BITD (back in the day)
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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 7:23 am 
 

Tim Kask:

I think you were our referee in the D & D tournament at Origins II (or maybe it was III).  It was a version of the later Barrier Peaks module, and I think there was an element of what later became Metamorphosis Alpha, because we were on an alien spacecraft that had crashed.  Our group ended up winning because we took over the ship with no deaths and I won a subscription to The Dragon, issues 2-7.  (Much better than Origins I when I got killed in The Tomb of Horrors by a giant tick about half way through!)

You are absolutely correct that the DM is key.  Back in the early 80's, I used to play a fantasy game called Melanda at a store called Days of Knights in Newark, Delaware.  The DM's were the authors of the material, they used to run tournaments at local cons too.  The Melanda game materials are very basic and not very well done.  But the DM's were excellent and the games were extremely fun.

Tim is also correct that back in the really old days (BITROD?) people did just use three or four books.  As a general rule, the supplements weren't used for much more than the new character classes.  And when AD&D first came out when I was in college, we didn't use anything but the MM, PHB and DMG for about two years.  None of those fancy modules for us.  I did like the Judges Guild maps though.

One big difference when I first started in 1975, was that we started each game with new characters and every game was just a dungeon crawl.  We didn't keep characters, just rolled up a new one for the next game.  I don't think we started running campaigns with continuing characters until about 1976.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 12:47 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:
The standard operating procedure in my own campaigns has been to start over with new characters whenever the game began to break down due to PC power levels.

In 1st Edition AD&D, this was around 9th-11th levels.  After Unearthed Arcana, the breakdown began shortly after 7th level, when double weapon specialization made the fighter characters too strong for almost any monster in the book.

The same was true of 2nd Edition, which was essentially a neutered version of 1st.

In 3.5, the breakdown level is higher because the monsters can also be over the top mean.  I consider 9th-12th to be medium levels, with the game beginning to break down after the cleric reaches 12th level and cuts loose from reality.  The game can be played to higer level, but changes to a high level space opera at that point.

After starting new characters, the old characters became either NPC's, under my control, or were held in reserve for special high level adventures.  Sometimes, after a group of characters reached sufficient level, the campaign was declared to be "open" and any past character could be brought to the table.

The old PC's from the high school games became the legendary heroes and mages of my adult campaigns.  One, as mentioned above, even became a god that was worshipped by player characters...at their peril.


