Friday, June 17, 2011

June's Lone Delver

This month's Lone Delver is a rather simple, but highlights one of the primary dangers faced by the solo delver: you're alone. The illustration is by Liz Danforth and is from Ken St. Andre's classic solo, Deathtrap Equalizer (2nd edition). There is no slavering monster or fiendish dark magic depicted, only a delver stuck at the bottom of a pit. Despite the "commonness" of the situation it can be just as deadly as a charging balrog.

A major hazard of solo delving is that there is no one around to help when you get in a tight spot, like the bottom of a pit. If you're with a group, you can rely on your comrades to help pull you out (at least you hope so). But if you're alone you can shout for help all you want; if you're lucky no one will answer your cries, if you're unlucky something might and your probably would not like the result. So what's a solo delver to do? Equip yourself. Bring a rope and a grappling hook. Bring a hammer and some pitons. Be self reliant. Make sure that if you fall into a pit you have the means to get yourself out. The only thing that goblin that wanders by is going to do is laugh at you, and maybe throw some rocks for fun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burning Luck

In a previous post I commented on the 'burning luck' option from the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. In burning Luck, a player may choose to permanently sacrifice points from his/her character's Luck attribute in order to raise a die roll by an equal number in a life-or-death situation. I thought that this was a perfect house rule for Tunnels and Trolls, especially when playing solo adventures where life or death often hangs on a single roll of the dice. Well it turns out that someone else thought that this was a good idea. Gaptooth over at the Trollbridge reminded me that just such a T&T house rule was described by JongJungBu (aka Patrick Witmer) over at his website. Patrick has an excellent T&T website and is well worth a look. Patrick has also written and published three excellent T&T solo adventures that you can download for free from his website (or from the links to the right). Patrick's website includes Seven Solo Spicing House Rules and Seven Solo Safety House Rules in which 'luck burning' is included as number 7. Here it is:

Luck: If at any time a fatal roll would kill a character, he/she may permanently spend his/her LK to make up the difference. This LK cannot be recovered like ST or CON but is lost permanently. To spend LK for a killing blow in combat, the player must bring his CON back up to 1 (exactly) and subtract that many points off of his/her LK permanently. Example: A killing blow in combat would reduce CON to -7, instead the player opts to use LK and therefore must spend 8 LK to bring CON to 1. To spend LK for a fatal SR, one must lose LK equal to the difference in the target roll. Example: A failed L1 SR on LK would have resulted in death due to being 3 under the target number, instead the player opts to spend 3 LK to make up the difference. Note that spending LK for a LK SR does not reduce the previous roll for such a case and LK spent on SRs only applies to those that would otherwise result in player death.

I like this house rule a lot for solo adventures, especially with the additional use to soak up damage that may otherwise kill a character. Of course if that character were still fighting, the loss of personal adds from the reduced Luck attribute would likely mean that the player is just delaying the inevitable. But if the damage were delivered by a trap or other one-time mishap rather than a MR300 troll repeatedly hitting you in the head with a club, this would be an excellent use of luck. Sacrificing Luck to make a Saving Roll may prevent injury altogether, or death in extreme circumstances. But again, one would have to use this option wisely because sooner or later you'll need to make a Luck saving roll.

There are two restrictions to Burning Luck that I would add, however. First, burning luck cannot be used to prevent a fumble or a natural roll of a '3' on 2D6 (or a 3 and a non-double 4 in 5th edition). A 3 always fails, period. Second, Luck may not be burned to less than 3. After all, an adventurer needs some luck just to survive from day to day. With a Luck less than 3 a character is certain to be struck by lightning, fall in a pit, hit by a meteorite, or all three at the same time.

Now I just need to put this rule to the test. If anyone else uses this house rule in solo or group play, let me know how it works for you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

10,000+ Pageviews

The Lone Delver has now exceeded 10,000 page views since the system starting counting in July 2010. Ok, I have no idea if that is a high number or not relative to other RPG blogs (certainly not Grognardia), but I'm pretty happy with the number.

