Posts Tagged ‘Warrior Heroes’

Review: Two Hour Dungeon Crawl

Posted: 5 December 2015 in Reviews
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I can’t resist random dungeon generators, which is bizarre because I almost never use them, and I know that when I buy them. Let’s call it a Quirk.

Anyway, 2HDC is a fast, simple dungeon crawler from the THW stable and using their house engine, the reaction system; in my case, a 47 page PDF. Rather than a detailed chapter by chapter review, I’m aiming for more of a summary this time. Note that 2HDC is designed exclusively for solo or co-op play, there is no head-to-head option.

Character creation is more complex than usual for a THW game, as there are 15 races and 8 professions (in effect, character classes) to choose from, each granting various bonuses and penalties. Armour also comes in multiple types rather than the usual THW "you either have armour or you don’t", and there are shields too.

The combat system is much the same as Swordplay, which is in turn a variant of Chain Reaction (both reviewed here), so I’ll gloss over that; being familiar with those, what I bought this for was the dungeon generator. 2HDC does add magic to the Swordplay engine, in the shape of three generic spells: Damage (magical shooting), Dazzle (miss a turn) and Defend (count as shielded). There are also healers, who as you might expect from their title heal injured characters.

Items of gear are more restricted in numbers and variety than in most current THW games, and largely weapons or armour. Assorted magic items are also available, although you find them in dungeons or get given them as rewards rather than buying them.

Now to the meat of the game, the dungeons. You begin by consulting tables to work out what the boss monster of the dungeon is, and why your little band is going in there (you can always choose this).  The dungeon is then generated as the group explores; they begin in a corridor, and then tables are used to generate each new area ("tile") as they move in the time-honoured fashion; corridors, rooms, T junctions, stairs and so on. Rooms or dead ends may have secret rooms in them, which generally contain undead, traps, or vermin. There’s occasional treasure, obviously. Rooms are all the same size and have exits in the same places, although there’s nothing stopping you making that more interesting – the rules suggest using any actual dungeon tiles you might have.

From time to time the group will meet something, and the action then shifts to a "battle board" off to one side, which is potentially at a larger scale and is where fights are played out using the combat and magic rules. As well as monsters (which are themed around the boss monster), you might encounter rival parties.

Campaigns are essentially a series of dungeons where you carry over your loot from one game to the next.

Overall Rating: Let’s call it 3 out of 5. I’m ambiguous about this one; unusually, just reading it doesn’t tell me whether I would enjoy playing it or not. I guess I should try it and see what happens. Maybe later.

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So, I cracked and bought Warrior Heroes: Legends by Two Hour Wargames.

Now, the heart of this is the reaction system, which I play on an ongoing basis – the campaign most relevant to WHL is Talomir Nights, run under its spiritual predecessor Warrior Heroes: Armies & Adventures, at least so far.

(No Talomir Nights link for you, lazybones, go click on the one in the left menu bar over there. If you want to check out the game engine without spending any money, go to the THW website and get the free Swordplay rules. Or Chain Reaction if you prefer guns to bows and arrows.)

As a review, then, this doesn’t follow my usual pattern, it’s more a collection of first impressions; I daresay I’ll play it in due course, and then you’ll see the rules in action. Mostly, I’m thinking of how it compares with WHAA.

Character creation: Feels more detailed and with more options than WHAA, especially in regard to races. (This is a comparison from memory, mind you, as I don’t have the motivation for a detailed crosscheck between the books.) Like ATZ, WHL now uses Rep, Pep and Sav as the main attributes of a figure; the table of attributes (advantages and disadvantages) has been split into several tables depending on your chosen race and class.

Combat: Uses the latest version of In Sight (roll Rep d6 looking for successes, i.e. rolls of 1-3). However, only the group leader rolls, not every figure individually.

Magic: Is much simplified from WHAA, and more like the approach used in Larger Than Life. There are only three spells, Damage, Defend and Dazzle, which represent the game effect of the spell rather than the descriptive trapping. You want your Damage spell to be a fireball? Go ahead. You want it to be a swarm of miniature poisonous Simon Cowells in spandex? Fine. Magic was the area of WHAA I struggled with most, so I think this more basic system will suit me well.

