Saturday, March 5, 2022

The Rogue and the Medusa

We’ve got two more classes to play test, but I’m thinking I might start a solo campaign with a paladin using the solitaire framework exclusively to build the campaign. I’m actually looking forward to that… so let’s play test the new and improved rogue and see how it goes. Let’s put him against a difficult adversay - a Medusa.

Neshin Ruh, Fabled Human Rogue (Renown 3)

Attack 3 | Defend 3 | Focus 4 | Resolve 4

Relics: Gauntlets of Haste (permanent haste)

Dagger of Repudiation (Attack +1, Defense +1)

Cloak of the Phantoms (Invisibility 3x per day)

Potions: Healing (x2)

As a rogue, Neshin may leverage a variety of skills including moving with stealth, picking locks, and climbing walls. He always wins initiative; he starts every round with a Focus check (DT 13); if successful; he receives advantage on either Attack or Defend for that entire round (player choice).

Medusa Handmaiden

(Fabled 3) Attack 10 | Defend 12 | Focus 11 | Resolve 7

Bow Attack; Poison; Petrify (see below)

The medusa attacks at range with a bow or in melee with her snake hair or dagger; if she hits, attempt a Defend check 10 or suffer +1 poison damage. Every round, check Focus (CR 11) on your action, before you attack. If failed, you suffer 1 damage as you edge closer to looking at the Medusa. When you reach Resolve 0, you make eye contact and are turned to stone. Use the solitaire framework to determine if you are ever freed; at least 1D6 years will pass (if ever) before another hero slays this Medusa, and your statue may have been broken by then.

Having heard that the Medusa was in possession of a powerful artifact, Neshin uses his cloak to sneak into her lair. However, as he finds the relic, and ancient jewel, he realizes this is a trap; the Medusa is behind him, ready to strike. Let’s see if he’s surprised; he attempts a Focus check against the Medusa’s Focus 11. He rolls 14, and is not surprised; he expected she might be lingering about.

Okay. First, Neshin checks Focus, getting 12. Poop. He does not get to take advantage to anything, but attacks twice. Well, he would, but the Medusa is like 30’ away, so he has to run instead and close the distance. He also has to check Focus to keep from looking in her direction as he runs; he gets 12, so he’s solid. Haste allows him to travel to medium range and still attack, so he still takes his two attacks. He rolls 12 and 10 against her Defend of 12, so he hits once. I’m going to have him hold back on his 3 points from Renown. She attacks with her bow and he rolls 7, so he gets hit for 1 point. He must check Defend against CR 10, and he rolls 7. Drat. He is hit by an arrow, and the poison gets into his bloodstream. He is now at Resolve 2 and she is at Resolve 6.  

Round 2. Neshin checks Focus, getting 15. That is more like it! Get to test out my rules for potions!. Neshin would drink a potion of healing this round. I am toying with the idea of just allowing you to drink one potion a round in addition to everything else with no penalty, but it makes more sense that you have to drink a potion before you act, and your following action is at disadvantage (since you took part of your fighty time to do drinky time). Okay, he’s going to drink a potion of healing (getting him back to Resolve 4), and then use his advantage on attack to cancel the disadvantage he’s about to suffer from drinking the potion. Whew. That said, he attacks twice with his trusty dagger, rolling 9 and … a natural 2. UGH. He suffers disadvantage on his next check (which will be to defend against her snake hair and dagger). However, he still has that advantage in place from his Focus check, and any advantage cancels any number of disadvantages! Nice. He still gets to take a standard Defend check against her attack, and gets 13 against her Attack 10. Whew. He’s up to Resolve 4, and she’s still at Resolve 6.

Round 3. Neshin can finally go full battle mode (I hope). He checks Focus and gets 11, so no advantage to claim (sad face emoji). He also has to check Focus to make sure he doesn’t look at her, and gets 11, so he’s good. He attacks twice, getting 13 and 12… he actually rolled really well! He hits twice, and she is down to Resolve 4. She attacks with her hair and dagger, but he rolls 10 to Defend, narrowly evading her.

