Thursday, May 16, 2013

Playing a Module Solo : Faces Without Screams Session Summary

Since this is a module that's freely available, I'm going to do my best to withhold spoilers and refer to rooms/encounters by their number in the module. You can download it and follow along if you like.

That said, if you think your GM is going to run this for you, close your eyes!

[Lacking a suitably leveled character, I rolled on up. I decided the PC's level would be determined by the roll of 1d6: 1 = 5th lvl, 2-3 = 6th lvl, 4-5 = 7th lvl and on a 6, I'd roll another d6, if that one was 1-3 then 7th lvl, otherwise 8th lvl.

I rolled a 4, so I would be 7th level.

For stats, I rolled them in order with 4d6 and dropped the lowest. I figured since the PC had made it to 7th lvl, he was probably somewhat exceptional. Once again, I'm using Labyrinth Lord:

STR: 16, INT: 11, WIS: 10, DEX: 11, CON: 16, CHR: 14

HP: 46, AC 9. Coin, weapons, armor, etc. are irrelevant for this adventure. I rolled his name on a random table: Mirthby.

According to the intro, the PC starts with half HP. Already this isn't looking good!

I started with the same setup, no alteration.]

Mirthby carefully picked up the severed arm [Does the Face Cutter notice? Mythic. Unlikely - he's busy - 81. No] and slowly snuck up to attack the gruesome cutter. [Do I surprise him? Using Labyrinth Lord's / B/X's surprise resolution, I roll 1d6 and get a 4. No]

The body Mirthby was shackled to scraped across the floor, surprise was impossible. The cutter spun in his direction and snarled.

[Combat - handled by Labyrinth Lord. I always declare what I'm going to do by typing it out before i roll initiative each round. On the first round initiative, he won 6-5]

The cutter slashed with his blade and caught Mirthby on his forearm as he tried to block the incoming weapon. The battle ensued for several rounds and the maniac was bloodied badly. Mirthby shouted for him to surrender.

 [The Face Cutter was down to 6 HP, and I wanted to give him a chance to surrender and maybe shake him down for some info. I checked with Mythic GME, Does he surrender? Very Unlikely. I roll 37, No.] 

Defiantly, he spit the blood from his mouth and glared in Mirthby's direction.

[I won the initiative and knocked him down to 2 HP and offered him a chance to surrender, yet again. I decided at 2HP he might be more willing to consider the option and set it to 50/50. 67, No] 

Mirthby pounced on the villain, raining blows upon his skull until the hulking brute was a crumpled shell in a bloody pool on the floor. To add to the ignominy of his defeat, Mirthby claimed the creature's,(something so demented could not rightly be called "man" he thought), loin cloth, a chain from its waist, a key, his knife and a small rolled up tube of parchment, which as the Fates would have it, appeared to be a map of his prison.

[The map was not in the module for the PC to find. However, it is a device in order to facilitate solo play and, to my mind, it doesn't ruin the game any, as the map may not be accurate. ]

After freeing himself from the dead man shackled to him by hacking through the ankle of said dead man, Mirthby unlocked the cell door and ventured out into the dungeon beyond, grabbing the torch as he passed.

[At the first intersection, I asked Mythic, is the intersection as it appears on the map? I set the odds at 50/50. 30. Yes.

I had no intention of exploring, my goal was to find my way out - and one exit is indicated on the map, so I asked Mythic, does anything clue me into which direction to go? This seemed Unlikely, so the "No." result was not unexpected.


Mirthby passed by an intersection - it was just as the map described. He quickly moved to the next intersection, where again it matched the map. His heart began to race as he thought of his impending escape.

[At the next intersection, I again turned to Mythic GME - is the map correct?50/50.30. Yes

Any inkling that I should go one way or another?Unlikely. 70. No

The next intersection was not as indicated -50/50 and I rolled a 90, i.e. No.

I decided, for simplicity's sake, that meant it was just further ahead.]

