Adventures in Shadow: First Thoughts

Last Wednesday, we met for the first session of our sporadic new campaign—Adventures in Shadow.

Adventures in Shadow is different from every other campaign I’ve run over the last 20 years or so. Unlike my recent gaming—which has been almost exclusively D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder—we’ll be using the 2nd edition AD&D rules for Adventures in Shadow.

Most of the group are of a “certain (middle) age” and most of us played 2nd edition AD&D throughout our school years. Personally, I have a lot of fond memories of the system. With our Skulls & Shackles campaign on a slight break as the GM does jury service it seemed like the perfect time to hurl ourselves down memory lane.

All we planned to do in our first session was character generation and a couple of sample fights.

A Surprising Turn

Character generation took a surprising turn: the players wanted to use Method I—3d6 in order. To say I was surprised was an understatement given how when we play Pathfinder it always seems to be about making the toughest character possible.

Eventually we settled on a slightly modified Method II—3d6 twice for each stat, pick the best and swap one pair (if desired)—to give the characters some semblance of longevity, and—hopefully a balanced party. Of course, the first of the chaps to roll got an 18 with his first roll! The party had their fighter.

In any event, I don’t yet have a full party breakdown—we had a slight shortage of Player’s Handbooks so the chaps will be tweaking their characters before next session, but when I do I’ll post up a party roster.

The Fight!

Character generation took a surprisingly long time and we only managed to get one sample fight done. The PCs fought—and defeated—a generic band of orcs. It was immediately apparent how different the game was going to be. I particularly enjoyed the Reaction and Morale rules as well as the way initiative is handled—they made the ensuing battle feel completely different to a “normal” Pathfinder fight. Using morale was particularly refreshing and—I think—will make our combats feel much more “realistic”. I’d love to come up with some decent morale rules for Pathfinder.

The Setting

Unsurprisingly, Adventures in Shadow is set primarily in Gloamhold’s doom-drenched halls and the party will be based in the nearby city of Languard. (Talk about an imperative to keep designing the setting!)

We had a quick discussion about the campaign’s trajectory and as a first foray, it was decided the party would explore the tumbled, shadow-shrouded ruins of the village of Greystone.

The idea of the campaign is to give us something to play until our current GM finishes jury service. The great thing, though, about a megadungeon campaign—which is essentially what this will be—is that it can be episodic. So, if in the future Andy can’t run a session, we can still play—the players will just delve into a different bit of Gloamhold!

An Aside

During character generation and the ensuing battle one thing struck me: there were no iPads at the table. Normally, many of us run our characters from an iPad. Except for a couple of phones, the table was device free.

I didn’t notice this immediately, but when I did I realised the atmosphere was completely different. iPads and suchlike are a great tool for gaming, but their distractions are sometimes too enticing. I’ve seen players checking football results, swiping right on Tinder, checking email (I myself am occasionally guilty of this last one) and so on during games. Their inevitable distraction—and resultant confusion when it came time to act—slowed the game down. I’m hoping with a lack of tablets we’ll all pay just a bit more attention to the actual game!

More Next Week

Play proper begins later today! I’m looking forward to updating you on our (temporary) return to 2nd edition AD&D.