(As an aside, I notice that WHL and Beasts & Barbarians share a number of similarities in how they treat casters/sorcerors and healers/alchemists. How could I use that? For further study.)

Challenges: Follow the ATZ model in using 2d6 vs relevant skill, which may be Rep, Pep or Sav, although the number of possible modifiers on the roll looks bigger.

Maps: WHL focusses in on the northwest corner of Talomir, covering only four countries: Mirholme (Vikings), Tereken (mediaeval Irish), Altengard (German Imperialists, much like the Empire in Warhammer), and the Capalan League (condottieri). WHAA has many more nations, but not Mirholme or Tereken. Campaign movement sees these broken down into 3-6 provinces each, with a map showing how they relate to each other, rather than WHAA’s more abstract view that you’re either in the heart, the countryside, or the borders of a nation.

Items: The use of Items to represent equipment, as in 5150: New Beginnings or ATZ. The principle here is that bookkeeping is boring, so you start with as many items as twice your Rep, and an Item can be anything you like – a gold coin, a starship, a house, a sword; anything. This sounds like it would be easy to abuse, but I have yet to see that happen in play. Plus, as you’ll have seen in my game reports, the life of a THW Star is often brutal and short, so why not let him enjoy his Items while he can? This replaces the WHAA approach which effectively subsumed all that stuff into a character’s Social Standing rating. Items need more bookkeeping, and I’m not sure which I prefer yet. One new wrinkle – or at least I haven’t noticed it before in other THW rules – is that if a Star cheats death (using one of his special abilities to escape an otherwise certain demise), he loses all Items on his person. Looted and left for dead.

Settlements: These are treated in more detail than WHAA, being split into villages, towns, cities and dungeons; WHAA treated all urban areas much the same, whereas in WHL what kind you’re in determines the services available, and there are now rules for what neighbourhoods are in the settlement, what the buildings are, and when they’re open for business. Encounters now include potential employers of various types, and missions on which they might send you; the rules here look to be right in the sweet spot between not enough guidance (WHAA) and too much information (5150: New Beginnings).

Dungeons: Curiosity about the dungeon rules is what finally convinced me to buy WHL. Like the magic rules, these are much simpler than those in WHAA; possibly too simple, as dungeons, which are now built by drawing cards from a deck, consist of undefined areas; each area may be a treasure room, stairs, or neither, and may or may not have enemy forces in them; all areas are three figures wide and 12" long, so you can think of that as being all tunnels and corridors, or an abstraction of whatever is really there, much like Classic Traveller‘s personal combat on a pad of lined paper. I will probably want to embellish that, I think.

Pre-Generated Grunts: As in the latest edition of ATZ, the quick reference section includes a range of pre-generated characters, which speeds up encounters considerably. There are also a range of partially completed character cards for recurring characters, including possibly your Star and his band.

CONCLUSIONS

As with the SF universe of 5150, Two Hour Wargames seems to be splitting their fantasy setting in two; one set of rules for wargamers (Rally Round the King) and one for RPG enthusiasts (Warrior Heroes: Legends). WHAA covered both bases.

In adopting the latest version of various rules, it feels like a hybrid of WHAA and 5150: NB, which is not a bad thing.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5. I expect to play this at some point, but I don’t get the urge to drop everything else and do that right now which would give it the coveted 5.

“Don’t listen to what I say. Watch what I do.” – Gary Gilmour

I had intended to do reviews of these fine games from Two Hour Wargames; but then I thought – in a sense, much of the blog is devoted to reviewing them already, by means of the didactic battle reports I post here.

So if you want to know in detail how they work…

  • All Things Zombie is the game engine behind the 28 Months Later campaign.
  • Large Than Life was the ruleset for most of The Arioniad season 1.
  • Warrior Heroes: Armies and Adventures is what I use for Talomir Nights.

One-third to one-half of all my gaming time goes on these little beauties. I can give them no higher recommendation than that.

As an experiment, I applied the rules from S John Ross’ Mediaeval Demographics Made Easy to the Border Kingdoms, my favourite bit of the WHAA world. This is what happened…

AREA AND POPULATION

First, how big are they? Well… WHAA doesn’t have a scale on the map, nor does it need one; but several of the countries are based on France, which is about 500-600 miles across. It takes five strategic moves to cross a country, so each is about 100 miles. Crossing the entire map East to West would take 35 moves, so the map as a whole is 3,500 by 2,100 – call it 7.4 million square miles, about the same size as Canada and the USA combined.

