Sunday, 5 March 2017

One Man And His Dice #4: Wood For The Trees

Following on from my previous post, we re-join our hero at the edge of the woodland where all signs indicate the orcish warband terrorising the local villages have set up shop. He’s close, but Erik will still need to find the den itself.. And the woods are a big place. Full of twists and turns that could easily see a stranger to these parts become lost or worse. No doubt the reason the orcs chose this location.

For this part of the adventure I decided to do something that is again not strictly by the book (oh, the rebel with a dicebag that I am!). I decided that searching such difficult terrain could take days, and in that time any number of things could happen.

To simulate this I gave Erik a fate roll every day that he searched for the den, with an initial target of 6. That target number then dropped by 1 every day, as an expression of the ground covered and the discovery of clues left behind by the orcs. This made certain that the adventure would not consist of endlessly searching through the forest, whilst offering up the strong possibility of some random woodland encounters (one of which would be generated for each day Erik spent searching without locating the orcs hideout).

At this point I also took a couple of more executive decisions with regards to this element of the overland adventure. In addition to the encounter (rolled up randomly with Explore To The Core), I decided that Erik would need to consume a provision for every day he traveled aimlessly. I did also consider having Erik hunt for water, but gave it up as rather pointless notion. The woodland around him was rich and green; so there was evidently no shortage of water in this area; and without a doubt as he trekked through the trees he would come across at least one clean source a day. He also had a waterskin with which to carry away some of whatever he found, which should be more than enough combined to offset any risk of dehydration.

So, day one of our game within our game and I rolled a 1 for the fate roll. Not a promising start, and worlds apart from the 6 I needed.  Time for an encounter. Rolling on the forest encounters table I found that Erik had been greeted by a friendly woodland spirit. Better than an angry one! The spirit accompanied Erik for a while as he searched the immediate area but seeing that he was getting nowhere and somewhat distracted by his puckish companion they both settled down for a rest, Erik planting himself upon the mossy trunk of a fallen tree.

Before they parted at nightfall Erik and the sprite played a simple game of chance. Whilst enjoyable, it was not profitable; losing a small amount of coins (5 GP) to the woodland creature. Erik did wonder what stock such a being placed in the material wealth of man as he lay there under the moonlight that night, but surmised that for this creature the coins where probably no more than a memento of the time they’d shared together.

With a warm feeling inside Erik settled into his uneasy surroundings; somehow feeling safe in the knowledge that such friendly beings inhabited this place.

Day two and Erik is once again up with the dawn chorus. The early bird catches the worm after all. However rolling a 3 for his fate roll today he doesn’t catch any orcs. This entire area of woodland is almost bereft of life friendly or otherwise, with the most interesting living thing being a patch of odd colored mushrooms growing in the shade of one of the mightier trees. Knowing nothing of them, Erik thinks better of eating any of strange fungus. The last thing he needs at this point is to fall ill. Suspecting there may be more to them than meets the eye however he does decide to collect a few, with a plan of learning more about them when he returns to civilisation.

Erik concludes the day by setting up camp and taking in his surroundings. It’s quiet. Too quiet. Could it be that the presence of the orcs has driven away many of the creatures that call this place home?

After a restless nights sleep full of dark dreams Erik awakes on day three. Taking a few minutes to compose himself, Erik takes a firm grip of the haft of his axe and steels himself with a gritty resolve; and soon the woes of the night have slipped into the aether like mist yielding to the sunlight. Unable to recall his dream, but unable to shake the feeling in pit of his stomach Erik presses on into the forest in search of the orcish blight.. And rolling a 4 for today’s fate roll, Erik finds them!

Only an hour or so after waking Erik comes upon a large collection of rocks in a clearing. Rocks the size of small huts, wildly overgrown with trees and shrubbery. Near perfectly concealing a yawning cave mouth worn away by the ages into one of the larger stones. Erik could have easily missed this if it were not for the subtlety of orcs, who wishing to mark their territory have planted a marker at the entrance to their lair; adorned in blood, tribal symbols, and crowned with a humanoid skull. A warning to anyone who would trespass into their domain.

To Erik though, this is far from a warning, It’s an invite!

This is as far as I was able to play through to in my first session due to time constraints, but as you can see I am far from done. There are a few seeds for future adventures down the road that have been planted, and I am just about to enter into my first dungeon; the Dungeon Of The Orc Boss.

Stay tuned to One Man And His Dice as we take the plunge, and delve into the depths of darkness to push back the green tide.

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