Friday, July 8, 2011

The party continues pt.2

One thing you might take note of if you've been following the Our Adventure so Far... posts about this Beacon play test is the fact that the party has been pretty successful in combat.  Aside from Tom getting a bit beat up and having to spend a few days convalescing, no one has been killed, maimed or turned into a newt as yet.  I'm not the type to try to build a body count, I didn't want Beacon to be the kind of game where players just don't die as the default.  There is no appropriate encounter level mechanic in Beacon, and how I want to run it, if you just run up and fight everything you find I expect you will loose a bunch of characters.  These were first level characters and they were running pell-mell into a lot of encounters with 4 or 5 opponents at a time- and they were generally cleaning up.  I was worried that I had a balance problem here.

I was also trying to figure out if the rest and recovery system was working properly.  The Beacon ability score healing rules can hand out some pretty steep time outs for characters who get hurt (remember it's one point per day per point below their normal score).  I wanted there to be a happy medium between the consequence free damage of a D&D or a Microlite and the long healing times of something like Savage Worlds.  I didn't want to have characters having to take a week off to heal after every decent fight, but I wanted the fights to matter.

Anyway, when we last left our heroes they were sitting on a hill outside a cave...

The party fired up their lanterns and torches and went back into the ruins.  They went back to the rooms they had fought the goblins in and noticed that the bodies had been taken away.  They delved deeper into the complex and came to a large high room with large stone pillars.  Suddenly crossbow bolts came flying from above and they spied a number of goblins up on a crude rope gantry between the pillars.  Battle was joined.  While Tom and Luc returned fire, Thedric cast a charm on one of the goblins.  Henril tied a rope to his torch and tossed it up into the gantry where it burned the ropes and brought it down as they dispatched all the goblins. The party was slightly wounded but they continued exploring, coming to another large room which had overturned tables and benches as barricades from which they saw more goblins peeping out.  Again a full on charge and they rushed the barricades, killing one goblin and sending the others fleeing down a dark hallway.  They characters gave chase and followed them into a small room where there were more goblins - 6 in total.  Now I had been rolling pretty well this session and although the players were doing great, they were taking damage.  As they piled into the fray and started taking more damage it soon became apparent that this might not have been a good idea.  They managed to kill two of the goblins but one by one they were taken down and soon everyone except Thedric (who had been hanging back out of the fight with a goblin he had charmed) was unconscious or on their last legs.  It looked like a TPK.  Rather than fleeing, he opted to cast Disguise Self - not a true illusion but as it was busy and dark and he was with a goblin companion, I allowed that that goblins wouldn't detect the ruse.  As the last (but one) PC went down Thedric began to 'loot' the bodies and quickly pulled out the scorpion venom from Henril's pack.  He pretended this was a delicious treat and quickly the remaining goblins gulped it down*  - and fell to the floor poisoned!  His goblin companion was most impressed with this and though it a good strategy as now they had a greater share of the loot between them.  Thedric and his companion started to drag the unconscious bodies out of the ruins, unfortunately as they were bringing them out, they were attacked by a giant bat and barely made it out with the other three PCs - and were forced to leaving their hired man Luc.  Thedric said goodbye to his goblin companion and quickly started driving the wagon back to town - hoping to get some distance from the ruined hall before dark.

I bet you're happy to see this dude again. 
Now I'm a fan of the random encounter table and I had been using a some simple 1d10 tables, one for the forest road, one for the hills, and one for the swamps.  I'd roll three times a day for an encounter with a 25% chance of one occurring and then roll a d10 on the appropriate table.  When the party was returning wounded from the 'haunted' hobgoblin building in the second session, I rolled a wandering woodcutter.  If I had rolled bandits or goblins or a bear things probably would have ended differently.  Well this time as they fled into the twilight, I rolled an encounter and again it was a wandering woodcutter.  
The party, badly beaten - all at 1-2 hp and Henril at -5 STR, paid the woodcutter a gold coin per night to let them recover in his house.   They stayed there 3 days resting and healing before they decided to leave.  As they had invested a lot into the venture and so far with no return, they were determined to go back and find some treasure.  

The party was back up to snuff with the exception of Henril who was at full HP but still weakened.  He had not been able to heal up a STR point as yet (that would take 5 days).  They journeyed back to the ruins and quickly traced their steps back to the room where they had been beaten.  They found the goblin bodies where they left them and also the body of their retainer Luc.  They also noted that there were strange footprints which led them to believe that someone or something had followed their path from their last visit.
In the very next room they found what they were after, a locked store room which had three small chests filled with silver.  They continued exploring, in another room finding a key and an ancient note mentioning 'a [secret] storeroom north of the well'.   They did not meet any more goblins but they did find an old forge and a river fed pool that contained a crocodile (which the druid calmed and then much to her chagrin the others dispatched).  Determined to find the secret store room they pressed on and came across a suspiciously cold room.  After trying to figure out the cause of the cold (brown mold) and having it double in size and intensity on them, Henril decided to charge through the room to the hallway beyond.  He made it through but passed out in the hallway just beyond and the party (after a short discussion) had to also charge through to rescue him.  Having made good use of the Goodberry spell, the druid handed out enough berries to revive the party and, having no way to get back to the entrance, they decided to rest in an alcove further down the hallway.     

I am not a monster and I like the game to move along so I am in favour of allowing players to get back partial hp for short rests.  I don't want to have a situation where this gets abused however and I think that managing hp, food and light is one of the more interesting aspects of the game.  I allowed back half hp for their rest, which was probably a bit too much.  I think in the future I would do something like say you can gain back 2-3 hp per hour rested if it's under a certain amount - like 4 hours.  Once you hit 4 hours then you can hand out 1/4 or 1/2 their hp back depending on the quality of the rest.  These little 'breathers' would be good to lubricate the game I think, certainly letting them get out of some sticky situations.

Anyway the party was partly recovered and decided to check out the end of the hallway since there were carvings and it looked like they were near some interesting feature (and they couldn't go back past the mold, now being without any berries).  They came on an old temple dedicated to the Lords of Order and since ransacked.  In the middle of the temple was a large hairy beast chained to a dias.  They moved to attack it and battle was joined.  Once it smelled them it rushed to the end of it's chain, throwing heavy benches and trying to punch Henril who had brazenly run up to face it.  They dispatched the poor thing and proceeded to search the chamber, finding some silver and gold ornaments hidden in the dais.

All in all a good session, probably the best one yet in my mind.  Once I calculated the experience we found that most of the party had passed the magic 1000xp mark (they'd been averaging 250-300 per session) and I decided to level them on the spot rather than making them return to town first since it was the first level up and they were trapped in the dungeon.  I am glad I didn't follow through with my plan of giving them a level per session which would have allowed a decent test of the leveling mechanic but probably wouldn't have been useful since it has taken some time to get things going.  They would have been level 4 before learning how the fighting works and I wouldn't have any idea as to how the lower level monsters and situations were working out.  I had been worried that the combat was too easy but this session showed how quickly things could turn around on them.

*when things get interesting, go with it I say.

1 comment:

  1. I find the combats very quick, and it seems like each time it could easily go either way. A number of times, a PC or two have been down or very close to it. You were definitely rolling well this session, and we were not - I think poor old Henril missed 3 times out of 4. We could probably get a little more tactical, rather than simply rushing in, to bring the odds more in our favour.

    Brilliant move on Thedric's part - and kudos to you for going with it!