Monday, March 16, 2009

Dwimmermount, Session 7

After a three week hiatus because of various real life commitments, Dwimmermount resumed yesterday and did so quite enjoyably. The characters -- Brother Candor, Dordagdonar, and Iridessa -- along with many of their hirelings decided to make the journey to the City-State of Adamas to purchase some specialty supplies, such as riding horses, scrolls, and anti-venom. While there, they once again encountered Pike, who'd be spending his loot from previous sessions in true Conan fashion. Since he was down to his last few silver pieces when the others arrived, he was ready to rejoin their company and explore Dwimmermount once again.

Brother Candor used the opportunity to pay a visit to the local temple of Tyche, attempting to engage in a little simony. As conceived, he's not part of the formal hierarchy of the faith, having been trained by his adoptive father, a wayard cleric of Lady Luck, without sanction of his superiors. Candor now realizes that he'd benefit greatly from having some connection to the temple. Nothing has yet come of his efforts, but that may change once he returns to Adamas to "donate" some more money to Tyche's mortal servants.

The characters plotted their way back down into the second level. Iridessa, played by my nine year-old daughter, vowed not to be so cowardly this time. In the previous session, she spent most of the time running away from situations she considered too dangerous. She still stayed toward the rear of the party -- though not all the way back, of course -- but she was a bit more active than previously. Mind you, much of her activity consisted of unsuccessfully throwing darts at enemies rather than casting spells.

What I found interesting was how much my daughter really enjoyed herself this time, even though her character was, to put it charitably, a less than effective member of the party. To her, dungeon delving is exciting simply to watch, never mind to participate in. In my biased opinion, this is a very heartening to see; it's a reminder of just how much fun D&D really can be, even at its most primal. Interesting too is how she's constructing an imaginary "superstructure" to support the existence of her character and the dungeon, filling in details where none have been provided. These details certainly lack the polish (or coherence) of less improvisational creativity, but, since I've explicitly eschewed that approach, I'm going to run with what she or anyone else comes up with and see where it takes us rather than fret over how it's "not what I would have done." Indeed, "not what I would have done" is part of the point.

The party's continued exploration of level 2 had some fun moments. The characters encountered a collection of malicious -- and invisible -- fairy creatures in a room with some unnatural mushrooms. The fairies used ranged weapons to keep themselves safely away from the party, which made it difficult for them to engage them. Pike decided that he would rush forward and attack the mushrooms, hoping that they'd release a cloud of spores into the room that might briefly make the fairies visible. He was correct, except that the spore cloud was poisonous. Had he not wisely used the anti-venom he purchased, he'd now be dead. Upon seeing the fairies' outlines in the spore cloud, Dordagdonar decided to cast sleep on them, both forgetting that, like himself, fairies are probably immune to this spell (they were) and that Pike was in the area of effect. Pike was placed in a magical slumber for 90 minutes, during which time a wandering swarm of fire beetles attacked the party. When Pike came to, he was less than pleased with his elf companion, who offered no defense except, "The affairs of ephemerals do not concern me."

Level 2 seems to be populated by a large number of "beast men," sub-human morlock-like creatures of indeterminate origin. Stupid and fearless (well, they are now, since I forgot to check morale for them -- oops), they travel in large hordes and try to overwhelm their opponents. At one point, the characters stumbled on a room filled with 10 of them. The ensuing melee alerted 10 more from a nearby room. This led to a massive battle between the four PCs and their hirelings (Hrothgar the Viking mercenary, Sam the archer, Brakk the goblin, and Henga the Shield-Maiden) that lasted many rounds. This being Swords & Wizardry, I don't think the combat lasted more than 30 minutes of real time, if that, which really pleased everyone involved. I was also very impressed by the good use of tactics by the PCs, who took full advantage of the narrow hallways to keep the beast-men at bay. Missile weapons and polearms also contributed to the characters' ultimate victory, after which they headed out to heal, rest, and re-memorize spells.

All in all, this was a very fun session, a nice way to get back into the groove of things after several weeks off. The characters are also starting to gel nicely, with little details coming out through play. For example, it was learned that Pike is only semi-literate, most of his education having come from reading tombstones in his previous line of work. Likewise, Iridessa is not in fact 15 years old, as she claimed, but 12. Her parents had sold her to an unscrupulous wizard as an apprentice, but she fled him, taking a spellbook with her, from which she learned the rudiments of her class.

Needless to say, I look forward to our next session.


  1. What a great beginning to an adventure!

    What, if I may ask, are the tiles that you are using in the photograph of your game play?

  2. The tiles are Hirst Arts pieces (

  3. James I have to ask, will the new megadungeon have any similarities to Dwimmermount? Or will DW pretty much be your baby (they'll be mutually exclusive campaigns).

  4. Simply awesome. I am starting my first 1'st Edition game this weekend and your Dwimmermount is a huge inspiration. I can only hope my games come out as pure to the D&D experience as your seem to! Keep up the good work and the great posts!

  5. James I have to ask, will the new megadungeon have any similarities to Dwimmermount? Or will DW pretty much be your baby (they'll be mutually exclusive campaigns).

    There will certainly be similarities, some unintentional, some not, but my general goal is to make the two distinct.

  6. Thirty minutes for a combat involving almost that number of participants. Wonderful.

  7. The combat really was glorious. This was the biggest combat I'd run under S&W and I was worried at first, because I still have nightmares of the three to four hour long combats I had under 3e with a similar number of combatants.

  8. My group are playing 4th edition D&D at the moment, and the idea of a thirty-man combat in that doesn't fill me with dread, as the system works quite well, but it is also time-consuming and a fight of that scale would easily eat up an entire gaming session or two. Perfectly fine if you were turning up to play a wargame, but not such a cheery proposition if you were hoping to do something other than fight! As well as the system works, I do long for the unfettered simplicity of the earlier editions.

  9. Hiya James,

    I'm late to your blog, but it's excellent! I'm about to start an old school game using B/X D&D, and trying to sort out if S&W would be a better fit.

    Quick question about that action shot:

    Do you use the grid with S&W? How does that work out? My impression from reading B/X D&D (Moldvay) is that the old 5' scale wouldn't work out, but my players are really comfortable with it--and have rebelled in the past at freeform movement.

  10. Ditto w/ what Kelvin said. In my experience I have found that since it takes much longer to run a combat, the game tends to focus upon that aspect. Which is a major contributor to the difference in "feel" between the different sets of rules.

    Why may you ask? Well you can read about what I believe contributes to this here: My Response.

  11. Do you use the grid with S&W? How does that work out? My impression from reading B/X D&D (Moldvay) is that the old 5' scale wouldn't work out, but my players are really comfortable with it--and have rebelled in the past at freeform movement.

    I don't really use a grid at all. The minis are there to provide some very basic sense of the battlefield, but I'm very loose in terms of my application of what's represented by the minis to actual game mechanics. That is, I eyeball ranges, cover, and the like in combat, but I'm not a stickler about it.