BESM Dungeon

I tried running a solo game for Russell, using the new Big Eyes, Small Mouth: Dungeon pregenerated adventure. I’d been wanting to try BESM, just to see how the system worked, and this seemed like a good opportunity. As it turns out, BESM isn’t bad–I think a bit better in terms of chargen than actual play (the combat system in particular has the feature that equally good opponents will actually score a hit on eachother at most 25% of the time–which makes for pretty long combats without a lot of decision points); it’s close enough to my homebrew that in the future I’ll probably either swipe some of it for the homebrew (I like the point cost system for buying unique powers), or if I run any BESM tweak it with house rules from my homebrew (e.g. making degree of success matter in combat would fix the problem I mentioned).
That being said, though, the editing in Dungeon was horrible: bad enough that it nearly negates the usefulness of having the adventure written out for you. For instance, it provides templates to make it quick to create a character–but the templates have enough errors and omissions in them that you really have to recalculate them from scratch before using them. Similarly, the random encounter charts helpfully indicate the page numbers for the creatures encountered, but those pages turn out to be templates for creating monsters, not fully-stated monsters. The idea, I suppose, is that you can adjust the difficulty to match the party; in practice it means that you have to spend time building the monsters in advance or try to do it on the fly during the game. I did the latter, and accidentally made the first encounter too tough and it wiped out Russell’s party (timely intervention by an NPC that they had rescued saved them, but still…) Even the monster encounters that are fully worked have problems: one room (that Russell never got to) said it contained a necromancer and twelve zombies. A sentence later it said “Both zombies have swords.” Looking at the description of the necromancer to try and settle whether it’s twelve or two zombies shows that he doesn’t have enough points allocated for twelve unless they are flunkies who can’t attack (but that’s not how their stats look–they have fighting skills and are built on double the points of a flunky), but it’s not enough points for two servants (who can attack) who are a powerful as the zombie description, either. Argh.
The final verdict: BESM, pretty cool rules-light system, but needing some tweaks to make it scale and speed combat. BESM Dungeon: waste of time and effort.

From Russell

To answer Rachel, I guess the Sunday game was on hiatus for wedding-related reasons the last two weeks. I came back to visit Josh this weekend, and ran a second Hero-Cities adventure.

The group was Eldor, the slacker elf sorceror (Doug); Rolly, the indestructible dwarf wizard (Paul); Bronwyn the Dostoevsky priestess (Josh) [I think he means Tolstoy (War and Peace) — Josh]; and a new fighter who adopted the nom de guerre “Bob” (Mike). We had some important character insights this game. For example, Eldor’s bad French accent is the result of a contagious disease that Bronwyn caught during the course of the adventure, but which mutated into Spanish, probably in Rachel’s honor. Rolly speaks fluent pig Latin. Mike names all his character’s WEAPONS but not his character.

Plot summary: A recon mission sent to spy on the gnolls has gone missing in Yaga’s Forest (aka, a bad place to be after dark). Since Belaphon the naiad couldn’t locate them by scrying, their commander concluded that they were probably in one of the entrances to the Armory, which is magically protected against divination. Our quartet volunteered to be one of several groups, each sent to look at an entrance. In fact, in Bronwyn’s words:
“Ooh! Ooh! Since we’re the PC’s, we volunteer to go to the entrance where they ACTUALLY ARE!”.

Each group is given a supply of healing potions for the people they are saving, and a few other supplies, like a whispering wind scroll to summon help from the officer corps. They go together to a few miles of the Armory, then split up. A wild boar and a few healing potions later, they find that as usual Bronwyn is correct. A trail of blood and consumed healing potions leads them to the entrance to the tunnel. As they are about to reach the tunnel, they are ambushed by two gnoll trackers, but Rolly puts one to sleep and “Bob” and Bronwyn beat up the other.

They find the tunnel, which is marked with the sign of the Hikitami cult in mud fingerprints. Since one of the MIA’s was in that cult, they decide to use the scroll to report success. But it will take up to half an hour for an officer to reach them, so they go inside the tunnel. “Bob” (very luckily) finds a trip-wire, and the group avoids it. A few hundred yards later, he finds a pit-trap, but not so luckily, he finds it by falling inside. A few healing potions later, the group is on the other side,and has reset the trap just in time to hear “Snap! Aaarggh!!!” from back down the corridor. Another group of gnolls has entered the tunnels, and got caught in the arrow trap the PC’s avoided.

Two gnolls appear in view down the corridor. They rush towards the party, just in time for Eldor to summon magical grease, on which they slide right into the pit trap, landing on their heads. But it’s not over. The boss gnoll is behind the cannon-fodder. “Bob” valiantly if not too cleverly jumps over the pit, sliding on the grease [Actually Eldor cancelled the spell — Josh] towards the boss. He takes on the boss in single combat, but gets some magic missile support from the magicians. The boss decides to flee, but is shot full of arrows by Eldor and Bronwyn as he turns to leave.

A few healing potions and a net trap later, they find the missing party. They use up the last of their healing magic getting that group conscious — Rapsel the Hikitami cultist was the only one functional. She had found, disabled and then reset the tunnel traps to ward off the gnolls that had been following their group. The druid officer Lilamir arrived, in the form of an owl, and escorted them back to the rendezvous, where they were congratulated and rewarded for their success.

Guest GM report

I was guest GM at both last Friday and Sunday’s games. Both games are set
in my fantasy world where adventuring types are organized into hero-cults,
dedicated to deeds worthy of the founding hero (and drawing power from the
said hero). The Friday group consists of Bell the very good-looking paladin (Josh),
Erabod the elven wizard and cook (Mike), Duramir the dwarven warrior (Walter),
Ostiel the uninhibited ranger who speaks many animal languages (Mac), and
Haha al-Ish, a part-Jannii priestess of Rai-Nocturne (sun god, night goddess) (Beth).
They were looking for a worg that was spying on Rurik the Smith and his forge,
but never found it. I blame the drive down. After Philadelphia traffic, I must have
been subconsciously avoiding further confrontations.. I didn’t even know how to
react when Erabod asked an elderly hobbit druidess if he could look at her melons.
Was this an innuendo or did he have a devious plan to lure the worg
with canteloupe?

Anyway, i was about to burn my GM screen when I ran the Sunday game. This
was a blast, even if I didn’t get most of the in-jokes. The group was
Bronwyn, the priestess of Belic-Serene (war and peace, with a heavy
emphasis on WAR) (Josh), Soren of Molosh, a mighty and clever warrior
woman (Wendy), Eldor, an adolescent (very adolescent) elven sorceror
(Doug), and Rally the indestructible dwarven wizard (Paul).

The group encountered ghouls who had followed a path cut through
what is normally a defensive hedge on the border of the Haunted
Lands. After dispatching them, they followed the same path that
the ghouls had been following. They found a group of
merchants who had been robbed by bandits, then attacked
by ghouls, and was currently in sorry state. After bringing
them to safety, and a night of carousing, they hurried on their
way to their original destination, the town of Lillibridge.

In Lillibridge, they were suprised to meet the very same merchant
that they had rescued! The “merchant” acted in a suspicious
manner, and they eventually realized that he was actually a
disguised bandit, who had come to town to fence the stolen
merchandise. After failing to lure the group to his room, the
bandit snuck up behind Rally as he was interogating the bandit’s
assitant Corwin in the stable. The bandit hit Rally by suprise,
(twice!), but didn’t dent his thick skull. Once Eldor and Soren
ran to his aid, they quickly captured the bandit, just as
Bronwyn ran up with a group of guards to capture his accomplice.