How Advanced Fighting Fantasy Led Me to Pits & Perils (and BOP)

How Advanced Fighting Fantasy led me to Pits & Perils
or
My autistic obsession with mathematical reduction
or
How my desire to play games with my non-gamer wife led me to love simple rules

Part 1

When I was a kid, my autistic obsession for detail drove me to ever more complicated RPG games. D&D to MERP to Rolemaster. Then burning out, excising chunks of Rolemaster and appending it to MERP, and then condensing MERP skills to the broad categories in Lord Of the Rings Adventure Game (all three published by Iron Crown Enterprises). I was on my way to simplicity in RPG gaming, and then sex and the drama of teenage life and later adult life led me away from the hobby.

Part 2

I returned to RPGs to a) do something fun with my wife and b) get my friends to do something fun aside from stand around and chat. I’m an autist: I need my conversations to be structured and go somewhere entertaining to me.

When it came to games, my wife was certainly not a grognard . The most complicated board game I could play with her were Carcassonne or “Zombies!!!” I had to pick my games carefully. Enter Fighting Fantasy.  It was a hit.  We tried Dungeon World, but we found it way to wordy and complicated. While we had fun that one time, it was a mechanical failure.

I played FF a couple more times with my wife, and it was a success. I wanted a little more meat and potatoes to my FF, and bought Advanced Fighting Fantasy. Whoa, too many choices for her taste. It was like picking salad dressing in a supermarket.  She said something to the effect of: “I just want to be an archer who can talk to animals.” I obliged by house ruling the basic Fighting Fantasy.

Part 3

Base rule for Fighting Fantasy is this: when your character attempts an unopposed task, roll 2d6, and if it is less than or equal to your SKILL plus any modifiers, then the attempt succeeds.  For opposed actions, roll 2d6 + SKILL + modifiers, and if it’s greater than your opponants 2d6+SKILL+Modifiers, you succeed.

If you convert the unopposed check to to a roll greater than or equal to system, then the target number is 14.  2d6+7 >= 14 is identical in odds to 2d6 <= 7. I’m a big fan of uniform mechanics and roll-high, because it is easy to imagine higher numbers are a better outcome.

Your typical AFF character has a starting SKILL of 7. He could have less than 7, that is, if one puts points into MAGIC or LUCK instead.  Generally, however, one favors SKILL or MAGIC, and then putting a point or two into LUCK or STAMINA. The reason being that the SKILL score is the baseline for all Special Skills, so even if you have a Sword Skill of 4, and your base SKILL is 4, then your total combat skill is 8. Whereas if you had a base skill of 7, and 4 points in Sword, your combat skill adds up to 11.  That is a lot more impressive.

High base SKILL makes your character all around better (in a pinch) than someone with low SKILL and several points in a Special Skill. There are house rules to work around this, and give specialists some kind of extra advantage, such as automatic success when a Master at a special skill (with 4 ranks) has the time and tools to succeed (similar to Take 10 or Take 20 in Pathfinder). I got to feeling, however, that there must be a simpler way of doing character skills.

Given that your typical character will start with a SKILL of 7, why not just reduce SKILL to zero, and then reduce the target number for success to 7. Same odds, simpler math. And thus you can eliminate the SKILL stat, and just list Special Skills as bonuses to your 2d6 roll. Likewise one could do this with MAGIC also, just listing the magic special bonus for your character (Sorcery, Wizardry, Priest, or Minor) and adding that to a dice roll: target number 7. This number works out well for my taste because it represents a marginal chance of success (roughly 58% without modifiers), and nobody wants an adventure about a bunch of failures (though they can be entertaining if narrated well)

Combine this with my desire to nix the damage table for each weapon (flat damage and +1 damage for two-handed), convert the armor to a per-encounter ablative function, all magic fueled by Stamina, and ad-hoc rulings that fit the narrative, I had what I thought was my ideal abridged Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  Maybe it would be Basic Fighting Fantasy Plus or AFF Minus. There are Skills for things you try, Luck for things you can’t control, Spells if you have them, and Stamina to measure how much pain and misery you can endure.

