The ruins of Syriholm – S1E01

Hexflower dungeon crawling

Hex roll: 8: Goto 7: ENCOUNTER
Q: Is it orcs? (Likely)
A: Yes, and they are boar riders
Q: How many? (1D)
A: 2
I will roll Wit for both groups. Whoever succeeds has noticed the other group first.
Party: 1-
Orcs: 2
So I decide that since the orcs noticed the party first, they will attack first automatically gaining initiative.

The party goes through the ruined entrance to Syriholm. Huge columns of dwarven craftsmanship once marked the pathway, but now they lie in ruins, their sharp edges chipped, their blocks overturned and the statues and engravings crushed to pieces.
Furi touches the stones as sadness and hatred overcomes him. “This used to be the home of my people. Oh what fate befell them!”
Atiel puts her hand on his shoulder. “What is no more of flesh needn’t worry you child of the mountains. They are with the rest of your ancestors in spirit and in memory now.”
The dwarf calms for a moment.
Suddenly they hear a loud gallop, snorting and a scream “Waaaagh!” and Cane sees for the first time in his life orcs!
Hideous humanoids with green skins and an ape like face. Tusks protrude from their jaws, and they are riding boars, charging towards the party!

Since this is heavy on combat, to facilitate easier reading (and less transcribing from paper to electronic notes on my part) I will not be writing down the combat rolls, and only describing the combat instead.

One of the orcs charges at Furi, but the skilled dwarf uses his great axe to parry the spear and the boar tusks. He follows up with an overhead swing, finding the orc straight at the chest, severely wounding him.
The other orc has encircled the group from the other side and charges at Atiel. Lacking the sword skill, she jumps out of the way, unable to counteract.
The Halfling tries to hack at the boar, but his dagger barely makes a scratch on the thick furry hide.
Cane is at a loss, but recovers. He draws his bastard sword and hacks at the orc who missed Atiel, but the strike just nicks the humanoid.

The orc rider now switches target and tries to ram his spear into Erias. He hits the Halfling, but it seems the orc miscalculated and the cloak took the brunt of the hit, leaving him unscathed. The boar tries to bite a chunk off the Halfling, but he evaded the attack.
Furi makes another attack at the wounded orc, this time bringing it down.
The other orc now turns his attention to the human who hit him, thrusting his spear with enormous speed. Cane through an incredible feat, turns around, and the spear just scratches his right leg.
Atiel, out of the fray, carefully draws her bow, and shoots an arrow to the remaining orc. It pierced through its spear arm, causing a serious bleeding.
As the creature screams, Cane loses no moment and slashes at its right leg with such strength, that he chops it off.

Now the board without riders are frustrated, and the party gains initiative.
Furi hacks at the boar in front of him, almost cutting it in half.
The rest of the party try to bring the other boar down, but it’s stronger than they expected, lashing back at them unsuccessfully.
Cane finally thrusts his bastard sword between its lungs, delivering a mortal blow.

“What are these green skinned devils?” Cane asks as he clears his blade.
“Orcs” Furi says as he looks around to see if there are more of them.
“They thought we would be easy game. They will learn the name of Furi Grinarson.”

Hex roll: 11: Goto 9: prisoner
Q: Are there guards? (Likely)
A: Yes
Q: Are the prisoners slaves?
A: Yes, and they’re miners
Q: Are the prisoners dwarves?
A: No, but they are from all the races

The party moves trough the ruins silently watching for any sign of orcs. Then, the path they were following with the pillars comes to an abrupt end in front of a gaping chasm. Once there was a bridge here, as the few remaining stones dictate, but it has collapsed since.
Erias lifts his hand, gesturing for silence. Now they can all discern the clanging sound of metal upon stone.
They follow a stairway going down to the bottom of the chasm. Before coming too close, they see the root cause of the noise.
Several demihumans chained are mining the rocks. Their sorry state barely reminds of what race they belong to. Their bones almost protruding from their skin. These men and women look like living skeletons.
Furi clenches his hands on his axe handle and steps forward, but Erias grabs him. “Wait a moment master dwarf.” He says and points at the guards.

Q: Are the guards orcs?
A: No, but they are goblins
Q: Are they alert?
A: No
Q: How many slaves? (3D)
A: 5
Q: How many guards? (1D)
A: 3

Short green skinned humanoids with pointy ears, red eyes and sharp teeth, holding spears and shields are guarding the prisoners.
“I will try to free the prisoners.” Erias whispers. “If the guards get a whiff of me, take them out.”

Again I won’t be describing all the game mechanics, only Oracle rolls.

The halfling goes past the goblins unnoticed and with his lock picks manages to set a slave free from his manacles.

Q: Does the slave make noise?
A: No, but he tries to escape at once when free

With his feet free, the slave doesn’t waste a moment and starts running. Before the goblins realize what occurred, the party is read for action.
Erias backstabs one goblin with his dagger and it screams in pain.
Atiel shoots a carefully aimed arrow right through its right arm, gashing it open.
Then from cover, Cane and Furi charge at the humanoids. Cane severs a goblins leg at its base while Furi does the same at its friend.
Within seconds the goblin guards were decimated.

