Archive for August 25, 2011

The players have all been asking for another round of Old School Hack, so tonight we gathered at the table and we played again.


Dwarvie the Shortbearded Facesmasher is the only PC that survived a walk through the Gauntlet, and she came out of it with a huge red gem the size of a dragon’s eye.

Sansalar the Cranky Elf Wanderer was true to her names-sake after her trip through the gauntlet and being ejected magically sans all her belongings. ALL of them.

The greedy thief, who also failed the Gauntlet, so grief-stricken over all the stolen property that was also stripped from  him as he was ejected from the Gauntlet, threw himself from a wooden bridge over a canyon near the entrance to the dungeon.

So our story tonight begins as Sansalar, now clothed in rags taken from a dead Orc, and Dwarvie started to head back toward town. Dwarvie stared into the gem because she saw something moving…

…it was a landscape, dark and red, with a volcano pouring out a river of lava. As she stared she felt the air around them warm up, almost like they were there…and then suddenly, they were. As quickly as their scenery had just changed on them, a goblin arrived, breathing hard, and asking if they had seen a short man running this way. Neither of them had, of course, so they decided to set out to explore the volcano to see if he ran into the cave at the base of the mountain.

In the lava river that flowed by, they saw (everyone at the table said it before I could) a lava shark! It looked Hungry.

As they approached the volcano, they could see a black billowing cloud coming out the top and swirling down toward them. The cloud got closer and they could tell it was not a cloud at all, but (again, everyone beat me to to it) giant bats! And they have little dark dervish riders on them, like little ninjas! They swooped down and swooshed and swirled around them, calling to each other to “take them out and get all their goods for the master.”

Dwarvie called out, “Come on Team, let’s get them!”

When a 4 year old playing a dwarf shouts the rallying cry at the table…that gets an awesome point!

The fight was an interesting one, with the the PCs all grabbing rocks and pitching them at the dark dervishes, knocking a couple off their mounts. These guys were carrying bows, so that did well to arm the Elf that had lost all her possessions in the Gauntlet.

Two riders swooped down to have their bats grab at Sansalar and Dwarfie, and pull them up into the “flying” arena. Sansalar got her shot off and missed just before she was grabbed and lifted into the sky. Dwarfie was missed, but then hit her target so hard that she also dazed the bat that came down for a rough landing right near her…which of course just begged for her to check out bat riding as a new sport. In shock at the weight and enthusiasm of his new rider, the bat labored back  up into the air after a successful Cunning roll.

Can you imagine a bat-riding, spikey-armored dwarf twirling her warhammer like Thor and flying right into the rest of the swarm of bat riders? Yeah, there will be trouble for the dark dervishes!

Meanwhile the Elf tries to make friends with the bat that has grabbed her. She has the Animal Friend talent, so this sounded pretty awesome, and she strikes up a conversation with the bat via high-pitched shrieks back and forth. After brief introductions, the conversation boils down to “Do you have better food than he does?” <long pause, knowing that her sole possessions now included a dervish bow and orc rags> “Uh, no, sorry.” “You may be nice and all, but he has the food.” So Sansalar shrugs as she is carried higher into the air.

The goblin has been firing arrows from a bow he picked up from a fallen dark dervish, too, and has been astoundingly accurate, rolling a 10 on his face die with nearly every shot. So in some cases, he not only shot the rider, but winged the bat in the process.

The number of bat riders is dwindling now, but the Goblin now targets the rider of the bat that has the elf. Without a rider, the bat lets go of Sansalar, and she awesomely flips down through the air to land gracefully on the back of another flying bat, and begins shrieking to it as well. This bat however, is completely taken by the elf and they become fast friends.

Dwarfie the Shortbearded Facesmasher lives up to her namesake and barrels through the remaining bat riders like a spinning bowling ball through pins. Lots of face smashing going on. She’s taking them out two at a time while they try to flee in fear. A short bit later, and the skies are clear. The bat carrying Dwarfie has come to its senses and dumped Dwarfie and flown away. Skrii is now Sansalar’s new friend, and the goblin has several new bows and arrows.

The biggest challenge in using the rest of this “old school” game module I wrote over 10 year ago with Old School Hack was two-fold: 1) It’s a typical dungeon crawl, so one of the most fun and dynamic elements of combat, arenas, is difficult to apply, and 2) my players are all 10 and under, and had a huge amount of trouble with the puzzle/riddle in the gauntlet.

In the end, this meant that our 2nd session of Old School Hack was not nearly the success of the first one. But we played it through anyway, and the 4 year old is the only one that passed the puzzle challenge without any trouble. Ah, to be young and innocent! I will post more about the Gauntlet in a later post, but for now suffice it to say that it was a role-playing puzzle to challenge the PCs integrity. No dice rolls needed, just players role-playing. So the novice group of players, in general, blew it.  😉

But the few fights there were to be had were still pretty quick, but it seems the entire scope of possible arenas were limited to “Room” and “Hall”. Boring. There were still some interesting dynamics, from *my* perspective, though. With the Hall being a different arena, ranged attackers were able to stay out there and fire into the Room arena without fearing a melee attack in return. However, the monsters wanted to Move out to that arena, which gave Dwarfie a change to Impede if she wanted to. This makes for a fight that is very different from your normal “trading blows” D&D fight.

If I am understanding the rules correctly, players all basically declare their intent at the beginning of each round, and in my game we use the combat cards with the card holders (those are Awesome, so we use them!), so players put out the card that matches what they want to do, and we begin the round.

So if a player chooses to Attack (which is phase 5), but his intended target chooses to Move (phase 4), then he won’t have a target to attack when 5 rolls around! Likewise if you choose Impede (Phase 3) and no one Moves in 4 for you to impede, then while you are jockeying back and forth trying to keep people from running, they can Attack you in Phase 5, and you get to just grit your teeth back at them. Combat can have some dicey moments based on these kinds of rules.

I am interested in gathering ideas for scenes to use in future fights that have that fantastic dynamic of multiple arenas for players to move around in. Maybe there is room for them on the OSH Bestiary…if not, I will find a place to keep them.