Part 4

This obsession was frosting my ass for a couple of years. Having had no live play since my divorce (my ex-wife being my primary gaming partner), I was eager to try my revised Advanced Fighting Fantasy.  Unfortunately, I had no outlet.

In comes Pits & Perils with everything I want. Target number 7 (or 9 for combat), check. Bonus for being good at something, check. Simple damage. check. Ablative armor, check. Room for rulings, check. I discovered this gem while watching reruns of Crossbow, a medieval fantasy show from the late 1980’s. So the wave of nostalgia swept over me just as I perused the the gameplay example of the three characters exploring a tower, and I knew I just wanted to get this game.

Now I have an ad on a Meetup forum, trying to entice a group to play.

*House Rule: If you have a crossbow ready to fire, you can fire first, even if you lose initiative.

Part 5

Why Advanced Fighting Fantasy led me to Blood of Pangea
or
My Autistic Obession with Customization and Minimalism

What I liked so much about AFF was how you can customize your character at creation, and pursue all kinds of wacky builds (if you’re so inclined). High Skill, High Luck, Magic, lots of Stamina, good at jumping, good at climbing, good at lock picking, or stealth, or throwing spears, or several languages. There’s even a distinction between Bargaining, Conning and Etiquette: commerce, deception and polite interaction. The character sheets had an entry for “Class” but that was just for flavor. Your class is what you wanted it to be. You could do a hybrid fighter-mage-thief, but at an early state of adventuring he probably wouldn’t be especially good at any of them.

I liked the versatility of AFF, but my obsession with mathematical reduction irritated me, and I also developed a taste for simplicity due to my desire to include my wife in my gaming.

In comes Blood of Pangea, a reduced form of Pits & Perils meant for a Swords & Sorcery game world. What I like about it is how you can customize your character with but a basic narrative, and everything else flows from there. It doesn’t get much more reductionist than one numbered stat and a character description. Rules are akin to P&P, though the target number typically is 9 for all tasks (but adjusted as appropriate). I like how the Might is a universal resource for avoiding harm or achieving glorious feats. Armor is just Armor (soaks 3 points), and if you want more nuance to your armor (Leather, Chain, Plate), you can do so. My (ex)wife’s simple desire for an Archer who can talk to animals is realized in this gaming system. And my desire for customization and simplicity is satisfied by this game.

Part 6

I will conclude with a quote from “Adventurers! Exploring the Unknown”, a modified version of “Searchers Of the Unknown”, which is itself a reductionist take on D20 D&D. They managed to capture my general philosophy of Role Playing Gaming with this brief passage: “Every PC is an Adventurer with only a little customization done during the creation of the PC. The player will bring complexity and flavor to the PC through their play.” (emphasis by the Author)

 

download link for Searchers of the Unknown 2012 compilation

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Spells for Blood of Pangea

I must admit I have difficulty thinking up magical spells for Blood of Pangea that fit within the guidelines.  The most noteworthy being that sorcery cannot directly cause permanent damage: causing someone to break out in sores, fireballs, death rays, crumbling boulders to dust etc.   So that means permanent changes in matter. There is an optional rule to allow it, but I want to push my creativity by adhering to this rule and see what I can think of.

Spoiler warning.  If you don’t want your imagination contaminated with my ideas, turn back now.

Some of these ideas may warrant charging the caster more than 1 Might. The sample spells given: summoning a smoke to distract a monster, took 1 might. Levitating the caster out through the roof took 1 might, but taking his friend with him took an additional point of might.

With that in mind, I’m assuming a large, muscled character and his gear weigh 250 to 300 pounds, tops.  So Each person levitated up to that weight takes 1 Might.  Lifting your horse may take therefore 3 or 4 might.  Likewise, I’ll use that as a guideline for moving other heavy objects.

Here we go!

Levitate a looped rope around the target’s neck and strangle him with it.

Yank the spear or sword from the enemy’s hand and chase after him with it.

In an environment with loose sand, levitate the sand from beneath a target’s feet and the target falls into the pit.  Then bury said target with the sand!

