Monday, 17 December 2012

Enough Rope

With winter well under way in this hemisphere, it seems appropriate to go for another of Tavern Master Games' Tunnels & Trolls mini solos: A.R. Holmes' The Ice Cavern of Isahil. This was one of several adventures I got from Mr. Holmes himself on eBay several years ago, and I've never actually attempted it before now (that's the problem with bulk buying - too easy to get distracted by just one item in the lot).

Magic cannot be used in the adventure, so I'd be best off just generating a Warrior. The problem with randomised character generation is that you can't always get what you want. Still, I'm not quite so badly off if I decide to be a Dwarf. Figures in brackets are what the relevant stats would be if I'd stayed human.
Strength 16 (8)
Intelligence 10
Luck 14
Constitution 8 (4)
Dexterity 9
Charisma 11 (16)
Speed 12
Even with the improvement, that's not good adventurer material.

So there's this deep, ice-lined crevasse in the mountains. Something blue glows at the bottom of it. Most people believe it to be dangerous, but I think there's treasure down there. Unusually for T&T, some of my equipment is specified, and it's not clear whether I just have this stuff, or if everything listed is a compulsory purchase when equipping my character, potentially leaving me unable to afford luxuries like a weapon, armour and clothing. The food alone comes to more than half my starting budget. Add in the climbing gear, and unless the rope is impractically short, I'll be reduced to hitting my opponents with a stick. Or the piton hammer, but a stick would do more damage.

Somehow I make it as far as the crevasse without incident. Do I use the climbing equipment forced upon me by authorial fiat, or seek an alternate way of descending? Climbing is likely to use Dexterity, and the odds of my succeeding at a Saving Roll on it are less than one in four. Looking for another way down could lead to encountering a wandering monster, which would probably kill me, and finding one might make me so disgusted at the compulsory purchase that I wind up testing the adventure's aerodynamic qualities.

I search. This turns out to involve as Saving Roll on Luck, which I narrowly fail, so I have to climb anyway. Which actually involves Saving Rolls against the average of my Strength, Luck and Dexterity, so the odds are better than on Dexterity alone, but still not good enough. The descent involves ten such rolls, every unsuccessful one causing me to lose 1 Constitution, and each roll has a one in nine chance of going catastrophically wrong. By the law of averages, I should get one such failure - and that's what happens on my eighth roll.

My rope comes loose from some of the pitons, causing me to start sliding. One more Saving Roll stands between me and certain death. I fail it. Though a quick check reveals that, had I succeeded, I would still have taken enough damage to kill me.

Still not as inelegant a descent of an ice face as this one, though.

The way I died means that it didn't really matter whether or not I was supposed to pay for the rope and pitons myself. Nevertheless, the lack of clarity on that issue is liable to be problematic on any future attempt (assuming I don't have a similarly fatal fall).

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