Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Running First Edition AD&D Without Modules or Campaign Supplements

Just looking over these old sessions and I have to say, it really takes my breath away:

  • The Hole in the Sky
  • The Thing in the Sewer
  • The Big Score
  • The Drums of the Dog People
  • Altar of the Beast-women
  • The Pugs of Slaughter
  • The Overbearing of the Crystal Men
  • The Song of Fàgor

The excitement from that initial flash of inspiration coming to life. My attempts at adventure design blowing up in my face or collapsing in unexpected ways. One page dungeons that never got used. My mistakes in carelessly interpreting monster manual entries being revisited and then evolving into significant campaign elements. Encumbrance rules creating an awesome game scenario out of nothing. Players going in disorganized and without a plan and nearly meeting their doom for nothing. That time we stayed up until midnight because we HAD to play one more delve. That one multi-class elf character that took over the game session with his unquenchable thirst for the ludicrous. The Swoleceror spellbook that never got recovered. Oghma sitting in and showing everyone what play is like when an elite player seizes the initiative. The crescendo of a half-orc’s improvised composition conjuring an entire world.

Every session completely different from every other. Rude sketches on loose leaf paper held together by little else than random monster results, a fanatical commitment to playing by the AD&D rules as closely as possible, and the audacity and persistence of the players.

All of it emerging out of exchanges that go like this:

Players: Who the frack is this guy’s superior officer?
DM: Uh… I dunno… uh. He answers to the prince.
Players: What? That’s insane.
DM: Yeah, yeah. Sure. He totally answers directly to the prince.
Players: Okay, we go talk to the prince.
DM: (Under his breath) Oh crap.
DM: Okay, you go see Prince… uh… um…
Players: Yeah?
DM: Yeah, it’s Prince Elric.
Dan: I LOVE THIS GAME

It shouldn’t work. It can’t work. None of this makes sense. But then out of the chaos something just seems to emerge in spite of everything: Swords & Swolecery! A Game of Terrific Trollops, Glittering Gold, & Punishing Pugmen!

No other campaign would play quite like this. And yet… it is undeniably pure and unadulterated first edition AD&D.

Easily the best game ever made. Don’t settle for less!

2 responses to “Running First Edition AD&D Without Modules or Campaign Supplements

  1. Peter Conrad May 20, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Hi Jeffro, I’m really enjoying these play reports, and have been planning to run “orthodox AD&D” as well. I’m wondering how you interpret the initiative rules? I have been pouring over the DMG and online and I can see a few ways that people do it.

  2. Pingback: Sensor Sweep: Schuyler Hernstom, Ken Kelly, Gardner Fox, August Derleth – Herman Watts

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