Sunday, November 3, 2013

Playtest Update: Tammeraut's Fate 1.2

I mentioned before my love of the death-exploration-reset cycle in Dark Souls.  One of the major stopping points for incorporating this fully into your home game is that it doesn't make sense unless your game takes place in a dimensionally fragmented world and the player's are undead.  So then I thought to myself, why not make these Halloween hoodlums undead?  The conclusion to this adventure just got a lot more intriguing.

In the previous session the PC's (Streetshark, Quickman, and Brock Sampson) found their way to Firewatch Keep.  This session they completed their exploration mere hours before the sun begins to set.  Proceeding into the Keep's South Entrance they found the hermitage living quarters a gruesome sight.  Most appeared to have been killed in their sleep, in one cell they found a cask of Assassin Berry vine and another charm of plant control to complement what they found in the distillery near the other Assassin Vines.  Swarms of starving rats assaulted them, mad with hunger the rats were disappointed there was no food.  That is, until the PC's showed up.
Results:  Zephyr's Class feature of disengaging and dealing damage is double useful with the swarms.  Picking them off and avoiding the debilitating effects of gnashing teeth for any poor sod left in combat with them.
Landshark: Made use of Earth Elemental swordsmanship this time around.  Cutting out a block from the ceiling to squish a swam of rats.
Mob Violence is equated with Critical frenzy.  On Attack the Rat swarms were rolling huge pools of dice which meant the DM could choose between a high roll or a lower roll with a critical hit.  This suits me just fine as I like Mobs to be highly dangerous, even to the most experienced of Monster Slayers.
Witcher 2 Storybook. Death of Geralt of Rivia.
Suitably chewed on the PC's migrated north and found a rude pounding on the Northern entrance.  Fearing an invasion of who or what did that to the hermitage they braced themselves as the doors sagged under the furious blows.  Brock Sampson, late to the party as usual, came through.  They continued their exploration of the 1st level of Firewatch quaffing the Assassin Berry Wine and finding the Larder.  Streetsharks voracious appetite found the secret hiding spot at the bottom of the now empty potato crate.  Inside they found a Priestess and two men afflicted with Bluerot.  Barely recognizable one of them was their companion Morley.  They revealed them what they gathered from the previous nights events.  Drowned corpses that slew everyone they came across, the Chaplain who died defending them and the undead who left after his life was extinguished.  They offered them what little supplies they had including the Chaplains magical breastplate and agreed to wait until the ferry came but feared another invasion as soon as the sun set.
The PC's went to the roof at the behest of the priestess who wanted to know the fourth survivor's fate, the one who had rung the bell.  They quickly dispatched a green slime along the way and found a mess of supplies they could use to fortify the keep.  They made it to the roof and Quickman alone went to investigate the Belfry.  He found the corpse, missing its heart.  The player did the opposite of what I expected and rang the bell.  Unfortunately for me I had hidden the Peryton inside the massive bell.  It came tumbling out stunned right in front of the Character with an Init and Surprise focus.  Needless to say the  Eagle-Deer took quite a pounding that round.  The peryton leaped forward and forced Quickman back across the slippery rooftop.  Streetshark assailed the Peryton with his shark tooth crossbow while Brocksampson moved to engage.  Quickman zipped under the Peryton to flank with Brock Sampson and avoiding falling to his doom.  The Peryton flew into a bloodrage and tried to rip out the heart of the quarrelsome Quickman.  Luck was on his black and maroon side and he narrowly avoided another brush with death.  Brock Sampson then ate the Peryton's heart.  Fair's fair.
Results: Green Slime's acidic body is was particularly effective against the Brock who was engaged in the Naked Warrior Challenge and using fisticuffs.
Magical armor works well with the latest Armor revision <Back to descending AC!>
Flanking was a good strategic choice but the Attack-3 Curse from the Harpy prevented them from making use of it.
[Press and Retreat] was a lot of fun for the Peryton to force Quickman across the slippery rooftop.
Saving throws came into play again and they worked out suitably.  A lot more playtesting is needed to establish baseline numbers so that no Saving Throw is outside reach of your typical 3d6-in-order Hero.
Even with Surprise the Peryton wasn't a complete pushover.  More rules should be added to differentiate flying creatures like the Peryton and Harpy from nimble ground-pounders.
Peryton by Grace Owen

The party returned to the keep and made a complete sweep.  In the tower they found the journal of the original Wizard who had lit the signal when the Tammeraut approached.  It also contained a location of the sunken ship and a host of diving equipment the PC's could use. We ended the session with the PC's preparing the keep for the incoming invasion as the setting sun sent out its final rays.

DM'ing thought
While I like the premise of the adventure I don't particularly like running it. I regret running it as written especially given how dry the box text is. The scene visually should be quite suspenseful and horrifying but zero help is given to the DM in capturing that feel. I think if I want to salvage this spooky Halloween game I'm going to have to improvise completely for the final section.  Unfortunately, improvisation means that my results will be skewed since keeping the encounter challenging will depend on how the PC's fair between waves.

Given how lethal the combat system we're testing is, in only a matter of rounds combat can go either way. Ordinarily this would work great for the horror genre with people being cut down when they least expect it. Unfortunately most horror movies are equipped to deal with crossbows, halberds or the blinding fury of Brock Sampson. I may have to investigate damage reduction methods for creatures from beyond to emulate their impervious hide horror genre staple.

Geralt of Rivia by Art-Calavera