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Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:01 pm

NO SPOILERS WERE INTENTIONALLY HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS REHASH (1)

Marvin had imagined that the frogs had surely been swallowing so much indigestible treasure with their meals that they could no longer jump. Tacitus didn't see them jumping around either, so he too insisted on searching them. Marvin showed everyone how to search a frog without perforating the smelly parts. It took 3 minutes per frog, but they only found an amethyst worth 100 GP in the largest of the biology class science experiments.

When Marvin suggested coming back with shovels, buckets, and screens, however, in order to look for the the little frog's room and ahem . . . buried treasures, Mike drew the line, "Why do you think I use a mace and have a holster for the Acme Shield Cleaner with which to clean my shield--to avoid becoming covered with blood, gore, and **** like that." "But there's gold in them there hills, Mikey." Then the conversation went too far for a low drama retelling. Art and drama have other avenues. Here I am restricting myself to a dry and sober review of the suitability of Classic Fantasy to a classic AD&D campaign. Hopefully no one mistakes it for a bed time sleep aid though.

After Tacitus calmed Mike down, his thoughts turned to how the bandits would know they were there, should they arrive back before dark, when the botched cover-up of the battle and their tracks would be visible. That would spoil the surprise party. Tacitus' plan B was to chase the bandits into their lair. That would require splitting his forces for two serial ambushes, which would be risky. I hoped Tacitus would change his mind about this later, because the resultant TPK might have skewed this review.

In the mean time, Tacitus wanted to keep the strength of the band together for the initial exploration of the moat house. He budgeted only 2 hours for this just in case there would be an early return of the bandits. He thought they should forego further searches for treasure until after the bandits were defeated.

They formed up on Tacitus, trudged up softly to the wooden draw bridge before the entrance to the moat house, and Tacitus signaled a halt. It was rotten. Tacitus' 300-pounds went ahead testing the integrity in spots with a corner of his big shield ahead of his feet. When it was safe, he signaled to form up on himself again on the other side.

Marvin suggested that he himself would stay behind at the rotten draw bridge to watch the road so they'd know whether anyone leaves the fortress to warn the bandits of their presence.

There was a door to a tower here and a couple of guys noticed fresh boot prints leading away from the gate toward some steps 60 feet away, at the top of which were some ruined doors. They were sure the tracks were less than one week old. Also, a half dozen arrow slits commanded the courtyard from the interior buildings.

Tacitus tacitly commanded, "All shields." Even the harassers and the murderers had targes and side-arms, mostly battleaxes. They formed a wall of overlapping shields on Tacitus and crouched behind them, theoretically multiplying the body locations covered by their shields by 2 and adding 1 or 2 locations to the double of them. To this over the top protection they added the the warding of their heads with their sidearms. "There could be bandits behind the arrow slits with heavy crossbows, arbalests, and ballistae, all loaded with armor piercing magical bolts," murmured Tacitus. None of his men comprehended even half of that, so I penalized his war band's initiative for 1d3 minutes from 1d10 to 1d4 and and made their willpower, influence, and oratory rolls hard while they scratched their heads. I asked Tacitus' player for an insight roll every minute, until Tacitus figured out that his men were slightly befuddled and somewhat demoralized by what Tacitus had said.

Tacitus couldn't do anything about his worries, so he shrugged it off, saying, "Stay here while I check out the tower." Tacitus saw the room was apparently uninhabited, but there was the glint of possible coinage at the room's center. Suspecting a ballista trap, he shut the door and kicked a wedge under it as a precaution. "Clear. Harold, pot. Saul, torch. Troop, Horseshoe. Troop, forward march." The ends of the shield wall wrapped back to protect against the ballista slits as they marched forward up the steps and up to the door where upon Harold threatened to toss a pot of oil and Saul threatened to toss a lit torch.

Tacitus lifted his shield horizontal and looked under it to try to see the back walls in the beams of diffused sunlight filtering through the door and he angled his signal mirror over his shield to reflect sunlight, first around the back walls of the room. After a minute of searching with the mirror, "Troop, fan out and verify the room is clear." The survey came back that there's two hallways, a stair up, and another door. Tacitus put a harasser or a murderer with a torch and a targe on each hallway and stair and put a murderer on the door with a pole arm. Then he visually cleared the stairway and the halls with a torch and a partial advance with his scutum held up at chin level and mid-chest.

