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.

 

 

 

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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.

Breadth or Depth? Skills in RPG Games

In fantasy RPGs like D&D or the various OSR clones, a character tends to grow in depth in their particular skills: Wizards learn more spells, warriors get better at striking foes dead, thieves* get better at thieving, and so on.

In D&D, there can be some growth in the breadth of skill.  When Fighters reach name level (usually Level 9), they can become Paladins, gaining some clerical skills.  Thieves* learn to cast spells from Magic User scrolls.  In S&W Complete, Rangers gain clerical and magical user spells.

Generally, I tend to describe the OSR games as games where your character skills grow in depth.  Games like Dungeon World, which uses the same classes as D&D, the character grows more in breadth than depth.  The Fighter can learn to intimidate someone using his Strength rather than his Charisma stat, for example.  There’s always an option to learn a skill from another class, such as the Ranger’s Volley skill or a thief* skill.    There is the option to increase offensive damage using the Merciless skill, but generally when you add to skills in DW, you increase in breadth.

So why am I mentioning this subject?  How your character develops can be important in the style of game your group wants to play.  For a zero-to-hero style of game, where you play a little every week and slowly build your character up, a depth oriented style might be more suitable.  For heroic level play or one-shots, a breadth based development might be more suitable.  You may not care in detail how well a character can pick pockets, but rather whether he or she is good at it.

 

If I had a group that could meet weekly, I would be more inclined to the depth oriented approach as we could observe the characters growing in their niche powers over time.  But, as I play so infrequently, I presently prefer to develop characters in terms of breadth.  The Fighter can fight better than the rest, the thief can do stealthy things better than the rest, and so on.  Maybe the fighter can learn to sneak if he takes off his heavy armor and learns from the thief.  Maybe the wizard learns some proficiency at arms.  Maybe the cleric learns some more worldly skills from the ranger and learns to identify all kinds of animal tracks.  Maybe the thief (under some oath not to steal from the righteous) learns some of the powers of a clerical order.

I’m trying to think of some poetic conclusion to this little essay, but I’m at a loss for words.  Experiment with your game.  See what you and the other players are looking for and go for it.

* I mention thieves over and over in this post, and I must say, I don’t like a thief class. But the thief class is the poster child for character “skills.”  It’s so cliche (and not in a bad way, mind you) that some OSR clones (such as LOFP) call the thief a “Specialist” rather than thief.