Sunday, 9 April 2017

One Man And His Dice #5: There's A Rat In The Kitchen

When we last left Erik, he had just uncovered the location of what he believed to be the Orcish lair. Hidden by dense woodland, and concealed inside a cave to the north of one of the villages that they had raided; the only clue that this may be the place that he had been searching for was one grim totem left at the caves mouth as a warning to any would be trespassers.

Not so easily deterred by such warnings however, Erik makes ready his gear for the task ahead. Taking out his flint and steel, he ignites his torch and casts the piercing light into the gloom beyond the cave mouth; revealing the top of a rough cut stone staircase. Taking a firm grip of his axe with his free hand, Erik takes one last breathe of fresh forest air into his lungs before stepping over the threshold.

Referring to the map for this adventure I see that Erik will find a room at the foot of this flight of stairs; and like all but one of the rooms in this dungeon, its contents will be randomly generated using a couple of simple charts. Rolling some dice and comparing the results to these charts, I discover that the room I am about to enter is currently being used as a larder; and that I will encounter a monster there. Further rolling reveals that this will be a lone Giant Rat.

A rat in the larder I think. That makes sense. It was likely drawn there by the food. I then flicked through the pages of the adventure looking to see if there was any description for the larder, and it's contents. There wasn't. Looking again however, I did find a note near the charts explaining that the room descriptions were more of a cosmetic thing, and had no impact on play.

That's fine I thought, but as I had committed myself to the idea of there being food in the larder I decided to envoke the rule of simplicity and serendipity (as per the rulebook). In situations like this my instinct is to just wing it, and after mulling it over, 1D6 provisions seemed like a fair amount of food to place in the larder given its size. So I rolled a single dice, and got a 5.

Sorted! Splash in a few pieces of set dressing (a wooden table, and a couple of shelves), and the scene is set.

Back to the action. Unsure of what to expect, Erik descends the stairs into the murk and the gloom, ever watchful for guards and booby traps. He is only a few feet from the foot of the stairs, when an audible scratching catches his attention. Pausing for a moment, Erik pans across the room with his torch. Seconds pass like minutes as the tension slows the passage of time for him, and then he sees it. Reared up on its hind quarters in the corner of the room is possibly one of the largest rats Erik has ever seen. Easily the size of an adult pig, and with teeth comparable to daggers.

Startled by Eriks intrusion, and the sudden illumination of his torch the rodent bolts towards him. Possibly fleeing for stairs behind him. Possibly going for Erik. Erik just doesn't know, and Erik isn't willing to risk mutilation to find out. As it charges Erik, the rat bounds off of its powerful back legs through the air, lunging towards him. Adrenaline courses through his veins as he brings his axe down heavily into the leaping rats neck with one mighty swing, landing a fatal blow. The rats body flying limp and lifeless one way, and a spray of its jugular juices the other as Erik's axe parts the air.

Combat is over no sooner than it began.

Now alone in the room, Erik takes the opportunity and time to fully take in his new surroundings. Working by torchlight, he takes a quick inventory. Other than table and shelves that were immediately apparent, Erik sees a shoddy looking door in the far corner of the room; and beneath the table, a long wooden crate covered poorly by an old dirty cloth. He also takes a closer look at the food which does appear safe to eat, if massively unappealing to him.

Upon further inspection, Erik finds a heavy iron padlock on the crate. A sure indicator that there is something of value inside, but Erik is no locksmith. In trying to decide what he should do he realises that the best course of action is probably to leave it here for now. He could easily smash the crate open with a few deft swings of his axe he thinks, but the noise might attract some unwanted attention; and he reasons if someone locked it, then someone must have the key.

Seeing little else of interest in this room, Erik approaches the shoddy wooden door; ravaged by age, rot and damp ready to continue his adventure..

Before he does though, I decided at this point I decided that a couple of house rules were in order. One for trying to eat something you probably shouldn't (in this case, Orcish cuisine), and one for smashing open chests.

For the food I decided that a medium (4+) Hardiness ability test would be sufficient. If the character makes it, then they manage to keep the food down with no ill effects. If they fail the test however, they are gripped by vomiting and painful stomach cramps. They lose 1 Vitality and it is as if they had not eaten anything at all. A character can never die from this effect though, so if they have only 1 Vitality remaining, they do not lose it; but they still become violently ill.

When it comes to smashing open a lock, the player needs to make a Strength ability test equal to the Lock Picking ability test +1, as well as having something appropriate to smash the lock with; such as an axe, a mace, a hammer or, a heavy rock. So in the instance of the long crate above, Erik would need to make a medium (4+) Strength ability test to destroy the lock, as the original Lock Picking ability test would have been successful on a 3+.

Should the player fail however, the noise attracts a wandering monster as is appropriate to the environment they are in (probably Orcs in Erik's case).

I think we'll leave it there for now. There is still rather a lot to write up from yesterday's session, but as this post is already pretty sizable, it's probably better to break it up a little.

Tune into One Man And His Dice next time, where we'll be continuing our adventure through the Dungeon Of The Orc Boss, and finding out what's behind the door.

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