A Call to Glory S01 – Hârnmaster

Okay so for my next challenge, I will go at a more solo boardgaming approach than solo roleplaying.
I will choose the Level 1 dungeon A Call to Glory from TSR’s Dragon Quest, introductory adventure game and play it with a series of different RPG systems.
I will not be converting much, rather I will be freely translating to the nearest acceptable option. For example, if there aren’t kobolds in the RPG system under test, then I’ll choose another monster rather than try to create kobolds.
I won’t be warping the adventure at all, rather I’ll be using it as is.

I’ll be using a diverse party of 3 characters. I’ll try to include as many different demihuman races and professions as possible to have a party that can deal with most tasks.
If I can find pregens that can fit a slot in the party, I’ll use them.

So for the first attempt I will be using Hârnmaster 3ed. I expect combat to be deadly and slow. I’m eager to see how it will turn out.


The Party

I’ll be using pregens from https://www.lythia.com/game_aides/friends-foes-followers-volume-1/

  • Eitri Terrika, a Khuzdul Clansman
  • Melas Renier, a Sindarin Ranger
  • Rybryn of Dara (aka Shadow), an Unguilded Thief

The Adventure

The heroes have been called before Gustovan, the Burgomaster of Torlynn. Torlynn is a small village set in a quiet, hilly area near the mountains. The heroes have lived here for many years and think of Torlynn as home. Gustovan is known as a wise and kind mayor.
He asks of the heroes to go explore the old, abandoned, dwarven, iron mine, because strange lights and sounds come from within. They’re to find out if there is something wrong there or if the reports are false.

The heroes enter the dungeon. It’s entrance is a rough cavern, cut from the stone long ago by dwarves. They check their weapons and start down into the mine, with the wind blowing in their backs.

Note: again I have to warn the reader that there are huge mechanics text blocks. Hârnmaster combat is very detailed, so I'm giving the reader an opportunity to read this as an example, or just skip it and jump to the narrative sections.

Some abbreviations:
CS/CF/MS/MF: Marginal/Critical, Success/Failure
EI: Effective Impact, essentially the damage points done after factoring in weapon and armor types.
DTA: Defender Tactical Advantage, an extra free move the defender gets, max 1 per round
WQ: Weapon Quality


A. Tunnel

Wandering monster check: Hobgoblin

I’ll be using the Black Orc stats for the Hobgoblin (Hgo).

Round 1

Eitri vs Hgo: 64/44: MS/MS: Block
Hgo Handaxe WQ: 10/11: Survives, WQ -1
Eitri Hammeraxe WQ: 9/15: Survives, WQ -1

Hgo vs Eitri: 84/93: MF/MS: DTA
DTA: Eitri vs Hgo: 84/70: MS/CF: A*2: Thorax: EI (Effective Impact): 1: M1: Minor Bruise: Shock Roll: 6/10: Not Shocked
Hgo: 1 IL (Injury Level)

Round 2

Eitri vs Hgo: 59/62: MS/MS: Block
Hgo Handaxe WQ: 8/10: Survives, WQ -1
Eitri Hammeraxe WQ: 14/14: Survives, WQ -1

Hgo vs Eitri: 19/11: MS/MS: Block
Hgo Handaxe WQ: 8/9: Survives, WQ -1
Eitri RoundShield WQ: 13/17: Survives, WQ -1

Round 3

Eitri vs Hgo: 63/94: MS/MF: A*1: Abdomen: EI: 1: M1: Minor Bruise: Shock Roll: 4/10: Not Shocked
Hgo: 2 IL

Hgo vs Eitri: 38/85: MS/CS: DTA
DTA: Eitri vs Hgo: 55/41: CS/MS: A*1: Thorax: EI: 0: No Injury

Round 4

Eitri vs Hgo: 28/98: MS/MF: A*1: Right Shoulder: EI: 0: No Injury

Hgo vs Eitri: 61/92: MF/MS: DTA
DTA: Eitri vs Hgo: 40/42: CS/MS: A*1: Abdomen: EI: 1: M1: Minor Bruise: Shock Roll: 16/10: Hgo is down
Hgo: 3 IL

