Archive for the ‘Dungeons and Dragons Basic’ Category

Halleck’s Second Adventure

A story in three parts

Part 1: “Let’s go Shopping!”

So Halleck has taken a few days off to rest up and prepare for his next adventure. He has some money, now, so he decides to visit Baldrick’s Armor Emporium, Inc. to check out what it would cost to upgrade his armor. Baldrick has just the thing, hanging on one of his racks; a suit of plate armor that he finished only the week before, and it is just the site rize.

“Fifty simoleons?” Halleck exclaims. “What will you give me for my trade-in?” Using his superior charisma, Halleck manages to bargain the armorsmith down to 30 simoleons, by trading in his suit of chainmail, plus putting a sign up in his yard, and promising to follow Baldrick on Twitter. Baldrick promises to have the plate armor hemmed and pressed by Tuesday, but he misses that deadline. Meanwhile, Halleck update his character sheet by erasing “Chainmail armor” and scribbling in “Plate ‘mail’ Armor”. He then flips the sheet over and reduces his armor class number to “2”.

Though he is famous, Halleck is still somewhat poor, and can’t buy love, so he heads to the caves alone, which tale will be told in Part 3: “In the Caves Alone”.

But first, Part 2: “How to Battle”

Part two relates information about how to conduct one’s self in a fight. The secret is to jab at the opponent’s forehead, then, when his head snaps back, punch him in the chin. It hurts like billy-o.

Wait, that’s not what it says. What it really says is that, as a review, Halleck’s attacking a monster is represented by Halleck’s player rolling a twenty-sided die (d20), and comparing the result to the target number given in the adventure. A new element is introduced: the damage roll. In the first adventure, Halleck only did 1 point of damage to the monsters he attacked. Now, the player determine the amount of damage Halleck does by rolling a d6. Later in the rules, an optional variant for damage rolls is described, in which different weapons use different dice for damage rolls. As an aside, I prefer the “all weapons do d6 damage”, but with a house rule that 2d6 are rolled for two-handed weapons, with the higher of the 2 dice used. (i.e. a 2 and a 4 are rolled for a successful attack with a two-handed sword; it thus inflicts 4 points of damage).

Monsters also will do variable amounts of damage. Keep track of both Halleck’s and the monsters’ hit points during this adventure. A conflict checklist is promised for whenever Halleck has a combat encounter. The player is encouraged to keep records of the adventure–how much treasure, and how many (and what kind) of monsters that Halleck defeats. This information will be used to determine Halleck’s experience points at the end of the adventure.

Unless…Halleck gets hisself killed dead. At that point, the player should observe a moment of silence, and replay the adventure (the second one, not the first), pretending that Halleck never even existed. The player is reminded, though, that Halleck has a potion of healing, which he can drink, if he suffers severe damage.

Part 2 ends with a discussion of mapping. The player will need to get some graph paper and draw a map of the caves that Halleck explores, based on the description. A full map for the adventure is provided at the end, but the player should avoid peeking at it before he completes the adventure, because that would be cheating, and cheaters never win, even in D&D.

Part 3: “In the Caves Alone”

What follows is another “Pick your Own Story” series of numbered entries. Sections of the map are presented, along with the entries. It references the “Combat Checklist”, but I do not see it within the adventure, and so presume that it is in a separate section of the rules.


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Having learned the ins and outs of money management, we move on to Experience, and to the “grimacing with tongue sticking out” emoji.

Experience points are a numerical representation of a character’s personal growth and learning. Halleck, by killing a goblin and a snake, and by collecting treasure, is a better, more well-rounded person than he was before doing those things. He is 230 points better, in fact; 200 points for collecting treasure (one point for each gold coin equivalent), and 30 points total for killing the snake and the goblin. When (and if!) Halleck manages to accrue 2,000 experience points, then he moves up in rank, from Level 1 to Level 2. He will get more hit points (which are a numerical representation of his ability to continue fighting), and sometimes his Saving Throws will improve. He can also become better at hitting things with things. Since Halleck is a human, then he has the potential to reach as high as 36th level!

Dice are discussed on the bottom half o’ the page. This ain’t Monopoly! D&D has more than the usual six-sided dice. There are also four, eight, ten, twelve, and twenty-sided dice that will be used. The reader is instructed to “get to know them well”. Meet their parents; that sort of thing.

