Back to play testing.
I did some Google searches for lava caves and volcanic cave systems, and the images are just incredible. Yeah. This is going to be fun. I need some sub-systems for determining events in the caves. It was forty miles to the city, but the caves are not going to be a straight line; we’re going to add 2d6 miles to the distance, (got a 4) making it 44 miles. There’s a 2 in 6 chance of an encounter every 2 miles. So I’ll be rolling 22 times, and am likely to have 6-10 encounters before getting to the city. I’m also going to say that every 1d6 miles there is a chance of getting lost. Tunnels often split, and it might not be clear which is the ‘main’ passage; it is easy to lose direction down here, and without any magic to guide him, that’s going to be quite possible. We’ll require a Focus check CR 8 to keep from getting lost every time I hit the mileage.
The dragon drops Abel off inside of a fissure; there is steam rising out of this hole, and the tunnel branches in several directions. The dragon points him down one passage, and he’s off…
The first check for getting lost will be at mile 5. Okay.
By mile 2, he has not encountered anything. It is possible that these tunnels have been pretty well explored; I’d think that there are some phosphorescent rocks or cracks where lava seeps through that give off light. We’ll roll to see how much light there is every two miles; lower is less light. For the first two miles, I roll 3; there is a little bit of light coming from natural rock formations that glow, so he can see to medium range well enough. He avoids the torch and moves slowly. I’d expect he can cover 2 miles in an hour with careful walking. He wears thick-soled leather boots, so it’s not like he’s continually worried about sharp rocks cutting up his feet. Plus, the gnomes have been forging decent paths here. They travel routinely, so there are places where, if the footing is especially bad, they have erected simple bridges or stairways.
By mile 4, he has his first encounter. He descended a bit into deeper places, and the light has all but disappeared. He had to light a torch to help him forward, and despite the fact that the halls remain relatively tall and wide (1d6 x10’ on average, and I get 3, so 30’), he’s feeling a bit claustrophobic. Is it spiders? Yup. It could be one big spider, lots of smaller spiders, an ettercap, or some combo… or something else spider like. First, one big spider? No. A few smaller spiders? 2. Yes. It is going to be with 2 tomb spiders. There is no webbing that lets him know, so surprise here is quite likely… he will be checking Focus with disadvantage because of the conditions; he checks Focus and still gets 10. Okay then. He is not surprised; even though he is about three miles in to his journey, his battle senses are still on high alert. One spider drops in front of him, and another scurries behind him from where it was hiding along the wall.
Round 1. The spiders both attack, and he rolls a pair of natural 12s to block. Well then. I’ll say he gets an attack against each; against the first he rolls 9 (missing) and against the second he gets 12, hitting for 1 damage.
Round 2. Both spiders attack, but he rolls 13 and 10 to defend. He manages to avoid both bites, and attacks with 13, dealing 1 wound. That first spider is at Resolve 1.
Round 3. Two more attacks; he defends with 11 and 12, so gets no advantage on his attack; he rolls a natural 12 anyway! We’ll put that on the unharmed spider, dropping that to Resolve 1 as well.
Round 4. Two more attacks; he gets 12 and 11 to defend, so again no advantage. The 11 on his attack is still enough to kill the first spider.
Round 5. He defends with 13, which grants advantage on the attack, and then attacks with 12, killing the second spider.
He decides to look around for the nest of these spiders; it will be CR 8 to find; he rolls 8. How high up is it? 1d6 x 5’ up… 20’ up. Hm. How difficult is the wall here to climb? We’ll set the CR at 7 + the 1d6 result; CR 10. Abel gives it a shot, rolling this as an attack action; he gets 7. He cannot get a good hand-hold in the wall, despite several efforts. He tries to use a rope and grapple to grab the nest and pull it down. That will be a little bit easier, CR 8. I roll 9, so after a few tries he manages to grab the web-like nest and pull it down. There is a desiccated corpse of a smaller creature (it’s got to be one of the gnomes) that still has its gear; time to roll for treasure! It has something worth 50 coins. Well, I just got my money back from the dragon donation :) Is it actual coins? 6. No. A piece of jewelry? 1. Yes. Necklace? 4. No. Rings? 2. Yes. 1 big fat ring with a huge ruby in the middle of it. That’s nice. I take it and pocket it. The gnome has no magical treasure, but this is a good find. I mean, for the temple. Yes. The temple will like this. Unless I need to use it for barter before then, which is quite likely.