The stair up was blocked. The upper level was collapsed into it. One hallway led to 4 doors. The other hallway lead past 3 doors to a room where something from the moat may be nesting, because the moat wall was collapsed out. Tacitus added a defender and a murderer to the harasser guarding the hall to the moat room and the hall's 3 doors. He ordered Crosby to keep his eyes on Marvin at the rotten drawbridge from the main doors. He ordered no one else to open doors, but Jake. Then he ordered Jake to help him go door to door, opening them.

Tacitus operated a particular plan to the T. He kept a guarded perimeter at first while clearing the easy rooms, then with mostly clear perimeters, ganged up on the hard rooms with the forces freed from their early guard duty.

What could I have done about this? (2)
--
notes

1. In order for a spoiler to remain unharmed, it must not hold back even one secret.
2. This scenario needed sappier players whose characters run willy-nilly after treasure getting caught out singly.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Pentallion » Thu Dec 08, 2016 3:35 am

Did they make stealth rolls? Cuz a scuddling shield wall probably isn't going to surprise anybody. "Look cleetus, we got ourselves a 16 legged armadiller." "Them aint armadilllers Joe Bob, them's loot. Git the rest of the bandits and we'll give 'em a poke!"

I say this because TOEE defenses react to invaders and it's probably a good idea to implant that reality into the players heads at the moathouse, where the enemy isn't as tough nor as numerous.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Thu Dec 08, 2016 6:01 pm

Pentallion wrote:Did they make stealth rolls? Cuz a scuddling shield wall probably isn't going to surprise anybody. "Look cleetus, we got ourselves a 16 legged armadiller." "Them aint armadilllers Joe Bob, them's loot. Git the rest of the bandits and we'll give 'em a poke!"

Thank you for your question and comments.

Yes, War Band Tacitus made stealth and perception rolls before the frogicide. It failed the stealth side of that miserably, but succeeded very well in the perception side of that encounter. After that encounter, War Band Tacitus didn't try to use its 25% stealth to much effect, although individual scouts did use their individual stealth here and there, probably failing whenever success wasn't automatic.

In general, fortresses are all about exposing invaders to watchmen, so I told the players that there was not enough cover on the road to approach the fortress out of view and anyway it seemed comical to roll stealth to hide from the fortress while battling the frogs right out in front of it.

Then once in the echoing courtyard, it seemed comical for sitting ducks to stealth away the threat of siege machines pointed at them through the arrow slits.

Then in the dark interior it seemed comical to stealth away the window of opportunity to grab a perimeter against any onrushing troops.

In general, there can be an opportunity cost to stealth, like long exposures to unsecured perimeters, taking too long to exert control over tactical features, and mistakenly assuming one's careful stealth is keeping surprise while one's enemy isn't fooled at all and is rushing reinforcements to much needed tactical features and one's own weak perimeters.

You could even call the opportunity cost the stealth versus storm trade-off. All in all, I don't blame Tacitus very much for thinking his war band is better at storm than stealth.

Anyway, later on after they thought they had cleared the fortress, then they finally began to expect the ability to surprise everyone despite their low (25% to 33%) stealth skills, because they were then the watchmen in a secured fortress, they were the ones already in its tactical features, and they were the ones with the communications through its protected passages and its sheltered command ports.

Pentallion wrote:I say this because TOEE defenses react to invaders and it's probably a good idea to implant that reality into the players heads at the moathouse, where the enemy isn't as tough nor as numerous.

So, it looks like I blew it. I made the mistake of letting my players nerf their training ground, by letting them come at an hour when the strong man wasn't at home.

Well, they have played scenarios in the past with reactive defenses and even with proactive defenses. Maybe they'll remember those.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:13 am

Tacitus and Jake went door to door, just cracking them open, ready to quickly close the door if anything jumped, but if they had to go in to make it jump, they both had scale armor, shields, and either a spear or some javelins to facilitate further investigation while making good their escape. They found 3 rooms with 6 arrow slits that were clear of vermin and that was all they needed. During the process, they identified a giant lizard, a giant venomous snake, a giant tick, giant rats, and bats. Live and let live, Tacitus is known to say.

