Sunday, March 24, 2013

Smugglers in the Dark - part 3

With some delay, here is the last part of my solo dungeon delve. Based on comments on the first report, it became clear that I should define the mechanics for group decision. After some thought, here is the system to be used:

1) I will set the scene based on card drawn, Mythic description chart etc.
2) I will come up with a likely course of action for each character, based on description, and I will test them with the Mythic fate chart. A result of "exceptional yes" will mean that the character will want to stick to their plan, possibly disregarding others' opinions and even taking immediate action. A result of "exceptional no" will mean they will actively avoid that option even if others suggest it. In the case of a simple "no" I will try to come up with secondary plan and test it again. A second "no" means the character has not made up their mind.
3) Based on the results from each character, I will try to interpret the decision of the party. This may require more fate chart rolls if a character tries to persuade the others, for instance.
4) If all characters rolled two "no" results on step 2, the action will be initiated by the NPCs, environment etc. For instance, a trap might be accidentally sprung, wandering monsters arrive, the NPCs start asking questions...

Since I am not very experienced in solo RPGs, I tried to fit most decisions into the "make a common sense question / answer with fate chart" framework from Mythic. I will leave the comments about how it worked for the end of the report:

Ingont woke up to the sound Eryz and Swyem talking. They had built a small campfire and Swyem was making some kind of tea. He had planned to wake up before sunrise and start preparing... Now all this chatter would make concentrating harder, not to mention the risk of drawing unwanted attention. At least Swyem seemed to have recovered, and the blood stains on her armor were the only reminder of yesterday's fight.

The party walked back to the ruins and passed through the entrance in mid-morning. They moved slowly, wary of any signs or sounds of movement, until reaching the point where two corridors crossed. [Party order remains the same: Eryz, Ingont and Swyem. Turns 1 and 2 were spent moving to the crossing found on the previous day.]


Ingont looked intently down the corridor that led to the hall where they fought the kobolds. "Don't even think about it," said Ingont, trying to keep his voice low. "We didn't have time to get a good look at that place," Eryz answered. "They could have set an ambush, or traps," tried Swyem, in a worried voice. "The dog men?" Eryz snorted and started walking. [At the crossing, I figured that the party would not want to return to the room where they fought the kobolds, so I asked "does he/she want to return there?" with unlikely odds for each character. Ingont and Swyem got a "no," but Eryz got a "yes." Considering the situation, I asked "can the other characters persuade Eryz to go the other way?" with likely odds and almost got an "exceptional no."]

Eryz tried the door to the "hall of paintings": it remained unlocked. He pushed it open slowly. As far as they could remember, everything was just the same as the day before. A torch was still lit, the paintings and drawings still attached to the walls. Ingont then noticed the large stains of dried blood on the floor. He wondered if someone had seen them... [Turn 3: as the party moved back to the "hall of paintings," I asked the question "has the room changed?" with 50/50 odds, getting an "exceptional no." This made me think that they had carried the bodies but left the blood stains on the floor -- and it all remained seemingly untouched. To represent the uncertainty of this result, I decided to move the chaos rank to six.]

The group took some time to examine the room. The crude paintings looked like portraits of kobolds, and there were two other doors leading out. Eryz said that he could hear a low, regular thumping sound coming from beyond one of them, but the others heard nothing. [Turn 4: the characters spent one turn hearing at the doors and deciding where to go. Eryz succeeded at hearing on the door at the north wall. I asked "Is there something to be heard?" with 50/50 chances, getting a "yes." Rolling for a description I got "neatly full."Ingont wondered why the others were interested in the noise. "I don't think kobolds could make this sound," commented Eryz, although to Ingont that was another reason to keep away from it. "If it's something bad, we'd better find out rather than be caught by surprise" was Swyem's answer. He was unconvinced, but then Eryz was already opening the door, sword in hand. [I asked "Does he/she want to open the door with the thumping noise?" with very unlikely odds, getting a "yes" for Swyem and Eryz and a "no" for Ingont. I then asked "Can Ingont convince them to open the other door?" with unlikely odds getting a "no."]

Beyond the door, there was a long and dark corridor. Now all of them could clearly hear the regular, deep thumping. It seemed to even reverberate on the corridor's walls, growing louder as they walked forward. Ingont asked them to stop and rest a little and started talking: "I have to agree, Eryz: this doesn't sound like kobolds... are you sure it's a good idea to face whatever it is?" Sitting on that dark corridor, with all the thumping making their bodies vibrate, it did not take much to persuade them to try the other door. [Turn 5: a 6 of hearts, resolved as a corridor with one unlocked door at the other end. I asked "does the sound get louder?," getting an "exceptional yes." Turn 6: the characters spend the turn resting. At this point I asked "Does Ingont convince the others to turn back?" with 50/50 odds, getting a "yes."]

The group returned to the hall of paintings and tried the other door. Although unlocked, it was a little stuck, requiring some effort from Eryz and Ingont to push it open. A narrow corridor led to a chamber with curved walls, lit by two torches. Some chains were hanging from the roof. On the far side of the room, metal cages of various sizes were stacked, filled with seemingly dead animals. The largest cage held the bodies of two humans. Eryz pointed at the cage and looked at Ingont, saying "that's where we'd be if we tried talking. Told you, can't trust the dog men." [Turn 7: the characters moved back to the hall of paintings. Turn 8: a jack of clubs, meaning a new room with an intellectual/social encounter focused on Eryz. The event was a PC positive with "judge good" meaning. The room had two other unlocked doors. The first thing that came to my mind about the event was evidence that Eryz was, in fact, right about attacking the kobolds in the first session. I rolled "abnormally amusing" for the room's description. Regarding the prisoners, I asked "Do they recognize the bodies?" with a "no" for an answer.]

