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.