As I had mentioned a short time ago, the Fun Lads Four and I decided to try to make 3e as OSRish as possible and try it out.
Classes- PHB classes only. Some are limited (Druids must pick the one combat-worthy wildshape form they can take, for example).
Skills- PHB only
Feats- PHB only and not all are available (Natural Spell, for example, isn't to be found)
Prestige Classes- Some from the DMG
In general, splatbooks don't exist (although we are told 'there might be psionics. Or not. If there are, they were always there. If not,t hey were never there'.)
Players and Characters:
I played Janusz- 1st level human Cleric
Jen played Mary- 1st level elven ranger (bow path)
Sam played Frederick- 1st level human paladin
Nick played Kedrick- 1st level human rogue
Jack was DM
The party starts in The City. The City is huge, sprawling, and full of improbable to impossible towers, bridges, spires, and such. The City is twice as large as it needs to be, but empty buildings don't fall into disrepair, aren't overgrown with weeds, and don't even get all that dirty. The City is in a large, lush valley carpeted in lush farmland leading the heavily forested foothills - hardwoods leading to evergreens further up. North and South the valley is flanked with towering, impassable mountains that soar far into the sky. To the east the valley's rolling hills lead to the ocean. The vast ocean stretches far away. To the west the mountains narrow until the hills peter out into wilderness. Beyond the Perimeter (which is very well marked) is the Zone of Wilderness.
The City is home to many humans, some dwarves, elves, halflings, half-elves, half-orcs, and gnomes, and a tiny handful of kobolds, goblins, and orcs. The humanoids are watched and prohibited from leaving the Perimeter. There are a number of small villages throughout the large valley.
Beyond the Perimeter are many horrible monsters and the Red Eyes - humanoid races with glowing red eyes who always attacks other intelligent races that are not red eyed. It is believed the Red Eyes have a plague, which is why City humanoids are kept in the City.
It is said that about 250 years ago there was a mighty cataclysm that killed all humans and demi-humans not in the City and wiped out all civilization but the City leaving only Red Eyes and monsters.
There are elves, dwarves, etc. in the City more than 250 years old, but no one can remember anything in a period starting 20 years before the Cataclysm and lasting until 50 years after the Cataclysm. Although records reference the Cataclysm none tell what it was, where it came from, etc. No one knows who or what built the City, how it maintains itself, how old it is, etc.
While the valley is rich in food, easily and well defended, and lovely some people go beyond the Perimeter. They find old everything from old coins to rare spices to lost technology and knowledge.
Many never return.
The last farm settlement before the Perimeter is Prasselthrace. Frederick is friends with the mayor (a tough dwarf who leads the Perimeter guards after his retirement from the same, even though monsters never cross the Perimeter) and Kaneice, a human healer. Kaneice had been travelling beyond the Perimeter to gather rare herbs and reported that she had found a ruined settlement of larger than usual size. She had recruited a local ranger, the mayor, and a hunter to join her in an expedition to this new resource.
The settlement was four days from the perimeter, more than twice as far as almost any explorer normally went.
The group has been gone 11 days. The village elders have asked bold explorers to look for the missing people.
Frederick asked his priest acquaintance Janusz and his neighbor Kedrick to join him and the elf-maid ranger Mary, who knew Kedrick, joined them.
First Day: The party encountered a pack of 3 dire rats just a few hours from the Perimeter. Mary and Frederick were very deadly, Kedrick was also, and Janusz missed a lot in battle, then healed everyone. That night large spiders attacked the camp. Mary, Frederick, and Kedrick were lethal, Janusz killed a spider in one blow, and then missed a lot, then got rid of poison effects with Heal.
Second Day: While scouting ahead Kedrick spotted what looked like a deformed wolf of great size. Mary said is was a 'Krenshar'. The party got ready as close as they could creep and attacks quickly; Frederick charged on horseback and lanced the beast, killing it with one skillful strike before it could even react! Its lair was nearby and Kedrick found baubles there. The night was quiet.
Day Three: The day was uneventful, but just before dawn the next day a flock of stirges attacked. Kedrick killed two with his short bow immediately, then Mary got another. Frederick killed those that landed on Mary and Kedrick.
Janusz missed many, many times.
Day Four: Around Noon we spotted a dead animal of large size with giant insects feasting on it. We gave them a wide berth. Just before time to find camp the party spotted the top of a ruined tower. Kedrick scouted and saw a group of 4 Red Eye kobolds outside the base firing at a human darting by the windows inside the tower. The tower was very large, even with its top level sheared off by some great force in the past.
Kedrick and Mary crept up within 30' of the kobolds with Janusz and Frederick 10' behind them and opened fire from ambush.
None of the kobolds noticed.
Kedrick and Mary fired again.
Both hit. One kobold died, the other was wounded. Frederick charged. Janusz cast Bless then moved into melee.
The kobolds swarmed Frederick with Janusz trying to take some pressure off while Kedrick and Mary fired their bows. Just as it looked like the party was about to win, 4 more kobolds came pouring out of the tower to join the fray.
All night I had rolled only 1 hit despite being in lots of melee. Jen suggested I switch dice, so I did.
