For now, lets see what an Old School character looks like, generated and maintained using Aaron Allstons Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, from TSR circa 1991. Here they are, the Tegel Campaign player characters . . .
Shield, dagger, sling, tinder box, torches, rope, and two flasks of oil.
Luthena is fairly new to the Tegel Campaign and as such shes still catching up to the others in certain categories, like material wealth. Still, shes one of the toughest and fightingest characters in the party and never shies away from combat. She holds the record for the highest initiative roll: 13. Jess was put in his place. Also, shes the hands down winner of this years "14 Roll-Off."
Short bow, torch, lantern, wine, rope, arrows, chain mail, a hand axe
named Bibliowhacker, a short sword named Goblin Nicker, a warhammer named
Skelemasher, a crossbow, and something called "firetongue" that
Im going to have to ask Peter about.
Items: The Helm of Jaerik.
Treasure: 762 gp, 78 sp, 82 cp, and the deed to Tegel Manor.
Snarf is the solid core of the Tegel Campaign party. Sure, he dresses in womens clothing the few times he isnt naked all together, but hes courageous and resolute to the last. Snarf has a fondness for the finer things in life, though he never actually manages to get any of the finer things in life. After finding an especially well-loaded treasure hoard, Snarf skipped back to town and made Altarontha -- the lady who ran the local boarding housean offer she couldnt refuse. She moved out the next day and Snarf became the proprietor of the inn. When he demanded that the two men who worked there, Shark Mersin and Vinca One Eye, accept a cut in pay, they burned the place down leaving Snarf to pay for the clean-up. The rest of the party actually considers this one of Snarfs successes.
Permanently affixed to his head is an extraordinary magic helmet called:
The Helm of Jaerik
The helm is magic. It sticks to anyone who puts it on and it wont come off without knock or dispel magic being cast on it. Once its removed from someones head by magic means, it will never go back on that head (like two magnets trying to touch the wrong ends). If a character dies wearing it, it still adheres, and if anyone touches the body after the first midnight passes after the death, that character becomes a zombie (if in the first year after death) or a skeleton.
The helm has a different power every day. At midnight, roll 1d12:
Snarf is also the rightful owner of Tegel Manor, as the document below will prove. He found it in a dungeon somewhere.
There might be more of all of the above on her scratch paperthe same sheet of which shes been using for a year.
Mrs. Bojangles is the boss of the party in much the same way Lizz is the boss of everyone Lizz knows in real life. She will look for traps if asked nicely but you will not ask her to open anything. Mrs. Bojangles is also the baddest character in the party, on every level. She makes excellent use of her Dexterity and thief abilities, once even pulling off a kick-ass Jet Li move in a narrow corridor.
Lizz wins the prize for the messiest, least organized character sheet. I just have to show you:
I really just take her word for it at this point.
Cleric of Frantilla, Goddess of Flying
Equipment: Mace, sling, backpack, shield, holy symbol, waterskin, four torches, bandages, Snarfs clothes (dont ask), and plate mail.
Magic Items: A staff that so far healed Plathus once but didnt heal Snarf but that she hasnt had a chance to have analyzed yet; a helm that sometimes makes her fly into a berserk frenzy, which, though hilarious, she never wears; what appears to be a scroll of some kind; and I think thats it.
Treasure: A pouch of unknown zombie tea dust (again, dont ask), two bracelets worth 150 gp each, a silver half-moon necklace, 806 gp, 197 sp, 610 cp, a book titled The Day I was Stabbed in Modron, and the diary of someone shes never met named "Catherine R."
Flowerbottom can, like all 5th-level clerics in Basic D&D, automatically disintegrate the first 2d6 skeletons or zombies she encounters. This has forced me to enact the following, till now unwritten rule: skeletons and zombies will henceforth be encountered in groups of 2d6+12.
Flowerbottom has injected a level of sensitivity into the game. She even went so far as to shed a tear when the local priestess, a cleric of another faith no less, tragically committed suicide. The rest of the party didnt care, but she went so far as to try to make funeral arrangements and take over as the humble villages spiritual leader.
Shell be punished for that in the weeks ahead.
Spellbook: Magic missile, read magic, charm person, protection from evil, detect magic, analyze, entangle, mirror image, ESP, and locate object.
Equipment: Long bow, 20 arrows (of which hes fired eight), shield, sword, plate mail, backpack, six torches, tinder box, hammer, five spikes, six days worth of rations, a jar of garlic, a jar of sweet and sour syrup, and three flasks of oil. Hes made note of his intention to buy a cauldron and a big wooden spoon.
