Friday, January 2, 2009

OD&D Solo Game with my wife - 4th and a half session

So when I left off the recap, Aeli (my wife) and the party had just walked in on a muttering man and well-armed hefty fighter. The robed man pointed to the group "Get them, slave" and turned towards the door behind him.

Aeli and the party formed a line, and the bearer/torch holder decided to hide outside the room. The fighter centered on Aeli and traded misses with her. Tironell (NPC) "recognized" that the man was a mage and started yelling about "get him!". Aeli sent one of the men-at-arms after him. He was injured severely for his attempt at running past the fighter, so Tironell pursued.

The fighter was dropped, but the mage had shut the door and was chanting on the other side. I decided that this was a perfect opportunity to test counterspelling (My wife was having fun with her combat, so I figured this would add in a little spice...) Tironell failed and was rewarded with a splitting headache for awhile. (This has prompted a slight rule change...)

The mage had done something to the door, making it impossible to open, so after looting the dead fighter of his treasure (chain mail armor, a very shiny sword and a bejeweled belt) the party decided to head back to the room of the statue puzzle to find another way towards the tower.

The party found a room with a deep/wide rushing river through the middle of it and decided to not try to get across. They headed down another corridor and found themselves facing a wandering monster party of 7 goblins. Ouch. A quick parley "Go away." "No." and Aeli decided to act aggressive. Well, the goblins felt the odds were with them so combat ensued. One of the goblins scored a 20 on Aeli and knocked her off her feet. Down a few HP, she got back up and killed it in return. Then Tironell used his sleep spell and dropped the remaining 6. (-- Note, I completely forgot to have the goblins do saves - my forgetfulness. Oops. Oh well, it made for a nice effect)

They crept past and spiked the door that they went through to prevent chase. (-- At this point, I 'suggested' through Tironell that perhaps they spike the door to prevent the goblins from following. I'm still worried about how much to suggest vs. let her learn the hard way, but she hasn't complained, so I get the sense she's OK with it. I put her in charge of where they go, when they fight, and more 'suggest' or just have the NPCs do something as examples.)

The party ended up back in the burnt spider room, and at this point, my wife voiced her frustrations with mapping, so we paused while I helped her with player mapping.

We picked back up with the party heading around the dungeon again back to the statue room to go in a different direction. The party twisted the statue and headed into a corridor, and that's when I got my first warning that the dice were not going to be kind - wandering monster - dead corpse eater (ghoul) - probably the one that got away from the first session.

Aeli saw a pair of shining eyes in the corridor darkness ahead and nobody wanted to go find out what it was. So she made an arrow torch and shot it down the hallway to see what it was. (-- I was so happy to see her think out of the box, I gave her an XP reward later for that.) Aeli severely wounded the ghoul with a shot to the head and the party mopped up.

So the door that the ghoul had been trying to open was locked. About 2 turns of kicking and bashing the door, it opened... except with all the noise, I was doing turn by turn wandering monster checks... and I rolled a 1. *sigh* 4 goblins - part of the party they'd run into earlier.

At this point, the dice became cruel. Aeli was injured down to 3 HP and backed off after a hireling told her to fall back. Two hirelings went down, one with a brutal wound to the head, the other with a wicked slash - he was barely alive. It was at this point I was starting to worry about a possible TPK. Tironell used a charge from his acid arrow wand and injured one of the goblins and the dice became more fair again. Two goblins fled after two died, and Aeli shot one of them as he did a pell-mell retreat.

So after that, the party decided to leave. Aeli was upset that Turchao (the man at arms that was barely alive) was down and that Torim (the green man at arms) was dead. They made their way out of the dungeon (I hand-waved the journey as she'd been going through this stretch 4 times now, and the dice were kind with no more wandering monsters) and to the Sea Goddess's temple.

Worlale, the high priest, grimly observed that Aeli was starting to constantly bring bodies on her visits. After learning that the ritual for attempting to bring Torim back to live was 700 gold, and that the healing of Turchao was 100 gold, Aeli offered to exchange the bejeweled belt that they had picked up from the fighter. At this point, Tironell pulled Aeli aside and objected. "It's just a hireling..." but Aeli was adamant about doing the right thing (which was interesting considering she'd left hirelings to rot in the dungeon earlier and had wanted to kill goblins in their sleep...). Tironell suggested that she talk to Worlale to find another way (-- Yes, obvious opening for another adventure hook) and indeed, Worlale needs someone to do some good for the poor of Westport.

