Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Violence Isn’t the Answer to This One

Renowned archeologist Elwood Rozencrantz has recently blown through town. It caused quite a stir, actually. He was clearly in a hurry… and surely on the trail of a truly stupendous find. If there had been any first rate adventurers in Drabbingville, they would have surely tried to tag along.

You would have done it if you hadn’t been shepherding goats to Spiffington for the big market day. At least… you’ve been boasting about what you’d have done…. Word of that must have gotten around, for now old Squiggy has a once in a lifetime deal for you: Rozencrantz’s treasure map! He admits that he borrowed it from him for a while and replaced it with slightly modified replica. For a mere fifty gold pieces, you can have the real thing– with a solid chance of getting to the loot before the professor!

It’s almost too good to be true….

Have your player(s) roll up a fresh character and get going!

The map marks a path about three days travel into uninhabited regions. It isn’t that dangerous, really… but keeping up with supplies will actually matter. Go ahead and keep track of rations and time as such things will be relevant later. (Assume the player will arrive at the site at noon or so if the maps and plans don’t indicate anything different.) People seem pretty tight lipped about all of this, but a retired adventurer that only has one arm will warn you not to get caught in the map’s location at night if you buy him enough drinks.

Squiggy is a notorious sharper that makes a small fortune swindling the naive and the foolish. He goes out of his way to take advantage of adventurers from out of town. If one character fails to come back within a week or so, he’ll more than likely sell another copy to the next rube. (Hint: the player rolls up a new character and try again.)

While the journey to the map’s location will be relatively uneventful, finding a safe place to be during the nighttime will not. As night falls, the player will hear a horrible rooster-like sound in the distance that will seem to get closer and closer. Before long, the dreaded Night Chicken will arrive. This a giant rooster– about three feet tall– that will knock down man-sized creatures and slurp out their intestines. It is completely unstoppable and impervious to harm: if you hear the crowing, it is pretty much game over.

A person who is foolish enough to follow this map has only one hope: getting inside whatever site it was that Rozencrantz was looking for. Unfortunately, his body is not at the location marked on the map the player got from Squiggy’s. It does lead to a large rock of unusual black material that juts out of the grown at an odd angle. (It’s in a small meadow and would be almost impossible to find without the map!)

The player’s best bet is to find Rozencrantz’s… and hopefully some sort of clues on him. If the player finds the disemboweled body, he will find a large key inside a pouch. A close examination will reveal a screw on the opposite end. A second piece that is tied around his neck will attach to the end. The key will only work if the two pieces are put together.

Meanwhile, back at the Black Rock, no key hole of any sort is evident. This is because it has been buried a couple of feet down. (The player did bring a shovel, didn’t he? Rozencrantz only used his to bash at the giant rooster. It’s about thirty yards away from his body.) Inserting the correctly assembled key into the door will reveal a passage inside… and a staircase going down. A player that pulls the door to behind him will be safe from the Night Chicken… but he’ll also be in the dark.

But that’s only the beginning….

TODO: I need a list of different areas that Rozencrantz’s body could conceivably be at– a subsector sized hex map, maybe?

TODO: Squiggy is always up to something. I need d12 table covering how his in-town shenanigans can lead player-characters astray.

TODO: I need a d12 table to cover the supplies that are scattered about in the area around the professor’s body. Most of these are going to be weird or useless or both.

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3 responses to “Violence Isn’t the Answer to This One

  1. Jason Packer October 24, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Party foul! (fowl?) You replaced combat with… unwinnable combat!
    And it’s just cruel to charge 50 gp for that map. I mean, what sort of goatherd has that kind of liquid capital hanging around?

    More seriously, though – how do you handle things that aren’t in the rules now? You ask the player “what do you do?” and they come up with an idea that you think merits some sort of random result rather than just you saying whether or not it works – what’s your go-to mechanism?

    • jeffro October 24, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Well, the B/x skill system is described here. For most other things, you can generally just say, “it worked!” If the player proposes something chintzy, you might require one of those optional attribute checks. If you have no idea how an NPC respond to something, you have the reaction chart. But mainly you need to imagine wants going on and just go with what makes sense. If you want to encourage imaginative play… you need to say, “yes– it worked” or maybe “yes, but…” or “yes, if…” instead of rolling dice or flipping through the rule book.

      • Jason Packer October 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

        I know this is going to sound facetious, but I’m honestly trying to figure out if there is any common ground to work from on this discussion, or if we’re just seeing things in utterly different ways… but if the apotheosis if good gaming is to not need the rules, why do you use rules?

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