There is a hexgrid version of the map online at the THW Yahoo! forum, which is 41 x 28 hexes, so I could call them 100 mile hexes and be close enough for my purposes. I was curious by this time, so asked on the forum – Ed Teixeira of THW confirmed that the hexes are in the region of 100 miles across (thanks Ed!). By my count, the Border Kingdoms have 63 hexes, and a hex is roughly 8,660 square miles, so the total area is about 546,000 square miles.

I figure a population density of about 40 per square mile – the same as mediaeval England – is about right. That’s at the lower end, but then there are goblins, orcs and dark elves half-surrounding it, so it’s not a happy place. The overall population is thus about 22 million – I’m working in big handfuls here because the error margin in my initial assumptions is about plus or minus 20%, so there is not much point in being tremendously accurate.

CITIES AND TOWNS

As this is an experiment, I’m using the average rolls for the dice Mr Ross recommends. Following his rulings, we find the city and town sizes to be as follows:

  • Acromerinth, the capital, has a population of 70,000 people, and covers nearly two square miles of ground. Wow, that is a lot more than I would have guessed. Roughly the size of Paris or Genoa in the mediaeval period.
  • The second biggest city, which I’ll label “B” for the moment, has 35,000 people. About the size of historical London.
  • “C” has 26,000
  • “D” has 19,700
  • “E” has 14,800
  • “F” has 11,000
  • “G” has 8,300.

The seven listed so far are the ones big enough to be called cities; from this point on we must call them towns, and decide whether we’re using the pre-Crusades model or the post-Crusades one. I’ll opt for pre-Crusades for this test.

  • Town “H” has a population of 6,200.
  • “I” has 4,700
  • “J” has 3,500
  • “K” has 2,600
  • “L” has 2,000
  • “M” has 1,500
  • “N” has 1,100

And below that, we tail off into villages and hamlets. So far, there are 14 towns and cities, with a total population of 171,400 – not quite 1% of the total; one urban concentration per 39,000 square miles.

INHABITED LANDS AND WILDERNESS

Since a square mile of arable land at this technological level will support about 180 people, around 122,000 square miles of the Kingdoms are populated – about 22% of the total, or 14 hexes; so each populated hex has a town or city in it somewhere, surrounded by a network of villages, most probably every few miles along the roads between the towns. The remaining 78% of the Kingdoms (49 hexes) are wilderness. This is a dark and scary place to live.

FORTIFICATIONS

To work this out, I need to know how long the Kingdoms have had a castle-building culture, and for no good reason I decide 500 years.

This and the total country population give me 98 ruined castles, and 440 currently in use. 75% of both categories are in the 14 town/city hexes, the rest are scattered all over the place.

BUSINESSES IN ACROMERINTH

I don’t need to work through Mr Ross’ entire list of shops and trades, but picking out some highlights:

  • There are 1,750 clergymen and 64 actual priests.
  • There are 350 noble families.
  • 200 healers of various stripes, of which 41 are “proper” doctors with some sort of recognised qualification.
  • 175 each of jewellers and taverns/restaurants.
  • 25 “magic shops” – places where you can buy ingredients, scroll paper etc.
  • 35 inns where the adventurers could stay

If I set the “SV” for wizards to an average value for unlisted businesses of 15,000, there are 4-5 wizards in town.

CONCLUSION

I’m not likely to use this method for many places, because I play fast and loose in all my campaigns. However, even with conservative estimates, the Border Kingdoms have many more towns and cities than I would have expected, and both the total and urban populations are higher than I thought.

A big, post-Crusades country like Capalan or Altengard is going to outnumber them dramatically. It looks like the big edge those two have over the earlier cultures like Seniira is not the arquebus, but sheer numbers of urban population.

This one’s for Rick Devonshire (Hi, Rick!): How to do a WHAA dungeon crawl without figures or terrain. This is a didactic post with very little in-character dialogue. At the bottom of the post is the final dungeon, just as I scribbled it during play; one 5mm square to the tabletop inch.

