Monday, 24 September 2012

Wizard Needs Food Badly

Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventure 5, Dargon's Dungeon, appears to have a more convoluted history than most. I have the second edition, 'from an original dungeon by Bill Hart', rewritten and edited by no less than four people. The introduction goes on about how the 17th-level wizard Dargon has recently finished a radical redesign of the dungeon he created for his amusement, which may be the rewriters/editors' way of saying 'we changed a lot from the original version'. Never having seen the first edition, I can't be sure.

My own history with the book is a good deal more straightforward. No Corgi release, so it was just a name on a list until I found a copy of it along with Labyrinth in Archeron Books, and bought both at the same time. Similarly, the copy I now have was part of the same eBay job lot as my replacement Labyrinth. The adventure didn't make much of an impression, beyond a rather nasty pun-based threat (the title of the adventure hints at a love of wordplay, being a riff on the name of a certain fantasy RPG) and a character who overreacts to any romantic proposition by transforming the offending character into an insect, stomping on it, and erasing everybody's memories of the deceased. Reminded me of one student's reaction when I asked her out back in the early Nineties, though she lacked the ability to obliterate me quite so comprehensively, and had to make do with just acting as if I didn't exist from then on.

The adventure features a couple of innovations. At least, it's the first one in numerical order to feature them, but I have no way of knowing whether or not they were introduced in later adventures and retroactively inserted as part of the rewrite. Regardless, I've not played any adventures with a Magic Matrix for this blog before now. The Magic Matrix greatly simplifies the use of Wizard characters in solo adventures. Instead of giving a few 'use magic' choices in any section where it might be appropriate, there's a big grid at the back of the book that indicates the outcome of any spellcasting in every section where it's permissible. One page to handle what would have required hundreds of sections or massively limited the available options.

The other new thing is the opportunity to use multiple characters. I can create a party of up to three to send into the dungeon, and as I still have no experienced veterans, I think a trio of first-timers has slightly more chance of surviving than a lone newbie. And here they are:
Hadri (Dwarf Warrior) - Str 22 Int 7 Lk 5 Con 24 Dex 9 Cha 6 Spd 13. (As a human, he'd have been pretty dismal, but the increased Strength and Constitution a Dwarf gets help compensate for the poor Luck and so-so Dexterity.)
Kras (Human Rogue) - Str 8 Int 13 Lk 13 Con 7 Dex 15 Cha 12 Spd 12. (Rogues fight better than Wizards, but can use magic. These stats weren't ideal for any character type, but I've not yet tried a Rogue, and out of the three, this was the character best suited to that rôle.)
Saba (Human Sorceress) - Str 10 Int 15 Lk 10 Con 10 Dex 14 Cha 8 Spd 9. (Why should all my characters be male? She's better suited to magic than Kras, having a higher Intelligence and more Strength with which to cast spells.)

At some point before climbing to the Dungeon entrance, Saba converts a stick into a Magic Staff, and tests it out by teaching Kras the basic T&T blasting spell, 'Take That, You Fiend'. It is customary to charge for this service, but the rules don't specify a cost for Level 1 spells, and starting characters don't have that much cash anyway, so she keeps the fee low: an ally who can help atomise an Orc or two is liable to be worth more than money anyway.

Once they're as kitted out as they can afford, they make the ascent, and beyond the entrance, they are welcomed 'to the Four Gauntlets of Chromatic Doom'. A glowing black sphere teleports them into a circular room with a disorientating pattern painted on the floor, and four exits, each a different colour. I probably went looking for Shakin' Stevens jokes behind the green door on my first attempt. This time I'll try the blood-red one and keep an eye out for von Beks.

An armour-wearing centaur with a loaded bow stands in front of a cabinet. He says we can pass through, but if we don't leave, he'll have to kill us. I get the impression that there may be something important in the cabinet. Kras is best at dodging, so he raises his shield and steps forward. The centaur randomly picks a victim, and the dice say he aims at the Dwarf (so he's a show-off, going for the smallest target). He misses (and, judging by the damage he can do, the arrow must go straight through the door. Or the wall!), so we now have the initiative.

That's not an arrow.           That's an arrow!
Annoyingly, the options don't include mixing melee and missile combat, so it's not possible for Kras and Saba to blast him while Hadri gets in a blow with his axe. Two TTYFs will only take off half the centaur's health, leaving him free to fire a second arrow, but without knowing what he's like in close combat, I can't judge how much better or worse hitting him with sharp objects will be. But I do know that my magic-users only have the Strength for one shot each (though Saba will recover much more quickly), so I'll just have to hope that the centaur's less of a threat up close.

He's able to reload and fire again as we close with him, and Hadri's high Speed makes him the target again. This time the centaur doesn't miss, and my Dwarf becomes a shish kebab. The centaur then draws a Kris knife. They dispel magic, so it's a good thing I didn't try blasting him (unless the dagger only takes effect when unsheathed). But this looks set to be a woefully one-sided battle. Yep, he guts both my remaining characters in the first round.

I seriously need somebody to survive one of these adventures. The problem is that they're designed to be challenging to a more experienced hero, and all too often, that means making them that bit too tough for a starting character. Bit of a vicious circle, that.

No comments:

Post a Comment