At mile 5, I make my first check. The cave comes to a crossway. I guess I can roll for an encounter here too, while I’m at it. 5. No encounter. I can see the remains of some dead spiders and a dead ettercap (not that I’d know what that is… ) and what appears to be a scene of a battle somewhat recently. These are different spiders than I’ve been fighting. It’s hard to tell for sure which passageway these came from (there are quite a few webs hanging in places here), and two passageways look like they could lead towards the city. Focus check, CR 8. I get a 10, so I choose… wisely. Onward and forward. Another check will be required in 3 miles.
At mile 6, I check for an encounter, and get 4. Nope. At mile 8, I need to check for an encounter, and have a chance of getting lost again. Encounter first. 6. Nothing. These halls have been decidedly devoid of encounters. I am at the outer edges of what might be the territory of these gnomes, so they and their enemies probably don’t come out this far very often… but that means the likelihood of other random things might be better than it would be near their population centers. Let’s check lighting here (since I’ve been forgetting to do that). 5. It’s dark. I’ve been going by torchlight for a lot of this way. Is it stairs I come to? 1. Yes. Descend? 1. Yes. Okay, stairs descend into an even deeper part of the caves, where a lava flow? 2. Yep. Is traversed by three bridges that lead to three different tunnels. At least there would be some light from the river of lava passing under the bridges… I have to attempt a Focus check to pick the right tunnel. 9. I almost go down the wrong tunnel (the middle one), but realize that an air current is coming from the one to the right. That’s the one I follow. Only 2 miles until I have to check again. Sigh.
I hit mile 10 after about five hours of walking. The cave splits again. There is, again, no encounter (rolled a 6). CR 8 Focus check and I get 6. Rut row. Wrong direction.
I start down the cave to the right (I’ve had luck with going to the right). I go five miles (no encounter at miles 2 or 4) before any indication that this might be a problem… Do I come to a dead end? 1. Yes. Did anything follow me down this tunnel? 2. Yes. Spider-things? Oh yeah. Big spider? 1. Yup. A really big spider. I passed under its web (60’ up in the ceiling of this incredibly dark cave, far beyond my torchlight), and then has been following me for 2 miles. Patient bugger. The odds of me finding its nest are pretty much nil. Okay, let’s stat up a really big hairy spider.
Large Cave Spider
(Dire 2) Attack 11 | Defend 11 | Focus 10 | Resolve 6
Wall Crawling; Fast; On a Defend of 8 or less, the spider gets an immediate second bite; those bitten by a spider must check Defend (CR 11) or suffer +2 poison damage.
These 5’ spiders do not build webs, creating small nests in hidden corners and alcoves.
Ugh. This thing is going to be tough. I turn around and see the spider move into the edge of my torchlight. As it runs towards me, I quaff the potion of haste. I think I might need it… If it gets surprise, then I will need to take disadvantage on my Defends (because I’m drinking the potion quick); if not, then I get to prep my shield before it gets to me. I think it wants to take a second to squeal in delight at the tasty meal ahead of it. I roll 8. It’s able to squeal and run at the same time. Talented spider.
That cancels my advantage, so it takes its bite, and I block with an 11. Whew! I get to attack twice now with haste, getting 6 and 9, missing twice.
Round 2. The spider bites, and I defend with 14, triggering advantage on my two attacks. I roll 11 and 13, dealing 2 hits, and leaving the spider at Resolve 4.
Round 3. The spider bites, and I defend with 14. With advantage on attacks, I get 13 and 9, hitting once. The spider is at Resolve 3.
Round 4. I defend with 13, triggering advantage. I hit with a natural 12, dealing 2 wounds and leaving the spider at Resolve 1. With my second attack, I roll 13, killing the spider.
I am able to make some good time back up the hall (with haste active) now that I’ve realized this is a dead end. I can try to find the spider’s webby lair, but it’s going to be CR 12 to see the webs hanging down where it descended to follow me originally. I roll 11, and use the +1 from my Renown to get to 12. Buh Dang. I find the webs 25’ up, but with a rope and grapple thrown into the webs, I can climb with a CR 8 Attack check; I get 10, so it’s no problem. In the webs, I find 1 Elixir; water breathing. Meh. Okay. I’d rather have my haste back, but it is what it is.