The party spent some time examining the room and hearing at the doors located at opposite walls but there were no signs of activity nearby. Eventually, Ingont decided on a direction to move and asked the help of Eryz to open the door. Beyond that, another corridor extended into the darkness. A narrower passage extended from it for a few yards, ending at a door but the adventurers chose to ignore it for the moment. The passage had already faded into the darkness behind them when they reached another door, with a metallic frame and lock. Swyem put her ear to the door but there were no sounds to be heard. Then she proceeded to carefully pick the lock while the others waited. [Turn 9: the characters spent one turn hearing on the doors. In the absence of other factors, I randomly decided which door to open. Turn 10: 5 of clubs, resolved into a corridor with two other locked doors. I randomly chose one door.]

Swyem and Eryz were not ready to what they would find after that door. It was a closed room, maybe some kind of crude temple. Two braziers placed close to the walls burned with a pulsating, yellowish glow, projecting shadows that seemed to twist and swirl on the walls and floor. And the walls... they also appeared to move and twist. Standing near the center of the room were two kobolds wearing headpieces made of bones and fur and tattered cloaks. Ingont, who did not seem shocked like the other two, noticed that one of the kobolds was holding an ornate wand and had a bracelet clasped to his left arm. "You have come to take these back," said the kobold holding the wand. His voice caused strange echoes in the room. Then, looking at Ingont, he asked "Do you really know who you are working for?"  [Turn 11: At this point, having drawn six cards, I shuffled the joker into the remaining of the cards. Now, believe me or not, the first card drawn was... the joker! Therefore, this meant an encounter where they would find the magical trinkets.  I rolled the "excitedly abnormal" description for the room. I first asked "Are there kobolds in the room?" with likely odds, getting a "yes" answer -- two kobolds (using my wandering monster roll.) The UNE gave me their bearing and focus: "the mysterious kobolds speak of secrets regarding the PCs' experience."  To add details, I asked "is this related to the secret society joined by Ingont?" with likely odds, getting a "yes."  The last question was "Are the kobolds holding the trinkets?" with a "yes" at likely odds.]

Ingont's attention was drawn to Eryz reaching for his sword. He put a hand on the man's shoulder, saying "hold it, Eryz. They don't know how to use those magical items and might hurt us all if you attack now." Eryz looked back at the mage, not entirely sure he trusted his words, then stepped to the side saying, "I can wait for a while." [Swyem had been in contact with Ingont and might be curious about what the kobolds were talking about so I asked "Does she want to listen to the kobolds?" with likely odds, getting a "no." I then asked "Does she want to intimidate them?" with unlikely odds getting another "no." I guess she was stunned by the whole situation. Eryz was bolstered by the previous event but intimidated by the strangeness of the room. Therefore I asked "Does he want to pick a fight?" with 50/50 odds, getting a "yes." Lastly, Ingont would be annoyed that someone, let alone simple kobolds, would know about his activities. I thought it would be very likely that he would try to manipulate them to find out what else they knew, getting a "yes" from Mythic. I thought that Ingont might convince Eryz to stay put by appealing to his knowledge of magic, and got a "yes" on the fate chart with somewhat likely odds.]

Ingont turned back to the kobolds and made a gesture with his right hand, so subtle that his companions did not notice. The kobold with the wand, however, noticed and his gaze changed, now seemingly respectful, even a little afraid. "The insightful entertainer tried to interfere," he said,  "but we recovered these." Then the kobold placed the magical trinkets on the ground, in front of them. "I didn't know there were others acting here," said Ingont, picking up the items. "No, you don't know many things. Now you should leave." [I asked "Are these kobolds also associated with the secret society?" with 50/50 odds getting a "yes." The second question was "Do the kobolds trust Ingont?" with likely odds, with an "exceptional yes." The last question was "Does Ingont manipulate the kobolds to get more information?" with likely odds (due to the previous question) but the answer was "no."]

Having recovered the trinkets, the group moved back to the surface, leaving the kobolds to their rituals and mysteries. Eryz complained about leaving them unharmed, and Swyem was concerned about the exchange that had happened there. Ingont, however, would not speak any more about it. When they came back to their camp, he just gave a small pouch with gold pieces to Swyem and rode back to the city.

Conclusion

This first dungeon delve was an interesting experience for me. I think that the increased use of the Mythic fate chart in this session moved the "feel" of the game away from a more traditional delve. Once more the random generators from Mythic and UNE did not disappoint me, leading to a conclusion quite different from what I would have devised without these external "seeds."

The group decision system worked but it still felt quite arbitrary. I might have to look for and read again the posts related to this topic in other blogs.

The developments from this little dungeon and the characters made me want to continue the story in another format, maybe using the 9Qs... although at this point I think that he might have lost some trust from Swyem and Eryz.


2 comments:

Sean said...

9Q's could help but the story seems to be going along okay. I think it in some ways models what happens when you do have a party of adventurers that debate every decision. I also like how you are detailing the mechanics used. I'm enjoying reading your adventure.

Ricardo said...

Thanks Sean!