“These small orcs didn’t stand a chance!” Cane points out smiling as he observes the dismembered corpse in front of him.
“They’re called goblins.” Erias corrects Cane who doesn’t seem to pay any heed.
The party liberated the slaves who can’t believe their luck, and points them to the way out.
“Tell the dwarves of Khizdumunz that Furi Grinarson sent you! They will take good care of you.” Furi instructs then.

Q: Do the slaves have any important information to share?
A: Yes, but obstacles need to be overcome first.
I decide it’s going to be a path leading from hex 17 directly to 19 without rolling.

A downtrodden slave approaches Furi as they leave. “Are you heading further in?” He asks.
“Aye, I am after Gorkil.” Furi responds and the slave’s eyes widen.
“Then be careful. If you get past the troll, look for a small side passageway to your right. It leads directly to Gorkil’s quarters. It is said he wants to monitor his troll friend closely.” The slave adds.

Hex roll: 10: Goto 3: guardian
Q: Is the guardian humanoid or monster?
A: Humanoid

The party moves onward in the bottom of the chasm, and they reach the other side, and start climbing the stairs up.
Once on top they face tall walls with towers and gatehouses.
“Syriholm keep starts here.” Furi says. “I suggest we keep low and try to enter through the third gatehouse. Our engineers often criticized its weak spots.”
The party nods and does as Furi proposed. Slowly the enter the gate tower, only to come facing one of the largest orcs they have ever seen. The orcs first sees Furi and growls, but as it sees Atiel, it’s eyes glisten with rage and it lets off a loud roar.
As it rises, orc archers appear in the balconies inside of the gatehouse.

Q: How many archers? (1D)
A: 2

Atiel and Erias shoot arrows and sling bullets at the archers, but even though they hit, they bounce of their leather armour.
Cane looks at the big guy, but he doesn’t flinch. He lets of a roar as well and charges at it. He swing the sword high, hitting the orc at the head. Cutting of a chunk and sending the huge body to the ground.
Furi looks to the stairs to the balconies.

Q: Are there stairs inside of the gatehouse leading to the balconies?
A: Yes
I decide it takes one round to go up.

Furi climbs up the stairs while the two orc archers shoot at the elf. Their arrows find their target true. And Atiel, severely injured, falls back to cover.

Furi charges at the orc archer in the balcony, hacking at its left arm, as it screams in pain.
Cane climbs the stairs up as well to the other orc.
Erias tried to hit with his sling but the level difference doesn’t help him and he misses.
The orc fighting Furi tries to flee down the stairs, but it stumbles and falls.
The other orc shoots a third arrow into Atiel, who tries to keep standing, but she falls down.

Q: Do the balconies connect?
A: No

Furi, brings down his axe on the head of the downed orc, killing it instantly.
Cane has reached the other balcony, slashing at the leg of the orc who wounded Atiel.
Erias tried to shoot from below but his shots keep missing.

The orc tries to counterattack Cane, but it’s skill is no match. Cane headbutts it, and in until it recovers, swings his sword down on its head, splitting it in half.

As they recover from the battle, Cane diagnoses successfully the wound and the arrow.

Q: Is it poisoned?
A: No

“We must rest and tend to her wound!” Cane expresses his concerns.
“We must press on while we still have the element of surprise!” Furi counters.
“You’re both right. We need to rest, but we can’t do it here. This is an orc pass. We must press on until we find a better spot, to tend to Atiel.” Erias mediates between the party.

Currently the hexflower can draw forever. To make things more interesting I will introduce new alarm mechanics. When I roll 2d6 for the hex flower, I will roll a black and a white die.
If the black die is greater than the white die, increase alarm level by one. If it’s doubles, decrease it by one.
Events like alarms, fleeing enemies, etc can ofc increase or decrease the alarm levels accordingly.

How do the alarms come into play? If the alarm level is

I am ending the first part here.
What I liked: The quick and graphic combat resolution. The wound levels on the D6 system are easy to monitor, semi realistic and deadly.
What I didn’t like: The mini-six assignment of combat skills. The melee combat skills are under Might (Strength, Physique, Toughness). Which means there is an imbalance there, as the same attribute is used for to hit, to parry, to damage and to resist damage. The dwarf with Might 5D (and a bit less the barbarian with might 4D) are severely overpowered compared to other foes and their agile teammates. Add to this the +3D of a 2H weapon, they are war machines. I could of course homebrew this, but then I would have to rework the stock characters that I use from the book, so I stuck with it.
What needs improvement: The hexflower mechanics. That’s the reason I’m doing this after all. I don’t want it to drag forever, so I need to add mechanics to drive the game forward. I will be testing more rules in the future.
Overall mixed results. I like the setting, the choice of characters and the dungeon, but I feel like it’s bland at times. I won’t give it up yet since it’s an experiment that I want to see to an end. I feel that there is a lack of story that is to be expected with dungeon crawls and I’m not certain it’s to my liking.