After Tacitus felt the perimeter was secure from immediate, sapient threats, Tacitus explained the strategy to the war band. He said 6 arrow slits can be used without needing to clear any of the vermin out of any of the rooms. Crosby had the only weapon capable of shooting through the arrow slits, but Tacitus was going to capture all of the bandits alive without a fight anyway. He was going to use fire and men to block each exit from the court yard, then when the bandits were trapped, compel them to surrender. In the unlikely event that the bandits would balk, Crosby would shoot their legs out from under them from any of the 6 arrow slits, Jake would pin their shields with his javelins, Marvin would stun them with sling bullets, shooting over the fires, and more fires would be started around the bandits in the court yard. Battered, singed, pierced, coughing, and trapped, the bandits would then surely beg to surrender.

This was to be installed in two ambushes. The first ambush was to chase the bandits into the court yard and then set the draw bridge afire. The second ambush was to set the stairs afire and block the doors. Then Tacitus was to demand their surrender. Being simple bandits, unprepared to fight fire with fire, and not knowing our numbers, the bandits would simply surrender, assured Tacitus.

Marvin said he thought the plan would work very well and that he thought the bandits would surrender right away, if he himself compelled them to surrender. Tacitus had seen Marvin the Magic-mouth's mouth at work during wilderness encounters, so he agreed to let Marvin have the first crack at compelling the bandits to surrender.

Marvin secretly planned to use his color spray spell, camouflaged by the brightness and the height of the fires to stun all of the bandits, before compelling their surrender, while hopefully not getting burned himself in the town square as a witch.

The best laid plans of mice and men, warned the GM. Insolent fools, you'll soon see how my monsters are not quite so gullible. Then I realized, I'm trapped by the constraints of the scenario. My hands were tied. Or were they.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Sun Dec 18, 2016 1:00 am

War Band Tacitus hiked down the road in the direction of Hommlet to choose the location for the first ambush. They got a couple of critical perception rolls along the way, one of them 600 feet down the road from the moat house, which was where they had earlier formed up to march on the giant frogs. That one was a glimpse of an area of rocks, brambles, and briars well off the road, so hard to notice that it took a critical roll of the percentile dice against their perception skill to do. It had looked so promising for the cover to shoot at travelers on the road that Tacitus and Jake hiked up the knoll for a closer inspection. When they arrived at the rocky knoll, they found an archway in the side of it that arched over some bushes growing in front. They spread the bushes to look behind, but found deep darkness and heard long echos.

Tacitus and Jake returned to the road. "There seems to be an underground passage from the moat house that opens out here at this rocky knoll. We'll explore that later. Right now we'll keep clear of it."

With their other critical perception roll, they had found an island with bushes for cover at the front of it. It was 50-feet from the road. There was a partial causeway available to reach it, which they completed by pushing branches, rocks, and dirt between the several small islands chaining to the bigger one of interest.

Then Tacitus left a defender, two harassers, and a murderer there with a half dozen flasks of oil and torches and instructions what to say, when to shoot, when to return to the road to shoot some more, how far to stay behind the bandits, and when to set fire to the draw bridge. "Marvin will call the shots. We want to chase them to familiar cover, not impede them."

Tacitus, Crosby, and Saul returned to the moat house. I rolled a wandering monster encounter--3 bandit reinforcements for area 7. Tacitus called them out, "Halt! Who goes there?" "We are your reinforcements." "Your credentials look good. The pay is what we agreed." That'll be 1 gold piece per day of active duty and 1 bonus gold piece per fight." "Agreed. Fall in. We have a mark arriving soon. We are going on watch. I need your crossbows at the arrow slits. When I say shoot, shoot the legs."

Tacitus then seemed to have had 10 men in his war band. I let Tacitus' player play his three new recruits--a reward for such quick thinking. They were 0-level brigands with crossbows, sidearms, and leather armor that fought as underlings.

Then Tacitus heard some running nearby. "Ready pots and torches."

Just seconds before Tacitus had heard the sound of running nearby, Marvin had waited for the 9 bandits to come to the particular stretch of road just in front of their position. "Halt! Drop your money bags on the road, if you value your lives." "Is there no honor among thieves?" "Halt!" "Slow down. Aren't you our new recruits? Do you want to rob your employer?" "Yes, but we changed our minds now that we have seen how poorly armed, puny, and careless your band is."

The bandits couldn't see their enemies, only having heard them in the bog somewhere in the middle distance. So they did the only thing they could do. "Run!" Marvin's insight roll showed him they had success without needing to shoot at them. Therefore, Marvin ordered the detachment to light the rest of the torches and give chase." It wasn't dark yet, but they needed one torch to stay lit while running risked blowing them out, in order to ignite the oil that would soon be thrown over the rotten draw bridge.

