Characters: Young Human Magician; Dwarf Adventurer - Karnag; Hafling Burglar
The entire two weeks previously I had been eyeing the 3ed DND module, The Sunless Citadel, and always wanting to run it as well I decided it would be our first foray into Torchbearer. Wow, perhaps I should have eased up a little. The night before I looked through some other scenarios but ultimately decided since I had prepared the entire time for the Sunless Citadel, ultimately I would run it. Even though it would be a mega-dungeon by Torchbearer standards. I really attempted to convey the message to the group that this was a grueling game. That they were indeed murder-hobos, wastrels, scoundrels. I explained the general gist of twists and conditions and we began. They were unfortunately not prepared for the horrible depths below.
Here is how they fared…
After a half day of travel from the Remote Village of Oakhurst the party arrived at a great rift in the earth. Eons ago a great earthquake split the ground causing the mysterious citadel to sink deep into trench. A group of circle stones had been split in the process and they jutted out of the earth next to the ravine. Each carved with ancient runic inscriptions. A rope was securely tied to one and hung off the cliff disappearing into the darkness below.
The group immediately walked past the stones and straight to the rope. I described the rope as frayed from the elementsThey decided not to try and go down together and go down into the crack in the earth individually, Karnag who was voted leader of the group went down first. After asking if he’d like to use a Trait against himself for the roll to gain a check (which I tried to do for each test, to get the group used to the idea), he decided to use Jaded. He’d seen and done this sort of thing before, he was an adventurer, and perhaps didn’t take as much care as he should have. An Ob 2 Dungeoneer Test and he made it safely to the stone ledge below. And he had a check.
The Halfling decided he was next and after a Beginners Luck Ob 2 Dungeoneer test he too made it into the Dim light below.
Realizing the grind was taking affect already they may have realized now that they should have helped each other down, and all gone down at once. The Magician was the last to climb down. The Halfling helped with Health, holding the rope still and secure in place. Again it was a Beginner’s Luck Dungeoneer test, and he failed. As a twist I said that he lost his footing and slipped falling from the rope, landing flat on his back he heard a large pop from his pack. He saw all his water spill out on the dusty ground of the rock shelf underneath him. As the twist he lost his water skin. (In retrospect I realize I should have included the Halfling in the twist, but I forgot).
It was Dim where they stood so the Magician’s Lantern was lit. Before looking around the Halfling really wanted to help. He asked the Magician if he could try and repair his water skin so that it could later be used. I called for a weaver test which was successful.
And they were are HUNGRY AND THIRSTY Karnag the Dwarf, and the Halfling immediately drank down their water. The Magicians player scowled over at me. He decided to leave the condition for now.
The group decided to survey the area. The Dwarf peered off into the depths while the Halfling and Magician assisted each other, tying their lantern to the rope and dropping it off the ledge to light up the area. I didn’t call for a test, I didn’t want to be mean and break their lantern this early, so I just described the environs, including the top of the citadel’s dome and cracked, crumbling staircase that led to the next ledge. They went down one flight to the next ledge with no problem. There was 1D worth of gold coin laying strewn about on the ledge. Karnag jumped for it and picked it up immediately. Greedy Dwarves. It was funny that he chose to get rid of his tinder box in order to pocket the gold. Now, the Halfling Burglar had an instinct about always looking out for traps, and of course the next flight of stairs was crumbled so much that it was certainly a trap. I forgot though to give the Halfling a chance to check for the trap by himself (with no help) without counting as a turn. He did however search for a trap and the group helped, so advancing the grind one turn wasn’t necessarily wrong. The group failed an Ob 3 Scout test and walked right into the crumbled stair. It broke beneath the weight of the group (this time I remembered to include them all in the failure consequence).
As the twist I had them fall into the layer of three Giant Rats. It was early, and they were not yet to the Citadel so I chose not to go into a Conflict and only use a versus Ob. Karnag’s character explained he wanted to drive them off by swinging his battle axe around. I asked him to test Fighter vs. the Giant Rat’s swarming nature of 2. The Burglar helped with Hunting describing how he used successful tactics to scare them away, the Magician helped with Will, shouting to scare them off. It was a tie. I described that despite his efforts the rats refused to give up ground and they continued to chomp for him. They then tested again to break the tie, this time with Karnag’s Health. Shoving and punching he attempted to push them away, the group helped also.It was a tie!
I told them now it was down to Nature. A dwarf’s nature: Delving, Crafting, Avenging Grudges. The player described to me sort of a combination of grudge and delving. Saying his time spent underground has earned him animosity towards these foul creatures. I went for it.This time he won, and the group of rats scurried down the crumbled stairs and into the darkness that laid in wait below.
The last flight of crumbling stairs. I had a mean-streak here and called for another Scout test looking for the same trap they just overcame. Again I forgot to give the Burglar’s player a chance to test alone with his instinct, and the group helped again. Again the test failed.I called for health checks for the group to hang on to something, and they all succeeded. They at this point had all had their fill with helping each other, failing, and then all being included into the failure consequence. As the party picked themselves up off the ground dusting themselves off I described what they saw in the waining light. A tower that had fallen against the side of the right and a field litter with debris from over the centuries. The lantern then went out.
The lantern was relit and I described how in the new lamp light several more rats scurried away and hit under the debris in front of them. All of the party looked at me, and sighed.
I described to the group that the ancient stone was large, and sharp, with jagged angles jutting upwards and was quite dangerous. I called for an Ob 3 Health test to cross unscathed. It would take strength and exertion to make it across. Karnag, the leader tested for everyone. All helping each other, they failed again. The dice were certainly starting to show they were against the group today. Come on! The Magician’s player literally yelled. I could tell he was getting frustrated. I determined they all, over several minutes made it through the debris field, falling and scraping themselves on the rock. I thought it appropriate to give out the Angry condition for failure. ( Here looking back on the game also I realize that the other two should have gotten a lesser condition but I forgot that as well)
The inside of the tower was empty except for rubble and the slain carcasses of three goblins. They looked to have been killed several months before. One was still impaled into the wall, skewered in a standing position. Two doors led off from the tower opposite from the group. One to the northwest, and one to the southwest. Immediately the Dwarf wanted to search the room, and the Magician wanted to test his Lore Master to see what info he knew about the tower.Here I raised my hands and suggested they slow down. I explained how they were speeding through the grind with every skill test, and honestly with everyone angry, and one character hungry/thirsty - not to mention I knew they were going through turn eight here - I suggested the strategize for a moment to determine what was important. What needed to be done. And what first.
The leader, Karnag decided that thoroughly searching the area for treasure was of the upmost importance. Through the bodies of the Goblins they sifted, removing the spear from the one’s chest. Under the debris piles they looked and after an Scout test was failed the twist was that they found nothing but the spear and an odd runic description on the wall. The writing matched that above on the pillars.
So then two were HUNGRY AND THIRSTY, and ANGRY. And one was HUNGRY AND THIRSTY, EXHAUSTED, and ANGRY. They all sighed heavily again. Some ate rations, others did not.
Am I doing this wrong?
More to come…