Thursday, August 8, 2019

Some Solo Gaming

So, I've been wanting to brush up my 1st edition AD&D knowledge, which I find has gotten overlaid with bits and pieces from other iterations of the game during all those years I spent working on 2nd edition (over forty modules, books, and boxed sets) and editing 3rd edition (about another twenty works, including co-editing two of its three core rulebooks).

My solution is to play a short solo adventure using 1st edition rules. Choose a suitable adventure, generate a party of adventurers, and run them through it. If it goes well I might resume solo gaming as a regular thing, the way I use to in the old days.

After some mulling over likely options, I narrowed down the choice of adventure to one of three:

U1. THE SINISTER SECRET OF SALTMARSH. This wd have been my choice, except that I'm hoping I can play through the recent expanded version with our regular Monday Night Game once we've finished our current adventure and don't want to spoil it by rereading the original after all these years.

I1. DWELLERS OF THE FORBIDDEN CITY by Zeb Cook. This is one of the few B/X/I series adventures I never played through back in the old days. I have a high opinion of Zeb's early work,* but I wanted to start with 1st-level characters, since I think the game is at its best (certainly its most challenging) at low levels. Thus his 4th to 7th level Forbidden City would have created unnecessary complications. Accordingly, I've tentatively lined up this as the next adventure if I continue the game on into higher levels. Either this or X2. CASTLE AMBER (a long-standing favorite of mine).

B2.5 CAVES OF THE UNKNOWN. The adventure I settled on is the one I think, of all the modules and mini-modules I picked up at last year's NTRPGcon, best captured old-style AD&D the way I used to play it. Plus it did pitch itself as an expansion of the classic B2. KEEP ON THE BORDERLAND, and thus an easy segue if needed to draw on RETURN TO THE KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS as well.

To save time, I took characters I'd come up with years ago for RETURN TO THE KEEP  and reverse engineered their stat blocks from late second edition back to 1st edition.

lesson number one: I'd forgotten how simple 1st edition character's stats were, before all the complications with skills worked its way in. Two or three lines is about all it takes to get down the essentials.

It took v. little time to form a party, selected the right rumor for them to hear, and send them off on a mission: recover a dead adventurer's body and gear from the bottom of the sinkhole in which he fell to his death. Well, it's a start . . .

More later.

--John R.

*esp. the two Master of the Desert Nomads adventures, my favorites of all his works. Its monsters were for me its strong points, as also seems to be the case with FORBIDDEN CITY (which introduces the Aboleth and yuan-ti, among others). The aboleth had to wait more than a decade to come into their own, with the Underdark-themed campaign adventure NIGHT BELOW (1995), one of the best things I've had the pleasure of editing during my rpg career.


grodog said...

For solo play, I've found the DMG Appendix A random dungeon generator to be quite useful (it updates and corrects the SR#1 tables from 1975), although it lacks the thematic cohesion of a well-crafted module, of course.

If you've not seen it, Dungeon Robber @ offers an online recreation of those tables, though grounded in OD&D vs. AD&D. You can even map its dungeons, although their randomization doesn't allow them to be internally consistent.


John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Grog

I know a lot of people who'd agree with you re. those random generation tables, but I always preferred something with a plot for my solo gaming. Perhaps a legacy of my first DM, who just ran random encounters and nothing else.

--John R.