Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chomping at the bit for Runequest 6

I've been finding myself chomping at the bit for the release of Runequest 6. I already own both versions of Mongoose Runequest, Legend, and the big gold BRP book so why the interest in 6? To be honest, at first I wasn't intrigued but I've come around.

Back in the day of shopping for RPGs at Walden Books I don't know if I ever saw Runequest on the shelf. I think I remember an ad or two in Dragon Magazine which helped build for me a sort of mystique for the game.

When Mongoose Runequest 1 was released I was on the lookout for a gritty fantasy system. I loved it while some long time Runequest fans battled it out online. On top of enjoying the game for itself, Mongoose Runequest exposed me to other D100 games. When the big gold book from Chaosium was released I scooped it up to build on the MRQ game that I was running along with OpenQuest. I wasn't disappointed.

A few years later, Mongoose announced that they were re-releasing Runequest and they did a heck of a job. It was a real improvement. When it was announced that Mongoose would no longer produce Runequest books I barely paid any mind since I already had my mitts on the game. Some "Design Mechanism" guys would be taking over the line and Mongoose would be releasing a new very non-Glortantha version called Legand and it would be all OGL. Soon Mongoose would get their book to the presses and it could be had for a buck as a PDF. That's one heck of a deal. So why the interest in Runequest 6?

Mongoose Runequest II/Legend is easily my favorite version of Runequest and the guys for making it so are The Design Mechanism guys. Pete and Loz do great work and the previews show that a high quality effort is in the works. On top of that it looks like Runequest 6 tackles some of the things that I worked around with Legend - things like movement and charging. On top of that, their tweaks make the game even better and I want to support them because their pipeline is full of stuff that I want to see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Part 2: The Funnel With Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2

After dinner we picked up right back up where we stopped...

Cole knew that they needed more bodies to build the ranks and with having no luck recruiting in the village he called in some favors from his army connections.

The new recruiting roll went very well. Instead of rolling low for success we use the roll-high option with 15 as the base target number. As GM I adjudicated the great roll using the margin of success (> 15) as a rule of thumb. The result was that Cole now had a small host of warriors at his command one of which became a named PC - Edmond, a soldier who has seen much of the world. The rest were treated as henchmen of sorts in the classic D&D sense. AFF2 makes this incredibly easy to do: Skill 7, Stamina 7.

With their ranks swollen, the original cadre of adventurers are now confident that they can take the hall and expel whatever dwells there.

They split up into two asymmetrically sized teams. The smaller team took the side entrance that was tried earlier while the larger team burst through the front door. Advancement was decidedly quick so as to keep the bad guys on their heels. It worked.

As the teams cleared the passages of debris and wreckage they made contact with a single bowman from up on high who loosed several arrows at the teams but never managed to really threaten anyone. Without waiting for the adventurers to be on top of him the bowman rappelled down behind a stack of stuff and made his way toward a secret exit made from a fallen portion of the stone back wall.

Cole and Wystan caught movement up ahead and recognized the figures as the ones seen before. This time it was obvious that it was they who wanted out of there.

Up over piles of debris Cole, Wystan, and their men gave chase. Up one pile and down its other avalanching side they slid to the ancient dais where the lord sat when the hall was new. But they found none of those who they saw just a moment ago. Instead, before them was a hunched figure wrapped in crude cloth. A face, not just any but the one of the dark creature killed in the kitchen. It peered at them in anguish and surprise. It shuddered and convulsed in contempt.

Cole gripped his weapon to strike it down once again. But this time it grew.

The body of the hunched figure stood and twitched on pivot to face its adversaries.

It was naked from the waist up. Its skin was the mixed hue of dark grapes and the blackest night. As it stood, it leered over the adventurers with many faces for mixed in the beast's body was that of the goblin, missing locals, and Kenrick.

Cole and Wystan stumbled backward at the sight that towered above them at eight or nine feet tall. An extra tinge of fear pinged against their hearts. The others fell back from a baser fear.

Outside, Audrey, Edmond, and their cadre began to give chase to the men who escaped through the secret passage but too soon the hunted melted away into the woods.

Back inside the great hall, the faces intertwined in the body of the demon wailed not for salvation but for their misery to be put to an end. Fear seeped into hearts. Several of the men understandably  turned and ran but most didn't. Wystan, who just days before, who had his resolve all but melted by the lesser dark creature, strode forward and swung his axe into the body of the dark thing.

It was gargantuan, but, apparent to anyone who could see past the terror, it was not yet fully formed. It lumbered to and fro and swung clumsily its fists and malformed tentacles that emanated from its body apparently at will. It took a step forward like a baby on the verge of becoming a toddler. Its knee buckled and it fell onto a shriveled deformed leg of one of the fallen that jutted awkwardly from the base of its haunch.

