Microlite75 Swords & Sorcery Playtest: My Sunday game was very small, only 4 of my 9 players could make it. What to do? Turn the session into a special playtest. All four players created 4th level characters (3 Adventurers and 1 Sorcerer), I handed out a few magic items to represent prior adventuring, and sicced the PCs on an adult dragon that had been terrorizing a frontier area. Naturally, the PCs had a pack of hirelings and a unit of town militia to aid them. The object was to find out just how much a mid-level S&S party could successfully take on.
A frontal assault would have been suicide, of course, and these players knew that. But with the limited resources available to M74 S&S characters, they had to be very inventive. They spend a lot of time scouting. Too much time as the dragon attacked another village while they scouting and planning and the local authorities began to pressure them to DO something. They decided to set up an ambush at the entrance to the dragon's cave and attack it as it exited. A good plan, but they were not awake that the dragon had a second way out nor that the dragon has just decided to take a long nap.
Two days go by and no dragon. Needless to say, the hirelings and militia are relieved but are also starting to be less effective due to the long wait. One of the PCs, the Sorcerer of all people, decides to sneak down and spy on the dragon. He sees the dragon is asleep and decides to retreat and get the rest of the group. They abandon their ambush plan and head down to attack the dragon. Some of the hirelings and militia types fail morale checks and run away when they first see the sleeping dragon. One of the player's must have failed his (the player's) IQ roll as he tries to sneak up on the dragon and attack his partially exposed underbelly -- which will require crawling under the dragon via a hollow in the rock behind him. When he strikes his blow, everyone else will attack.
Amazingly, he manages to crawl under the dragon and attacks. I rule the attack an autosuccess as all the PC has to do is thrust upward with his sword +2 (the best melee weapon in the group). This hurts and annoys the dragon making him move -- which squashes the PC under him, failed save and dead. Opps. The militia under the leadership of one of the PCs fire arrows at the dragon with minor success. The annoyed dragon breathes fire roasting the militia and toasting the PC badly (but he would survive). Most of the rest of the hirelings fail morale checks and run or hide. One of the two remaining PCs manages to hit the dragon in the eye and it heads for the second exit the PCs were not aware of and escapes -- mainly because we had run out of play time.
Lessons learned, mid-level M74 S&S characters can take on a dragon, but it will take very good planning and some good luck to actually beat that dragon in combat. And there will be a lot of death and destruction before that dragon dies. All four players had a good time and found this situation far more exciting than a dragon encounter in my regular M74 (non-S&S) campaign. Perhaps the best lesson learned, however, was that proper prior planning can only prevent piss poor performance if you stay with the plan.
Dinosaurs are coming to the Microlite74 Swords & Sorcery monster list. I've had several requests for dinosaurs, so I'll add them to the monster list. Although after seeing 4 PCs against a dragon, I'm not sure I'd want to see anyone take on a T. Rex.
Cancer Fund Drive News: When the Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive ended without giving away the FEZ 1: Valley of Trees: and the Quest for the Fazzlewood: modules Alexi donated, he mentioned something about trying again after tax season. I did not think he was serious, but he is. Tax day in the US was the 17th this and Alexi informs me it is April 30th in Canada. So at Alexis request, we will have a very short "make-up fund drive" to try one more time to give these to items away. The official announcement will be later this week (as I have to write it up) but everyone who donated in the Leap Month drive (or who donated this month just to help move M74 S&S along) will be eligible for the drawings for these last two modules provided the goals for this mini-drive are met from new donations. Here are descriptions of the two items Alexi is offering for this "make-up drive", both are relatively rare items:
FEZ 1: Valley of Trees: This is the original 1982 version of FEZ I. It is 40 pages long and in a green folder. The more common 1987 version of FEZ I, Wizard's Vale, was only 32 pages long and had somewhat different content. The folder is not in the best of shape. the module booklet is in very good shape. It has pencil marks.
Quest for the Fazzlewood: This was used as a tournament module at Wintercon VII in 1978 and published in low numbers by Metro Detroit Gamers. It was later expanded and modified by TSR and published as O1: Gem and the Staff in the early 1980s. It is 12 loose pages of adventure and a "Player Evaluation Sheet" used to score the player for the tournament, all in a light cardstock folder/cover. The module was designed for one player. It's in good shape but has DM notes/marks in pencil, apparently from when Alexi's cousin DMed the game at Wintercon VII.
If you'd like to donate, you don't need to wait for the official announcement as any donations made now will count. We are trying to raise about $900 which will finish paying off the various bills the original Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive was aiming to pay. So if you want to jump start things, send a donation in any amount -- small or large -- to me via Paypal. Remember, if you donated during the Leap Month Cancer Fund Drive, your drawing chances will carry over -- no need to donate any more to qualify (unless you just want to).