Monday, 29 October 2012

Any Port in a Storm

These days there's more than one company producing Tunnels & Trolls material. In most instances, this is quite legitimate (though anything from Outlaw Press should be avoided - there's a pretty thorough explanation why here), and I have a small selection of solo adventures from some of the non-Flying Buffalo publishers. These include the Halloween-themed Dark Harbour, written by Andy Holmes and produced by TavernMaster games, which I acquired from Mr. Holmes himself on eBay some years ago. It's a limited edition, on orange paper, signed and authenticated by the author.

The first time I played it, my character was killed by a half-man, half-fish monstrosity. Given my track record, I don't expect to do much better this time round, but let's have a look at the character who'll be facing the adventure's horrors. The dice make him ugly-but-otherwise-average, and as that's not likely to suffice, I make him a Dwarf, and suddenly he's more impressive (but even worse-looking).
Strength: 24
Intelligence: 11
Luck: 12
Constitution: 22
Dexterity: 10
Charisma: 5
Speed: 14
He can afford a warhammer, a helmet and a shield, which should enable him to contend with the piscine anthropmorph that ended my first try at the adventure.

Fleeing some sort of trouble with the Guild of Thieves in an unspecified city, I make a heroic leap from the harbour onto a departing ship, and learn that my meagre funds will only cover transport to its next port of call, the obscure hamlet of Horosk, arriving just in time for All Hallows' Eve. I turn out to be the only person disembarking there, and the ship makes a very prompt departure once I'm ashore. It's a stormy night, and the clock strikes midnight as I hurry towards the only building with a light in it.

One of the quirks of this adventure is the Trick or Treat table, on which it is periodically necessary to roll. Odd numbers have harmful outcomes, even numbers beneficial ones. I've just reached the first such roll, and got the not particularly helpful 'double the amount of gold you are carrying'. If I'm to take the intro literally, I spent the last of my money getting here, and twice nothing is nothing.

The building turns out to be the Harbour Master's quarters, and all the signs indicate that it's been abandoned for some time. A quick search turns up nothing of interest, so I head for the rear door. Behind it, a flight of stairs leads up. I ascend, and find the Harbour Master. Probably, though I will have difficulties confirming the man's profession, as his corpse is being devoured by a Ghoul. The Ghoul wants a bit of variety in its diet, and attacks me. One smack with the hammer is enough to transform the Ghoul into a smear on the wall.

The dead body may be that of another adventurer actually, judging by the loot lying around. His broadsword isn't as good a weapon as my hammer, but it's good to have a back-up, so I take it. The quirky iron key (shaped like a pumpkin - presumably just at the non-business end) is liable to come in handy somewhere. I shan't try the bottles of unidentified liquid just yet. Torches, twine and chalk are all handy adventuring tools.

Another door leads onwards. I have to roll on the Trick or Treat table again, and am guaranteed success at my next two rolls against attributes. Beyond the door is a Troll, who apologises for having turned up in the wrong solo and opens a trapdoor for me before exiting, possibly via the hole that just appeared in the fourth wall. I may, if I wish, follow him as he departs the adventure, thereby surviving and gaining a small experience bonus, but that would make for an unsatisfactory conclusion to this playthrough, so I risk investigating the trapdoor.

A ladder leads down a slimy shaft to a dark tunnel. This is where a former character met a fishy end, but encountering his killer is a consequence of a failed Luck roll, and I cannot fail the roll this time, so my dead hero shall not be avenged today. At the far end of the tunnel is another shaft with a ladder, leading up to a trapdoor that's bolted on this side and inscribed with a symbol that prevents it from being magically opened from above. It looks to me as though someone wants to keep something trapped on the other side. And the only option available here is to open the trapdoor and go through.

I find myself on the ground floor of the lighthouse. The trapdoor closes and will not open again. Might as well keep going up, I guess. No, that was a bad choice, as I am attacked by the seaweed-draped ghost of the Lighthouse Keeper. The fight is more drawn-out than most, but the outcome was never really in any doubt, with him scoring (on average) 15-16 higher than I did every round. The mysteries of Horosk remain largely unexplained, and my success rate at T&T hasn't got any better.

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