While nearly prone the thing lashed out and knocked Wystan back against a pile where he tried to regain his breath.

Again, Cole ran toward the exit and grabbed Wystan dragging him along. The rest of the men were already on the move. Some before and some after.

Once outside, Cole called for Audrey to come to their aid. He wanted as many bowmen as possible there to take this thing on. Edmond barked, calling in men who were still searching the tree line.

At the portal they launched volley after volley of arrows. Some hitting their mark with most sticking in the doorframe or disappearing through the decrepit wall. Suddenly the door frame buckled and exploded outward. The demon was on the loose and ready to take as many lives as possible. (Perhaps to finish its incarnation?) Men cried out in fear. Some ran to find safety while some gave no regard running as fast and as far as their legs could take them.

Soon the demon was mixed amongst the adventurers which made missile fire impossibly dangerous. The ensuing melee swung to and fro - the outcome quite uncertain.

Cole lept forward to press the attack along with a cadre of spearmen. They gave what seemed like as good as they got but something terrible and wicked tickled their hearts.

Struck hard, Cole stumbled over the body of one of his companions who was just killed. Wildly, in a fog, he looked around for an escape route first and friends second. He was breaking. From out of his periphery he saw a wild man surge forward who attacked with such savagery that it was the dark thing's turn to lose its footing.

The arc of Wystan's axe was wide and it scythed the head of the kitchen goblin's head from the greater thing's malformed shoulders. Now, seemingly blind, the demon's blasphemous form held open its hands and clawed through nothing but air. With another stroke of the axe it was over. Audrey, who ran forward to attend to Cole stood with him and with the wild axeman. Edmond approached along with a few others trailing behind. Together they received the thanks of Kenrick whose form lay complicated in the form of the demon.

Cole and Audrey looked at Wystan and wondered in silence and smiles what had gotten into their friend who seemed so timid such a short time before.

The late afternoon sun lit the side of the hall which reflected an ancient hue of white onto them. Cole looked around at those who stayed. He knew that they were no longer a trio alone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Part 1: The Funnel With Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2

With me working extra long hours we haven't played anything in months. It got to the point where I said, "That's it! We're playing something this weekend!" That got the thumbs-up so it was a go. What to do. What to do...

We have a really neat game world under development that we started playing in with Lamentations of the Flame Princess and continued under Dungeon Crawl Classics. At one point we even used Microscope to help us build the game world's mythology. Which, by the way, is a really great way to do it.

With the setting determined I needed a location. Fixing that that was easy. I used the random dungeon generator found in the AFF2 book. Instead of creating a dungeon I created an abandoned great hall where the roof had begun falling in creating obstructions and pathways.

Stuart Lloyd posted a comment to one of my Dungeon Crawl Classics posts about porting the idea of The Funnel to Advanced Fighting Fantasy. It's pretty nifty and quite in the spirit of AFF. It's fast - so fast that during a break, it was used to generate another "0 level" character to fill in the ranks of the fallen. More on that later.

My wife generated 4 characters to start play:

  • Kenrick, a master craftsman who specializes in bows.
  • Audrey, a peasant who is good at tending wounds.
  • Wystan, a peasant who brawn and use of the axe is well known.
  • Cole, a sergeant who is known to be a good leader and handy with a sword.

To jumpstart the story we knit the characters together a bit. Kenrick hired the peasants and the sergeant to explore the abandoned great hall for two reasons. The first was that the master craftsman had his eye on claiming it for himself. And there have been strange happenings in the area and sightings near the hall. Tales of missing villagers and flickering shadows had spread through the villages like wildfire.

Off they went making sure that they could get there by mid morning. None of them wanted to be anywhere near the hall after dark.

Upon arriving the four would be adventurers walked around the outside of the hall noting its state of disrepair. Kenrick tallied reconstruction costs in his head as they went. Turning the corner on the last seen side they discovered the outdoor kitchen adjacent to one of the hall's long sides. Amazingly it looked to be in quite good shape so that's where they began exploring.

Kenrick and Audrey stayed outside while Cole and Wystan went in. Click.

A spring assisted blade swung into the path barely missing the both men. Deciding that their current path may not be the best they backed out into the daylight. Cole leaned on his trap knowledge to suspect that the side entrance was the daily route used by whoever was there. And indeed it proved the easier route.

Even though the sun was approaching its midday height the shadows were deep inside the kitchen. The two men turned a corner and shoved a door hard inward hoping to set off any potential trap. On the other side they found nothing mechanical but instead encountered in the purple darkness an even darker, smaller - no - stunted nearly naked figure hunched over two fistfuls of raw flesh. In anger it spun like a wild animal, hissing and leaping. The sergeant lashed out in shock with his sword and struck the thing to the floor. Another stroke of his blade put the feral display of aggression to an end. Wystan who watched what had just happened began to crack and turned to run away. Cole cooly pulled him aside and explained that in order to work together they had to stick together. All the while the sergeant was trembling inside for he had never seen anything like that. Afterward, Wystan would be seen clutching his holy symbol.