Round 4. He checks Focus twice, getting 14 on the first roll (on double 6s)... since he would get advantage on his next attack, I’m going to have him put the advantage on Defend this round, so he attacks once with advantage and defends with advantage. Against her gaze, he rolls double 6’s again! Hm. He should also get advantage on that other attack; so he has advantage on everything this round; he attacks twice, getting 11 and 10. Her Defend of 12 is really tough to get past. That might be overpowered… He Defends against her bite/dagger combo, and gets 13, so he’s fine and dandy.

Round 5. He checks Focus twice, getting 12 (no advantage) and 10 (barely avoids eye contact this time). He attacks twice, getting 6 and 7. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh. He Defends with a 10, so he is okay.

Round 6. Two Focus checks, 11 (no bonus) and 12 (no petrification). He uses his points from being Fabled (that’s +3 y’all) to increase his check to 14 so he gets to take advantage on his two attacks; he attacks twice, getting 14 and 11. He hits once, dealing 1 point. He defends with a 10, so he’s okay again. She is at Resolve 3.

Round 7. More Focus checking time. He gets 13 (yes!) and 11 (yes again!). He will take the advantage on attacks, getting 12 and 14. He hits twice, dealing 2 points. He rolls 10 on his Defense (he keeps barely evading her attacks). She is at Resolve 1.

Round 8. Two Focus checks, and I get 13 (so advantage on attacks) and 10 (again) to prevent gazing at her directly. Neshin attacks twice, getting 9 and 13, so he hits once. This is enough to finish her, putting her at Resolve 0. He feints one direction, and as she leans forward, he deftly slashes her throat. Silver blood pours out as she collapses to the floor of her great hall. Neshin turns towards the ruby that will fetch a fine price at market. 


Okay, that was the longest combat I’ve run, and also the most number intensive. Both the hero and the monster had a number of different triggered abilities, so every round required multiple checks and moving numbers around. It was a little too much (but I am tired today, so that isn’t helping - I forgot he had the haste gloves and had him drink a haste potion in round one… then after I had finished round two, I realized he had the gloves and never would have drank that potion, so I had to re-test rounds 1 and 2… don’t play test when sleepy, kids). All that said, this is the most trigger-happy class against the most trigger-happy monster I have so far, so this is the limit of how far the game might go in terms of tracking lots of fiddly bits. It’s still not BAD, but it was a bit much for me. What should be a strategic choice (where to put that advantage bonus) wasn’t because of the foe; her Defend being two points higher than her Attack, and the fact that he had two attacks per round but only had to Defend once, meant that it was obvious where that advantage should go. I would expect that in a combat where things are going south, or where there are multiple foes attacking at once, you’d be more inclined to beef up Defend for a round or two as you get your bearings and bought time. 

Her attack of 10 and his Defend of +3 means that a natural roll of 7 (the most likely outcome) will defend; so he has pretty good odds of defending without advantage. Conversely, her Defend of 12 against his attack of +3 means that he needs a 9 on the die to hit; that two point difference is HUGE. I think I am going to bump her Defend down to 11 in the rules. It’s still formidable, but not quite as overwhelming as it is now.

That said, I like the rogue's ability, and it's a bit different, but it's not the class I'd want to play as my main. Then again, I've never really gravitated to rogues/assassins/thieves anyway, so that's nothing new.

Finally, the Medusa's gaze works well enough. I don't love it; I think that maybe if you botch your Focus check, then you are turned to stone immediately; again, it's an instant kill that I'm trying to avoid with this game, but she is a flippin' medusa after all. I'll mull that one over a bit, but as is the ability works.


  1. From the tests I'm wondering if anything that confers Haste seems to be the optimal resource. Being able to have 2 actions possibly overshadows the other abilities. I understand that it helps speed up combat and allows a PC to heroically attack more foes at once or flee to a distance, but is it too necessary ?

  2. You may be correct; it really is the most powerful spell... I think that it could be mitigated by having more attacks as characters advance (so if you have 3 actions per round, getting 4 from haste is nice, but not as powerful as it is when you have 1 action and it doubles you to 2). The other option is to limit haste to a shorter duration or change how it works... hmmm