Friday, June 23, 2023

Arath Session 11 and Proof of Life!

My books have arrived! They look snazzy. Right away, Grace said they need more color, but this book looks and feels exactly how I want it to be. This is an anti-modern RPG. It's streamlined and concise, but it's got a no-frills vibe that I really like. This is absolutely and totally the game I have been trying to design for the last twenty years. 

Okay. On to session 11...

It took 10 sessions (although some were ‘interludes and a few had little XP gaining happening), but that’s the standard for progression. I expect that number of XP to increase, but not enough to keep pace with the difference in XP requirements; he needs 300 for level 3, and a level 2 foe is worth 5, so he needs to defeat 40 foes of that level to advance. On one hand, that’s not a LOT, but on the other hand, that is a lot for a solo character. We’ll find out soon enough.

I haven’t worked out movement rules for the skiff, but we’ll say that I roll 1d12-3 for movement rate at that moment; a lot depends on wind. If I roll below 60, I may as well have Arath walk and pull the skiff along. I roll and get a 5, so I use luck and end up with a 12. The skiff gets a good wind behind it, and is able to travel at 90’. Awesome. I’m also going to assume that Arath was able to set a section of deck apart and spread a piece of leather across it so that he has something of a shelter to stay under to keep out of the sun as much. He won’t do that right now, but it’s an option. Reviewing my notes, I see that the cave was in hex E15, which is about 36 miles away. However, with the speed of the skiff and its efficiency traveling over desert, 6 miles per hour is not an unreasonable rate of travel, which means that could get there by early afternoon if he sets off at dawn. There is no random encounter on the way, and the weather does not change significantly. He maintains a favorable wind the whole time.

