Saturday, March 6, 2010

T1: The Village of Hommlet (part 1)

Last night marked my first attempt at running a classic AD&D module; I chose T1 (The Village of Hommlet), precursor to The Temple of Elemental Evil. We brought Dravin Deepsyer over from the 2e campaign I ran briefly last year, resulting in the following cast of 2nd-3rd level PCs:

  • Dravin - human fighter (NG)
  • Gulwar - half-orc thief/cleric (N)
  • Ellimorell - elven assassin (LE)
  • Amiculum - human ranger (CG)
The group, having met south along the road, marched into Hommlet, like many others, in response to a call for protection by the Viscount of Verbobonc. In the village, the party spoke to a number of potential arms-for-hire, most notably a warrior named Rogar at the traders establishment, and an assortment of fellows at the Inn of the Welcome Wench: a fighter named Zert, a gambler named Furnok of Ferd, an ogre of a man named Kobart, and a passive scribe named Spugnoir. The characters also visited the castle-under-construction of Rufus and Burne, a semi-retired warrior and wizard of local adventuring fame who originally came to Hommlet three years ago.

In the end, the PCs decided to proceed to the ruins of the nearby moat house on their own, where they explored the east and south portions of its ground level and defeated a troupe of nine bandits, killing five before capturing the bandit leader, Margon (the other three escaped with their crossbows). Margon was escorted back to Hommlet and turned in to the captain of the militia, and to the characters went the bandits' spoils:
  • Two bolts of fine cloth (later claimed by a local merchant)
  • A decorated inlaid wooden box (also claimed by the same merchant)
  • A set of a crystal flagon and four crystal goblets (sold for 20 gp)
  • A gold chain necklace
  • A chest of 2,000+ cp (tithed between the church of St. Cuthbert and the druidic grove)
  • Four finely-crafted arrows
  • A suit of chain mail
Upon returning to the traders establishment, the PCs agreed in principle to barter the chain mail to Rogar in exchange for the fighter's services, though the arrangement has not yet been finalized. They also received a standing offer of 50 gp for the gold chain from the fat merchant, Rannos Davl. Finally, as a courtesy for their efforts, the magic-user Burne ("His Most Worshipful Mage of Hommlet") granted a casting of identify, revealing the arrows to be +1 magical arrows.

I still need to calculate experience for the adventure, but all in all, the players did well, having circumvented almost certain peril at the hands of the bandits after being ambushed by drawing the enemies into a dark chamber where Gulwar and Ellimorell's infravision yielded a major tactical advantage. By the time the bandits managed to procure torchlight, the tide of the battle had fiercely turned in favor of the PCs.

Having never run a true 1e game before, I really enjoyed the initiative system using combat "segments." At least two initiative rolls against the bandits were certain matters of life or death, and both of these the characters won. A couple questions I found myself pondering during and after the session:
  1. Is a thief's backstab ability viable in an ongoing melee? We had a situation where Gulwar approached a bandit, presumably unobserved in total darkness, while the bandit was busy blind-fighting either Amiculum or Ellimorell (I can't remember which). I allowed a backstab attempt at the time (which succeeded), but my uncertainty in the moment makes me want to research a little more about backstabbing before we play again.
  2. When awarding XP for treasure, should I award points based on the stated value of the treasure in the module, or the value received from its sale? (I think probably the former.)
I plan to find the answers I seek for both of these questions at Dragonsfoot. I'm sure I've seen forum threads on both of these topics there before.



  1. If the target is unaware of the thief, and the thief can see the target, then the thief can backstab.

    If a magic item is used by a character they get the listed xp. If it is sold without being used they get the xp for the gp sale value. An item used and then sold gets the gp for the sale, of course, but that gold brings no further xp.

  2. Thanks Nagora. But what about a non-magical item (a random piece of jewelry, for example) whose true value is, say, 100 gp, but that the PCs manage to sell for only 50 gp?

  3. I'd give them what they sold it for.

    Encourages in-character haggling as well as presenting another choice to the players: do we sell this stuff quickly and cheaply or haul it around (and protect it) until we get to a city where someone has 5000gp spare to buy a huge diamond?

    I'd say that if you want to give them full xp then you should give them full gp too.

    Nothing wrong with that, either. The 1e rules are like stabilisers on a bike - they're a good approximation when you start, but it's generally assumed that you will start to adjust them as you get more comfortable. Thus, there are listed sale values for magic items and set values for gems.

    Later on you can introduce supply and demand and secret cabals of magical collectors who vie with each other for rare items, sending the price of those spiralling upwards for sellers who can fish out the right contacts and set collectors bidding against each other. And so on.

  4. I really like the idea of XP based on an item's selling price, for all the reasons you mention. Additionally, it allows me to present a full XP breakdown to the players without having to reveal the true value of items they find and sell.