Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Ever Expanding Dungeon: Session 7

Had time last night for a short session:

After the ghoul smack-down, the party returned to town to enjoy a few days rest, and a little less resistance in their search for porters and the like.

Feldspar, he of the 18 charisma, did the hiring.

The offer he made was pretty meager - 10gp and a shield - but he found two takers:

  • Fargle Blim, The Hungry Clown, Female, NM:0, HP 2 She's not a terribly good clown, hence "the hungry." She signed on, mostly for the promise of a good meal.
  • Nobbilo Ur, former soldier, Male, NM:0, HP 1 Having fought for years for various noblemen, he was forced into retirement due to injuries and age. Now, a spry 70, low on money, he seeks the glory of his youth.
The Mysterious Trulhammar Gax, now F:1, agreed to come along on the next adventure, for 50gp and a 5% share of gold.

After a good night's sleep and fueled by hopes of treasure, the party was eager to return to what appeared to be a goblin stronghold in the dungeon. They chose the entrance that would get them there quickest. 

The first door they came to had been well repaired since they last passed this way- an ominous warning if ever there was one.

B (the thief) tried to pick the lock, but forgot to even look for a trap and was promptly stung by a poisoned needle. She passed her save, but she learned her lesson!

Fader kicked the door in and he and Feldspar led the group's rush into the room - there they found three young-ish bandit types, painting lewd "art" on the walls.

“whoa. you guys aren’t going to rat us out are you?”
“not if you don’t give us trouble”
“sure, whatever

(that's the exchange I imagined)

The party opted to leave them be and moved quickly onward.

At the door to the room that previously contained several goblins and then later, a giant spider, Feldspar and Fader had a listen and B checked for traps. [at this point I asked Mythic if the door was trapped and got doubles, a random event.]

B failed to spot the trap and as she yanked her hand from the lock everyone held their breath. Would she be alright?

A sudden loud voice broke the tense silence: “Hey, uh, so uh, any of you adventuring dudes interested in supporting some budding young artists? We’re going to paint the face of the Eerie Cliffs of Cutter with a crazy huge mural. We just need money for the pigments.”

Perceval shushed the entrepreneurial young man and ushered him away while B made her save vs Poison.

With B OK, and any chance of surprise quite likely spoiled, Feldspar kicked in the door and charged in with Fader, as the rest of the party forced their way in behind them and spread out. 
In their haste, they woke a bugbear from a peaceful nap, and who was now, understandably, kind of angry.

Feldspar sheathed his sword - the bugbear wasn't overtly hostile yet and there was a good deal of distance between them -and held up a few gold coins for the bugbear to see. The bugbear stood up to his full height, picked up his spiked club and moved towards the party.

Feldspar threw the gold pieces towards the bugbear and B knocked an arrow. To their relief, the bugbear stopped and picked up the gp. What passes as a smile appeared on the bugbear's face and he held out his hand, making the universal sign for "gimme more."

It cost Feldspar nearly 15 gp, but the bugbear let the party pass, although he made a gesture that clearly indicated he wasn't going to guarantee them safe passage next time. He slipped out of the room while the party checked the opposite door.

Fader was impaled on spikes shortly after as the party tried to avoid a known pit trap - the one that claimed Sister Clarice, Acolyte of the Monkey King. Unable to retrieve their comrade, or more importantly, his gear, they continued on. 

The hallway they were sure would take them into some kind of goblin den, instead led to stairs up a level. Disappointment and discussion followed in close order.

Finally, it was decided and they lit a torch and up they went.

The architecture was noticeably different - a much higher quality of smooth, polished stone, with painted arabesque boarders and a patterned tile floor. No magical light orbs here, they would have to rely on the torch light.

Perhaps that's why they didn't see the dart trap that sprung and killed Nobbilo. With 1 HP it wasn't much of a surprise that he died, but still, decency dictated that they couldn't just leave his body. Carrying him would seriously slow them down (already moving pretty slowly thanks to being armored like tanks) and the party made their way back the way they came.

On their way out, they came upon a gruesome sight: the bodies of the three painting bandits, bludgeoned, bloody and broken. The bugbear probably made his way through here after he left the PCs.

In the light of the day and the fresh air of the outside world, Feldspar and Perceval built a funeral pyre for the old man and Sister Linkat performed her religion's version of last rites.  

As the smoke climbed into the sky, the party prepared for a return into the depths of the Ever Expanding Dungeon.

Body count: Fader (F:1), Nobbilo Ur (NM:0)
Killed: n/a
Rooms explored: 2
Treasure: n/a
Turns: 24

I had really hoped for some combat to try out the ideas generated in the comments on my post about uncertainty and hit points. Alas, this didn't happen. On the other hand, I enjoyed the encounters with the bandits and the bugbear because they weren't combat. Dungeon crawls sometimes have the reputation of only supporting one kind of play, hack-and-slash. It's nice that even solo, this is clearly not the case.

