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  • giorgis 11:41 pm on August 30, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    To Tharbad. Ep03 

    Although Tharbad is no longer the direct destination of Leowyn, I’m still keeping the same name for this adventure for posterity’s sake.

    Forgot to make the development rolls. Leowyn is granted 2 Intrigue, 2 Rhetoric, 1 Initiative and 1 Unarmed development roll based on her skill use last session.
    Intrigue: (42): 89,10: Increase to 43
    Rhetoric: (33): 24,11: No increase
    Initiative: (68): 26: No increase
    Unarmed: (65): 24: No increase

    So the distance she will have to travel is about 50 miles.
    Again, what I’ll be doing is once I have reached the destination by approximation, I’ll ask the Oracle about it.

    It’s an unpaved road. Depending on the weather conditions she might be moving up to 23 miles per watch.

    Day 31st Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same. It is cold, and cloudy with no snow.
    Encounter: 4: No encounter
    She traveled 20 miles. (Reducing because she didn’t leave right away at morning).

    Day 31st Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same. It is cold, and cloudy with no snow.
    Encounter: 3: No encounter
    She traveled 23 miles and made camp.

    Day 31st Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (20) is cold, and overcast with no snow.
    Encounter: 14: No encounter

    Day 31st Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (1) is freezing, and overcast and starts to snow.
    Encounter: 19: Rural, Lawless /Night: 82: Reroll as Urban: 37: Lia-Kavair (Thieves): 45: Journeyman: 29: Burgling/Casing Job/etc.
    When: At 20.17. I’ll decide that Leowyn isn’t yet asleep.

    Leowyn: Awareness: 03: MS
    Thief: Awareness: 89: MF

    Leowyn has camped by the side of the road where, a low escarpment provides some protection from the cold winds. As the temperature drops to freezing point, she throws a couple blankets over her horse to keep it warm, and lies beside it, so that their combined temperature will help them through the night.
    As she does so, she notices a torch carrying figure, trod through the road, slowly, crouched, a club at the other hand. ‘No peace-loving man walks, club at hand in the middle of the night’. She thinks. Considering how close she is to the battlesite where the Fennas Drunin guard overtook the bandits, she realizes this might be one of the bandits.
    Perhaps one that fled the fight, or one that wasn’t there in the first place, returning to their camp. It could as well be the very man that killed her beloved. With these thoughts in mind, she slowly draws her blade, puts on her helmet, wears her shield, and sneaks towards the cloaked figure.

    Leowyn: Stealth (39-25): 06: MS

    Considering the thief’s lack of awareness, the overcast night sky and snowfall, and her stealth roll success (albeit not a critical success), I rule that she has reached the presumed thief undetected.

    Paying no heed to her bruised thigh, nor to her heavy armor, moving fast, with the agility and grace of a cat, Leowyn reaches the figure, just a couple paces behind.
    She puts her blade at the back of her foe’s neck, and shouts “That’s enough. Drop your club and turn to face me.”

    Leowyn: Rhetoric (33-5): 06: MS
    Success! The figure drops their club! Time to go to donjon for some information.

    Donjon: Waerblu: Female Human Scofflaw, Evil. Waerblu has a round face, with thick silver hair and hazel eyes. She wears sturdy clothing and a yellow cloak. Waerblu has an animal companion, a sable ferret named Maly.

    A woman turns around. Round face, thick silver hair, hazel eyes. She looks at Leowyn.

    Q: Does she wear the locket? I’ll call it a 50/50.
    A: No (at least there is no such thing visible).

    “If you’re looking for your friends, they’re all dead. Feeding the crebain.” Leowyn continues, certain that the woman is part of the bandits. “Now show me your necklace, or by the ancestors, I’ll send you to join your friends.”

    I need some info on how the woman will react to Leowyn. Will she plead innocence?
    Q: Does she plead innocence?
    A: No
    So, she’s part of the bandits.

    As if accepting her fate, the woman nods. “Did you kill them?” She asks.
    “The town guard did.” Leowyn responds. She gestures up to her throat with her broadsword. “The necklace.” She adds.

    Q: Does she wear a necklacke at all?
    A: Yes, but, it’s not the one Leowyn gifted Argulf.

    She slowly puts her hands around her neck, and brings out a necklace. Leowyn sees under the torchlight, that it isn’t the one she’s looking for.
    “There were Rohirim amongst you. How many were there?”

    Q: Does she say it was five?
    A: No
    Q: Is it more?
    A: No: 1d4: 1. Intervention: 4: Advance Plot: He had a locket.

    “It was just one, but he made some impression on the rest of our group. Some of the strongest men tried to immitate him. Dress like him, and fight like him.” She responds. “Will this take long? It’s getting freezing cold here.” She asks impatiently.
    “Are you in a hurry to visit your friends in Fenas Drunin, or the afterworld?” Leowyn puts her back in her place. “Did he wear a silver locket with an intricate horse design?”
    “He did wear a locket. What’s it to you and the lockets?” She asks.
    “He’s a murderer who killed the man I loved.” Leowyn scoffs. “You’re coming with me, to the battle site.”

    Leowyn will try to bind her hands.
    Q: Does she try to escape?
    A: Yes

    I’ll roll Initiative for both of them.
    Leowyn: Initiative: (68-5): 52: MS
    Waerblu: Initiative: (55): 80: CF

    So Leowyn realizes what Waerblue is going to do, and gets to make an opposed STR roll.
    Leowyn: STR: 11+15-5: 21
    Waerblu: STR: 8+10: 18
    Leowyn wins.

    As Leowyn starts tying up the thug, she instictively realizes the bandit will make an attempt to escape. The thug makes a quick move of her hands down to get away, but Leowyn grips her tightly. Her strength as a warrior is evident, and despite her opponent’s will to run free, she overcomes her.
    “Next time it will be my blade on your hands.” Leowyn says grinding her teeth as she speeks. Revenge burns hot inside her.
    The thug’s hands bound, both to a tree, and to Leowyn, they camp for the night.

    ‘I noticed I made a mistake with regards to the middle earth calendar, and it’s not New Years now. Hithui is the equivalent of November, therefore, with this in mind, I’m continuing the adventure.’

    Day 1st Girithron, 1st Watch

    Weather (20) is now cold, and overcast and snow stops.
    Encounter: 7: No encounter

    Day 1st Girithron, 2nd Watch

    Weather (1) is now freezing, and overcast and starts to snow.
    Encounter: 12: No encounter

    Day 1st Girithron, 3rd Watch

    Weather (1) is now cold, and overcast and continues to snow.
    Encounter: 12: No encounter

    Q: Did Waerblue attempt to escape overnight? I deem this unlikely, since there was already a failed attempt.
    A: Yes, but, Leowyn realized it and she stopped short. Random event: Delightfully Heavy, Procrastinate Path.

    After a freezing cold night where the bandit lady tried once more to get up, only for Leowyn to wake up because of the well tightened ropes, and put her back to her place, they start pacing towards the battle site.
    The prisoner tries her best to delay them, slowing down whenever she can, and pulling back the horse.

    Q: Do they reach the battle site? (I’d have this at likely where it not for the delay)
    A: Yes

    I rolled some descriptors as to what they’d find, but then I recalled that the town guard told Leowyn that they left the bandits’ bodies there for all to find, so I’m going with this.

    Leowyn rides, with the bandit lady bound, and tied with a rope to the saddle, walking by the right side, when they reach the site.
    Several bodies are hanging from trees, upside down, lining the sides of the road. They’re hanging just above a standing man’s reach, so that the wolves can’t get to them, but the carrion birds have already started working.

    I’d say it’s 5d6 of them. 17.

    They count almost a dozen and a half bodies hanging. If it weren’t for deep winter, the stench would be unbearable.
    The bandit lady has turned white with horror of what she sees, and scared of the fate that might befall her.
    “Do you see him? the Rohirim?” Leowyn asks as she takes a careful look at the bodies.

    Q: Does she point out to the Rohirim bandit?
    A: No
    Q: Does she try to bargain for her freedom?
    A: No
    Q: Does she try to escape yet again?
    A: No. Intervention: Regress plot.

    She shakes her head. “I.. I can’t tell. They’re mangled, maimed. Crebain have done short work of their faces. I can’t recognize him amongst them.”
    Leoywyn scoffs. “What did he look like? Hair? Beard?”

    Donjon: Hylpre: Male Human Fighter, Evil. Hylpre is stout, with grey hair and soft grey eyes. He wears chain mail and wields a bastard sword and shield. Hylpre has a mild allergy to rodents.

    Q: Is there any gray haired bodies? (Likely)
    A: Yes, and there’s one wearing chain mail.

    “Gray hair. No beard. He’d wear mail.” the thug responds.
    Leowyn looks around and starts examining each and every hanged bandit corpse, until she finds one that fits.

    Q: Is there any necklace hanging down?
    A: No

    She looks at it closer, and cuts down the rope. The body falls down with a thud.
    She dismounts, and approaches the corpse.
    “Don’t try anything stupid.” She warns her prisoner before leaning down on the body to search it.

    Q: Is there the locket?
    A: Yes, but.

    I pause here because the “Yes, but” interpretation can either solve the quest or not.

    • Yes, but, it’s been damaged
    • Yes, but, it’s not the locket that Leowyn gave to Argulf
    • Yes, but, it’s bent so that she can’t tell for certain if it’s hers

    Since it’s so important, I’ll roll 1d3 for the interpretation.
    A: Yes, but, it’s not the locket that Leowyn gave to Argulf

    She finds a locket, not the one she gave to Argulf. Her heart sinks.
    She shows it to the bandit. “Is this it? the locket you were talking about?”

    Q: Is it the locket she had seen?
    A: Yes

    The bandit nods. “That’s the one. You’ve found your Rohirim. Are you happy? can I go now?”
    Leowyn sighs. She feels exhausted. Her path to revenge has led her astray. She abandoned her only friends back at the Last Bridge Inn while looking for a needle in a haystack.
    She walks to the bandit, and cuts her free. “You may as well. You’ll only slow me down.”

    Q: Does the bandit give any advice before fleeing?
    A: No, but, she’s grateful for the chance she’s given.

    Leowyn considers how her people stand out amongst the rest of the Eriadorians. Since he’s not been seen here, then he’s either hiding amongst his own people in Rohan, or hiding from the law in Gondor.
    She turns her horse around and heads back South once more.


    I really tried to hook the threads together into my protagonist’s goals, but the hooks didn’t catch on, almost to the point of frustration. I really wanted to give Leowyn a sense of closure, because deep down I was imagining she could possibly join her adventuring companions once more, and they could explore the Trollshaws together.
    Nevertheless, the Oracle-master has different plans in mind, and this is very much realistic, even from a social TTRPG perspective. The player went on a wild goose chase, and paid the price. Leowyn has abandoned both her friends, and her not-so-good employer.
    I’m now quite frustrated to say the least, as a player. Having Leowyn travel almost the entire distance that The Fellowship travelled over three books! even as a Rider, and even with the North South Great Road available, is no easy task. Especially considering the hexcrawl nature of Harnmaster.
    And I do not want to spend my solo gaming time, grinding through random encounters and weather generation.

    Therefore I need to improvise. I’m considering the following solutions.