The wind fades away as the heroes move into the mine. A long tunnel leads onward, and suddenly from the other end, a cruel humanoid creature arrives. It’s roar is countered by Eitri’s dwarven war cry. The whole party is in a single file, so it’s a one-to-one fight.
Eitri attacks the hobgoblin with his hammeraxe, and his enemy blocks the attack with his handaxe. He slashes at the dwarf who blocks his strike with his roundshield and finds an opening to counterattack. The hammeraxe finds the hobgoblin at the torso, bruising him.
His wind lost, the dwarf attacks him again, but the hobgoblin blocks yet another strike. The hobgoblin gathers his strength and attacks only to be blocked by the shield, in the narrow tunnel.
Eitri hammers down on the hobgoblin who fails to block, and bruises his abdomen.
Bruised, the hobgoblin tries to hit his challenger, and is blocked again by the shield. Eitri pushes aside the handaxe and with the opening he manages a weak hit on the thorax of the humanoid.
He follows with another hit on the hobgoblin’s weapon shoulder, too weak to make a difference.
In vain the hobgoblin attacks again his masterful opponent, is blocked once more, and with the advantage, the dwarf hits him again in the belly. The consecutive strikes are too much for the creature, who falls, beaten.


B. The First Lair

I’ll be using the Small Orc stats for both creatures

Round 1

Eitri vs Gob: 51/43: MS/MS: Block
Gob Spear WQ: 14/11: Broken

Gob Grope Dagger

Kob vs Rybryn: 65/33: CS/MS: A*1: Thorax: EI: 10: S3: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 7/13: Not Shocked
Rybrun: 3 IL

Round 2

Melas vs Kob: 84/39: MS/MS: Block
Kob Spear WQ: 11/11: Survives, WQ -1
Melas LongKnife WQ: 18: Survives, WQ -1

Rybryn vs Kob: 46/13: MS/MS: Block
Kob Spear WQ: 5/10: Survives, WQ -1
Rybryn ShortSword WQ: 15/16: Survives, WQ -1

Eitri vs Gob: 46/30: MS/CS: DTA
DTA: Gob vs Eitri: 96/7: MF/MS: DTA
DTA: Eitri vs Gob: 58/30: MS/CS: DTA: –

Gob vs Eitri: 65/68: CS/MS: A*1: Left Shoulder: EI: 0: No Injury

Kob vs Rybryn: 8/91: A*1: Thorax: EI: 11: S3: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 23/13: Rybryn is down
Rybryn: 6 IL

Round 3

Melas vs Kob: 48/51: MS/MS: Block
Kob Spear WQ: 5/9: Survives, WQ -1
Melas LongKnife WQ: 10/17: Survives, WQ -1

Eitri vs Gob: 85/84: CS/MF: A*2: Thorax: EI: 8: S2: Serious Fracture
Gob: 2 IL

Gob vs Eitri: 42/32: MS/MS: Block
Gob Dagger WQ: 7/11: Survives, WQ -1
Eitri Roundshield WQ: 7/16: Survives, WQ -1

Kob vs Melas: 19/39: MS/MS: Miss

Round 4

Melas vs Kob: 34/6: MS/MS: Block
Kob Spear WQ: 7/8: Survives, WQ -1
Melas LongKnife WQ: 14/16: Survives, WQ -1

Eitri vs Gob: 31/45: MS/CS: DTA
DTA: Gob vs Eitri: 42/42: Block
Gob Dagger WQ: 17/10: Broken

Gob: Morale: MF: Pass/No action

Kob vs Melas: 79/65: MS/CS: DTA
DTA: Melas vs Kob: 1/37: Block
Kob Spear WQ: 9/7: Broken

Round 5

Melas vs Kob: 34/49: MS/MS: Miss

Eitri vs Gob: 47/33: MS/MS: Miss

Gob: Morale: MF: Pass/No action

Kob: Grope Dagger

Round 6

Melas vs Kob: 13/81: MS/MF: A*1: Abdomen: EI: 9: S3: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 11/10: Kob is down
Kob: 3 IL

