We just finished game about an hour ago.
It was their second run at a dungeon from a module I’ve run and modified a bunch of times.
I really like that TB gives me the narrative freedom to challenge the players, while simultaneously giving me rules with teeth.
This time I decided I was going to let them keep fresh. I’d just throw twists at them and see how that went.
They returned to the dungeon from town, deciding to set up a base camp outside its walls. They were out of food(some bad cooking rolls in the previous session had done some damage.), Went hunting and brought back more venison than they could easily carry(Laborer). Halfling made a bunch of food, Strider and Fighter Camo’d the camp. Fighter got help from the Strider, and used his Loner trait against himself, “I just don’t work that well with others.” Great stuff.
Already they were more proactive about earning checks. Throughout the session, I often heard, “Well if you’re going to fail anyway,” or “since there’s no way you can fail.”
They were also really creative with the ways they used traits against themselves. More examples to follow.
In the previous adventure they’d left the dungeon knowing only that they didn’t have any real loot and they’d probably released something evil into the world.
They found the earth golem guarding the gates sitting dejectedly near their shattered remains. On the ground next to him was the lower half of the minotaur they’d also released last session. About 20ft up the road they noticed the upper half of the minotaur. The golem waved them through sadly. “Just go. No more gate. Just go.” The clever dwarf suggested that if the golem needed something to guard, they had a perfectly good camp that needed looking after. The golem quickly accepted and took up position. The other players( who had already gone over the wall) pleaded with the dwarf to specify who was allowed in the camp, but he didn’t think to do so. Foolhardy as he was.
They saw that part of the manor house had exploded outwards, as if something had escaped violently. They knew the doorknockers spoke to a limited degree, and we’re welcomed back gladly. They’d managed to ascertain that the door didn’t know all the original residents were dead inside. They just explained it as “Most of the guests are still here, I know because so few have left.” The door made sure to mention that the guest of honor, Lord Adremelach, Eye Tyrant, Lord of the Beholders and All They Survey, had recently left. So, that was fun to say.
Guest = Living Trophy in this case.
When they reentered, they found a dead goblin who had set off a trap they’d cleverly avoided last visit, then remembered that they’d never made a map. With checks, they made camp and the cartographer(missing last session. Apparently so fascinated by the craftmanship of the bridge that he spent the day studying it.) made a map using the party’s notes from last session as supplies. No successes.
Dwarf: 0 Successes.
Me: That map is perfect.
They use the map, they get lost. One of them figures out where they went wrong and we consider the map to be corrected.
The dwarf’s goal was to get the treasure the gelatinous cube stopped him from getting last time(Avenging a Grudge.)
So in he dove. This time he’d thought to tie a rope to himself, but Foolhardy as he was, he didn’t hand the other end to anyone before he jumped in. I did it as Dungeoneering to get through to the treasure, and Health to drag him back out. 2 turns of the clock, nice loot. Good trade.
They find the wizard’s bedroom, where the beholder had been trapped after escaping its original prison. This is where the roof was blown out and all the treasure from the potential boss fight (with a scarred and severely weakened beholder) was ruined by rain. Mostly books of value.
They start to search the room. The game is slowing down. The Strider mentions she “just starts pulling books off shelves looking for secret doors.” There hadn’t been one, but I decide to speed things up.
Me: Oh, cool. A trapdoor opens beneath you. You a fall a good twenty ft, through an old table. Your lantern goes out. Good news? You’re in dim light. Bad news? It’s from the goblins’ torches."
The Strider got up.
“Can I use Boasting to make myself look more intimidating?”
Me: Sure. Ob 2 Nature, Goblins scare easy.
Her: But I’m grim-visaged so the full effect doesn’t really come across.(Rolls, fails.)
Me: While you’re boasting, two other goblins jump you and wrap you up in drapes from the walls
The other character’s climb down on a rope(which earlier lost 5’ to the gelatinous cube) drawing weapons, dropping torches(which I let bounce and flicker before staying lit. Super cool, some were literally holding their breath.) and entering into a drive off conflict.
I probably did something wrong, but it looks like goblins are really easy to drive off. Should I have added bonuses to my adventurers for being higher might?
Still, they drove them off. Minor compromise, the torch went out.
Foolhardy dwarf searches for traps. Hadn’t thought to put any in that room. Scout Ob 2. Fail.
Me: You find a switch, foolhardy as you are, you flip it. The far wall starts to move towards you. Quickly. What’s everyone doing?
The party made a run for the rope to climb out, most of them made it. The Halfling couldn’t make the roll. The other dwarf could have made the roll probably if he hadn’t been so Born of Earth and Stone.
So, suddenly, just because a dwarf fails a roll, the party is split. Almost all the torches are with the two people down below. Luckily the people upstairs have the dim light of the perma-night sky as well as the map.
The two below manage to escape into another room just in time.
The rule book is not kidding about not splitting the party. At the worst of it, they were in three groups. Two below, two dwarves who’d written the other two off and we’re using Laborer to move an awful lot of loot, and the fighter who refused to give up on them.
7 turns passed rapidly. By the time our Foolhardy dwarf made it back to camp(and managed to specify to the golem that the other dwarf was cool) he was Sick. Rough shape.
The Strider and the Halfling find the alchemy lab.
Me: (Describes lab) There’s also a door in one wall labeled, the room of shaming.
Halfling: There’s no way we’re opening that door.
Strider: I want to scavenge this place for supplies.
Me: Sure, you have alchemy. You can probably figure out what he was working on here. Ob 1.(There was actually stuff to miss here, hence the roll.)
Strider: Ok, but I’m Skeptical. (Rolls. Fails)
Me: Yeah, nothing here is useful to you. Everything is either some sort of half finished experiment or beyond your understanding. Although, if he were to have something special here, it’s probably hidden behind that door to the room of shaming.
Strider: Yeah we gotta get in there then.
Halfling: Are you insane?
Strider: No, I’m sure on this one. If there’s something of value here, it’s in that room.
Halfling: Well, if you’re sure…
In the room of shaming they find a cloth golem in the form of a teddy bear sitting on a dirt floor in a circle of glowing runes. It looks at the halfling, “You gotta get me outta here man!”
They do. The halfling is middle aged, but tries to pass as a human child when in town. He’s giddy from the fact that now he has a teddy bear to complete the cover AND it has two hands that can carry pack 1 items each!
The fighter uses the map to try to determine where the other two might have ended up. They find each other, get back to camp, set up, have a bit of discussion about leaving people for dead, spend some checks and go to sleep.
In the night the halfling is woken by the sound of tearing cloth, the sound of flesh moving and scales clicking into place. A clawed finger touches him on the shoulder. Standing above him is a demon no more than three feet in height.
Demon: I thank you. Know that you have earned the favor of Glenzidor, Prince of the 13th Hell.
Demon:(points casually up the road towards town.) You came from that direction correct?
Demon: Thank you.
Me: he drops to all fours and scurries down the road.
Halfling: does anyone else know this happened?
They decide to head back to town. I tell them that we’ll do town in email because when they get back, town has been destroyed by some horrible monster or something. Who knows?
Now I have to make a new town.
But! they made off with a ton of loot. So the Halfling completes his goal “Make enough cash that we all sleep in a bed tonight.” The Stables weren’t to their liking last time.
We loved it. Great system. Gets out of my way easily and puts a lot on the players. I rarely roll dice.
As expected, now that we have Fate and Persona, the cycle is more clear to us.
Thanks for reading this far!