The bugbear encounter in particular was a fun mix of roleplaying as Feldspar, reliance on random generators for the bugbear, and some creative license. I didn't know until the final check whether or not the bugbear would accept the gold or charge the party.

Another observation: going back to a crawl after the fast paced 9Q experience was like getting off the highway and having to drive at half of your previous speed. It just feels so slow because you were going so fast. 

I'm interested to see if that continues or, if, as with driving, I'll adjust to the new speed.


  1. I really liked the "random event" request for money to paint a mural.

    -- Jeff

    1. That was thanks to Mythic giving me a random event focused on an NPC and an "extravagant project." I rather liked the idea of this band of misfit, bandit-artists (mixed with a bit of "surfer dude") and bumming money from people seemed like something they would do. I was more than a touch apprehensive when I found myself asking the dice if the bugbear had encountered them and how it turned out.

      Oh well, the dice giveth, and the dice taketh away!

      For the sake of the story, as I imagine it, the bugbear was moving through the halls on his way to exchange some of the gold for something obtainable in the dungeon economy. The graffiti bandits heard the unmistakable clink of coins in a purse and, thinking it was the PCs, ran towards the sound while exclaiming "dudes! you won't regret this." To which the bugbear, assuming the rapid advance was an attack, responded in kind.

  2. Once again, a good read, and you've given me the solo RPG bug! I've copied your recent version of your random dungeon generator and am working on a modified version of USR for characters. I hope to try out your dungeon maker soon.

    1. USR is most definitely among my favorite set of rules. Depending on the setting/genre, I find it helpful to have a "bestiary" from another game on hand. For random encounters, it helps minimize derailing the encounter while I think up a new creature and what is specialisms might be. Ditto for NPCs, although in that case, I use a variety of random generators and convert them into USR terms.

      I hope you'll be documenting your solo RPG exploits on your blog!

      oh and if you have any feedback for improvements to the dungeon generator, please let me know!

  3. I am enjoying following this and getting inspired, too. But it's demn bloody dungeon, innit? Seems like there's at least one death among the party every time these guys step out their front door.

    (I have some preliminary ideas percolating slowly; starting out on less dangerous ground in my case! But still looking at rules sets. Currently thinking about Savage Worlds. I got the free download/demo a long while back and it seems good. Trying to decide whether to go for the full book and stuff.)

    1. It is a bit more on the bloody side than I would have thought. Indeed, if anyone makes it to 2nd level, they may well retire. Except that they have not found much treasure in spite of the deaths!

      Out of game, I see this as acceptable however - once the bodies started piling up, I decided to treat the 1st level as a "character funnel" a la Dungeon Crawl Classics. The survivors are potentially heroic individuals around which myths will be born. Those that died weren't really cut out for the job. I am still upset about Malazar, however. I really liked him.

      In game, I imagine the dungeon is a dangerous place, in a near constant state of kill-or-be-killed, and it is a state of "continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." (to steal from Thomas Hobbes)

      I have never played Savage Worlds, although I did consider it for skirmish wargaming based on many recommendations. I'd be interested in hearing your take on its suitability for solo RPG or skirmish for that matter.

    2. And I was just struck by an idea. Perhaps I can follow Malazar's journey in the "herafter", the outer planes if you will. His soul, cursed because he was killed by a ghoul, is trapped in the Abyss, or Hell or some such, and he must find a way to cleanse his soul in order to pass into Valhalla, the 7 Heavens or what not (can you tell I'm influenced by AD&D?)

  4. Dumb question number 1 from someone reading the Labyrinth Lord rules for the first time. I get your notation F:1 mean the character is a Fighter at Level 1. C for cleric, M for magician, etc.

    What does NM:0 mean? N for NPC? M for ? 0 for ? What is it used for? Or tell where to look in the LL rule book. I have the Revised Edition (Fourth Release), September 2009.


    1. Hi Jim,

      Sorry about that! That's an old annotation I learned some 30 years ago! It stands for Normal Man: 0 level. I don't recall if it was in AD&D 1st ed., and I don't know about earlier versions, but "Normal Man" was a phrase used in Moldvay Basic.

      In LL, they're 0-level Humans (see the Fighter's Saving Throw table (I am using Revised Edition, Fifth Release and it's on p. 55). 0-level Human is probably a less contentious, and more inclusive, descriptor than "Normal Man."In light of that,I think I may switch to H:0 or even just 0, since there are no other 0-level characters other than humans.


    2. John,

      Do not change your notation on my account. I was just confused by that one code. Makes sense now!