Sunday, June 8, 2014

Following the Dice

Some days you just roll the dice and let them lead you.

Last night wound up being a game where the B/X rules specifically came into play a good deal. The player characters were en route to a ruin they had previously made a brief foray into, when a wilderness wandering encounter turned up on the die. A bit of rolling and soon the PCs were in a stereotypical ambush situation - one bandit pretending his horse had thrown a shoe and he needed help, others lurking in the woods about the road.

The party's hobbit had some heroics using a pony to charge and a spear as a lance, and one of the fighters managed to hit a bandit so hard (natural 20, maximum damage, magical weapon) that I simply had his head go missing. The other two bandits decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and retreated along an old "deer path" into the woods.

At this point, the PCs could've gone on a further adventure, but these players had a hobbit who could track them virtually invisibly in the woods. Seriously, halflings are really excellent at this, and so I rolled up a bandit camp – a full bandit encounter several miles into the woods. This involved 14 bandits, compared to 4 PCs, which normally wouldn't be a very fair encounter, but hobbits are really excellent at being invisible and silent in the woods.

The bandits went to sleep with two guards posted, one on either side of the camp. The PCs decided to make a night attack on them, and three PCs managed to blow their rolls on shooting the guard on their side of the bandit camp. The hobbit hit his with a sling, but he was so well covered that the guard still didn't see him!

I rolled each turn to see how many bandits came out of the camp, and within two turns there were three PCs taking on three bandits each, with more coming. Running was a consideration, as PCs were taking damage and may not have lasted too long. Then each of them killed one of their bandits, and following the Moldvay morale rules, the bandits broke. This turned into a complete rout between initiative and free hits for withdrawing from combat.

Now, if you know Moldvay, bandits are pretty worthless for individual treasure, but a lair of bandits are treasure type A. And the dice turned up good for the PCs on thousands of gold (2) and thousands of platinum (2). That made it a very large treasure, and actually got each PC a level. Two of the fighters are at 4th level (Hero) while the hobbit and the new fighter easily made level 2. This despite having a pronounced lack of magic-users or clerics in the party.

The rest of the session was spent in the Keep on the Borderlands, getting magic items identified and paying a Sage to get some information on the palace they had been seeking. This was another place where we spent a lot of time with the Expert rules; I had given arbitrary percentages for each type of specialist to be present in the Keep, and the Sage was the one that came up. It let me give a bit of background on the ruin, which was nice, without doing too huge of an infodump.

It was a fun derail, with a real element of danger. The recon the PCs did was the main reason they were able to defeat the bandits, and become big damn heroes at the Keep in the process. I found running with the results the dice were giving me created an interesting, if totally unexpected, result.

(For the curious, the dice pictured above are 4 sets of 7 GameScience poly dice, one set of 6 Diamond Dice from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, and two GameScience d20+ labelled 0-9 and 1+, 2+, 3+, ..., 0+ so you can use them as d10s or d20s, with the + indicating an add 10.)


  1. Was thinking we had jumped into the deep end of the pool for a few rounds but it turned out good. I had a good time like always now to get us a healer in the party!!!

  2. The dice are not random. They are oracles.

    If you can hold this thought in your head, and trust the dice, they will take you on a memorable adventure.

  3. I was just the other day thinking that Halflings are the Rangers of Basic D&D, due to their skills with missile fire and hiding in the woods. Give them some ability to track and you are set.

  4. It's true. 90% hide outdoors is none of your rubbish. That's some good stuff.

    OTOH they are still a little overcosted at 2200 for lvl 2 and so forth. I wouldn't mind giving them tracking or a thief skill for free.

  5. Nice dice collection. What do you use for dice inking?


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