    • Switch gears. Change the Timetick from the 4-hour watch, to a Day. I will need to make some calculations to make a single roll for the encounter probabilities, but that can be worked using e.g. anydice.
    • Use the BOLD Waylays mechanic. It isn’t fun to only crawl the entire distance without something happening to prevent Leowyn and generate conflict. Perhaps the Waylays are the tool to use to use a narrative description of what happened during her trip to her destination(s).

    More specifically, I’m thinking of mixing them together. I’ll be flexible as the rolls progress.


    BOLD: Waylay: Foreign deputies (Easy foes).
    I’m also rolling the Solution (optional) mostly as inspiration. Overcome on accident.

    So first of all, I need to determine the when.
    I deem that the first Waylay is on the road to Tharbad.
    It’s about 250 miles to Tharbad, so I’ll roll to see when it occurs: at 100 miles in her trip. That’s after Fenas Drunin, on the road by Mitheithel.

    Foreign deputies, my interpretation is that it’s a patrol from a group whose lands do not belong to them. Right now Leowyn is in Cardolan which is pretty much headless, so that isn’t too far fetched. Therefore it can’t be from one of the factions aiming to get a grip on the region.
    Since this is a Waylay, it must be an obstacle for Leowyn.

    I rule that this is a group from ~Angmar~ Mordor.
    Their number is going to be the lowest of 2d6: 2.
    Considering the brutality of Harnmaster, two-to one can be deadly fast. I’m keeping the ‘overcome on accident’ as a possible (Oracle confirmation first) deus ex machina. Until then, it’s up to Leowyn and her skills.

    Before I’ll go in with setting the battlefield, I need to complete some bookkeeping. Get on with Leowyn’s development rolls, and see if her bruised leg has healed.
    Awareness (44): 50. Increase to 45.
    Stealth (39): 85. Increase to 40.
    Rhetoric (33): 43. Increase to 34.
    Now for healing, there’s a heal roll every 5 days in Harnmaster. That’s kinda odd, but anyhow, I’ve decided to use this ruleset, so I’m continuing with this. Therefore, Leowyn is still injured, as she’s not entitled yet to a healing roll.

    Q: Does the encounter happen during the day?
    A: No

    Day 5th Girithron, 1st Watch

    Weather (6) is now freezing, and cloudy and has rain showers.

    I decided to do some calculations, and it seems that the moon is waning. It entered the last Quarter at 2nd Girithron and will have a New Moon at 10th Girithron. There’s not much moonlight to help Leówyn see around.

    Leowyn: Awareness (45/2): 78: MF
    Orcs: Awareness (44): 55: CF

    They’ve both failed their awareness roll (Leowyn with half skill due to sleeping), but the orcs had a critical failure, hence Leowyn detects them first.

    It’s been four days of riding that Leowyn suffered through the cold winter of Cardolan. She went past Fenas Drunin without stopping there, only paying for a boat to carry her across, and then she continued by the old road on the western bank of Mitheithel.
    The constant rain and freezing cold has exhausted her, to the point that she doesn’t care about her bruised leg anymore and falls asleep. The thought of revenge still burns in her mind as her eyes close.
    Loud shouting voices and heavy footsteps in the mud wake her up. There’s only one kind of creature that speaks that hoarse and stringy, such an ugly language. ‘Orcs’ she thinks, and quickly grabs her sword and shield, and wears her helmet hastily.
    It’s only a couple of them, but they’re twenty yards away. It’s a matter of seconds before they see her.

    Considering Leówyn’s Move attribute equals Agility and is subject to Physical Penalty, so her modified move stat is 12 which means she can move 60 feet in a combat turn.

    Due to their Critical Failure in Awareness, I’m giving Leówyn a surprise turn.
    Therefore I need to decide if she’s going to get on her steed or charge at the orcs.
    I’m feeling adventurous, she’ll charge at the orcs.

    I couldn’t find anything in the Hârnmaster rules with regards to close combat difficulty when fighting in dim lighting conditions, so I wing it at -10 using some input from Mythras.
    The orcs won’t suffer from this since they have better eyesight during nighttime.
    Am I attempting to chew more than I can?

    Turn 0

    Leówyn vs Orc1: Broadsword (76+15-35): 02: Hit!: A3: Location: 04: Skull: Impact: 11+5-7=9: S3: Serious Cut to the Skull.

    Shock Roll: 11/10: The orc is down due to shock.

    She looks at her horse and then at the orcs walking by the riverside, and makes a quick call to jump at them.
    She charges at the nearest one, before they have a chance to react. With a quick slash of her broadsword she hits the orc’s side of the head. The helmet takes the brunt of the hit, but Leówyn is strong. The blade cuts deep, and with blood spilt, the orc drops at once, from the shock of the strike.

    Turn 1

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Broadsword (76-20): 8: MS
    Orc2: Dodge (55): 83: MF
    That’s an A1 strike. Location: 09: Face. 29: Left Eye. Impact: 4+7=11: S3: Serious Cut to the Face.
    Shock Roll: 9/10: Saved.

    Orc2 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc2 vs Leówyn (55-15): 05: CS
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-35): 72: MF
    That’s an A2 strike. Location: 61: Abdomen. Impact: 10+5-9=6: S2: Serious Cut to the Abdomen.
    Shock roll: 9/11: Saved.

    Orc1: Shock: 4. It has recovered. Shock: 5: Is not in shock.

    With no hesitation, she turns to her other foe, and brings her blade in a quick overhead motion, hitting the orc at the face. His left eye gashed, the orc screams in pain, and strikes back wildly.
    His curved blade hacks at the bloodthirsty Rohirim shield maiden, right at her abdomen, cutting through both the surcoat and her mail armor.
    She gasps in pain. At the same time the first orc slowly regains it’s awareness.

    Turn 2

    Orc2: Initiative test: (55-15): 43: MF: Cautious for this turn.

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Broadsword (76-20): 36: MS
    Orc2: Dodge (55-15): 14: MS
    That’s a stand-off

    Orc2 pass (cautious).

    Orc1: Rise

    His eye scathed, the orc has stepped back and isn’t willing to fight this furious foe alone. Leówyn hacks at him once more, but the goblin dodges and avoids the hit, while his friend rises and prepares to join the fight once more.

    Turn 3

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Block
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Broadsword (76-30): 66: MF
    Orc2: Block (55-15): 52: MF
    That’s a Block.
    I deem that Leówyn’s shield is higher WQ by +1 while the Orc shield is lower WQ by -1.
    Orc test: WQ: Shield: 12: Pass
    Leówyn test: WQ: Broadsword: 15: Broken.

    Orc2 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc2 vs Leówyn (55-15): 77: MF
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-45): 7: MS
    That’s a DTA.
    Leówyn will draw her dagger.

    Orc1 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc1 vs Leówyn (85-15): CF
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-50): 15: CS
    That’s another DTA. I need to make some choices. Leówyn is wounded and is fighting two orcs equally wounded. Odds are against her. Her sword is broken. She’s fighting the dark. She might try for a lucky break with a dagger attack or disengage and go ride her horse.
    I’ll try for a dagger attack.

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc1
    Orc1 defense declaration: Counterstrike
    Leówyn vs Orc1: Dagger (70-10-20-15+5): 8: MS
    Orc1 vs Leówyn (55-15): 34: MS
    That’s an A1 strike to both of them.
    Let’s see Leówyn’s strike first: Location: 28: Right Upper Arm. Impact: 6+5-2=9: S2 Serious Stab. Fumble: 9+5=14/11: Drops the weapon: 7 in the same hex. Shock Roll: 19/11: Orc1 drops.
    Orc1 strike: Location: 4: Skull. Impact: 2+5-10=-3: No impact.

    The shield maiden slashes once more at the orc, but he blocks with the shield. The shield boss hits the blade, and the sword breaks in two.
    With reinforcements, his morale is bolstered and he steps up to strike at Leówyn, who blocks his hit, putting both her hands behind her shield. The reactive force of the blocked strike is such that the orc pauses for a few seconds, just enough for the shield maiden to draw her dagger.
    The other orc hesitates before joining the fray and Leówyn immediately reads his movement. She blocks with her shield, pushing him in a clockwise motion, and getting a clear opening to his right side. She stabs as he tries to hit her first with his curved sword. Leówyn has positioned herself to his blind spot and the orc hits her helmet with an outward strike, while her dagger digs deep into his upper arm.
    The slashed-skull orc winces in pain, drops his sword and falls down from the repeat wounds.

    Turn 4

    Orc2 initiative (55-15): 56: MF. Cautious

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Dagger (70-40): 60: CF
    Orc2 Dodge (55-15): 3: MS
    That’s a DTA.
    Orc2 will attack back as part of the DTA.

    Orc2 attack declaration vs Leówyn
    Leówyn defense declaration: Block
    Orc2 vs Leówyn (55-15): 37: MS
    Leówyn: Block (78+20-45): 45: CS
    That’s a DTA but can’t be more than one per character turn so it’s lost.

    Orc1 shock roll: 15/11: still down.

    His friend down, the one-eyed orc pauses and doesn’t move forward to deliver hit, but as she jabs air in a failed attempt he finds an opportunity. His blade is deflected by the maiden’s shield and they stand back looking at each other with deadly intent.

    Turn5

    Leówyn attack declaration vs Orc2
    Orc2 defense declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn vs Orc2: Dagger (70-40): 20: CS
    Orc2 Dodge (55-15): 85: CF
    That’s an A3 strike!
    Location: 16: Right Shoulder. Impact: 11+5-5=11. S3: Serious Stab. Fumble roll: 9+6=15/11: Drops weapon.
    Shock roll: 25: Orc2 is down.

    Orc1 shock roll: 13/11. Orc1 is still down.

    Leówyn hides her dagger behind her roundshield as she steps forward. The orc fails to notice her blade and she stabs him hard on his right shoulder. The orc opens his hand, dropping his weapon while moments later he drops from the serious wound.
    Leówyn, seriously wounded, sword broken, grabbing her abdomen, is victorious.

    Leówyn finishes off the orcs and searches them.
    Orc1: Trade goods: 2 Furs. Silver: 12d. Weapons: 1. Round shield WQ+2.
    Orc2: Weapons. Longknife WQ-2.
    Q: Is the shield of sindarin make?
    A: Yes

    She leans over each of her fallen foes and gives them a coupe de grace with her dagger. They shall trouble the common folk of Cardolan no longer. Then she proceeds to search them.
    Among their belongings she finds a farthing worth of silver, a couple of wolf pelts that will help in the winter cold, a longknife in bad shape, and a fine shield, both of elvish make. Their trophies probably, of an elvish warrior they killed.
    She takes them. May they find revenge on her hands instead.

    Development Rolls:
    Dagger: 32. No increase.
    Sword: 24. No increase.
    Shield: 76. No increase.
    Awareness: 47. Increase to 46.
    Initiative: 90. Increase to 69.


    Leówyn has 150 miles to go approximately to reach Tharbad, but she’s only 50 miles away from Fennas Drunin. She needs a healer. I need to decide if it’s best for her to head back or move on.
    It’s about 4 days ride to Tharbad, so, she’ll risk it.

    I’ll roll again for “where” a waylay will happen. If it’s at the first elapsed 100 miles, then, it’s not going to happen. Otherwise, I’ll roll for it normally.

    Waylay occurrence: 120!
    Waylay: perceiving mooks, overcome by scarce used ability.