When the bandits were across the rotten draw bridge and half way through the court yard, several things crashed to the ground and a wall of fire erupted in front of an opposing force at the stairs to bar their way. "Retreat!" As the bandits turned and ran toward the rotten draw bridge, it too erupted into a wall of fire in front of an opposing force.

Marvin's voice boomed through the echoey courtyard, "Halt! Drop your money bags on these stones if you value your lives." Quick thinking, then "Our money bags are light. It would profit you more to hire us." There was a well timed pause. "Lay down your weapons, and back away. We'll discuss your future."
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Chris » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:53 am

Neat
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:00 am

Marvin had failed his insight roll, so he had to test the situation further on. That's why he ordered the bandits to lay down their weapons and back away. Fortunately, the bandit leader made his insight roll, so ordered his men to lay down their weapons. Their reaction gave Marvin a new insight roll, wherein he succeeded as is usually the case for him. While the bandits were laying down their arms, Marvin cast calm and shield on himself in preparation for his next role that might work to seal the confidence of these newest of recruits in working loyally with Warband Tacitus.

Marvin floated over the firewall on the end of his own quarterstaff, but left it behind in Mike's hands as he lighted in the court yard on his toes and descended to his heels like a floaty angel. Marvin grew up in the theater so theatrics came honestly to him. One never knew what weirdness he would pull next out of his short honest-seeming sleeves.

Marvin continued almost floating 13 feet further in the direction of the bandit leader, before coming to rest almost aloft as if hanging in mid-air 7 feet in front of him. The bandits' weapons were behind Marvin. His fancy foot work floated him over the pile as if it didn't exist. Marvin seemed to have no armor or weapon on his person. "I come in peace as ambassador for Warband Tacitus to offer you our contract of employment."

"We are ready to hear your offer."

"When you accept our terms, you may expect 3 GP per day of active duty and a 3 GP bonus per conflict. Active duty begins today and we have a new mark not far from here on whom we are aggressing this very day. Therefore I am prepared to pay you 6 GP now in good faith. You will also be paid a third of any discovered treasure that Tacitus determines respect for the dead and their previous owners permits us to take.

"It is my guess our mark is rich from robbing mercantile caravans. I believe you are too poor to have been robbing the caravans, so I deduce it is they who do that. Tacitus has a deal with the mercantile alliance to let us keep the goods stolen previously from them as part of our reward for ending the shadow of darkness over the valley of free trade.

"What we do now, we do not as thieves, but as defenders of free trade. We may all become famous and respected in Hommlet and beyond. Are you in?" Marvin made his influence roll, because it was one grade easier after his successful insight roll."

"Let me consult with my men." There was some excited talking back and forth in the huddle. "We are in."

"Then let us dine on sauteed frog's legs and swamp tea for strength before we go to battle."

It seemed to me then as if the ranks of Warband Tacitus would continue to swell until they they overflowed the banks of my otherwise promising swamp. How could I have cauterized the hemorrhaging of my monsters into the Warband Tacitus disaster?

Marvin's player got to control the bandit leader who was a level-2 fighter, replete with luck points. 5 other players got to control 1 or 2 of the other bandits, which were level-0 warriors that fought as underlings. Later on, after the level-0 underlings got a significant share in discovered treasure, they began to fight as full RuneQuest 6 warrior NPC's with a combat style that limits them to the weapons carried when they were met.

In general, in this Classic Fantasy campaign, if a level-0 warrior NPC became an important NPC, then he would get the RuneQuest 6-style luck points, rather than the Classic Fantasy-style luck points. He could still get the Classic Fantasy-style luck points when he actually got well on track to take an oath for a class. I'm not actually sure whether this is the official way to give luck points to characters with RuneQuest 6 careers in Classic Fantasy, but I like the idea of using group luck points to suggest characters with careers can get luck points from the love in the community rather than as a bribe from a patron god.

In general, in this Classic Fantasy campaign, level-0 warrior means one of three things;

1. The character wants to be a fighter, but one of his prerequisite skills is below 50;

2. The character doesn't want to become a fighter, because he refuses to take the oath to the god of force; Or,

3. He is not ambitious or prefers not to fight.

Item 2 is my reinterpretation of the fighter for this campaign. The Classic Fantasy fighter isn't required to take an oath, but in this campaign, he is.

