In the Trollshaws. Ep03.

I’ll start my session with some leftover bookkeeping.
Camthalion started with 40 arrows. He spent 4 of them the previous night against the Orcs and Troll. I’ll deem 1d5-1 of them are recovered: 1. I also deem that in the last fight there was no time to recover any arrows, so all 7 of them are consumed. Arrows: 40-3-7= 30 Arrows remaining.

Some calculations regarding food:

Rations Days
Camthalion 3
Dwalin 3
Leowyn 5

Going with BOLD again to roll up some connections.

action gerund subject
speculate lying friends or family
guide preparing a possession
protest understanding your nature

Day 5
Watch 1: 33/93: No Encounter
Watch 2: 86/19: sighting. Harnmaster: 52: Ursine [Bear]: 76: Stalking/Hunting or Fleeing Predator. Since Bears are Predators, I deem it’s Stalking.

Resting, each member regains hit points. Dwalin goes up to 11 hit points and Leowyn at 25 hit points.

Q: Does the bear feel threatened by the party?
A: No, but, it feels threatened by the dwarf stranger.

Camthalion stands watch, as the party rests. Under the dim light of the morning stars, he can make out the huge mass of a bear in the distance. At first he doesn’t pay any attention, but then he notices that the bear goes in the stranger’s general direction. It has sniffed the scent of the dwarf, and changes pace to a charge, as it lets of a roar and lunges towards the stout dwarf.

So I need to decide what the party will do. I decide they will try to help the dwarf in his fight against the bear. Maybe an ally is to be gained.

First of all I need to decide the distance. Since the dwarf was in sight, I decide that he was in the ‘Fairly Well’ night vision range of 100′.

I decide to use the premade character Bali Redhelm for the stranger dwarf.

The bear is a black bear, since these are nocturnal hunters and aggressive.

Camthalion: Nooks an arrow.
Bear: Move 95′ towards Bali
Bali: Move 5′ and attack with his Warhammer: 83+58+5-30=116: 15D: 90+10=100: Blow to jaw. Drives bone into brain. Dies instantly.

…I didn’t expect it to end that fast. Speaks to the lethality of MERP. This could have been a PC.

As Camthalion readies his bow and aims, the bear reaches the dwarf. He reacts with absolute calmness, and with a calculated strike, with all his might, he brings his warhammer in an upward motion, and hits the bear in the jaw. Without a scream or a cry, the animal, falls back. Motionless.

Q: Does the dwarf notice Camthalion ready to help?
A: No
Q: Does the rest of the party wake up?
A: Yes, but they’re still sleepy

“What… is it archer?” Dwalin asks Camthalion.
“This fellow dwarf, was about to be shred to pieces by a black bear. But his skill with the hammer saved his life.” The elf replies.

Now, here’s a chance to use a BOLD Connection.

“Another Dwarf? A warrior? Here in Rhudaur?!” Dwalin wakes up quickly. “We should help him, and he will return the favor. Us Dwarves stick together. Especially in perilous lands such as these. Come, come!” He stands up, and starts walking towards the stranger with his arms wide open, in a gesture of good will.

I think this covers “guide, understanding, your nature” as a BOLD connection.

action gerund subject
speculate lying friends or family
guide preparing a possession
protest understanding your nature

I will roll 1d100 to see the reaction of Bali? to the group. 38.
It’s on the negative side, but considering he’s meeting a fellow Dwarf, I’d consider him, let’s say slightly annoyed, but not hostile.
He’s Sober, Quiet and Pugnacious (learned a new word here) according to his character sheet.
Rolling on UNE Conversation Mood for ‘distrustful’: 56: Neutral.
I choose a Prejudiced NPC Bearing: 17: Doubt.
NPC Focus: 2: Current Scene.

“For a fellow Khazad, you didn’t help much with the bear. And now you come as friend?” The stranger scoffs.
“I was asleep. We were fighting orcs just yesterday, and I was resting from the battle. The elf was keeping watch.” Dwalin responds.
“An elf? How can you be friends with these tree lovers?” The stranger says.
“He’s proven himself. It was him that saved my life and the Rohirim’s. I’m certain that while you were fighting the bear, he’s had an arrow cocked and ready, aimed at the beast.” Dwalin says firmly.

So, I initially wanted to try and use some ‘Influence’ skill and roll on the respective MERP chart. But it seems that the social skills although existent, they’re much like OD&D Charisma. The players are supposed to roleplay the situation with the GM. Rolling is an afterthought for specific situations. Similarly here, the odds for trying something are terrible. Since in solo play we’re both player and GM, I need to delegate the GM to the Oracle.

