Beyond the Keep on the Borderlands

Beyond the Keep on the Borderlands

B/X Dungeons &  Dragons Campaign

 Around late 2014 a good friend of mine - Jeff -  from our glory days as high school nerds were chatting about how there must be some sort of way for us to play games, especially D&D and other RPG games, remotely.  We had a pretty tight knit group of pals in our teens that played a lot of games from the late 70's the 80's - stuff like Car Wars, classic Battletech, early Star Fleet Battles, and of course, Dungeon's and Dragons - the 'edition' of which was the Basic/Expert (known as B/X) Moldavy D&D boxed sets and then the well known Advanced Dungeons & Dragons system now referred to as '1st Ed.' (we didn't see too much of the Basic-Expert-Companion-Master-Immortal system known as BECMI from the Frank Mentzer revision of the Basic D&D system as we had transitioned to AD&D that began releasing in 1977 and into the early '80s). 

As the mid to late 80's approached that group began to fragment as childhood friends do with heading off to college and other post-high school pursuits.  Some of stayed in touch (and still do) and Jeff and I in particular did.  Jeff had landed eventually in North Carolina and at the time I was way up in the rural high country mountains of Colorado.  We were/are both pretty tech-nerd savvy and after a bit of noodling around, we discovered Roll20.

That first foray into the world of the virtual tabletop found us joining B/X campaign of a heckuva nice Dungeon Master in New York City that was just about to start up.  Lo and behold we were suddenly frail and fragile 1st level characters newly arrived at a lonely keep and being tasked with investigating a series of caverns in the nearby hills to the east.  That's right...we were in B2 - The Keep on the Borderlands, and we we're in nerd heaven.  As the weekly game session progressed and most of us were constantly rolling up new characters as we regularly perished each evening (hell my first now forgotten PC didn't even make it past the spiders in the woods the first night), we somehow survived the bandits of the wrecked wagon, got slaughtered one night by the lizardmen in the southern swamp, and began actually planning on looking at the our first foray into the now infamous Caves of Chaos.  Unfortunately, about that time our wonderful DM had some family health issues he had to attend to and had to drop out.  By that time I had now realized the potential that Roll20 and other virtual tabletops presented for RPG and tabletop gaming, so I volunteered to take over the DM duties for the campaign.  

Fast forward to today and that campaign is still running now nearly 9 years later.  Naming it 'Beyond the Keep on the Borderlands,' our group finished off B2 after cleaning out Caves of Chaos (I had heavily reworked the Caves and particulary the evil temple within now called the Temple of Nozteus that had a much larger back story and introduced a running villian in the form of the High Priestess Ruhilde Crowe that has been popping up and pestering the adventurers ever since.) Since then the party journeyed down to the pirate town of Highport, affectionately known as 'Scrape' (from taken from Dungeon Magazine #16 adventure invloving the Green Dragon Vesicant) where they found themselves looking into recent reports of pirates and slavers raiding villages along the nearby coast which became A1 - Slave Pits of the Undercity.  After that we had a bit of a hiatus for a couple years as I had to wrap up grad school and actually go get a job that uses it but on our return we were hired to recover three stolen magical items (S2 - White Plume Mountain) and now have headed to the village of
Hommlet at the base of the Kron Hills near the City of Verbobonc in Veluna to investigate reports of

bandits and other evil  that seem to be gathering around the site of the infamous Temple of Elemental Evil laid to waste some 13 years previous (T1-4).  As of this writing, the group has gotten settled in Hommlet and to some extent Nulb, has cleared out the ruined moathose and the caverns beneath it and learned of the ToE's growing return to it's evil ways, has investigated the compound of the ruined temple itself, and has now had four or five forays into the dungeons and catacombs beneath and is beginning to realize that there is a whole lot more than meets the eye here.

Throughout these past years, now nearly a decade, we've had players come and go as long running campaigns do.  Mostly these are old greybeards like myself and Jeff that have been playing D&D since the 70's and 80's and our nostalgia of still running the B/X D&D system warms our our nerdly hearts.  However, we do have younger players as well including teens of today that seem to really enjoy the simplicity of 'original D&D' as well.  One of the beautiful things about Roll20 and similar systems is

that players have come from all over - usually mostly the United States (mostly due to time zones) but also from New Zealand, the UK, Mexico, Belize, and Brazil (I think)   While nothing beats a face-to-face game session of any type, the ability to gather people from near and far and all meet on a virtual tabletop is a pretty great close second.  It also expands game opportunities for those that may not have them which at times has been me in the past.  And it connects us socially in ways we didn't have before; usually my every other Monday night session of Beyond the Keep on the Borderlands starts with us all shooting the breeze and wistfully reliving adventures gone by, complaining about the latest iteration of D&D and other games not being as good as the old ones (the "those damn kids" discussions), and generally laughing more than playing for 30 minutes to an hour. 

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