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Posts Tagged ‘BECMI’

Halleck’s Second Adventure

A story in three parts

Part 1: “Let’s go Shopping!”

So Halleck has taken a few days off to rest up and prepare for his next adventure. He has some money, now, so he decides to visit Baldrick’s Armor Emporium, Inc. to check out what it would cost to upgrade his armor. Baldrick has just the thing, hanging on one of his racks; a suit of plate armor that he finished only the week before, and it is just the site rize.

“Fifty simoleons?” Halleck exclaims. “What will you give me for my trade-in?” Using his superior charisma, Halleck manages to bargain the armorsmith down to 30 simoleons, by trading in his suit of chainmail, plus putting a sign up in his yard, and promising to follow Baldrick on Twitter. Baldrick promises to have the plate armor hemmed and pressed by Tuesday, but he misses that deadline. Meanwhile, Halleck update his character sheet by erasing “Chainmail armor” and scribbling in “Plate ‘mail’ Armor”. He then flips the sheet over and reduces his armor class number to “2”.

Though he is famous, Halleck is still somewhat poor, and can’t buy love, so he heads to the caves alone, which tale will be told in Part 3: “In the Caves Alone”.

But first, Part 2: “How to Battle”

Part two relates information about how to conduct one’s self in a fight. The secret is to jab at the opponent’s forehead, then, when his head snaps back, punch him in the chin. It hurts like billy-o.

Wait, that’s not what it says. What it really says is that, as a review, Halleck’s attacking a monster is represented by Halleck’s player rolling a twenty-sided die (d20), and comparing the result to the target number given in the adventure. A new element is introduced: the damage roll. In the first adventure, Halleck only did 1 point of damage to the monsters he attacked. Now, the player determine the amount of damage Halleck does by rolling a d6. Later in the rules, an optional variant for damage rolls is described, in which different weapons use different dice for damage rolls. As an aside, I prefer the “all weapons do d6 damage”, but with a house rule that 2d6 are rolled for two-handed weapons, with the higher of the 2 dice used. (i.e. a 2 and a 4 are rolled for a successful attack with a two-handed sword; it thus inflicts 4 points of damage).

Monsters also will do variable amounts of damage. Keep track of both Halleck’s and the monsters’ hit points during this adventure. A conflict checklist is promised for whenever Halleck has a combat encounter. The player is encouraged to keep records of the adventure–how much treasure, and how many (and what kind) of monsters that Halleck defeats. This information will be used to determine Halleck’s experience points at the end of the adventure.

Unless…Halleck gets hisself killed dead. At that point, the player should observe a moment of silence, and replay the adventure (the second one, not the first), pretending that Halleck never even existed. The player is reminded, though, that Halleck has a potion of healing, which he can drink, if he suffers severe damage.

Part 2 ends with a discussion of mapping. The player will need to get some graph paper and draw a map of the caves that Halleck explores, based on the description. A full map for the adventure is provided at the end, but the player should avoid peeking at it before he completes the adventure, because that would be cheating, and cheaters never win, even in D&D.

Part 3: “In the Caves Alone”

What follows is another “Pick your Own Story” series of numbered entries. Sections of the map are presented, along with the entries. It references the “Combat Checklist”, but I do not see it within the adventure, and so presume that it is in a separate section of the rules.

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Having learned the ins and outs of money management, we move on to Experience, and to the “grimacing with tongue sticking out” emoji.

Experience points are a numerical representation of a character’s personal growth and learning. Halleck, by killing a goblin and a snake, and by collecting treasure, is a better, more well-rounded person than he was before doing those things. He is 230 points better, in fact; 200 points for collecting treasure (one point for each gold coin equivalent), and 30 points total for killing the snake and the goblin. When (and if!) Halleck manages to accrue 2,000 experience points, then he moves up in rank, from Level 1 to Level 2. He will get more hit points (which are a numerical representation of his ability to continue fighting), and sometimes his Saving Throws will improve. He can also become better at hitting things with things. Since Halleck is a human, then he has the potential to reach as high as 36th level!