I’m a bit shocked at how easily I was able to dispatch that spider. Yes, I had haste active, so I was able to cut through it much more quickly, but I expected it would hit me at least once… its attack of 11 meant that if I rolled at all below average, on Defend checks, I’d get tagged. Granted, I have advantage on Defend, but still the odds of rolling 2/2/3 or something like that have to be pretty good. I chalk that up to healthy living.
I make it back to the original crossway at the 10 mile mark. There’s a 1 in 6 chance of an encounter here now, and I get 1. Yes. Spiders again? Yes. Sigh. More spiders. Another big one? No. Little ones? Yes. Is there an Ettercap with them? Yep. 1 Ettercap and 4 grey spiders heard the sounds of the cave spider that attacked and have been waiting to see if anything came out of its lair. Something has… me! Let’s stat up an Ettercap.
(Dire 2) Attack 11 | Defend 11 | Focus 8 | Resolve 6
Wall Crawling; Immune to webbing; communicates with spiders; attacks either with 2 claws (1-3) or 1 bite (4-6); those bitten must check Defend (CR 9) or suffer +2 poison damage.
These 5’ spider-like humanoids dwell among spiders and lead groups of weaker arachnids.
I roll 4 on the Focus check, so they totally surprise me. They attack as I come into the main hall; The ettercap attacks with its bite, while the 4 grey spiders all go to bite. I roll that only 2 are able to get to me during the surprise phase, while the other 2 skitter towards me.
Against the Ettercap, I defend with 15 (nice), and against the spiders I defend with 11 and 12, which is plenty against them.
Round 1. The ettercap uses two claws; I Defend with 10 and 13, getting his once. My Resolve is at 4. Against the four spiders, I Defend with 12, 12, 15, and 14. This triggers my attack advantage, which I use against the Ettercap; I attack and miss with a 10. Haste would be SO nice right now.
Round 2. The ettercap attacks with its claws. I Defend with 10 and 14, getting hit once. I’m at Resolve 3. I could trigger my attack advantage, but I will instead recover 1 wound (I don’t think I’ve used that trigger before!) and am back to Resolve 4. Against the spiders, I defend with 12, 12, 11, and 12. I block all of their bites. I attack the Ettercap with 9 and miss.
Round 3. The ettercap attacks with claws again. I Defend with 15 and 11, so trigger my ability and block both claws. Against the spiders, I defend with 11, 8 (ugh), 14, and 12. Their attack is only 6, so I only get hit if I roll 3 1s. I’m thinking of some alternate rule for en masse; they get to add their total number of creatures to the attack, but only deal damage for 1. Let’s try that here; there are four of them, so they would attack at 10. In that case, my first defend is the only one that matters, and that’s an 11. Okay then. I like that better. House rule applied.
Round 4. The ettercap attacks with a bite this time. I roll 13 to defend, getting advantage on my attack. Against the four spiders attacking together, I get 10, so just barely keep from getting bit. I attack the Ettercap with advantage, getting 10 and missing. Drat and drat and double drat.
Round 5. Ettercap bites again, but my 13 Defend makes sure those gross teeth get nowhere close to my pretty jugular. The spiders fare no better, since my double 6s push them back. I attack the ettercap and get 12, which finally hits him. He’s down to Resolve 5.
Round 6. Ettercap claws twice, and I defend with 15 and 8. I get hit once. Against the spiders, I fare better with a 14. On the advantage Attack, I hit the Ettercap with a 14. He is down to Resolve 4, and I’m down to Resolve 3.
Round 7. Ettercap bites, and I defend with a natural 12. Against the spiders, I defend with 13. On the attack against the Ettercap, I get 15. He’s down to Resolve 3 as well.
Round 8. Ettercap claws twice, and I defend with 12 and 10. I get hit once, down to Resolve 2. Against the spiders, I defend with 14, which I use to recover a wound and am back to Resolve 3. I attack the Ettercap and get a natural 12 without advantage! He’s down to Resolve 1.
Round 9. The Ettercap bites; I roll 14 to defend; against the spiders, I roll 13 to defend; I will take my advantage on attack, and roll 10. Yick.