Eitri vs Gob: 89/27: MS/MS: Miss

Gob: Morale: MF: Pass/No action

Round 7

Melas vs Gob: 71/72: MS/MF: A*1: Abdomen: EI: 9: S3: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 15/10: Gob is down

As the heroes enter the room, they notice a couple of beds. Probably used to be the miners’, but now they have new occupants. A kobold and a goblin get up, pick their spears and attack.
Eitri charges at the kobold, who tries to block his attack, breaking his spear in the process. The kobold draws a dagger quickly.
The elf ranger and the thief engage in combat with the goblin who stabs Rybryn in the chest. She cries out in pain, but stands fighting.
The heroes try to find an opening, but the goblin takes advantage of the spear’s long reach, and blocks both their attempts. The goblin follows up with another stab at Rybryn. Her belly pierced, the thief falls.
The dwarf and the kobold exchange several strikes, with the kobold gaining the upper hand and hitting the dwarf in the shoulder. The dagger fails to pierce the mail, and the fight continues.
The goblin blocks the sindarin ranger’s long knife and strikes back, but the elf dodges out of harm’s way. Eitri hits with his hammeraxe the kobold right in the thorax, fracturing a few ribs. Shaken, the kobold tries to retaliate, but only hits the roundshield.
Melas slashes at the goblin who blocks the long knife, and tries to stab the elf, but the ranger does a quick side step and hacks the spear shaft in two.
Eitri attacks the kobold, who ducks. Finding an opening to the dwarf’s side, he jabs, but Eitri brings his roundshield back to bear quickly, snapping the dagger blade. Unarmed, the kobold cowers in the corner, not knowing what to do.
The heroes miss their enemies, hitting empty air instead and the goblin finds the opportunity to draw a dagger. It doesn’t do him much good as the elf ranger stabs him right in the belly, and he falls to the floor.
The dwarf tries to finish off the kobold, who jumps around, evading the sweeps.
All his attention to the dwarf, he misses the elf, who flanks him and stabs his abdomen, sending him to death.
The heroes gather around their fallen companion and tend to her wounds. Once they’re certain that she’s stable, they look around the room for anything important and press on. They find a long sword and a belt among the rubble.


C. Jagged Cavern

I’m not going to run a wandering monsters check as the party is down to two.

Nothing of interest in this narrow cut cavern in the stone. Only the occasional splashing of water driping from the ceiling.


D. Orc Lair

Round 1

Melas vs Orc: Aim High: 50/33: CS/MS: A*1: Skull: EI: 2: Minor Stab: Shock Roll: 2/10: Not Shocked
Orc: 1 IL

Eitri vs Orc: 64/84: MS/MF: A*1: Left Thigh: EI: 8: S2: Serious Fracture: Shock Roll: 8/10: Not Shocked
Orc: 3 IL

Orc vs Eitri: 57/85: MF/CS: DTA
DTA: Eitri vs Orc: 97/79: MS/MF: A*1: Left Knee: EI: 3: M1: Minor Bruise: Shock Roll: 14/10: Orc is down
Orc: 4 IL

As soon as the heroes enter this small room, the stench of rotten meat fills their nostrils. With their infravision they make out an the figure as they close in to engage.
Melas quickly stabs the orc in the skull, while Eitri follows with a heavy bash at it’s thigh, breaking it. It groans and tries to retaliate, but wounded, the dwarf takes advantage and hits it’s left knee. It loses equilibrium and falls to the floor, moaning.
The dwarf notices a loose stone slab on the floor. Pushing it aside he finds a bag of gold, probably spoils belonging to the defeated orc.


E. Trapped Room

Eitri: Awareness: 70: CF
Greek Fire Trap: 48: MS: A*1: Skull: EI: 2: M1: Minor Burn: Shock Roll: 6/15: Not Shocked.
Eitri: 1 IL

A small empty room, with a funny smell. Black ash and soot cover the floors and walls. A steel door with an iron handle sits in the middle of the floor.
As the dwarf tries to open the door he hears a clicking noise. He’s a bit late, and a jet of greek fire, lets of to his head. The helmet protects him, but without avoiding a slight burn. What’s even worse is that the whole door was a trap as behind it is only rock.