Levitate target off a cliff, then drop it!

Hurl boulders, spears, any other projectile.  Send a storm of stones at approaching infantry.   *  This may not be in the spirit of maximum movement of 50′ per turn.  I assume that means a gradual rate to 50′, as opposed to moving really quickly, all of a sudden.  But why not?  Matter is not being changed, nothing is being directly damaged by the spell.  Perhaps an increase in cost for the force required to propel the stones?

Seal a watchman’s mouth shut so he cannot shout the alarm.

Set an illusion for a watchman that the PCs are allied soldiers returning from a patrol.

Pass off a brass button as the illusion of a gold coin.

Lift the keys off a sleeping guard.

Unbuckle a weapon’s belt, leaving the former wearer without his sword.

Slam a heavy door in the face of pursuers.

Turn the tumblers of the lock of that door.

Pull the rug out from beneath a foe.

Snuff the candles with a gust of wind. * The moving air does the work, not the spell.

Untie hanging curtains or tapestry so it falls into the torches and catches on fire.

Deflect arrows.

Cause the sensation of being terribly itchy.

Create auditory hallucinations of all kinds: sounds of violence, sounds of mischief, sounds of sexual activity, whatever might catch the interest of the target

Cause the target to believe someone else is the caster.

Appear to be in two places at once.

Appear to look like some hideous monster.

Make target think his food or drink has a nauseating taste.

Animate a corpse to perform a task.

Levitate one volatile substance into contact with another to cause a reaction.

Cause target to become sexually aroused.

Bend tree branches down. * this is iffy, because a bent branch may not spring back up.

Pull stones out of a dam.

Cause a horse or other large animal to hallucinate and panic.

Create a foul odor.

Create the illusion of casting a damaging spell.  Such as the illusion of lightning bolts.

Throw your voice.

Reverse gravity in one small area.

That’s all I can think of for now.

 

 

Skullduggery in The Hundred Acre Wood

I just finished a complete collection of all the Winnie The Pooh stories written by A A Milne.  If you can find a copy (there are several compilations about), I highly encourage you to read it.  There’s some fantastic stories about the friendships and hardships of Christopher Robin’s animal friends.

One story in particular struck me as slightly disturbing (in a good way).  In this story, Kanga and her son Roo arrive in the Hundred Acre Wood.  Rabbit doesn’t think too highly of their intrusion, so hatches a plan with his friends to kidnap Roo and hold him hostage in a hidden place until Kanga agrees to move out of the forest!

Well there’s a humorous twist to their plan, and nobody gets hurt.  In the end, Kanga and Roo stay and everyone becomes friends.  I was so surprised to see such a plot among the animals in this mythical forest.  It was interesting to see how even good-natured, lovable, almost-innocent characters can have a dark side.  It may make for some good creative fodder for later RPG adventures.

There is another story where a prolonged and heavy rain falls for days, and the forest becomes flooded.  Eventually, Christopher Robin and Pooh are on a mission to rescue Piglet before his home gets flooded out.  This is an excellent story revealing Pooh’s creativity.  Not so bad for a bear with little brain.  I’ll spare you the details so you can read it yourself.

The whole series of stories brought forth a mix of emotions: laughter, childish giggling, tears (I wept at the sweet, loving conclusions to some stories), tears again (sadness after the end of the last story), big ear to ear grins of joy.  I suggest this collection for anyone with a love of fairy tales.

Rat Warriors for BOP and P&P

Rat warriors are cunning, crude and brutish creatures.  They make excellent minions for one disposed to evil, provided that there’s plenty of delightfully nasty food for them to eat.

Rat warriors are not overly brave, preferring hit and run raids to prolonged brawls. Their preferred weapons are spears, nets and crude short bows.  Rat bites are particularly nasty.  In melee, if a rat rolls a 12, the victim is bitten and must Save or contract a feverish disease that, over the next 3 days, will cause a permanent loss of 1 Might.

Rat warriors are usually led by a chief who is more clever and ruthless than the rest.  This leader often is armored and has an armored personal guard of his closest cronies.

