Wednesday, 18 May 2016

By Fitful Starlight

As I once mentioned before, there was a period when Flying Buffalo produced a magazine called Sorcerer's Apprentice, several issues of which contained short solo adventures for Tunnels & Trolls. I own four of those issues, and now that I've attempted all the official T&T solos that weren't obviously out of my league, I'll be working my way through the magazine-based ones I have yet to try. The earliest one I own is Robert B. Schofield's Thief for Hire, from issue 12.

The adventure is for a warrior, or a rogue who knows no magic. There seems little point in creating a character in the latter category, as the only advantage a rogue has over a warrior is the ability to use magic. It may be unwise, but I'm going to bring back my character from Solo for the Intellectually Challenged, who has used some of the treasure acquired in that misadventure to buy a proper weapon and some armour. His low Strength and Dexterity limit his options, but he's now as well-equipped as he can be in his current condition. I should also give him a name, and in view of his general ineptitude and lack of self-awareness, I think he'd go by something like Blugen the Brilliant.

Being a Great Hero is proving trickier than expected. I start this adventure in the Dead Dragon Inn, downcast at only having acquired 500 gold pieces on my latest excursion into a dungeon. Considering how most T&T characters fare, this is roughly equivalent to lamenting having won a mere £500,000 in the National Lottery, so maybe my not-that-smart character isn't such a bad fit for the adventure after all.

A man in dark robes speaks with the innkeeper, and they both look at me. I wave. The robed man then comes over to my table, and asks if I'm interested in a short and well-paid job. I express interest, so he explains that he requires a certain scroll which is currently held in the royal library at the local palace, and is prepared to pay a thousand gold pieces for it. I agree to have a go at it, and we arrange to meet outside the palace in an hour.

Nothing untoward happens in the intervening time, and at the foot of the palace wall, my new employer gives me a rope with a grappling hook, directions to the royal library, and instructions on how to identify the scroll he needs. He wishes me luck, and I start work.

Even with the rope and grappling hook, climbing the wall is a challenge for a clumsy oaf like my character. On my first two attempts, I slip and fall, taking some damage in the process, but a lucky roll gets me up there on my third try. From the top of the wall, I can see a courtyard with two guards in it. On the far side of the courtyard is a well-lit hallway leading into the palace. Fighting the guards is not likely to go well for me. The alternative, crawling along the top of the wall and then using my rope to swing down into the hallway, could go disastrously wrong, but how can I resist the lure of such a swashbuckling strategy?

The roll is tricky enough that my failing at it comes as no surprise. I do make it to the ground intact, but somebody spots me, and yells, "Halt!" Given my stats, running away is probably a worse idea than confronting the guard, so I turn to face him. The two guards find my attempt at breaking into the palace amusing, and order me to surrender. I draw my francisca (it's a type of axe) and attack.

The guards have worse armour than I do, but their broadswords do more damage than the francisca, and they're better fighters than I. Considering the ridiculous levels of overkill some of my characters have experienced, only being reduced to 0 Constitution feels like getting off lightly. Nevertheless, it's the end for Blugen the Beaten, Battered, Bruised and Bloodstained. Perhaps I'd have fared better with a less rubbish character - at least as long as I could spend some of the money mentioned in the intro on decent equipment - but I suspect that I'd have needed a significantly superior character to have a real chance, and the likelihood of rolling up a sufficiently good one is pretty low.

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