Sunday 19 December 2010

Trossley: End of Innocence

Last week's session was a tense, hard and brutal slog with one of the three PCs dead at the end and the others unconscious, saved only by NPC allies.

With the bullying behavior of the Skull Stackers bandits dominating the Gray Courtyard rampart overlooking the dungeon entrance, a shadow was cast over the prospect of dungeoneering. But now is a good time to mention the NPC Fergus, a bandit from the rival Invisibles gang and veteran of the old days of the Castle, who had been hiding his cohorts in the illusion-concealed and empty Castle ruins.

What are the consequences of an empty dungeon that suddenly restocks itself for mysterious reasons?

Well, Fergus was disconcerted by the appearance of his dead comrades - and, amazingly, even his younger self - when the Skull Stackers gang "respawned." One session prior, he had turned up in town, having fled the Castle in the night after it reappeared and ... came alive.

This session Fergus pulled himself together and, urged on by the priest and Mayor, proposed that the party join the Invisibles in immediate hostile action against the Stackers. Fortuitously - as it turned out - one of my frequent "wouldn't it be cool if this happened" die rolls worked out and the woodland warrior NPC Burnsteen was back in town and eager to join the fight.

Approaching the redoubt of the Invisibles, Fergus was hailed by the small garrison left behind, as his rival for leadership, Brom, had gone foraging in secret with the main strength of the band. The two sides were facing each other on opposite sides of a tower with two doors and adjacent wall, neither side daring to step in the tower or make for the top. Now with the numbers and magic, the party decided to rush into the breach. The other tower door was open, the Skulls nowhere to be seen. Most of the force quickly gained the top floors of the tower, with two Invisibles bandits stationed at ground level - just in time to be swept forth by the charge of the fearsome half-orc fighter Grainne leading the Skull Stackers band.

The ground floor friendlies panicked and ran, Grainne chasing them out into the further court but then retreating after being peppered by missile fire from tower and battlement. The dwarf Grumpka held the stairs against the assault of the axe-wielding foeman lieutenant, while shooters behind and to the side took their angles as best they could, screened by Fergus. Once again, Grumpka's bad luck was good luck as she got downed to exactly zero, earning only a concussion rather than any roll for lasting effects. Fergus and shooters downed the axeman, and then Grainne took to the stairs, swinging her mighty two-handed sword, her armor of strong viridescent goblin-metal protecting her to an exemplary extent.

Fergus took a wound, quickly healed by the holy militant Boniface, and then counterstruck for a critical that faced Grainne with the option between maximum damage and falling from the stair. I chose the fall for her, and then Fergus made an exceptional morale roll that had him leaping on the hulking amazon, sword blade choked in gloved hand for an up-close brawl!

It was then, as Grainne's followers crowded around and tried to pull Fergus off, that the wizard Ephemera made her brave and selfless choice to try to save Fergus. Descending the perilous stair, she won initative and cast her sleep spell. All but Grainne, even Fergus, fell asleep... and getting to her feet, the half-orc won initiative, overtook the frail spellcaster, and dealt out instant death.

Grainne then leapt up the stairs. There fell Boniface - left arm out of commission for a week, by my new negative hits table. There fell the dull-witted Balm - loss of left hand, by the same table. Cordoon, Callow and Burnsteen finally faced her, and Burnsteen finished her with a well-placed sword thrust.

I'll finish with the "death & dismemberment" table I'm using, working off similar efforts by Trollsmyth and others, but leaning more toward Norman Harman or Eric Minton's bloodier versions.

A blow that takes a player character or follower to zero HP results in unconsciousness for 2d6 rounds.

A blow that takes the character or follower below zero HP requires a roll on this table, using 2d6 with -1 for each point the character finds him/herself below zero after the wound is inflicted. Yes, this one is a real killer .. if you roll boxcars at -1, you're well advised to play possum, as the next hit will almost certainly kill you. It's somewhat tempered by the "unconscious at 0" rule, though.

2 or lower: Instant death blow to random vital area.
3: Fatal wound to random vital area. Will die in 1d6 turns unless Cure Critical Wounds is applied.
4: Severed or crushed random limb. Will bleed to death in 3d6 rounds unless tourniquet, cauterization or Cure Critical Wounds is applied. Cannot act for 2d6 rounds due to shock. Limb is permanently unusable.
5-6 Serious wound to random vital area. Cannot act for 2d6 days or until Cure Serious Wounds is cast specifically to remove the wound, not for hit points - the unusability is independent of hit points.
7-8 Serious wound to random limb. Cannot act for 1d6 rounds due to shock. Limb unusable for 2d6 days or until Cure Serious Wounds is cast specifically to remove the wound, not for hit points - the unusability is independent of hit points.
9 Light wound to random vital area. Cannot act for 1d6 rounds.
10 Light wound to random limb. Cannot use limb for 1d6 rounds.
11+ Fight on you lucky (?) weasel! No effect.

Limbs are rolled on d6/d6: 1 = eye (1-2) ear (3-4) nose (5-6); 2= left fingers (1-2) hand (3-4) arm (5-6); 3= right fingers/hand/arm; 4 = non-vital torso wound that affects use of both legs; 5 = left foot (1-2) leg (3-6); 6 right foot/leg.

Vitals are rolled on d6: 1 crown/brain 2 throat 3 heart 4 lungs 5 guts 6 kidneys or other.

Next post, the aftermath of the slaughter and some more general comments on PC death.


  1. In case you're interested, I have my own version of the DD&DD table. You can find it here -

    I've been using it in my CotMA game since I wrote it up. It's been great! Enjoy!

  2. Thanks Jim. I especially like how you've got the different types of damage laid out to make more sense.