Visually, this approach is not very attractive, but it has advantages:

  • It’s dirt cheap. The price of the rules and some dice, and you’re away.
  • It’s extremely portable. Anywhere I have room to set out the rules and a pad of paper, and roll some dice, I can do this.
  • You can make bigger dungeons than if you were using figures and terrain. Just use a smaller grid on the graph paper.
  • I can stop at any time if interrupted, and pick up where I left off.

SETUP

I’ll use the Brass Dragons as the PCs (blue pen), and arbitrarily select undead as the opposition (red pen), although I could easily have diced for what they’re up against. I set W = 2”. The Dragons form up outside the entrance:

  • Front rank: Johann, Gervaise
  • Second rank: Ispitan, Gottfried
  • Third rank: Beatrice
  • Fourth rank: Sir Charles (grumbling about not being in the van), Jean-Paul

Blue numbers show where the characters are at the end of each exploration turn; red numbers show where PEFs and undead are at the end of the turns. “A”, “B”, “C” are the three PEFs, “S” = Sentry.

TURN 1

“Turn” for this report refers to “exploration turn”, with combat being detailed within that as necessary.

A roll of 2 on the Lair Entrance table (p. 59) tells me we start with a passageway. Further rolls in section 5 tell me it’s W wide and 4” long, with a left turn at the end. A roll on the Traps table (p. 58) shows there is no trap.

TURN 2

Same process as for turn 1, as this is another passageway around the bend. No traps yet, and the passage is as wide as before and 10” long, ending in a single door. A roll of 5 tells me it is locked; Gottfried to the fore, and he rolls 1, 3 vs Rep 5 to pass 2d6 and pick the lock. The Beyond the Door and Special tables (p. 61) and a roll of 1 on each, show me we have stairs down. A check on the Passageways table (p. 54) shows these are W wide and 7” long; because I’m running off the edge of the page, I decide they run off at a 90 degree angle.

TURN 3

Alas, as Johann steps through onto the stairs, he triggers a level 4 trap. He rolls 1, 2, 3, 5 vs Rep 4 and passes 3d6; the trap rolls 1, 2, 2, 5 vs Rep 4 and also passes 3d6. He is unharmed, but the trap remains dangerous. (If I were writing in character, I’d decide what the trap was at this point, but mechanically it doesn’t matter.)

Gottfried moves forwards as the party “specialist” (Rep 5) and I roll again to see if the trap springs a 6 means it does, and the trap randomly affects one explorer; that turns out to be Ispitan. The trap rolls 2, 2, 4, 5 and passes 3d6′; Ispitan rolls 1, 2, 2, 4, 5 and passes 5d6, disarming it as he has more successes.

The party descend to the second level.

TURN 4

At the foot of the stairs, they find a passageway 9” long and 2W wide. At the end are three doors, one on each side and one directly ahead. There is also a level 5 trap. It rolls 2, 2, 3, 3, 4 vs Rep 5 and passes 5d6. Johann, in the lead, rolls 1, 3, 5, 6 vs Rep 4 and passes 2d6. Johann is struck as if by a missile weapon of Rep 5 and Impact 5. I find the Firing Table in the Adventures QRS; Johann rolls 4d6 vs 3 (1, 2, 3, 6) and passes 3d6, while the trap rolls 3, 4, 4, 6, 6 and passes 3d6. As both scored the same number of successes, the trap misses him.

After rereading the trap rules several times, I decide this means it is disarmed.

The party quickly discuss their options and decide to try the east door. It’s locked, but Gottfried quickly deals with that. Alas, it proves to be a false door thanks to rolls on the tables on p. 61.

South door, then. This also submits to Gottfried’s lockpicks, and beyond lie stairs up to the first level. I’m certainly rolling a lot of specials today. These are not trapped, and end in an unlocked door.

TURN 5

Beyond the door is a chamber, 6W in area, with one other door in the west wall.

On finding the first chamber, I roll on p. 62 for the Lair Alertness. Rep 3, –1 because this is the first chamber, +0 because we have broken 0 doors down so far; 3, 6 vs Rep 2 is pass 0d6, so there are no sentries, but there may be occupants.

I set aside three PEFs, and roll 1d6 for each: 4, 5, 6. Since none of these is a “1”, none of them are in the first chamber.

The other door is locked, and this time Gottfried is unable to persuade it.

