Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Resolute Play Testing Session 1

I have a story arc in mind; a small village has fallen under the shadow of a new necromancer who has come into the area. There will be three deeds (adventures) that need to be accomplished, with the big bad fight coming at the end of the third. So far, so good. I like threes. The first adventure will send my new hero into a tomb to fight some critters.

I read a post a few weeks ago by Matt Jackson over on his blog where he spoke about evocative locations and mapless play, which he had read about elsewhere. I kinda like that, so I’m going to give it a shot. I can picture an old sarcophagus in the graveyard at the far edges of the church’s lands - a place where it touches the nearby dark woods, and where nature has slowly pushed its way in. The graveyard itself is overgrown and gone to weed, and the tombs are all at least a century old.

The acolyte was doing his weekly spreading of holy water on the graves and noticed that one of the tombs was open. As he got closer, he saw a goblin move about in the darkness, and then an arrow flew towards him, missing. He fled, reporting this to the Abbot, who has sent word to the local keep of Brambly’s Crossing. There, my hero-to-be Ardent has been wallowing in self pity, looking for an opportunity to prove himself after his failures in the Gladiator Pits of Uth Katan. More on that later (once I figure out what that means).

The three encounters will be in the tomb… he will have three critter-level encounters, because he is brand new and I don’t want to kill him. I have stats for rats, spiders, and goblins done, and that seems to be workable. I could put in a puzzle of some kind… that would be good. Maybe a trap?

Okay. The goblins are in there, and maybe they’ve put a simple trap on the door (a stone is wedged to fall on anyone who opens the door, dealing 1 damage - enough to kill a regular joe, but not an emerging hero like Ardent!). It’s not a very good trap, so challenge 8 (need a better, shorter way to say that. Challenge Rating / CR 8? Going with that for now). Ardent needs to make a successful Focus check CR 8 to notice the wedged stone prepared to harm him. I roll 10, so he finds it easily and can safely open the door.

The first encounter is a room full of spider webs. It was a ceremonial chamber for religious rites, but now it is occupied by 4 tomb spiders. Two start in close range (right above the door), but two are at medium range (in other corners of the chamber; they need to use 1 round to get close enough to bite).

Ardent botches his Focus check, so these two spiders get to take a free attack before initiative. Ugh. He has to Defend against two attacks of 6.  He rolls 6 and 11, so succeeds. It is initiative. Ardent gets 7 against their Focus of 7, so I get the win on the tie (the rating for a monster sets the target for success). He attacks one of the spiders, getting 12, so he hits. He almost got to hit a second, but I’m happy he killed one. The other attacks, but Ardent defends with 7 against the attack of 6.

Round 2, and three spiders are now in melee combat. Ardent attacks, getting 14! He kills two of them. The final spider attacks, but Ardent evades with a 7. 

Round 3: Ardent attacks and hits with a 12, killing the spider.

He examines their webs, and needs to succeed on a CR 8 Focus check to find their treasure. He rolls 6, so he fails to find the small clutch of gemstones they have hidden in a web. Ah well. Better luck next time.

Already I can see that advantage on your primary ability is great. Twice I turned a mediocre result into a great one by having that third die.

On to the rats. Ardent descends stairs into a ceremonial hallway (lots of ceremonial stuff down here) that is flooded to knee deep, and is filled with rats. Okay. Not filled. There is one rat. Hmph. Sometimes the dice just give you one critter. Happens. The rat chirps and swims towards him, hungry and desperate since the dozens (no - HUNDREDS) of other rats that were with him have all been eaten by the four spiders that were at the top of the stairs. He’s mad. He’s actually the toughest rat EVER, with 2 resolve. This little critter is mad as heck and he’s not going to take it anymore. Ardent wins initiative, rolling a 7 against the Focus of 7. He rolls 11+3=14 to hit, so deals 2 points and slays that poor little thing. Sir Ratenberger, last Rat of the Rats of Bron Vindu, deserved a better end.

