Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OSRCon Thoughts (Part II)

The second day of OSRCon was a long one for me, beginning at 9:30 am and finishing at 7:30 pm, with scarcely a break. That probably explains why, by the end of the day, I had a terrible headache that prevented me from fully enjoying the AD&D game I played with Ed Greenwood as DM in the afternoon/evening (about which I'll say more later).
My second session refereeing was also devoted to exploring Dwimmermount using the OD&D rules. This time, it was the infamous third level -- The House of Portals -- to which the PCs were dispatched by a sage named Fandel who was looking for evidence that three of its otherworldly gates were still operable after so many centuries of disuse. Again, the PCs were pre-generated, though of more experience than those used in the previous day's session (5001 XP each, so generally 3rd or 4th level, depending on class). A couple of my players were repeats from the day before, but most were new. Of those that returned, one decided to play the "same" character -- a dwarf fighter -- explaining away the difference in ability scores between the 1st-level and 3rd-level versions as the result of age and misadventure. I have to admit that I rather liked that explanation.

The House of Portals is a big level and one that's been extensively -- though not completely -- explored by the players in my face-to-face Dwimmermount campaign. Consequently, when the players at OSRCon came to various rooms, they saw evidence of my regular players' actions in the way that certain traps had already been sprung or items were missing from where they expected them to be. To me, Dwimmermount is a "living" place, constantly changing in response to what happens in any sessions I run using it. Until now, though, I'd never run a second group through the dungeon, so there was never an opportunity to highlight this fact in quite this way. The OSRCon players found it intriguing and noteworthy enough to comment on it a couple of times. For a moment, I got a flash of what it might have been like to have played in one of those early campaigns of old, where there were 20+ players who all explored the same megadungeon at different times.
The session itself went well and the players were, again, excellent. What impressed me most was how thorough and focused they were in their exploration of the dungeon. They took note of everything and made their decisions about which way to proceed based on the information they received and how well it jibed with what they were looking for. From my perspective, it was a thing of beauty, as was the way that the players spent time speaking, in character, with one another, as they debated the best course of action. As the referee, this made the session run really smoothly. Plus, it was just plain fun to watch.

At the end of the session, several of the players expressed interest in continuing their explorations later. They'd just found the portal to the Red Planet of Areon -- two of them even went through to see that the portal still worked -- and were really keen on spending more time there, but we ran out of time. That's why I'm thinking ever more of starting up regular open-ended Dwimmermount sessions on Google+ in the near future with a rotating cast of characters (and players). More on that as details become clearer.

12 comments:

  1. I'm loving these write-ups of OSRCon! If you end up doing something on Google+ I'd love to join. I've played D&D 2nd, 3rd (Pathfinder), and 4th but have been wanting to do OD&D forever. It's been hard to find a fellow group of grognards though to dungeon delve in that world with though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. when the players at OSRCon came to various rooms, they saw evidence of my regular players' actions in the way that certain traps had already been sprung or items were missing from where they expected them to be. To me, Dwimmermount is a "living" place, constantly changing in response to what happens in any sessions I run using it.

    Precisely how I use Castle of the Mad Archmage in tournament play. If a previous group entered an area, the next group along will see evidence of their passing, whether that be removed treasure or some dead bodies...

    Sounds like you had a great time; glad your first convention experience was a good one!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your experience mirrors my own. I've DM'd since the mid-80s but have never ran a game at a convention until this year at GenCon where I ran my d20 homebrew game. GREAT experience with a great group of people. No 'ugly gamers' in that group. I now regret not running a game years earlier (I've been going to GenCon for the last 10 years). Definitely plan on running a game next year.

    James, you're not that far from Indianapolis, you should try and make it down next year.

    ReplyDelete
  4. ...where there were 20+ players who all explored the same megadungeon at different times...

    I still think this is the best way to run any campaign, and harkens directly back to the wargaming roots of the hobby. It also means the gamemaster is more of a "referee/judge" and not "the opponent."

    [Hmmm. The stairs in Dwimmermount look a lot cleaner (and definitely more orange) than I expected.]

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'd like to point out that in the background, you can see a game of ADnD on the go that was, by all accounts, excellent. The remarkable thing is that there are eight players at the table; something quite common in the early days and handled easily by the system and very competent DM. It would be a nightmare doing it with the more "modern" tactical combat rulesets.
    You know you're in Canada when there is Tim Horton's and timbits at the table rather than Mountain Dew and Cheetos!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm regretting not making it out to OSRCon now, A combination of time and money conspired against me. It sounds like it went really well, and I'm glad you had a good time. If you're interested in another low intensity con to get involved with, check out Phantasm in Peterborough It's got a good mix of games, fairly low intensity gaming, and you'd get a chance to see Ed again.

    I'll also be paying attention to information about the Google+ Dwimmermount experiment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, we in the background were fighting a bulette that morning!

    I am finally going to have multiple parties adventuring simultaneously in Ara, once I get my G+ game going here in the near future. I look forward to one group finding evidence of what the other group has been doing, and vice-versa. In the past I have only ever had one group at a time occupying the setting, so this will be a new thing for me as well.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Carter ran a kick ass game of Labyrinth Lord on Day 1, where many ogres licked the dust, though the party never did find Sorak.

    It was an amazing weekend full of really great people.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Google + Dwimmermount? Really? Really? Hope so.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Google+ Dwimmermount sounds fantastic!

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.