TURN 6

Knowing full well that breaking down the door increases the chance of encounters, the explorers backtrack down the stairs to the door they haven’t checked yet.

Gottfried has more luck with this. It opens onto a chamber, 12W in area, with one other door in the north wall. I roll 3, 3, 6 for the PEFs; as none of these are 1 or 2, there are no PEFs present.

(At this point, I have to pick up some visitors from the train station, so I put down the pens and graph paper. This is why I mark the end of turn positions; I can pick up where I left off, maybe days later.)

TURNS 7-14

(It is indeed several days before I can return to this skirmish. I open up my notebook, feeling smug, and carry on. I’ll speed up a bit, though, as you should have the idea by now.)

More stairs! No trap though. At the bottom is a left turn, just as well as otherwise I’d go off the page. We’re now underneath the original entrance corridor. A right turn next does take us off the page, so I resort to my usual stand-by of a cave-in blocking further progress.

Nothing else for it; back to Chamber 1 and break down the door. Ispitan mutters “Stand aside!” and breaks down the door by rolling 2d6 vs Rep (5), scoring 4, 5 and passing 2d6. A spell of mighty puissance, no doubt, since the door is now broken. Beyond is a wide corridor, at the end of which is a T junction. To the right, a short passage ending in a right turn (you can see I got the width wrong, but who cares?); that would end in a door, but it would be too complex to draw, so I make it a dead end. To the left from the T junction, a slightly longer passage ending in a door.

Beyond the door is chamber 3, which contains PEFs B and C (the room number counts as 5 now we have broken down a door). A couple of quick rolls on the tables on p. 54 reveal both PEFs are false alarms; the skeletons here are the plain vanilla, non-animated kind.

TURNS 15-18

It’s been pretty uneventful so far, hasn’t it? I decide Gottfried can take a Difficult challenge test on p. 64 to find a secret door in chambers 1 or 2, or the wide corridor from turns 11-13. The consequences of failure will be that he triggers a trap in each case, 50/50 for a level 4 or 5 trap. A Difficult test reduces his Rep by 2, so he is rolling against an effective Rep of 3. Corridor first; 3, 6 vs 3 is pass 1d6 – I opt to roll again, and get 1, 4. This would normally count as pass 1d6, but is reduced to pass 0d6 for the retry, meaning a trap is triggered. I roll 1d6, with 1-3 counting as a level 4 and 4-6 as a level 5 trap; level 4. The trap rolls 4, 5, 5, 6 and passes 1d6; Gottfried rolls 1, 2, 3, 3, 4 and passes 5d6, easily disarming it.

It’s the same story in chamber 2, except with a level 5 trap. The trap passes 5d6, Gottfried passes 4d6 and gets a Shield Die – a 6 – which negates one of the trap’s successes, so no harm done but the trap is still dangerous. The party misses a turn, composing itself.

In chamber 1, though, Gottfried finds a secret door. Beyond is chamber 4, which contains PEF A. This is the main body of the enemy forces; 1d6+6 gives a result of 12 on the “How many of them?” table, or 54 CV. I now dice on the Undead army list in the quick reference section until I get at least 54 CV of opposition. This proves to be 3 chariots, one of which is the Big Bad, 5 cavalry, 7 archers, and 24 infantry. Using the table on p. 10, I determine that the Big Bad has no particular advantages, just the usual ratings. They’ll probably be enough.

“Mummy!” cries Gervaise.

“Errm, no, actually,” says Ispitan. “Just skeletons… Oh, I see what you mean. That is rather a lot of skeletons, isn’t it?”

This is why dungeoneering parties are usually small.

TURN 19

Finally, a fight! Note that this is both good news, because we can hope to find loot now, and bad news, because now more PEFs will start turning up.

The two sides are well within 12” of each other, so a Test of Wills is in order. The skeletons have a Rep 3 leader, and Ispitan is Rep 5; but the skeletons are Undead, and so automatically pass 3d6, and inspire Terror, so Ispitan rolls –1d6 for that; he scores 1, 1, 6, 6 vs 3 and passes 2d6. The skeletons have passed one more d6, so test to charge. Since Undead always pass at least as many charge dice as their enemies, and Ispitan can choose how many dice he passes, he can’t pass more d6; he opts to score the same number of passes, so that as defender he can fire and cast, and then the skeletons will charge home.