F. Gnoll Lair

Round 1

Melas vs Gno: 42/27: MS/MS: –

Eitri vs Gno: 25/79: A*2: Right Forearm: EI: 9: S2: Serious Fracture: Shock Roll: 7/10: Not Shocked: Fumble Roll: 14/11: Fail: Drops Mangar in next hex
Gno: 2 IL

Gno: Disengage to Mangar hex

Round 2

Melas vs Gno: 37/94: MS/MF: A*1: Right Shoulder: EI: 3: M1: Minor Stab: Shock Roll: 12/10: Gno is down
Gno: 3 IL

The heroes enter a room and a dozen of small insects buzz past them. Biting flies are everywhere. A large furred gnoll is sharpening his Mangar, and as he sees them attacks.
The elf tries to hit him, but he steps aside, right into the trajectory of Eitri’s hammeraxe. He hits him in the forearm, seriously hurting him, and causing him to drop his Mangar which clatters to the ground a few feet away. The gnoll jumps back to catch the weapon, and the quick elf stabs his shoulder. The gnoll screams in pain and passes out.
Searching the creature, they find an invigorating honey-like potion. Melas recognizes it for a potion of healing. Kur’s Drink. They decide to get it back to Rybryn.


C. Jagged Cavern

Wandering Monster Check: No monster


B. The First Lair

Wandering Monster Check: Monster: Bugbear

Round 1

Melas vs Bgb: 83/60: MS/CF: A*2: Skull: EI: 12: S3: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 14/14: Not Shocked
Bgb: 3 IL

Eitri vs Bgb: 89/84: MS/MF: A*1: Right Thigh: EI: 6: Serious Fracture: Stumble Roll: 9/12: Not Stumbled: Shock Roll: 16/14: Bgb is down
Bgb: 5 IL

I decide Kur’s drink will heal 2d4 IL and allow for a new SR to see if the character is still in shock. It has enough for 3 drinks.
Rybryn: Heal: 6 IL. Rybryn is back to full health.

As the heroes get back to where Rybryn is resting they see a bugbear burst in the room. The bugbear sees the two dead humanoids, and then the woman resting on the bed and lets of a loud growl.
Swiftly Melas attacks, stabbing the creature on the head. It screams in pain. Eitri hits lower at the same time, fracturing it’s thigh. Without having time to react, the creature falls to the ground, motionless.
Melas gives the healing potion to Rybryn, and by magic, her stab wounds close completely, and she’s back on her feet.


C. Jagged Cavern

Wandering Monster Check: No monster


G. Empty Room

Wandering Monster Check: No monster

I decide no to search the pile of dirt in the room.

The heroes go through a rough room like a cave, a small pile of dirt is at one corner of the room. The party moves onward.


H. Broken Room

Melas: 73: MS
Eitri: 70: CS
Rybryn: 8: MS

As the party goes through this large chamber cut from the stone, they notice the walls and ceiling are cracked, and huge chunks of stone have fallen on the floor. Their vibrations cause some more to fall as they pass through, but they avoid it without harm.


I. Narrow Tunnel

Round 1

Eitri vs Orc: 100/24: CF/MS: D*2: Left Thigh: EI: 13: G4: Grevious Cut: Automatic Stumble: Shock Roll: 17/15: Eitri is Down
Eitri: 5 IL
Bleeder

Orc vs Melas: 24/43: MS/MS: –

Round 2

Melas vs Orc: 21/95: MS/CF: A*2: Left Hip: EI: 13: G4: Grevious Stab: Automatic Stumble: Shock Roll: 11/10: Orc is Down
Orc: 4 IL

Eitri: Kur’s Drink: Heals 3 IL: Shock Roll: 5/15: Eitri is back on his feet.