Interesting concept.  I have detailed notes of the main campaigns I have run over the years. We tended to do exactly as you say, starting over when characters reached a certain level (mainly when they started building stronholds, attracting followers, etc).  It's more fun to run a mage with 4 hp, a dagger and a Sleep spell than a Mage with an army and castle to my groups way of thinking....
  The first campaign I ran started with B1 and then C1 and C2, after which we wanted to run the GDQ so I bumped them a few levels (I think they were 5th) and they went through the GDQ series which ended up lasting several years as one member was in the Navy and we could only play while he was on leave.  This party still gets hauled out ocassionally for one shots (recently they started the 25th anniversary Against the Giants and have played about halfway through it, it's been several months now but we'll dig them out again eventually).  So this group is still going after 26 years...
  The other group was two members from that original group, plus a few others who wanted to game with us but we wouldn't let them join the Giant series in progress.  We started with B1 (naturally), then T1, then a ran a few of my own adventures waiting for T2-4 to come out (whoops, never did), finally they ended up going through classic letter stuff like B3, I1-5, N1, S2-S4, UK2-3, U1-3, A1-4, WG4, X2, just basically whatever module was coming out I bought it and ran the party through it after adapting it to the level of the party.  Also ran through some Companions stuff and Judges guild...I was going to college during this time and I don't think I even wrote one original adventure during the entire campaign!!! I remember the final adventures of that party had them settling in the Saltmarshes in Greyhawk and building their strongholds, first they cleared out the U3 sahaughin stronghold and WG5 (I moved Maure castle to a nearby location). This group is permanently retired as we haven't used the characters since about 1987 or so.
    When second edition/Forgotten Realms came out, had an entire new group except for both my brothers. I set the campaign in the Moonshae Islands since I wanted a celtic type theme and setting (plus it had just been released and I knew my players didn't have it yet to read!!!) Started in N4 ((Treasure Hunt), C3 (Isle of Castannimir), then L1 & L2.  Ran the entire campaign out of a group of islands with the main cities being Barnacus (from Dragon magazine) and L1's Restenford (they were the largest cities in the archepelgo I used as a backdrop, one on each side of the largest island in the chain).  Oddly enough I mixed in many of the Dragonlance modules, completely reworked them and made the badguys the Cult of the Dragon and actually the group had a LOT of fun with these.  Take out all Dragonlance references, use the maps and bump the dragons to 2nd ed and they aren't bad crawls.   About this time Dungeon magazine had come out and used a few adventures from these....off the top of my head, Tortles of the Purple sage, Caermor, Assault on Eddistone Point, House of the Brothers, Nightshade (who became a huge recurring character in the campaign), Crypt of Istaris (all from the first 9 issues of Dungeon Magazine). Also ran I6 Ravenloft for the first time for this party, and the sequel I think it was I10?  Worked in X5 Temple of Death as the main headquarters of a major baddy on an isolated island.  A lot of old modules work well as isolated islands....I know we did L7 Baltron's Beacon this way. Also remember distinctly running UK7 Dark Clouds Gather and the players had an absolute blast, it was the first time I ran the adventure ever, they got really good mileage out of the Skyfish in that module and used it for the entire campaign to zip around the islands! We had a gigantic final ship battle against pirates and Cult ofthe Dragon, I remember the players taking out a fleet of about 100 ships or so, we had a great time with that, we retired them after that....haven't played them since about 1991 or so...

Ugh, this BITD remembrance is taking way too much time and space, don't have time to go into any major campaigns past 1992 or so.  But the gist is that it was never a bad time to work in a letter adventure.  The impact these adventures had on my subsequent campaigns and gaming are obvious, I loved those things.

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 1:43 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:About this time Dungeon magazine had come out and used a few adventures from these....off the top of my head, Tortles of the Purple sage, Caermor, Assault on Eddistone Point, House of the Brothers, Nightshade (who became a huge recurring character in the campaign), Crypt of Istaris (all from the first 9 issues of Dungeon Magazine). .


Mike!

You just made my day, man!   :D  :D  :D  :D

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:41 pm 
 

We ran Greyhawk campaigns (was the only one around). I used modules extensively. My homebrew adventures were written just like the modules including player descriptions for each encounter. My goal was always to make my adventures seem as professional as the TSR stuff and I went out of my way to not let the players know if it was a module or homebrew adventure in many cases. It is funny to go back and read my homebrew stuff...


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 8:28 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:
Badmike wrote:
About this time Dungeon magazine had come out and used a few adventures from these....off the top of my head, Tortles of the Purple sage, Caermor, Assault on Eddistone Point, House of the Brothers, Nightshade (who became a huge recurring character in the campaign), Crypt of Istaris (all from the first 9 issues of Dungeon Magazine). .

Mike!

You just made my day, man!   :D  :D  :D  :D

Mark   8)