Ispitan opts to cast Dazzle. He rolls 2, 2, 5, 5, 5 vs Rep (5) and passes 2d6; the skeletons resist, rolling 2, 4, 5 vs Rep (3) and passing 1d6. For the first time ever, Ispitan succeeds in casting a spell; the skeletons halt in place and can only defend using 1d6.

“Kill them! Quickly!” shouts Ispitan “Before they recover!”

“Are zey not already dead?” mutters Jean-Paul.

Nonetheless, the two crossbowmen open fire; Gervaise rolls 1, 2, 2, 4 vs Rep (4), and Jean-Paul rolls 1, 2, 3, 4 vs Rep (4); both pass 3d6. The skeletons, being dazzled, roll only 1d6 each; 1 and 6 vs Rep (3), so one passes 1d6 and the other 0d6. The crossbow’s impact of 7 at close range (less than 6”) easily pierces the skeleton’s AC of 2, and with rolls of 2 and 4 on the Firing Damage Table, both are Out Of the Fight. Two down, 37 to go.

Note that I don’t play melee exactly as in the rules; I resolve the entire combat by the first round of die rolls.

Sir Charles and Johann now wade into the fray, followed closely by Beatrice and Gottfried. It’s a big room, so I figure they can face off against three skeletons each – this is important, as in WHAA melee successes (probable this round) count against all figures in combat. (You’ll notice I haven’t needed to lay out figures or terrain yet, and I don’t plan to, either.)

Sir Charles, Rep 4, has sword and shield; Johann has Rep 4 and a halberd, but being a Star he ignores such constraints as fighting room. The skeletons each roll 1d6, as they are dazzled: 1, 1, 3, 1, 5, 5. Sir Charles rolls 1, 4, 6, 6 and passes 1d6; Johann rolls 4, 4, 4, 6 and passes 0d6. All are evenly matched, except for skeleton #4, which passed one more d6 than Johann; Johann is pushed back 1” and loses 1d6.

Beatrice is Rep 4 with a sword; Gottfried is Rep 5 with a dagger. Bea rolls 2, 3, 5, 5 and passes 2d6. Gottfried rolls 3, 4, 4, 6 and passes 1d6. Their 6 skeletons roll 4, 3, 4, 5, 6, 5. Bea renders two skeletons OOF and pushes one back; Gottfried pushes back all three of his. Two more down, 35 to go; but now things start getting more complex, as the skeletons have a chance to recover from being dazzled as per p. 30.

TURN 20

Activation dice appear for the first time. The party rolls 6, the skeletons 3; only the skeletons activate.

There are 35 skeleton figures left in the fight. On average luck, 25% of them (let’s say 9) will recover, 25% won’t, and 50% will roll again, of whom 25% will recover. I reckon that makes 13 skeletons active, and 22 still dazzled. However, those in melee already can defend themselves at full dice now, so for simplicity I’ll say those surviving 9 are the 9 who recovered, and all the others are dazzled. Those who are active and were pushed back close up again.

Melee is already in progress, so we repeat. I won’t bore you with the die rolls; Beatrice kills her third opponent; Gottfried drops one, but is rendered OOF by both the other two; Sir Charles holds his own against two, and pushes back a third; Johann pushes one back, holds his own against a second, and is struck a telling blow; his armour is pierced, and he is OOF. However, as a Star, Johann now takes a Hardiness test against his Hardiness of 3. He rolls 2, 3, 5; passes 2d6; and is merely startled.

(At this point I again draw proceedings to a close for the night.)

TURN 21

The activation dice are 5, 5; doubles, so another PEF appears on the map – we’ll call it “D” – in a random direction, 2d6” from the party. This implies a secret door in the north wall of the corridor where they appear.

TURNS 22-27

The melee continues in chamber 4, while PEF D closes in on them. We’ll gloss over the die rolls, as this is getting long enough.

Ispitan dazzles the skeletons again; Beatrice heals Gottfried; the crossbowmen drop another two, Johann rolls amazing dice and renders three skeletons OOF, Sir Charles disposes of another two at the cost of losing 2 Rep.

