Well, that's not entirely true. They ambushed a couple of guards and took them out in a round, but that doesn't really count.
Their "final" (for now) exploits were rather impressive and consisted of them using charm, wits and brains to gather evidence to expose the conspirators in the Cult of Mitra who sought to drive all other religions out of Aquilonia by framing the Asurans as murderers and demon worshippers. The mystery cult within the Mitraeum was called the Brotherhood of the Bull and was led by none other than the High Priest of Mitra, and funded by a corrupt noble who was secretly a servant of the Stygian government (which sought to foster chaos and instability within its old rival, Aquilonia). The puzzle was a convoluted one, but one which the players, after a bit of frustration and hitting of brick walls, managed to put together very well. They used a cultist who had gotten cold feet as an informant and erstwhile ally (not that he had much choice) and gathered all the evidence they needed and more, which they turned over to King Conan II. In return they earned themselves the gratitude of their second Hyborian king in their last three adventures.
So now that we have that out of the way, what gives with it being over?
Relax. It's not over, just on hiatus for awhile. We have several players in my Sunday group who are GMs and we try to rotate games regularly so everyone has a turn. I felt I'd held the GM throne for long enough and wanted to give someone else a shot. But I have big plans for the Hyborian world post-Conan the Great, so the game will be back eventually.
So, what did I learn by my first experience running OD&D?
First and foremost: it's freeing beyond belief. Not having everyone tied down by what's written on their character sheet to define what they can do is awesome, though it took some time for my players to get the hang of things like:
- Go ahead and try to tumble around--no it doesn't matter that you don't have any sort of "skill" in Tumble.
- Why yes, since we're using Chainmail combat rules, indeed you can try to cleave through a number of foes. Instead of the Man to Man tables we'll use the "troop type" combat tables. Roll a number of dice equal to your "man" rating. Each 5 or 6 gives you a die of damage you deal to a foe of your choice.
- Hmm...does event x happen right now...roll a d6; on a 1 or 2 it does.
Overall, my style of play is perhaps a bit different than some other old school DMs. I am rather loathe to kill player characters, and have fudged events to save lives instead of conspiring to end them. I enjoy somewhat epic, heroic campaigns, so to my minor shame, my players rarely find themselves in danger of immediate death. The play's the thing, as they say, and in our games the shared story creation is the play. I try and give everyone the chance to feel like the big man on campus in game at some point in time. It has, on occasion, failed miserably and led to what one player calls "follow the Jedi" campaigns wherein one player/character rises up above all the others and dominates the game; these are generally failed experiments but thus far I believe everyone's had a good time with all the games we've run in our Sunday group, whatever the system or character combinations may be.
Well, there was that one playtest we did that went really awful...but that's neither here nor there.
I'm kind of rambling here, and am not sure what if any message there is to get out of this particular blog, save that I've had a great time running OD&D and am actively looking forward to my next turn at DM to get back to it. Just a few thoughts for the road. I'm always interested in hearing yours in turn.
That's all for now, folks. I'm out, and remember: crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women!