    Day 5th Girithron, 4th Watch

    Weather (6) is now freezing, and cloudy and has rain showers.

    With the furs, the night was a little less colder this time, but the humidity of the river somehow still managed to chill her bones. Leowyn continued riding south at first light.
    It’s still the middle of the day, when four desperate looking men come charging at her from the undergrowth.
    “Get the Rohirim bitch boys! she’s bleeding!” shouts one of them, while the rest yell in undefined vowels.

    Leowyn: Awareness (45-15): 32: MF
    Mooks: Awareness (44): 66: MF

    34 yards away. Leowyn saw them first. She has the opportunity to outride them, or turn back.

    Q: Is there an opportunity to outride them?
    A: No. She must fight them, or turn back.

    They broke from their hiding spots too early, ruining their ambush. ‘Idiots’, Leowyn thought.
    But as she looks down, she sees the red in her surcoat, and knows she must either fight them, or turn back.

    She’ll try to perform a mounted charge to get past them.

    Turn 1

    Riding EML = ((84-15)+60)/2=65.
    Ridng: 73: MF: Steed performs action. Rider has -10 to AML

    Q: Does the mook attempt to dodge out of the way? (Likely)
    A: No, and, he tries to counterstrike Leowyn

    Steed Trample: (65+20): 69: MS
    Mook1 counter: 78: MF
    That’s an A3 strike. Location: 19: Left Shoulder. Impact: 4+8=12. S3: Serious Fracture. Shock Roll: 6/9. Not shocked. Fumble roll: 9+3=12/12: No Fumble.
    The steed stops in the middle of the crowd. The mook is displaced to the side.
    The mooks move close to her.

    Leowyn is too proud to let go of her task. No pitiful thugs will stop her. Instead of turning around she decides to charge onto them. The sheer weight of her horse to trample them down.
    The horse falls with might onto the foolhardy mook, who tries to counterattack with his club, but doesn’t even manage to lift his hand in time, as the steed hits his shoulder. The bones fracture, but the man stays in place, and the small steed stops.
    Worried, Leowyn sees the enemies close in to her from all sides.

    Turn 2

    Riding: 50: CS: Steed performs action. Rider has +10 to AML

    Q: Does the mook attempt to dodge out of the way? (Likely)
    A: Yes
    Steed Trample: (65): 100: CF
    Mook1 Dodge: 65: CF
    Both Stumble.
    Steed Stumble (65+20): 83: MS
    Mook1 Stumble: 9+3=12. Success.

    Leowyn declare Longknife vs Mook1
    Mook1 will Counter.
    Leowyn: (78-35+10+10)=100: CF
    Mook1: 12: MS
    That’s a D2 strike. Location: Right Hip. Impact: 10+4-3=11. S3 Serious Fracture. Stumble Roll: 12+6=18: Failure.
    Unhorsing Roll: (65-50): 13: MS. Leowyn stays in saddle.
    Shock Roll: 18: Shocked. She’s down.

    She orders her steed to kick and trample the thug in front of her, so that she makes space to ride out, but the horse and foe loose their footing, and spend a few precious seconds to stabilize themselves.
    Leowyn tries to follow up with a slashing strike at the thug, but he gets the best of her and hits her with a club to her hip. The hit is strong, and bones fracture. Her mail doesn’t offer much protection against bludgeoning damage. She almost gets unhorsed, by the sheer force of the strike. Worse comes to worse though, and she loses consciousness, dropping to the ground with a thud.

    Q: Do the mooks kills her?
    A: No
    They take all her possessions, and leave her wounded, cold and hungry.
    Q: Does Leowyn survive the wilderness? (Unlikely)
    A: No

    Having left her for dead, Leown, recovers her consciousness later, but she’s in shock. Dazed, confused, wounded, cold and hungry, she tries to reach Fenas Drunin, but she walks aimlessly in the rough countryside, and she’s lost…


    Session Summary

    This concludes the story of Leowyn, the Rohirim shield maiden. I know Harnmaster is an unforgiving system, and I shouldn’t push it with a lone character, but the odds were with her in that last encounter. The dice weren’t. Two 100s! and a mook standing against a horse where I rolled 4! on 3d6 in the impact roll. It was meant for Leowyn to perish here.

    Harnmaster is an absolute marvel with regards to combat. Both combats in this session were so graphic! I love it so much.
    But, it suffers a lot in the general skill uses, with minimal guidance as to the difficulty grades.
    In combat I loved the injury levels, shock rolls, stumbles, bleeds and all the small rules that exist to make things interesting.
    On the other hand, I find that encumbrance is very limiting, and they offset it by giving weapon attack bonuses. I think I prefer the way Mythras or even MERP handles encumbrance, which is more realistic.

    I want to continue my adventures in the Trollshaws, so I may be switching to Dwalin and Camthalion for my next session. Again, I’ll need to decide to either use Mythras, Harnmaster, or a hack of Mythras with Harnmaster combat. Some hacking and conversions are in order to achieve this.
    I also must not forget that Mythras also has a Luck point meta mechanic that could save Leowyn from such fate.

     
  • giorgis 8:16 pm on August 24, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    Running an RPG Solo as a Player 

    Introduction

    This aims to be a document with the purpose of providing some guidance on several topics with regards to how to run an RPG, Solo and GM-less. The scope of this document is focused on the player-driven approach.

    The information provided is collected through own experience, discussions in social media platforms and inspiration provided by existing authored works.

    Some text may be copy-pasted from own previous articles and provided as-is or edited as required.

    I intend to have this document, live, and make changes as required. Excuse the editing. I think the content is more important at this time.

    Hope you find it helpful.

    Concepts

    So, what is Solo Roleplay Gaming?

    I’ll start by answering the second part first. What is Roleplaying? There are so many people who know nowadays, so the relevant introductory text in RPG books is oftentimes omitted. So roleplaying means to undertake a fictional role. Usually it means in a fictional world as well, but not always. Let’s put the third aspect now, gaming. Since this is a game, roleplaying is covered by certain rules that need to be followed, and there is a line between fiction and reality, which is blurred through immersion, but still remains there. Traditionally, roleplaying games, have Players who play one character each (PC) and Game Masters, also known as Narrators or Storytellers who are tasked with delivering the experience and having fun in the process. The GM narrates everything but the PC intentions and actions, describes the world, builds up the story, runs the NPCs and also has referee duties. Some RPGs may split some of the GM duties across the players or even be completely GM-less. Now, let’s kick in the first aspect, let’s make it Solo. This means it’s definitely GM-less. The (one) player is tasked with everything. Running the entire game on their own with the objective of having fun in the process.

    If I could categorize the different solo styles that appeal to this community, I’d put them in the spectrum of two axes. Journaling vs Traditional and Player vs Story Driven.

    Journaling style: when the game mechanics are used as an inspirational prompt for narrative. The player has the narrative freedom to write pretty much anything they want, so long as it fits the concept of the prompt. The interpretation of this concept can be very fluid as well. At the end of the spectrum it treads very closely towards ‘Writing with dice’.

    Traditional style: Playing an RPG of choice with the use of a set of tools commonly known as a solo engine. The solo engine can be as light as a single oracle, or it could be coupled with random tables, generators and whatever else needed to provide prompts. The RPG system could be united with the engine (solo rpg system) or could be a standalone regular TTRPG. At the end of the spectrum it treads very closely towards being ‘a solitaire board game’.

    Player driven style: When the game revolves around the player’s actions. What are their objectives? What do they do to accomplish them? Similar to how a first person video game would be run. What do I see? What do I hear? What does my opponent do when I confront them? At the end of the spectrum it leans towards minimal metagaming. The player’s knowledge and the protagonist’s knowledge should be as close as possible.

    Story driven style: The game is set up in scenes and threads and the game revolves around building a story using the protagonist. There is a lot of metagaming knowledge involved which is used to create an interesting story arch. At the end of the spectrum, it leans towards world building and emulating the characters instead of the world. Asking the Oracle what does the protagonist do when faced with the odds designed by the player.It’s not black and white, and many solo styles fall somewhere in between.

    I haven’t touched all the styles, but I consider that my favorite styles are at the end of Player Driven, Traditional style.

    Player Driven

    In Player Driven style, there is no need to try to generate an adventure. No random events to get everything going. No seeds from an online generator. No cards with descriptors to point somewhere.
    No, instead, they avoid completely the GM side and are focused on the Player side. The player has an objective, and actively tries to make it happen. There it is.

    In my failed solo attempts, I tried so many times to view everything from a GM perspective and used a multitude of tools to get creative juices flowing, and it was okay until that point, but when I tried to have my player act through it, it just wouldn’t work. I hit mental blocks. It’s as if my Player was waiting for the GM to drive the action.

    Almost all of the social TTRPG GM material is focused on how to make adventures and worlds and how to have the players run through them. Some GMs railroad the players into the story, others don’t need to as the players get the necessary signs and play through the story. In the solo community, traditionally we use those same materials to generate solo adventures, and here’s the catch. When you’re the same person running those sides, you end up testing how will your protagonist react to what you throw at them as a GM. It’s like puppeteering! The protagonist ends up being an empty shell, even if they have motivations, objectives and emotions. Because you ask, what will they do if the story goes X way?.

    Protagonists in RPGs aren’t meant to be puppets. They are meant to act, not react. We play these games to be knights vying for glory! wizards trying to find immortality! rebels trying to overthrow galactic empires! These are not everyday people waiting to see what fate has in store for them, they make their own fates! Sure sometimes fate will strike back, but when they defeat the adversities, they get back on their task and find a way to do it.
    The knight heads off on her own to find the orc chieftain and challenge them to combat, the wizard goes to the library to find forbidden texts on necromancy, the rebels spread pamphlets to call the workers on strike!

    So instead of waiting for the Gamemaster to be a Puppetmaster and be the driver, be a Player and go do what they have to. Have the oracle react to your protagonist, not the other way around.

    Protagonist Goals

    In Player driven style, it’s important to have protagonist goals that can drive the adventure and are interesting to the player. Both long term or short term goals work, depending on what is the expectation from the player. Overall a short term goal will drive a side quest or a short adventure, like a one-shot, whereas a long term goal has the opportunity of driving adventures and sometimes even entire campaigns.

    How to decide such a goal? Sometimes it’s clear as daylight to the player, but not always.

    An approach that works is playing stereotype characters, with stereotypical motivations. It helps a lot when what the character wants to do, aligns with who the character is.

    Other approaches include random or semi-random motivation generation:

    Using an NPC motivation table can help provide some inspiration. Especially considering that NPCs generators usually weigh more on the “gray” scale of good vs evil and law vs chaos, this can give some interesting results. It may help if one takes the best-out-of-three result or something similar, defined beforehand.

    A semi-random approach is utilizing a backstory generator. These generators usually allow the player to create backstories, by using some random input upon which the player creates a much expanded output. This creative freedom can help leash any wild results that would instead be generated by a random motivation table. Using the backstory as a starting point, a goal can be more clearly set.

    Session Zero

    A session zero is a concept well known to social TTRPGs. During session zero, the GM and the Players lay the foundation of their expectations for the upcoming game, as well as defining some limits.
    It’s not much different in a solo RPG. Before diving in head first into a game, before character genaration, spend some time to define what you want from the game you’ll play.