Then, PEF D barrels into the back of the party and starts laying into Ispitan – at least, until they resolve as a false alarm. Ispitan dazzles the survivors of PEF A for the third time, and everyone lays about them with a will, slaying 10 skeletons. Johann and Beatrice each lose another point of Rep (now on 2 and 3 respectively), though.

Ispitan continues to dazzle the foe – he’s on a roll here – and the others finish off the remaining infantry, and follow through into the cavalry, killing two.

More dazzling and hacking follow, reducing the enemy to two whole chariots and half a chariot, before the party fails to activate in turn 25, allowing the half chariot to recover – this one has had one of its two crewmen killed. However, Beatrice fights it to a standstill.

Ispitan’s luck finally runs out in turn 26, and he fails to dazzle the enemy, losing 1d6 from his spellcasting Rep into the bargain. However, the skeletons fail to activate, and by the end of the turn only one chariot crewman remains in a fit state to fight.

The lone remaining skeleton leaps on Gottfried, rightly discerning that he is the most dangerous thing within reach, but precisely because he is so dangerous, Gottfried demolishes him in short order.

Panting, sweating, and bleeding in roughly equal measure, the party look around them. Having cleared an occupied chamber, they can now check for loot, using the table on page 63. We get a modified roll of 6; some items of interest, but nothing special.

“Next time, “ says Johann, “I pick the dungeon.”

“Fair enough,” says Ispitan.

MAP

BDJan987

AFTERMATH

The fighters are pretty banged up, so the party withdraws in good order back to Acromerinth, and rolls for advancement, with the following results – changes marked in bold:

Name Class Rep Hard Weapon AC Move Notes SS Align CV
Ispitan* Missile 5 3 Staff 2 8 Caster 7 TW 5
Johann* Melee 4 4 Halberd 4 6 Warrior 4 FS 8
Gottfried Melee 6 3 Dagger 2 8 Thief 3 RM 5
Sir Charles Atain Mtd Melee 4 2 Spear, Sword 6 12 Elite Trained 2 SS 4
Beatrice Melee 5 1 Sword 2 8 Healer 2 SS 1
Gervaise Missile 5 1 Crossbow 2 8   2 SS 2
Jean-Paul Missile 4 0 Crossbow 2 8   2 SS 2
Total 27

So, everyone except Johann is a bit richer, and most people have gained either Rep or Hardiness – except Johann, who gained neither, and Isiptan, who lost a point of Hardiness. Must’ve caught something in the tomb.

On reflection, there is no need to merge campaigns or start a new party here; I’ll import Johann into the Border Kingdoms from season 1, have him join up with Ispitan, and arbitrarily change tack to a series of dungeon raids. This will give me a chance to become thoroughly familiar with the combat rules before adding any more rules sections into the game. We last saw Johann in the Ekran countryside in October 986; strictly speaking it should have taken him four months to get here, but let’s gloss over that in the interests of moving on.

The Brass Dragon in Acromerinth is overpriced, and full of loud men in garish clothing. Ispitan sits nursing a cup of mead against the chill, as close to the fire as he can get. The door swings open, to curses from the regulars hit by the flurry of snow, and a party of six enters, heavily muffled against the cold. Conversation falls silent as the patrons take in the newcomers.

An armoured man at the front of the group leans on his halberd and calls, “I’m looking for Sir Bertrand de Plastique, Ekran knight. Has anyone seen him? Or his brother?”

There is no reply. The man scans the crowd and fixes his eyes on Ispitan as he stamps the snow from his boots. He leads the group over to the table by the fireside, and signals the barman for mead. Conversation resumes.

“You’d be Ispitan,” he states. “Word is, you’re hiring. We’re looking for work. What do you have in mind?”

“Tell me a little about yourselves,” Ispitan says. He has been sitting here for over a month, and so far there have been no volunteers.

“I’m Johann, this is Sir Charles – we are fighting men. Gottfried over there is, well, let’s just say a specialist. Beatrice is our healer. Gervaise and Jean-Paul, crossbowmen from Ekra. And you?”

“Ispitan, at your service; journeyman wizard, recently returned from Goblin territory, where I found this…” he pulls out the item dropped from a goblin chariot a few months ago. “It’s a map, of sorts. It shows the way to a Stygustani tomb, about a week’s travel from here. As you may know, the Border Kingdoms were taken from the Black Moon by the Brethren, the Black Moon took it from the Legions of Tropilium, and Tropilium took it from the Stygustani.”

