This what I did and why.
Game One (four new players, three experienced) – I came up with a setting in which all the players were the seventeen year old sons or daughters of a minor noble, whose fathers were attending the annual pre-harvest dinner at the feudal lord’s castle. I drew a map with the castle in the centre, ringed by the barons’ seven forts, with mountains to the north and east, sea to the west and south. Each baron specialised in a farm animal – the Pig Lord, the Duck Lord and so on.
Each player was woken at 3am to something (a demon) trying to get into their room with these forts under attack by giant spiders. The faithful retainers of their fathers and their bodyguards helped if necessary. They had to fight off the demon and leap out of a first floor window and get away. This meant I had to revolve through seven separate scenes. I did not want anyone to be characterless and had to have one retainer give two powerful healing potions as the poor Chicken Lord’s son got himself pasted by the demon and then impaled himself on the railings when he leapt for safety.
The Horse Lord’s son decided to retrieve his horse from the besieged stables, which drew matters out a bit but thrilled the player; some of the players were magic-users and had fun with throwing spells (I kept them to a very short list of Oh Go Away, TTYF and Hold That Pose).
When they got out of the forts, they saw that the Harvest Lord’s castle was encircled by a vicious army of knights in black armour so they soon gave up on trying to break in to the besieged castle. Then a message exploded in the sky above, shot from a catapult within the castle, saying ‘Kill Witch Wirimu’ – I had marked the stronghold of this not seen for many a moon witch and this is where they journey to, which is how I got them all together and they had a ‘dungeon’ experience.
The game was clearly enjoyed by all the players although for one of the experienced ones it was too slow at the start even though I whirled about like a tornado.
We started at 3.15 rolling up characters and finished at 5.50, ten minutes before home time with Witch Wirimu killed and the Harvest Lord’s castle no longer under siege. The Pig Lord’s boy was, sadly, killed by the other players, after he leapt down a shaft on top of his mates. Fair enough, say I.
Game 2 –
I should say that I made all players rogues to introduce magic a little (I don’t like starting without it but there are just too many L1 spells in 7.5) – I gave them one spell guaranteed and then they got a second spell if they made a L1 SR on INT and three spells if they made a L2 SR; I stuck to the 5.5 spells plus Hold That Pose for their choices.
Charlie suggested we use Ken’s ‘Naked Doom’ so that is what we did. He was delighted when I told him that he would play a crazed, blind and doddering wizard, Khaghtch’an (whom the Kraken continent is named after) on the premise that he had been cursed to require a roll of 8 or better to cast any spell; we agreed that he was of the same ilk as the Liche-Lord in Andy Holmes’ recent release and the notion of being able to cast ‘Summoning’ lit him up.
I drew a quick map from Ken’s text and then we were away with the character creation, which was quite quick as there was no need to think of weapons and armour. I had each player think of why they had been put in prison beneath the city of Khaboom and these tales wove themselves into the game as we went along. One had failed to get to the Mayor’s residence so instead had blown up his greenhouse and destroyed his prize cucumbers, another had been caught selling wormy apples to a chidren’s home and the third had got in a bar fight with a popular uruk and bitten his rival’s little finger off – we played out the court scene here and the player duly blew the CHR saving roll in his appeal to the judge.
There were just too many villains in the Rogues Gallery Prison and so anyone one who wanted to, in groups of three, was allowed to take the ‘All of Nothing’ run for freedom and a job in the City Watch. The players all went for it but were less thrilled when the each had to put on a redstone ring which meant that if one died down there, the others would too.
I really didn’t want one player having to drop out early on, nor did I want them to have to take over a NPC down in the dungeon, and I certainly didn’t want them to feel that they were unlikely to die.
They soon blundered in to the old fool wizard (well, they were in the darkness) after the guards had seen them off with the traditional arrow shots, even though one cleverly attempted to bribe a guard with a cure for his bunnions if he slipped them a weapon (he refused but deliberately fired high unlike his colleague).
The mad wizard was a wild card but did not dominate; the players laughed but generally were on the edge of their seats with the sense of lurking death. I added to ken’s text to stimulate play and nothing was too easy for the new players, even though two greatly benefitted from trying for the Hero and Hopeless swords.
They did not get out but all still live, even if one has nasty burns to the face; they all want to know when they can resume. One is an artist and might start drawing for me J