Dice are discussed on the bottom half o’ the page. This ain’t Monopoly! D&D has more than the usual six-sided dice. There are also four, eight, ten, twelve, and twenty-sided dice that will be used. The reader is instructed to “get to know them well”. Meet their parents; that sort of thing.

Ten-sided dice can be used to make a “percentage roll”. Pro Tip: Thieves will be the class that uses percentage rolls early and often. Roll the ten-sided die (abbreviated 1d10, or simply d10) twice. The first roll determines the “tens place”, and the second roll the “ones place”. Rolling two zeros means you rolled a “100”.

If you roll a seven or an eleven on the “come out” roll, and you had placed a bet on the “Pass Line”, then you win. If you roll a two, three, or twelve, however…Oh, sorry. Wrong game.

The next section is Halleck’s second solo adventure. I took a peek ahead, and I think it should prove quite exciting.

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The little paragraph says that we are done with “the hardest part” of studying the  character sheet. It warns, as well, to be very careful when reading about money and experience.

“Turn the Sheet Over”

I suppose I should add an image of a character sheet, to facilitate this discussion:

B. Mentzer Character Sheet 1.1

 

CharsheetCharsheet2

If you look at the back, you can see a section labelled “Equipment Carried”, which is divided into two sections, labelled “Magic Items”, and “Normal Items”, respectively. I will let you guess what each section is for. In the book, it says to write “Potion of Healing” in the “Magic Items” box, and advises that the upcoming adventure assumes Ending #1 (Halleck failed his saving throw). There is a list of items to write down in the “Normal Items” box; the low down dirty skunk, Bargle, stole some of Halleck’s gear, but, fortunately, and despite being “poor, but famous”, Halleck had the wherewithal to have a spare set of adventuring equipment. Huzzah!

The section below “Equipment Carried” is “Other Notes”. This is where you put your other notes. Notes like, “Caves near town; met Bargle, Chaotic Magic-User”. Just so you, you know, don’t forget about this guy.

Below “Other Notes” is where the good stuff goes: Money.

There are five types of coins: Copper, Silver, Electrum, Gold, and Platinum. The low-down, dirty cur Bargle stole most of Halleck’s money, but our intrepid hero managed to keep some of it, 200 gp’s (“Gold Pieces”) worth, to be exact. It’s not all in gold coins,  however; Halleck has some gold coins, but also has a few platinum pieces, electrum (a gold-silver alloy), silver, copper, and a valuable gem. He’s loaded with booty. There is a conversion rate: 1 Platinum Piece is worth 5 gold pieces. 1 Gold Piece is worth 2 Electrum pieces, or 10 silver pieces, or 100 copper pieces.

It is advised that, when collecting treasure after an adventure, take the most valuable coinage first, then fill up the rest of the sack with the coins of lesser value. As an aside, according to Matthew Colville, one of the elements of the game was finding a treasure hoard worth many thousands of gold pieces–but all in copper coins. This would challenge the players to figure out how to manage the logistics of retrieving the treasure and transporting it back to town. Great fun, huh?

 

 

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A discussion of alignments begins this next section. The character the reader has just played (“Halleck” in my case) is described as one of the “good guys” (you took poor Aleena’s dead body back to her church, because it was the right thing to do), while Bargle the Bandit and his goblin minion were characterized as the “bad guys” (they cared for no one but themselves, and were selfish and nasty).

Halleck, because he wants to do the right thing regardless of the situation, is described as being of “Lawful” alignment. He “tries to protect others and defeat monsters”. Aleena was also of Lawful Alignment, which is part of the reason she and Halleck got on so famously. Bargle the Bandit, however was of the opposite, “Chaotic” alignment. He only cared about others insofar as he could exploit them for personal gain. The ten-foot rattlesnake was of “Neutral” Alignment, which meant it was concerned with neither Law nor Chaos. It was dangerous, but not willfully malicious.