Hey, those old Dungeon adventures ROCKED.....Especially House of the Brothers. Wish you had written more of that stuff Mark!!!!! (and no I didn't know he'd written it when I first mentioned that, I'm not THAT much of an ass kisser... :D )
   As I mentioned during college I had no time to write anything. Got a full time job out of college and still had little time to write anything original.  Instead, the new Dungeon Mag (first came out late 1986) was a godsend.  I ran almost everything the first 20 issues or so.  I'd just find one or two each issue and shoehorn them into our campaign changing the levels, location or foes to meet the demands.  I specifically remember running the Keep at Koralgesh as an UNDERWATER adventure when I needed a sunken ruin. Looking through my Dungeon magazine index I also remember using Assault on Eddistone Point, Grakhirt's Lair, Stolen Power, Eyes of Evil, Plight of Cirria, Secrets of the Towers, Dark Conventicle, Moor Tomb Map, Stranded on the Baron's Isle, Phantasm Chasm, Elephant's Graveyard, Ironguard, By the Wayside, and House of Cards (releasedeep breath..).  I notice most were before the mag changed to 2nd edition....there were some good adventures even after the first 20 issues, but too much Spelljammer, Dark Sun, and non fantasy crap (Top Secret and MSH adventures) would ruin the magazine for me many times.  I like when everything was D&D or AD&D and tht was it.  Ironically I thought the last couple years or so before 3rd edition (Issues 70-81) had some of the best stuff they ever did, certainly some of the all time best 2nd edition adventures.  There are still a lot of Dungeon adventures that I've never run, and would love to someday.  The first couple of years of Dungeon are very evocative of the original style of AD&D playing at the time and are highly recomended, most are equal to or better than official stuff coming out at the time (we are talking 1986-1988 or so), and be sure to pick up that Dungeon #6 with the excellent House of the Brothers adventure.... :wink:
  If I have time I'll list some of the best 1st edition adventures run in Dungeon mag...I think the switch was sometime around #20 or so?  Lots of 1st edition gold in them there hills....


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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 8:33 pm 
 

bbarsh wrote:We ran Greyhawk campaigns (was the only one around). I used modules extensively. My homebrew adventures were written just like the modules including player descriptions for each encounter. My goal was always to make my adventures seem as professional as the TSR stuff and I went out of my way to not let the players know if it was a module or homebrew adventure in many cases. It is funny to go back and read my homebrew stuff...


BBarsh you still have some of the homebrew in printible shape you should let us know....there are a lot of us in this forum that enjoy reading each other's original or adapted stuff.

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:51 pm 
 

Yep, I got it. I did most of my writing on the computer (macs) back in the day. If you are interested, I can send out some stuff.

I'd love to some stuff from some of the guys, too.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

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Post Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:58 pm 
 

On the subject of burn out at higher levels. We seldom had that problem. I can think of at least a few campaigns that died out via Tomb of Horrors, Vault of the Drow among others.

Hell, it took us many, many months to achieve those levels (sometimes years).

But there were plenty of campaigns that ended prematurely due to complete party destruction (Forest of Doom from Dragon magazine was one).

I think we started at least six campaigns (I was not the DM in any) one year and not a single character got past 3rd level before everyone died. Now, those were the good old days... 8O  :D


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 1:05 am 
 

ack - now I need a copy of Dungeon #6 for Mark's adventure  - unless anyone could send/email  me a copy - if you don't mind of course Mark!

  

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:30 am 
 

bbarsh wrote:Yep, I got it. I did most of my writing on the computer (macs) back in the day. If you are interested, I can send out some stuff.

I'd love to some stuff from some of the guys, too.


hey BB

i am gonna run a game in a few weeks, but havent got time to write some stuff atm, so a little material might be really cool that i could use? somewhere around 4th level would be nice. dont really wanna use a released module atm.

anyone who can help me out, gimme a shout!

Al



  

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Post Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 10:42 am 
 

gyg wrote:ack - now I need a copy of Dungeon #6 for Mark's adventure  - unless anyone could send/email  me a copy - if you don't mind of course Mark!


As far as I have been able to tell from Ebay, Dungeon #6 is one of the harder issues to find.

My own copy is packed away somewhere in our storage space.

I was just delighted that someone played it and liked it.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:26 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:
As far as I have been able to tell from Ebay, Dungeon #6 is one of the harder issues to find.

My own copy is packed away somewhere in our storage space.

I was just delighted that someone played it and liked it.

