Friday, November 18, 2022

Desert of Despairing Souls Session One

I'm almost ready to post the rules for the new game, Hack'D & Slash'D (see what I did there?). In the interim, I made some characters at level 5 to test out several of the hacks and to do some slashing (see what I did there, again?). Here they are...
Teothas the Lawful Elf Magician 5
Staff (1d4); sling (1d4/short range); AC -2; hp 20
STR 7; DEX 12; CON 7; LOR 15; INS 12; CHA 7
Spellbook; adventurer’s pack; 100 gp 
Spells Casting (Tier 5/1d8): All Cantrips; Charm Person; Magic Missile; Sleep; Levitate; Portal; Web; Haste; Lightning Bolt
Cloak of Protection +2
Tashya the Lawful Human Cleric 5
Mace +1 (1d6+1); sling (1d4/short range); AC -3; hp 30
STR 11; DEX 8; CON 9; LOR 9; INS 13; CHA 11
Chainmail Armor +1; Small shield +1 (2/round); adventurer’s pack; 100 gp
Spell Casting (Tier 3/1d8)
Wand of Paralysis (Hold Person) Td4 charges.
Grym the Neutral Dwarf Fighter 5
War Axe +1 (two-handed; 1d10+2); AC -3; hp 40
STR 15; DEX 12; CON 12; LOR 7; INS 7; CHA 7
Chainmail armor +1; adventurer’s pack; 100 gp
Bag of holding; 3 potions of healing
Nessa the Neutral Halfling Thief 5
Short sword +1 (1d6 +1) or short bow +1 (1d6+1/medium range); AC -2; hp 25
STR 9; DEX 13; CON 9; LOR 8; INS 11; CHA 11
Leather Armor+1; adventurer’s pack; thief’s tools; 100 gp
Elfin cloak and boots (advantage +2 to sneak)
And, I figured I would use this map that I made a few years ago and never used. Here it is...