“My name is Dwalin.” The dwarf steps up and says proudly. “My elf companion is Camthalion and the shield maiden is called Leowyn. We’re on a task to recover a Khazadin relic. Maybe rescue a hapless villager from the Last Inn who was taken by trolls most likely. We fell a troll, but we lost the tracks and reached an abandoned lair filled with orcs. We killed more than a handful before scaring them away. After striking fear into the hearts of our enemies, we camped here. Would you care to join us while we travel in Rhudaur? We could use another strong arm.”

Q: Does Bali agree to join them? (I’ll give it 50/50 since he’s doubtful).
A: False Presupposition.
This Dwarf is not Bali Redhelm. Time to roll on UNE.
Also it’s a No, since it was double 2s.
UNE: cunning preacher
Q: Does he share his name?
A: False Presupposition. I’ll reroll: No, but he doesn’t insult them. He just avoids sharing it.

“My path takes me elsewhere. And I need to be on my destination soon. What is this relic you seek, maybe if I fall upon it on my travels, I will seek you out Dwalin.” The dwarf responds.

I decide that this triggers Dwalin’s Suspicious Personality. It’s a good opportunity also to use another BOLD connection.

“It’s a trinket actually, nothing to lose your sleep over. We shall find it on our own. Walk in peace friend.” Dwalin responds, and Camthalion looks at him sideways. He was afraid the dwarf would spill out more information, but he was smarter than his rugged looks showed. He turned 180 degrees approach when he suspected the stranger, even a member of his own people.

I think this covers speculate, lying, a possession.

action gerund subject
speculate lying friends or family
guide preparing a possession
protest understanding your nature

As the sun rises, the party gathers their belongings and tries to find more hill troll tracks.

Scouting: 18+30+11= 59: Failure. You gain no information, but you think you have learned everything available. You may not try again on the same topic in the same area for 1 day.
3rd Watch: Encounters: 44-(4-90)=130. hostile group, social beings.
So, I also roll on the Harnmaster Encounter table, and get Human Adventurer: Questing. Since it’s a day, this all fits well. Reading through the sample adventure I decide that they fell upon a Hillman. Typically hillmen travel in patrols, but since the sample adventure has the typical hillman at Level 4, and the party is wounded, I’ll only place one against them.

As a side note I discovered that for encounters, MERP uses the same 4-hour unit as Harnmaster, which fits nicely, but for camping periods, you only roll once. Seems I made things tougher for the party without knowing.

As the party tries to find troll tracks, they unsuspectingly fall upon a towering man with crude wool tunic with leggings, wearing a rough over-coat and fur hat. He has a rudy complexion, and wields a broadsword. He smiles wickedly as he sees them.
“I knew something smelled terrible. A dwarf and a rohirim! That’s my kind of day! The ancestors will be pleased.” He nods to Camthalion. “Leave, and I will spare your life.”
“Dunledings.” Leowyn whispers. “There could be more hiding in the trees”


Perception (Dunleding): 59+38=97. Near Success.

“I’m more than enough for you!” He yells at Leowyn and charges with his sword.

Distance: 1d10x10’=70′
Camthalion nooks an arrow.
Hillman: Moves to attack: 35′. Doesn’t reach Dwalin.
Dwalin: Moves to attack: 22′ Doesn’t reach Hillman.
Leowyn: Moves to attack: 18′ Doesn’t reach Hillman.

Camthalion shoots Hillman: 36+48+10=94: 7A:80-20=60: Strike along side of chest. 1 hit per round. Stunned 1 round.
Hillman: Stunned.
Dwalin: Moves to attack (41): 60-100-20+(51+15)/2-10= -17: 0
Leowyn: Moves to attack (17): 50-100+(38+15)/2-10=-34: 0

Camthalion nooks an arrow.
Hillman: attacks (50/50): Leowyn: 61+52-40=73: 4
Dwalin: attacks Hillman: 54+51+15-10=110: 11B: 14-10=4: Weak grip. No extra damage. +0 hits.
Leowyn: attacks Hillman: 03: Fumble: 85-10=75: You stumble. The classless display leaves you stunned for 2 rounds. With luck, you might still survive.

Camthalion shoots Hillman: 55+48+10=113: 13B: 55-10=45: Minor forearm wound. +2 hits. If no arm armor: stunned 1 round.
Hillman: stunned.
Dwalin: attacks Hillman: 66+51+15-10=122: 15C: 86: Blow to weapon arm. +8 hits. Stunned 2 rounds. If no arm armor: tendon damaged, arm broken and useless.

This is no Monty Python movie, the Hillman yields.

The two opposing sides advance towards each other as Camthalion covers the party with his bow. By the time they have made contact, an arrow is already flying, striking the hillman past his armor, and along his chest. He loses his concentration as he starts bleeding, but manages to fend off both Dwalin and Leowyn.
Camthalion readies his bow again, as the hillman tries to wound Leowyn, but his strike is parried. Dwalin hits him, but the blow isn’t spectacular. The same can’t be said about Leowyn’s stumble. She gets entangled into a tree root and loses her balance going head on to the ground.
The hillman sees his opportunity against Leowyn but has no chance to act upon it, as another arrow hits him, this time on the arm, and he pulls back his blade instictively.
Disoriented as he is, Dwalin brings down his mace on the forearm, crushing his tendon. The sword falls and clatters to the ground. The man screams as he falls to his knees. “I yield, I yield. Spare me!” He yells.