Mark   8)


Mark I didn't just run it once but TWICE! Once as a part of my second big campaign, the players were settling down and building their strongholds, I made the cave of the brothers one of the areas they had to clear out before they built the castle.  Another time I ran it as part of one of my many re-runs of the G-series, it was an interlude adventure between Frost and Fire giants I believe. Still have my photocopied House of the Brothers with my handwritten notes  on it around here somewhere...
Just out of curiousity, do you still ever run that particular scenario (jumped up to 3.5 edition) or did you have any further submissions not make the cut?  One of my friends back in the day, Mark Bicking, had three adventures accepted but many more returned from the Dungeon editiors...

Mike B.

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Post Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 9:09 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:I was just delighted that someone played it and liked it.

Mark, you should write some new old-school adventures and submit them to Dragonsfoot.  You'd have to mentally shift gears from 3.5 to older D&D versions, but you would have a new audience.

That goes for the rest of you DMs, too.  Dust off the homebrewed adventures and submit them.  Don't keep them to yourselves and this thread!

  

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Post Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:39 am 
 

I have run House of the Brothers twice in my campaigns...once as a play test and once more than a decade later, just as a side adventure.

One member of my gaming group still remembered the adventure...amazingly, almost word for word...I mean, he told me what was in each room with total accuracy...stuff even I could not remember.  

I submitted other ideas, but Dungeon was either not interested or they had just published a similar idea.  I should have tried harder.

The published scenario was dialed down in threat level a bit from my version.  Apparently, the Dungeon editors were worried about parties getting wiped out.  One guy still wrote in to complain about the deadly traps.  I wrote back that my own wary players survived the battle with the main badguys and then cleared the complex with almost no damage taken from other tricks, traps or encounters...at slightly lower level than the levels recommended in the magazine version.  

As I recall, the published version also had much higher values posted for the most exotic pieces of captured equipment than I assigned to them.  I mean, by about 10 times higher, as I recall.

A mental gear shifting between versions wouldn't be hard for me.  They aren't really that different.  The hardest part might be deciding which 1st edition to use.  (Not being flippant, actually.)  Does one use pre or post Unearthed Arcana AD&D?  How about pre or post Dungeoneers and Wilderness Survival Guides?  The basics of game balance change the deeper one gets.

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 9:12 am 
 

Still a great achievement in seeing print in Dungeon.

I sent several adventures and they actually accepted two of them, but they never got to print. Space issues, level conflicts and whatever. After that, I just gave up. I was having much better luck doing Star Fleet Battles stuff, not too mention the time involved in writing up publishable d&d stuff is daunting versus SFB columns or scenarios.


And I could've bought these damn modules off the 1$ rack!!!

New modules for your Old School game http://pacesettergames.com/

Everything Pacesetter at http://pacesettergames.blog.com/

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Post Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:09 pm 
 

I always wondered why TSR (later WotC) stopped doing Greyhawk-oriented modules, etc.; same with what seemed to be a successful campaign, Dragonlance.  Are there third-party makers of games that are still doing Greyhawk- or Dragonlance-campaign oriented modules around, regardless of which version of D&D is played (much like Dave Arneson is doing with Blackmoor and . . . nuts, I forget the company's name!)?  Is it just because of the money ("the series are not doing as well as before, therefore let's drop the campaign") or what?

  


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Post Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:35 pm 
 

Dragonlance is still being published.  Probably because the creators retained aleast some of their rights to the setting.

http://www.dragonlance.com/

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Post Posted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:35 pm 
 

sleepyCO wrote:I always wondered why TSR (later WotC) stopped doing Greyhawk-oriented modules, etc.; same with what seemed to be a successful campaign, Dragonlance.  Are there third-party makers of games that are still doing Greyhawk- or Dragonlance-campaign oriented modules around, regardless of which version of D&D is played (much like Dave Arneson is doing with Blackmoor and . . . nuts, I forget the company's name!)?  Is it just because of the money ("the series are not doing as well as before, therefore let's drop the campaign") or what?


Blackmoor is being done by Zeitgeist Games.

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