Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Barrowmaze Saga #23: Doooom!

Saga Reborn

Winter has passed, and the duke has grown weary of his hospitality.  The saviors of the prince are obliged to continue their profession of the previous summer, escorting a pair of dwarves to the fabled barrow mounds.  Of course it is early season yet, and thunder and lightning pours down on their hungover heads.  
Eric the Red ruminates grimly on the changes wrought on his fair barmaid from the season before, all stretched thin, her smile, her skin, her laugh, all motion now.  What gives?  
The barrow moor is infested with toads, riled by the pounding rain.  
A tomb is broken into, gold! found, deathshead coins.  A toad slain, its companions avoided.  
Slogging north, a chance encounter with another early season party, slouched under a tree, black hoods up, rags over faces, stone eyed, menacing with shield, artillery and ideology, the “Autonomous Collectors Collective”.  
They demand a tithe, before Berg’s Boys enter a second tomb, claiming “squatter’s rights”.

Game system nerd notes:
We restarted the campaign tonight after a couple months off. Roll20. Maps still in place. Nice. I am glad to play "traditional" D&D, using my Uncommon Dungeons set of houserules. Of course I have been tinkering, pulling from various sources, like City of Iron's B/X Essentials project, but most specifically from the blogs Necropraxis, and Dungeon of Signs, their, "Exploration Die", "Overloaded Encounter Die" or "Hazard Die". I'm calling it the "Doom Die".


Basically, time is a fickle beast. It's been impossible for me to keep track of even in these Barrowmaze games where wandering monsters, torches, etc are crucial for maintaining momentum and tension. The new "Forbidden Caverns of Archaia" contains a great stab at it, a "Wheel of Time", but as much as I love the graphic, it's just a reminder to do a lot of different rolls and things.
The lads at the afore-mentioned blogs, +Brendan S and +Gus L combined it all with the wandering monster roll. It's less predictable, but it's simple. I tried it out tonight. The players rolled, which kept me honest.
Here's my stolen/modified table:
Roll on Random Encounter table.  Roll for surprise, encounter distance  
(1D6 -1 melee, 2, 3 short, 4, 5 medium, 6 long), and reaction.
The party is tired and gains one Exhaustion Point (-1 to rolls).  
A fickle torch, candle or other improvised light source gutters and burns out.
Lantern uses ½ flask of oil.  Burns out on second roll
Spell Exhaustion
Any and all active short duration spells are exhausted, long duration spells are reduced by one duration point.
A clue, non-combat encounter or event.

There were definitely more rolls, and it made for a consequence of searching. Three encounters were rolled: Toad(1), Toads(6, avoided), and Tomb Robbers(8). Two fatigue rolls. The second I just had them mark off rations without a further roll. A torch burnt out and two discoveries were made(silver dagger and signet ring, rolled on the old Undermountain II item cards).
It certainly cluttered up the game. Basically, something happened every dungeon turn. I was rolling a combination of this table and a Wilderness d6 table. During combat I used the Doom Die in place of initiative, which forced Morale rolls.
It felt like maybe TOO much happening, possibly too much negative stuff. Too many opportunities for "-1"(Exhaustion, Morale). This might slow down the game a bit too much. Perhaps the solution is a d8 on the same tables, with "No event" for 7 and 8?
All in all, however the "Doom Die" did bring all the resources and factors into play: Time, encounters, rations, torches, chance discoveries, even weather on the outdoor table. I'll tinker more... the Barrow of the Slime awaits!