Saturday, 18 December 2010

Preparing to play Labyrinth Lord!

So I'll be running Labyrinth Lord tomorrow, for the first time. Though, of course, it's not at all like running a game for the first time, as it's just like the D&D of my childhood! I spent yesterday evening drawing up a dungeon map and stocking it.

I drew the dungeon completely freestyle, on un-gridded paper, which I found had a remarkably freeing effect. In fact I was struck by what a pleasurable experience it is, to sketch out rooms and corridors with no preconceived idea of "what should go where", only a rough idea of how many rooms I wanted (about 25 in this case). I ended up, by mistake (due to low lighting), drawing the whole map in purple, but that only adds to its charm I think. And I even coloured in the "bits between the rooms" (for want of a more specific word!), which I never normally do with maps. A thoroughly enjoyable exercise, and one which revealed to me something of the creative / artistic nature of the process of dungeon design.

The stocking was equally fun. I had a few ideas for encounters or areas that I wanted to include, but the rest I trusted to the luck of the 1d6 room contents roll. One thing that particularly impressed me in the process of making an adventure for Labyrinth Lord was the ease of creating new monsters. I found it equally as easy to create a new creature as I did to look one up in the book, which led to several new beasts just in this small one-level (so far) dungeon. The time from imagining what the monster would look like and how it would behave to having its stats written down was not more than a minute or two, which I find very impressive - compare that to the same process in more modern RPGs (d20 system anyone?). Partly, of course, this was helped by a latent but intimate familiarity with the game from years of childhood play, but I found the combination of a simple basis for a monster (HD, AC, Save as, Attacks / damage) plus the freeform "and then make up whatever rules you like for its special abilities" works a whole lot better than in more rules-heavy games.

I just hope we have as much fun playing the dungeon as I did making it! I'm very much looking forward to playing the classic game again and seeing it with adult eyes.

8 comments:

  1. Be sure to let us know how it goes! I'm thinking of running some Swords & Wizardry, so I'll be interested to see how your dip into old-school gaming turns out.

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  2. I sure will! We're having a gaming day, with a Call of Cthulhu "adventure" first up (strangely the first time I will ever have played CoC!), and my LL game in the evening. Actually I seem to remember the idea of a Christmassy gaming day was inspired by reading about BenCon somewhere on Brighton & Hove Role Players...

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  3. Best of luck! Yes, please do let us know how things go. :D

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  4. Woop! Yes, these gaming days are good fun to do once or twice a year. We've had to push ours back to January, but we're all looking forward to it.

    Call of Cthulhu is by far my favourite game, so I hope you enjoy it!

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  5. We just pushed back half of our gaming day until January :) We started today later than expected, and by the time we'd finished the Call of Cthulhu game we decided it'd be better to play the Labyrinth Lord session another time when we were all fresher. So my dungeon will have to wait - brooding, scheming and festering, as dungeons do.

    The CoC game was really fun though. We played the d20 version, set in 1920s New England - which I think is sort of the standard setting isn't it? One character had an unfortunately early death after drinking a cup of tea which had been drugged by a weird old lady. My character got engulfed in an enormous flow of jellied zombies, only to reappear mysteriously and apparently unscathed right at the end of the session. The other two PCs escaped more or less intact after throwing around a lot of dynamite. I have no idea if we succeeded in halting the flow of weird forces from other dimensions, or what those weird forces even were, but it was fun trying!

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  6. The 1920's is the default setting, indeed. I've never played the d20 version, as it has always rubbed me the wrong way for some reason, but I'm pleased you had fun with it!

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  7. Yes I would have preferred to play the original version, just to have gained the experience of doing so. Not that it made any difference for a one-shot - I think the only dice I rolled were attack rolls and damage, and the obligatory Spot checks, of course. I think I'm developing an allergy to d20 games! ;) All those micro-specific skills... Innuendo? Use rope? Seems weird to me.

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  8. You may rankle at the original then! There are hundreds of skills in the d100 version, some quite oddly specific!

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