Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Grinding Gear (a player's recap and review)

Since E. M. Lamb hasn't written up his thing about The Grinding Gear, I'll do it here.  Expect a link whenever he gets around to it.

Also, in case it needs to be said, there are spoilers ahead, so beware.

We didn't have all the players for the Traveller game he wants to do, but he was prepared to run some LotFP: Weird Fantasy Roleplaying.  Specifically, James Raggi's adventure, The Grinding Gear.  He warned us first (Mr. Raggi writes, "So I don’t expect this to be a slaughterhouse dungeon, but the possibility is very real that the players will think that the entire thing is one big cruel waste of their time with no rewards. Are you prepared for that?").

Mr. Lamb was running.  His girlfriend, myself, and Nicole were the players.  Mr. Lamb pregenerated eight characters; Nicole took two and the rest of us took three.

At the moment, I can't recall everyone.  Nicole had a magic-user and an elf; one was named Myst, and I forgot the name of the other one.  I can't remember which was which.  Likewise, Mr. Lamb's girlfriend took a fighter (a dumb fighter named Furor), a specialist (a thief if you've never played LotFP), and a cleric.  One was named Violet, the other was named River, but I don't recall which was which.  I also took a fighter (Clash), specialist (Brand), and cleric (Wolf).  Wolf is the party's leader.

Also, there's a dog, Bartleby.

We roll up on the inn.  Mosquito-bats come from the woods.  BAM!  Brand dies in the first round of combat.  The mosquito-bats are vanquished.

We investigate.  Clash opens the statue.  He's a mighty man, and gas doesn't phase him.  We decide to check the stables — which is fortunate, because the mosquito-bats in the attic swarm to drink from the dead.  Since nobody died, they go back into the attic.  Smart mosquito-bats.

Also, five horses are in the stable.  Some murderhobos have preceded us.

We go through the inn.  Nothing is there other than some cryptic clues and a few scattered valuables.  We know there are mosquito-bats in the attic, so we debate going.  Furor insists.  He runs up, lights his torch, grabs some handfuls of coins, and runs out before he is bitten to death by mosquito-bats.  We are thankful.

And almost ninety gold richer, compared to our previous status as broke murderhobos.

We decide to check out this dungeon.  We enter.  We find hidden switches.  We flip them.  Nervously.  We find hidden doors but cannot open them.

We come to a barred door.  Voices are within.

We kick the door open.  Three members of an exploration party are within.  They look surprised.  We parley.  They agree.  We talk.  They have lost two members and will likely leave.  We explain that we've been flipping these switches, assuming they will activate the secret door we found.  The elf points out a secret switch panel while we're talking.  The other group feels stupid.

One of their number flips the switch.  When the machinery of the dungeon starts grinding, the other group panicks.  They attack.  Wolf dies, but so do they.

Clash takes command of the party.

We check.  A secret door is open!  We enter.  We find connected rooms with three pits.  One holds a troll, one holds a black pudding, and one holds some ghouls.  We notice a secret door in the pit with the ghouls.  Clash tries to talk to the troll, but it's not in a talking mood.

One character (was it Furor?) opens the door.  Without using the key.  The platforms containing these creatures rise.  We run through the open door into a hallway.  We hear the sounds of monsters fighting.  We find a corpse.  We take some stuff.  We run back out into the hallway, and rush through the hidden door.

We are in another hallway.

We enter a room.  Furor gets badly burned, but he's okay.  Clash sings "My Bonny Lass (She Don’t Look So Good)" (much to the enjoyment of the other players, I improvise about three lines, and everyone agrees I sound like Tom Waits).  Nothing happens.

We enter another room.  Furor gets cleaved in twain.  We exit that hallway, and decide, "Screw this dungeon, we're way richer than when we entered," which I think is a novel idea, because you rarely hear about people just leaving when they decide they've had enough.

And then we happen upon some ghouls wandering in the depths.

They kill the elf and the magic user, but we manage to bring them low.  The three survivors — Clash, River, and Violet — flee.  We outrun the black pudding and make our way topside.  The rogue flips a switch to seal the secret passage, trapping the ooze.

We leave.  With some treasure.  And five horses among the three of us.

I suspect we shall return someday, once we've rested and acquired some new hires.

Anyway, it was fun.  I would actually like to delve back into the dungeon, because I think we did okay — character deaths were mostly related to fights rather than traps gone awry.  We know we have a black pudding to worry about, but at least we know about it.

As for the module itself, what little I know about it suggests that it is entertaining.  It's definitely good for a "Well, here's a bunch of us, let's delve into a dungeon" night.  It's a Tomb of Horrors-style puzzle dungeon and the traps only seemed to punish haste and foolhardiness.

Naturally, I haven't read it, as I hope to finish playing it rather than running it (yet), but what I experienced was fun.  Which is really the point, so y'know, it was successful.

...incidentally, it marked the first time I had the opportunity to play Weird Fantasy Roleplay, and I liked it so much that I bought it.  The system is sleek and intuitive, tightening some of the clunky bits from the Little Brown Books and bringing them together under one cover (which is more convenient than plunging through bits of errata spread across several books).  So there's that.  I might put up a proper review of it next week, after I (hopefully) run "Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer" from Carcosa this coming weekend.

Edit: E. M. Lamb did his writeup of the session.  Read that to get a little more insight and to learn everyone's names.

Also, I forgot to note that we totally burned the inn down, operating on the premise that it would drive the attic-dwelling mosquito-bats away while leaving the treasure in the attic intact.

1 comment:

  1. My elf was Myst something, female, and my magic user was Tome... something. Male. They pretty much owned, or my rolls did.

    And correction: Myst was slain by the ghouls, but Tome died when I made a critical miss and he shot himself in the leg with a heavy crossbow. He had 4 HP, and I rolled a 6 for damage on 1d8. I was particularly proud of that moment.

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