At the first sign of a discrepancy between the map and the dungeon, Mirthby's heart stopped briefly. Thankfully, it seemed the  map was just slightly different. Perhaps it was based on someone's recollection and not one created by engineers.

As he turned to make his way to the exit, a foul creature covered in bones, like so many spines, roared out of the shadows.

[I ask Mythic if the encounter occurs as written - 50/50 seemed a little too indulgent, so I said the odds were Very Likely, and indeed it was.

Roll for surprise for #3 on the map - I roll a 2 and I’m surprised by Moultock

Moultock charges and attacks - 2, miss.

I decide to fall back and see if I have any luck at the other passages, but first I have to win the initiative.

Initiative: Me:4, Moultock:2. W00t! ]

Was that the tell-tall scrap of metal chain links on stone? A thought occurred to Mirthby, perhaps the creature probably, probably, could not give chase. A strong believer in the motto: "Those that run away live to fight another day" , Mirthbay took a tactical retreat until out of sight of the horrid thing.

[I backed to first intersection and headed north, on the map, to the area labeled 2.
I ask Mythic if it's the room as described and set the odds at 50/50, 57, No.

It seemed logical to me that whomever made the map, might have gotten the notes flipped around, and I asked, is it room 4 instead? I give this a 50/50 chance and got a Yes.

As I began to read the description, i thought "Screw that noise." I would never send a character into a room like that alone. ]

As he stepped into a large chamber, the flicker of the torch light caught the sickening visage of many bodies hanging from the ceiling. Nothing good comes from playing around corpses, and Mirthby opted to try the south passage.

[I ask Mythic if this room is in fact room 2 and set the oddds at Somwhat Likely  - because it might just be a flip flop. 62. Yes.]

As he approached a strange door, covered with eerie faces, they began to shriek and howl. "What IS this place, " thought Mirthby, as he backed carefully down the hall to try another passage, hoping nothing was coming after him now.

[ Uh, screw that room too! I did check to see if the Quasit would appear - I figured he'd cause me all sorts of trouble: 3. Nope.

Head back to what should be room 6 - is that as described? 82, no.

Is it room 5 instead? Somewhat likely, 34 Yes.

This room was a challenge - first I had to figure out what to do about the saving throw - apparently, S & W has one saving throw? 

I decided that a Save vs Spells would be appropriate, given the loss of Wisdom for failing.

I roll a 2. and lose 1 Wisdom. Not good.

I also decide to ask Mythic if the scene is set per the module : Is the paper and pen on the table?50/50, 27 yes ]

With little hope of getting out by way of the mapped exit, Mirthby decided he'd have to risk going into one of the other rooms. This one seemed as good as any - until it wasn't. With a sickening click, Mirthby knew all too well that he was locked in. He approached the small table and looked at the paper on the table - and then glanced around the room. With a shrug, he picked up the pen and wrote "Thank you?"

[The next problem is how to tackle the puzzle, which I'll only vaguely give away hear I hope: it involves asking questions to find out where an item is hidden - without the item, you can't exit the room. 

I decided to write my questions out and roll up the responses, first using Dungeon Words.]

Beneath his line of text appeared two words: “Mouth Ectoplasm”

Perplexed, he wrote "Can you let me out of here?" and received a longer message, although no more helpful:  Howling Spores Menhir Toll

[This was going nowhere fast, and I only had a limited number of questions. Because the puzzle replies are supposed to be helpful, I switched to Rory's various Cubes because I could interpret them in a light that wasn't completely hindering.

My plan was to build a case for Mirthby solving the puzzle. On Question 5 I received the following reply: Darkness locked Silent ]

His" hand scrawled quickly, "Is the key hidden in here?"

[I rolled a one word reply. I decided to go with a simple yes or no reply, but first, I had to find out if the reply was truthful or not. I asked Mythic and set the odds to 50/50. I rolled a 50 Yes.]

It appeared to Mirthby that he might actually manage to make it out of here. 

[I proceeded to ask questions to find out where it was located, which would allow it to be something other than as written in the module.

