Friday, 3 May 2013

An RPG Excusion: Gardmore Abbey and the Deck of Many Things

A book written specifically for our group

In large part, this is a blog about table top miniature gaming and boardgames.  But the history of our gaming group lies as much in Dungeons and Dragons as it does in war gaming.  For me, an interest in war games only developed when I was in my mid thirties (around 2-3 years ago) whereas my teenage years were all about DnD back in its heyday in the late 80s and early 90s.

So with that background, I have happily played the Dungeon Master for a few DnD games and get the occasional hankering for a few sessions.  Last games night I developed a scenario around the discovery of a card from the "Deck of Many Things".  The scenario was designed to pull the party into the Madness at Gardmore Abbey adventure path but also to be able to end that night if no one wanted to keep going.

The cast behind the DM's screen waiting to come on
The setting was the entrance to the crypt at Moonstone Keep in Fallcrest.  The adventurers each summonsed by Berrian, the master of the guard at the keep.  None of them know why they had been summonsed and they each wait to be let inside.  Once Berrian comes he explains that the Lord of the Keep has gone mad following the discovery of a card and he enlists the help of the adventurers to destroy the card accordingly (which he has stolen from his Lordship and is about to give to them).

At this point the Lord makes an appearance - angrily using his powers to throw Berrian against a wall and summons zombies (always good to reuse those EOTD zombies I spent so long painting).

Rather than run headlong into combat I then handed over to each of the party a mission personal to them.  One was to kill Berrian, another to protect him, another to get the card for themselves and run etc.  So the party each had personal goals that conflicted with the corporate goal (and with each other's personal goals).

The Battle in Progress
It was interesting to see how it played out - Matt almost died trying to kill Berrian and there were a series of small skirmashes between the party over who would get the card which cooled down before anyone got seriously hurt.  It also got them into the Deck of Many Things and made them pause to think whether they wanted to collect these cards or destroy them.

After negotiating the first combat they all then proceeded to the wizards tower at Gardmore Abbey on the understanding that he could destroy the card.  There was much debate about that, but they finally decided it was the best thing to do.  I gave them two puzzles to solve to get in.  The first to determine how many times to knock to open the door.  The first had a horsehoe with words written into it: see The riddle that accompanied it was worded as follows:

To know how many times to knock
Look at the horseshoe from the top
Rearrange the words half and half
Three of them will show the path

The second to get out of the antechamber involved arranging eight queens on a chessboard so each was not able to take another.

The Solution
Again it was successfully negotiated, but only just in time as the walls that were closing in around them only had a few minutes to go before they were crushed.

The good thing about DnD is the collaborative nature of it.  Whereas war gaming is naturally competitive, DnD is social and for that reason can be a lot of fun.  There is a lot of talk about different versions of DnD which I simply don't get into - the fourth edition that we play might be a bit simplified but that really is exactly what we need.  A good break for any war-gaming group - expect updates as the adventure continues this year.


  1. Fun with D&D...takes me back a bit... I still have fond memories of the basic set...

  2. It was a classic. Got me into it and back before computer games it really seemed like the best game around.

  3. See I never really got into D&D probably more my age than anything we did dabble at Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in our gaming group at school but it never really took off mainly because some members didn't come every week. I've played a few pc games set in these settings mind they where quite good. Shame Really. I sometimes wish that technology though it has bought everybody together also takes up so much of our time. I miss the days when shops where shut on a Sunday and Bank holidays had so much more fun then.

  4. DnD does take a long time and you can get frustrated with the lack of progress and people then don't turn up each time and it all gets a little hard. Shorter, smaller games are the way to go I think. I am glad that I grew up at a time that computers just weren't that good so I got into these sorts of hobbies instead.

  5. It was a pretty awesome night and great having some new faces. I enjoy having a bit of the puzzle solving and some of the more role playing stuff chucked in otherwise it ends up just being fight after fight. The dynamic of adding in the hidden agendas was pretty cool.

    I agree however that it can be easy to get bogged down in D&D so short campaigns or having little pockets of a D&D campaign. Such as one week on and one week off.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...