Session 1:
On the run from the Iron Guard of Molidyn, the heroes have crossed into the Desert of Despairing Souls, seeking refuge among the nomadic people dwelling in Ubek’s Oasis. Here, they find refreshment and rest, but soon hear of adventure. A prophecy claims that the elder Efreeti Gushon is about to break free from his prison in Hazrak’s Tower, wherein he has been bound for 333 years. Holy men among the dervishes suggest that signs point to these four heroes being an answer to their prayers – they suggest that the key to revising the Djinni Ubek, who can make war against the Efreeti and imprison him again, are hidden in Ubek’s Tomb. They agree to set forth for the tomb.
Yeah, this is just my riff on the Desert of Desolation Series, but with the goal to fix some of the big plot holes in that story. I always loved the concept, and some of the images and encounters were awesome, so I’m stealing those.
They set off!
Their first encounter is about a day into the 60-mile trek. I figure that they can cover about 15 miles a day (2 miles an hour in the desert for maybe 8 hours – then they have to rest). I’m going to say that they have to make a CON check at the end of every day or they lose 1 point of CON until they can get out of the sun and recover for 1d4 days of rest.
They go 14 miles and see a huge creature wandering on the horizon, coming towards them as the sun begins to set. They slow their march, and ready weapons, but keep moving forward. Maybe it’s the Efreeti. That would be quick. Nooo. Of course not. Instead, it’s a Stone Giant friar who wanders the desert, speaking in nonsense. They can try to make a CHA check to interact with him, but if the roll is bad, he gets enraged and attacks. That should be fun. If they do well, they can get something helpful.
Tashya, despite being the youngest, is the default leader. She attempts to speak with the Stone Giant, hailing him in a friendly voice and offering him some water. She rolls 15. That stinks. The giant starts ranting about how they are bandits trying to steal from him; it’s initiative.
Suddenly my dice decide to roll high. Figures. Now that I have a roll under system… grr. The giant goes first.
Stone Giant 7 [Neutral; AR 12; AC -3; HD 7d10; club 4d6 or stone 3d6; mighty]. Suffer disadvantage on LOR and CHA checks.
He has 60 hit points. He draws his club and swings at Tashya. He hits with a 2, dealing 14 damage. She tries to get her shield up to block the blow, forcing a second roll (disadvantage). This is a 10, so still hits. Her armor soaks 3. She is down to 19 hp remaining.
Teothas casts a lightning bolt, and the giant resists with a 5. Teothas rolls 18 damage, so the giant suffers 9. It is down to 51. Teothas rolls his tally die and gets 2. He’s already got a tally for today, and he’s only one spell in!
Grym swings his axe, hitting with a 5. He has a 5 in 10 chance of getting a second attack, and rolls 3, getting the second attack; he rolls 12, which hits! He deals 3 and 8 points, but the giant’s skin soaks the entire first attack, and means it suffers 5 from the second; it is down to 46.
Nessa activates her cloak and boots, trying to move into position for a sneak attack. She checks DEX (for the stealth) and gets 7. No problem. The giant loses track of her as she blends into the dunes around her. She will attack next round.
Tashya swings her mace, getting 15 and missing. She should have healed herself…
Round 2. The Giant goes again, but we’ll see if it stays on Tashya… no, it goes to the dwarf who is cutting at it with that axe. It rolls a natural 20 and leaves himself open to attack. All attacks against it are at advantage, as it uses the round to try and pull its great club out of the sand it is stuck in.
Teothas uses a magic missile and deals 9 points of damage… well, that was just as effective as the lightning bolt, but only has a 1 in 8 chance of giving him a tally. I roll a 5, so he’s good. Still only 1 tally on the day. The giant is at 37 hp.
Grym attacks with advantage and rolls 14 and 16… the 14 is still a miss (by 1). Grr.
Nessa attacks from stealth as a sneak attack. She rolls a 3, so she hits. She gets to add her level to damage, so she deals 12 damage; the armor soaks 3, so the giant suffers 9 and is down to 28.
Tashya swings her mace again and gets 9. She hits, dealing 2 points of damage, which the giant completely soaks. Again, healing might be a better idea.
Round 3. The Giant has recovered his club and swings at the little halfling who just poked him in the ankle. He gets 11 and hits her. He deals 12 to her (after her AC adjustment of -2), and she is down to 13.
Teothas uses another magic missile, dealing 9 again! The giant is down to 19. On his tally die, I roll 6 so he does not get another tally. He’s still at 1 tally (out of 5) on the day.
Grym attacks and gets 17, so he misses. Drat.
Nessa rolls out of her tumbling from the club hit, popping up with her bow. She looses an arrow and gets 3. She hits, dealing 6 damage. After the 3 point soak, the giant suffers 3 and is down to 16.
Tashya decides to heal Nessa. She uses a cure light wounds, restoring 7 hits to Nessa (who is now at 20). On her tally die she gets 8, so this does not give her a tally.
Round 4. The Giant is pummeling the dwarf, so he’ll keep going; he rolls another natural 20, so the whole crew gets advantage again. He’s having a bad day.
Teothas uses another magic missile, and deals 10 points, leaving the giant at 6. Teothas rolls 1 on the tally die (ugh) and takes his second tally on the day. Not good. He’s switching to the sling if needed (or at least cantrips for a bit).

Grym attacks with advantage and gets 7, so hits. He has a 5 in 10 chance of getting a second attack, and rolls 8, so no. For damage, he rolls 9. The giant soaks 3, and suffers 6, so he’s at zero. The heroes win after four rounds of combat.
The giant carries his entire fortune on him in a satchel… he is carrying 77 gold coins, and a pair of gauntlets of ogre power! These could (maybe should) go to the dwarf, but they will only give a 5% bonus to hit… if Tashya takes them, it significantly improves her combat value. She takes them, increasing her STR from 11 to 16. Nice. It is the end of the day, so all make a CON check to see how they are managing the heat. Teothas is the only who who fails, and his CON drops to 6 temporarily… he’s feeling pretty weak from the stifling heat.

I made a few small rule adjustments as I was playing. The core rulebook is 24 pages long, and it's got pretty much everything you need. I like the format - it's very tight and clean. Everything is pretty intuitive, and I feel like the tally spell system is the bee's knees... even though these are level 5 characters, they are probably a bit light on gear for what real level 5's would be at this point, but we're going to go with it. 

I'm not sure how I feel about armor class... I almost want to make armor class a D10 roll; if you roll your AC or lower, you just ignore that attack, and the armor soaks it entirely. AC would never be better than 6 (plate mail +3), so that's not a game breaker. I might try that next time.

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