Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Solo Design Part 7 - Making Use of Equipment
Delving requires equipment. That does not simply mean weapons and armor, but also more mundane items such as sacks, rope, torches, oil, chalk, hammers, spikes, even string. You never know what will come in handy when exploring a cave complex, a ruined temple, or a haunted mansion. In a GM-run adventure it is quite easy for players to make use of the wide variety of items that their characters might have crammed into their backpacks. The players simply need to announce their intentions as to how to use the equipment and the GM can decide whether or not it will work. In solo adventures, however, making use of equipment requires some careful ques from the writer.
There are two basic ways to approach the use of equipment in solo adventures. You can either make certain pieces of equipment necessary to acquire a treasure or overcome a monster not connected to the final goal or make some items necessary to complete the final objective. It is obviously a good idea that if your solo requires a specific piece of equipment to overcome the primary obstacle of the adventure it should be made available somewhere within the adventure. These items can be found as part of a monster's treasure horde, on the corpse of a fallen delver, or locked away in an ancient storeroom. An alternative to this is to design an adventure where the character can return to a town or store where new equipment can be purchased.
Here are just a few examples of the types of equipment that could be required and ways to utilize them in a solo adventure:
1. There can be dark areas that require light sources such as torches or lanterns. This is fairly easy to incorporate into a solos design. Simply give the player the option to enter the darkened area without a light source or to prepare a torch or lantern.
The passage in front of you is dark and foreboding. You may either enter the dark passage immediately and go to 24, or light a torch before entering and go to 57, or light a lantern and go to 78.
Of course a torch and a lantern can always produce different effects. Perhaps the unconstrained flame of that torch will ignite a pocket of flammable gas near the ceiling? Entering a dark room or tunnel can have equally bad consequences. Who knows is lurking in the darkness waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting delvers. Those who have played any of my solos know that wandering around in the dark is never a good idea.
2. Food and water are typically not considered in most solos. If the adventure takes place over a long time or involves travel over great distances, however, it certainly should. Characters should be expected to obtain food at least once per day. Characters may have started with provisions as part of their equipment (although these are oddly missing from the expanded equipment tables in 7.5) or you could allow foraging or hunting. The price for not eating at specified times would be to lose one or two CON or STR points due to starvation.
You travel across the sweeping plains for an entire day seeing no sign of another living thing except for small rodents that scurry into deep burrows and birds of prey soaring high above you. As the sun begins to set you find a place to stop for the night. After the days travel you are famished. You can either consume a days worth of provisions or try to find some food in the wilderness. If you want to try to hunt, make a L2-SR on LK. If you make the SR you manage to find enough food. If you fail the SR, you do not. If you are unable to obtain food, you bed down with your stomach grumbling and lose 1 point of STR and CON.
3. Rope, grappling hooks, hammers, and pitons are needed to cross various obstacles such as chasms or pits, climb walls, or even retrieve items. Coming up with situations requiring these items and providing options for their use is almost as simple as with torches and lanterns.
The ground suddenly gives way beneath you and you fall into the darkness below. You have fallen into a deep pit. You don't suffer any injuries but you are trapped for the moment. You stand up, dust yourself off, and look around. The walls of the pit are made of densely packed earth with no good hand or foot holds. If you have a hammer and at least four pitons you could climb up the wall of the pit. If you have at least 30' of rope and a grappling hook you could also try to catch one of the large branches overhead. If you have a hammer and pitons, go to 34. If you have a rope and grappling hook, go to 76. Otherwise, go to 13.
4. Obviously you can't cart of everything you manage to find tucking away thousands of coins, statues, and necklaces into your pockets. Packs and sacks should be part of any delvers equipment. Some may find requiring the use of containers to haul away treasure a bit tedious for an adventure, but I think of it as simply another obstacle to overcome. Sure you found a horde of 5000 silver coins. But how are you getting it out of that cave and back to town where you can spend it unless you have a bag of some sort? But sacks are useful for more than just carrying shiny coins and glittering gems. There are more creative uses for these rather mundane items that can be worked into an adventure.
You spy the small bird in the clearing ahead. It is busy pecking at the ground eating ants and does not seem to notice your slow approach. If you charge the bird and attack with a hand weapon, go to 89. If you have a bow, you can try to shoot the bird by going to 65. If you have an empty sack, you can try to capture the bird alive, by going to 34. Otherwise you can try to catch the bird with your bare hands by going to 12.
A good adventure should involve more than just killing innocent monsters. Other obstacles should be included that require a little creativity and, of course, equipment. When designing a solo, you don't have to provide the equipment required to overcome all obstacles such as these in your adventure. These are items that a delver could be expected to have in his/her possession. If not having the item would lead to the death of the character or prevent the completion of the primary goal of the adventure, however, you may want to give the player a chance to find the item somewhere ahead of time. If lacking the equipment simply causes some extra damage, prevents the acquisition of some treasure, or leads to some other annoying hardship then it should not be expected. There should be some reward for being prepared after all.