Shrine of the Midlight Lord

Had our first session this past weekend. I DM’d and drew up a dungeon using the excellent guidelines in the book.

We had:
Britter the paladin of Ingvar
Nathan “Wolfsbane” the human archer
Chitchworth the dwarven alchemist of indeterminate gender
and Rufus, halfling archaeologist

Not far from the bustling town of Mabhe, tremors in the earth caused an ancient waypost of the forgotten sidhe people to slide out of the buried deep. The heroes went to investigate.

As they descended the stairs into the dungeon, they lit their lantern and saw a large, deep hole in the foyer in front of them. They tied rope around each other and skirted the edge of the gap, where a narrow shelf made progress possible (ob 3 dungeoneering, passed). On the other side, they heard chittering from below. When they looked down into the hole, they saw over a dozen cat-sized spiders crawling up to greet them (used 3 “swarms” of 5 spiders, each swarm had stats of stone spider with -1 to all stats, including might). Without any idea what dangers waited for them beyond the hall, they turned and fought the spiders off (drive off conflict, won with no loss of disposition, thanks to good luck and fresh condition).

They proceeded forward and came to a T intersection. Sidhe markings could be seen on the walls, and also some dwarvish superimposed overtop. Chichworth explained to the team that some dwarf who was here before thought that going left was dangerous. The dwarf didn’t explain why. Britter decided that obvious dangers should not be left unattended so close to the surface, where they might emerge and cause trouble for the city, so the group decided to head left. They came to a room with four stone doors, one of which had been pried open to reveal an alcove containing a broken stone golem. They investigated the golem and the writings on the wall. Chichworth decided to make notations of the writing with her scholar supplies (that s/he had because s/he was a dwarf, not because of having the scholar skill) in case they could examine them further in town. They decided not to disturb the other doors, at least not yet.

They went back in the other direction and came to a stair, and another hallway. They took the hallway through some cramped space and came upon a group of 5 giant rats in the next chamber, chewing on a corpse. Chichworth threw her axe at them and initiated a drive off conflict. After 4 or 5 rounds of back and forth gnawing and stabbing, the rats fled the chamber (conflict won, minor compromise), but the struggle left the heroes angry, and the rat bites left Britter and Nathan sickened. Before exploring the room, they decided to go back to the T intersection and make camp, so they could draw up a map (with an instinct), forage, and recover from conditions (Rufus sang songs about the dungeon to bolster his friends’ spirits, with Britter and Nathan chipping in for a verse each, helping with their boasting nature; I made it an ob 4 to have everyone recover from angry, which was successful). Britter’s naturally high willpower let him ride out the sickness overnight, and Chichworth’s attempted ministrations…err…helped Nathan recover (failed healer, he lost one die from his mentor skill). Chichworth also attempted to make a healing draught, but the caustic materials bubbled over and s/he accidentally dropped the vial onto his/her pack and it ruined a flask of lantern oil (failed alchemist roll).

We awarded fate/persona and called it after only three turns and camp.

So…I’m fairly certain everyone enjoyed themselves. The bit with the rats went a little long. I’ll admit that I forgot about the +1s due to might that the PC’s could have used, which surely made things drag out more than they should have. How would you all have dealt with the situation where the player describes hurling their only weapon before a conflict is initiated? One of the players thought that it should have been a single test (say, fighter) rather than a full conflict.

Anyone have thoughts on how to make conflicts run more smoothly/quickly in general? The one with the spiders went very easily, but the rat one lasted the better part of an hour, with 4 or 5 rounds total. Does that seem right, or normal? What am I missing, or potentially doing wrong?

What was the intent of hurling the axe? To scare them away? That sounds like a drive-off. To kill them? How do you kill 5 rats with 1 axe? Sound like a kill conflict. Unless they’re very easy to scare aware and are perfectly happy being driven off, there’s definitely a conflict. I might be generous and make the thrown axe part of the first attack action they take… (or could you count it as a surprise action? A attack vs. a nothing and then combat starts? Doesn’t sound unreasonable, but also isn’t cannon…)

Are you using cards and stuff for the conflict actions? Are you playing aggressively as the GM? Those are two things that can keep a fight from lasting too long.