The heroes find another narrow tunnel. They go through in a single file, the dwarf in front, the elf in the middle, and the thief in the rear. Suddenly the door at the end of the hall swings open, and a foul orc, lifts its gleaming black axe and marches towards them.
Eitri engages in combat, but he misses the orc, who counterstrikes, without trying to avoid the dwarf. His counterstrike hits the dwarf with full strength on his thigh. Blood spurts out from the wound. Eitri falls under the weight of his own body.
The orc steps over his fallen foe and tries to hack at the elf ranger, who avoids the strike with agility.
Melas now jabs at the orc, his long knife hitting the orc’s hip piercing it through and through. The creature lets off a scream, and faints through pain, dropping down in shock.
Without wasting any more time, the elf administers a dose of Kur’s drink to the dwarf, whose wound starts closing, but not completely. Yet, the dwarf recovers, and can fight once more.


J. The Story Room

I’m not rolling a wandering monsters check since the next room has a major fight.

The heroes enter a large chamber that has been polished smooth. Ancient dwarvish runes are carved into the walls. Eitri reads them out aloud. They tell of the story of the digging of the mine and the work that the dwarves did there. Near the end, it mentions that the dwarves found a vein of glowing iron unlike anything they had seen before. They mined this strange ore, which they called eisenmond and found they could make weapons of great magic with it.
As they mined for more eisenmond they discovered some dark and evil secret about the mountain, without saying anything more than that they packed up and left overnight.
The story ends by saying that they left behind a large nugget of eisenmond which glowed brighter than the rest, in the care of someone called the Stone King.
The heroes realize that this is the key to the secret of the mountain, and what Gustovan sent them there to find.


K. The Iron Mine

Round 1

Melas vs Orc: 8/13: MS/MS: Block
Orc: Handaxe WQ: 12/11: Broken

Rybryn vs Orc: 94/24: MF/MS: Dodge: –

Eitri vs Gob: 25/36: CS/MS: A*1: Thorax: EI: 0: No impact

Gob vs Eitri: 42/49: MS/MS: Block
Gob: Handaxe WQ: 17/11: Broken

Kob vs Eitri: 58/90: MS/CF: A*2: Face: Eye: EI: 13: G4: Grievous Stab: Shock Roll: 18/15: Eitri is down
Eitri: 6 IL

Gno vs Melas: 72/43: MF/MS: Dodge: –

Orc: Gropple dagger

Round 2

Melas vs Gno: 36/54: MS/MS: Dodge: –

Rybryn vs Orc: 64/3: MS/MS: Dodge: –

Gob: Gropple dagger

Kob vs Melas: 86/3: MF/MS: DTA
DTA Melas vs Kob: 15/67: CS/MF: A*2: Abdomen: EI: 10: S3: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 13/10: Kob is down

Gno vs Melas: 34/18: MS/MS: Dodge: –

Orc vs Rybryn: 29/43: MS/MS: Dodge: –

Round 3

Melas vs Gno: High: 53/93: MS/MF: A*1: Skull: EI: 3: M1: Minor Stab: Shock Roll: 6/10: Not Shocked
Gno: 1 IL

Rybryn vs Orc: 2/25: MS/CS: DTA
DTA: Orc vs Rybryn: 25/49: CS/MS: A*1: Left Upper Arm: EI: 9: S2: Serious Stab: Fumble Roll: 11/18: No Fumble: Shock Roll: 7/13: Not Shocked
Rybryn: 2 IL

Gob vs Melas: 75/84: MF/CS: DTA
DTA Melas vs Gob: 6/79: MS/MF: A*1: Thorax: EI: 5: S2: Shock Roll: 2/10: Not Shocked
Gob: 2 IL

Gno vs Melas: 78/54: MF/MS: DTA: –

Orc vs Rybryn: 16/15: MS/CS: DTA
DTA Rybryn vs Orc: 94/56: MF/MS: Dodge: –

Round 4

Melas vs Gob: 73/19: MS/MS: Dodge: –

Rybryn vs Orc: 64/98: MS/MF: A*1: Neck: EI: 1: M1: Minor Cut: Shock Roll: 2/10: Not Shocked
Orc: 1 IL

