Thursday, February 3, 2022

OSR Commentary - Dragon Magazine Issue #90 & High Level AD&D First Edition Campaigns

 Ages ago back in the Eighties when one of my groups were playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition we did a Viking themed campaign. And to boot this was a high level campaign. There were a few magic items among the party but on the whole was between 10th to 12th level. And we had a revolving door of six to nine players of ages 11 through 60 with two or three dungeon masters at the time. All of this had started because of Dragon issue # 90 and the who thing revolved around the Nine worlds. Roger E. Moore was the behind part of the madness with his article on 'Plane Facts on Gladsheim'. And his high level  adventure Norse mythological  'Aesirhamar'. I'll say it before & I'll say it agian, Roger E. Moore doesn't get half the credit today that he deserves for his contribution to AD&D first edition. At the time we were being run through our paces with my uncle's campaign version of Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). So we were high level and cocky being kids. Were were about to get our lessons in humility really quick. 

Mr. Moore goes down the rabbit hole of dealing with high level PC's and several pieces of advice that moves around the weirdness of DMing these high level PC;"Running a high-level AD&D® game campaign involving deities and demigods is a very tricky business. In low-level and medium-level campaigns, deities are best kept out of sight. They would rarely have any interest in average adventurers, and the campaign has lots of other things to keep characters busy. At levels of play from 9th on up, it is more likely that player characters may legitimately meet and deal with deities and demigods, carrying out their missions and winning favors from them. Who or what will high-level characters fight when they go on such missions? Having characters duke it out with the gods themselves is not a solution. If the gods are properly and carefully played, and if the DM hasn't been handing out artifacts and levels to characters left and right, then fighting a god is just an easy way to die. However, there are beings around who can give even gods headaches. What if the gods want their higher-level followers to deal with such beings for a while, to give the gods a rest? It goes without saying that running a high-level adventure that involves both the Outer Planes and the deities upon them will be a lot of work. But it can, if properly done, provide hours of entertainment for everyone, and give powerful player characters a chance to match their skills against the best and the most dangerous of all opponents in the AD&D game system" And's wise advice when dealing with experienced players with high level PC's facing down NPC gods & worse. And there's much worse in  'Aesirhamar'. 'Aesirhamar' concerns a deal gone very wrong with the enemies of the gods getting their hands on a very dangerous magical  weapon.'
 'Aesirhamar' isn't simply a simple adventure as much as it's a mythological AD&D  mini campaign. We got our behinds handed to use time & again with many of the encounters in the adventure. Let's not mention the fact that several times the NPC's were the basis for lots of head aches for our group of faux Viking adventurers. Glaðsheimr  itself became a head ache as well when certain gods were accidentally crossed & we had to go on a quest to redeem ourselves in Odin's eyes. The fact is that with higher level adventures there were more headaches which is as it should be within a sense.  'Aesirhamar'  opened my eyes as a DM to the possibilities of high level adventures. And needless to say that Dragon magazine issue #90 led us into one of the longest running campaigns that we played going for almost five years of play. As PC's came & went we adjusted to the levels of play. 

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