So, one of the most salient parts of the first session was a short combat with goblins and given that it was the first real combat for AD&D that I’ve run in years and I was both amazed at how quick and easy it was. The two things that really, really stood out was that surprise was deadly.
The group was up against five goblins that had surrounded a couple of wagons. I outfitted the goblin, weapon-wise, with what I remembered from my old game. I made a mistake in giving them the AC listed in the module (AC 8), I didn’t remember until Monday or so that I had shifted things down to about AC5 or AC6 “back in the day” but I’m not sure if this would have mattered.
A free round of action by virtue of the character’s surprising the goblins essentially decimated them – the combination of melee, missile weapons, and a Sleep spell that took out two of them. I actually ended up adding another six goblins because it was so anti-climactic and the band took them out in short order as well.
Now in part, this was due to some lucky rolls on the part of the party, they pretty much won out on initiative rolls the following two rounds. I use individual initiative rolls for characters, group initiative for non-leader monsters, and this can really swing a battle one way or the other when one side starts out with an advantage.
It also did an excellent job of confirming (again) the value of superior distance weapons. Between a longbow and two darters, the party far outclassed the goblin with their shortbows, and they had already managed to get their tanks into melee combat to pin folks down and do some damage of their own. It was a quick and bloody fight, and the most damage the party took was from fumbled arrow by Jezebel that caught Tier in the back as he tried to engage the goblins in melee.
That was the other bit of the rules that was interesting – criticals and fumbles. There were a couple of criticals (one of which was minimum damage and ended up doing the least amount of damage during the combat), and a couple of fumbles. As might be reasonable against goblins, the fumbles were much more memorable. An arrow in the back of a comrade, a darter that misfired, and a darter than jammed (thus turning into a very expensive paperweight). Goblins are so little that a critical is almost a waste. At 4HP (I always run with average HP, rounded up) one good hit will kill them in any case and even a couple of light hits will probably take one out. It’s going to be interesting to see how other combat plays out as we see some bigger humanoids, or combat with creatures – this is matching up to dim memories of characters romping through the “normal stuff” and then sweating blood when the supernatural creatures or the evil spell-casters came out play…