Monday, March 14, 2011

First Adventure - The Mystery of the Missing Mage

Over the last few days, I really cranked up the Dungeons & Dragons amplitude at my house. About a week ago I started pulling out my old rulebooks and reading through my materials. Over the course of the last week, I installed antique software (the AD&D Core Rules 2.0 with Expansion, the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas, and the Dragon Magazine Archive of the first 250 issues (nearly all of which issues I own in hardcopy, too.)), I downloaded outdated and archived updates for them, and I hunted down whatever materials I could find online.

None of it was easy, either. In terms of both my own materials and the stuff I could find online, I'm overwhelmed by the volume of stuff, and the need to comb through it and decide what's usable and what isn't. At the same time, there's likely some specific stuff that, if I knew it existed, how to search for it and/or where to find it, it would make my life much easier, but I don't. The version of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons that I've decided to play is the old 2nd Edition rules, which came out around 1989, and were replaced with the 3.0 ruleset in the late 1990s. So most of the people who were "into" D&D enough to want to put stuff on the Internet had mostly moved on to the 3.x rules by the time the Internet became truly ubiquitous and commonplace. If there's a treasure-trove of 2nd Ed. material on the intertubes, I'm not finding it.

Luckily, I did find "The Mystery of the Missing Mage," by Bruce Silverstein. He apparently wrote it back in 1987, and then updated it with 2nd Edition rules. And it's still kicking around in various places online. We've just gotten into it, and I have to say that he really did a terrific job with it. The adventure is a bit stingy in some places with treasure and then piles it on in others, and it looks to me as if the experience numbers he's using with some of the monsters are awfully high, but I can fix that stuff easily enough. Mostly, it's a logical, well-thought-out, well-written adventure designed explicitly for first-level characters (in fact, it seems to be tailored for as few as three first level characters, which fits my group perfectly!). So thanks, Bruce! You made our weekend!

I kind of knew I was making a mistake Saturday when I invited the kids to roll up some characters. My intention was several-fold. I wanted to see if they had any aptitude for the concepts behind the game. I wanted to gauge their interest level. I wanted to know what sorts of characters interested them, so that I could tailor the adventures I'd be writing accordingly. I also needed to test the AD&D Core Rules software to see if I wanted to use it, because as far as I could recall I never really had used it full-bore as a DM before. By the time it came out, I wasn't really a very active DM.

Well, I got to do all of that, but at a price. The kids LOVED creating characters, and while none of them were actually willing to sit down and read the boring old Player's Handbook (those are their words, not mine - I used to love reading through the hardcover manuals, modules, magazines, accessories, and any other rulebooks or materials I could find), they desperately wanted to start playing the game. So I had no choice - if I wanted to strike while the iron was hot, while their interest level was still high, I had to come up with an adventure in less than a day and be ready to run it on Sunday afternoon. And, like I said above, It was Bruce Silverstein to the rescue.

So thanks, Bruce. I'm assuming your old "geocities" email address is defunct, but if you should stumble across this, know that your 24-year-old adventure is still getting the job done. Great work!

Now if I could just wrangle all of the "Ruins of Undermountain" stuff under control and pull some adventures out of my old Dungeon magazines. Mercifully, I've found a place where I can get my old Dungeons (which I still have in a box - hundreds of them) in .pdf format, which saves me having to scan them in myself. Doesn't make it any faster to figure out which modules go together easily to make a worthwhile campaign. Plus there's all the Forgotten realms books, accessories, modules, and downloads I have. Ugh. Sometimes it almost seems like it would be faster to just create my own world. But I've done that before, too. It's not.

Griping aside, though, I'm really, sincerely enjoying watching my kids discover the game that's given me so much entertainment over the years. My youngest decided to play a Fighter, and managed to roll an 18/51 strength, so he's no slouch. With longsword specialization and a shield, he's blissfully cleaving his way through anything that stands before him. My middle kid was a shoe-in for the Mage from the get-go, and he's struggling with the age-old issue of, "Hey, I cast all my spells, and I can't hit the broad side of a barn with these weapons, what am I supposed to do??" My answer, as I'm sure many DMs before me have offered, is simple: "Do your best. When you get a few more levels under your beard, it's all worthwhile." Surprisingly, my daughter - who I'd had pegged for a druid, a priest, or possibly a warrior - opted for a thief. She's in there flinging daggers around and trying to set herself up for the backstab (I need to help her with that) like a pro.

I honestly can't say if I'll wrestle everything that I've got at my disposal into some kind of order. There's just so much of it, and I have so little time these days. But I'm confident that I can keep my kids entertained with the game for quite some time, and maybe when they're a bit older one of them will say, "Hey Dad, I'd like to DM. Got any materials I can use." I'll let them dig out from under that mountain - maybe they'll find some treasure in there.

No comments:

Post a Comment