    What theme is it going to be, which ruleset you’re going to use, which solo engines, oracles and tools. How long will this adventure be, will it use a pre-written module? What character concept have you envisioned. Of course, nothing is set in stone, and as a solo player, you have the advantage of being able to change anything of the above mid-term, without having to answer to anyone but yourself.

    Session Zero will save you valuable time going forward and reduce wading into uncharted waters. It provides awareness, so that if the game takes you away from your expectations, you can drive it back, if need be.

    A question of balance

    Often the question arises as to how many characters should the player run. There is no right or wrong answer, but it comes down to the Session Zero described above.

    If the ruleset of choice is pulp, then a single hero, may be expected to wade through waves of foes without problem. In that case, a single hero, or at most aided by sidekick, are enough, and the game can be played as is.

    Otherwise, the answer is: don’t do what your protagonist wouldn’t do. If playing a gritty, grim ruleset with a single protagonist, dont rush in blade first to a band of orcs. Choose your fights, or they’ll be short.

    If you will be running an entire party so that game balance is proper, then make sure that you haven’t chosen a very crunchy ruleset that will bring down the game to a halt.

    To crunch or not to crunch

    Some swear by light rulesets for solo RPGs, and some will even claim that heavy rulesets are not soloable.

    I’ll say this here once, crunch-heavy rulesets are soloable.

    Actually I found out that they can be even easier than light rulesets, since they do the narrative heavy lifting through the use of their mechanics, in exchange for more dice rolls and detailed bookkeeping. It all comes down once more to session zero, and what your expectations are from the game.

    Don’t choose a crunch heavy game if you don’t want to count arrows, armour weight, fatigue, or if you expect to finish a combat within 5 real life minutes. Choose it if you’d rather not try to come up with five new ways to describe X hit points worth of damage, and instead have it all described by the ruleset itself.

    Cheating

    In sort, don’t. Solo Roleplaying is very personal. So I can only speak as to what brings me joy. If I start cheating on my own dice rolls then the whole immersion structure starts to crumble. I’m no longer playing, I’m writing a story to my own whim. If I don’t follow the rules I set for myself, then it starts becoming pointless.

    I might choose different rulesets that have meta currency to avoid such fates (hero points, bennies, luck points or whatever they’re called) or a fail forward mechanic and since this is defined beforehand, it doesn’t count nor feel like cheating.

    Getting started

    The beginning of session one, can freeze a solo player like a deer in headlights.
    There’s several approaches all of which are valid.

    Use a stereotypical theme (in a tavern/inn/cantina). That’s an absolutely great place to begin the adventure and ask questions or get supplies and manpower to achieve the protagonists goal.

    Or start in the middle of the action; The rebel is in a shootout with some local imperial law enforcement, and must escape in time.
    The knight is climbing a steep hill that will lead him to an old nest of the monster he’s after, to get some clues.
    The wizard has entered a decaying library in a ruined city of sorcerer-kings.

    These are not definitive, just an easy way to start, and of course it could be anything else that has inspired the player or is described in a prewritten adventure module.
    In general, try to keep a simple concept. The Oracle and random tables/generators have a habit of throwing curveballs to the story and producing extreme results. Having everything else toned down and rationalised brings a balance.

    Metagaming

    Secret doors, trapped chests, cursed magic items, enemies patrolling around the corner, betrayal from a close friend.All these -and even more, when presented in a game by the GM provide a surprise element which can be exhilarating for the players. They are crucial for certain game types such as horror and mystery.All is good then for a table full of players and a good GM, but what happens when you play alone?Metagaming cannot be avoided at all cases, but it can be minimized or controlled.
    Sometimes you get extra output from the oracle or generator that your character wouldn’t know normally.
    There’s several approaches to this depending on what the meta knowledge is and how you want to handle it.

    • Throw the meta knowledge into the bin. Discard it completely and consider it irrelevant. Solves the issue, but not so efficient, as you destroy potentially helpful output that you might need to generate anew in the future).
    • Put it in the subconscious parking lot – to be verified until it’s needed. On a social TTRPG analogy this is similar to the GM pondering on something to be presented later. Until then, it’s like Schrödinger’s cat. It exists, buts it’s nor dead nor alive. Our information has been given, but it’s nor true nor false. The moment we look up into the box, is the moment we ask the oracle for verification. Very resource heavy as you keep information on standby. Similar to flooding your Computers RAM instead of writing the data in the HDD. Could be written down on an index card.
    • Turn it into character belief. The meta knowledge is character knowledge as to what the character believes is true. Call it hunch, cognitive experience, collective unconscious or whatever, but for some reason, the protagonist believes it. Therefore they will act with this prejudice, until it’s verified or not. This could be embarrassing or a lost opportunity if she’s wrong, but it will make the story even more interesting, give a behavioural approach to the protagonist and also give an extra reason for this additional information to exist instead of the player trying to compartmentalise the knowledge away. This is similar on a social TTRPG analogy, to a player having their own strong opinion about something, but the GM hasn’t confirmed it yet.
    • Derive information from this meta knowledge, in a mannerism/inspiration approach. Since derived output can be generated by more than one possible input, it’s a way to use this extra information while providing interesting feedback for the story to progress.
    • Reveal as soon as possible. Thus meta knowledge is true, and becomes character knowledge before becoming a burden.

    Rules and Rulings

    Rules and Rulings is a common conflict in social TTRPGs, but how does it relate in solo Roleplaying?

    In general you can consider that the Rulings are the Oracle answers. In a Traditional Player-driven solo RPG approach, the order of magnitude is as follows.

    Ruleset > Oracle > Player

    What this means, is that if there’s a rule in the RPG rule book that covers the situation at hand, go with this instead of asking the Oracle. Then proceed with any Oracle questions. Hand-rule it yourself only if nothing else makes sense.
    If the ruleset doesn’t cover it, jump ahead to asking the Oracle.
    For example, if there is a perception skill, use it to find out if your character can see anything. If there are only classes and levels, ask The Oracle.

    Also many times these go hand in hand, as you need both to glean the answer, and you need to use them in a sequential order.
    For example, once you have established that your character could have seen something because they are perceptive (successful roll), then ask the Oracle. The fact that your elven scout is eagle-eyed doesn’t mean there is something to see. But if your elf failed to see anything, then you miss your chance to ask the Oracle.

    A guideline to the switch between ruleset and oracle resolutions according to the event type, is described below.

    Action Events
    These are events driven by the player. In those, you roll first the game mechanic. If there is a success then you also ask the Oracle. The actions must be defined specifically. If you search for traps, you can’t ask the Oracle if there is hidden treasure.
    Examples:

    • The dwarf scout searches for secret doors. Roll Success!, Q: Is there a secret door?
    • The halfling thief pickpockets the merchant. Roll Success!, Q: What does the merchant carry?
    • The elf wizard casts a premonition spell. Roll Failure!, Can’t ask the Oracle.

    Reaction Events
    These are events that are triggered as a reaction to the player. If there is a chance for something to happen you ask the Oracle.
    Examples:

    • The warrior opens the chest hidden below the goblin throne. Q: Is it trapped? A: Yes!, Roll Perception to notice it or Dexterity to avoid it, whichever is higher.

    Phrasing Questions

    In order to minimise metagaming, the questions must be phrased in a way that only knowledge accessible to the protagonist can be delivered.
    What they can see, feel, smell or listen. Not what is, thinks or happens elsewhere (time/space).

    In a weird noir horror crime mystery, one may go so far as to ask what a person says.
    For example, instead of asking:
    “Did the neighbour of the victim see anything interesting last night?”
    Ask:
    “Does the neighbour say if they saw anything interesting last night?”

    This allows the player and protagonist to share the same truths, and allow for room for lies and secrets to exist, unbeknownst to the player until the time they’re revealed.

    Interpreting Answers

    The Oracle should answer the bare minimum. Imagine real Oracles. Pythia was asked How can the Greeks defeat the Persians? and her answer was With wooden walls!.Of course you don’t have to be cryptic, but don’t turn the answer into You will defeat the Persians in naval battle in Salamis straits.

    One of the most common oracle styles to closed questions is the Yes..No, But..And approach. I like the Locked Door question to give an example of how this works.

    Q: Is the door locked?

    • Yes, and, it’s barred
    • Yes, it’s locked
    • Yes, but the lock is rusty
    • No, but it’s stuck
    • No, it’s unlocked
    • No, and it’s open ajar

    Sometimes it’s tough to interpret a But..And modifier. If you find yourself spending too much time over it, disregard the modifier and go with a simple Yes..No.

    Answers to Open questions are sometimes the toughest to interpret. Depending on the tool used and the result, it can either fit perfectly or put the player in a slump. Sometimes it helps to ask a closed question to define it better.

    Randomizers and incorrect assumptions

    Other engines may implement random factors to make the story more chaotic and take the wheel off the player’s hands. They may be called with any number of terms, but their use is the same. Whenever you ask a question to the oracle, there’s a chance that something will happen to spin the story.

    Another less often used approach is for the oracle to have a chance that an assumption set in the question phrased is incorrect.

    In the above door example a wrong assumption result would mean that the answer is that there is no door there at all.
    This is an excellent way to take GM command away from the player, but at times it can be the most difficult to interpret, especially if there are several contradictory truths established beforehand. In this case even a re-roll may be necessary.

    Awareness

    Awarenes of what hat one is wearing, while playing, is very useful to the solo player.
    If the question is “what happens next”, then the solo player is wearing the GM hat, and needs to be extra careful.
    If the question is “what do I do next”, then the solo player is wearing the player hat. In this case they need to be careful not to do something stupid that might lead to the protagonist’s demise.

    Secret Oracles & Clocks

    One particular issue related to metagaming is ongoing processes that lead to an event. In case the protagonist is privy to the process and the event, then there’s no problem, but what if they’re secret?

    The dragon has swooped down in the village and the elders offered him a maiden as tribute. A young barbarian slayer has come to the rescue, delving into the dungeon to save the fair lady.
    Dark cultists have gathered in the ancient cavern. The stars are right and the ritual has begun to summon the thing that should not be into the mortal world. Two detectives and a medium have deciphered the ancient texts and are rushing to stop them.
    The bank robbery went awry and it has turned into a hostage situation. The police have surrounded the bank but have no eyes inside. The breach from the special forces is about to begin.
    The chaos space troopers have broken into the nuclear fission reactor of the metropolis and are setting it up to meltdown while at the same time they prepare the scientists for ritualistic sacrifice to their deities. Orbital drop from imperial space troopers is imminent.

    What will the protagonists encounter once they reach the final scene?

    Will the barbarian have slaughtered scores of enemies to find the dragon’s belly full or will he find a maiden ready to fall in his arms?
    Will the detective reach the grand chamber to encounter an ancient horror ending all life on earth, or will they find the cultists still chanting?
    Will the special forces breach the bank to find the treasury wide open, hostages dead or will they find the robbers still considering their options, surprised from the assault?
    Will the imperial space troopers save the scientists and lose everything in a huge meltdown or will they save the city, but find them mutilated? Will they split their forces and risk it all?

    All these questions are solved either arbitrarily, by the GM, or in solo RPGs by asking the Oracle, or through another tool, which is the Clocks.

    A clock can be fixed, e.g. 10 in-game minutes, perchance, e.g. roll 19+ on 1d20, variable, e.g. roll 20+ on 1d20+number of turns, and/or modifiable based on certain events.

