What better way to celebrate being an old fucker than playing an old game? :)
It was great! I was able to join in Tavis Allison's Fantastic OD&D White Sandbox game with about 8 other players. I was fortunate enough to join in their 22nd game session, wherein they finally got to kill the big bad guy at the end, the source of one character's lifelong quest.
First, the location was awesome. It was in NY City, in one of those massive deli's they have there. It's like the size of a small supermarket. We played in the upstairs area, overlooking the deli. The deli had damn near anything you can desire to eat or drink, from real cooked food, to any snack imaginable. Genius location!
Next, the game itself was neat. It was a combination of the old Judges Guild module "Caverns of Thracia" and Moldvay's "Lost City" I think. We used OD&D as a base, but Tavis devised a different HP system, similar to but developed separately from the one used in Carcosa, where HP are not fixed, but change from day to day, and incorporates physical, mental and spirit elements. I have to admit I haven't mastered it yet, but that could be because the place sold keg sized cans of Foster's Ale downstairs.
Tavis is very flexible, and welcoming of anything. One guy showed up, and he was like me in that it was his first game with the group. He announced he wanted to be a Faun (like the pan flute thing). Tavis said sure, made up rules for Fauns on the spot with the guy, and easily incorporated him into the game with the rest of us.
The group was comprised of a bunch of really smart and capable players, who looked to be in their late 20's -30's, who also were really nice guys. None of your stereotypical social misfits. I had a great time with them, both at the game, and afterwards at the Korean Chicken place with like 50 TV's in it, eating wings and drinking Korean beer.
I made up a Dwarven magic-user outcast, beardless, skinny, bald, with like a 7 Con and a 7 Strength. Rolling was 3d6 in order, so I ended up with a whopping 11 Int. Tavis uses a different system for generation, in that he allows you to create a history which explains any odd special abilities you assign yourself. My Dwarf spent all his time reading books, so never developed the typical Dwarven proficiencies with underground settings, so he couldn't detect secret stonework doors, etc. However, all that time reading allowed him to have a shot at knowing obscure languages. He fights with a handaxe and a small buckler, when he absolutely has to, but otherwise uses a hand crossbow if needed and his spells won't suffice.
As a result of getting lost in the mines, and stumbling on some mushrooms which he ate to survive which put him in a trance where he had visions, he thinks himself a more true dwarf akin to the ancients, and it is his personal mission to bring back the Dwarves of old, who are like him. As a result of that he publicly shunned the gods, and was kicked out of his city. He takes the mushrooms now to gain a insight into certain things, if they work to get him in touch with the gods he feels he contacted when lost in the mines. His magic is also affected while under the hour long trance the mushrooms put him in, in that the visions and hallucinogenic experiences he has bleed over into the spells in some random way, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.
Tavis didn't blink an eye at that. Fuckin' cool. At one point when I was going to use a Wand of Wonder while under a trance, which would magnify the Wand of Wander's already random shit to the umpteenth degree, he got real excited. We never tried it out, settling on a saner plan. Next time though... :)
We got through areas of the dungeon, made alliances with werebears while I was out taking a leak, sweet talked the minotaurs into guiding us to an area where the minotaur king was, and had a blast. I had no idea the minotaur king was the ultimate goal of 22 sessions, so when the group went nuts when he came out of the room and cast a devastating fireball to soften us up, it was exciting as hell. Everyone upped their game and enthusiasm, realizing they would possibly be reaching a major climax of the whole campaign that night. Many were near death, and all the henchmen were slain by the fireball (except for the henchmen Fabio and George Foreman, who were killed in earlier encounters with the gnolls and harpies, and the henchman George Foreman the 2nd who was killed due to an unfortunate fumble by one of the PC's.)
Eventually, with only one PC death (what's an old school game without a PC death?), they killed the big bad guy. It was awesome, as we all stood up, watching intently the key die rolls which would make or break the encounter, and determine if we would end in a TPK or not, which was very close to happening.
Memorable lines of the night: (AS BEST AS I CAN REMEMBER THEM...)
Me early on: Whats the goal of the adventure? Why are we here?
Them: Gold, treasure, and to kill the minotaur king/Beastlord.
Me: Why are we killing him?
Them: Because he's the guy on the cover of the module!
Me: (thinking to myself, "I've found a new home!")
"In 4e its called Whirling Strike. In OD&D it's called my 5 henchmen attack." (EDIT---TAVIS' MEMORY IS THAT THE LINE WAS "In 4E you call out the name of your attack. In OD&D you call out the name of the henchmen who are throwing javelins." I'll go with that, as my memory was beer-influenced...I think I got the spirit of it though.)
One player, when getting into deep shit talking to a room full of minotaur women all alone, looking like he was about to get his ass kicked, while separated from the rest of the group, generously said to us "I'm willing to break scene now if you guys want to do something with your characters."
When Tavis was trying to determine something related to harpy music in the OD&D rules, one guy pulled out Moldvay to see what it had to say, and was ridiculed with "You and your newfangled Moldvay rules."
Finally, when some slavic sounding tourists walked by and looked at what we were doing, puzzled, one of them said "You have 8 people. You could be playing Bridge."
That's the joy of playing in a very public place I guess. :)
Anyhow, it was a fantastic time, and I am so doing it again. It was a great way to turn 40.