Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Our AD&D Party, 1980

For a few of us, the pandemic has encouraged some personal reflection and perhaps a bit of nostalgia for days gone by. This is probably natural, as we miss our friends, and think of those times when we were all together, contentedly whiling away hours in carefree companionship. 

My childhood friend, Gary, has spent the past few months excavating through a bunch of material from our group's early days playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the early 80s (he was a very records-conscious DM). The two of us have had several conversations, reminiscing about hard-fought campaigns, good friends and those characters, both epic and ridiculous, that we enjoyed as teenagers.

From this, I've decided to put together a game for us using the excellent 'Thud & Blunder: Fantasy Skirmish Wargaming Rules' from The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare. I quite like the system as it can be easily adapted for 'roleplaying light'. Also, since the characters are stripped-down to archetypes, its perfectly designed for one player to run several heroes simultaneously. 

From this, I thought it would be fun to resurrect our old adventuring party from the 80s, putting them through a series on interlinked scenarios, providing a prelude, a v0.9 if you will, of our original characters, before they became hard-bitten, seasoned veterans.

For figures, I've chosen models from Otherworld Miniatures. I really like these figures as they're quite beefy, and incorporate all the necessary accoutrements, like packs, rope and torches, that adventurers would need while delving in dark, dank dungeons.  

So, here they are, Amrak, Zandrack, Zarg, Deka and Gallahan, five adventurers who entertained us for countless hours in the early 80s. 


'Amrak the Seeker' is the party's Cleric, and was the character of our friend John. As anyone whose played D&D knows it's almost impossible to form a group of adventurers without having a healer on board. Amrak was a very solid chap.

'Zandrack' is our thief, originally run by George. Zandrack was a good footpad, did all the traps and sneaky stuff, but was bit of a tw@t (see below)

Zandrack's well prepared. I like that he has a grappling hook on his pack.

'Zarg the Terrible' was my old original character, a magic-user. He was kind of superfluous really (thus the 'terrible' moniker), but he became a bit more useful when he got into higher levels. He ultimately died by friendly fire when Zandrack (badly) threw an explosive gem into a room Zarg was in. The b@stard. That was in The Hall of the Fire Giant King'. Anyone remember the old Giant Series?

'Deka Jsell' is Gary's half-orc assassin. As teenagers were very suspicious of Deka (Gary role-played him excellently, being very oily and cagey), so we ultimately ended up killing him as 'a test of his loyalty'. Yep, rolling with our party was a pretty tough gig.*

Deka looks to be a fairly nasty fellow, so I thought that he needed a softer side to him, literally. So I gave him a nice pink blanket that you can just see peeking out from his backpack. You see, this is his childhood blanket, a gift from his assassin mom. You know, for when the nights get chilly and a place to tuck your head under when there's monsters about.

'Gallahan' is our indomitable fighter. He was George's second character. I don't really remember much about him except that he was a very good meat-shield. An adventuring party always needs one of these poor slobs to do the heavy lifting.

*The surviving members of this party were killed in the infamous 'Tomb of Horrors'. I ran that module, my first effort as a DM. I'm still scared by the experience...

There you have it. Our D&D party from the summer of 1980, resurrected for fresh fun and adventures. 

Now, I just need to make a mixed tape of The Cars, Queen, Supertramp, BOC...