Magic Items: Rumpoles Arm, which is a magic halberd that can detect traps (but not always) and allows Lardus to fly. He also had a really cool magic throwing knife, but he let that one get away.
Treasure: A book titled Recipes for the Preparation of Human Flesh by Retok, another book this one titled Why I Hate the Gods by Rodek the Rational, 418 gp, 317 ep, 318 sp, 615 cp, 142 gp, 613 gp, 3870 cp, 53 cp, 5 sp, 13 gp, 1 gp, 20 sp, 140 cp, 6 gp, 20 sp, and 82 cp.
On the opposite end of the character sheet spectrum from Lizzs Mrs. Bojangles is Jamess ultra-neat Lardus. Not only did he actually write down how many arrows he bought in the first place, but hes actually been tallying off the ones hes fired. A man after my own heart. Im not sure what happened when he got to the "MONEY and TREASURE" box on the sheet. It does seem though that at some point they must have found a bunch of copper pieces that, when divided between the party members, gave each of them 82. Hmm.
Weve already gone over Larduss inability to hit anything, so I think the only burning question left is the whole Elf/Orc thing and what thats all about. Well, in Basic D&D, there is no class/race distinction. All elves are fighter/magic-users, and all halflings and dwarves are basically fighters with some special abilities. Lardus started life as an elf and in all ways, including his continued ability to cast spells, he still is, but thanks to one of Tegel Manors many chaotic surprises, he now looks like an orc.
My favorite thing about Lardus is that when his halberd gives him an uneasy feeling about something . . . he listens!
Spellbook: Read magic, protection from evil, detect magic, magic missile, charm person, analyze, entangle, mirror image, ESP, and locate object.
Equipment: Crossbow, 44 bolts, long bow, 50 arrows, plate mail, two-handed sword, backpack, three flasks of oil, small pouch, rope, wineskin, helm, and a few other things I couldnt read.
Magic Items: A jeweled +1 sword that glows, producing light in a 20-foot radius; a Ghost Dispelling Blade, which is a +1 sword that has a 75% chance of dispelling ghosts; an arrow of speaking; the Amulet of Fromaz Din; a ring of holiness; gauntlets of ogre power; and a potion of black dragon control.
Treasure: A ring hes never had appraised, 1,403 gp, 175 ep, 410 sp, and 5,201 cp.
I really hope Jess doesnt think Plathus is actually carrying all this stuff. For the record, this is what happens when youre a nice guy and dont whine about encumbrance.
Jess was worried about this article revealing things about his character that he was keeping secret from the rest of the party. Theres one of these in every group, isnt there? Reminds me of my friend Gordon who once played a Neutral Evil fighter/cleric who never told anyone he was a cleric and only healed himself. My only consolation to Jess is not detailing what the Amulet of Fromaz Din actually does.
Plathus was, until recently, possessed of the Dreaded Two-Hand Attack. A trap cut off his right hand, though, so now he uses the Dreaded Left-Hand Attack. Neither really works well for him, but he at least he always rolls high for initiative so we get his 1-2 misses out of the way fast.
Isnt it weird that Plathus has way more magic items than anyone else?
Equipment: Plate mail, sword, shield, long bow, waterskin, tinder box, rope, 10 spikes, small hammer, backpack, six torches, rations, a flask of oil, dagger, and a quiver of arrows.
Magic Items: None. She should get on the ball. Maybe Plathus can spare a couple.
Treasure: 39+142 gp, 28 sp, and 82 cp.
Hey, theres those 82 cp again!
Laura is the newest addition to the Wizards of the Coast Book Publishing team, and the newest player in the Tegel Campaign, so her character is still kind of wimpy and doesnt have much stuff. Lauras learning quickly and Smedly has the potential to become a fighter to be reckoned with. Shes definitely the strong silent type.
Of course, I could always make her the victim of some sort of curse or geas or something. Its worked for everyone else at one time or another. . . .
And so there it is, the Tegel Campaign and the characters that bring it to life, played in the second floor conference room in the west building of Wizards of the Coasts corporate offices in Renton, Wash., over lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The campaigns message? If there is one, I guess its that D&D -- whatever edition you use -- is a game, and a damn fun one. Rules make it work, but dont forget the fun.
About the Author
Phil Athans is a senior editor in Book Publishing at Wizards and the author of the successful novelization Baldurs Gate. For more about Phil, read his author biography.
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