Thursday, 2 March 2017

One Man And His Dice #2: Visions Of Valor

In my previous post we did all the set up required in order to get a game of SCRAWL underway. Although I should say at this point that you don’t need to go as far as creating a land in which to explore if you don’t want to. You can just dive straight into a dungeon as you would with one of the more traditional Fighting Fantasy novels if that’s more your thing, but I decided to do so for a couple of reasons.

One of these was that I wanted to use Explore To The Core, as it turns the journey to your dungeon into an adventure in itself; whilst the random seeds that it sows offer a wealth of inspiration for further off the cuff adventures. The other is a personal desire to work with the random elements in order to weave the narrative. It’s a good cerebral work out as a writer, that tests both your creativity and skill with the written word.

Back to the matter at hand however and our hero, Erik, is standing in a large town ready to embark upon his quest. Before doing so however he decides that it may be prudent to invest in a few additional supplies. Taking an hour or so to peruse the market place and the local merchants, Erik finds a simple but sharp dagger that he decides would be useful should he find himself in a pinch; and a waterskin that should do him well enough for his journey overland.

For a few more coins Erik gathers all the food he can carry before leaving the town, and heading north towards the area of the reported orc raids.

With SCRAWL you only roll for travel and events when moving from hex to hex if you’re playing by the book; but wanting to mix things up and keep things interesting I decided that the relatively short journey (about half a day) from the town to the more remote village was plenty of time for something unexpected to happen.

Rolling for an event I find that part of the roughly beaten track between the two locations has become a boggy mire. Not wishing to take a detour, Erik decides that the best course of action is to push on through the thick mud and sludge. It is hard work, but Erik does make it; if slightly more exhausted for the effort expended (-1 Will).

It’s at this point that I created a quick house rule that every ability roll attempted (the above encounter required two), grants your character 1XP once it has been resolved regardless of the outcome. This is a throwback to my many years of playing Tunnels & Trolls, where whenever you attempt to make a saving roll you earn adventure points. This makes sense to me, as even failing to achieve something teaches you something about the thing you are trying to achieve; and failure can often be a better tutor than success.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon passes without event, and Erik soon arrives at his destination where the villagers are hard at work building primitive wooden barricades and fortifications. This isn’t something that I rolled up, but rather something that I made up on the fly. I figured that being in a remote location, the villagers had probably felt that they were on their own in defending their homes. I then considered that with limited materials available to them, and not being either soldiers or engineers; a few hastily erected wooden blockades is probably all they could have mustered since the raids began.

I also decided that given their current woes the villagers may be a little suspicious of an armed stranger arriving unannounced, so a fate roll would be used to determine their reaction to the arrival of our hero. Weighing up the various factors, I decided that making a medium (difficulty 4+) fate roll would allow Erik entry to the village.

I rolled a 6, which I decided wasn’t just a success but a great success. Again, this wasn’t strictly by the book but it felt right. Working with this idea, I decided that Erik would be met by the village elder who would escort him to their home. There the elder would advise Erik that they had received a vision of his arrival, and of his quest. Whilst the vision did not tell of Erik’s fate or the outcome of his endeavor, it did show the elder a man of great conviction and with a ferocity of spirit. Enough for the elder to believe that Erik could do what he was setting out to do, and free their village from the orcish menace.

The belief of the elder of the village revitalised Erik (restoring the will lost to the boggy ground earlier), which again wasn’t strictly by the book; but I figured if trying circumstances can drain your will, then such a glowing endorsement could replenish it.. And it was only one point. This also seemed like a good time for the character to rest. Erik could have chanced a night in the wilderness, but with the villagers being quite hospitable; it seemed silly to go and sleep out in the cold. In fact, so grateful where the villagers to have a strapping young fighter around, and the security that this brought with it; that they fed and sheltered him for the night at no expense.

Eriks temporary respite also seems like a good stopping point for us too, as this post is getting rather lengthy. Join me next time, where we find out what happens when Erik sets back out into the world in search of orcs, their blood, and most importantly; glory!

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