Monday, 4 November 2013

Nobody Must Go Down the Mine

Just over a year ago I played Andy Holmes' Halloween-themed Tunnels & Trolls adventure Dark Harbour for this blog. That's not the only T&T solo with a spooky side by Mr. Holmes that I own, so today I'm having a go at the other one, The Haunting of Tilford's Hollow. As with Harbour, I got it from the author on eBay some time ago, but I haven't yet had a proper go at this one.

The text states that Haunting can be played with a freshly-created first level character, so I may not do as badly at this adventure as I have most of the T&T solos I've played for this blog to date. Especially as, in a departure from the norm, I am assumed to already have basic equipment (a weapon, clothes, footwear), which saves me having to spend a significant amount of my starting gold on them. It appears that there are opportunities to go shopping in the early stages of the adventure, so I might save some money for that rather than just going for the most expensive armour I can afford.

Time to see what I do have. The dice give me a mostly slightly-below average character, but with a Constitution way too low to have any realistic chance of survival. Change species to Dwarf, and I have something more viable.
Strength: 20
Intelligence: 10
Luck: 13
Constitution: 10
Dexterity: 9
Charisma: 5
Speed: 13
That Charisma score means I'm unlikely to encounter the one element of the plot that I remember from looking through the adventure when I first got it - proving so irresistible to a female Dwarf that she drags the player character off to ravish them.

I live in the town of Rosil, a pleasant place, but in seemingly terminal decline owing to the closure of the nearby mines. The other day, a stranger stirred up a little bother by asking for directions to the abandoned mine at Tilford's Hollow. people don't like to talk about it, as it's reputed to be haunted. Speculating that that mine might not be exhausted, and that getting it reopened could save the town, I resolve to look for it myself.

Before heading off I call in at some of the local shops to better equip myself, starting with Dolin's House of Armour. There's a sale on there, so I can get a reduced price on anything I buy, but there's no guarantee that what I want will be in stock. I get lucky, and find a complete set of scale armour. No chance to ask any leading questions about the Hollow, though, as the shopkeeper is not the talkative type.

Next I try Glusur's Outfitting Emporium. The proprietor is a veteran of many battles, and has beads and trinkets woven into his beard. He's also offering reduced prices, but has all the basic equipment in stock - and might have less conventional items (within reason) as well. Though tempted to ask if he has a Fez for sale, I take a more practical approach, and buy some rope and a lantern.

Once I've made my purchases, I try asking him about the Hollow: while my poor Charisma means I have a less than 1 in 6 chance of a favourable response, the worst possible outcome is being ejected from the premises. Unexpectedly, I make a good impression, and Glusur tells me that the mine is haunted by Matthew Tilford himself. Desperate to make his fortune, Tilford got trapped in an abandoned mine shaft in Dark Water Crag, and his spirit remains there to this day, purportedly striking dead anyone who encounters it.

While my main weapon is a two-handed job, I can conceive of times when I might benefit from having a knife handy, and I still have enough money left for a small one, so I call in at the town's third and final shop, Madame Kumli's Swords and Polearms. After buying a poniard, I ask Madame Kumli about the Hollow, in case she can add anything useful to Glusur's story. The initial roll here is Luck-based, so my chances of success are significantly higher, and I am successful again. I don't do so well at the follow-up Charisma roll, though, so she advises me to have nothing to do with the place - but at least she's still talking to me.

I have the option of taking her advice and abandoning the quest before it starts. As there are no lives at stake, there's probably no penalty for doing so, but it wouldn't make for a very interesting ending to this post, so I shall persist with my possibly insane plan. The following morning is wet and windy, but that does not deter me from setting off towards Dark Water Crag.

Along the way I'm attacked by a wolf, but one swing with my heavy mace crushes its skull. That was the easiest of the possible random encounters here, but even the toughest-looking opponent wouldn't necessarily be as impossible an opponent as the ones who killed around a dozen of my previous T&T characters. Moving on, I reach a fork in the path, and take the trail leading to a craggy region, rather than the one that plunges into a forest.

Rocky outcrops soon overshadow me, and I'm suddenly ambushed by Goblins with daggers, spears and nets. Unluckily, I roll the maximum possible number of Goblins, which means that this is going to be a tougher fight. Well, it would be except that an unlucky roll results in my getting netted in the second round of combat, after which the Goblins are able to poke me with their spears without fear of retaliation, and I wind up as a roast dinner.

Despite that rather abrupt ending, that was a lot fairer than most T&T solos. If I'd rolled a lower number of Goblins, I might even have managed to pulp the lot of them before the net could entangle me. Based on what I experienced of the adventure, it would appear to be suitable for first-level characters, which is a much rarer occurrence than it should be in my opinion.

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