He makes his mind check to find the cave (hard to do when everything looks like desert, but he had been intentional about marking this place in his mind around several landmarks on the horizon). He ‘hides’ the skiff among some rocks about a half mile from the cave, and walks the rest of the way. The cave is as he left it. Nothing is out front.
Now I get to stock this the rest of the way – presuming Arath doesn’t die or flee again. It is unlikely that Arath’s armor also removes the sneak penalty for higher armor, but I’ll check. Magic armor in D+D always did that when I played (not sure if that’s in current iterations of the rules or not). Yes! I got a 3; the armor imposes no sneak penalties. Arath attempts to sneak into the cave, and gets 8+2=10. Being level 2 is already paying off.
The cave is going to have attracted some life to it, since there is a river (which I haven’t decided anything about) cutting across the cave. I doubt that this water is crystal clear spring water… odds are good something is up with it. However, even strange or magical waters would draw creatures, and I am going to say that there are packs of strange little prairie dogs that scamper all over these caves. They would eat the small insects growing all around the water, and then these would provide the basic food source for whatever lives in these caves. It has to have some kind of ecosystem, and this stands in well enough for one.
I’m going to retro-design a piece of the desert. These prairie dogs, which the denizens of the desert call ‘scratchers’ for the scratching sounds they are always making, are sort of all over the place. They are able to chew at the bases of the infrequent cacti to get water, and they feed on all sorts of small lizards and insects. They are always scampering about, but know enough to find a hole and climb in once nightfall comes. They are not aggressive, and do not attack larger creatures. Okay. Back to exploring. 
Area 2. Arath finds only one of the spiders here. I’m going to rule that every round once combat starts, it is possible that the other spider returns from its hunting expedition to get a snack of scratchers. He attempts to sneak into the cave again, but he fails. He saves his luck. It’s initiative.
Arath wins handily, and swings his sword, hitting for 6. The spider fails its armor check and is at 10. The spider bites, hitting with a 12. Arath makes his first armor check with his new suit of awesome scale mail, suffering 4 (he’s at 22). He fails his might check, so suffers 2 more from poison, now at 20.
In round 2, the other spider returns, responding to the shrieks from its buddy. Arath hits the first spider for 6, and it again fails armor. It’s down to 4. The first spiders hits with an 11 for 4 damage, but Arath soaks half, so is at 18. The poison deals 2 more, leaving Arath at 16. The poison has run its course. The second spider will be in position to attack next round.
Round 3. Arath hits with a 12, killing the first spider (even if it makes its armor check, 4 points is enough to kill it). The second spider bites, but misses.
Round 4. Arath misses this time, but uses his luck to re-roll… and promptly misses again. Drat. The spider hits with a 10 for 3 damage, but Arath soaks, suffering 2 and is down to 14. Arath rocks his might check, so fights off the poison.
Round 5. Arath hits this time (barely), dealing 6. The spider fails its armor check, so is at 10. The spider bites with a 1. That’s a hard no.
Round 6. Arath hits it, dealing 6. The spider makes its armor eheck, suffering 3 and down to 7. The spider hits for 4. Arath soaks half and is down to 12. He makes his might check against the poison.
Round 7. Arath hits for 6. The spider soaks some of it again, and is down to 4. It hits again for 3. A successful armor check later, and Arath is at 10 hits remaining. He BARELY makes his might check.
Round 8. Arath misses. Poop. The spider hits with a 12. Double poop. Arath makes his armor check (by THIS much) and suffers 3, down to 7. He makes his might check.
Round 9. Arath deals 6; the spider makes its armor check, leaving it at 1. Stupid spider! The spider hits for 3, but after an armor check Arath is down to 5. Uh oh. Getting close. Arath makes his might check again vs. the poison.
Round 10. Arath rolls a pair of 1s. Ugh. The spider also misses with a 3, so misery loves company.
I have a combat that has gone into a second minute! First time that has happened.
Round 11. With his luck renewed, Arath feels a little better about finishing this fight strong. He has to use it (he whiffs on the first try), but hits for 7 on the re-do from luck. He deals 7. I check armor for fun, and the spider fails. It would be dead either way, but it is now extra dead.
Well. That was a fight against two level 2 foes, and he barely won. He had the option to chug some healing potion, so that’s 10 points of healing he left in the tank that he could have used. That healing already feels a bit puny. If I’m a healer type, I’m definitely picking up some signature spells that restore more hits at higher levels.
Arath has earned 10 XP. Let’s see if he gets some treasure… this is a level 2 lair. There is no mundane treasure (needed a 5 or lower, and got a 6)… there is also no magical treasure (needed a 2 or lower, and got a 5). Drat.
I roll for how many hours before he gets a random encounter, and I roll a 12; he’s able to recover to full health by resting here and eating some food. It is night when he emerges from the spider cave (in hour 11) at full health.
Area 3 is a wide cave complex with a high ceiling (peaking at 80’). There are several holes in the roof where sunlight streams through. The scratchers run all around this area, and there are dozens of scratcher holes where small packs of these things dwell. There is no other monster encounter here; there is no trap, and there is nothing else of interest. It looks like at one time things may have dwelt here on the raised stone to the south, but that has long since been abandoned.
Area 4, on the other hand, is definitely inhabited. Arath makes his sneak check to get to the southern edge of this area and peer inside. It is a camp of goblins. There are ten of them. Yikes. They seem to be something of a war band. They arrived a week ago on a skiff from the north, coming down the river. Their skiff got stuck here, and they set up a bit of a colony in 4. They are able to hunt scratchers, get water from the stream, and sneak out into the desert once in a while, but they are not really motivated to do that. I’d think they know what’s on the other side of the stream, but they are not friendly with it, whatever it is.
Ten goblins might be a bit much. I mean, only four at a time can attack him, but at best he’s killing one a round; he’s going to need 10 rounds to kill them if he hits every time and they never make an armor check. He’s going to be staving off 4 attacks per round, which if only 1 hits, he’s suffering an average of 2 points per round. He could last 13 rounds (15 or 16 with healing). I don’t like his chances… If he could create a choke point, he might have a chance (taking on only 2-3 at a time), but only the cave mouth really gives him this option with a viable escape plan. Everything else backs him into a corner somehow. He decides to skip the goblins for the moment (they’re just milling about) and investigate the bridge.
We’ll call that the end of this session.
-        It is fun having the desert and campaign setting grow organically as I go. I feel like once this campaign is done, I will have enough material to publish a campaign setting sourcebook for the desert, just based on what I’ve worked out. I like how this ‘model’ is working to develop the game. I’m already thinking about a mountain/tunnels campaign… or a frozen wasteland campaign… or maybe finally the great mega-dungeon that I want to make but never get very far on.
-        I like that I got rid of the earlier rule I had around scaled armor and variations in how it soaks. The temptation to have a natural 12 fully soak an attack is strong, but that was making fights go on longer than they should; I like how armor works. It’s clean, it feels intuitive, and it keeps things moving.

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