The mead arrives, and Johann takes a deep draught from his mug, before gesturing at Ispitan and declaring, “My friend will pay.” After a second draught, he continues, “Most useful phrase in any language, always the first one I learn. And why are you interested in this tomb?”

“The Stygustani buried their nobles in underground tombs, with their life’s treasures.”

“You have our complete attention. Why do you need us?”

“The Stygustani also stocked their tombs with traps and undead guardians. Why are you looking for Sir Bertrand?”

“Friend of yours? Have you seen him?”

“No, and no. Just wondering if he will be a distraction.”

“Only if we meet him, and then only briefly. He killed my friends. I will have my revenge.”

“Well enough. Let us discuss terms, conditions and shares of the loot…”

“First,” interrupts Sir Charles, “Arr leetle band of adventurers needs a name. Eet must be one of panache, striking fear into ze ‘arts of arr enemies, and rousing arr friends to greater deeds of arms.”

“Fine,” Ispitan sighs, glancing around the inn for inspiration. “Aha, got it. We are now the Brass Dragons.”

“Ah like eet!” exclaims Sir Charles. The rest of the group shrugs and glances at each other.

“Well, if it keeps him happy…” says Johann.

We’ll leave them there for the moment. Next time, into the dungeon.

Name Class Rep Hard Weapon AC Move Notes SS Align CV
Ispitan* Missile 5 4 Staff 2 8” Caster 6 TW 7
Johann* Melee 4 3 Halberd 4 6” Warrior 4 FS 5
Gottfried Melee 5 3 Dagger 2 8” Thief 2 RM 5
Sir Charles Atain Mounted Melee 4 1 Spear, sword 6 12” Elite Trained 1 SS 4
Beatrice Melee 4 1 Sword 2 8” Healer 1 SS 2
Gervaise Missile 4 1 Crossbow 2 8”   1 SS 2
Jean-Paul Missile 4 1 Crossbow 2 8”   1 SS 2
Total 27

Ispitan, November 986

Posted: 10 April 2011 in Talomir Nights
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Ispitan and Eyjolf have escaped Valdemar’s pursuit and move into the heart of the Border Kingdoms on their way to Acromerinth. The Encounter Rating is 3, and there are no seasonal modifiers; I roll 4, 4 and pass 0d6, so there is no encounter this month, and the much-reduced party returns home without further incident. As there is no encounter, there are no rolls for improvement.

A much-muddied and travel-stained pair march into the tower of the Sable Mage to report. That worthy is advised of their presence and meets them in the Great Hall. He takes in their condition, and calls: “Meat and wine for these men. And draw hot water for a bath.” He approaches the pair.

“Do you have my herbs?” he asks. Ispitan hands over a worn leather satchel containing the material components they set out to find, eight months ago.

“Excellent. And the rest of your party?”

“Dead,” says Ispitan, who fears the wizard less than Eyjolf, a lowly footman. “All dead. Are these herbs worth four lives of our own, and twice as many others?” The Sable Mage draws back his head, puzzled.

“Well, of course. It’s not like any of them were wizards, now, is it?” Eyjolf glowers, but Ispitan holds out a hand to stay him; there can be no good outcome to a confrontation here, at the heartt of the Mage’s power. “At any rate,” the Mage continues, “As we agreed, you are now a journeyman. Consider your apprenticeship served out in full. What would you now? Would you stay, and further your studies?”

“I have not yet decided,” says Ispitan. “Although the quest was not without profit for me, also. I think I shall move into the Brass Dragon Inn for a while to consider my options.”

“As you wish,” intones his former master.

Ispitan turns to leave. “Coming, Eyjolf?” But Eyjolf shakes his head. From what he can see, the life of a journeyman wizard is short, and that of his travelling companions even shorter. A return to guard duty seems preferable.

“Very well. May the Sun shine on you both.”

Standing taller and straighter than before, and with a harsher visage, Ispitan leaves the tower.

Name Class Rep Hard Weapon AC Move Notes SS Align
Ispitan Missile 5 4 Staff 2 8” Caster 6 TW
Eyjolf Melee 4 Spear 2 8” SS