Monday, January 30, 2012

My Journey Into B2: Keep on the Borderlands

I'm almost ashamed to admit that up until recently I had never run or played in Gary's B2 module.  I've never been a fan of modules in general other than for idea mining, and growing up, me and the guys never really played in any of them.  We just created our own adventures for the most part unless we were crawling through Undermountain or Night Below. 

I have read B2 over many times, particularly for Gary's advice on how to run an open-ended style game.  To me B2 is perfect for that because it gives you an introductory method on how to run a mini-sandbox.  After some years of playing, however, the generic ho-hum of the content never resulted in me actually playing or running the material within. 

Now, with all that said, my daughter, who is now 10, sees me pouring over my D&D books, and reading things about the game.  She's asked me several times if she could play, and I thought, what better way to introduce her to the game than B2?  After all it has all the classic tropes (goblins, kobolds, ogres, orcs, etc.) and it's pretty much open-ended enough as a site that I could toy with it enough to make it my own.  Plus, it would save me in having to prep for yet another game.

So, with that said, the wife decided she wanted to join in as a player too, and as she is fairly inexperienced with the game herself, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for us all to experience this module.  I don't know, I kind of feel like just as inking your own dice, playing or running through B2 is sort of like a rite of passage into the game that we all should go through at least once, especially those of us with the mindset of an "old school" mentality. 

So, the wife made a human thief named Lornella and the daughter made an elf mage named Aran.  I threw in a NPC fighter (to give them a little muscle) named Crokus, and away we went.  Eventually they met up with a cleric who is trying to retrieve an amulet from the kobold cave, a 0 level guide whom they paid to take them to the caves, and a hireling level 1 Fighter.  We are now about 3 mini-sessions in, and they've been having a blast.  Heading into the first delve into the cave was dangerous for them.  As they went to enter into the kobold lair, they were ambushed.  I decided that the kobolds would use a weighted net strung up in a tree to drop down on them then have a couple of archers in the trees to shoot any that might escape the net when it came down.  Well, Lornella and Aran managed to dodge the net, but couldn't dodge those two arrows, and both got shot, and reduced to negative hit points in their first encounter.

Naturally I start to panic a little, as I really didn't want their very first taste of the game to be a TPK (although had it happened, oh well.)  The cleric was stuck in the net and couldn't seem to get out round after round of trying.  The kobolds jumped down from the trees and attacked Crokus and the other hireling, but eventually the cleric escaped and healed Lornella and Aran. 

Now, they've managed to enter into the kobold lair, but haven't managed to get past the first entry area.  A group of 6 kobolds, then the wandering kobold troops have kept them at bay and they've really had to focus on managing their resources.  They've spent a lot of time in that one area provoking random encounters as they try to heal up and memorize spells.

I was a little concerned about my daughter playing a magic-user at 1st level.  We all know that low level mages are often a liability in a game rather than an asset.  She's gone down a couple of times, but she has never complained.  She's even asked me a time or two "Did I die?" but not in a truly disappointed way, but more of a "I'll roll a new character up" kind of way. 

All in all, it's been a great time.  They've both been enjoying it, and it's a way for us all to experience B2 together.  I'm not sure it will matter to my daughter in a few years, as she will likely grow up into her teens and forget D&D, but maybe one day she'll look back and be able to say, "oh yeah, I played in the original Keep on the Borderlands."

As a side note, I'd like to thank Zak.  I asked if anyone had any legible maps of the caves of chaos on G+ the other night, and he responded linking me to his totally awesome one-page dungeon map he did of the caves.  Really, really handy and has saved me tons of time at the table flipping through the module pages.

Anyway, as they continue to progress through the caves, I'll continue posting updates of their exploits.