On to the goblins. There will be 1D6+1 of these, just because this is the big encounter for the adventure. I already know that the last goblin will surrender at 0 resolve rather than dying, and will pledge his service to the temple for life, and will give up info on the necromancer, if he is allowed to live. I mean, your character is going to want information on the necromancer (mine does), so that seems to be a no-brainer.

Alternatively, the goblins carry orders from the necromancer. They are to gather as many skulls as they can from two tombs, and then return to him. The goblin who lives (conveniently) does not know where the necromancer resides (the leader of their group did, but he was one of the first to die - how deus ex machina of him), so traveling to the next tomb and setting a trap is going to be the only option :)

Anyhow, on to bloodshed.

The goblins are busy working (digging up skulls and gathering them in sacks) so they can be snuck upon. I like that the game presumes anyone can sneak; however, if you have a few points in Focus and you’ve tagged it, you are much (much) better at sneaking - but everyone has a chance. Even Ardent. So, he tries to sneak in close enough to jump a goblin before initiative begins. He rolls snake eyes, so he does not sneak. And, I rolled another 1, so he drops a sword. Without it, I no longer have advantage on attacks, and can no longer get the +1 damage boost. Darn darn darn darn darn. I can spend one round picking up my sword, which I think I will do.

Ardent barely wins initiative (6 against their Focus of 6), so he spends his time picking up his sword. There are only three goblins here, but two are in close range. The other is on the other side of the chamber, but he has a short bow he can attack with, so all three are engaging. Hrmph. He gets a natural 12 against this attack, and rolls a 3 on the special bonus super die, so he deftly evades an arrow, but cannot step aside as it hits another goblin. Drat. 

By the way, I can already see that playing a defensive-oriented character would be a lot of fun. You are always stepping out of the way of enemy attacks, and once in a while you get one foe to shoot another, or you manage to trick the ogre into hitting something that causes his own club to rebound and hit him in the head. Sounds fun. I'm thinking that is totally the hobbit go-to ability; you just run around getting monsters to hurt themselves and each other.

Back to combat. Ardent has two goblin blades to evade, and he gets 6 and another natural 2. He rolls 2 on the following die, so he BARELY keeps from suffering even another point of damage; the goblins have attack 7, so Ardent suffers 2 wounds here, down to Resolve 3. Grr grr grumble grumble. Stupid goblins.

Round Two. Ardent has recovered his dropped sword and a little of his self-respect, so he gets to attack. Natural 12. This is followed up with a 4, so it’s just a really solid hit, but he’s able to use his special ability to deal 2 wounds, meaning he kills the two goblins in melee, and prepares to charge at the bow-wielding goblin on the other side of the chamber. He rolls a 6 to evade an arrow, but this catches him in the shoulder, leaving his Resolve at 2. Rut row.

Round Three. Ardent runs at the goblin and this takes the full round. The goblin fires again, and Ardent rolls 4+2 = 6. Seriously? The dude must be wearing armor of missile attraction or some bull like that. He suffers another wound, leaving him at Resolve 1. 

Round Four. Ardent attacks and gets 11+3=14, so he’s able to pretty easily defeat the goblin (if you count losing 4 out of 5 Resolve as ‘easy’). The goblin begs for mercy, and promises to serve the mighty Ardent in any capacity he deems fit. I don’t see Ardent as wanting a skeevy little goblin following him around, so he turns the goblin over to the temple, once he spills what little he knows about the necromancer (which is that there is a necromancer who sent them to gather skulls from two tombs, and this one was the first - but that’s it). From the goblins, he collects 7 coins.

For this, the church offers Ardent 20 coins for his valor. While the money would be nice, Ardent wants the reputation (since that equals renown - this game’s version of levels - and relative power). 

