We had a new guy last night, who had never played D&D before. He seemed to enjoy it, so score one for Labyrinth Lord. He rolled up a magic-user with 1 hit point. I had left P.W.'s player to help guide him through the character creation process, and when I got back with the pizza, he had selected Floating Disk as his sole spell. Apparently there was some confusion about spell progression, he had thought you had to pick a "number" for your spell progression, and all your spells would be in that category - he liked the Floating Disk's later spells the best. I correct that confusion, and lightly recommended Sleep as being the "bad boy" of first-level spell casting, but he decided he liked Magic Missile better. He fired it off in the combat with the vagabond mushrooms (those weird yellow & red giant-kruller-monsters), and then asked how long before he could use it again. There was a certain amount of dejection at hearing "Oh, after 8 hours rest." Life is cruel for first level magic-users.
P.W.'s player and Rollo Jr.'s player (who wasn't hear tonight) have been mapping the dungeon, using the same sheets of graph paper. P.W.'s mapping style is technically accurate, but he keeps deciding he's out of room and drawing new rooms in random spots, and he had no idea what Rollo's player had done since then, because he wasn't at the last session. Thus the wandering monsters as the players huddled over the map, trying to make some sense out of the randomly scribbled notes and rooms scattered all over the place with no connecting corridors. I think Too's player was a little nervous, so he started making a second map. He brought his own ten-square-to-the-inch graph paper, and his second map is pretty good. I'm very pleased with this development, the players are picking up on the fact that without a map, they are all going to die.
Another development I enjoyed was during the encounter with the jawheads (those dog-like guys with the pyramid heads). Too's player was shouting at Gutboy's, "What are these? I don't know what those are! What are they, D&D boy???" "I don't know! Maybe he's making them up!" Oooooo you better believe I'm making up my own monsters. The flat shriekers on the ceiling didn't phase them, though. Pretty obvious they were shriekers, of course, despite the different shape.
In the previous session, I had been ruling that it took a full round with no attack to switch from bow to sword. I found that it made missile weapons kind of pointless, as monsters would close and attack while they switched weapons, and thus limit the player's tactical options. So for last night's session I changed that ruling, so that the players could just switch weapons with no penalty. I'm not worried about realism when making these rulings, only game play. If there's an official rule that says otherwise in Labyrinth Lord, I'll use that, but I haven't gone looking yet. Whenever there's an "official" rule I almost always defer to it, just in the spirit of playing games by their rules. My only house rule to date is that the characters have to spend gold to get XP from it.
Speaking of which, I very sadly (no wait, gleefully, very gleefully) informed the players that the money they had to spend on the bribe to Lt. Hammer did NOT count towards XP. Getting robbed by monsters doesn't have side benefits. I can tell the players really want to kill Lt. Hammer and take his stuff, but those plasma cannons on his arms have them deeply worried.
So far, the most important stat in the game has been Charisma. There are tons of reaction rolls. When I was much younger, I always considered this a throwaway stat, and every creature I ever fought would just instantly attack anyways. How wrong I was...
Half the night was spent in the henchman-hiring phase. I came up with a table in my head, and rolled up who was at the inn. Four goons, ready to hire. Of course, the failed reaction rolls led to some instant backstories to these characters - for some reason, the thieves, who I had stated didn't even know each other previously, hated priests. The dwarf despises halflings. Some campaign flavor is starting to build up here, maybe the priests and the Thieves' Guild have some bad blood between them. We'll see what happens.
During the equipping phase, there were some comments about how they didn't need torches, the ceilings were lit up anyways. Yeahhhhhh.... that didn't last, did it? Muahahahahha. I also enjoyed the panicked looks the players exchanged as they entered the throne room, and I described the room just going off into... darkness...
There were other comments about the general layout of the dungeon:
- Some wondering about how the jawheads got into that room. "Do they have opposable thumbs?" "No." I had actually wondered this myself but decided that I would stick them in anyways. To heck with verisimilitude. Let the players come up with a reason.
- A comment or two about some rooms being completely empty. Well, it's been three thousand years. Everything good is scavenged.
- In this Thundarr-inspired world, a dried up ballpoint pen is not going to be worth hundreds of gp, no matter how much the players believe it will be
- P.W.'s player is playing his halfling quite boldly. Well, we all know how this is going to end up: in tears.
- The gently curving corridor to the throne room had Too and P.W.'s players quite annoyed at me, as they made their maps. That warms the cockles of my heart. Let's see how well those rooms connect after a few hundred more feet of tunnels.
The players still don't know that they're in a megadungeon, although there's been a lot of hints dropped at this point about the depth of the place. They were heading in the direction of the throne room because P.W. wanted to "find the edge." Sadly, that actually is the edge, but given the scope of this level in the other directions, I'm not going to worry too much about it. It'll be a long time before they realize where the edges really lie, if ever.