Rat Warrior: 1 or 2 Might

Chief: 4 Might

 

 

Winnie the Pooh – BOP

I have yet to run the Winnie the Pooh adventure I advertised on RPGGeek.  Nobody signed up, and when I went to the gaming store on a Saturday afternoon, it was empty.  Not a nerd in sight:  No Pokemon, no Magic the Gathering, no board gamers.  It was an odd sight. I hung out for a period of time.  Some customers came in to look at board games but left without so much as exploring the play room.

So I left, a little dismayed, but encouraged in the fact that I braved meeting new people. As fate would have it, no people were available.

So I got to thinking that Blood of Pangea might be a better fit for this hybrid Winnie the Pooh/Alice in Wonderland adventure than Pits & Perils.  Rather than squish characters into archetypes, I could let them define themselves.  After all, in the bizarre world of Wonderland, and for that matter, the Hundred Acre Wood, there’s bound to be interesting characters that defy traditional race/class archetypes of OSR games.

That’s not to say that you can’t improvise traditional classes and give them flavor.  Bloody Basic – Mother Goose Edition  does just that with traditional OSR classes but uses European fairy tales as its inspiration.  For example, one of the races you can pick are Little Pigs, which are a stand in for Halflings.  They get bonuses when doing stealthy stuff, because little pigs are always pursued by hungry predators.  Little Pigs also get a bonus for setting traps, such as the infamous boiling pot set in the chimney of the house made of bricks!

There is a Maiden subclass of cleric that has poor fighting skills (using only the simplest weapons). In place of turning undead, she has an affinity with beasts that lets her charm or calm monsters of all kinds.

This kind of creative use of fiction is the stuff that Blood of Pangea is made of.  I want a slightly dark spin on these modern fairy tales, and therefore BOP seems to be the right Operating System for this kind of program.

While Winnie the Pooh won’t be an active NPC in the adventure, I’d like to try and define him a bit, just for fun.  I’ve been reading a collection of Winnie the Pooh stories, in an effort to learn more about the fictional world the characters live in.  So here’s my first attempt to BOP Winnie-the-Pooh:

Winnie the Pooh is a living stuffed bear and best friend of Christopher Robin.  He is very fond of honey and eats just about anything he can get his hands on.  Sometimes he ends up eating his friends’ food, but not out of malice.  In spite of that, he doesn’t get any fatter, or at least he thinks he doesn’t.  He’s somewhat dull witted, but he is quite the poet: thinking up rhymes and songs about whatever situation he finds himself in and involving his friends in singing along.  He’s quite good at climbing (to get bees’ honey!), and loyal to his friends. He invented a game called Pooh Sticks, and his friends enjoy playing it.  

Here is a bear with charisma.  If there’s a Bard in the Hundred Acre Wood, his name is Pooh.  If there’s someone to keep a party together, it is Pooh.   If it came to tasks such as climbing and helping to motivate disheartened friends,  or finding food in an environment where he would easily find food, I would give Pooh an advantage.

Tigger is a playful, bouncy stuffed tiger and friend of Christopher Robin.  His bounciness gets him in trouble with his friends.  He’s a lot more energetic than most other animals.     Tigger can easily find his way home when lost.  He is a picky eater, but has a taste for Malt Extract.

As of the time I write this, I’m not yet finished “The House At Pooh Corner.”   (In fact, there appears to be a prior collection of Pooh stories, title unknown to me, that I’ve yet to read) There may be more to learn about Tigger.  Tigger’s bounciness plays into the introduction of my adventure, where he crushes a rat warrior (but sadly pays the price for it with a severed leg.  Not to worry, he can be repaired!)  Tigger, the happy-go-lucky navigator.

So I’m thinking the PCs can define themselves however they like.  It’s a fairy tale.  If they say they’re knights, then they’re knights.  If they’re anthropomorphic animals (such as characters from The Wind in the Willows), then that’s great!  If someone is a magician, witch, warlock, hermit wizard, then we can play with that too.