It seems that the Lord of the Keep near Westport stores food supplies for the poor and less-fortunate for disasters and hard times. There is something keeping them from those stores and the Lord doesn't have enough men to take care of it. *cough* I know - lame hook - it worked! *cough* Aeli agreed to take up the job, and the priest agreed to heal her as part of the bargain, as long as it was immediately prior to her going to the Keep.

Aeli agreed and at this point, Tironell objected. He wants to be first to get into Zenopus's Tower, that's why he asked Aeli to go along. With the rival party sniffing around, he doesn't want to lose time "going on some other quest", especially since it seems they are close. Eyebrows were raised at that and the two are going to come back to that. We ended on that note, as the priest needs a few hours to attempt the rituals.

-- notes --

I was really pleased with these last two sessions. Things flowed well, combat was quickly adjudicated and although it was harsh, I didn't fudge anything. My wife had become extremely serious when the almost-TPK-combat went down and although it was going badly for her, I manned up and allowed the chips to fall where they may.

However, I saw an opportunity for RP'ing, so I made one of the hirelings at death's door, not quite dead yet - which led to the adventure hook for her to do something after Zenopus's Tower.

I may turn these guys from hirelings into NPCs, as she's developed a fondness for their quirks and characters. The only thing I probably did that saved her was to remind her that she was at low HP when she wanted to stay toe to toe with the death dealing goblins. Was that me being too soft? I don't know, but as you'll see, her low HP and the aftermath led to some interesting situations.

She's also reaching some sort of decision on Tironell as part of her story - he wants to continue going after the treasures of Zenopus's Tower, she wants to fulfill her part of the bargain. She might not finish the tower - or she might. Tironell will try to talk her into it, he's already said he would help her with her quest if she helps him first. We'll see.

My daughters are coming over tonight, so we might have a full house to play.


Viriatha said...

I think warning someone that an action they want to take could be lethal is not "soft" in any way. After all, as the books keep telling us, it's not a GM vs Player situation and it probably meant you didn't have to sleep on the couch that night :P

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@Virianta - it's funny you should say that, we were talking about what might have happened had she died.

Her 'back story' is actually open enough that she could easily (and I would permit it, given her story) bring another character into it with little trouble. She did admit there would be 'pouting' if she died, but I also think that there would be goblin-racial-cleansing if she had. My wife does not like to lose. We still don't play Othello.

I'm curious to see if she's as bloodthirsty now that she's had a smack to the face. We'll see. It's really neat to see her evolve as a player, even over these few games.

Viriatha said...

hahahah! that's terrific :) goblin-racial-cleansing is an excellent hobby lol

David Larkins said...

I'd say you're doing just fine with the NPCs suggesting things. One of the deficiencies of running a game with one player is the lack of a gestalt player mind, if you will, so it helps to get the PC's brain engaged if you drop hints that would normally be offered up by other players. And, in the end, you kept the decision in the player's hands, which is the real key here. My watchword of what I want to avoid when running single player games is "de-protaginization". As long as the player is the ultimate decision-maker, the NPCs can babble on all they like! :D

Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

I really enjoy these game recaps. The hireling whose paycheck and probable survival depends on their mistress not bleeding out on some dungeon floor, it's completely natural to have them suggest she step back when badly wounded. Even more so if believe it's their duty to "guard" her.

Also, it seems that Tironell's suggestions enhance a decision your wife has already made. You want to sneak past door/avoid encounter, ok lets spike it so nothing comes out.

btw what's the difference between NPC and hireling? Detail?

Michael S/Chgowiz said...

@sirlarkins - that's what I shoot for - when she asks "what should I do", the NPCs basically say "Dunno.. what do you want to do?"

@Norman - thanks! I much appreciate the thoughts, I think perhaps I'm too paranoid about railroading her. But just because I'm paranoid.. well, you know.

NPC is blue/yellow shirt, non-Kirk/Spock/McCoy. Hireling is red shirt.

I give Tironell, the NPC, more "time" because he has the hooks and he "drives" some of the action. The hirelings are hired guns.

Funny thing is that my wife is promoting a couple of them to non-red-shirt status by her caring for them.

That's how I differentiate.