As far as rabble goes, they don't qualify in this campaign as warriors. Rabble don't want to be anywhere near a serious fight, though they may be coerced into one or hadn't recognized a fight as a serious fight. Instead, we often simplify battles between level-0 underlings with Ships and Shield Walls.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:25 am

The stench wafted high at night into the heavens, floating up where the croaks for mates and screeches for prey were diminished by the growing wisps of fog and the height. In the swamp, a single glow spot flickered far below, just two hours march from Hommlet.

"It stinks to high heavens around here. Though I couldn't smell it, that steak sure hit the spot. I feel like getting to work," said Saul slapping the flat of his greataxe into a great hand.

Harold's player criticaled a passion. "I'll smash'em," and he grinned like an idiot. "How dare they rob and kill innocent merchants."

"They're not that innocent. They are lovers of the Babylonian root of all kinds of evil," mused Mike the Mace as he dusted the image of a quenched dart on his shield of faith. And they're dirty like vagabonds, weeks on end without bathing.

Warband Tacitus was breaking camp at a remote wilderness fortress for a promise of honorable action and glorious treasure. This was no mean band, with it's 19 troopers in two squads of combined arms. "For what are you killing, Mike, if not for the treasure?"

"I'm not killing. I'm the defender of the faith. You're the murderer. And don't be getting any of their blood on my shield, Saul. That thing of yours is very messy." The corny dialog was an insult to the GM's table. How dared they. What were the players thinking. Maybe too much A-Team was echoing in their heads.

"Suck it up, Mike. Each pair has to have both bleed and stun. You two are working together. We're going underground. That means demi-humans. They don't go down by mere blows, but by fighting dirty. Real dirty. We're after pressure points, blood vessels, footing, and eyesight. Everyone has a pouch of sand on his belt. You know the drill.

Turning to the courtyard, "You're attention, please. This is Captain Tacitus speaking. In the likely event of aggression, Alpha squad will do the fighting and Beta squad will take the prisoners. Each man can guard 6 prisoners when you tie them like this." Jake mimed on Marvin as Tacitus instructed. Then, "If all goes well and we're lucky, we won't need to murder anyone--no not even a demi-human. That's all. Please enjoy your fight."

Harold made his passion(loves murder) roll. "What? Then you won't be needing my hammer. What you really need is a choir singing, 'La-la-la.'"

"Guess again. Your share of the treasure, greater treasures, and our operating budget hinges on ransoms and defectors. Any questions?" though Tacitus failed his influence roll.

"Why would one of their trolls defect to a party of human do-gooders?"

I filled in Mike's player on Mike's new passions, which he then checked. Mike made both his passion(cleanliness is next to godliness) and his passion(compare himself to others) rolls, "To keep my shield clean. And you're not that much of a do-gooder. But don't worry. I more than make up for your lack."

Beta Squad Leader made his insight and influence rolls, "You've heard Marvin's mouth, right? 'Nuff said," offered he rhetorically.

"Good point." Every one of them nodded in agreement.

The GM apparently failing his deceit roll blurted indignantly, "BS. My monsters are totally loyal to me. I'm not a push-over." They laughed at their GM. Laughed. The GM scratched his temple, beat his brow, wrinkled his nose, and squinched his lips, but don't believe the players about the facial contortions never having before graced GM visage, because such did not also find countenance. And, no--the GM denies letting Marvin cast calm on the GM. That would have been beyond push-over land and well into welcome mat territory.

Maybe the GM should have run a more advanced scenario for such experienced players. Well, you'll see how it went.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:45 pm

Previous to Tacitus's address to the courtyard, during mess at Camp Warband Tacitus, Tacitus the Tank only seemed idle. Really, he had been thinking over the revelations of the last hours. He had remembered suspecting further trouble from underground at an escape tunnel. A bit later, Marvin the Magic-Mouth deduced the real trouble for the merchants spawned in the dungeon. And Tacitus could hear the wisdom in Marvin's urgency to strike there while the iron was hot.

Tacitus had one other thing to ponder before making a plan. While there had been no doubt that Marvin had sealed the loyalty of Beta Squad to the warband, the extent of the new squad's talents had remained as yet unexplored. To remedy the dearth in part, Tacitus had listened to the men of Beta Squad as they ate and talked together, gaining new insight into how he may best employ it.

Thus having eliminated one of the main wildcards, at last Tacitus decided to treat Marvin's insight as if it were the actual case. He finished developing the strategy and tactics to aggress on a possible bandit lair directly below them. That's when Tacitus had addressed the courtyard about the fighting and the taking of prisoners.

