Monday, 26 December 2016

RuneQuest on the beach

I'm currently in Goa, the former Portuguese colony on the west coast of India. Fed up with the bad weather in England, the strikes and the general whingeing about whether to leave the EU, when and how, I have retreated to the little village of Utorda, about five minutes from 25 kilometres of sandy beach, shaded by palm trees.

I've brought with me a copy of Labyrinth Lord, which I picked up at Dragonmeet in London for the princely sum of £10, and my digest-sized softback copy of RuneQuest Deluxe, by Mongoose Publishing. Once the sun goes down here in southern India, sitting outside can be a little problematic due to the swarms of mosquitoes which drench the area. I anticipated the kids might appreciate playing some RPGs in the evenings rather than being eaten alive outside!

I wanted to get to grips with MRQ1 at my leisure, rather than in a live game session so to speak. I've thus also packed a copy of Greg Stafford's very early RQ scenario, Apple Lane. While this was written for an earlier version of the game (1980, so RQ1 I expect), I thought it might be useful in helping us with a walktheough of the game rules.

The kids generated four PCs for the game, including twins, Zariah and Maria. Zariah is a nomad archer, while Maria, separated from her sister at an early age (can you say "Skywalker"?) has become proficient with a rapier and...and...with baking. As you do. They met at the Tin Inn in the little Sartar village of Apple Lane with two strangers strangers fresh off the caravan trail, Rothrog, a barbarian with a big rusty ring through his nose, and Quillian, a budding sorceror with two scimitars on his back. Rothrog is wearing only sack cloth and carrying a tower shield, but looks like he means business.

As they were chatting, they were approached by Gringle, the owner of the local pawn shop, conveniently located across the street. Gringle has a baboon problem: a tribe of local baboons has tried to steal a magic crystal from him, a crystal he bought from an adventurer for 20,000 silvers. The fact that the adventurer slew most of the adult males in the tribe in order to get it is neither here nor there. Gringle has to go away on business overnight, and asks the adventurers to guard his fortified shop while he and his duck butler/bodyguard are away.

Rothrog decided he should keep the crystal on his person. After Gringle left, he took up position at the front door of the shop. Maria baked some olive bread for supper in the kitchen. Quilliam established himself on the upper floor with a good line of sight while Zaria backed up Rothrog.

Shortly after dark, the baboons made their move, smashing a downstairs shutter and dropping a burning torch into the main corridor. While Maria and Zariah ran to put out the flames with buckets of water, there was a hammering on the tiles on the roof. Quilliam soon spotted two baboons trying to break through the tiles with maces. He cast his Palsy spell at them several times, to no avail. They were soon joined by two more baboons, also intent on breaking in through the roof. At this point, Rothgar strode out of the building into the street, and roared that he had the crystal they were after, and they had better come and get it - if they thought they were hard enough, of course...

The baboon leader took the barbarian at his word, and tried to climb down the wall into the street, but rolled a critical failure on his Athletics and crashed to the ground, stunning himself. Before he could get up, Rothgar charged him and dispatched him with is axe. Another baboon (the leader's mum!) began hurling Disrupt spells down on Rothgar, while Quilliam was joined by Zariah who started shooting at the baboons on the roof with her bow. The baboons shot back with their slings.

It was at this point that three more baboons came around the side of the shop, and also started casting Disrupt at Rothgar. For the first time, the barbarian began to look a little worried. Maria decided to leave the shop to assist him. Rothgar shouted for help to the denizens of the Tin Inn over the road, but either the music was too loud or they were too afraid to assist him. However, he quickly proved how vicious he could be, using his shield and his axe in combination to take down all three baboons in short order (Rothgar's player has evolved a particularly nasty shield bash attack which combines nicely with an additional combat action). Up on the roof, Zariah managed to shoot one (critical hit, which took the baboon down straight away), while another took cover behind the chimney.

Now the adventurers heard the distinctly unpleasant sound of something trying to bash down the kitchen door at the rear of the shop. Quilliam ran downstairs to investigate, leaving Zariah to secure the shutters upstairs. As he entered the kitchen, the sorceror saw some ash coming down into the kitchen fireplace, and heard something scuffling in the chimney flue. Keeping an eye on the door, which was being subjected to repeated blows, he used an oil lamp to set light to the wood in the fireplace, then scattered some pots on the floor, and retreated back into the temple (Gringle has a small temple to Issaries in his home).

First impressions - I have run RQ before, but some time ago. Part of this exercise is really to get to grips with the combat and magic systems, and I believe this is why Stafford wrote Apple Lane in the first place. It certainly achieves that. It is great to have the time to spend working through the mechanics. We are NOT using MRQ2, which I think streamlines some of the combat, mainly because I did not want to bring heavy hardbacks to India. Combat is taking longer than Pathfinder, but it is speeding up as we get more used to it, and the system of reactions. It feels more like a real battle, and is deadlier than Pathfinder - one or two hits can be enough to take a character out of a fight. All the baboons have their own individual profiles, so it can be fiddly keeping track of all this, but at the same time, everyone seems to be having a good time. Apple Lane itself is well-written, with plenty of detail on the plans of the 'bad' guys.

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to give RuneQuest or some sort of d100 fantasy another try; I don't feel like I've given it a fair try.