Round 10. This is the longest combat ever… The Ettercap claws twice, and I get 12 and 14 to block, so all good. Against the spiders, I defend with 9, so they actually hit me. Ouch. I am at Resolve 2. I turn my 14 into advantage on my attack, and get 10… which misses. Should have taken the resolve point…
Round 11. I didn’t know rounds went past ten. Who did? Ettercap bites, and I roll 10 to Defend. Uh oh. I use my +1 from Renown to bump that to 11 and narrowly avoid getting hit. If he hits, then I might get poisoned… and then my character is finished. These are not the type to hold me for ransom. There’s good eating on these bones. I still have hero points I could burn as well if I really needed to, but I am very hesitant to do that. Against the spiders, I roll 13 to defend, and I’ll trigger my advantage (and cross my fingers)... or will I? Ugh. Decision time. Last round I didn’t and I nearly died this round… I’m at Resolve 2. I’ll take the safe play and claim my 1 wound recovery, putting me at Resolve 3. I attack the Ettercap normally, getting 10 and missing. Grrrr.
Round 12. The Ettercap goes with 2 claws, and I defend with 10 (so suffer 1 wound) and 13 (so trigger an ability). I will have that wash, so I immediately recover the point I lost). Against the spiders, I defend with 10, which barely keeps them at bay. This combat is very touch and go.
Round 13. The ettercap goes with 2 claws again, and I defend with 14 and 9 - the defense giveth a point, and the defense taketh a point away. Against the spiders, I defend with 8, and suffer 1 wound. I’m at Resolve 2.
Round 14. The ettercap claws twice, and I defend with 13 and 14. Whew. Against the spiders I defend with 7, so not whew. Again I use my trigger to recover the wound so I can lose it again immediately. Attacking the Ettercap, I get 12, and finally hit him! He’s been at Resolve 1 since round 8… took me 6 rounds to finish him. Dang.
Round 15. Spiders bite, and I defend with 12. I attack and get 10, killing one spider.
Round 16. Three spiders bite, and I defend with 9. Because I just killed a spider, this barely succeeds. I attack with 13, killing a second.
Round 17. Two spiders bite, and I defend with 13. Attacking with advantage, I get 9, killing 1. One remains.
Round 18. I roll pooly getting a 9, but this is a critter… I roll a natural 2 on my attack, and lose advantage on my next defend. Abel is clearly exhausted after almost 20 rounds of combat.
Round 19. He rolls 7 to defend (yikes) which is still 1 better than the attack of 6. He fortunately rolls 13 to hit, killing this last spider and he falls to his knees, panting.
I think it is likely that this little group is pretty nomadic, and any treasure would be carried on the Ettercap. 2. It is so. I roll for treasure, and get the following: 90 coins and an elixir of heroism. Nifty. I like haste better, but this is not bad at all.
Abel has traveled a total of 20 miles (although only 10 miles of progress out of the 44, since 5 was on the wrong path), so he needs to call it. That is about ten hours of slogging through tunnels. He goes a few hundred yards into the secondary wrong way tunnel, and finds a nook to rest in. He also sets up the body of the ettercap in the middle of the hall with his rope tied to it and pulled pretty tight; if anything disturbs it, he should feel the tug on his arm that will wake him up. He puts out his torch and at least tries to get a nap in…
He should earn 2 hero points for this; I will say it is unlikely he gets 3. 4. Nope. 2 hero points it is. He will move up to heroic after the next session, assuming he survives that long. That Ettercap was tough! Also, I can start thinking about how to go about getting a second relic… a sword or gauntlets of haste would be very, very helpful. I’m thinking there should be some way before I get into the city to actually earn my second relic… here’s the revised Abel after 7 sessions:
Abel the Notable Human Paladin (Renown 1) Hero Points 23
Attack +3 | Defend +4 | Focus +1 | Resolve 5
90 coins; ring worth 50 coins; elixirs of heroism, invisibility, water breathing; scroll of fireball
Relic: Shield of the Final Templar (+1 Defense and +1 Focus)
On a Defend result of 13+ in combat, Abel can choose to either recover 1 Resolve point or receive advantage on his next Attack.
By the way, I’m going to update the master file with the typos corrected and fixed stats for dragons; I'm going to add a blog page with new house rules for en masse attacks; I think against critters, you should be able to attack a bonus number equal to your Renown; there is no reason Abel cannot cut down 2 goblins or grey spiders with a successful attack at this point. He’s B.A. enough. Plus, an un-hasted legendary character should be killing more than 1 goblin per round; 5 goblins at a time is reasonable. I don't think this can fit in the core rules (I tried), so a house rule is fine. If you want to play it as written, you're fine, but I think that this house rule makes those combats stronger.
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