Finally Got a Chance to Run Basic D&D

My regular gaming group decided to give basic D&D a try, despite reservations held by a couple of them.  And they had a blast!  It’s the first time I’ve DM’ed in years and one of the best times I’ve had gaming in recent history.

Specifically I ran the B/X version (the red book) with a few house rules:

  1. Ascending AC
  2. Max hit points at level 1
  3. Bonus spells for casters with high scores in the relevant attributes
  4. Dual wielding grants a +1 to-hit on attack rolls
  5. Binding wounds for 1d3 hp after each battle (but only if the PC took damage in that battle)

We also used variable damage dice instead of d6 damage for all weapons.  I was going to let them roll 3d6 six times and distribute the attributes as desired, but by popular acclaim they wanted to roll straight down the line (hard-core style), so that’s what we did.  And it turned out pretty well; they’re weren’t any ‘hopeless’ characters.  The party consisted of an equal mix: 1 fighter, 1 cleric, 1 MU and 1 thief.

I ran them through the Caves of Chaos and, to save time, I started them just outside the ravine.  They made a beeline for the first cave on the left (the Goblins) and started out well.  They slaughtered about a dozen goblins taking only minor damage.  Not bad for just a party of 4.

But then they ran into the combined ogre and goblin force.  The fighter goes down to a goblin spear, followed the next round by the thief.  Things are looking dire, but then the MU pops off a charm person on the ogre and it fails its save.  Seeing the tide turn, the remaining goblins flee.  The party got a nice haul out of the ogre’s lair, too.

I decided that the replacement characters were being held captive by the ogre (a cleric and another thief), so their players could jump right back into the game.  Unfortunately, they took being held captive quite personally.  While the ogre was sitting around munching on dead adventurer leg, the new cleric decided to try to smite the beast from behind.  He had surprise so I just let him roll damage for the hit, inflicting a measly 4 points of damage.  Distracted, the ogre turned to deal with the cleric, giving the thief an opportunity for a backstab (with a crossbow…yeah, D&D is awesome).  Unfortunately the thief missed with a roll bad enough I ruled that the bolt stuck, unnoticed, in the ogre’s thick, bearskin armor.

Next round, the recently freed cleric whiffs and the ogre scores a home run ripping an arm from a socket (I’m rolling on a random chart of death whenever a PC dies to determine the grisly nature of their demise).  The thief wisely decides that discretion is the better part of revenge and quickly puts away his crossbow.  The other two PCs just kind of sat this one out, since the ogre was focused on his ambusher.

So, one player→two PCs→1o minutes…things actually are going well, all things considered.

An adventuring elf passing nearby hears the commotion and decides to investigate.  Seeing a party of adventurers, apparently cooperating with an ogre, the elf inexplicably decides to join them on their adventures and the party inexplicably decides to let this total stranger join them.  D&D is awesome.  The party moves on.

Heading back into the goblin lair, they explore the other direction, going to a heavy barred door leading up to the hobgoblin area, an obstacle that had discouraged them earlier.  But their ogre BFF (Bruce) manages to batter it down in just a few hits.  Fortunately the group’s new elf buddette speaks hob-gob and orders the assorted male and female hobgoblins to surrender.  A really good reaction roll later (combined with the presence of an ogre) convinces the lot of them to surrender.  Then the elf charms one of the female hobgoblins to be a personal servant…or something?  Not really sure why the player did that but….D&D is awesome, so there you go.

A little more exploring and they find the hobgoblin’s torture chamber.  Using their new hobgoblin BFF they attempt some kind of ruse to sneak up on the two hobgob torturers, which ultimately fails.  The elf pops off a sleep spell, knocking out the two torturers and all the captives chained to the wall.  The torturers (along with a captive orc and gnoll) are quickly dispatched in true adventuring/sociopathic fashion (have I mention that D&D is awesome?), and a fat merchant, his wife and a couple of guards are quickly liberated…after negotiating compensation favorable to the party, of course.

We were getting close to quitting time, so the party headed back to the Keep to cash in their loot, depositing the charmed ogre and hobgoblin in the woods some distance from the Keep.

All-in-all the players did pretty well, considering there were only 4 of them.  Only 3 PC deaths, several hundred GP worth of treasure recovered (along with a cleric scroll, unknown potion and 6 potentially magical arrows) and, most importantly, a charmed ogre.  Everyone said they had a great time and it looks like I’ll be running this again next week.  Needless to say, I’m estatic; next week can’t come fast enough.  It feels good to be in the saddle again. 🙂



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10 Responses to “Finally Got a Chance to Run Basic D&D”

  1. SAROE Says:

    Did you give them XP for the charmed ogre? Or is a charmed ogre it’s own reward? That’s a bible verse isn’t it?

    • edowar Says:

      Yes, I gave them XP for the charmed ogre, as well as the hobgoblins that surrendered. My reading of it is that those are technically ‘defeated’ foes.

      However, should they later have to fight that ogre, or the same hobgoblins again, they won’t get XP for defeating them a second time. Only one bite at the apple.

  2. Ravenbow Says:

    Awesome. Sounds like a blast.

  3. 5 Stone Games Says:

    Awesome. Basic D&D , especially with a few lite houserules is a system that knows how to bring home the fun.

    Let me add, I find it intiguing that your house rules are quite similar to mine. I am glad to note (I haven’t tested mine) they worked well for you.

    • edowar Says:

      Thank you. For the most part I’m using house rules that I’ve picked up from the OSR blogoverse. Since they’ve been used in other people’s games, I figured they’d work well enough for my game, too.

  4. ronaldsf Says:

    Sounds like you had a blast! Early D&D seems very brisk, risky, and brutal. How much XP did they get at the end? Would love to know how the next session goes!

    • edowar Says:

      Yes, Basic D&D plays very quickly and very deadly. We didn’t even bother with miniatures or mapping, really. I let the players try pretty much anything they wanted, only rolling when it seemed appropriate.

      Between the treasure and the monster ‘defeats’ each character netted a little over 1,000 XP for the session. That’s quite a bit for only a few hours, but there were only 4 PCs. Maybe the ogre technically should have gotten some of that XP, too, but I’m not sweating the details.

  5. RobG4 Says:


    This series of posts is so fun to read. I am sharing these with the players in a new Swords & Wizardry campaign I’m starting next week.

    The players are mostly 3.5/Pathfinder veterans, or new to RPGs.. These posts capture the essence of the old rules so well.

    The mayhem! The treasure! Such fun.

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