Sunday, June 16, 2019

Session 73 (12 June 2019)

Note to readers: This is a session re-cap of an ongoing D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. A journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, can be found here.

In-world dates: 14 Ilvin 720 TR [second week of winter]
Daylight hours: 9
Moon: waxing crescent (full moon on 15 Ilvin)

You consider your options. A beholder stalks the castle's halls, looking for intruders; for the moment, you remain hidden. Moving stealthily, you explore the upper floors, looking for signs of Caldeth's family and for evidence of his plots against the king. When you find a solar and wardrobe, you realize you are near the family's living quarters — and immediately encounter a frightened young woman who identifies herself as Lady Philisia's lady-in-waiting. She claims that for almost a week now, since Caldeth left for court, a monster has kept Philisia and the earl's infant son Quilian confined to one section of the castle. She has no communication with the outside world; servants bring food to the front gates but leave immediately. When you ask her about Caldeth's private papers, she suggests you might find such things in the "war room" below; she also offers to guide you to Philisia and Quilian. To avoid the monster, you will have to find a way through a locked door that she cannot open herself.

Once at the door, Maslorius sets about knocking the pins out of the hinges. The hammering draws unwanted attention: you hear doors slamming open in the distance. The beholder is hunting you! You prepare yourself, not knowing from which direction it will come. Dracul bars several doors; as he shoves a chair against one, it shudders from some force. He hears a deep grumble of displeasure and then sees the entire door dissolve into nothingness. The creature has found you!

Battle ensues, and the barbarian's Searing Sword does massive damage to the monster, as do Gil'Doren's spells. Meanwhile, Maslorius succeeds in hammering out the final pin. The route to safety lies open — but the lady-in-waiting is not what she appears. Transforming into a winged she-devil, she rakes Maslorius with her claws. Though gravely wounded, the beholder does not relent. You resist many of its eye ray attacks, but at last some take effect. Dracul collapses into a deep slumber; Gil'Doren suddenly finds himself thinking of the monster as a friendly acquaintance; and Maslorius has his life force sucked out of his body. (Only Gil'Doren's quick use of Life Transference brings the poor gnome back from the brink of death.) The succubus laughs and leaves the fallen heroes to their fate.

At the beholder's invitation, Gil'Doren accompanies the monster willingly into the deeper reaches of the castle. Meanwhile, the secretly revived Maslorius awakens Dracul; together, they follow the succubus back to a chamber where Philisia and Quilian are kept imprisoned. The succubus quickly falls before Dracul's rage. Ordering them to stay put for the moment, you rush to follow Gil'Doren and save him from whatever vile plans the beholder has for his new "friend"...

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A simple Fighting Fantasy hack for roleplaying in Middle Earth

If civilization as we know it were to end catastrophically in my lifetime (as it increasingly seems likely to do), I'm pretty sure the only roleplaying game rules I could reproduce entirely from memory would be the ones from the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks that I enjoyed immensely as a kid. I'd be ok with that. (Not the apocalypse, that is — I mean I'd be ok with having only Fighting Fantasy at hand to play.) The system uses six-sided dice, and as these are commonly found in any corner store or pharmacy, they are likely to be easily available in the post-apocalyptic wasteland — and doubly so if you live near a casino. What setting to use, though? One can assume that a fair proportion of survivors, wherever you live (if you call it living), will be familiar with Tolkien's Middle Earth, so that's probably a good one to go with.

Without further ado, please find below a simple hack with which to wile away the end-times in escapist fantasies about a green and pleasant land that can actually be saved from evil.

Character creation

1. Choose one of the Free Peoples for your character's origin: Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, or Humans. You may also specify their homeland (e.g., Lórien, the Iron Hills, the Shire, Gondor, Umbar, Harad, etc.).

2. Roll 4 six-sided dice (4d6).

3. Assign one die result to your Skill, a second to your Luck, and the remaining two to your Stamina.

·      If you are an Elf, you must assign your highest result to Skill.

·      If you are a Dwarf, you must assign your highest result to Stamina.

·      If you are a Hobbit, you must assign your highest result to Luck.

·      Humans may assign results as desired.

4. Calculate your final attributes:

·      Skill = 6 + 1 die
·      Stamina = 12 + 2 dice
·      Luck = 6 + 1 die

5. Equip your character. Choose one of the following:

·      Potion of Skill
·      Potion of Strength
·      Potion of Fortune

In addition, you have one weapon common to your cultural background, a leather backpack, a lantern, and 4 rations.

6. Name your character, provide a short description of their personality and appearance, and think about their ambitions and fears.

7. Gather your fellowship and go forth!

Method of play

As outlined in Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role-playing Game. It's pretty much the same as in the gamebooks. I might consider changing "roll under" Skill checks to a mechanic where one rolls 2d6+Skill to beat a target number (say, between 10 and 20 for most checks). Also, special things should happen when one rolls boxcars or snake-eyes.


Jackson, Steve. Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role-playing Game. Harmondsworth, UK: Puffin Books, 1984.