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I have the Original D&D reprint box set, and have been reading it and feeling inspired to play. I love the quirky, sparse yet simple rules that pretty much demand house rules. I’m used to house-ruling from playing S&W Whitebox with my kids, but I wanted to go back to the source. I never had a chance to play OD&D back in the day – while I had the three booklets, I started playing Holmes and later AD&D. So I haven’t read them since I was 13 or so (I have the PDFs, but I hate reading PDFs of more than a page or two, there is nothing like curling up with an actual book for inspiration).

Original D&D

I was particularly inspired by the wilderness travel section in The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures (U&WA), when they speak of Wizard strongholds and Geas being used on characters. Here is the wording on p. 15 of U&WA:

Magic-Users from castles will send passersby after treasure by Geas if they are not hostile, with the Magic-User taking at least half of all treasure so gained, the Magic- User having first choice of magical items and automatically choosing Miscellaneous Magic, Wands/Staves, or Rings (in that order) in preference to other items.

I thought this would be a fun way to start an adventure. There is nothing stopping the rest of the group from not following the Geas’ed PC, of course, but most Lawful PCs wouldn’t do that, and it worked out in our case. Here is what I sent them before last night’s session:

The Unseemly Wench is an establishment of less than stellar reputation on the road between the twin towns of Fishpot and Stewgray, but then it is all you can afford as Veterans, Acolytes, or Mediums with scant gold and no notoriety to speak of. The winter wind whipping across the Broken Plains to the north pushes in gusts at the walls and rattles the door, so you do not even notice the noise as the door opens and an imposing figure steps in. You do notice when the tavern quiets and the occupants stare at the newcomer expectantly, but none rise to challenge or even greet the visitor. You hear naught but the wind and the crackle of the hearth fire as he approaches your table.

He is tall, gaunt and dark, cloaked but with enough light from the fire for you to notice his piercing, stone-grey eyes. You get the sense of…power and age hidden behind those eyes. He stands before your table, his hands touching one another by his chest, covering a silver medallion that hangs from a thin, golden chain, the medallion face itself covered with mysterious runes that shine in the dim tavern light. You shudder involuntarily as he speaks.

“Yes, I think you will do fine.”

The visitor pauses.

“I am the Esteemed and Numinous Wizard Adrazzias. But let us not waste time with pedantry and idle small-talk. My terms are as follows. I require various and sundry magical devices for my perscrutations. I recently came into possession of a map of great antiquity, showing the location of the lost Dwarven Mines of Dwelf Copperhelm. You will trek into the foothills of the Twisted Peaks, exploring the depths and those that survive will return forthwith to me so I may select the choicest of your take for myself.”

With that, he produces a finely wrought scroll case and hands it to Dreyfus. The young Hobbit moves to accept it as if compelled.

You just now notice his hands moving as he speaks, after a scant few seconds there is a soft pop, and the air shimmers where once stood Adrazzias.

Dreyfus stands as if to go after the Wizard, he has a far-away look in his eyes “We must go to the Twisted Peaks,” he says…

We actually did not start with the first-level OD&D pregens I made, but by converting the Labyrinth Lord characters we had been using to OD&D, since Ruby the Halfling (now Hobbit) Thief and Arsenios the Cleric had already made it to second level. I’m sticking to the first three books, so for the thief I’m using my S&W Whitebox version of the Rogue, which translates pretty much exactly to OD&D with its 1d6 hit dice and the Cleric attack/save tables.

Anyway, the session last night was great fun and I’ll post a full play report when I get time to type it up.