Friday, March 2, 2012

Tomb of the Elephant

Our last-minute game of Chainmail-as-RPG last Friday went swimmingly, for a number of reasons:

  1. G+ Hangouts rock! We lost Will towards the end, but he gamely hung on with through IM.
  2. I finally got to freaking test some of the dynamics of Fantasy Supplement combat. Lots of good info!
So it was me, Will and Kris playing, with my Tom literally just hanging out for a bit. We whipped up characters in a matter of minutes. I gave each of them the option of up to 3HD of followers, so Will made Eric the Hero and his henchmen, um, now I'm forgetting (and I don't have my notes in front of me...)... Charles, Frederick, and Rupert? I'm sure of Rupert... Each one was a 1HD Veteran. Kris made a Wizard (which as Will pointed out, is worth 100 army building pts as compared to 20 for his Hero...) named Biwulf (?) with a 3HD pet giant spider named Fuzzy. We decided on the spot that Fuzzy would attack as a Lycanthrope.

When Biwulf had a scroll slipped into his pocket by a mumbling, disturbingly large-eared man in the back streets of Mad Dog's Defeat, it turned out to have a map to a dungeon referred to as The Elephant's Tomb, they headed out to try their luck. Finding it obscured by undergrowth (see picture above), they headed through the door, and soon had reason to try out the combat rules.

In a large room smeared and cluttered with the blood and cracked bones of dead adventurers, they ran afoul of the terrible Minoderm (Pachytaur?)! This was one for the Fantasy Combat table, so Eric's henchmen were out of the running. Eric, Biwulf, and Fuzzy engaged in combat, with the Minoderm throwing a spear and lodging it in Eric's shield. Eric tried to crack it over the head with the haft of it's own spear, but was thrown across the room for his troubles. Then ensued an entirely-too-long-and-drawn-out-combat, since I had decided NOT to make the FCT instant death when hit. I gave the Minoderm 6HD, and that turned it into a hit/missmissmissmiss/hit kinda thing. That was Lesson #1.

After defeating the Minoderm, they headed into another room filled with swirling darkness and sparkling, swooping lights. Biwulf sensed something magic in the center of the room, headed forward, and was instantly swallowed up in darkness. Eric, alarmed headed in after him with Rupert, but their torches gave off very little light, and seemed to attract swarms of the glittering lights. As Biwulf approached what became clear as an elephant statue in the middle of the room, which was belching forth the swirling dark, Eric and company were attacked by swiftly-moving, small, shadowy beings who zipped in and out of the tiny radius of their torchlight.

As Biwulf engaged in a contest of wills with the statue, Eric and Rupert battled desperately for their lives. I treated the shadowy attackers as goblins, and we used the Combat Table, meant for mass battles, for individual combat (Lesson #2). Rupert was taken out almost immediately, and Eric managed to hold his own while taking damage. Biwulf kept rolling all four of his HD, trying to score a single six. It took awhile, but as soon as he made it, the darkness all sucked back into the statue, and the shadowy beings disappeared. As did Rupert. Eric was alive, if somewhat tattered. Biwulf gathered up the stature, and everyone hightailed it back to town.

Lesson #1: I like using the FCT, but for next time it's going to be one-hit death. Eric's henchmen can help him, with each one aiding lowering his foe's roll by one. However, everytime the foe hits, it comes at the expense of a henchman. The idea is that while they can't help the Hero actually harm the Fantastic Creature, they can distract it for awhile. The same would be true for Biwulf and Fuzzy, except we decided that Fuzzy, being a giant spider (big enough for Biwulf to ride on), could also attack on the FCT as a lycnanthrope.

Lesson #2: I don't know why, but I've been obsessed for awhile with using the Combat Table for Man-to-Man combat. In the end, even though the Hero is getting four rolls at a time, it doesn't generate enough hits in comparison to his Heroic designation. I imagine it has something to do with the fact that when you use the CT in actual mass combat, you're rolling 20 six-siders for each figure (1:20 scale), and for the Hero, on the battlefield, he rolls as four figures, so you do the math. Next time, we'll give the good ol' Man-to-Man table a try. 

Oh, and I used a combination of Dave's Mapper and Zak S.'s Instadungeon to whip up the Tomb of the Elephant in about 15 minutes. For my money, these are two of the most useful dungeon creation tools I've ever seen. Zak also just whipped up Instaregion, the outdoors version of the Instadungeon; just add Vornheim, and you're set for life.


  1. Eric's henchmen were as follows:


    All of the names come from the Finieous Fingers comic, by J. D. Webster, in the early days of The Dragon.

  2. So, I was basically right... :)

  3. My character's name was "Brimulf," actually. :) One aspect that I liked a lot, and which could perhaps use some more playtesting and tinkering, was the idea of rolling a character's Hit Dice as a dice pool in order to gain successes. The game we played, I think, just scratched the surface of the potential for this mechanic in Chainmail-as-an-RPG, one which is the backbone of other games such as _Shadowrun_ and the Storyteller/-ing Systems. Further, this mechanic might also find a profitable home as an OD&D house rule in certain situations.