Saturday, February 20, 2010

Labyrinth Lord With the Girls

Last night I stayed home from my regular Friday game night to get some time in with the family. This wasn't one of those pressure things or anything, just a decission based on the awareness that I had been spending a bit too much time on the gaming front and not so much on the family. My oldest, Anna, had a friend over for a sleepover and so I ended up with an extra 13-yr old for then night. Friday is my wife's usual night to play WoW so she was fiddling around with her thing and I was killing time on the computer waiting for things to settle a bit. That's when Anna and her friend asked if I would run Labyrinth Lord for them.

I was bit reluctant at first, having stayed home from gaming to spend time with the family, but with Anna, her friend, and my six-year old all wanting to I asked Jenn (my wife) if it would be alright and she not only said yes, but agreed to play with us. A flury of character generation, some quick print-outs and a hastily drawn dungeon map with no less than a fat, red, Crayola marker on the graph paper and we were ready to go.

Anna's friend had never played before but both she and her little sister had played Tales from the Wood with me before. Jenn is an old 2E player from her childhood and had played in my 3.5 games but is now semi-retired from RPGs. I kept the adventure idea pretty simple and straight forward and short. Stocked the dungeon with some of the usual suspects and made sure everybody had print-outs of quick reference sheets. We ended up with the two older girls playing dwarves (Aheli and Onyx), my youngest playing a halfling which she decided was a goblin (Serfina), and Jenn playing a cleric (Nermal), not because she wanted to but because the party needed one.

The adventure opened with a narrative describing how the four adventurers had been travelling for some time together, seeking fortune and fame. They had stumbled across tales of an ancient tomb located under the central hill referred to as "Magda" of a trio of hills called "The Three Sisters". The three hills were said to be a holy place to a long-gone people and were thought by those frolk to be the worldly embodiment of their three goddesses. The party had investigated, to no avail, two previous likely sets of hills and had now arrived on the edge of a wide plain in the middle of which could be spied three grand hills.

I went on to describe the plain. I told them how the grass moved and what animals they could see moving about it. I described the presence of ancient stones graven with images of some ancient people, leaning and forgotten. It was at this time I noticed that the two older girls looked like they had dozed off. Thinking they might have bitten off more than they could chew and were more tired than they had first thought, I asked and both Anna and her friend told me they were closing their eyes to picture the scene. Anna said it was cool because she could feel her legs go all tingly as I described the setting. Needless to say, I was grinning.

With a little guidance from my wife, the party of four set out across the plain and reached the foor of the hills by dusk. They set up camp and the two dwarves went out to hunt some game for dinner. They returned, ate their fills and then established a watch. Aheli's watch was uneventful, but during Onyx's watch something was heard hunting and prowling the edge of the firelight. Then, a second of whatever it was was heard skulking just out of sight where it growled menacingly. Onyx woke the group and they readied themselves. Nermal, believing it to be just a wild animal, scooped up some of the leftover from supper and threw them into the darkness where the growling was coming from. Whatever it was seemed satisfied with leftovers and bolted into the night. I thought this was a good demonstration to the neophite gamers that not all encounters had to be resolved through combat.

The next day, the party set out along a rutted trail marked by animal tracks and grooved by the rains of centuries. They wound their way up through the brush that had grown over the old hill and discovered that as they followed this winding route they came across a series of stone markers, all carved with similar ancient runes and symbols to those that had decorated the standing stones on the plain. This path led them up and around to the back side of the hill where they found that it wound its way down into a little grotto formed by the meeting of the three hills. At the bottom of this grotto was a grand pool around which grew all manner of ancient trees and shrubs. It was also at this point that my youngest really had lost interest and was sent to bed.

Following the path down into the grotto, they found that it ended in a great carved slab of stone that formed a platform at the pool's side. Aheli suggested that they might want to replenish their water supply at the pool but Onyx was suspicious, as they had heard a loush splash on the other side of the pool under the brush, and wanted to check the pool for inhabitants. With Aheli and Nermal at the ready, Onyx held her lantern down to the water and tried to see any signs of large fish or other beasts in the water. All she saw were water bugs.

At that point, Nermal moved to the water to use her priestly knowledge to make sure the water was drinkable. As she knelt down and began her work, a great splash was heard anf a low croaking as the fat body of a great toad landing heavily on the stone slap. Nermal fell to her backside and the goblin scattered to the safety of the brush (she was asleep) with Aheli and Onyx races to defend the fallen cleric. The party got the jump on the beast and set to taking down the warty menace. A solid cut from Aheli, a grazing slash from Onyx and a finish mace to the head dispatched the great toad before it had a chance to cause any real harm. There was discussion among the dwarves of eating the toad, but the cleric thought better of it and advised that all toads are not the best for eating.

Now the party had a bit of a problem to solve. They had reached the end of the path with no sign of an entrance to the tomb that they were now sure must be here someplace. The stones, the markers, this platform all seemed to indicate they were in the right place. The goblin was sent into the thicket that surrounded the pool to scout any possible entrances hidden under the growth, but found none. At this point, Jenn reminded the girl of some of their dwarven abilities and so both dwarves checked for hidden construction, a seam in the stone platform. They cleared the seam of centuries of dirt and discovered a slab that was seperate from the other engravings in the platform and was surely the entrance they sought.

The girls playing the dwarves came up with the idea to bry one end of the slab up, which they would then lever further up so they could tied their ropes around one end. The rope was them tied to their mule and horse and lifted open. Nermal suggested that they try to turn the slab so they could lay it flat to the side instead of running the risk of it falling. The opening reveal a deep dark hole, dank with age and the wetness of the earth of the grotto. Descending into the hole were stairs.

At this point our guest asked if we could call it and as it was 1:00 AM I thought it might be a good idea. They had made characters and set out for adventure. They had found the tomb and stopping just at the point before they entered and started their dungeon crawl seemed like a good, almost cliffhanger-ish way to go. I reassured the girls that this wasn't the end of our gaming and that now that they had characters ready, the next time we had a chance to play it would all be play time. This also gives me some time to flesh out the dungeon a bit and give it a solid write-up.

I can't wai!



  1. That's awesome Eli! So cool that they came to you and asked to play!
    Sounds like alot of fun!

  2. Great sounding game :)

    I take it you used the standard D&D rules ?

    I'm not a big RPG player myself, but I know my son (who has a great imagination) would love D&D.



  3. The game we played is a retro-clone called Labyrinth Lord. It plays on about the same level as the old D&D boxed sets.

  4. Eli
    Just found the rules on the web, as a free download ! Excellent :)

  5. Sounds ike you had as much fun playing as I did with my kids.

  6. Oh yeah. With the exception of the 6-yr old whos attention didn't hold, it went down well. But, we include my youngest so she gets a chance, at least. As she gets older, her attention/interest will change and either she'll join in outright or move on to other things.

    I am also gearing up to play in a game run by my oldest. She found an Adventure game put out by the publishers of her favorite series of books "Warriors". I should really get off my butt and do the review of that game, I'd planned to do when I found it.


  7. Pretty cool! I have a 9 and 10 year old at home (and a 1 year old!) I'm often considering gaming with. They haven't displayed much desire so far, and I haven't tried to force it on them, but maybe one day...

  8. The Baron and I run LL games with our kids and its a great time. I love it. It can go a bit like bulls in a china shop when its just the boys, but add my neices, or the Baron's daughter and it really gets amusing. Their ages range from 7 to 12.

    the Baron captures it well on his Beyond The Wall blog.


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