As I was sitting down to get ready for my last B/X D&D game of 2021, I was thinking about Old School Essentials… I don’t currently use OSE because I’ve got 40 years of B/X under my belt and I know exactly where to find everything I ever need in those books. So using OSE is a pain in the ass because THINGS AREN’T WHERE THEY SHOULD BE. I can’t just open the Expert rules to the page with the guy with the wyvern logo fighting the gargoyle to find the equipment lists, for instance.
Since there was still an hour before game started… I pulled out the Advanced Fantasy books and Ruins of the Undercity, rolled up a few characters and went exploring beneath Cryptopolis for a bit to try to familiarize myself with the rules placement. I specifically chose the Advanced OSE so I couldn’t just abort to B/X if I couldn’t find something. So far it hasn’t been that bad… just a little time-consuming (as solo dungeoneering usually is anyways).
The first expedition (map shown above) was going well until we found room 3, a tiny little space (an old tomb it appears) packed with 34 Jinxkin. Thirty Four. And on top of it, they trap any room they are in, so we lost Gefrex the fighter to contact poison on the door. We quickly stepped back and retreated the hell out of there… And they have a TON of treasure and are guarding a secret door out of there… but getting the treasure is going to be a whole other problem.
On this map the first expedition route is marked in yellow, and the second expedition route is marked in green.
And our second expedition was very… wet. Much of the western portion of the complex is flooded waist-deep with stagnant water and it seems no monsters want to hang out in the wet areas except those damned scuba-diving jinxkin. We engaged another adventuring party and fought dirty only to discover they only had conch shells and some ancient electrum. Then it was skeletons, and some flinds whose leader was sporting a pair of fancy golden bracers (our only major treasure from this run), and finally, in room 8 we ran into a competing faction of little trap-builders…. Mites in a trapped room with secret doors into multiple areas around them. And our front rank fell into their pit trap before the fight began. It was close, but we didn’t actually lose anyone, and we beat a hasty retreat out again.
We’re running out of places to explore here… we might have to bribe someone into showing us another way into the ruins of the undercity.
Overall I like how Gavin has assembled these books, and since I’m playing the Advanced Fantasy version I’m a little less irritated when I can’t find something that I would find instantly in the B/X books. I think the only thing that’s really driving me nuts is the decision to do the monster stat blocks in a paragraph style instead of the mini-header style of classic B/X. An important improvement compared to AEC Labyrinth Lord is having the class spell lists BEFORE the spell descriptions instead of after.