Gob vs Melas: 33/59: MS/MS: Block
Gob: Dagger WQ: 8/11: Survives, WQ -1
Melas LongKnife WQ: 9/15: Survives, WQ -1

Gno vs Melas: 66/25: DTA
DTA Melas vs Gno: 8/27: Block
Gno Mang WQ: 11/11: Survives, WQ -1
Melas LongKnife WQ: 8/14: Survives, WQ -1

Orc vs Rybryn: 87/26: MF/MS: DTA
DTA Rybryn vs Orc: 30/36: CS/MS: A*1: Right Upper Arm: EI: 4: M1: Minor Cut: Fumble Roll: 16/11: Drop weapon, current hex: Shock Roll: 6/10: Not Shocked
Orc: 2 IL

Round 5

Melas vs Gob: 6/17: MS/MS: (Counterstrike): B1
A
1: Neck: EI: 8: S2: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 14/10: Gob is down
D*1: Skull: EI: 6: S2: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 10/14: Not Shocked
Gob: 4 IL
Melas: 2 IL

Rybryn vs Orc: 40/52: CS/MS: A*1: Abdomen: EI: 1: M1: Minor Cut: Shock Roll: 9/10: Not Shocked
Orc: 3 IL

Gno vs Melas: 51/01: MF/MS: DTA
DTA: Melas vs Gno: 11/06: MS/MS: CS: B1:
A
1: Right Thigh: EI: 7: S2: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 11/10: Gno is down
D*1: Right Hand: EI: 8: 0: No Impact
Gno: 3 IL

Orc: Gropple dagger

Round 6

Melas vs Orc: 3/98: MS/MF: (CounterStrike): A*1: Face: Mouth: EI: 8: S2: Serious Stab: Shock Roll: 14/10: Orc is down
Orc: 5 IL

Kur’s Drink on Eitri: 5 IL Healed, 1 IL remaining. Shock Roll:2/15: Revived

The heroes enter a vast chamber that is roughly carved and still being worked. Small veins of iron ore still line the walls. Four monsters work the mine, and as they see the party they howl and attack.
Melas closes in on the orc, who tries to block his jab. The orcish handaxe is too crude for the fine elven longknife, and the axehead shatters. The orc draws a dagger as Rybryn flanks him, and dodges the attack.
Eitri locks himself in combat with the goblin and hits the humanoid in the torso, but the strike is too weak to hurt the creature, who attacks back. The goblin’s handaxe finds the tough dwarven roundshield and the hilt breaks in two. With his attention to the goblin, Eitri, fails to notice the kobold who jumps right in front of him, and stabs him with a dagger right in the eye socket, bypassing the helmet. The dwarf lets off a scream that echoes in the chamber, and holding his head, he falls to the ground.
The gnoll comes in to support the orc who fights alone against the two heroes, but his attack against Melas fails and they dance around fighting, not scoring any hits. The kobold leaves the downed dwarf and sneaks to flank Melas as well, but the elf skewers him, and it drops.
Rybryn and the orc keep fighting each other, and after a couple unsuccessful exchanges, the orc gain the advantage and stabs the thief’s left arm. She cries out at the wound, but holds on to the fight.
Melas is fighting alone against both the gnoll and the goblin who has drawn a dagger. He manages to wound each, while dodging their blows. A few more hits end in clashes, the weapons blocking each other.
Rybryn slashes at the orc, neck height, spilling some blood, the orc lunges back, only to fall into a feint, and she hacks at his arm, disarming him, the dagger clattering at the floor.
Melas charges at the goblin, who decides it’s all or nothing, and forfeits any defence in favor of scoring a hit. They stab at each other, the long knife pierces through the goblin’s neck, finishing him, while the elf is hurt at the side of his head. The wound is serious, but he stands. The gnoll attacks Melas right away, hoping to hit the disoriented elf, but he’s mastered by his opponent. Melas stabs the gnoll at the thigh. The wound is too much for the gnoll and it falls. He barely hits Melas’ weapon hand as he delivers the hit, but the armor absorbs it.
Rybryn gets past the orc’s defense, as it reaches down to get back his dagger. The thief’s shortsword hacks at his belly. The thief is assisted by his friend, and the elf dispatches the orc, with a through and through hit at his mouth.
Weary and hurt, quickly the heroes pour the last contents of Kur’s drink into Eitri’s mouth. He barely manages to gulp it, but soon the healing properties of this potent potion take effect. While he’s not entirely healthy again, he’s been saved from certain death, and his vision is partially restored. If they make it out of the mine alive, he’ll need a healer.
Searching through their opponents belongings, they find a cool silver ring, and a coil of rope. The thief takes them both.