    In all cases it suffers from a serious metagaming issue. The moment the clock is triggered, the player knows it and has no motivation to keep going on.
    That isn’t a problem when the clock is fixed in-story as well, e.g. the space pirates will ‘space’ one prisoner every 5 minutes unless they are given the set amount of ransom. The player knows and the character knows.
    What about cases such as the examples above? Let’s say the barbarian is in the second dungeon room and the event is triggered. He won’t get his reward if the maiden is killed. Why go on? revenge only. Suddenly an interesting story has become a chore.
    That’s the issue to tackle here, with the use of Secret Clocks.

    A Secret Clock & Oracle is one that is rolled, but you don’t know the result until such time as when you reveal the event. What is important is that a timetick (a round, turn, minute, week or whatever is suitable) is predefined, and each timetick that passes triggers a question to the oracle.

    There are three approaches:

    • Use a card-driven oracle, where the cards are drawn face down, at every timetick
    • Roll the oracle dice under an opaque cup or into a box, every timetick
    • Roll the oracle dice at the revelation of the event, once for each timetick

    A fair amount of balance is needed to not make it overly difficult, especially when rolling dice. The cards-drawn approach as it keeps things balanced, and there’s this tangible feeling of the hidden answer in front of you. The hidden dice approach works as well, but depending on the case, one might need a fair amount of dice. The roll when revealed approach misses the tangible feeling of the hidden answer.

    Hooks

    Chekhov’s gun (Chekhov’s rifle, Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.

    But still, we’re playing a game, so there is need of some ‘false promises’ to keep the suspense and possibility of failure in play.
    That’s where ‘Hooks’ come in. Places where the story threads can hook into each other to create the overarching plot. But since they’re hooks, instead of knots, they may fail to grab onto each other and become dead ends.
    Until the time that the Oracle makes the Hooks grab onto the Threads, it’s all fluid.

    How does it work? It mainly has to do with inactive, but not dead, story threads.
    Say the protagonist fought a thug and let them live. Perhaps this thug can appear again in the future and may even evolve to be a nemesis. But they will never be, unless the Player puts them back again in the story.
    But to keep this from going against the concept of Player driven play, what needs to happen is that at the next time when the thug could be reintroduced, the Oracle is asked.

    If the Oracle verifies the existence of the thug, then the Hook, has caught to the thread, if not, it flows away until there’s an occasion when they can be reintroduced.

    Prewritten adventurer modules

    The main approach of playing a prewritten adventure module solo, is to read it first. Enjoy it, leave nothing hidden, and then let the oracle take over.

    Each time that you have a new scene, encounter or location, ask the oracle if it is modified. Depending on the answer, alter it accordingly, using the tools in your disposal.

    This approach allows you both to enjoy reading the work, immersing yourself in the story, but still, allowing yourself be surprised.

    As a side note, this method can be used to almost everything you consider “fixed” in your world. A myth, a historical event, a typical tavern, a town guard. Using this, you can spice up a relatively bland day in your adventurer’s life, but without losing the player perspective.

    Zoom in/out, Speed up/down

    This is one of the points where you have to put on your GM hat and ask yourself how much detail you want.

    You can take command of the game and zoom out or speed up, and then ask a simple question “does anything interesting happen?”
    If it’s a positive answer, then drill down on the details, otherwise, skip through the boring stuff.

    This can be combined with skill rolls of the ruleset as appropriate.

    For example if nothing interesting happens, then you can make a simple Investigation skill roll to see if your character learns anything new in town. Or if you just arrived in a city and want to buy some things from the merchant, and do not wish to haggle, just buy them, without needing to play out the scene.

    Solo engines and tools

    What follows is a list, which is by no means exhaustive.

    MUNE, a simple complete Oracle, and Engine, that is a great way to get started in solo Roleplaying.

    Mythic GME, a full-fledge Oracle and Engine, complete with examples. May be the most popular of the engines at the moment. A great read, if not used as is. I prefer the Mythic Variations 2 for running Mythic, and also, for expanded reading, the first Mythic Variations.

    CRGE, an Oracle and Engine, while a bit cumbersome to use, it’s a great read.

    UNE, an NPC generator. Can generate NPCs, motivations, and helps to set up discussions.

    BOLD, a waylays and background story generator, and a connections mechanic that can be used to generate intra-party banter.

    Recluse a simple Oracle that uses the mechanic of false presuppositions.

    The Terrain Randomizer, a tool that generates interesting terrain for your scenes.

    Scarlet Heroes, a full fledged RPG and solo Engine, combined in one. Its intuitive mini-game mechanics are borderline on the RPG/boardgame style.

    Ironsworn, a full fledged RPG and solo Engine, combined in one. An excellent approach to solo roleplaying.

    Motif Story Engine, another solo engine, with very interesting concepts. Is designed with ‘patches’ that you choose, for a solo engine to your liking.

    Motif Character Engine, apart from character emulation, also provides player emulation, for a solo GM experience. Also with patches.

    Blade and Lockpick, a solo game engine and ruleset in one. Allows easy running of a group of characters.

    Freeform Universal, and RPG so simple and lightweight, using a mechanic that feels almost like a solo Oracle, that is just ready to be soloed.

     
    • Bob 3:40 am on August 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply

      I just want to thank you for the yeoman’s work you do. I enjoy every post and this one was another gem and great for the hobby. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • giorgis 11:32 am on August 27, 2022 Permalink | Reply

        I’m so glad that you like them.
        Thank you so much for the kind words!
        Cheers!

        Like

  • giorgis 1:50 pm on August 23, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    To Tharbad. Ep02 

    Day 28, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (11) stays the same.
    Encounter: 4: No encounter

    Along with 3rd watch they walked 15 miles south. They camp at a crossroads.

    Day 28, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (12) becomes Freezing. The sky is overcast, but the snowfall stops. Winds are a gale.
    Encounter: 2: No encounter

    Day 28, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (12) stays the same.
    Encounter: 17: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (14) becomes Cold, sky is cloudy. Winds turn SE and it’s windy.
    Encounter: 1: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (14) stays the same.
    Encounter: 5: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (14) stays the same. Buts it’s cool now since it’s daylight.
    Encounter: 2: No encounter

    They move further south 10 miles.

    Day 29, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (15) is cool. Sky is clear. Winds are SE gale.
    Encounter: 15: No encounter

    They move further south 10 miles and camp next to the woods.

    Day 29, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (16) is Cold, sky is cloudy. There’s light rain. Winds are windy.
    Encounter: 17: No encounter

    Day 29, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (17) is Freezing, sky is Overcast. There’s snowfall. Winds are NW Gale.
    Encounter: 18: No encounter

    Day 30, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (18) is Cold, sky is overcast. There’s snow flurries. Winds are SW windy.
    Encounter: 12: No encounter

    Day 30, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (19) is Cold, sky is cloudy. Winds are a breeze.
    Encounter: 2: No encounter

    Day 30, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same.
    Encounter: 1: No encounter

    They move 10 more miles south.

    Day 30, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (19) stays the same.
    Encounter: 16: No encounter

    They move 10 more miles south.
    The maps I follow are not printed, and I’m not certain about my counting. Since I’m not sure if they reach Fennas Drunin, I’ll ask the Oracle.

    Q: Do they reach Fennas Drunin?
    A: Yes, and, it’s still daylight when they arrive. Gates are open.

    Two more winter days on the road, and Leówyn sets eyes upon civilisation.
    At the point where the rivers Mitheithel and Bruinen meet, there is a town. A big gated wall protects the approach from the land. ‘Could this be Tharbad?’ Leówyn wonders. But it can’t be they still have ways to go. She trots back to the caravan.
    “Town ahead, at the fork of two rivers.” She shouts at Wyny.
    “That’s Fennas Drunin”. He yells, and smiles.

    Q: Do the gate guards let them through?
    A: Yes, but they must pay tolls.
    6.25d in total. 1d for Leówyn.

    At the gates, the guards stop them.
    “We’re traders!” Wyny shouts so they can listen. “Weary from the road. Attacked by bandits.”
    The guards look at them carefully. They don’t feel any pity. “Even so, you must pay the toll to enter the city for trade. 1 farthing each man afoot, 1 farthing for the cart, 1 penny for each horse.”
    Unhappy, Wyny complies with the demand. Unsure if the money will end up in the town coffers or the guards pockets.

    First things first, I need to see if they find some lodgings. Then Leówyn will have some alone time.
    Let’s see if Leówyn can gather some information about what inn is the best.

    Leówyn: Intrigue: 80: CF
    They’ll go to the most wild inn, “The River’s Edge”
    Q: Do they find lodgings at the inn?
    A: Yes, and with separate bedding.

    Leówyn asks around what’s the best lodging in town, and the locals point her to “The River’s Edge”. After talking to the innkeeper, they arrange lodgings for the entire caravan.
    Wyny lets everyone know that they’re to move out in the morning.

    Q: Does the caravan agree to move out so soon? (Unlikely)
    A: Yes

    None of them seems to mind. Leówyn finds it a bit odd that they don’t ask for more rest, especially considering that it’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow.

    I want to purchase better armor for Leówyn. And, speaking of which, I need to calculate her Encumbrance penalty.

    Endurance: 13
    Total Weight: 44,6 (Weapons 12, Armor 27.6)
    I’m also adding the clothing. Clothing also provides some protection.
    Leather Calf Boots 3.2
    Cloth Surcoat 5.3
    Cloak, Shirt, Pants (2,1,1)
    Final total weight: 52.1

    Encumbrance penalty: 4
    This means that in a fight she’ll have a -20 to her combat skill rolls!
    I should reconsider getting her more armour.
    Right now with the +15 Attack Bonus of her Broadsword and the +20 Defense Bonus of her Round shield, it’s barely acceptable.
    Also I decided that she isn’t carrying the morningstar, but has it on her saddle bag.

    She’ll go to the weaponcrafter.
    Let’s see if she has any significant encounter on the way there: 12: No encounter
    Q: Does the weaponcrafter have any kurbul vambraces and leather gauntlets for her to buy?
    A: Yes
    For a cost of 41d, she buys them.

    Walking around in the damp cold river town, she locates the “Iron Anvil”. A smithy run by dwarf smiths. She purchases some cured leather vambraces and a pair of leather gloves, before walking around the town a bit further.

    I’ll have her ask about the hobbit they met, at the town guard. See if she can get any more information.

    Leówyn: Intrigue: 24: MS
    Q: Does the town guard know anything about Eryel?
    A: Yes, but, their information is old.
    Q: Is she a murderer?
    A: Yes, and Intervention. 2: Entity Positive.
    Entity (Leówyn, Wyny, Eryel, Town Guard): Town Guard.
    Portents from Mythic: Interestingly Defeated, Oppress Fame
    So a band of enemies has been defeated.
    Q: Was Eryel a part of this band?
    A: Yes

    She goes back to the gatekeep and talks to the guards.
    “Do you have a list of wanted persons in the area? I had a meeting with a rather nefarious hobbit lady.” She asks.
    “I’d have laughed at your face talking about nefarious hobbit ladies, if that weren’t oddly specific.” The guard answers. “Her name’s Eryel. She’s wanted for murder. She’s joined some lowlifes that prey on travellers in the Angle. Where did you meet her?”
    “About a score of miles south of the great east road, on the road that leads here. It was only a couple days ago.” Leówyn says.
    As they talk, they’re interrupted by noise. Guards bringing in several people tied in ropes, leading them to the dungeon.
    “We defeated them!”. The guard briefs his friend. “We disguised ourselves as commoners and they fell for it. Unfortunately for our disguise to work we had to do away with most horses and some of them fled on foot. Scattered in all the directions. Their notoriety is crushed! Bunch of cowards.”


