Playing AD&D – Getting Started

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Don’t get hung up on it, and go with the flow.  Most of all, remember that what the PC does is way more important than what’s on their character sheet.

For example, instead of asking to make a perception check, you’ll need to get used to describing what your character would do and asking what happens.  This might or might not involve you rolling for things and might impact your chances.

DM At the end of a long, dusty hallway is an ornate door. A skeleton, in badly rent leather armor lies before it. The hinges are rusty, and the wood is showing its age. A ring handle is set on the right side, with a keyhole beneath it.
Mary (playing a thief) I want to look over the skeleton before I get to the door.
DM Mary, what are you looking for on the body?
Mary Can I tell what kind of skeleton?  Does it have any belongings other than the armor?
DM  It looks like it’s a small human, or maybe a tall elf. You can see slashes in the armor that correspond to damage to the bones beneath. There’s a strap over one shoulder and a bag almost hidden beneath the body.

Now, it’s up to Mary to decide what she’s going to do about that skeleton and bag. Is it a trap? Does the bag have some treasure in it? 

If your DM is new to the system, be generous but feel free to ask for clarification. One thing I try to do as the GM is to be really transparent about how I’m making decisions. I roll in the open. I explain my reasoning for rulings

Mary I’ll climb the wall, pick any lock on the second-floor window, and let myself into the room.
DM Ok, you’d need to make two climb walls rolls to get there.
Mary Easy peasy. I roll a 47 and a 53, so I make it to the window.
DM Picking the lock while hanging from the wall is a lot harder than doing it at ground level – how about excluding your Dex bonus and reducing your chance by ¼.
Mary  Sounds fair. Can I anchor myself?
DM  Good idea, hmm, make another roll to climb walls. If you succeed, you can add your Dex bonus but you’re not going to fall if you fail it.
Mary Great! Oops, I rolled a 95. Not so great.  I guess I don’t get that Dex bonus after all.

Your DM might not be used to doing this. If they’re new, they might not be as quick to think through things. Feel free to ask or suggest ideas, but be ready to back down if they’re uncomfortable or rule a different way.

Another thing you’ll find is that you might multiple ways to get information.  For example, any character can detect secret doors on a 1 in 6 after 10 minutes of looking.  (I might reduce the time, give bonuses, or not require the roll depending on the PC’s actions.)  A dwarf can also detect sliding or shifting walls or rooms 66% of the time (or 4 in 6) after making a quick observation.  I’d let a dwarven PC make both checks.

This isn’t meant to cover all the bases, but I hope it gets you ready to start looking at mechanics next week.

Dyson Logos found the header image.  It’s from the 1917 Aldine Second Language Book for 5th & 6th Graders.  


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