I still like the idea of magic being costly and dangerous.  Casting a lot of spells may have consequences beyond spent Might.  Basic cantrips are probably mostly harmless.  If you start messing with the laws of physics then you will get noticed by something or someone.

 

 

 

My P&P House Rules

Here’s some house rules that came to mind after two reads through The Collected P&P hardcover.

Rules that don’t fit the narrative get ignored.  Fun always comes first.

No movement grids.  The battles will be theater of the mind, with props as needed.  If there is a pursuit, divide speed of all participants by 10, and add it to 2d6.  If your movement is 40′, 2d6+4.  The higher roll wins the pursuit.  If one side has an overall slower speed, I may give an initiative advantage to the faster side.

Useful ranges are melee, thrown (daggers and hand axes), near (short bows), far (long bows and slings).  Everything else improvised as needed.  If unobstructed, you can move one range per round: from melee to thrown, from thrown to near, etc.

Thieves may, with a successful hit roll, steal an object off their victims if there is a steal-able item.  This requires a free hand.  I got this from Nethack, where thief and brigand NPCs steal items after hitting the player character.  Thieves can backstab at level 1, adding 1 extra damage to a successful hit.   At levels 3,  6, and 9, add an additional point of damage to whatever the damage roll.

There are no sling-shots as in rubber powered projectile launchers.  Regular slings can be fired with one hand and do not do extra damage.  The easy ammunition of the sling is balanced against the extra damage of the longbow.

Clerics start with a holy water and a small cask of healing beer.  Taking a break after a battle and passing around the beer will restore 1 hit.  The Cleric’s order will refill the cask once per gaming session if he or she  has access to a monastery.

For everything else I’ll use the reference tables or wing it.

 

 

 

Running a T&T solo with Pits & Perils

Here’s the rules I used:

For every 10MR, the monster has one level.  If MR is halfway or more to the next level (15, 25, 35, etc) or more, then add +1 to HP but not exceeding 3.  So basically the minimum HP is higher.

Level 1 saving rolls correspond to a standard P&P save.  For each level over 1, apply a -1 penalty to the dice roll.  If the character has the applicable stat for the SR, add +1 to the dice roll.

For fixed number saving rolls, round them to the nearest saving roll level.  For example, there’s one scene where you add your Luck to your Charisma, and then roll dice to get 36 or higher.  35 is a 4th level saving roll, so roll a -4.

So on with the famous (or infamous) Buffalo Castle:

First contestant is Thrag the Dwarf.  Constitution.  Hand ax, chain, shield.  All room in Buffalo castle are lit, so did not buy any torches.  He meets a troll sitting atop a treasure chest.  Thrag tries to negotiate with the troll, fails, and the troll attacks.  Level 4 troll, 10 hp,  +1 to hit, +1 damage.   The two combatants trade blows until Thrag is worn out.  He tries to flee, but the troll blocks off the exit and crushes him.

The second contestant, Biff the Wise human warrior, sees that Thrag did not return, so enters the castle through a different door.  He brings a battle ax and chain armor.  He enters a magical portal and ends up in a room full of gold coins.  He collects 60 gp before two swarms of killer bees show up.  He gets stung a couple times but splats them all with the flat side of his ax.  Leaving, he encounters a room with a giant swinging pendulum.  He bolts past it without getting hurt, and soon meets a wandering giant. Giant, Level 8, 18 HP, +2 hit, +2 damage.  Biff decides discretion is the better part of valor, and decides to flee. Four killer bees block the exit.  It’s a rough fight but Biff wins his way through, and escapes.

What will Biff do now?  I will find out next time I play.

I think I got the monster conversions and saving rolls correct.  There is no Wisdom stat in Tunnels & Trolls.  Instead there is a Luck stat.  Therefore, for now I think one should use Luck in place of Wisdom.  This makes sense, because solos are often dependent on Luck SRs unless specified otherwise.  I’ll try it next time.

Solo Funnel – Return To the Wumpus Cave

After the previous experiment with a solo funnel, I made some rules changes and decided to try again.  I decided to use the rule for untrained combatants, where the untrained can be hit on a 7+.  All funnel characters are untrained.  As you will find out, this proved to be a deadly rule.