"Alpha Squad form up in column on me. Beta Squad form up on Alpha Squad. We go to bring light to a dark place, fill our pockets with gold, and build a name for the songs sung of deeds. Column, march." That was pretty wordy for Tacitus. Was he alright? "Don't be jealous of Marvin, unless you want me to give you a new passion," the GM cackled. They were still only on the second bag of Cheetos and already a major battle loomed. It seemed then like no one could do anything to prevent the violence and ugliness of war. Tacitus shuddered. There must be a way. He kept hoping.

And they marched out through the moat room where the giant snake had been. It was out hunting, so they didn't have to harm it. Tacitus was greatly relieved. The leader of the warband had the passion(protect life). How ridiculous was that? The fallen wall, it turned out, made a decent ramp and ford to get back to the road.
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Re: Administrative Review of Elemental Classic Fantasy

Postby Jefferiot » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:37 pm

The moon was bright and the mist, heavy. The light of it was barely adequate to negotiate the uneven spaces in the open. A short distance on and the swamp growth was bearded with opaque shadows that hung all the way to the ground. Tacitus slowed the pace and picked a winding path away from the treebeards. The single-file column matched his steps for 6 minutes, before stopping.

Tacitus called a halt, then Tacitus started fiddling with things in his pouches. A few minutes later, a light source dangled near the ground from his hand, but the flame could not be seen from the sides or from above. It only illuminated a little spot on the ground ahead of his feet. Tacitus ordered each man one hand on the shoulder of the one in front. The order was passed down the column. Then he called for recommencement of forward march, setting a slow pace. The warband turned to the left off the road where no one could see anyone's feet, but only feel the crunch of failing frog skeletons. Tacitus figured out the way to go by stooping to look at the tracks his own boots had made during his prior visit. And each of the others could only follow the person in front of him by the grip of the former on the shoulder of the latter.

Not even the sound of the frogs jumping off the path into the water could give up their presence over the collective voices of bullfrog desire. An owl's hungry screech somewhere in the mist was hardly noticeable over the mating calls that did not relent at their passing. Crosby's player suggested, "The warband's attempt at stealth is very easy, of course."

The GM nodded. "Goes without saying. With mist, frogs, and swamp stench, so goes sight, sound, and smell. Your camouflage is automatic and perfect--against normal humans further than 7 feet away, but you shouldn't get your hopes up, guys. This is just a case of a one-eyed guide leading the blind into a bind," grinned the GM. "My monsters are quite safe. You know that, right?"

After a bit, Warband Tacitus stopped. "This is it. Granger." Tacitus addressed a crossbowman. "You're a scout, aren't you?" Tacitus already knew that he was from a dinner conversation. The GM had been letting Tacitus' player roll lore(strategy and tactics), capped by insight, based on eavesdropping over mess hall conversations. "There's a rocky knoll in the mist 15 feet ahead. That's the objective. It bears a gaping portal in its east side masked by bushes. Take care to know whether there is a sentinel and whether he saw you. Then report back."

"Aye-aye, Captain."

Granger laid his crossbow down, made what could have been a bolo out of three frogs and swamp grass, picked up some pebbles, and said, "I don't think he'll get away. Give me 20 minutes." Then Granger floated off into nothingness like a ghost.

"Poor frogs," gulped Tacitus, but he made his willpower vs passion(protect life) roll. He crossed himself and said a prayer for them not to feel a thing.

"Who was that guy?" asked Saul.

"You know. He's one of the first set of the 3 new crossbowman recruits."

"It's like he's done this before." noted Harold.

"Yes, but not here," replied Tacitus. The story Tacitus had heard at mess was one of Granger and his childhood friends playing hide and seek in an old Gnomish copper mine. It had waxed dread in its latter days, even before their games. If true, the story was evidence of a commando level of patience and nerve--you know--so that he didn't fear death, but rather Death feared him? Tacitus believed the story only because Tacitus made his skill rolls. No one could make out much of his retelling over the roar of the swamp, though.

"I'd love to be a bat on the ceiling in there right now," commented Crosby curiously.

After 20 minutes of local time, Granger returned. "The passage was clear until it ended at 2 doors. There were no sentinels." Granger picked up his crossbow again. "At the crack under the door to the right, we heard breathing and we smelled humans and horses. Under the door straight ahead, we smelled rodents, a river crustacean, creepy dungeon flora, demi-humans, and dungeon fauna.

