13 November 2011

The Quest begins

Evening Blog-readers! I've been very busy, geek-wise (as my wonderful and long-suffering wife will attest), over the last few weeks, but I will plead guilty to neglecting this blog. I have been keeping track of my progress in this thread over on the Lead Adventure Forum which is a great forum for those of you not yet members.

The main focus has been my high-medieval, low-fantasy project, Quest. The basic idea is a sort of Arthurian take on a modular 'dungeon crawl', although that dungeon may sometimes be a forest if you see what I mean. My rules have now had their first ever playtest, and much fun was had by all.

The quest the four squires had to undertake was the simple task of escorting Lady Eleanor, along with her two faithful hounds and her maidservant Ceridwin, to her wedding. The sun glinted through the trees, warming their backs and their spirits as they talked of love and honour, walking to spare their horses and to prolong the pleasure of the journey... Then the brigands ambushed them, slaying the groom and whisking their horses away into the forest and then trying to steal away the ladies as well:

The squires hurled themselves against the cowardly ruffians...

... and made reasonably short work of them, suffering only a few flesh wounds (and some embarrassment at their comically bad swordplay).

Horseless and tired they set off into the woods to find somewhere they could stay for the night to rest, only to encounter a knight undertaking a pas d'armes - "None shall pass". Desperate to prove himself, squire Barnabus (responsible for the best one-liners of the evening, including some genuinely witty running jokes about the likely political affiliations of the bandits) took up the challenge to fight until one was knocked down. If he won, the pas d'armes knight would guide them to a nearby castle. Barnabus was promptly killed outright in a freak dice result that made me wonder if I should have some kind of divine intervention. I chose not to, partly because it seemed so Mallory-esque, but mainly to give the rules a proper test before tweaking them.

Ashamed, the knight showed them the way where they were welcomed by a beautiful woman in red and feasted before retiring a little drunk to their chambers. Awoken by screams, and finding the door of them chamber locked they armed themselves, the door was opened by Ceridwin; Eleanor had been taken. They followed the dogs who were on her scent, encountered the lady in red (cue for a song?) who explained that the castle had fallen under the control of a giant who would take any noble woman who stayed there. These women were never seen again.

Hurrying after the frantic dogs, they came face to face with the giant. Squire Eridor charged the giant, increasing his chivalry as he did so, and with astonishing dice knocked the monster off his feet with his first attack. Squire Eenit kept on after the dogs and went to break down the door that they were howling at:

Sadly for the game, the parent who was giving them lifts arrived at this point and we had to break off.

Thoughts on the game
For a first test it went really well. The combat system in particular went just as I hoped, with each fight bringing the risk of ignominious death, but the heroes having the slight upper hand. I found I was horribly rusty as a DM, and made the storyline so linear as not to give much opportunity for them to wander off into the forest etc, but they hugely enjoyed themselves and want to make it a weekly event. While I can't spare the time for that, I took it as an endorsement.