Monday, 3 November 2014

Freshly Squeezed

As I mentioned a while back, book 24 of Flying Buffalo's Tunnels & Trolls solo adventure range contains three separate adventures. The first one in the book, which is the only one to get its title on the front cover and spine, is Catherine DeMott's When the Cat's Away. Beyond the basic premise, I know nothing of what it involves, as I got distracted by one of the other adventures in the book.

This adventure is exclusively for low-level magic-users, so when I was preparing to start playing Red Circle and rolled up a character who could be a wizard, I saved that character for when I got around to playing Cat, and rolled up someone else to die in Circle. This is the character who's been on ice for almost a year.
Strength: 10
Intelligence: 13
Luck: 12
Constitution: 11
Dexterity: 12
Charisma: 10
Speed: 13
Despite having fractionally above-average stats, this character is actually a little underqualified - to fully fit the profile outlined on the back of the book, I'd need Strength, Luck and Dexterity to each be about 4 points higher, but the likelihood of ever rolling such a character (and still getting an Intelligence high enough to permit magic use) is negligible.

My character is apprenticed to Servald the wizard, and not exactly fond of him. Nor of his familiar, a blue-furred snake-lizard known as a ferrid. Servald has gone away to the Triennial Conjurer's Convention, leaving me and the ferrid behind. At the start of the adventure I'm mopping the floor, watched by the ferrid, but when the beast settles down for a nap, I decide to take advantage of this rare opportunity to snoop around the place. Almost certainly a very bad idea, but bad ideas are practically a T&T character's stock-in-trade.

There are three areas of Servald's house into which I've never been allowed: the secret room in the east, the study (which is kept locked) and the door from behind which strange noises come, down in the dungeon. I'll try the secret room, as it sounds like the option least likely to leave evidence of my misbehaviour.

Included in this book is an errata sheet for several of the later T&T solos. I don't know if it was part of the actual release, or inserted by a previous owner. Regardless, I'm glad it's there, as the section number given for the decision I just made is the wrong one, but with the errata I can get to where I need to go. The door to the secret room is behind a tapestry, and bears silver runes which I think say either 'Golden Dew Pool' or 'Go Back, You Fool'. Reassuring myself that the second interpretation need not be relevant, as Servald may have got the door cheap and been unable (or not bothered) to remove the irrelevant-in-this-context warning, I open the door to find out what's behind it.

The room beyond is circular, and has a strong magical aura. It has one other exit, with a curtain across it, and contains an ugly obsidian statue of a Dwarf, with a vial of orange(ish) liquid. The vial could be removed, so I try doing just that. The contents smell like the fruit that Servald sometimes has with breakfast. My character assumes that this is a secret stash of juice, and recklessly downs it, and the room seems to spin. A massive force presses down on me, making it hard to take a breath, and the Saving Roll required to break free is a tough one, so I'll at least need to throw a double to have any chance of success.

I fail, but the consequences are not immediately fatal. I just lose 3 points of Constitution, permanently. Does that mean that I just reduce my base and current Constitution by 3, or am I going to be stuck at 8 Constitution (or less) for the rest of this character's life, regardless of what stat boosts might come my way? I doubt that I'll last long enough to need a decisive ruling one way or the other.

I could get back to my mop now, but that would make for a pretty dull adventure. What's behind that curtain? Another circular room (does Ms. DeMott have some grudge against players who make maps?), which smells like the juice that what I just drank wasn't, and has a grapevine design on the floor. In the middle of the room is a ten-foot high crystal structure, containing something, but I can't make it out because the crystal is frosted. Also present is a pedestal with raised projections on it.

I look at the pedestal first, which is probably a very good thing. Each of the projections has an inscription by it, and I note that the words on there include 'mix', 'chop' and 'liquefy'. It looks to me as if the crystal structure might be a giant blender. Unless I want to try and test that theory with a closer inspection (quite possibly too close for comfort), I'm left only with a choice between pushing one of the projections or abandoning my investigation of this place.

Click! The projection I chose goes down. It won't come up again, so I try pressing on another, and the first one comes back up. Nothing else seems to happen. My character has apparently concluded that the crystal structure must be a sauna, and I'm offered the option of going into it. No, thank you. As I've already checked out the statue, the only remaining option is to get back to the mop. But I get a small Experience bonus for my negligible discoveries and absurd inference.

I'm still cleaning the floor when Servald gets back. He asks if anything noteworthy happened while he was away, and I say nothing about my little 'adventure'. The ferrid winks at me. Perhaps it's not so bad after all.

I'm accustomed to having T&T adventures end remarkably quickly, but that's usually because something fatal befell my character. Actually succeeding (for some values of 'succeed') after so few decisions and rolls is more unusual, and quite surprising in an adventure with over 250 sections. Presumably the study and dungeon door lead to more expansive encounters. I'll have to have another go at WtCA to find out, but I own enough other solos that I have yet to try even once that it'll be a while before I do attempt it again.

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