L. Tunnel of Death

Rybryn: Awareness: 29: MS
Rybryn: Lockcraft: 63: MS

The heroes enter a smooth and straight tunnel. The floor is marked with the dark stains of dried blood. As they reach the door to the other side, Rybryn gestures the group to stop. She has noticed a mechanism that would release piles of rocks from the ceiling to fall upon them. After a short while she disarms it, and the party enters the next room.


M. Mysterious Fountain

In the center of the room is a stone fountain, carved in the image of a large dragon that coils around itself and sprays water out of its mouth. The water lands in a polished stone pool that has been cut into the floor around the statue. The air is sweet with the smell of fresh water. The heroes drink from the water to quench their thirst, and in a magical way, all their wounds and fatigue disappear.
They look around the room and see that there are no more doors, and it appears to be the end of the mine. But knowing that they haven’t found either the Stone Kind or the large lump of eisenmond, they start searching for a secret door.

Wandering Monster check: No monster

Rybryn: Awareness: 37: MS

They find the secret door.


N. Sloping Passage

The tunnel has been cut downards at a sharp angle. Walking down is very dangerous, but with the rope, the heroes descend it with great care.


O. The Eisenmond Mine

The heroes finally enter a rough stone chamber, with flakes of a mysterious glowing ore flickering in the walls, floor and ceiling, making the dark walls shimmer like a starry night.
In the center, sitting on a small stone pedestal, is a short statue carved from a single granite block. It depicts a dwarf with a pick and other mining gear, missing it’s head which is tossed in the corner. The head sports a rusty crown, fashioned from iron, The statue’s hands are open and held out as if it was holding something.

Okay, so here’s a puzzle concerning players and not characters, but it can be resolved with Int checks, which I will test.

Eitri: Awareness: 27: MS: He finds a secret compartment with two nuggets of eisenmond, that fit perfectly on the eye sockets of the statue’s head.

Eitri: Intelligence: 9/13: Success: He considers placing the head back on the statue.

Searching around for secret doors, Eitri finds a small compartment in the pedestal that contains two nuggets of eisenmond. His keen senses tell him that they fit perfectly to the head, and he proceeds to place them there.
The party looks at the head. Then Eitri decides to pay homage to his ancestors, and re-assemble the statue.
As soon as the statue is assembled, a strange light fills the room. The stone body of the statue glows and the mouth moves slowly. In a voice deep and old as the mountain around, the statue speaks.
It says about how the mine belongs to the dwarves, and how good it is that the heroes have arrived because a great evil has tainted the spirit of the place. The priceless magical stone called the Eisenkern was stolen, and along with it, the power to trap the beast that lives at the heart of the mountain. If the Eisenkern is not returned, that terrible beast will be freed, and a horrible evil will come upon all who dwell in these lands.


Ending the Adventure

The heroes return and report their story to Gustovan, who seems troubled by it. He rewards them and takes thought of the matter.