Edit: Oops. I corrected the start date on the counter from May 2009 to July 2010. It seems a bit better of a count now.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Ok, so this has nothing to do with Tunnels and Trolls and little to do with solo gaming but I would like to join in the discussion of the recent Beta release of the Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG rules. I have to say that I was not really paying much attention to this system. I have a small set of games that I enjoy and my fantasy gaming interested are met by a few of them so a new set of rules did not interest me. But I read the post on Grognardia and the comment about the art piqued my interest so I downloaded a copy for myself to have a look.

The art is amazing. I am quite surprised that so much of the art was included in the free download. I suppose it speaks to how confident Goodman Games is in selling the final product. The art is definitely old school and you'll see a number of recreations of art from previous rule sets (Moldvay D&D in particular), but Earl Otus was one of the contributing artists so how can you go wrong. I would recommend downloading a copy simply to look at the art even if you have not interest in the rules. It's that good. I got five or six solid ideas for new solo adventures just by leafing through pdf once.

As far as the rules go, I cannot really see myself playing this one. The Beta version of the rules come in at 157 pages and it's only supposed to be an excerpt of what's to come. Oh my. I'm not sure I want to deal with more rules. There are also a large number of different tables which are required for use during game play.

But there are a few things which interested me at first glance:

1. The rules for character generation explicitly state that abilities are rolled by 3d6 in order. All other variation are not allowed. This can easily be ignored by those that prefer, but I like it.

2. Luck is included as an ability. Luck provides a modifier on actions, but the player rolls on a table with 30 possibilities to see what types of action his/her luck helps or hinders. The possible options range from attack rolls, agility checks, poison resistance, spell checks, and finding secret doors. Luck also has certain affect depending upon a character's class. A warrior, for example, may use his/her luck modifier to influence attack rolls with one type of weapon. What I really like, however, is the option to burn luck. Players can opt to permanently lose luck in order to influence a die roll in order to survive life-or-death situations. So to get a +6 on a roll, you permanently lose 6 Luck. This is a nice rule and one I may consider adding to my T&T House Rule list. Burning Luck to add an equal bonus to a Saving Roll would help in those extreme situations where death is only a roll away. It would also increase solo survival rates; for a while anyway. A permanent reduction in Luck would eventually come back to haunt you.

3. You start the game a Level 0 nobody. In fact you start in the hole with -100 xp. You have to work your way up to 1 xp at which point your character can choose a class. So what are starting characters? You roll on an occupation table to find out. There are 50+ possibilities including gambler, indentured servant, cooper, mercenary, grave digger, noble, woodcutter, shaman, dwarven miner, halfling gypsy, and elven forester. Each occupation provides a starting weapon and a piece of equipment. The mercenary, for example, gets a longsword and a suit of hide armor. The cooper gets a crowbar and a barrel. In addition you get a handful of copper coins; enough for some torches, sacks, and a bit of food but not much else. The rules state that these 0-level characters will have a high level of attrition. No kidding. They also state that a properly sized party of 0-level character is 15 individuals. Wow. I suppose each player has few characters. As member start to die, however, those that are left are better equipped. Suddenly the cooper has a longsword and some armor to go with his crowbar and barrel. I am really intrigued by this idea. There is always the question of where your character came from and this method serves to help answer that question. You in fact guide your character through those first steps of becoming an adventurer. But then there is the question of how your Level 0 Cooper suddenly becomes a Level 1 Warrior skilled in all manner of weapons and acts of martial prowess or a Level 1 Wizard capable of wielding magic and other arcane knowledge. I suppose we could assume the cooper goes off to train for some period of time, but that seems a bit forced. But the idea of a party of poorly equipped 0-level characters going down into a dungeon really sounds like fun. There is a pretty funny illustration in the book depicting just such a group. This idea makes me want to write a solo for Citizen types.

Those are my initial impressions. As I said, I'd likely never play this game but I can see it's appeal. If you have not done so, download a copy and have a look. If nothing else do it for the art.