    ‘I spent a long time pondering on Eryel and her introduction to the party.
    I’m trying to introduce the concept of Chekhov’s Gun, but not forcefully.

    Chekhov’s gun (Chekhov’s rifle, Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.

    But still, I’m playing a game. I need some ‘false promises’ to keep the suspense and possibility of failure in play.
    So what I want to do, is introduce ‘Oracle Hooks’. Places where the story threads can hook into each other to create the overarching plot. But since they’re hooks, instead of knots, they may fail to grab onto each other and become dead ends.

    So let’s see what I have in mind. Eryel is my Chekhov’s Gun. She’s a new thread, that was delivered to my story through a random significant encounter.
    She may become a ‘False Promise’ but until that happens, I’ll try to ‘Hook’ it to the rest of the story.
    Her appearance already triggered the death of Enryn. That has significant consequences on the caravan’s way forward, but this consists more of a random event that hinders the current objective, than a Chekhov’s Gun.
    What I’m trying to do, to the extent possible, is introduce the possibility that she’s had dealings with Argulf’s murderer.
    Already I had Leówyn go ask the town guard about her.
    Then what else I did which made sense, was have some bandits scatter as did Eryel. That’s why they met her. She’s probably been in the fight and fled.
    So, what about Argulf’s murderer. I’m turning a blind eye about some probabilities here. Since I took Leówyn out of her story (she’s supposed to be riding east from Rohan to Gondor when the story begins, but I took her to Rhudaur) with the excuse of orc raids pushing her to the North, maybe that’s what happened to her target as well. Maybe Argulf’s murderer fled Gondor (most likely), to get to Rohan before news of his crime spread, and that’s when the orc raids pushed him North as well.
    There he could have joined another band of misfits, commiting to a life of crime from then on.
    These are the possibilities that go around in my thoughts, and Leówyn’s as well. These are the ‘Hooks’. Until the time that the Oracle makes the Hooks grab onto the Threads, it’s all fluid.
    So where can I place these Hooks?

    • The town guard may know of a Rohir bandit
    • A Rohir bandit may have been caught
    • A Rohir bandit may be among those who escaped

    This bandit may or may not be Argulf’s murderer, and if not he may or may not have met Argulf’s murderer.
    That’s how I’m thinking of implementing Chekhov’s Gun, from an RPG perspective.

    Just to make myself clear, not every random significant encounter is a Hook. Some of them are just obstacles, or exist merely to set the theme.
    For example whereas the Hillman encounters (both in the Last Bridge Inn) and the wilderness, and the Bali Redhelm encounter, could and should have been Hooks, the encounter with the Patrol is not right now. The encounter with the Nazgûl is a category on its own. Due to its power, its theme-setting and maybe a new thread starter. So it can be a Hook, if the current main story is resolved.

    So intermission over, back to my running story.


    “Were there any Rohirim with the bandits?”, Leówyn asks the new guard, her worry evident all over her face.

    Q: Were there?
    A: Yes
    Q: Are they captured?
    A: No
    Q: Are they dead?
    A: Yes
    Q: More than one?
    A: Yes. 2d6, disadvantage: 5 of them.

    So the oracle answers were plain Yes/No, so I had to drill down on them.

    The guard eyes her. He doesn’t know what answer she’s looking for. As he recognises her for Rohir.
    “Yes. There were a handful. They’re the ones who stood and fought. You’re brave people. I’d keep your sword in your hilt, unless you want to meet their fate in the afterworld.” He answers and puffs his chest, puts his hand on the hilt, to intimidate her.
    “No, you don’t understand. A sorry excuse for a Rohirim, murdered my beloved Argulf. I’m hunting him down. Could he be among the dead?” She says softly.

    Q: Did they bring the bodies here?
    A: No

    “You’d have to ride out to the Dunnish track. That’s where we left them for all to see. Rohirim bandits in the Dunnish track. Huh.” He talks to her and himself.
    “Did you bring back their loot? Maybe? He’d have the locket I gave my beloved. He killed him for this.” She asks.

    Q: Did they bring the loot?
    A: False Presupposition. There was no loot.

    “They had no loot. Eh, sometimes the men help themselves to the belongings of the dead thugs. It’s not like they’ll miss them. But I doubt you’ll find anyone willing to talk about it freely.” He answers.

    This is a big point for Leówyn. She’s willing to give it all to find out.

    “Ask your men. I’m willing to pay double its price if you find it. And if you let me talk to the man who has it.” She proposes.

    Leówyn: Rhetoric: 76: MF

    “As I said, the men won’t talk about it freely.” The guard replies.
    Leówyn puts a shilling worth of pennies on the table.
    “Here’s a shilling for your trouble. And if you let me talk to the bandits. Another shilling for you if the locket is found.” She tries her best.

    Leówyn: Rhetoric: 92: MF

    The guard doesn’t take the money.
    “You have trouble hearing? I said no!” He replies, annoyed. “You wanna go find the bodies of the bandits, be my guest, but there’s no talking to the prisoners, nor annoying the honest men of the guard. Begone.”
    Leówyn knows when she’s pushed her luck. She puts her money back in her pouch and leaves.

    She’ll return to the inn.
    Encounter: 1: No encounter

    Q: Has Wyny hired any additional guards?
    A: No
    Q: Has he bought another cart?
    A: No
    Q: Is everything as expected at the inn?
    A: Yes
    Q: Does the night pass by uneventful?
    A: No, but, nothing dangerous happens
    Q: Is is a guard to talk to her?
    A: No
    Portent: Loudly Messy, Trust Normal
    Ah so it’s quite simple. Since Leówyn made the mistake of booking lodgings at the most rowdy inn, they can’t get a good nights sleep due to patrons being loud and messy, but it’s the normal everyday business of the River’s Edge.

    Leówyn returns to the River’s Edge inn, and finds her bedding. It’s not comfortable and the rooms are next to the main hall, where partying drunks sing and yell until the morning.

    Day 31st, Hithui

    Come breakfast time she approaches Wyny.
    “Have you covered up your casualties in men and supplies?” She asks.
    He looks at her sideways.
    “Found any more guards? Maybe a second cart to relieve the horses and men of their burden?” She insists.
    “No, I haven’t. What’s it to you? Why the sudden interest? No one else has complained.” Wyny responds.
    Leówyn is no longer torn to her feelings. This decision is clear to her. The caravan master seems like a very selfish man.
    “You should take my advice. Can’t go like this to Tharbad. Or even better hire a barge downriver.” She pauses for a moment. “I’m leaving.”

    Q: Is he angry?
    A: No

    In a strict business way he responds to her. “Then our business is concluded. Since you voided our deal, you won’t get any pay for your work.” He waits patiently for answer.
    Leówyn scoffs, and takes her leave.

    She will try to get some information about the bandit prisoners. Will there be a public punishment?

    Q: Is there publicly available information?
    A: Yes
    So an Intrigue roll won’t be necessary.
    Q: Will there be a public punishment?
    A: False Presupposition. So there is publicly available information, but it only relates to the defeat of the bandit group.
    Donjon: the bandits are known as “Bely’s Fangs”.
    So the intrigue roll is necessary.
    Leówyn: Intrigue: 6: MS.
    Q: Will there be a public punishment?
    A: No. Random Event.
    Excitedly Familiar.
    Dispute Mundane.

    She hasn’t walked two steps out of the inn, when she hears a boy yell.
    “Bely has been defanged! Bely’s Fangs are no more! Thanks to the brave work of Thorlavan! Travel will be safe in the new year!” The town crier shouts.
    “Hey you!” She shouts to him back. “Will we get to see a hanging?”
    The boy startled, pauses for a second. “Dunno mylady. What I know is they’re either dead or in the dungeon! They’ll trouble us no more!” He answers and goes back to his task of telling the people of Fennas Drunin not to be afraid of Bely’s Fangs no more.
    With that in mind, she goes back to the inn.
    She carefully places the bait so that the conversation will begin.
    “I sure hope we’ll see a hanging. Make sure all of them are dead. Rotten scum.” She tells the innkeeper, just loud enough so that the patrons nearby can hear her.
    Soon the chatter begins, and she overhears just what she needs. “…my nephew in the guard said they’ll keep them, see if there’s any bounty for any of them in Tharbad, gain some extra coin if possible…”
    She turns to walk away. She has enough time to ride the Dunnish track and back before the guard clears out with Tharbad.
    But as she does, she bumps onto a big burly man.
    “You!” He says as he looks at her. It’s the hillman who beat her back at the Last Bridge inn.

    Q: Does he start a fight?
    A: No. He taunts her again.

    “Came to have another beating? Rohirim shield maiden?” He laughs at her face, spit drops flying all over.

    Q: Is he drunk?
    A: No, and he’s very sober.

    I’m not sure if Leówyn will start a fight now.
    Q: Does Leówyn fight again?
    A: Yes, and without warning.

    I’ll give her a free Turn.

    Turn 0

    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 69: MF

    Once more Leówyn lets anger take hold of her. She swings her leg in a sidekick but misses and hits a barstool.

    Turn 1

    Leówyn has higher Initiative than the Thug.

    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Counterstrike
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Knee: 15: CS
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 59: MF
    Strike is A3. Location is: 54: Thorax: Strike Impact: 8+1-2=7: S2 Serious Fracture.
    Shock Roll: 8/13: Not shocked.

    Thug Attack Declaration
    Leówyn Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 79: MF
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Hand: 28: MS
    Stand-off

    Now the hillman smirks and raises his fists ready to fight her. She follows with a knee strike to his chest, as he counterstrikes at the same time with a right jab. She avoids the attack, grabs his left shoulder and her knee lands at his ribs, fracturing them.
    The hillman loses his breath for but a moment as he follows with a left jab, which Leówyn gracefully dodges.

    Turn 2

    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Block
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 74: MF
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 64: MF
    Block: A2 on Leówyn’s leg, and on Thugs Hand.
    A2 on Thug: 4: M1 Minor Bruise on Hand.
    Shock Roll: 9/13: No shock
    A2 on Leówyn: 6-2: M1 Minor Bruise on Calf.

    Thug Attack Declaration
    Leówyn Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 45: CF
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Hand: 55: CS
    DTA

    DTA:
    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 48: MF
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 95: CF
    Defender Stumble: 13/11: Stumble: Falls Prone

    Leówyn has wiped the smirk off the hill and face, and she goes in with a front kick which he tried to block with a fist. The leg is stronger than a fist though, and he bruises his hand as much as Leówyn bruises her calf.
    He shouts and goes with a right jab, which Leówyn dodges by stepping to the side. She tries to sidekick him, but hits thin air. On his attempt to dodge it, he stumbles on a low table, and falls, face down to the floor.

