My son has completed a fairly ambitious hex map for a ten year old. I thought it was a continent scaled map at first, but he tells me it is the same scale as the Isle of Dread, so these must be six mile hexes. He is really excited create adventures for it now, but he’s sort of at a loss for how to go about it. Lately he’s been drawing aliens and figuring out their attributes according to the rules of the last rpg he played: Heroes & Other Worlds. He does not have a lot of ideas for names or regions or locations– “Momo” is pretty much the only term he’s coined. He think’s it’s the coolest idea ever– he’s always begging to work on “Momo Island.” He really wants to play in this setting and I need an adventure that fits all of his ideas while he’s still into this…!
Here are the basic parameters that I’ve slowly picked from his brain:
- The players are on an expedition to the Isle of Dread, but they’ve blown off course and have shipwrecked on this strange island.
- It is populated by the Momos. They are a superdense beings with extraordinary strength and endurance, but they cannot sail or fly. (This is key to the adventure plot.)
- Goblins equipped with high tech weaponry (supplied by evil elves) are raiding the island. The Momos will repair the players’ ship and resupply them for their voyage if they agree to deal with the goblins.
Talking his setting over with him, I am surprised that he has pretty well come up with a mashup of the basic plot of G1-3 Against the Giants with either S3 or Gamma World. I have no idea where he would get this stuff– he’s not exactly a scholar of old school gaming lore. He has no idea that he’s just dropped a campaign into the Mystara setting….
I’ve worked up a set of characters for him in order to help him get things off the ground. Of course, I have not developed “pregens” for an adventure scenario since Origins 2011. It really broke me on that one point. Fortunately, it takes less than a quarter of the time to create them with this ruleset. Here they are:
Wizard — ST 9, IQ 14, DX 9, EN 10, Light, Webbing, Fireball, Summon Gargoyle, Dispel Magic. Wizards staff (1d6+2), Dagger (1d6+3), ink & quill, soft leather boots, travelling clothes, 45 gold. Encumbrance: 1.5.
Dwarf — ST 10, IQ 10, DX 11, EN 11, Ax/Club/Mace, Craftsman (smith), Recognize Value, Pick Lock/Trap, Literacy: Dwarvish. Axe (1d6+4), canvas backpack, pick, 12 iron spikes, 50′ hemp rope, small hammer, 3 gold. Encumbrance 6.5.
Ballbearian — ST 14, IQ 9, DX 10, EN 9, Ax/Club/Mace, Climbing, Track, Hunting/Trapping, Stealth. War axe (2d6+2), 2 daggers (1d6+3), waterskin. Encumbrance 4.5.
Giant — ST 18, IQ 8, DX 8, EN 8, Pole arms, Ax/Club/Mace, Shield, Throw, Unarmed Combat. Battle Axe (3d6+3), spear (1d6+5). Encumbrance 3.
Guinea Pig — ST 8, IQ 13, DX 13, EN 8, Flight, Alertness, Detect Hidden/Hide, Thief. Dagger (1d6+3), 9 candles, flint & steel, waterskin, leather backpack, hatchet, small hammer, 95 gold.
Here are a few notes on the system that will impact the overall flavor of play:
- Armor is expensive! Oddly enough, though, it does not add to encumbrance. The devastating DX penalties are evidently enough of a problem I guess…? (I’m more used GURPS, of course, armor will cost you move… but it doesn’t impact your combat skill. This “change” makes me have to roll on system shock tables it’s so funky.)
- New skills cost a mere 100 experience points, but you can only get a number of skills and spells equal to your IQ. This can actually end up mattering, though it’s going to be more of a problem for wizards. (They pay 200 XP for new spells, but referees may require additional expenditures and/or adventuring on top of that.)
- You can raise existing skills buy paying the new level times 100. I can’t see people buying “real” armor until they get at least up to skill level three or so. Fresh characters are mostly going to be looking to score some bucklers somehow– unless they have stupidly high DX.
- Wizard characters can actually learn and cast spells that are rated as being higher than their IQ. The main penalty is that it may take them longer to cast than usual– they have to roll four dice less than or equal to their IQ instead of the usual three dice. This is a nice twist that gives a bit of nuance.
- Having to roll for availability for the equipment is a nice touch. It adds back some of the charm of random character generation without losing the benefits of the point buy system. It also has use beyond the character generation sequence because it will save me from having to figure which towns have what for sale.
- The strength requirement of 1 for daggers seems off. If you’re using the optional damage bonuses for higher strength, then weaker characters will use daggers instead of the biggest weapon they can carry. (Daggers are automatically at +3 damage for all characters.)
- I like how the thief class disappears in this system and how the its skill set gets parceled out to a more colorful range of character types.
- Oh, my son picked out the equipment for the guinea pig character. Looks like he picked all of his favorite things for his alter ego! He carefully made sure everything fit in the backpack.
Okay, plenty to think about for a game here. I’ll pin down just a few key factors to focus on as I craft an adventure out of all of this:
- The goblins are overconfident… but they have low morale. They’re also not above pulling a nasty trick!
- They will have superscience weapons as the primary loot… but these will of course be used against the player characters.
- Lack of ammunition and/or charges will put a cap on how long the new toys imbalance the campaign. It’s probably a good idea to at least threaten the players with something that will require them to use up these resources. (“Don’t open the mutagen canisters– you’ll regret it!”)
- There really needs to be something in the game to teach the essential lesson of when to run away.
- Going straight in might work… but there needs to be hints about the need for planning and so forth.
- There needs to be an optional puzzle that has nothing to do with the primary objective… and there also needs to be a puzzle that would provide a major shortcut to dealing with the primary objective. But the adventure still needs to be more or less workable without these two things.
These are so many constraints that the adventure practically writes itself. There’s only just so many ways to implement these points that could be reasonably communicated in an actual game session.