Camthalion gains 60 EP for the two criticals scored, but Dwalin gave the final blow, gaining the rest of the 290 EP.
Leowyn gains 4 EP for being hit.

Leowyn moves closer, to finish off the Dunleding, but Camthalion intervenes. “Don’t do something you might regret later child.”
“Like letting him live? He’d have us strung by our vocal cords.” She answers. “If we let him live he will find his tribe, and they will get ready will fall upon us when we least expect them!”

The last BOLD connection is finished. Protest, preparing, friends or family.

“It’s a risk we must take. Don’t give in. Let him go.” Camthalion says in a more confident manner.
Leowyn lowers her blade. She sees the hillman’s bleeding wound. “The wolves will get his smell after all. RUN!” She screams at the man, who stumbles away and runs in shame.

4th Watch: 03/59: No encounter.
Scouting for orc tracks: 24+30+11: Failure. You gain no information, but you think you have learned everything available. You may not try again on the same topic in the same area for 1 day.

5th Watch: Camping: Camthalion casts Surface Ways on Dwalin: 71: Success: Heals 7 hits.
5th-2nd Watch (Overnight): 153/11: Hostile (wild animal): 5 Wild Cats, Hunting.
In which watch? 1st Watch. The party has rested 12 hours. Dwalin is at 32 hit points, and Leowyn is at full hp.
Who is on watch? Leowyn.

Leowyn is on watch when she notices some movement in the shadows. The glimmer of eyes in the darkness. She tosses a small pebble and wakes up Dwalin and Camthalion. Their darkvision helps them see clearly where the human had failed. A handful of wild cats is encircling them.
“Fire! Light a fire!” Dwalin whispers to her.

Q: Does Leowyn light the fire before the wild cats attack?
A: False presupposition. Seriously? The wild cats never attack. They flee.

As Leowyn starts hitting flint & steel to light a fire, the wild cats move away. Was it the armed party, awake against them? was it something else that scared them? For whatever reason, they left. And Leowyn stopped. The fire might save them from wild cats, but it would draw in any orc nearby.


Name Days Rations
Camthalion 2
Dwalin 2
Leowyn 4

Arrows: Recovered 1d3-1: 0 Arrows. Camthalion is at 28 arrows.

Hit Points: Camthalion and Leowyn are at full. Dwalin is at 36 hit points.

EP: Camthalion, with Spellcasting, has gained 160 EP. Dwalin has gained 290 EP. And Leowyn 4 EP. This gives 227 Idea EP. Dwalin gets 151 EP more for a total of 441 and Leowyn 76 for a total of 80.

Adding up the previous session’s EP.

Name Experience Points
Camthalion 2363 EP
Leowyn 1661 EP
Dwalin 3033 EP

Session summary

So, I made a few mistakes in this session. Combining more than one encounter system causes problems in interpretation. Everything worked out in the end, but at times it felt as if I was choosing the best option.
Also retrospectively I might have misinterpreted the wild cats situation. It’s in the start of winter, most likely the party would be sleeping with the fire lit, not put out.
Maybe I should start monitoring the calendar more closely, but I’m trying to cover so many bases, some things get lost. I had to retrospectively make Camthalion recover arrows and heal Dwalin. In a social ttrpg, the GM would have said to the player “well, you forgot”, but I’m cutting myself some slack here.
MERP is a crunchy system and it’s starting to drag. Combat is really nice. I enjoy every moment of it. Even though the movement and initiative mechanics leave a lot to be desired, the resolution is beautiful. The tables provide all the narrative feedback I need. My main problem is the rest of the system. It’s quite broken with the success range being really hard to reach, which causes a pain to the solo player. I want to have a system that can support me, and not have to reach out to the oracle every now and then. It’s three days and nights already that the party is looking for Ledon, and I seriously doubt they will get to him alive, which would be totally okay, if I didn’t think its the system I use.
I think a hexflower would be a great addition for searching/tracking in solo play. I just might create one. The issue is that I have a known map, where the party runs around. Even with failed tracking rolls, there’s a chance they might fall on their destination by chance, which I can’t account for now.
Also the topic with Ledon fits perfectly with my Secret Clocks framework. How could I have missed this? I think I’ll start retrospectively as well for next session.
Truth is I wanted to try out MERP on it’s own, with as few overlays as possible, but I see now that this isn’t feasible.
Therefore I’ll add my overlays, and see where it gets me from there.