I used the same adventure as the previous funnel.  This time, however, I rolled for daylight hours.  1-2 morning, 3-4 daytime, 5-6 night.  Rolled a six.  Altar Boy lights a torch and they peer in the cave.  Astrologer notices the Manes in the rear of the cave.  Note that these are not the powerful Manes of the Infernal Realms supplement , but rather a 1st level Demon from AD&D.  Rolled initiative, ties go to NPCs.  The distance was 50′, manes advanced to max distance of 30′.  Rat Catcher opens fire with his slingshot, hit.  Stage Magician hits with his javelin.  The rest, except Altar Boy, rush in.  One Manes goes down.

More blows exchanged, Wood Cutter is slain.  Noble’s armor lets him survive this round.

Stage Magician summons image of giant bear entering cave.  Two of three manes fail Save and prepare to flee. Altar Boy fails save and flees into cave.  Rat Catcher fails save and flees into cave.  The rest pound on the Manes as they attempt to flee.  Two go down.  The brave one swings at the Bear, dispelling the image.  It then kills Astrologer and Outcast.  The rest of the party finish off the manes.

Regrouping, they pilfer equipment from the slain. At the first cave junction, I roll odds/even fr path.  They take the east path toward the green slimes.  This time, with no living members with Wisdom, there’s no notice roll.  Four green slimes drop, 3 hits.  I dice off the party members, lowest rolls get hit. Altar Boy, Stage Magician and Noble are slimed.  Altar Boy’s torch goes out.  Without any other source of fire, the two survivors listen in horror in the blackness as Noble’s screams turn to gurgling and then the drip-splat of oozing slime.

With no fire, Trickster and Rat Catcher feel their way eastward to another cave exit, and escape.  Still determined to slay the Wumpus that eats the villagers, they rest up for a week.  Wounds healed.  Between them they earn 3gp, enough to buy a tinder box.  They build 1d6=5 improvised fatwood torches (3 turn burn limit) and return to the main cave entrance.

Heading south at the junction this time, they come upon a stream flowing from a pond and then into a hole in the wall.  Something clicks and the hole closes.  Water begins to backup and then flow deeper into the cave.  Shrugging, they splash their way east into the main cavern and it’s many sub chambers.

Many of the encounters from the previous run of this  map are replayed.  The poison frogs lose initiative, and our heroes retreat.  Simple reaction roll put the frogs not in the mood to pursue.

Skeleton attacks and Trickster smashes it with the Wood Cutters ax.  Once again nothing to make them vulnerable to Ear Seekers.  Leaving the center cave complex, they meet a party of five Kobolds.  Reaction roll 1d6:

1 – Attack immediately, 2 – hostile, 3 – unfriendly, 4 – cautious, 5 – hospitable, 6 – friendly

Rolled a 5.   It turns out the Kobolds are looking for the Wumpus also, but are disinclined to ally up.  Nonetheless, they are willing to trade.  Trickster trades a rope and 10′ pole for two torches.  Agreeing to peaceable terms should they meet again, the heroes head south and the Kobolds go north.

Next cave has a giant spider. Rolled d6 for position,   (1-2 unfavorable, 3-4 neutral, 5-6 favorable) got a six.  It wasn’t paying attention to them at first.  Trickster lights an extra torch and they use the threat of fire to try and circumvent the spider.  Spider cautiously pursues but does not attack. They spend the next turn slowly retreating toward the unknown, and the spider gives up the chase.

Then they find the wumpus in a cave filled with little alcoves.  It’s feeding on rats.  Rolled initiative, heroes win.  Rat catcher gets off a shot but it bounces harmlessly off the thing’s hide.  Wumpus charges and kills him.  Trickster swings with his ax, misses, then he dies. The wumpus lives on to kill more villagers.  The End.

What conclusions can I draw from this?  The Untrained combat mechanic does make the funnel a lot more lethal. I like it.  Even a 1st level wizard knows the basics of avoiding harm better than a 0 level nobody.  So winning the funnel and ascending even to that modest level of combat skill is something to strive for.

