by Bill Silvey
One First Level Thief
This is a very short Breaking & Entering railroad thievery job for a single first level thief. The background is that the local tuffs catch you stealing and make you do an initiation, robbing the Lord Mayors home. It’s meant to teach someone how to play AD&D. It reminded me, in spite of my deep nostalgia, how bad AD&D is.
This is a super-short, with only about 10 keyed encounters over three pages. And they are not 1-page dungeon pages either; this precedes those ideas by quite a few years. The introduction is a bit railroady but I can live with that. It’s easy enough to change it and role play out the introduction in a less odious fashion than a couple of giant read-aloud chunks.
The home is a small house with walled in grounds and a small outbuilding out back. The idea is that the character will sneak around to it and find a secret door behind a bookcase, follow a tunnel to the root cellar, and then enter the house that way. There are no other options given; the house and grounds are not described enough to give the player free will over how they approach the problem. This stifling of player creativity, or rather writing the adventure in such a way, approaches criminal, especially when new players and DMs are concerned. These are not the lessons that n00b players and DMs should be learning. They should be learning sandboxes and creativity, exploration and imaginative play.
I don’t think the designer understands AD&D. He calls for numerous Move Silently rolls, one every round while sneaking around, or some guards will approach to investigate the noises. That’s like a 10% chance every round to Move Silently at first level, isn’t it? Oh, you can Hide in Shadows to avoid the guards if you blow the first roll. 15% isn’t it? Yeah … about being a thief … That happens all over the place in this adventure. It’s just setting the player up for failure and then coming down HARD when they do fail … the Lord Mayor is 7th level and the guards are numerous. Picking a lock? Better roll that Move Silently! Ug.
Then there are the monster encounters. The tunnel to house has 2 giant spiders with very weak poison, not so bad, but the garden house has something like seven giant rats in it, all of which are at least a powerful as the character. I’s a railroad, there’s only one way, and that one way has railroad fights full of monsters that the thief can’t possibly defeat. Sup with that?
There IS a nice treasure table for what the player finds in the parlor. Lots of unique little mundane treasure that the thief can pilfer. No way they are going to make it that far, but hey, nice treasure table none the less. I like mundane treasure that’s unusual and descriptive; it add a lot more flavor to the game than “jewelry, ring, 100gp.”