    Turn 3

    Leówyn Attack Declaration
    Thug Defense Declaration: Dodge
    Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 54: MS
    Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 79: MF
    Strike is A1. Location is: 33: Upper Arm. Impact: 6+1-2=5. M1 Minor Bruise.
    Shock Roll: 16/13: Unconscious.

    As his opponent is still down, she kicks him hard on his upper arm. He groans and moans, and stops moving from all the beating.
    “And stay down!” She says, knowing he can’t respond.

    Q: Do the inn patrons return to their business? (Likely)
    A: Yes. Random Event. Entity Positive (Leówyn, Hillman, Wyny): Leówyn.
    Portent: Fortunately Exotic, Adversity Attention.
    My interpretation is that the fellow clients enjoyed the show, and she has a crowd.

    “To the shield-maiden!” A man raises his tankard up and the others follow and cheer.
    A couple strong armed fellows pick up the stunned hillman and throw him outside, in the stables.
    She smiles. Revenge is a cold bitch. The slight bruise on her leg actually feels good. She drinks an ale she’s been treated.
    “Tell us your name!” Shouts another one.
    “Leówyn” she answers and they all cheer her name.
    “Who’s this?” She asks.

    Donjon: Rirde.

    “I thought you knew! Seems like you’ve had some past the two of you. That’s Rirde. He used to be a tough macho hillman.”

    Q: Do we have a backstory?
    A: No

    “I’d like to think our story is now over.” Leówyn adds. She spends some time in the Rivers Edge before heading out.
    She purchases two weeks worth of rations before riding out towards the Dunnish track.


    Bookkeeping

    Injuries: M1 Minor Bruise on Right Calf
    Load: 54.2
    Encumbrance Penalty: 4
    She spent 52.5d, so she now has 2 pounds, 9 shillings and 3 pennies.


    Session Summary

    I’m exploring different avenues on how to handle the story and meta mechanics during solo play, and I’m enjoying it.
    I kinda wanted a fight to happen in this session, and dunno if I forced it subconsciously, but nonetheless I wasn’t disappointed.
    Hârnmaster really shines in delivering combat situations. I could see the the fight unfolding before my imagination, with minimal effort.

    Now as to the story, there’s a solid chance that Leówyn will find resolution. In that case, she might return to her friends in the Trollshaws. If not, she will head south towards Gondor, alone.

     
  • giorgis 10:59 pm on August 20, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    To Tharbad. Ep01 

    With no minis available during travel time to play Five Leagues from the Borderlands, I went back to Solo RPGs.
    I’ve decided to continue on Leowyn’s adventure from the Last Inn to Tharbad with the caravan. Putting the knowledge from my several plays of A Call to Glory, to use, I decided to go forward with Harnmaster as a system.
    To do this I’ll have to convert Leowyn to the Harnmaster system.

    For Harnmaster I will first try to convert the stat to the closest, and then fill in the rest of the stats with average values, or whatever makes sense.

    Appearance Attributes

    Height: 65″
    Frame: 8 (light)
    Weight: 130lbs/5
    Comeliness: 15

    Physical Attributes

    Strength: 15
    Stamina: 14
    Dexterity: 15
    Agility: 17
    Eyesight: 13
    Hearing: 9
    Smell: 11
    Voice: 10

    Personality Attributes

    Intelligence: 13
    Aura: 18
    Will: 11
    Morality: 11 (Law Abiding)

    Occupation

    Occupation: Soldier/Huscarl/LH
    Initiative/5, Foraging/4, Survival/4, Heraldry/2,
    Physician/2, Weaponcraft/2
    Riding/6, Initiative/6, Lance/6, Broadsword/5, Dagger/5,
    Roundshield/5, Shorkana/4, Seamanship/3, Piloting/2

    Optional Military:
    Cookery/4, Engineer/2, Embalming/2,
    Fishing/4, Fletching/2, Hidework/3,
    Horsecraft/2, Law/2, Masonry/2,
    Metalcraft/2

    Parents: Herdsman: Animalcraft/4, Tracking/4, Survival/4, Weatherlore/4

    CLIMBING (16): 64
    JUMPING (16): 64
    STEALTH (12): 36
    THROWING (14): 56
    AWARENESS (11): 44
    INTRIGUE (14): 42
    ORATORY (13): 26
    RHETORIC (11): 33
    SINGING (10): 30
    INITIATIVE (13): 65
    UNARMED (16): 64
    Foraging (13): 52
    Survival (14): 56
    Heraldry (13): 26
    Physician (14): 28
    Weaponcraft (14): 28
    Riding (14): 84
    Lance (15): 90
    Broadsword (15): 75
    Dagger (14): 70
    Roundshield (15): 75
    Shorkana (15): 60
    Seamanship (16): 48
    Piloting (14): 28
    Animalcraft (13): 26
    Cookery (12): 48
    Bow (14): 56
    Weatherlore (12): 36

    Equipment

    Chain Armor -> Mail Byrnie
    Steel Helm -> Plate 3/4 Helm
    Shield +20DB -> Round
    Broadsword
    Morningstar +5
    Composite Bow -> Hartbow
    35 arrows
    Dagger
    Horse
    Clothes & Personal Effects
    Belt Pouch (with money, Flint & Steel) _ 1 gp, 19 sp, 31 bp, 5 cp 24 tp
    (Added up her share of the party pool plus 1 gp I forgot to award them for saving the cart and Ambald, to her personal pool).

    On a rough conversion scale it seems that each MERP bp is about 2 Hârnic silver pennies, so that would mean that Leowyn has about 643 pennies and 2 farthings, a hefty amount. This is 2 pounds, 13 shillings, 7 pennies and 2 farthings.

    The equipment was converted either at 1:1 or what was closest that made more sense.
    The Hartbow is the elvish composite bow, but since MERP was more high fantasy than Hârn or Tolkien’s Middle Earth, I went along with it. I chose the 3/4 Plate Helm as the Rohir Steel Helm. Finally I decided that the Mail Byrnie is the equivalent to Chain Armor, based on the weight of each armor type. What worries me though is that Hârnmaster is way more gritty and realistic with regards to armor and wounds when compared to MERP, and usually armor is layered to cover many areas. The way this works right now, means that Leówyn is vulnerable at many unarmoured spots. I’m going along with it, and may have to purchase some armor to cover these at Tharbad, provided she survives that long.

    Saddlebag (Bedroll, Lockpick kit, 25′ superior rope, 9 torches, waterskin, rations).

    Advancement

    I went through the previous actual play reports and identified which situations justified an Experience roll, and proceeded to roll these. To each roll, the Skill Base is added, and if it’s greater than the Mastery Level of the Skill, its increased by 1.
    The results per skill are as follows:

    Broadsword: 7 rolls: 51,87,16,14,57,34,54: 1 increase (76)
    Roundshield: 6 rolls: 80,74,32,21,23,80: 3 increases (78)
    Bow: 1 roll: 48: –
    Unarmed: 1 roll: 79: 1 increase (65)
    Climbing: 1 roll: 5: –
    Jumping: 1 roll: 68: 1 increase (65)
    Stealth: 4 rolls: 37,93,16,28: 3 increases (39)
    Initiative: 8 rolls: 63,17,37,93,44,54,86,55: 3 increases (68)
    Riding: 1 roll: 13: –

    Also as soon as the month changes, we’ll have 30 Skill Maintenance Points to spend, and as far as I recall, we’re only a few days away (it’s Hithui 26 when they ride out).

    The Story

    So a short recap:
    Leówyn split from the party and has joined a Caravan heading south to Tharbad. She is paid 5f per day.
    The caravan comprises of two carts drawn by a horse each, another guard called Enryn, Wyny the Caravan Master, Ambald the Teamster, Suse the Healer, and three hands, Berter, Eram, Sige. They have a spare horse that belonged to the downed guard Hreodhelm whose place Leówyn took.
    Once they reach Tharbad she’ll probably look for a way to continue towards Gondor, to complete her personal task to get revenge from her lover’s killer.
    Something that bothers me is that Leówyn first met the caravan outside of Bree on the East-West road. If they were meant for Tharbad then it’s most likely that they should have been on the Andrath Greenway. Maybe there’s a story there. It could be something as simple as avoiding a certain guard, or maybe something more foul. I’ll keep this as a possible thread.
    Doing a quick count, it seems that Tharbad is 300 miles if they keep east, and go south in the Angle, to cross a bridge and keep south next to Mitheithel in order to stay on trails that the cart can traverse.


    Day 26, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (8) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are breezy and there’s sleet flurries.

    Q: Has the caravan crew repaired the broken cart? (Likely)
    A: No, and it’s not possible to repair it with the tools at hand. They’d need to be in a town or village with a carpenter.
    Q: Can the goods fit on the other cart?
    A: No, but, they can be spread amongst the horses and crew. The crew becomes baggage crew.

    The axle of the cart has been split in half. With no carpenter nearby for miles, the crew carries the goods to the other cart. They load Hreodhelm’s horse and the broken cart horse with as much as they can carry without tiring them, and split the rest amongst them. It’s going to be a slow march south.

    Encounter: 2: No encounter.
    10 miles east.

    Day 26, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (10) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are a gale and there’s snow furries.

    Encounter: 8: No encounter.
    10 miles east. Reached crossroads to south.

    Day 26, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (9) is cool, sky is overcast, winds are windy and there’s light rain.

    Encounter: 1: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 26, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (9) is cool, sky is overcast, winds are windy and there’s light rain.

    Encounter: 9: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (8) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are breeze and there’s sleet flurries.

    Encounter: 1: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (9) is cool, sky is overcast, winds are a gale and there’s light rain.

    Encounter: 13: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (10) is cold, sky is overcast, winds are a gale and there’s sleet flurries.

    Encounter: 2: No encounter.
    Moved South 10 miles.

    Day 27, Hithui, 4th Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Encounter: 7: No encounter.
    Moved South 10 miles.

    They went through some ruins.
    Q: Is there anything interesting in the ruins?
    A: No, but they didn’t get close enough.

    Day 27, Hithui, 5th Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Encounter: 1: No encounter.
    Camped.

    Day 27, Hithui, 6th Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Encounter: 19: 66: Reroll as Highway: 70: Reroll as Wilderness/Rural: 10: Farmer: 67: Villein/Wealthy Thrall: 45: At Leisure (non-work related): 92: Escaping the law/service.
    Attitude: 47: indifferent

    Time: 4/8: 10 pm.

    Donjon: Eryel: Female Halfling Peasant, Evil. Eryel has copper hair and dark green eyes, and an unusual scar on her face. She wears well-made clothing and a wooden holy symbol. Eryel has a raven named Donny.

    Q: Is Leówyn at watch?
    A: Yes

    Leówyn: Awareness: 40: CS
    Eryel: Awareness: 44: MS

    Leówyn detects Eryel first.


    Now here’s a thought on how to work with meta knowledge on the fly.
    First I need to split Character knowledge and Player (meta) knowledge. There’s also Derived knowledge that my character may deduct easily.

    Character knowledge: Female, Hobbit. Indifferent. She has copper hair and dark green eyes, and an unusual scar on her face. She wears well-made clothing and a wooden holy symbol.
    All the above are easily discernible. One can see them at first glance. So since these are given by the random tables and generators, I consider them as true.

