My friend Kinney wants to learn to be a better GM, as well as learn the Savage Worlds system really well. He’s half-started a couple of campaigns in the past, but he’d like to improve.So, 2 weeks ago, I met up with him and our friend Dan for character creation, and then this Saturday night, we got our dice and took up a table at our local comic book shop.
Dan is the kind of player who finds the loophole and exploits it in ways that are… not always to the benefit of the story. He’s having fun, but it’s often at the expense of the other players, which is something I’ve noticed for a long time with his play style. It’s the kind of behavior that gets players uninvited from groups, and it’s the kind of thing that I can only take in limited doses.
I was determined to not let Dan ruin my fun in this game, however, and I did so by embracing what he does and never questioning his ability to do it. I focused my character’s skills on things that would not step on his toes, and would set him up to do the wild and flashy combat stuff, while I hung back and zapped things with spells.
As we built the characters, we realized we had made a kind of Castle and Heat game– he’s playing a flashy, wealthy swashbuckler with a mouth, and I’m playing a careful investigator with, as her last resort, a crossbow. Castle’s wealth was the “3rd character” in this adventure– he had taken “Filthy Wealthy” as an edge, an edge which is effectively broken in a medieval setting.
The adventure opened with a party in the town of Socanth, with the majority of the town guard off in the mountains tracking down a necromancer who has been attacking the town. The lone remaining town guard comes and tells us that the rats are fleeing the sewers, and could we perhaps investigate. I suggest that Castle send in one of his exterminators that he has on his personal staff, but we’re both curious and head into the catacombs.
We find a hole in the sewer wall, where the rats are coming through and Castle has one of his hirelings open the hole so he doesn’t have to get dirty going through it.
I should mention at this point that Castle has a Lantern Boy who holds his light. Nikki hides behind Lantern Boy through the entire adventure, earning his enmity. I took a starting Disadvantage of Enemy (minor). Basically, Lantern Boy isn’t going to try to trip me into a well, but he also isn’t going to do me any favors.
We quickly come to a chasm past the sewer wall and Castle has a couple of his men build a makeshift bridge across. We cross and come to a hall with rat swarms coming through it. Castle leaps up out of the way, and Nikki uses Heat Stroke (Stun spell) to stun the rats (Shaken effect). Because these are rat swarms, a bludgeoning attack is needed to damage them, but a broad-burst stun managed to do the trick.
It’s a Notice skill roll to jump out of the way of the rat swarms. Castle has this at a d4, which means he has a 1 in 4 chance of crit-success, which he achieved. Nikki has this skill as a d10, which gives her a better chance of regular success (most targets are a 4), but only a 1:10 to crit succeed.
Beyond, we encounter a room with four zombies and a half-dug tunnel heading for the surface. The zombies don’t attack until we do. Castle takes one, Nikki shoots one in the back with a crossbow, killing it in one hit.
Exploding “Ace” damage dice from 2d4; in essence, Nikki did 16 hit points in one shot.
This dungeon is very linear, which is totally fine. The next room had the necromancer, mid-ritual, and (as we watched it form) a flesh golem. Nikki spent almost all her actions through this fight blinding the necromancer and the golem. Castle attacked the necromancer first, getting a nice solid crit on him, but the damage fizzled, absorbed by the magical energy flowing around him and keyed to a pruple gem embedded in the golem. Oh, fine. He turns his attention to the golem.
Nikki keeps the necromancer blinded (preventing his ritual from continuing) and Castle slams his weapon into the gem in the golem.
Called shot with his attack, at a -4 to hit. He rolled a 12 on a d12, critically hitting.
Meanwhile, thanks to Castle’s high dodge and the golem’s crappy dice rolls, the golem can’t get a hit in edgewise. On his next turn, Castle shatters the crystel and Nikki critically blinds the necromancer (2 explosions on her die roll, which gives a -4 to his attempt to shake off the effect).
In the next round, the necromancer is no longer blinded and he pauses his ritual, but isn’t able to hit us.
In Savage Worlds, doing more than one thing at a time results in accumulating penalties. When the necromancer shakes off the blindness, that’s one action, and pausing his ritual is another. He can still attack, but it’s at a -6.
Castle stabs the neromancer in the neck, nearly slaying him in one hit. Nikki shoots him in the eye, finishing him off.
Nikki rolled a lot of critical dice on her damage for the crossbow shot. Something like 26 points, thanks to the exploding d4.
We collect the book and the necromancer’s loot and realize the necromancer is none other than Thomas Ochan, the necromancer that the guards were all off to find and fight. Which is kind of a relief, because it means we don’t have two necromancers to deal with.
We get one of the “carry my stuff” boys to carry the loot out of the dungeon and head back to town, where we are showered with accolades and adoration.
(Full article contains spoilers!) I bought the D&D Stranger Things Starter Set, and I was all kinds of excited to run it. I read through it a few times, thought “hmmm…” about some of the choices, but overall it reads like a fairly straightforward adventure.
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