We've been so busy working that when we added up how long it had been since we last played D&D it had been 3 months!
Not that the crew hasn't been begging for more abuse at the hands of Greg Svenson's Tonisborg dungeon, but scheduling has been tough since everyone has real life commitments.
Sadly when we sent out notice for the last game, it was short notice, and we only had a DM and 3 players. Crisis briefly set in because many years of experience has proven that the ideal number of people is 4-5 players and a DM, with each player running 2 characters.
A traditional Secrets of Blackmoor Iced Tea glass can be seen in this photo
Then we realized that we do know of some experienced gamers we could call on to help fill out the party -- The Bards of Grayhawk!
Disclaimer: The internet is full of words. Words are hard. There is also a video to commemorate this fateful meeting.
A quick FB message and it was all set up, The Bards of Greyhawk would join up with Secrets of Blackmoor for an epic and possibly weird gaming session.
Ritch asked for an address, but I refused to give it to him until the day of the game. I told him to think of this gaming session as something like the old days of Raves, where you didn't really know where the party was until the last minute.
When Saturday night rolled around we had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy and Ritch in person for the first time over a very laid back session of OD&D.
A few minutes of dice rolling and some equipment purchases later and the Bards were ready to Rock -- You gotta love OD&D when it comes to fast set up and play.
The Bards are in da house!
Randall had the two dwarf characters again. It has become a tradition that when a dwarf gets killed it gets re-used as yet another of a very large family of dwarf brothers, cousins, and extended family. Thus the family name of Har* gets carried onto other characters, that never have to be re-rolled, and which have similar names:
Harvii - (with two i's is pronounced Harv-eye) who died in game 1 of Tonisborg
Harvi - who died in game 2 of Tonisborg
Scarvi - who can't seem to get himself killed no matter what
Marvi - who is taking up slot 2 and can be expected to live a very short life
*A brief historical note: Randall is following Lord of the Rings dwarf naming protocol so this is all fully within regs.
And of course we had the rest of the regular party of characters, Rosa's, Chalice, and Elie, and Chris with Ned* and Earl*.
*Note: Ned and Earl are names that come from a long and ancient line of sub urban mobile castle peoples.
We're still playing the old game
By this point all the bad puns and jokes were already flying; most of which cannot be put into print. Yet when it comes to Epic Gaming there have to be bad jokes, or it won't meet our standards of Huzzah!
The game was again to be a journey into Tonisborg dungeon which dates back to 1973. It likely has not been run since about 1982, when it was "misplaced".
As the party approached the ruin, the DM dropped his first hint via an NPC: Are you going to take the little stairwell, or the big stairs? I was doing that thing you do as a DM, where you can't tell them to do something but you can suggest it.
A while back we did a blog post about Tonisborg and talked a bit about the dead-li-fication (real word -- google it) of this dungeon. The first level has some 4th level encounters on it that will destroy a weak party quickly and it's actually a bit safer to go straight to the 2nd level. In fact, Tonisborg is what inspired us to come up with the Killer D.M. concept in the first place.
The players ignored the DM's subtle hint about perhaps going to the second level of the dungeon where things might be easier and headed back to the place of carnage known as level 1.
I always wonder when people draw while I am Dm'ing, is it really that boring Ritch?
I won't go into a blow by blow retelling of the adventure since the one thing I hate most, is when someone bores me with extended long winded apparently unique special and funny tales of their own D&D games. I will try to be brief and show what is relevant about old dungeons like this one.
After a very short time in the dungeon, Tonisborg once again proved its reputation is well earned -- Tonisborg is a Killer. Almost every encounter was something that the players deemed too big to handle and they ran away from it.
Rosa even proclaimed: If this is 1st level, I want to go to kinder level!
Ever notice how dice in photos look almost as if they were placed there?
And then things went from worse to a lot worse, as the players finally reached Rooms #1 and #2. A very bad place indeed. Yet the players were doing really well and playing very tactically as they used a thief to explore the passageway solo so he would not alert anything, or anyone, of the party's presence.
I love when players treat Dungeoning as more than a jaunt through the dungeon and approach it as a kind military mission with scouting and planning -- Nice Move Jeremy!
Pencils too, can look almost as if they were staged in the photo
Of course, the party had no way of knowing that death was waiting for them in both rooms and seeing as it was their choice, there was nothing to do but play on and watch things unfold.
The thief listened at the door to the room with wraiths in it and heard nothing. Then he listened at the door with the Theurgists and he heard some voices chanting. Well, so far so good.
The thief rejoined the party and a quick debate took place about what to do. It was decided that the non-noise door was the safest option. As DM, I was thinking, "Oh goody I get to kill now." So the 2nd level fighter and the 1st level thief went back to the door, thinking they could open it quietly and explore the room.
One failed door open roll later and the fighter and thief found themselves facing 2 wraiths.
After that, all hell broke loose. The wraiths killed the thief in one blow. The theurgists came out of their door to help the wraiths. The Fighter started running and said something along the lines of "AAAaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!"
Somehow everyone else got the cue that running was a pretty good idea.
Tonisborg: 1 Party: 0
We go fully medieval -- No Printing Presses means no Graph Paper!
Having decided that enough is enough the players chose to leave the dungeon for good. This led to a quick die roll to determine a random encounter which once again came up with giant weasels. A previous game we ran had weasels as a wandering monster encounter as well, and the party was already familiar with them. For instance, Scarvi the Dwarf still wants to find out how to capture and tame one, so he can "ride the weasel" -- Dwarves are weird.
Since the encounter range was only 10 feet a battle broke out immediately. One of Ritch's charatcers went below zero hit points in the first round. Since we play a very home brewed game we have our own simple system for dealing with this.
If you go negative hit points the party can still save you with healing and by binding the wounds (Only clerics for 1d4 per character) after the fight is over. So the -5 got healed by the cleric to a +3 and that player survived.
This all brings me to the whole point of today's blog post. It's always really wonderful to meet new gamers. And The Bards of Greyhawk are our kind of gamers. They are funny and they like to have a good time. They fit right into our group and the game went smoothly.
A good example of this happened during the weasel battle when there were just two weasels left and I asked Ritch, "Which weasel are you attacking".
And Ritch said, "Well, I'm a hobbit, and everyone knows that most hobbits will choose the lesser of two weasels."
If you have not heard of the Bards of Greyhawk, you should check them out.
Our personal favorite is this german electronica inspired tune they made for CafCon:
They also have a website with more info here: http://www.bardsofgreyhawk.com/
DVD'S, Books, T-shirts, games and more available on our store.
Secrets of Blackmoor is a Feature-length documentary about the birth of the “Mother of all Games;” Dungeons & Dragons.