Ten-sided dice can be used to make a “percentage roll”. Pro Tip: Thieves will be the class that uses percentage rolls early and often. Roll the ten-sided die (abbreviated 1d10, or simply d10) twice. The first roll determines the “tens place”, and the second roll the “ones place”. Rolling two zeros means you rolled a “100”.

If you roll a seven or an eleven on the “come out” roll, and you had placed a bet on the “Pass Line”, then you win. If you roll a two, three, or twelve, however…Oh, sorry. Wrong game.

The next section is Halleck’s second solo adventure. I took a peek ahead, and I think it should prove quite exciting.

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The little paragraph says that we are done with “the hardest part” of studying the  character sheet. It warns, as well, to be very careful when reading about money and experience.

“Turn the Sheet Over”

I suppose I should add an image of a character sheet, to facilitate this discussion:

B. Mentzer Character Sheet 1.1



If you look at the back, you can see a section labelled “Equipment Carried”, which is divided into two sections, labelled “Magic Items”, and “Normal Items”, respectively. I will let you guess what each section is for. In the book, it says to write “Potion of Healing” in the “Magic Items” box, and advises that the upcoming adventure assumes Ending #1 (Halleck failed his saving throw). There is a list of items to write down in the “Normal Items” box; the low down dirty skunk, Bargle, stole some of Halleck’s gear, but, fortunately, and despite being “poor, but famous”, Halleck had the wherewithal to have a spare set of adventuring equipment. Huzzah!

The section below “Equipment Carried” is “Other Notes”. This is where you put your other notes. Notes like, “Caves near town; met Bargle, Chaotic Magic-User”. Just so you, you know, don’t forget about this guy.

Below “Other Notes” is where the good stuff goes: Money.

There are five types of coins: Copper, Silver, Electrum, Gold, and Platinum. The low-down, dirty cur Bargle stole most of Halleck’s money, but our intrepid hero managed to keep some of it, 200 gp’s (“Gold Pieces”) worth, to be exact. It’s not all in gold coins,  however; Halleck has some gold coins, but also has a few platinum pieces, electrum (a gold-silver alloy), silver, copper, and a valuable gem. He’s loaded with booty. There is a conversion rate: 1 Platinum Piece is worth 5 gold pieces. 1 Gold Piece is worth 2 Electrum pieces, or 10 silver pieces, or 100 copper pieces.

It is advised that, when collecting treasure after an adventure, take the most valuable coinage first, then fill up the rest of the sack with the coins of lesser value. As an aside, according to Matthew Colville, one of the elements of the game was finding a treasure hoard worth many thousands of gold pieces–but all in copper coins. This would challenge the players to figure out how to manage the logistics of retrieving the treasure and transporting it back to town. Great fun, huh?



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A discussion of alignments begins this next section. The character the reader has just played (“Halleck” in my case) is described as one of the “good guys” (you took poor Aleena’s dead body back to her church, because it was the right thing to do), while Bargle the Bandit and his goblin minion were characterized as the “bad guys” (they cared for no one but themselves, and were selfish and nasty).

Halleck, because he wants to do the right thing regardless of the situation, is described as being of “Lawful” alignment. He “tries to protect others and defeat monsters”. Aleena was also of Lawful Alignment, which is part of the reason she and Halleck got on so famously. Bargle the Bandit, however was of the opposite, “Chaotic” alignment. He only cared about others insofar as he could exploit them for personal gain. The ten-foot rattlesnake was of “Neutral” Alignment, which meant it was concerned with neither Law nor Chaos. It was dangerous, but not willfully malicious.

The reader is next notified of a second adventure, which begins on page 13, but first, some discussion of the Character Sheet. A character sheet “already filled out” is referenced; it is in the middle of the book, and is printed on a perforated sheet that the reader is encouraged to detach and look at. The only problem is that the sheet is not filled out completely, or correctly. The saving throws seem to be right for a fighter, but the ability scores are different from those listed in this section. EDIT: The scores listed on the sample sheet are those of Morgan Ironwolf, from the Moldvay version of the Basic D&D rules,

What’s interesting is that this fighter (“Halleck”) and the sample characters listed elsewhere in the book seem to be using an array of scores, consisting of 17, 16, 14, 11, 9, 8. Demi-humans have an “array” of 16, 14, 11, 9, 9, 7.  In 4th edition, which makes using an array the standard rule, the array is 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10. In the 4th Edition “Essentials” Player books, three arrays are given: 16, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10; 16, 16, 12, 11, 11, 8; or 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8. I digress, but, in any case, I would feel comfortable, as a DM, in allowing players to use this “Basic Edition Array” when creating characters, even though the scores are not officially given as such. I might require that the scores be used “as is”, though, and disallow the exchange of ability points (a process explained later).

