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[LL/BD&D] Help my players survive!

Pandora Caitiff

Goblin Princess
Validated User
I'm currently running a game of Labyrinth Lord. We are all experienced gamers, but mostly we play games that are more lenient to the characters, are social interaction-heavy and have no problem with GMs fudging rolls.

As a contrast, I'm running a dungeon-heavy game with the rules as written, letting the dice fall where they may, and generally being impartial to PC and monster alike. (Although I'm mostly using 1HD creatures, and tailoring the magical treasure) It's quite refreshing as this is far from my usual style :)

My players are running two PCs each (making the party 8 characters), and have managed to learn so far:
  • The use of the 10 foot pole for finding traps
  • Not every monster has to be fought
  • Using doorways can limit number of attackers
  • Treasure provides more XP than monsters
  • Running away is fine

However they are still taking heavy losses when combat doesn't go thier way. We've not had a TPK, but most games end with only half the party surviving. I've advised them about the use of spears, and using the terrain to their advantage, but they are not tactically minded, so I don't want to belabour the point.

They are mostly enjoying the game, but someone getting a PC to 2nd level would definitely improve morale!

Can anyone provide some useful advice I can print out for them, or point to any online "survival guides" that aren't too dry?


Vehement atheist
Validated User
Burning oil is your friend. Seriously. Players in my game keep as many oil flasks on them as they can feasibly carry, and use the stuff like molotov cocktails.

If you're down to 1hp and you can't seem to hit anything, run. He who fights and runs away lives to level up later, when he's come back with friends.

Have friends. Lots of them. Hire mooks to help pad out your ranks. Put your Fighter(s) in the front in their plate and shields, with a rank of spear-wielding mercs behind (spears are long enough that they can attack from the second rank). That's six attacks per round coming from your shield wall.

Sneak. Do lots of sneaking. Be paranoid.

Sleep is your friend. If you don't have a Wizard in your group who knows Sleep, get one.

Having level 1 PCs die is unavoidable; you simply have to learn to live with it. It makes hitting level 2 that much sweeter.

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Al Livingstone

Scotland, EU
Validated User
I recently ran some low-level Castles & Crusades as a similar change of pace.

My PCs found the combination of marbles and misslie fire to be a winning one. In other words, keep the opposition at a distance, slow their advance, and make sure everyone has the ability to sustain ranged attacks for a bit. If they can do so from a position of cover, all the better.

The other thing that can make a big difference is when the opposition's morale breaks.

Ivan Sorensen

Amiga fan
Validated User
Burning oil

Missile fire. Everyone should carry long range weapons whether fired or thrown. Most monsters lack this.

Use corridors and doorways to limit the approach of a more numerous enemy

If you outnumber them, fight them in a room where your numbers can be brought to bear

No reason the cleric should not be up front

Thieves should never be near the melee

Dex and Con are not dump stats for any class

Hire some henchmen and get some retainers

Check if the GM is using the morale rules

A spell or potion is no help if you died because you didn't want to use it yet.

If all else fails, run the hell away.

Pandora Caitiff

Goblin Princess
Validated User
Thanks guys. I'll be passing-on the bulk of those. Although some they'd twigged themselves - Sleep is what stopped a string of bad rolls becoming TPKs on multiple occasions :)

I don't know if they'll go for henchmen. They've been grumbling about the lack of XP/loot when split among the party as I've been keeping the opposition fairly low level.

And although they run a fair bit, normally the fights go from "everyone is fine", to "half the party is dead" in a single round. Curse those single digit HP :D


Registered User
Validated User
Guard Dogs are on the LL equipment list. Buy lots and use them! They're not listed in the monsters though, so most GMs use the Wolf stats. They're twice as tough as a 1st level (N)PC, and do respectable damage.

Pandora Caitiff

Goblin Princess
Validated User
Guard Dogs are on the LL equipment list. Buy lots and use them! They're not listed in the monsters though, so most GMs use the Wolf stats. They're twice as tough as a 1st level (N)PC, and do respectable damage.
That's ingenious! I'd not even considered that. :D

Philotomy Jurament

Registered User
Validated User
If you don't have a copy of the 1e PH, you might try to find a used copy. There are some nice essays in the back that talk about successful adventuring.

Age of Fable

+2 pants of comfyness.
Validated User
Do you play that monsters can sometimes be distracted from pursuit by dropping food or treasure (depending on the monster's intelligence)?

Do you use reaction rolls and morale?
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