Library game, 2nd session – post-session thoughts

Thursday was the second session of my lunchtime Labyrinth Lord game, attended this time by five players (all from Tech Services, for those keeping track.)  The PCs were hired by Ghaelus, a member of the Archivists’ Guild, to retrieve the skull of Krelek, an Orichalan sorcerer and sage, from a tomb on the outskirts of the barrow field. Ghaelus’s ultimate goal was to gain access to Krelek’s personal library, located somewhere in ruins of Satur, in hopes that it might contain the crucial information to confirm Ghaelus’s hypothesis: that the ruined city of Satur was built upon the ruins of an even older civilization.  Ghaelus planned to use the skull to commune with the dead sorcerer’s shade in hopes of procuring the words of power that would allow passage through the magical wards and defenses of Krelek’s manse.  Equipped with a charm to preserve them from the most potent of the tomb’s magical defenses, the PCs braved the barrow field again.  In our one-hour session they fought skeletons, disarmed mundane traps, battled an animated statue, and found the secret antechamber containing Krelek’s sarcophagus.  The party returned to Greenwax with the Skull and two treasures: a gem-encrusted dagger worth 200 gold pieces and a silver bloodstone ring which, when properly inspected, proved to have been enchanted with a minor defensive charm to protect the bearer in combat.

By all accounts we had fun, and the players are looking forward to more.  This time we only played for about an hour (which started late due to two new players having to roll up characters), and one of the players had to leave before we finished.  I did manage to finish the prepared adventure in the time we had, but it definitely felt a little rushed.  Following the session’s end and my subsequent conversations with several players, I’ll most likely be switching systems from Labyrinth Lord to Barbarians of Lemuria.  (Hmm, there seems to be a pattern developing here!)  To that end, I’ve already started cobbling together my “Barbarians of the Wilderlands” document.  I have little patience for tracking experience points these days, and I also think that, for players in a casual pick-up game, there’s something gratifying in having one’s character receive experience points at the end of a session and be able to spend them immediately to improve in a certain area.

My intent has been for this to be a drop-in game, that whoever wants to play is welcome.  Given that we only have an hour or so to play, character creation for new players — which in either LL or BoL is relatively fast — is a huge time-sink.  To minimize this, I’m considering a couple options:

    1. Have a stack of pregens handy for people who drop and just want to try the game.  At some point, players who prove to be regular attendees can choose to either continue with their pregen character or create a new one.

Have a regular cast of pre-generated characters that all the players can choose from.  If new player A plays Krongar the Mighty in an episode and doesn’t show up for the next session, new player B could take over that character for that session.  A benefit I see in this approach is that I wouldn’t necessarily be constrained to one hour for the adventure — we could potentially end the session with a cliffhanger and pick up the following week without having to deal with new characters.

One of the aspects of old-school D&D play that I want to retain in this game is the emphasis on exploration (and related importance of resource management), which doesn’t really mesh with BoL’s default style of over-the-top heroic action.  Yora’s BXoL houserules for treasure and encumbrance have been very helpful in this regard.  Heroes of Hellas has provided some additional food for thought, specifically regarding Kleos (as a potential way to model “leveling up” and rising in social stature) and adding followers.  More on this as I tinker…

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