I don’t know if I ran the slimes correctly.  All I did was make attack rolls for the drop attack, and then pick random victims.  AD&D green slimes don’t move or pursue, they just drip and then stay there as flesh devouring obstacles.  It was a shame the Altar Boy was hit, else he might have saved Noble from being slain.

First Solo P&P 0-Level Funnel Adventure

Using the chart I created here, I generated a party of 8 ordinary fools.  I then created an AD&D adventure using the random dungeon generator at Wizardawn and customized it for 8 first level players.

I converted the HP of the monsters to 1-3 points per HD.

I then gave the heroes a goal: destroy the Wumpus that has been taking and eating people from the outskirts of your town.

The Cast

Our Heroes (including gear they bought with their chump change):

  1. Altar Boy, HP 3, Candlestick*, holy water, tinderbox, torch (3), backpack
  2. Trickster, HP 3, SP 1, Spells: URGE, knife*, rope 50′, pole 10′, backpack
  3. Stage Magician, HP 2, SP 1, Spells: RUSE, Dexterity, walking stick, javelin
  4. Nobility, HP 3, Sword, fine clothes, leather armor, shield
  5. Wood Cutter, HP 3, Two handed ax, healing herb
  6. Astrologer, HP 1, Wisdom, Dagger, Backpack, torch (3), waterskin
  7. Rat Catcher, HP 2, club, snare wire 15′, slingshot, 20 bullets
  8. Outcast, HP 1, Constitution, Strength, walking stick, mirror, sack, ale
  • – Improvised Weapons break on a roll of 2 or 3.

The Story

They tracked the Wumpus to a large cave in the forest, and entered cautiously.  It was still daylight, and at the mouth of the cave Altar Boy lit a torch.  Peering in, Astrologer noticed figures moving about:  Four Manes demons picking at some hairy remains of some beast.  The demons won initiative.  The demons were not fond of coming into the daylight, and taunted the adventurers from the dark recesses of the cave.

The Stage Magician summoned the image of a great brown bear that came from around the corner and into the cave, advancing on the little imps.  Rolled save vs fear, all failed and fled southward.

Entering the cave, the party found an eastward passage.  Deciding not to follow the Manes, they entered a high but narrow bit of cavern.   There’s a firepit and assorted junk around it, but noteworthy is a magical scroll.  Stage Magician takes the scroll for later study (it’s a Resurrection Spell!).  As they continue, Astrologer noticed something unusual about the ceiling.  Rolled initiative, party wins and scatters and three green slimes drip down from the ceiling.  Half the party was to the east side, half to the west.  Altar boy burned the slimes away with his torch.

Heading east and then southward, the ceiling became lower and some semi-precious gems glistened on the ceiling in the torchlight.  A spear flew out of a hidden hole in the wall and hit Wood Cutter, but the wound wasn’t too bad.

The Astrologer notices some 15 feet up it looks like the wall is fake.  Trickster gets up on Wood Cutter and Outcast’s shoulders and pokes it with his 10′ pole.  The stone wall pushes aside, revealing a small chest.  Trickster drags it out with his pole and it falls to the ground.  Outcast bashes the lock open and they find three gems worth 42 gp.

They slowly explore the ends of a larger cavern, finding a pouch of black sand and some torn clothing, and later a red handkerchief all by its lonesome.  How strange.   Perhaps it was the lost belongings of those taken by the Wumpus.

They came to another chamber and a skeleton charged with its sword.  Wood cutter smashes it to pieces.  Amid some assorted trash on the floor, Astrologer takes a wooden wrist sundial, and a deck of tarot cards.  Trickster takes a blank spellbook with a scorpion on the cover.  Stage Magician takes a scroll case to protect the scroll he found.

Next cavern they find a portrait of a woman on the floor, nothing else.  It was strange but of no concern to the party.  Luckily they left before some unnoticed Ear Seekers (parasites) could climb up their legs and attack them.  Astrologer lights a torch as Altar Boy’s torch flickers toward death.

