So, before I forget it all, here's a rundown from our game yesterday.
Low Fantasy Gaming one-shot
We decided the monks knew each other from the monastery in Crow's Keep the city we started in. Rohanna and Toadvine met on the way to the city (both being from elsewhere), and Toadvine and Arlen met because they were both talking to the same cat.
The party was hired by the captain of the Hunter's Guild, Jaspar Hammond, to take supplies and head west into the Forest of Drellnor to ascertain if a party of 12 hunter's sent in search of "Big Beak" a giant owlbear were still alive and bring some kind of proof either way. If we wanted to return with Big Beak's head there'd be even more money in it for us.
The first day on the trail we heard an awful, moist chewing sound coming from ahead. The 2 monks scouted ahead (being skilled in Stealth) to discover a bear carcass being eaten by some kind of centipede creature. We circumnavigated that clearing and continued on, eventually noticing a man-made structure ahead. Once again the monks scouted ahead finding a small farmstead with a human who looked a lot like a hunter standing guard at the dilapitated gate.
Arlen revealed himself and talked to the man, explaining our mission. He let us into the yard. We met 6 men, all from the Hunting Guild. Toadvine, found all their names in his list of the hunter's we were trying to find. They told us about going to Big Beak's lair (a cave), getting surprised and that 6 of their comrades were killed by the owlbear. All that were left were men (and one wonders if that was a coincidence). We have supplies for the hunters and it is late, so they offer to let us stay.
The hunters say they are going back first thing in the morning to the owlbear's lair. Their plan seems to be "go at dawn, attack it." That makes us suspicious. Toadvine suggests getting in trees and just shooting at the thing from a distance. (Do owlbear's climb trees? We think it'd be too big.) The hunter leader seems uninterested in making plans. Like he just wants to run in.
Rohanna and Toadvine are both very suspicious. We try to get the leader to tell us what the hell is going on and what he is not telling us. He demures. The hunter's go into the one building to make dinner. The party investigates the other buildings. An empty chicken coop, a smoke house (recently used, containing some vittles), a house with a hole in the roof being used as sleeping space by the hunters. (For some reason we do not dig around in their belongings looking for clues. At this point it just seemed like maybe something had gone wrong and they were embarrassed or... they were just bad at hunting owlbears...)
We end up having dinner with the hunters, talking to them a bit. Rohanna charms one of the fellas, and he seems kind of freaked out about his colleagues' deaths, saying he didn't really see it. She convinces one or two of them to dance. Toadvine questions hunters about owlbear information and convinces two of them that owlbears get scared if you bark at them like dogs (this was either a morale booster or a cruel joke, I'm not sure which).
Arlen notices another room (down a hallway... never did figure out if there were other rooms, implied by the presence of a hallway), that has been used for dressing meat (maybe those little white chef hat looking things that you see on the legs of roasted turkeys in old cartoons). In the corner is a satchel, inside of which is a weird knife, two-pronged, made of cold iron (good for fighting demons and undead) and a black gem in it. Arlen being a dwarf obsessed with valuables decides "finder's keepers" and pockets it.
Later, we decide to bunk in the chicken coop. We investigate the knife and discuss our suspicions. Rohanna decides to take a watch shift outside (the other shifts being taken by hunters), and the rest of the party keeps their own watch inside the coop (still being suspicious these hunter's might decide to kill us in our sleep).
During Rohanna's watch (coincidence?) she identifies a humanoid with an unusual gait outside the stead (pause as DM walks, dragging one feet behind him across the room and back). The humanoid is circling around the yard. Rohanna warns... Arlen (I think?) who was on watch inside, and the rest of the party awakens.
Rohanna and Arlen head out of the yard to follow the traces of the humanoid, while Toadvine and Dak stay in the yard. Toadvine readies his crossbow. The humanoid comes into the yard and slips into the smokehouse. We block him in, and Arlen and Rohanna go in.
It's... an injured hunter!?!? He's scared. He appears to be stealing meat. He is suspicous of the two-pronged knife, and he's scared of the other hunters. Having expected something bad, we all quickly agree to follow him out of the yard and talk further away.
In the forest he explains his side of the story, which somehow involves the leader of the hunting party deciding to kill half the party with the weird knife and take their hearts for some nefarious purpose. Despite otherwise being suspicious of everyone we all just agree this guy seems to be truthful. Rohanna heals the guy, Farek(?), with her magic so he can walk better and we all head as quickly as possible back towards the city (unclear at this point whether we actually had our supplies with us or left them back at the coop).
As we walk most of us hear the sound of a large creature swiftly approaching. We ready weapons and a very large owlbear ("Big Beak" obv.) rushes in to attack. There is fighting, there is wounding, there is the danger the owlbear will owlbear-hug and completely crush someone.
Dak (I kept wanting it to be Dax like in Deep Space Nine) saves the day on that accord, by using his rope to lasso the owlbear's one paw/arm. He runs around a tree to keep the thing in place. With only one arm to use, the owlbear is slightly less dangerous to the melee combatants: Arlen and Rohanna. Toadvine keeps a distance using his crossbow to shoot (effectively), and Farek shoots his bow (not very effectively, as I recall). After a few rounds, Rohanna also attempts to rope the owlbear's other paw/arm. She manages to lasso it but fights against its massive strength unable to pin it. Eventually the owlbear is killed by a crossbow bolt to its femoral artery. It falls. We take the head (our proof) and continue rushing back to the city.
The Hunter's Guild captain takes Farek's and our story as truth and sends out a large party to find the remaining hunter's. We split our 600gp reward and go party, sleep, repeat.
Eric is running a bunch of one-shots for us using different games he wanted to try (and then had us vote on). This was the first of the bunch. Personally, I wasn't impressed with the rule system Low Fantasy Gaming, it's pretty much B/X D&D with a bunch of rules hacks of different sorts added on, none of which are too exciting or novel. It changes "Wisdom" to "Willpower" and adds "Perception" to the ability scores, to no great advantage (other than giving an excuse to have people make lots of perception rolls). It uses a roll-under ability score mechanic which is unofficial in most old D&D rulesets but a broadly used mechanic regardless. It adds skills, but they only give you a +1 to your relevant ability (for purposes of roll-under) and there isn't really a "unskilled" penalty, so on a d20 roll having the skill is mechanically not very helpful. Role-playing-wise the skills do add color to the PCs, but my character, for instance, had 7 skills, which is more color than I needed to go on.
Classes do have special abilities, more like 3rd edition, I guess, but if you are into lots of special abilities you must as well just play 5th edition. It adds a bunch of commonly used things like luck and reroll polls and formal rest rules and some kind of injury rule (that didn't come up so I'm not clear on what it is) but none of it is particularly different than anything other games use or that you can just easily house rule.
For me, at least, I'd just as happily play B/X (or lately, Old School Essentials the clone with the best design for play) if I want a lighter rules game and 5e if I want something with lots of bells and whistles.
I got the feeling Eric was more interested in the implied setting of "low fantasy" with less magic, more dangerous magic use, etc. But that too could just be put to use for really any other rule set. Even in 5e, the Adventures in Middle-Earth books from Cubicle 7 provide a variety of interesting class options that are not so "everyone gets spells" as normal 5e.
Next time the game of choice is Colonial Gothic which so far I understand is Call of Cthulhu in colonial America using only d12s.