Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Very Short Solo Dungeon Adventure

A few weeks ago, I went up to Chicago to drop off my mother-in-law at O’Hare airport. It was time for her to go back to China. We went up a few days early, so that the drive would not be so tiresome. Other than passing the time with my mother, going through more of my father’s work-working tools, there was much to do late at night.

I have been following Tabletop Diversions and Solo Nexus blogs. Both do a lot of solo role-playing games using several systems. Danjou's Hand (Tabletop Diversions) has his own home made dungeon generator. I decided to give a solo dungeon crawl a try. So, after my semi-annual pilgrimage to Games Plus in Mt. Prospect, IL to buy some dice (you can never have enough dice), I had me a game that night.

For this solo game, I used Basic Fantasy RPG (2nd Edition), and No Budget No Frills Pencil and Paper Dungeon Generator (version 4.1) from Tabletop Diversions blog. I really liked the characters I rolled up, especially the magic-user/thief. Unfortunately, they came to a short end.

The Adventure
At a border village of Turonia, three adventures meet in a small, dingy tavern:

Zor the Bastard (Str: 18 Int: 12 Wis: 14 Dex: 13 Con: 13 Crs: 11). The son of a Bruin warrior and a captured Turonian peasant woman, he was shunned by the Bruin tribe where he was born. None the less, Zor became a skilled fighter. When he was able to, he escaped his village. Since then,Zor roamed the northern lands seeking wealth and a way to escape the legacy of his upbringing. He wears a chain mail shirt (sleeveless, of course), and uses a long sword and dagger.

Syllabatar, the magic-user thief (Str: 16 Int: 17 Wis: 7 Dex: 16 Con: 15 Crs: 14). Syllabatar came from the cities of the far south. Expelled from a school of the magical arts because of his carousing and gambling, he turned to thievery for which he found quite profitable. Over time, however, he found himself in the northern wastes and nearly penniless. A winning hand in cards provided him a map to a long abandoned barrow of the dreaded and mysterious Gaels. Other than a cloak, he has no armor. He carries a short sword and two daggers.

Brother Murg (Str: 12 Int: 6 Wis: 15 Dex: 9 Con: 5 Crs: 8). A defrocked priest, Murg has joined with various mercenary bands as their chaplain and healer. He was expelled by his last mercenary company after having drunken brawl with the son of a wealthy employer. Down on his luck, he was desperate to find employment. Murg wears leather armor and has a shield. He uses a mace.

Syllabatar managed to recruit Zor and Murg after a few cheap drinks and tales of fabulous wealth. The next day they set out to find the barrow. Murg’s low constitution means he had a bad hangover. It was several hours of hiking, beyond the borders of the village, but no encounters occurred. They made camp outside of what looked like a small hill with a stone embankment on one side. The night passed uneventfully. The next morning they prepared to enter the barrow. The map had some ruins on it. Syllabatar speaks them and a door swings open from the face of the embankment. The three light torches and enter. They find themselves in a small room. The air is damp and musty. In the middle of it is a 6’ high stele of polished rock. Glowing ruins are engraved on it. Syllabatar reads them and finds it’s a spell of enfeeblement.  He immediately orders the others to avert their gaze. They do, and the spell fails to take hold of them. A single door is on the right side of the room. It is locked and Syllabatar finds that it is trapped. He fails to remove it, and it goes off! A flash of light goes off and they are temporarily blinded. In time they recover, fortunately without any incidents.

This second room longer than the previous one. There are four skeletons lying on the floor. In the middle of the room is a small chest. They look over the skeletons. They clearly have been dead for a long time. Little remains of them but some tattered rags that were their clothes.  Syllabatar inspects the chest. There are no traps but it is locked. He picks the lock. Inside is a large green emerald! They take the gem. There are two doors: one directly across the room another, to the right of them. They choose the door on the right.

The door opens and leads to a short hallway. There is a T-intersection, at which they decide to go left. That was their doom! The hall made a right turn where five Orcs jump them. With a single blow, the largest Orc takes down Zor before he can even react. Syllabatar is slightly wounded by the second largest Orc. Only Murg manages to fend off the first blows by the remaining Orcs. Syllabatar manages to caste a magic missile spell. It knocks out the second largest Orc. Merg smashes one of the smaller Orcs with his mace and tries to get at Zor to heal him, but is just not close enough. Syllabatar just manages to draw his short sword and wounds another Orc. However, his dexterity was not enough to avoid the large cleaver of a scimitar of the largest Orc. Syllabatar goes down in a pool of blood. Merge realizes that there is no way get can get to his companions. He could run and live to fight another day, but decided to fight on and leave his life in the hands of his god. Despite getting another hit in on an Orc, he is overwhelmed and goes down. His prayers were the last words he uttered.

 Post-mortem analysis
 I had hoped the game would last a little longer, but c’est la vie. My adventurers died a quick death despite the fact that I threw them two bones at the beginning. I gave them very generous saving throws on both the magic stele in the first room and the trap on the door leading to the second room. BTW, I made these two traps up on the spot. The random dungeon generator just determines if something you encounter is a monster, trap, something unusual, or empty. I rolled “something unusual” for the first room and a trap for the door. What lost it for the boys was the number of Orcs that attacked them and that they got the first blow. I sort of expected the party to survive the encounter, but they didn’t. Poor Zor didn’t have a chance!

Basic Fantasy RPG is essentially old Advanced D&D that you can download for free. It would seem that Labyrinth Lord is also old AD&D, also free. I have not compared these two systems, but something tells me there isn’t much difference between the two. One thing I will change for my games is how spells work. I've never liked how they worked in D&D, at least in earlier additions. Years ago, I played a computer game called Diablo, which was a dungeon crawl. I liked how they did magic. Both magic users and clerics had "mana" that acted as a magical energy pool. More powerful spells drained you of more mana than weaker spells.

The No Budget No Frills Pencil and Paper Dungeon Generator worked well, but I think I will make some modifications and detail it up, so to speak, especially regarding encounters. For more detail, I referred to one of the sections in Basic Fantasy, but it would be faster if its was all in the Dungeon Generator.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention and giving the No Budget No Frills Pencil and Paper Dungeon Generator a try. Do make modifications and please share them!

    I purposely made it pretty ambiguous since I change systems frequently - either the base RPG I'm using, or how I generate encounters (D30 DM Companion, b/x, Labyrinth Lord, Rory's Story Cubes, etc.), but it definitely slows things down that way.

    As for survival, I find a high mortality rate is inevitable, even though I have my parties running away a lot. Few HPs, poor AC, and difficult target numbers for saving throws means the odds are stacked against the PCs. Never mind that low level thieves often fail to find traps, let alone disarm them.

    I look forward to seeing more of your RPG excursions!