Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

G1 with B/X: Slumber Party in the Hill Giant’s Throne Room

The guys asked for a game in December… but there was too much holiday commotion. They asked a again this past week… and the stars were right. I said I wasn’t heavily invested in any particular sort of session– I could play or DM either way. I got asked to DM… and the players agreed that they wanted to continue G1. I could hardly believe it when it fell together….

The first session of this campaign had ended in the middle of a big throne room brawl. The players were all whooping up on a few hill giants that were stumbling out of an insect swarm. One of the giants on the player’s side of the swarm was controlled by Mittens the Magic-User’s magic jar spell. She went back into the swarm as the rest of the party fought… and on the other side, she saw a few more hill giants and maybe a eight or so ogres.

“Come on, guys! We still have a chance to kill the punks who did this,” said Mittens to the giants. They charged into the swarm and came out the other side in a long wave. Mittens started fighting with the last one to go into the swarm. Meanwhile, the other magic user went to the far left side on the line and used his skeleton minions to provide cover. He then set off a perfect lightening bolt attack that seriously fried a half dozen ogres.

We played through several rounds of combat. I can’t remember half of what happened, but at least one hill giant got reanimated by one of the clerics. Almost all of the skeleton warriors got killed in the tumult. One of the thieves got killed. (Their figures look combat savvy, but they don’t have even half the hit points that the fighters do.) At the end, that one magic user sent his skeleton out and then reanimated another hill giant corpse to do the party’s bidding.

The players looted the room, searched for secret doors, and then spiked all the entrances closed. They cast “raise dead” on the fallen thief, and then bedded down so they could get their spells back. They posted a hill giant (reanimated or possessed, as the case may be…) at each entrance and the remaining thief character took the first watch.

After an hour or so, the thief heard clicking sounds at the west side door. The thief woke up the fighter… and then heard banging sounds from the west side door. But then… there were clicking sounds from the east door, too. Most of the players began to think that they’d made a critical error by staying in the steading like this. As the party collected themselves in the center of the room and repositioned giants… they heard clicking sounds from the south door and even heavier banging from the east and west doors. This was actually kind of scary at this point….

Through the eastern door, there burst a hunch backed giant and two carnivorous apes. They won initiative and took out the possessed hill giant that had been posted there. A magic user in the party cast web on the eastern door. Somebody else cast darkness on the hunchback’s eyes. He staggered back into the hallway while the southern door burst open. In poured fourteen dire wolves and a hill giant. The wolves surrounded the party on all sides far more quickly than they could have anticipated.

Players muttered about how hopeless everything was. Wolves ate the body of the thief that had died earlier. A dire wolf killed the magic user that had had the skeleton army. Mittens ended up taking over one of the carnivorous apes at some point and the party cast a haste spell on themselves, but five wolves got the benefit of it as well. The damage really started to fall at this point. Somebody cast a lightning bolt and hit several wolves while also hitting the party’s fighter. Hill giants at the west door broken in and started working on the web there. One of the clerics got really close to death and dire wolves started to fall one after the other now that the party could attack twice per round.

By the time the two hill giants and five ogres came through the webbing, the dire wolves were just about all dead. The party’s elf polymorphed into a blue dragon and the carnivorous ape controlled by Mittens was enlarged with an animal growth spell. There were several more rounds of combat and the tenth level party was completely out of spells when it was over. That one cleric that had been in trouble took almost a dozen more attacks from the ogres and so forth, but somehow… they all missed. (One good hit would have been the end of him.)

As the last ogres were taken down, we called the session. As people were packing up to leave, I saw that it was 12:15AM. The last couple of players were talking about maybe finding a way to whatever happens in module G2. “Now that we know our capabilities… we can really play this thing, now!” It was a good note to end on.

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2 responses to “G1 with B/X: Slumber Party in the Hill Giant’s Throne Room

  1. Radpert January 7, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I didn’t ask…I don’t think Mittens’ player who was on college break even knew. At least we didn’t kill her! I didn’t know she could cast spells in a Magic Jar’d body, but that wasn’t the most interesting thing I discovered about Moldvay and B/X. As we concluded the initial battle, I refrained from spellcasting for the most part because I didn’t want to blow what was left of my magical wad, but also because, until the Lawful cleric’s player helpfully placed all the ogre pieces in a line, I didn’t see a good position to move into. In the later battle the discussion of how fast people and monsters could move across the considerable dimensions of the room led Jeff to discover that characters cannot move and cast a spell in the same round. Although the habit of moving back and casting ingrained by decades of AD&D and Third Edition didn’t allow me to process this in time to use the simpler rule effectively this game, I slept on it and have come to admire the applicability of this approach. Whereas the more complex systems leave the spellcaster vulnerable to enemies who move in and hamper h/h casting, move and lose it allows the caster to protect h/hself in such situations, while encouraging the player to position h/h figure such as a character who is supposed to be particularly intelligent or wise might move about.

    I take full responsibility for my character’s death resulting from the decision to attempt to recoup our resources in the midst of all that spilled beer and blood! OTOH, with a 4 Constitution I don’t think he ever would have made it to 9th level if I had been playing him all the way from 1st. I also take credit for the elf’s, whose player was present but unable to participate because of the patent unfairness of a high-school holiday assignment, decision to transform into a dragon rather than any other creature. The elf cast the Haste spell and second lightning bolt, as well. At least, I don’t think Mittens could cast a spell in the form of a carnivorous ape! My favorite part of the session was when the Chaotic cleric, a dilettante necromancer who had animated his own giant zombie (Mittens, disguised as a giant, was actually allowed to sleep so that she could regain her spells), almost cast an Inflict Light Wounds on mine to heal it after I was already dead. Fortunately, he learned what “uncontrolled undead” means when it finished its giant opponent and turned on him, but he was able to take it down without harm to himself!

    • jeffro January 7, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks for the additional recollections. So much happens so fast– and of course, it’s a completely different thing on the other side of the screen.

      >> “move and lose it allows the caster to protect h/hself in such situations, while encouraging the player to position h/h figure such as a character who is supposed to be particularly intelligent or wise might move about.”

      That rule has a tremendous amount of implications. Thanks for unpacking it here.

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