A rare and marvelous thing happened last night. I was able to have a game with my two teenagers. Their previous experience was limited to a friend's campaign, which was a blend of 1st/2nd Editions, along with copious house rules. There was a brief attempt and 3E, along with a dubious flirtation with 4E. So, they are completely unaccustomed to the old school paradigm.
They had a great time. It was their first time keeping a map, but my son took right to it. They were a bit hesitant at first, not having Perception stats to check, or being able to rely on other rolls to help them out. By the time we broke, though, they were getting a bit more comfortable engaging with the system.
The most amusing moments were when my daughter (playing a magic-user) decided to open a chest. It was trapped with paralyzing gas, and she failed her save. So, my son (playing a fighter of questionable intellect) decided to press ahead and leave her lying there before the chest. He emptied the chest before departing the room, however. His intent wasn't to abandon her, just to scout ahead some and see if the paralytic would wear off. Naturally, my daughter was incensed by this, especially since there was a bit of loot in the chest and they didn't know how long the paralytic would last or if it would wear off at all.
Well, it did wear off, the two of them linked back up and continued their exploration. I had pretty much thrown together a simple dungeon, with the design idea of including some old school iconic elements. Thus is was that my son's character tumbled head-long into a pit trap in the middle of the corridor. My daughter thought that was the cue for her revenge. She smiled a big smile, looked over at the map, and said she wanted to go back to "this room", leaving her brother in the pit.
I calmly asked her, "Which room?" Again she pointed at the map and said "this one". I informed her that the map was in the pit with her brother and as far as I was concerned she was telling me she wanted to a point in thin air. She got a foiled villain look on her face and we got a big laugh.
All in all, it was great fun. I realized that all my gaming career I have basically played old school, but not with a system that really supports it. I may have lots of ideas that strike me as shit-hot, or I read a new system that just fires my imagination, but when the dice start hitting the table, I default to those old paradigms (that word again).
My house rules played pretty well. They both rolled much better then I ever have with 3d6 and were able to play the characters they wanted to. My son, the fighter, selected Two-handed and Dual Weapon as his fighting styles, relying primarily on Dual Weapon. It didn't strike me as over-powered, since there were rounds where he did miss altogether.
From a referee point of view, I had forgotten what it was like to describe "empty" dungeon rooms on the fly. They would open doors to rooms I didn't have an encounter for and want to know what was in the room, as they should. But, since I had thrown the dungeon together only about 3 hours before we played, the empty rooms were really empty as far as my write-up was concerned.
Delving Deeper played beautifully. It got out of the way, and at the points we had to engage the system, it played so much like the LBBs that I had absolutely no issues. I did forget where the Cleric Turning Undead table was, but that was my problem. I had a great time running it, just making up rolls for whatever needed a roll as it was needed. Just like the old days.
The kids definitely want to keep it going. I hope we do, and I'll do my part. I want to introduce more old school elements and eventually work our way up to a true mega-dungeon (especially one of the "mythic" variety as discussed in Philotomy's Musings). Thanks to all concerned with the design and production of Delving Deeper.