Game Day: Hack’n’Slashing in Memory of E. Gary Gygax

Gary Gygax passed away this week, shocking the geek world and sending a cascade of remembrances surging across the web. My gaming group is no less saddened by this, and in honor of Gygax, we took a one-week break from our campaign to run the classic 1st edition module, White Plume Mountain.

Technically, we’re not running that exact module. Instead, I’m going to use the 3rd edition conversion that Wizards of the Coast posted to their web site a while back. We’d originally thought of doing it using 1st edition rules, but with me at DrupalCon all week I didn’t have time to re-read the 1st edition ruleset and prep the dungeon.

This is how we roll…

We are trying to retain a few 1st edition touches, primarily through character generation. We’ll be doing the old school character generation approach, namely:

  1. Roll 3d6 in order
  2. Pick your class based on the results
  3. Don’t modify the stats up or down

This is pretty hardcore; no mucking about with point buys — you need to make the best of what the dice bless (or curse) you with. It’s a huge change from the way things work nowadays in our campaign, where players can tweak their characters to their heart’s content and only end up with something suboptimal if they want it. I can’t wait to see what results we get from this; I’ll post the results of character generation on Saturday.

Of course the module itself drips 1st edition feel. It’s very much a dungeoncrawl, light on the setup and role-playing, heavy on the monsters, traps and puzzles. In short, a near perfect homage to Gygax (the only thing that would be better is running a module written by Gygax, which we intend to do when we have a true 1st edition session later this spring/summer).

White Plume Mountain is something of a legend in our World of Greyhawk game. Our group’s long-time adventuring company, the Blackrazor Guild, was named for the infamous soul-sucking sword Blackrazor that first appeared in White Plume Mountain. In our campaign, Blackrazor was found by Brant Bladescream, who went on to found the guild in Obsidian Bay after using the sword’s powers to acrue a small fortune.

For last night’s session, I intend to recreate Bladescream’s expedition. In doing so, we’ll not only by honoring Gary, but we’ll also be filling in a hole in our own campaign lore.

The Rise of Brant Bladescream

Brant Bladescream is a man who knows what he wants. Fame. Glory. Riches. These things tease at his mind like a siren’s call. He’s gathered together a number of like-minded individuals, drawn by promises of power and his vision of slain monsters and looted treasures. Truly, he is a leader among men, able to rally even the most skeptical individuals to his cause.

If only he had the brains to back up his plans.

Bladescream has slightly below average intelligence and wisdom; this manifests less as actual stupidity, and more as an irrational belief that he can pull of the craziest, most unrelalistic plans. The fact that he’s been lucky enough to actually accomplish a few has only encouraged him.

This combined with his natural and magically augmented charisma has allowed him to gather together team after team of adventurers. Some are just as wild-eyed, intellectually challenged, and shorsighted as Bladescream, but even otherwise bright, rational individuals find themselves drawn into the man’s wild-eyed schemes. About half of them will die on any given expedition, but those who survive tend to return with treasures every bit as impressive as what Bladescream promised.

Brant Bladescream: Male Human Ftr7; CR 7; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 7d10+7; hp 45; Init +0; Spd 20 ft/x3; AC 19 (+9 armor), touch 10, flat-footed 19; Base Atk/Grapple +7/+9; Full Atk +10/+5 Two-handed (1d10+5;19-20/x2, Pyros, Bastard sword of Flame +1), +9/+4 One-handed (1d8+2;19-20/x2, Longsword), +9/+4 One-handed (1d4+2;19-20/x2, Dagger), +7 Two-handed (1d8;19-20/x2, Light Crossbow); SA&SQ None; SR 0; AL CN; SV Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 15(+2), Dex 11(+0), Con 13(+1), Int 9(-1), Wis 8(-1), Cha 15(+2); Skills: Climb +3, Diplomacy +4, Jump -6, Ride +2, Swim -3. Feats: Athletic (PH 89), Blind-Fight (PH 89), Persuasive (PH 98), Power Attack (PH 98), Cleave (PH 92), Great Cleave (PH 94), Weapon Focus (PH 102) (Sword, Bastard), Weapon Specialization (PH 102) (Sword, Bastard).

Items: Pyros (bastard sword +1, flaming), Dagger, Long sword, lt. crossbow, 30 bolts, Circlet of Persuassion, half-plate +2, Potion of Cure Light Wounds, Potion of Hide from Undead, Potion of Lesser Restoration, Potion of Levitate, Rope 50′, Iron Pot.

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