Monday, 20 August 2012

Got a Problem? Odds Against You?

I don't have much to say, nostalgia-wise, regarding the second T&T solo, Ken St. Andre's Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon. It was released by Corgi (minus the last word of the title, perhaps to avoid confusion with FF's Deathtrap Dungeon) in the same book as Naked Doom, so obviously the story of how I originally got ND covers my first experience of DE. Similarly, the job lot of Flying Buffalo editions that contained my second copy of ND also had a second edition DED in it. About the only thing I can add is that, during my diceless attempt at the Corgi edition on the train, I must have encountered one of the character deaths, because I remember being puzzled at the claim that Ken St. Andre was laughing at me. The in-world owner of the dungeon was called Umslopagaas, and the Corgi books didn't put authors' names on the covers, so I hadn't yet discovered that Mr. St. Andre was the writer of the thing.

Now I come to think about it, I do recall GMing the adventure for a few members of my school's RPG group. Only one incident sticks in the memory: one of the players' character encountered a benevolent deity, and decided to hit it on the head with a stick. Exit that character, char-broiled. T&T's gods are not big on forgiveness.

And enter my new character. This is the first T&T solo to allow wizards so, stats permitting, that's what he will be.
Strength: 8 (not good, as Strength is what fuels spells)
Intelligence: 11 (just above the minimum necessary for a magic-using character)
Luck: 11
Constitution: 6 (potentially not such a bad thing at one point in this adventure)
Dexterity: 12 (significantly above the minimum necessary for a magic-using character)
Charisma: 14 (could help lead into a tangent on Corgi editorial policy)
Speed: 8
And enough money for a Quarterstaff (which I convert into a makeshift Magic Staff), some rope, and stuff to wear.

DED is not so much a dungeon as a series of micro-dungeons, which can be entered by putting on a magic ring. A Frog Ring will take its wearer to a randomly determined micro-dungeon, whereas a Lion Ring takes its wearer through all 16 micro-dungeons in sequence. The Lion Ring experience is for epic heroes, and my rolls were decidedly sub-epic, so I'll be using a Frog Ring as many times as the text permits, or until too dead to continue.

On goes the ring, and... I'm transported into the presence of Haksum the robber, a charmless thug with a double-headed axe where normal people have a left hand. He wants my money. Since I only have a single gold piece left, and my chances of defeating him in combat are negligible, I think I'm going to have to pay up. Even if Haksum's lying about magic not working in this room, the way T&T combat works pretty much guarantees my not making it through the first round. I'd be able to blast Haksum, but unless he's almost as low on Constitution as I, that's not going to be enough to kill him, and in the mean time he'd be hitting me with his broadsword and axe. Not sure about what damage the sword can do, but the axe's stats are given up front, and there's a little over 50% chance of his being able to do lethal damage with just one blow from that. Better hand over the money. Oh, it's not just my money he wants, but everything except for the Frog Ring. Still preferable to having a third T&T character die in the very first encounter.

Except that, jealous of my good looks, Haksum decides to disfigure me. I fail the roll to dodge, and he cuts off my head to spite my face. Yes, it might not have been his intent to kill, but the damage inflicted is more than three times as much as my low Constitution can handle. Those ruminations on Corgi edits will have to wait until later.

I may wind up revisiting some of these T&T solos sooner than originally planned. Certain of the later ones require experienced characters, and if I don't get any survivors who meet the requirements of those adventures, I shall have to come back to the early ones until I get a hero who actually lives long enough to have a chance at the quests for the more advanced characters.

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