    Derived knowledge: Farmer, Villein/Wealthy Thrall. Peasant.
    These can be deducted within moments, or by careful observation. The combination of the clothing style and their quality, along with the fact that it’s a hobbit living at the angle, means she’s a farmer quite high in the class. It’s quite likely she could even be a freeman or yeoman, therefore I’m keeping the derived knowledge results as highly likely. They may or may not need verification by the oracle. Essentially this is meta knowledge that is almost real, waiting to become character knowledge.

    Meta knowledge: Escaping the law/service, Evil, name is Eryel, she has a raven named Donny.
    None of these could be easily known to the Character. Unless Eryel gives this information or something extraordinary happens to reveal it, this all is in the sphere of imagination. The hobbit’s name could be Eryel or not, she could have a raven or not, but most importantly there’s no way to say she’s evil or that she’s escaping the law/service. So, the moment they come up, these may need to be verified by an Oracle if they’re story relevant.
    With regards to the name’s relevance to the story, If the hobbit gives a name it is going to be Eryel, but it may or may not be true.
    With regards to the rest, they’re story relevant, but will need to be verified.

    Now there’s two ways I can go about this meta knowledge.
    The first approach is to disregard it until it comes up. Until then, it’s like Schrödinger’s cat. It exists, buts it’s nor dead nor alive. Our information has been given, but it’s nor true nor false. The moment we look up into the box, is the moment we ask the oracle for verification. That’s mostly how I’ve dealt with meta knowledge given to me until now in my solo plays. Also that’s the main concept on how to solo play prewritten modules.
    The second approach is the prejudice approach. The meta knowledge is character knowledge as to what the character believes is true. Call it hunch, cognitive experience, collective unconscious or whatever, but for some reason, my protagonist believes this hobbit is evil, she’s escaping from law/service and she heard a crow before she appeared (let’s not forget my protagonist’s previous encounter with crebain). What’s even more interesting is that all these fit together like puzzle pieces as we’re talking about a lone hobbit with a scar, walking in the middle of a cold winter night, in the Trollshaws. Therefore she will act with this prejudice, until it’s verified or not. This could be embarrassing or a lost opportunity if she’s wrong, but it will make the story even more interesting, give a behavioural approach to my protagonist and also give an extra reason for this additional information to exist instead of me trying to compartmentalise the knowledge away.

    Another topic of interest is with regards to the following text in Hârnmaster:

    Only significant encounters are detailed to the players. Scores of people may be seen while walking through a busy marketplace, but only a few are likely to interact with the PCs. A generated encounter is assumed to be at least potentially significant.

    So what means significant in terms of solo play here? The way I interpret it, it’s an encounter that has the potential to evolve a story thread. It could be an existing or a new thread.
    Beware though of two things: first it doesn’t have to be a main thread or story arch, secondly, it’s only potential. The encounter could be a dud, depending on how the player reacts.


    It’s been two days that the caravan moves through the trollshaws without any issue. It’s not to wonder though that the trolls, orcs and hillmen would rather stay around warm fires than brave the snow and sleet flurries that are whipping the caravan.
    They went eastwards on the highway for about a score of miles, and camped near a crossroads before continuing south on the trail. They passed by a few ruins, but dared not go closer. Winter time is when creatures feared by men make their homes at abandoned places.
    They camped further south on the trail, near a few trees, and set up a few tarps so that they would be protected by the weather.
    Winter nights are not only colder, but longer too, so Leówyn took the first shift on the 5th and 6th watches.
    It’s around 10pm, when she notices a short figure in the distance. Shorter than dwarves, she knows it’s no goblin, but whoever travels alone in the middle of a cold winter night, may carry a dark story with them. She puts her hand on her sword hilt, and calls out to what she makes to be a hobbit.
    “Halt! Who goes there?” She asks, giving away her position, but showing that she’s not afraid.
    The hobbit steps closer.
    “Just a weary traveler, Lady. May I join your company for the night?” asks a hobbit woman. She’s wearing well made clothing, and a wooden symbol hangs on her chest. She’s got copper hair and dark green eyes. What draws Leówyn’s attention though, is the deep scar running down her face. Something about her doesn’t seem right. She keeps her hand on the hilt, and looks to Wyny, see if he’s sleeping.

    Q: Is Wyny sleeping?
    A: False Presuposition. So it’s either that Wyny is not there or he’s dead (unlikely).
    Q: Is Wyny missing?
    A: Yes.

    Ok, that’s interesting.

    Leówyn looks around but she can’t find the Caravan master. How did he sneak out during her watch, and most importantly, why. She’ll have to decide on her own what to do with the uninvited guest.

    So from the MERP Core rule book, I get that her Demeanor is Formal, Personality is Cautious and Alignment is Neutral.

    “You may sit by the fire where I can see you, but you’ll have to surrender any arms you’re carrying, and place them by the cart. Come first morning light you’ll go your own way and we go ours.” She says.

    Q: Does the hobbit agree?
    A: No, Random Event.
    Descriptors: Partially Warm
    Actions: Praise Physical

    “My lady. I’m not as strong as you are. I wouldn’t even consider turning against a warrior such as yourself. I could keep some distance if that would make you feel safer, even if that would mean I won’t be as warm as I’d like.”

    So since we have a conflict here, I’ll turn to game mechanics.
    Leówyn will use Rhetoric: 21/33: MS.

    Leówyn draws her sword from the scabbard just enough that the blade itself is visible. “I think I made myself quite clear. I will not let a traveler freeze in the cold, but I won’t let the caravan get robbed either. If you won’t let go of your arms, then leave. Or I’ll have to make you leave.”
    The hobbit nods. She reveals a long dagger, places it by the cart, and moves to the warmth of the fire.

    Considering the events, the unexpected hobbit arrival and Wyny missing, Leówyn will wake up Enryn.

    Q: Does Enryn go after Wyny?
    A: No
    Q: Does he stand guard? (Likely)
    A: Yes

    Leówyn goes to Enryn and wakes him up. She tells him about their visitor and about Wyny missing.
    “You go, look for Wyny. I’ll stand guard here and watch over our guest.” The caravan guard replies.
    She packs some gear, and heads out, torch in hand to see where the caravan master may have gone.

    Since Leówyn hasn’t got a Tracking skill, I’ll have her use Awareness instead to see if there’s something obvious.

    Leówyn: Awareness: 73: MF.
    She can’t find anything.

    After an hour or so, walking around in the dark of the night, around the camp, she can’t find any sign of Wyny, and Leówyn returns empty handed.

    Q: Has Wyny returned maybe?
    A: Yes

    “There you are.” He says as Leówyn returns. “Thought you had abandoned your post, but Enryn filled me in.”
    “I was looking for you. The timing of the little one’s appearance and your disappearance felt odd to me.” She replies.
    “Just relaxing myself. Needed to hit the pot before a good nights sleep.” He looks at Enryn and continues. “I see the two of you have everything under control, so we’ll talk again in the morning.”

    Day 28, Hithui, 1st Watch

    Weather (11) stays Cold, but it’s Snowing heavily now. Winds are North and Windy.

    Encounter: 5: No encounter

    Day 28, Hithui, 2nd Watch

    Weather (11) stays the same.

    Encounter: 5: No encounter

    Day 28, Hithui, 3rd Watch

    Weather (10) stays the same.

    Q: Is Eryel there in the morning when Leówyn wakes up?
    A: No
    Q: Is everyone alright?
    A: No, and stuff is missing.
    Q: Is Enryn dead?
    A: Yes, but no one else is hurt.

    Okay so that escalated quickly. My first impression is that Leówyn’s instinct was correct. The hobbit was a murderer escaping from the law.
    There’s a chance also that something else killed Enryn and Eryel got kidnapped or run away.
    There’s plenty of questions that arise in either case. But let’s try to set the scene.

    Q: Is there any sign of struggle?
    A: Yes
    Q: Is Enryn’s body away from the campsite? (Likely)
    A: Yes, Intervention. 1: New Entity.
    Q: Is it animal?
    A: Yes

    As the sunlight falls on her face, Leówyn wakes up. The rest of the party does, as well. Soon it hits her. Where’s Enryn? He should have woken her up.
    She quickly gathers her gear and looks around. Further away, half buried in the snow is Enryn’s body in a pool of blood. The throat is mangled. Bite marks everywhere. The face has been eaten off, and if it weren’t for his gear, he’d be unrecognisable.
    She looks for tracks, but the constant snowfall has covered everything.
    She covers the body in the cloak, and drags it over to the caravan.
    “Something attacked him at night.” She says to Wyny.
    “And someone took lots of our food and some valuables.” He responds. “Probably that hobbit. Nasty little creatures. Can’t trust them. You thing she had something to do with him?”
    “Doubt it. I think she saw an opportunity to rob us and took it, while Enryn fought for his life.” Leówyn thinks out loud. “She can’t have gone far, as she can’t ride our horses. And she didn’t scare them off because they’d have woken us. Want me to try to go after her?”
    “The snow will have covered her light foot tracks.” He shakes his head. “What do you think killed Enryn?”
    “I’d say a lone wolf, or considering how close we’re at the Trollshaws, a warg. Went for the throat first that’s why we didn’t hear a thing. It either didn’t notice the rest of us, or we were hid by the snow.”
    “We need to bury him and move on. Guarding now doesn’t make much sense. I want you a bit ahead, scouting. If you see danger, gallop back to us.” Wyny orders her.
    After handling everything, the caravan moves on.

    Encounter: 9: No encounter

    “What valuables?” Leówyn asks. “What are we selling to Tharbad?”

    Leówyn: Rhetoric: 65: CF.

    “I’m not paying you to ask questions. You’re meant to get us there. Leave the rest to us.” Wyny responds, obviously offended by the question.
    Leówyn wanted also to ask for how many days their rations will last, in the middle of winter, but she feels like it’s not a good moment to do so.
    They do have one less mouth to feed though, no matter how grim this sounds.


    Bookkeeping

    Development rolls:
    Rhetoric: 15: No increase
    Awareness: 44: No increase


    Session Summary

    Okay, so far I’m still getting the hang of Hârnmaster as a system.
    I’ll have to read more into when to use opposed rolls and some generic difficulty penalties.
    I think that with regards to mechanics it relies more heavily to rulings vs rules than I’d like. I’ll know for certain after a few more sessions.

    As for heading south to Tharbad, at this pace I’m not sure the caravan will make it.
    It’s very much likely they won’t. But it’s not like they have much choice. I’m thinking that there’s something not right with this caravan. Otherwise what could explain their odd path, odd time travelling, and unwillingness to discuss the cargo?
    Again these are not just my thoughts, probably Leówyn also considers that in the back of her head, as she rides through the snow.

    This leads me back to the approaches to meta knowledge. I’ve done some discussions on the matter, and may write a short blog post about it in the near future.

     
  • giorgis 9:34 am on August 2, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Miniatures pt87 – Nagas 

    Here’s some Naga Swords and Naga Archers from the Alternative Armies Hordes of Things range.

    I tried making my own DIY sand using Acrylic Matt Medium, Yellow Ochre Paint and Baking Soda. The texture came out nice but I wasn’t a huge fan of the colour since coverage wasn’t great and I had to apply wash and drybrush on top. Came out a bit darker than I’d like. The texture is right though. Next time I’ll apply it over a light brown undercoat and it should be fine.

    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Sword
    Naga with Bow
    Naga with Bow
    Naga with Bow
    Naga with Bow

     
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