 2019

Old School West Marches

Today was our first session of my West Marches campaign since the switch to Classic D&D rules. And one of the two new players hurt his back yesterday and couldn't make it. The other (already my acquaintance) had told me in advance that he couldn't make this game but planned to start next session, which is in two weeks. I did lose all three players that I feared I'd lose. Which is too bad. Only one father & daughter came, playing a Gnome Thief and Fairy Princess Magic-User, both 5th level. Oh, and previously the Fairy Princess had tamed a giant boar, so it came too!

They decided, with just the two of them, to go somewhere relatively low risk - the Caves of Chaos. They hadn't been back there since they defeated Warduke long ago, but another party of adventurers (my online group) had recently been there and returned to report that the caves were once again populated. [Only the kobold caves had been cleared before, actually, and after a long absence, those that fled have returned.]

After a bit of explanation of what the new versions of the old characters can (and can't) do, they set out. They spotted kobold skirmishers above the kobold cave so avoided it, choosing the second orc lair. They got caught in the trap, but the M-U was only caught for 1 round, so when the orc guards showed up, she used phantasmal force to create a gigantic spider. One morale check later, the orcs ran away. Deciding to try another cave, they headed to the bugbear cave. The sign out front didn't fool them, they came in wary. They fought the guards, killing one and capturing the other two (morale check failure again) and got information that prisoners were east and down, treasure was up the stairs just outside the door. Going after the treasure, they ran right into the bugbear chieftain's room, but with the Fairy Princess's wand of magic missiles and the boar's tusks, they managed to take them down in two rounds of combat! They scoured the room for treasure, and high-tailed it back to town, where they found some of the treasure was magical.

Then, they did something I've been hinting is allowed but players never took advantage of it. They visited the town alchemist and had him duplicate some of their potions! I also mentioned that there are retainers/men-at-arms available to hire in town, in case they ever head out with a small party again.

Both players really enjoyed it, and for the first time ever, the player of the Fairy Princess was able to manage her own spells, and she used them to very good effect. In addition to the phantasmal force and wand of magic missiles, she protected herself with mirror image, used floating disk to safely carry the heavy statue (a bit of a stretch from rules as written, but it was clever thinking so I allowed it), and detect magic let them know that the axe was something to be identified back in town.

Even though it sucks to have lost three fun players, it was great to see that the switch did what I was hoping it would do. I'm more motivated to prep adventures, and our 9-year old is finally able to manage her own PC. Her dad also enjoyed it, although he did somewhat miss being able to do multiple things in a round the way he could in 5E. He was really happy with how smoothly combat went, and with how well his daughter was able to pay attention, though, which more than made up for any lack of tactical fiddliness that we lost.


  1. If I ever get a chance again to run for some of my students, I might try Basic D&D as well.

  2. Nice. Sounds like great fun.