Outside of the kitchen Cole pulled Kenrick aside and explained to him what happened inside asking if he wanted to continue exploring. A nod to the affirmative was all it took for an entry plan to be formulated for the great hall.

The adventurers broke up into two pairs; Kenrick and Audrey, Cole and Wystan.

Wystan kicked the hall's side entrance open and Cole entered first. He looked up to see the glare of the sun poking through the broken roof. Birds flitted through the rafters and the scurry of critters could be heard in the jumbled debris that was a mix of thatch, plank timbers, tables, and benches. The stacked height of the stuff made it impossible to peer across or traverse the hall with ease.

Straight ahead a small clearing was seen so Cole went to investigate with Wystan following close behind. Kenrick and Audrey stayed by the door. The whoosh and thud of an arrow shuddered Cole backward and scrambling for cover. The arrow quavered stuck in an overturned bench. Wystan hunched and too scrambled for cover looking for an egress route out of the hall.

From his position Cole could see the flicker of movement on his left and on his right but he could not determine numbers. Without another moment of pause he snapped to his feet and ran for the exit pulling Wystan along.

As the pair shot through the side entrance and into the high day sun they called for Kenrick and Audrey to follow. Once they found a position that at least felt somewhat safe they stopped and formulated another plan. They would not plunge into the hall again with a head count of only four. But since their group consisted of two bowmen they decided to once again pair up but this time to watch both entrances, the side portal that they just ran from and the hall's main entrance. Kenrick and Wystan watched the main and Cole and Audrey the side.

Hours passed and the resulting fatigue tugged the watchers toward weariness. Each fought wandering a wandering mind and tunnel vision. Suddenly and simultaneously each pair was ambushed from behind!

The attackers leapt from concealment with flashing blades and covered faces. The attacking foes didn't outnumber the group. In fact the ensuing melee was one to one but the surge of surprise shook them. In a few moments Cole drove off his attacker only to see Audrey go down before he could get to her. A slash of the sergeant's sword drove Audrey's ambusher away.

Around the corner Kenrick struggled as he didn't have a melee weapon to fight with. Instead he tried again and again to make distance between his attacker and himself in order to launch desperate shots. One or two were loosed but to no avail. Wystan on the other hand went wild with his axe giving as good as he got until he faced Kenrick's ambusher. Within half a heartbeat they fell upon one another. In full synchronicity both recoiled their weapon arms and struck - simultaneously. And at the same exact moment they both made contact with the earth. One of them got up while the other didn't. A coup de gras was about to fall.

Cole expected to find his companion mortally wounded but instead found her hazy from a blow to the head. Her ambusher's blade apparently turned in the chaos and landed flat on the side of her brow. Helped to her feet the two of them ran as fast as they could to their companions, wondering with each footstep how they were faring. Leaning forward to see around the corner as soon as possible Cole saw straight steel ready to be plunged into Wystan, his comrade. Whoosh.

In what seemed like slow motion, a streak flashed from his periphery and through the sword holder's side who then shuddered, stumbled, and took flight.

Wystan's wounds, while not pretty to look at, did not seem to be immediately life threatening. Kenrick's wounds were terrible and each moment that passed counted toward his demise.

Audrey prepared to work on her two fallen comrades. Doing the best she could, applying preprepared bandages, it looked like Kenrick's bleeding had stopped so she turned her attention to Wystan. Her hands shook from fear and haste as she could not tell how many others could be out there preparing to descend onto the bloodied group.

Wystan mumbled but was shushed as Cole hunched to the height of the overgrown verge along the once pristine road to the hall. His head swiveled looking for the next wave of attackers that he knew must be coming.

The sergeant asked Audrey how soon they could move. Her reply was a somber, "Now" for Kenrick had passed on. The uneasy decision was made to leave him as they carried Wystan away from there.

Even though under normal circumstances it was only an hour's trek to home that destination might as well have been on the moon. It would soon be dark.

Once a bit of distance was put between them and the hall, Audrey used her hunting skills to find a location that provided some sense of safety and cover. There Wystan was made comfortable as the other two kept watch waiting for what felt like the inevitable. But dawn arrived first lifting their spirits some.

Back at their village, as Wystan rested and mended they all debated about what to do next. None of them wanted to go back to the hall but the consensus was that they had to. Each and all wondered the status of their party.

They could find no one, not a single soul who would help retake the hall even though an obvious threat to all was developing in that terrible place. Independently and together each recognized and acknowledged that it was up to them to make the difference. And it was this that cemented their fellowship of three.

Thus ended part 1. And we broke for dinner.

Monday, June 4, 2012