Later they came upon a cavern with three giant poison toads. Tied initiative. Rolled “intent” for toads, they weren’t hungry yet. Party retreated and headed west out of this cavern complex.

They come to a wide cave with a shallow stream flowing through it.  Four dead Manes and their remains (pun intended) scattered about.  The Wumpus is here.  A large tentacled and hairy beast.  Bigger than a horse and more agile.  The party wins initiative.  Altar boy lights another torch.  Stage Magician tosses his javelin, it goes astray.  Rat Catcher fires away with his slingshot, hit. Nobility, having stayed cowardly in the background so far, decides it’s his time to lead, and charges.  The rest charge.  Astrologer sets the beast on fire with his torch (1 hit).   The beast is agile, attacking with three tentacles and maneuvering on the other four.  There’s some close calls but nobody is hurt yet.

Rolled a save to see if Rat Catcher gets a clear shot, success. He scores another hit.  Two more melee hits.  Wumpus leaps into the stream to extinguish the flame, grabs Trickster and flings him against the wall (2 dmg).

Trickster is out next round, regaining his footing.   Another save for a clear shot, success.  Rat Catcher’s stone flies true and hits.  The rest hack and pound away. The Wumpus is bleeding badly now and flails ineffectively.

Rat Catcher scores the final blow with his slingshot.  The beast collapses.  Satisfied that vengeance was served, all 8 characters return home.

Total game time: 9 turns, aka 90 minutes.

The Mechanics

Improvised weapons break on 2 or 3.  Lucky for the heroes, most had normal weapons.  Wizardawn made a 20 room dungeon, so I rolled 1d20 + the number of rooms explored.  On a 20 or more, they find the Wumpus.  Wandering monster checks every hour.

The Wumpus: I envisioned it a 3HD monster.  Rolled 1-3 per HD, so 7 HP.  Large.

AK: 3 LL: 3/+1 , ME: 30′, SE: L/+1

Analysis

I used the Wisdom stat of the Astrologer as a passive perception test to detect hidden threats so that the party could get an initiative roll, rather than be attacked by surprise.  It worked to their benefit with the Manes demons and the green slime.   It also allowed the Astrologer to find the hidden treasure cache.  He missed the notice roll for the Ear Seekers.  However, as there was nothing to delay the party long enough for them to infect anyone, nobody was attacked. Thematically, the Astrologer worked out well, especially when they found the Tarot cards and Sundial.

The boss monster was too weak.  Going into the boss fight, the heroes had 16 hp and 8 attacks per round versus 7 HP and 3 attacks per round. The level and damage bonus of the large level 3 creature wasn’t enough to make up the difference. Every adventurer survived.  The Wumpus should have been stronger, maybe a higher level, maybe Huge for the damage bonus.  Maybe a choke effect for being grabbed with the tentacle.

The Manes demons, when they fled, fled straight to the room which ended up being the Wumpus room. It made sense to me to have them all slain by the Wumpus.

The single spell of the Stage Magician was excellent.  If the demons passed their saves, they would have some some significant damage to the party with their multiple attacks and good hit points.  If he became a Fighter or Thief, I’d let him keep the spell as a particular quirk for the character, but otherwise have to observe the rules for Fighters.

I have no definitive conclusions to reach about the character generator.  Perhaps more improvised weapons rather than regular weapons.  That way there is an incentive to actually switch to a real weapon when one becomes available.  It’s not like DCC where you start with mostly 1d4 damage weapons and upgrade to 1d6 or 1d8 when you get the chance.  So there needs to be more incentive, I think, to trade up.

The funnel adventure needs to be deadly.  Half of the characters should die.  I don’t think Wizardawn adventures are suitable for funnels when run raw.  I had 8 heroes, and told the generator to make a map for 8.  Perhaps 1.5x the number of heroes, to make the encounters and traps more deadly. I’ll have to experiment.

Lastly, I had to flip through the book quite a bit when deciding this or that.  I will print out some cheat sheets for critical rules and put them into a GM screen.

All in all, a fun and educational first solo Funnel Adventure.