Wednesday, December 22, 2010

RPG session report 2

Our second RuneQuest session was far more intense than the first. Events followed as:
The group made camp, having decided not to follow the horse thieves through the night. They rose early the following day to continue the pursuit. Within a few hours, however, Flavias had once again lost the tracks of the bandits. A debate followed; should they give up the chase or should they attempt to follow in the general direction of the brigands (roughly north-east)? They chose the latter. Luckily, within a few hours, Flavias found the tracks.

The party arrived at a steep hillside. They saw bare rock and cliff above and steeper ground ahead. They smelt cooking meat. More debate; approach from the sides, sneak in, or approach up-front? Flavias, this time in the role of sneak, went in to gather information. A minute later she'd alerted a goblin lookout who'd been on watch from the second lowest branch of a tree. The first Flavias knew of it was a stone (from a sling) that struck her lower back. She yelped in pain. This cry alerted the other goblins nearby.

The adventurers sprung into action. After catching up to Flavias, Ben Polio and Soliste lingered underneath the goblin's tree, unable to reach it. Flavias fired arrows at the goblin. One arrow hit, but only grazed the creature. Trax arrived and threw a javelin into its right side. The goblin faulted and fell to the ground. Moments later the goblin was pierced through it's right thigh by either a short-spear or an arrow, but events where moving too quickly for anyone to take note. The goblin was overwhelmed by pain and fell unconscious.

Soliste noticed another goblin, further away, also skulking on a branch of a tree. She went off to deal with it. As she did so, she noticed four more goblins, this time on foot, coming down the hillside.

Regrouping around the bleeding goblin, the adventurers attempted to make a deal with their adversaries; the life of the hostage for their horses. The goblins refused. Our travellers opened hostilities. The goblins prepared spells.

Soliste prepared a complex sorcery spell targeting all the goblins. She intended to poison their senses, leave them incapacitated and overwhelmed by a phantom, burning taste in their mouths. Through all her intent, the spell failed and fizzled into the æther.
Nevertheless, within seconds three goblins were dead. The survivors hastily surrendered. They were bound and forced back up the hill to their camp. A quick glance around the camp revealed that Ben Polio's and Soliste's horses were missing. The goblins had sold them to a barbarian tribe for two hundred silver, far less than they were worth. Collecting the silver (two hundred and twenty eight in total), the goblins' weapons and the horses, all that remained was to deal with the survivors. More debate; take them as slaves, leave them bound, kill them?

Our band left the dead bodies near the burning fire at the cave entrance. Anid had acted decisively and brutally. Six dead goblins, carelessly abandoned to rodents and maggots.

When we left our adventurers, they'd had reached the borders of the Black Grove Clan, only hours from Verstead.
I hadn't intended that the party fight the goblins. I think it was partially my fault. I'd considered that they might sneak into the camp, but didn't think about what would happen if they failed to move stealthily. It made sense for the lookout to attack Flavias. However, when the goblins refused to hand-over all the horses for their dying companion, they should have at least offered to give them one horse in exchange (they were certainly never going to give up all three.) I didn't think of bartering. Obvious in hindsight.

We learnt one thing; the adventurers are brutal and not afraid to make gritty decisions.

Even though there was a fight that I thought was going to be avoided, the action played out relativity quickly. I even made the mistake of giving the goblins more combat actions than was permitted (I forgot to count parrying as a combat action). Six goblins are no match for five adventurers. (Note: I need to buy a few coloured glass beads to keep track of combat actions.)

Goblins aren't normally part of Glorantha. I wanted some tricksters that were good at getting about during the night. Goblins fitted well. Nevertheless, these weren't the goblins of D&D. They weren't evil. They were just out to make a living and provide food for their clan. They paid dearly.

This was the first time we were hit with the full impact of the RuneQuest rules. I've read the core rules at least three times. I used about 40% of them correctly and forgot about 30%. Getting so much of it wrong definitely made me anxious. Rules make the game more objective rather than "what the game master says," so I wanted to get them correct. At the same time, one needs to be ready to instantly dismiss a rules if they're forgotten or don't fit well with what the players are trying to achieve. It's quite difficult to balance. It went okay, but I wish the rules were simpler. However, I really like things like hit locations and combat manoeuvres. I've been waiting for those to manifest in RPGs for years and they're done very well in RuneQuest. Maybe in a few more sessions we'll know and remember the rules better and they won't get in the way.

Through the last two sessions, one of the issues I've had is that I've assumed the characters will succeed in what they do. I've been thrown a number of times when dice results go against what I've imagined. It's a foolish assumption. They're inexperienced, I should assume failure, not success. But, I need to plan for both.

Chris' observations are here.

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