Tuesday, 27 June 2017

I Do These Things Just So I Survive

Back to Tunnels & Trolls and the Sorcerer's Apprentice mini-adventures I own. While I do have a copy of issue 15 of the magazine, I don't yet have a T&T character advanced enough for the mini-adventure contained within, so I'm skipping ahead to issue 16. Owing to changes at Flying Buffalo, the magazine changed its name to SA at this point in its history, which could well make tracking down subsequent issues tricky, but as I don't know of any SA mini-adventures that come after issue 16's Hot Pursuit, that's not a problem about which I am overly concerned.

The introduction implies that I should be a Warrior, so character generation takes a little while, even with my gamebook manager creating all stats with a single click: the first couple of characters it produced were both better suited to being Wizards (one mediocre, one marginally above average), so I've saved them for more suitable adventures. Still, eventually I got a character who could be a Warrior, and this one is actually a relatively decent all-rounder.
Strength: 13
Intelligence: 13
Luck: 10
Constitution: 9
Dexterity: 13
Charisma: 14
Speed: 9
I also got enough starting gold for a reasonable weapon and a couple of bits of armour. Probably still doomed, but I might continue to be lucky.

Maybe I just don't have access to the right resources, but I know very little about the world in which T&T adventures take place - its geography, its history, its politics. While I am vaguely familiar with the city of Gull, the setting of this adventure, I know nothing about the group known as the Rangers, which could be a problem, as I'm supposed to be looking for Ranger spies. Considering what a delightful place Gull isn't (at least based on what happened to one of my characters there), and the fact that the fictional Rangers with which I am most familiar were on the side of good, I'm not even certain that interfering with their plans would be for the best. And the fact that the introductory section asks if I'm a member of the Rangers just raises more questions. Is this something I get to decide, or is there some adventure taking place before this one in which it is possible to be recruited by the Rangers? This time round it's simple enough to decide that I'm not a Ranger, but it would be helpful to know more about the whole affair.

Anyway, the Captain of the City Guard is offering me a substantial amount of money and a free pardon for any one non-capital crime if I can bring in a Ranger spy, preferably still alive. I've been chosen because I haven't worked for the City Guard before, which makes my reputation (or lack thereof) an advantage.

I decide to commence my enquiries at the Kraken's Cave tavern. This turns out to be a bad decision, but not for in-game reasons: the text gives the wrong section number, and even just skim-reading the first few words of sections in order to try and identify the right one causes me to spot a spoiler before I find where I should be turning (it doesn’t help that the correct section is the very last one in the magazine).

The Kraken’s Cave is a portside tavern, its customers a mix of sailors, women of negotiable virtue, and servants. My investigating technique turns out to be rather unsubtle, consisting of speaking loudly about the Rangers to see how people react, though I do get to decide whether I praise or condemn them. While that spoiler I inadvertently glimpsed makes it clear which is the more inadvisable option, I might have opted to go for the other one anyway, given that the Guard Captain said the suspected spying is believed to be in preparation for an attack on the city.

I speak derisively of the Rangers, and somebody buys me a drink (which already makes this mission more of a success than well over 50% of the T&T adventures I’ve played here). A fat merchant looks nervous, and a ruffian scowls and slinks out of the door. I decide to see what’s troubling the merchant.

Acting on a hunch, I quietly threaten to reveal his dealings with the Rangers, and he tells me he’s only passing on information to them because they have his daughter as a hostage. He goes on to explain that he’s due to meet with them at midnight, and I offer to rescue his daughter while he distracts them with doctored documents. We work on the plan until he has to leave for the rendezvous, and then I shadow him through the streets because Gull breeds cynicism, and I’m not convinced by the man’s sob story.

That was the right decision for the wrong reason. The merchant was telling the truth, but someone must have seen him talking to me, as a couple of Rangers intercept him before he reaches the place where they were to meet. I don’t know what he tells them, but it’s convincing enough that a third man joins them, bringing the merchant’s daughter, and hands her over in return for the maps we edited.

I decide to do what I can to ensure that the merchant and his daughter get home safely, partly out of guilt at having doubted him and potentially increased the danger to his family, and partly because trying to confront three Rangers simultaneously looks suicidal. Besides, if the Rangers discover they’ve been tricked, they might send just one back to avenge the deception while the others flee with whatever information they may have gained from other sources, in which case I could be in with a chance of catching him and getting that reward.

Evidently our tampering was done carefully enough that the Rangers didn’t spot it, as nobody comes after the merchant. He’s grateful for the protection I offer anyway, and gives me a magical dagger to show his thanks. That's all the reward I'll be getting, though, as the Ranger spies will be long gone by now.

Not as profitable an adventure as it might have been, but I survived it, and did a little to interfere with the Rangers’ plans. I also earned some experience, and while it’s not enough to qualify my character for any of the more advanced adventures I’ve had to leave unplayed, it brings me a step closer to the right level.

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