The System

Okay, this turned out more or less how I expected it to.
Hârnmaster combat needed a lot of bookkeeping, and was deadly, but to be honest it was the most interesting set of fantasy combat rules I’ve played so far. I’m certain I’ve done several mistakes, especially near the EML (Effective Mastery Level – essentially the skill level after modifiers), and considering the deadliness of the system, the outcome could have been different. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and I’m not one to nitpick a solo crunchy game.
So Hârnmaster has a very smart way to run combat. The attacker chooses a zone of attack (low, mid, high. defaults to mid) and weapon attack type (bludgeon, edge, piercing, defaults to highest impact) while the defender chooses their defense (block, counterstrike, dodge, ignore), and depending on their choices, there’s a large array of possible results (as you may have derived from the session). This all makes things interesting. You may have noticed that there were only a few results in combat where nothing happened.
Usually it had to do with the dodge defense, which is what I’d call the safest defense approach, followed by block, and finally counterstrike where you forfeit defending, and something is bound to happen. There’s a caveat though with dodge, – it’s a separate skill.
The results of combat include strikes, blocks, fumbles, stumbles, nothing (dodge), and defender tactical advantage. Now the defender tactical advantage is what I’d call an opening, The defender gets a free action. This is very effective in getting more dense action in a round, and higher chance for something happening. Also blocks have a chance to break your weapon, and also reduce your weapon’s quality. For how long can you keep blocking the enemy strikes before you end up unarmed? That’s an extra reason to carry a secondary weapon.
Now, for wounds, the strike locations have a wide array of body parts that you may hit. I went with the detailed option and not the merged ones that are available in the Dead Weight w/Quickstart adventure.
There you roll and calculate your effective impact, and get the resulting injury. The injury may cause a stumble or fumble, which will shift the battle one way or another, and of course there’s a good chance for a wound that will drop your character. Don’t go into battle unarmored!
What I really liked was how Shock Rolls include every injury, so the combatant may either fall due to accumulation of minor wounds, a new serious wound, or a mix of both.
Of course being wounded reduces your ability to fight properly and to do other physical tasks.
Another clever mechanic of Hârnmaster was spreading the Critical results among the entire range. Criticals happen whenever a _0 or _5 is rolled on the d100. Which means that the better you are, you have a higher chance to roll a critical success, but also if you’re not so good, you have a higher chance to roll a critical failure.
Injuries healing mechanics are equally crunchy (there’s a whole process to it, I won’t go into detail now), and may take weeks for full recovery.

What about the Dungeon Crawl?

All this results in a gritty low fantasy game. So I had to give my characters a chance to survive a dungeon crawl which otherwise would not be possible. I considered the healing potion as written in Dragon Quest, and saw it heals 2d4 hit points. So I decided that it will heal 2d4 Injury Levels, instantly. The last part is essentially important, as anything longer than that means, the wounded party member is not functional. I did include a new Shock Roll to give a chance that they won’t recover, but thankfully it did not happen.
The pregenerated characters were a tad bit strong (they were rolled by their authors), which is also in line with the Draqon Quest adventure where the heroes are full hit die. Also I did not want to spend time generating characters (even using points) because it wasn’t the aim of my experiment.
Following the Hârnmaster combat to the letter, made using a bow in a dungeon redundant. It’s scaled to a more realistic range, so there’s no reason the elf ranger would try to shoot a monster within melee range, and he used the long knife instead. I could have given him the option to shoot above the dwarf, when standing behind him in the narrow corridors. Maybe I should have, it would have made things more interesting and given me the opportunity to also see how missile combat works. Maybe next time.
Also the thief, in regular D&D/Dragon Quest, they should be able to hide out of sight. I did not try to do this at all. It felt wrong to me for them to vanish in plain sight. But again maybe I should try it, since the chaos of the combat and the crammed and dark dungeon conditions would allow this. I’ll consider it for next time.
I did follow the advice given in the adventure book on when to roll wandering monsters, and it all turned out quite ok.
Overall with the modifications I did, I find it was a balanced experience, and my party was at constant risk of failure. They were stronger than the individual monsters, but the constant fights did wear them down, as a proper dungeon crawl should.
As to the story, I must confess that without warping the adventure I got quite bored at about the start. There was no suspense at all, and it felt like an arena fight. I’m pondering at my next attempt to change things a bit.

Summary

Hârnmaster is still on the list of my favorite RPG systems. It’s more detailed than Mythras/Runequest. Compared to MERP/Rolemaster, it feels like in Hârnmaster you run the equation, while in MERP you lookup the result. I did enjoy this dungeon crawl, albeit I will need to make it feel less like a board game, and more like an RPG by introducing some Solo Oracle/GME elements.