Friday, December 4, 2009

7 Angry Dwarves (give or take a few) b/w The Bastard Squad in "Sex in the City"

Special double half post, which is like one regular post but with ADD.

I just played in the second session of a 1e AD&D campaign that is officially Fucking Awesome: It's Dwarf Fortress, for AD&D. If you haven't heard of it, DF is the most brain-tazeringly complex and in-depth Roguelike RTS city sim featuring manic depressive alcoholic dwarves out there on the market today. It also has ASCII graphics. Did I mention it's free? (Check HERE for how this campaign got started, and HERE for the #1 reason why you need to check out DF. Trust me.)

Long story short: We're 5 dwarves (two clerics - brothers - and three fighters - also brothers - think the Hanson boys in Slapshot) sent from our native hold way the fuck up in the mountains to scout out a site for a new settlement. We've got a wagon of supplies, two 0-lvl dwarven hirelings (a cartographer and a party grunt/porter/wagon watcher), and not one but TWO burglars (a human and a halfling). That's one more than Thorin had, so we've got to be successful, right? Problem is, one of'em (the halfling) is chronically lazy and semi-suicidal (character quote: "Life is pain!"), so he's half useless. On top of that, the other cleric's player has decided to run him as senile as hu- er, dwarvenly possible. The comedy relief is in full effect here, folks.

So that's awesome, so far. Brandon runs a great game, and the players are a blast. We've been hugely successful so far - several experienced players playing smart and hard, plus the fact that five heavily-armored dwarves cut through gobbos and hobbos (and bugbears, oh my!) like a knife through hot butter. A drunken dwarven knife through cowardly goblin butter. We've already cleared out one lair (a ruined monastery) and have started preparing it as a base camp for further expeditions into the surrounding hills. I know Brando's tendency to pile on the hurt when he thinks the players are doing too well for his tastes, though, so I'm sure there's a shitstorm coming our way real soon. But we're fucking dwarves, we'll deal.


In my game, meanwhile, the guys are taking the evil party thing to heart in a big way. Which is also very very awesome. I ran my very first assassination mission at the start of our last session - given the option of a straight roll on the table, or playing out the scenario (and having the opportunity to improve his chances through smart play), the player chose the latter. It was largely a cakewalk - Angus chose the right contract (out of two offered), and took his time casing the location and mapping out the target's moves. When it came down to it, his roll for death attack didn't succeed, but he was able to silence the target with traditional melee and get the fuck outta Dodge anyway. Mission accomplished.

That completed, we went on to determine what the other players' PCs were doing while this was going on (the whole thing took about a week, game time). As I've mentioned here before, I'm using the Midkemia Cities book (which I highly recommend) for its city encounters, but there's also a "city catch-up table" for determining what (if anything) happens to a character during their off-time. They can adjust their chance for an event (up or down) by a certain amount based on their intelligence and/or wisdom. Some of the events on there can have some pretty profound effects on the game, especially if the player chooses to pursue them - for example, one player got "offered dangerous mission". PC gets offered a mission (with the price determined randomly before they accept), and if they choose to attempt it, they have a straight percentage chance of either making it back (with a big bonus in gold and xp) or simply dying. My brother's PC took his chances (for a first-level character it's a smart gamble), but the dice didn't agree, and he bought it. To his credit, Dave shrugged and asked for a clean sheet. (Vive la AD&D! LOL)

The other present player for this session (we were a bit short-handed this night) got a result of "make a friend / your friend has insulted someone / friend asks for help". A few more rolls, we find out that a co-worker (these tables allow for PCs to actually get a job while they're killing time in they city - I decided this was just a fellow adventurer) has insulted a powerful personage, has to get out of the city or face assassination, and asks the PC for assistance. Brandon, without missing a beat, offered to take this guy along to the Castle, and then asks Angus about taking the contract. LOL So now I've got two players in the assassins' guild. EVIL PARTY FOR THE WIN. (They also hired a couple of 0-level spearmen, but these men-at-arms didn't stick around for long once they saw the kind of shenanigans my guys get up to. Hahaha...)

Since they were pretty short (and planning on killing the NPC they'd already hired), they went about looking for a healer to hire on. Since they're complete bastards, this would have been somewhat problematic, except that they thought to inquire through the assassins' guild as to "sympathetic clerics." What they got was one crazy SOB cleric of Erythnul, who was almost more sadistic then they were, and a damn sight creepier. The expedition assembled, they headed off down the Old Castle Track towards the Little Hillwood (and Castle Greyhawk beyond). Oh, with a quick stop to kill the NPC fighter and stash his body.

They delved into the Castle ruins, touched up the map some, encountered some bullywugs (who'd just moved into the lair of some goblins the PCs had "forcibly evicted" a few games earlier), and defeated them. One PC was wounded (the assassin), so they stashed him in their secret bolthole and pressed on. They then returned to the room where, several trips back, they'd fought an evil cleric and his gnoll minions. They'd driven off most of the gnolls and killed the priest last time; anticipating that the gnolls might have returned (but presumably without their clerical backup), they didn't anticipate any problems cleaning up. Which would have been true if the leaderless gnolls hadn't allied with the nearby Old Guard Kobolds. A sound PC rout followed. ("Game over, man, game over!!!")

Getting back to town, our aspiring assassin came up with an interesting way to get treasure identified (they'd come across a potion and a magic dagger in the bullywugs' bindles) - send his hos out to track down a sympathetic bard, and then treat him to a triple-around-the-world on the house. I gave it a chance on the dice, and it came up jackpot, so this worked. (Hey, I'd have gone for it.) So they were able to avoid dealing with the Striped Mage (and his occasionally reasonable but highly variable prices). All in all, a unique session by any standard (well, mine at least).


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