In the next section, we will learn all about ability score adjustments.


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Six member party: Elf, Dwarf, Thief, Magic-User, Halfling, Cleric

Basic Adventuring Party w Color 1.2 (2)

Basic Adventuring Party w Color 1.2 (3)


BECMI Party in Color (2)

BECMI Party in Color (3)

BAC2 (2)

BAC2 (3)





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Basic D&D includes “Level Titles” for each character class. Players are instructed to use these titles when interacting with each other and NPCs. For example, a third-level dwarf would introduce himself as “Thorin the Dwarven Swordmaster” instead of “Thorin the Level Three Fighter”.

Here are my updated level titles:


Level 1: Deacon
Level 2: ArchDeacon
Level 3: Pastor
Level 4: Priest
Level 5: Elder
Level 6: Bishop
Level 7: Archbishop
Level 8: Cardinal
Level 9 (and after): Patriarch


Level 1: Delver
Level 2: Dungeoneer
Level 3: Adventurer
Level 4: Minewarden
Level 5: Caveshield
Level 6: Axemaster
Level 7: Dwarf Squire
Level 8: Dwarf Knight
Level 9 (and after): Dwarf Lord
Level 1: Mystic Swordsman
Level 2: Magician-at-Arms
Level 3: Leftenant of the Scrolls
Level 4: Captain of the Scrolls
Level 5: Battle Mage
Level 6: Warrior Mage
Level 7: Mage Squire
Level 8: Mage Knight
Level 9 – 10: Mage Lord


Level 1: Sergeant
Level 2: Master Sergeant
Level 3: Leftenant
Level 4: Captain
Level 5: Squire
Level 6: Knight
Level 7: Knight Captain
Level 8: Baronet
Level 9 (and after): Lord

Level 1: Yeoman
Level 2: Franklin
Level 3: Constable
Level 4: Bailiff
Level 5: Reeve
Level 6: Sheriff
Level 7: Gentleman
Level 8: Squire
Magic User:
Level 1: Wizard’s Apprentice
Level 2: Illusionist
Level 3: Enchanter
Level 4: Transmuter
Level 5: Invoker
Level 6: Conjurer
Level 7: Magician
Level 8: Wizard
Level 9 (and after): Archmage

Level 1: Apprentice
Level 2: Pickpocket
Level 3: Footpad
Level 4: Burglar
Level 5: Robber
Level 6: Highwayman
Level 7: Thief
Level 8: Master Thief
Level 9 (and after): Prince of Thieves

In the original Basic Game, there are a few titles that do not make sense to me. The cleric, for example, has a list of Christian-derived titles (Vicar, Bishop, etc.), but right between “Bishop” and “Patriarch”, where “Archbishop” is the obvious fit, is the title “Lama”, which is a honorary title in Tibetan Buddhism.

Some of the titles I arranged differently, to try to represent more of a progression. For example, the magic-user would be able to master illusions before learning and mastering enchantments. Once the magic user masters enchanting objects and organisms, he learns to magically change them (transmutation), then begins to learn to magically summon energy forces (evocation), and then summon physical objects (conjuration).

In the Basic Game, Elves have dual titles, representing their ability to simultaneously fill the fighter and magic user roles. So, the elf’s first-level title is “Veteran Medium”, which is a combination of the Fighter’s “Veteran” title and the Magic-User’s “Medium” title. I thought up names that seemed more appropriate. Same with Dwarves and Halflings, who in  Basic D&D share the same titles as the Fighter.

Looking at the list, I’m thinking that it might be better to use the titles “Elf Squire, Elf Knight, and Elf Lord”; maybe just “Elf Lord”. The Halfling’s title of “Squire” might need to be “Halfling Squire” to avoid confusion with the Fighter’s title of the same name. The Halfling Squire I envision as more of the “country gentleman” than “knight’s apprentice”, which is a bit anachronistic, but, hey, it’s D&D.

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Several other bloggers and contributors to role-playing fora have written their thoughts of the Mentzer Basic D&D Rulebooks. Here is one I found the past couple of days, and it’s very interesting.

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