After a month or so of furious prep and waiting on the appointed day, we officially kicked off our Dragonlance AD&D campaign last night, starting with DL1 Dragons of Despair. And I'm dying to talk about it!
Just for a bit of background, I came into D&D right about when 2e came onto the scene, and we played with mainly 2e rules with a smattering of the 1e stuff I found in local shops (I still have my painstakingly laminated Fiend Folio from the flea market). Dragonlance was definitely still "a thing" (we had at least one staunch loyalist at our FLGS who would defend it to the death vs any setting you wanted to name), but I ended up picking up the Forgotten Realms old grey box (sitting next to the World of Greyhawk box at our local Waldenbooks on the bottom shelf - I wonder what would've been different if I'd have grabbed that instead sometimes) and that was that. A few years later after playing and running games for a bit and having read most of the Realms fiction that was available, I gave the Chronicles trilogy a shot, and that gave me the bug to run the module series that's stuck with me ever since - but I knew it wasn't something I could just spring at any group of players on any given night (Dragonlance assumes a certain level of investment in the world and story that your average 14 year old murderhobo isn't going to necessarily bring, and the DL series represents a pretty serious length campaign at a time in my development as a DM when getting 5 sessions in a row would've been an accomplishment).
Flash forward a decade or so later, and as I start to get back into D&D (having dropped it for girls and bands and beer like you do at a certain age), and my roommate's lady friend at the time turns out to be a huge DL head, has read all the books backwards and forwards and everything - has only played some Vampire tabletop, but deeply familiar with the background. "Oh, I'll have to do a Dragonlance game one of these days!" It doesn't end up happening.
Fifteen years later and I've got a bunch of long-term campaigns under my belt, and my DL-loving friend (who I reconnected with through our local music scene - I play in a band with her husband) randomly has a schedule change and a new weeknight open up just as I get the DL bug. So after only 25 years I finally pull the trigger and start prepping for the DL campaign I always wanted to run! I threw out the cattle call to our regular group and folks snapped up PCs pretty quickly - we are using the established Companions, and it's kind of hysterical how much the PCs lined up with the player personalities, I really couldn't have cast them better myself. (Almost typecasting in some cases.) We've got all levels of experience (from "read every novel but never played a session," "played for decades and zero Dragonlance experience whatsoever," and everything in between. (Folks were great about helping each other out with rules and background questions, really great to see.)
We ran the first session last night, and it was pretty much an unqualified success, response was great and we all had a blast; we're on again for the first Monday of next month. I'll post my session log below. I'm running 1e with a heavy dose of "1.5e" (UA, WSG, DSG, and DLA) and the 2e NWP system bolted on in its entirety - I'm eager to talk about the rules hangups and pitfalls of running these adventures under somewhat-official AD&D rules, especially. (For example: The designers appear to have completely forgotten about armor bulk and its effect on movement, much less any consideration of demihuman movement rates, when statting out characters.)
Here's the tale of the tape:
Reorxmont (9) the 13th, 351 AC
DL1 Dragons of Despair - Chronicles Book 1, Chapter 1 - Old Friends Meet
Caller for life: Gaucher (as Tanis)
The Innfellows met - all but Kitiara - along the road to Solace after a 5 year quest for true clerics. They exchanged stories of their journeys abroad in Ansalon, but none found any proof of healing or the true gods. Suddenly they were attacked by hobgoblin forces seeking a blue crystal staff in the name of someone named “Onyx.” Their corpulent leader called for an attack before riding off. The party made short work of the humanoid attackers, taking some wounds in the process, before proceeding towards Solace to make their meeting at the Inn of the Last Home. On the way, they met a barbarian Plainsman woman strumming a lyre and singing a sad song about tragic lovers, accompanied by a tall Plainsman warrior playing a flute. As they wrapped up the song (and Caramon tells them they had a sick set), it became apparent that the tragic lovers in question were the two Plainsfolk barbarians. The party made introductions, and as Caramon drew closer, a wooden staff fell from the woman’s cloak and brushed against the brawny fighter only to transform briefly and brilliantly into a shining blue crystal staff, and miraculously healing his wounds. The party discussed this shocking evidence of the true gods, and decided to escort the barbarians in their quest to discover the secrets of the blue crystal staff.
They entered Solace, to find a strange pall over the village. The cheerless people slunk about, and Seeker guards answering to the Theocrat [Hederick the Theocrat] strutted about the place. The climbed the walkway ringing the great Vallenwood tree housing the Inn to find a hush over the patrons. Otik, the portly bartender, greeted them warmly, and they were shocked to find a grown-up Tika Wayland serving up spiced potatoes (and a big hug for a blushing Caramon). Sturm caught some glares from unfriendly villagers for sporting his Solamnic armor - he ignored these stares and talked to Corum Toth, a baker, and hears of dark doings about. Strange creatures haunt the roads, folk disappearing in Solace, war in the northeast, and strange cloaked men looking for a blue crystal staff. Corum explained that the Seekers had been easy enough to live under as long as one paid lip service to their new gods and paid their taxes, but that they had been looking for the blue crystal staff as well.
As the remaining Innfellows discussed the recent developments with the Plainsman barbarians, Tasslehoff, having grown bored with the serious discussion about the Innfellow’s table, strode about getting reacquainted with the place and browsing through pockets, when he spied a few tradesmen by the door grumbling and gesturing at Raistlin. He hurried back to warn the others, and Tanis saw one by the door while the other was heading down the ramp outside. The party confronted the tradesman, who sullenly accused them of bringing trouble into Solace (gesturing at Raistlin’s staff, which was immediately pointed out as not blue). The tradesman shrugged and left it up the the Seeker guards who were tromping up the ramp to the Inn.
The party were confronted by the guards, who made vague motions to take the characters into custody, but seemed to want to avoid a fight while outnumbered. They admonished the characters not to leave town, that they’d have an interview with the Theocrat in the morning, and slunk off. The party discussed what to do next, and wondered whether being in town was dangerous, just as they spied a troop of 20 guards marching towards the tree housing the Inn. Tanis offering Otik 20 stl for his silence (Otik assured him he wouldn’t say a peep, money or no), and the group made to slip out the loading entrance (an open hatch with a long rope for hauling up deliveries descending from it).
55xp per PC combat xp for those in the hobgoblin fight, 200 per level roleplaying (heavy rp session)
I'm stoked for next month!