First roll with fresh dice was a natural 20. I confirmed the critical and put down the thus-far unharmed boss kobold with one strike of my short spear!
I missed all the rest of my attacks, naturally, but the fight was almost over by then.
The fight ended after 7 rounds (5 of melee). Once the fight was finished I healed everyone (mainly Frederick) and Kaneice emerged from the tower, where she had barricaded herself in. She told us that the mayor, the mage, and the ranger she had travelled to the settlement but were attacked by a force of goblins. Their group scattered and she had ended up here, alone, trapped. She urged us to come with her to the settlement to look for her companions. She gave us some of the loot she had as thanks for her rescue: two potions of cure light, a potion of bull's strength, and a wand of light. I used Detect Magic on a potion we had found earlier and knew it was owl's wisdom.
We got XP and broke for the night.
Next night we hit the road to the settlement. We wiped out a pack of wild dogs and made it to the settlement, a small walled village. Kaneice sketched a map and showed us the two ways in she knew - the south gate and a hole in the northwest wall. Kedrick scouted through the hole in the north and saw a lot of skeletons and zombies near the old, weird temple (Kaneice and co. had avoided it) and in the town square and at least one or two goblins in the tavern right by the south gate.
We decided to just rush into the tavern and kill all opposition. The army taught me - 'the key to success in a raid is speed and violence'. The paladin kicked in the door and we rushed in, catching the lone goblin as he lounged on a bench, his weapon on a table nearby. I ran over to cover the stairs up, Mary rushed to cover the door to the kitchen, Kedrick covered the room with his bow, and Frederick closed with the goblin and very efficiently cut him down.
Mary opened the kitchen door, heard reinforcements coming from the basement, and closed the door, and began barricading it. A goblin came down to the base of the stairs, didn't see me lurking nearby, and began to shoot Frederick so I attacked and missed, but he missed Frederick.
We ended up with Kedrick and Janusz holding the stairs while Mary and Frederick held the kitchen door. Within a few rounds We prevailed with 2 goblins leaping from a second storey window and running for their lives.
Frederick looked out the window facing the street - and promptly took an arrow to the face. He staggered back, down to just 2 h.p. Janusz healed him up while Mary carefully looked for the sniper.
Near the middle of the village two taller buildings had collapsed on each other, creating a small platform high enough to allow it to overwatch most of the village. She could just make out movement there as another arrow flashed by the window.
It was 700' distant.
Mary saw more movement - it looked like reinforcements were coming for us!
We decided to sprint across the street into the warren of collapsed buildings beyond; we would be shielded from the sniper and could seek out or avoid the reinforcements. Based upon the long range we knew the archer's shot had been very lucky, so the risk was small. So we sprinted and - Frederick got hit for more damage!
We got to cover and I healed him up, leaving me 1 orison and my domain spell. We were secure with the two potions, so we decided to ambush the coming forces. We placed Kedrick and Mary in the second floor of a partially collapsed house while Frederick and Janusz waited below, all well hidden.
Soon a squad of 6 kobolds blundered right into the kill zone. Mary's lethal fire dropped 2 before they could react and Kedrick killed one, as well. The rest ran for cover right into where Janusz and Frederick were waiting.
Soon we had crept up to where we were at the base of the archer's nest. Atop it were two doughty goblins guarding a kobold. The kobold was armed with an ornate short bow (long to him!), odd crystals over his eyes like goggles, and a silk scarf around his neck. Mary and Kedrick drew their bows as Janusz and Frederick prepared.
Kedrick and Mary both hit the kobold and obviously hurt him badly. Frederick tried to climb up to them, but it took his entire round. I stood out in the open and hurled my club - missing again. Kedrick finished off the kobold, Mary dropped a goblin with a perfect shot, and Frederick wounded the goblin. Janusz had seemingly saved all of his dice rolls for this - his climbing check allowed him to have an attack left and he did maximum damage, ending the battle.
The party looted the place and withdrew for cover, heading back to the camp Kaneice was guarding.
Jack admitted that the arrow to the face and follow on arrow were the result of 3 consecutive natural 20's from a kobold with 3 levels in warrior.
I am intrigued by how much play "feels like" AD&D 2e. The only real difference is the 'I go, you go' combat sequence and some of the combat rules. I think that with simultaneous movement and a tweak or two the version of 3.5 we're playing would look and feel almost like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition with Skills & Powers Part II. As a matter of fact, as we were discussing the combat Jen turned to me and said,
"We can fix that, right? In the new version we're doing?"
As I have vaguely mentioned once or twice in hints, the Fun Lads Four and I are slowly working on what we are calling Eager For Glory, a YARC (Yet Another Retro Clone)much more based on AD&D 2e S&P than OD&D or B/X. Like Far Realms it is based upon the rules I have developed and tested in play, but,
A) it is from my AD&D 2e campaigns with 3e stuff
B) It will be a complete game
Trouble is? I owe a lot of projects and EFG will not be released until after a lot of play testing.
So don't expect a release date to be announced until either next decade or I sell my company for 8 figures.
Anyway - play was a ton of fun, we are all looking forward to the next session, and life is good.