The adventure would be worth 2 hero points, but Ardent gets +1 for refusing the donation and asking them to spread the word that the Shadowed Vale is now protected by Ardent the Red. They promise to tell their friends. He now has 3 hero points towards the 10 he needs to improve his renown to 1 (Victor). He also offers to give the 7 coins he recovered as an additional donation, suggesting that an elixir of healing would sure be useful on his further adventures; this will be a renown check (+0) but at CR 8 because he did just bribe donate to them. I roll and get 5. They thank him for the donation, but sadly have nothing that could help a great hero like Ardent. But, he has their undying gratitude, and isn’t that better than some dumb elixir? Isn’t it? (spoiler alert - it is not).

To my list of Deeds, I add the following:

  • Aid the Acolytes of Andover Abbey

I like assonance as much as I like alliteration… because it’s basically just alliteration with vowels.


Ardent the Red, Common (Renown 0) Human Gladiator (Hero Points 3 of 10)

Attack 3 | Defense 2 | Focus 0 | Resolve 5

Deals 2 damage on attack roll of 13+ (can distribute among multiple foes).

Wealth: 7 coins

Deeds: Aid the Acolytes of Andover Abbey


  1. Dr. D, Great play through. I like the extra dice for deeds/feats/etc. If you ever get a chance take a look at how Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (and Mutant Crawl Classics) from Goodman Games does their character classes, specifically the Fighter class. I'm quoting from page 43 from DCC:

    "Attack modifier: Unlike other classes, warriors do
    not receive a fixed attack modifier at each level. Instead,
    they receive a randomized modifier known as
    a deed die. At 1st level, this is a d3. The warrior rolls
    this d3 on each attack roll and applies it to both his
    attack roll and his damage roll. On one attack, the
    die may give him a +1 to his attack roll and damage
    roll. On the next attack, the die may give him +3! The
    deed die advances with the warrior’s level, climbing
    to d7 by 5th level, and then higher up to d10+4 at
    10th level. The warrior always makes a new roll with
    this die in each combat round. When the warrior has
    multiple attacks at higher levels, the same deed die
    applies to all attacks in the same combat round."

    Just another spin on advantage so to speak. I think your extra d6 works well, but might be overpowered at lower levels. I'd be curious to see what starting with a d2, and graduating with renown to d3, d4, d5, and finally d6 would be like.

    Refernce Ardent's back story: "Ardent has been wallowing in self pity, looking for an opportunity to prove himself after his failures in the Gladiator Pits of Uth Katan. More on that later (once I figure out what that means)."

    Here's my spin on it: The Great Settler of Katan in one of his many raids, too Ardent captive at some point and forced him into service. Initially as a servant but then Ardent was trained as a Gladiator. Death or Glory is the motto of the "Uth Katan Gladiator Pits." For the loser(s) Death is the only option, gladly metted out by the victors. Yet thrice Ardent extended mercy after victory. The blood thristy crowds roared their disapproval. The guards dispatched the loser and each time Ardent recieved a brutal public punishment. After the third time and public punishment, the crowds went silent and turned their back on him. The Echo of Katan boomed across the stadium, "Shame you will carry!" The crowded with their backs turned shouted, "Shame! Shame! and continued as Ardent was whipped out of the stadium and the city into the wilderness. Banished, without glory and without death.

    1. So you were there! Thanks for the eye-witness account (that is very cool by the way and I am totally keeping it).

      I like the progression you mention, but I want to keep things simple, direct, and all about the 1D6. I don't think that it's overpowered necessarily, because attacks are relative to what you are facing, and damage doesn't scale very high.

  2. Nice play-through! Very engaging, and I like seeing how you keep coming up with ideas even as the game goes on. It's also cool how you can decide the "meaning" behind the rolls/results; I would have had them tell Ardent that they could not give him the elixir because it is only for members of their order, but he could earn his place with them by defeating the Necromancer, if indeed he would wish to join them, even as just a follower, etc. Lots of possibilities,one die roll!

    1. Oooh. That's cool. I might retroactively decide that is true. It is a bit of a challenge because I am intentionally leaving a TON of open space here in the game design; the whole idea is that you build the setting as you develop your character.