"What! Are you serious?" Tacitus requested to roll his insight. Even Tacitus didn't know Granger could do all that.

The GM rolled it. "You missed," replied the GM. "You have no idea whether he made it all up."

"Absolutely, sir," replied Granger.

"What did you mean by 'we?'"

"I asked my little burrowing friends and got shrew'd answers."

"Who? The frogs?"

"They helped too," smiled Granger.

"I'm giving you a raise," promised Tacitus.

"Thank you, sir, but I can't accept a raise unless you give all three of us the raise. We're friends. 10% of the treasure."

"Done."

Warband Tacitus marched in column between the bushes and into the underground escape tunnel, where "You all detect a sloping passage and most of you are facing toward its downward direction," came an unseen voice, perhaps from behind the judge's shield at yonder end of table.

"'This is it, men. We're here to do this thing,' I tell them, and I roll my oratory to boost their morale through stirring speech," claimed Tacitus' player hopefully.

"That's all of your premise to stir up your men's morale? Weak, but go ahead and roll."

"They can't hear much over the frogs anyway. (rolls) I made it. My warband's morale will be 1 grade easier for 5 battle rounds."

Stirring speech and battle rounds are rules from Mythic Britain or Ships and Shield Walls. Tacitus' player was making a presumptuous bid to the GM to allow his warband to meet any enemy appearing along the way under the mass battle rules. He was hoping that if he had met the enemy within 1 minute and 15 seconds of his stirring speech, then his warband would have made the morale check roll at one grade easier during the encounter.

The warband's base morale would have been the average of their willpowers--42--but with an easier grade target under which to roll of 63. The GM supposed Tacitus' player was trying to give the warband a cohesive group morale in case their larger numbers triggered a fear trap that the lone scout hadn't. Any morale check would have been an all or nothing affair, but with an easier grade than individual willpower checks.

"Granger, scout ahead as we go." Off he went.

"Sh-sh. Hold in your hands anything that would jostle as you walk. We are trying to be wary quiet. If your leather trews squeak, walk stiff legged like teetering bowling pins, unless you know what penguins are. Help each other move quietly. Pass it down."

"What did Tacitus just say? Bowling pins? Penguins? Elmer Fudd? Oh please. Medieval Europe didn't know what those are, so you don't either."

He ordered Jake to call a march and pace it slow. Tacitus stood by listening as the column passed him. He helped anyone that was having trouble being wary quiet. The worst stealth at very easy was augmented by the commander's own and applied to the entire unit. They failed the roll anyway. Even so, Tacitus refrained from ordering a scuttling shield wall. Instead he relied on the scout.

I know sometimes the players fell short, but we tried to think of ourselves as playing a politically correct game here, meaning we tried to pretend to be somewhat blind to race and stuff. Maybe even nearsighted about gender as well. Or maybe we failed completely. We're not sure. Anyway, the gentle reader may need to know one teeny tiny point about race at this stage. I'll try to be as tactful as I can. You see. How do I say this? Uhm. Well, you see. Granger is a--a Gnome. You know? With infravision and stuff? I don't mean anything negative by that. I think Gnomes are great. So, I hope you understand. Whew. Moving right along!

"Are we dungeon delving yet?" asked Marvin's player.

"I do believe we are," answered Jake's player.

"Are we there yet," asked a short guy rubbing sleepy eyes. "I have to go again." So, the GM pulled over and let everyone out on a soft margin of Route 666 for a recess. But, isn't that the Devil's Highway? Oops. Let's try to take the recess in a shield wall formation, shall we? (sic http://weirdus.com/states/utah/stories/ ... /index.php)

Less than two bags of Cheetos were harmed in the making of this session. Now I know the technically minded reader is fond of technical specifications, so for him I've prepared the same information as a statistic: RuneQuest 6 running on Classic Fantasy with a dose of Ships and Shield Walls per tank gave us an entertainment economy of 0.87 bags of Cheetos per hour. And that's not bad for an RPG. Your mileage may vary, but our next couple of sessions have already been played out and the GM can attest that the economy of play stayed under 0.91 during those too. Therefore, let the inquisitive reader have my unreserved recommendation for this setup available exclusively from The Design Mechanism.

Shall I post another session? Surely someone wanted to get to the first major battle.
Who to be or not to be. That is the question. --Jeffspeare
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Jefferiot
 
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