On question 9, I got a reply that affirmed a direction to look, but to make things fair, I put it in Mythic's hands to decide if I had done enough to merit trying to find it. I set it to Likely, because it took 9 questions and I had a reasonable idea of the location and succeeded.

Figuring the exchange took a full turn, I had to make a save vs. Spells. And failed. Again!

I then  decided to roll a 1d4 to see how many turns it would take to find the item. I rolled a 4 which meant Save vs Spells 4x. And I failed all 4 times. Well at least he was getting out the room. Although with a WIS of 4. ]

Although Mirthby was sure he knew exactly where to look, it took the better part of an hour for him to find it. 

[As a result of finding the key, the PC is granted a boon. I decided to use it to try to force my way past that creepy Moultok, so I can make for the exit. 

Tim helpfully noted in the GM's intro that if the player wants to try something, have them roll a d6, and if they get a 4, it succeeds. I got a 3.]

For the second time, Mirthby tried to head north to the exit, the creature was still there, as he expected.  The plan Mirthby had formulated went south. The creature was not amused.

[Roll initiative: I get a 6 , he gets a 2 and i retreat and wait until the beast retreats and then run past to the door at the end (which will now be room 6)

I save vs poison / death for door, 11, save!

and find myself suddenly in Room 7]

Mirthby picks himself up from the floor. He hears her talking. He doesn't care what she is saying - he swings his chain menacingly.

[Initiative. i roll 1, she rolls 2.

Here is the exact transcript of the battle:

She casts hold person.

I roll save:12 i need a 12. WOOT!

Strike her with chain: she has an ac 4, i need: 10 and roll 2

Round 2 initiative: i get a 6, she gets a 1

i roll 12, hit. for 3, she’s down to 27

she can’t cast a spell this round now and instead moves back to gain some distance.

Round 3 Initiative: I get a 3, she gets 4

Magic missile: for 12 points

I attack and miss

Round 4 Initiative:  i get a 5, she gets 2

I hit with a 20, for 2+2, she’s down to 23

I roll on my critical hit chart and she can’t move or take an action and +2 to hit her next round

Round 5 Initiative: i get a 5, she gets a 6 and can‘t move or take an action

I roll a 6, that’s 8, + 2 to her defense and i hit. for 3, she’s down to 20

Round 6 Initiative : i get a 5, she gets a 4 ]

Battered and struggling to stand, Mirthby can see she is barely phased by his efforts. With every ounce of strength he can muster, he lashes at her with the chain, stolen from a dead man what seems to be ages ago.

[I miss]

The chain crashes into the floor - an earth shaking blow perhaps, but wasted. 

She is not phased. With a whisper and a raise of her hand she finishes the incantation she had begun. Bolts of harnessed Mana blast from her hands and unerringly find their mark.

It is the last thing Mirthby will ever see on this plane. 

[She casts magic missle 2nd time:for 11 points and I’m dead ]


  1. Oh well, even if he'd survived, the next encounter would probably killed him anyway.

    -- Jeff

  2. Even though that module isn't my style of game this is an interesting run through of soloing a module, with various aids.
    I have Mythic, and also Rory's Story Cubes, but have only used the former in tabletop battles and the latter not really at all (not yet anyway - I know about the 9 questions method, but I don't think I need that depth for a basic dungeon crawl). I have some time today and this weekend and expect to try another dungeon crawl (or continuation of my last) with some updates to make encounters tougher.

    1. Hi Fitz-Badger,

      I'm looking forward to more updates on your crawls and encounters.

      As I mention in my most recent post, your setup has me mulling over how I want to approach my own game.

      As for modules, I hope to try this with some classic D & D modules eventually.

      I did start a Traveller module, but it sort of falls near the bottom of the hobby priority list right now as I'm over taken with the painting bug (which I have learned to give in to). That game, so far has required very little of outside systems, as it's pretty much entirely random events.

      I think the Rory's Action Cubes make great trap inspiration and I've used the original Story Cubes for everything from room stocking to quest generation. Definitely worth playing around with even outside the 9Qs.