Sunday, 6 October 2019

A Light From the Shadows Shall Spring

The Tunnels & Trolls mini-adventure in issue 5 of Sorcerer's Apprentice is by Ken St. Andre, and has the punning title A Sworded Adventure. It's for a low-level Warrior who wields a sword and has an Intelligence no higher than 12. I managed to generate just such a character straight off, and chose to make him a Dwarf as he'd still meet the requirements but have better chances in a fight (at the cost of becoming less good-looking). Thus, I start out like this:

Strength 26
Intelligence 7
Luck 9
Constitution 20
Dexterity 11
Charisma 9
Speed 7

My opening funds stretch to a sabre and a few oddments of armour. When checking out the character requirements I inadvertently spotted that what happens first in the adventure depends on how much money I have on me, but in order to have the sum that makes a difference I'd need to go for an inferior weapon and even less armour (or none at all), so I'll go with a better-equipped hero and 'poverty'.

I stroll through the Great Bazaar of Khazan, my sword at my side. But my scabbard hides a secret: the sword is broken. If I'd known that was how things were going to be, I'd have picked something cheaper. Anyway, I'm hoping that Mordo the Dwarf will be able to reforge the fragments into something that can keep the hostiles at bay until I can afford a replacement. However, my slightly sub-par Luck lets me down, and... a barrel falls off a stack on a wagon, and is about to hit me. That wasn't what I was expecting.

To my relief (and, no doubt, the annoyance of players whose Dexterity is their best attribute), the text has me attempt to catch the barrel rather than dodge out of the way, and at the set difficulty level, my chances are as good as they can ever be. There's a minimum 1 in 9 chance of failing any saving roll in T&T - though, on the vaguely positive-ish side, no saving roll is ever completely impossible, either, even if the odds of success do become infinitesimally minuscule at times.

I catch the barrel (though if I'd kept my character human, he'd be injured at best and a pancake at worst) and help the wagon driver replace it and secure it more carefully. He gives me a coin for my troubles - not much reward, but as I wasn't injured and this world has yet to spawn the phrase 'an accident that wasn't your fault', I'm happy to have emerged from the incident marginally better off than I was before it happened.

Mordo is closing down for the day when I reach his stall. The price he asks is a good deal more than I can afford, and the list of things not covered by his guarantee leaves me unconvinced that it would be worth it even if I did have the money. I say that that's too much, and Mordo offers to sell me a past-its-prime magic sword that he recently acquired. As regards dealing damage, it's worse than most models of sword, but in the highly unlikely event that I ever have to fight a Water Elemental, the sword's enchantment will prove lethal to the hostile H20.

I can't afford that, either. I'd have enough money (just) if I'd bought a Lidl sword when equipping my character, but I didn't know that I'd be throwing away whatever I spent on my weapon, so I chose something more expensive and didn't get what I paid for.

Whether or not I buy the sword, that's the end of the adventure. Which is quite the anticlimax. I shall have to come back to the Bazaar tomorrow and buy a crowbar - that's the best weapon I can get for the money remaining to me. Given the lethality of most T&T adventures, even 'wind up with a mediocre weapon' is more of a success than usual, but it's still an unsatisfying ending.