Monday, 19 August 2013

I Assume We're Not Expected to Win

Corgi Books put Roy Cram's second Tunnels & Trolls solo adventure, Gamesmen of Kasar, in the same volume as his first one, so it was for the sake of Gamesmen that I wound up getting a duplicate copy of Mistywood back when I found all the 'two-in-one' T&T books I didn't already have in the discount bookshop. By an odd coincidence, I got a copy of the Flying Buffalo edition on eBay the day after I bought a replacement copy of the Corgi book, also on eBay, but from a different seller.

Gamesmen was one of the adventures that I gave more attention when I originally got the Corgi books, but I can't remember how my first attempt ended. The rules state that the emphasis is more on saving rolls than on combat, but what fighting there is will be hard, and equipment is unlikely to make much difference, so I shall need some good rolls to be in with any chance of winning.
Strength: 6
Intelligence: 11
Luck: 9
Constitution: 10
Dexterity: 15
Charisma: 9
Speed: 3
I'm doomed. Though, on account of a balancing mechanism applied to some saving rolls, my Intelligence and Constitution are liable to be the most problematic stats: for single-figure scores, I need only roll 5 or above on two dice, whereas for those in the 10-19 range I must get at least the difference between the attribute and 20.

Now I must choose a character class. Magic users are permitted, but may only use spells in certain circumstances (magnetic fields cause interference the rest of the time). With a Strength that low, I'd make a rubbish warrior, but Strength is also the resource on which wizards and rogues draw to cast their spells, so no matter what I pick, I'm going to be at a disadvantage. Well, with the implication that weapons and armour are going to be limited in their effectiveness, I suspect that the strengths of the warrior class will be diminished or eliminated, so I suppose I'll have to take a wizard.

For once it's worth establishing my character's height and weight as well. Weight, at least, since in the unlikely event of my surviving, I'll be rewarded with my own weight in gold. The rolls are towards the extreme ends of the bell curve, but at least I'm potentially profitably short and fat: 4'3" high, and 250 lbs.

Kasar is still under the rule of the same tyrant whose son picked a fight with the wrong person prior to Mistywood. Recently a strange caravan arrived there, and its owners bought a building and spent some time making alterations to it. Now the place is ready, and fortune-hunters can take up the challenge if they dare. So I might as well find out what fate befalls my new character in there.

Still, fools rush in, so I don't immediately take the challenge. This leads to my services being engaged by one of the Duke's men. None of the (few) survivors of the game have any recollection of what they experienced in there. If I can provide the Duke with details of what's actually going on inside the building, I'll be rewarded. The penalty for not accepting the mission is not spelt out, but as there's no option to decline, I can make a good guess. There are two ways suggested for going about this mission: to try and sneak in, or to play the game, but take notes. I'm already doing the latter for the purposes of this blog, so I might as well go with that.

Presenting myself as a contestant, I am taken to the Gamesman, an obese individual with no hair, painted fingernails (that is, he has no nails, but fake ones have been painted on the ends of his fingers) and a strange accent with drawn-out vowels. He summons a servant to take me to the Game chambers. I could try knocking the servant out and exploring on my own, but I doubt that I'd succeed: Rock-a-Bye is a third level spell, and my Strength is not conducive to hitting anyone hard enough to render him unconscious.

The servant leaves me in a room to await instructions, and a metal door bars the exit. A voice instructs me to remove all armour, weapons, and equipment other than non-magical clothing. If I survive, my property will be returned to me. It's going to be tricky to make notes if I can't retain a quill and paper, but I suspect that the consequences of disobeying will not be pleasant, so I ditch my dagger and what armour I had.

Another door opens, and the voice tells me to go through. Refusing would be pointless. I enter a room containing a slot machine, 12 unusual coins, and a suit of leather armour that fits me perfectly. The voice tells me that I must play the slot machine to escape from the room, so I put the first coin in and pull the lever.

I can guess what happens if I get the equivalent of three lemons.

The machine shows three keys, and dispenses a skeleton key. I try again, getting three coins, and the machine spits out some of the local currency. It'll only take the strangely-shaped ones, though, so I won't get any extra goes. The third coin gets me three bottles, and the machine disgorges a bottle of Dr. Bob's Marvellous Snake Oil Liniment and Healing Potion, which will restore all lost Constitution when drunk (though drinking more than one bottle a week brings on side-effects such as loss of life). My next two goes each produce more money, while my sixth try comes up three trolls. A door opens, and out comes a Troll. Not a particularly tough one, his Monster Rating being equivalent to the higher of my Strength and Dexterity. But Dexterity is my best stat, and I have no weapon (and judging by the text, attempting to retain the one I had at the start wouldn't have worked), so even this fight could prove lethal.

It does. My remains are subsequently reanimated, and the zombie that was me is shipped to a mine to dig for an extremely harmful substance until prolonged exposure to the radiation disintegrates it, but I'm too dead to have any view on this unplanned career change.

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