The reader is next notified of a second adventure, which begins on page 13, but first, some discussion of the Character Sheet. A character sheet “already filled out” is referenced; it is in the middle of the book, and is printed on a perforated sheet that the reader is encouraged to detach and look at. The only problem is that the sheet is not filled out completely, or correctly. The saving throws seem to be right for a fighter, but the ability scores are different from those listed in this section. EDIT: The scores listed on the sample sheet are those of Morgan Ironwolf, from the Moldvay version of the Basic D&D rules,

What’s interesting is that this fighter (“Halleck”) and the sample characters listed elsewhere in the book seem to be using an array of scores, consisting of 17, 16, 14, 11, 9, 8. Demi-humans have an “array” of 16, 14, 11, 9, 9, 7.  In 4th edition, which makes using an array the standard rule, the array is 16, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10. In the 4th Edition “Essentials” Player books, three arrays are given: 16, 14, 14, 11, 10, 10; 16, 16, 12, 11, 11, 8; or 18, 14, 11, 10, 10, 8. I digress, but, in any case, I would feel comfortable, as a DM, in allowing players to use this “Basic Edition Array” when creating characters, even though the scores are not officially given as such. I might require that the scores be used “as is”, though, and disallow the exchange of ability points (a process explained later).

In the next section, we will learn all about ability score adjustments.

 

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First, the front-and-back of the character sheet:

B. Mentzer Character Sheet 1.1

 

Next, the game data reference sheet (from the Basic Player’s Manual):

A. Mentzer Basic PM Reference Sheets

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Halleck and Aleena see a light ahead, and hear someone berating someone else who “sounds like a goblin”. Probably has an ugly, wrinkly, gray voice. Anyway, there’s a back and forth where the goblin swears that he has only seen Halleck and Aleena. Aleena whispers that she knows that guy’s voice, and that it is Bargle the Bandit. It turns out that Bargle is one of those “bad” magic-users. Aleena counsels that going back would be a mistake, because of the ghouls, and that fighting Bargle is the more prudent course, since he only has one goblin with him. She mentions that Bargle probably has the goblin ensorcelled. Bargle is described as a bearded man in a black robe. He casts a spell that makes himself invisible. Before he can make the goblin invisible, too, Halleck and Aleena charge into the room.

Halleck takes on the goblin, while Aleena says she will fight Bargle’s spells with her own. This indicates that she is at least level 3. Clerics in Basic do not get any spells at first level; they get one spell at second level, and two spells at third level.  Aleena already cast one spell, to cure Halleck’s wounds. Regardless, she is fated to die, and she does, after a quick and fierce battle. Bargle casts “Magic Missile”, which conjures a golden arrow that floats in the air. He points at Aleena, it hits her, and she falls down, dead. Halleck kills the goblin. At least, I’m pretty sure he does; there is a sentence saying that if your character’s hit points fall to zero, you won’t be going home. Every time you miss the goblin hits for two points of damage.

Aleena is dead, the goblin is dead, and Halleck is ready to usher Bargle into that same state, when Bargle casts a third spell (Invisibility, Magic Missile, and now Charm Person). The Saving throw is much higher–Halleck needs a 17 or greater to save. There are two endings, based on whether you make the save or not. If Halleck makes the save, he avoids getting magically tricked into being Bargle’s new friend, and he kills him dead, dead, dead (unless, of course, he misses, at which point Bargle screams and runs away). If Halleck fails the save, then he suddenly sees that Bargle is not such a bad guy, really. Bargle was actually helping Halleck and Aleena to fight the goblin, as it turns out. Halleck and Bargle make their escape from the dungeon, Bargle casts a fourth spell (Sleep) and Halleck wakes up some time later.

Whether he is charmed or not, Halleck carries Aleena’s dead body back to town, and delivers it to the church. If he made the Saving Throw against Bargle’s “Charming” spell, then Halleck gets a Potion of Growth, which will make him turn into a giant for a couple of hours. If he didn’t make the Saving Throw, then Halleck gets back to town too late, and the only potion that the church has left is a potion of healing. In either case, the church officials stress the potion’s value, and urge Halleck to save it for a future adventure.

The few paragraphs that follow discuss what the purpose of games are, and the unique nature of the Dungeons & Dragons game. Then, it moves on to “what happens next”.

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Halleck stands with sword in hand, facing down a snake. It’s a ten footer, but it’s got some sweet loot and, uh, 3 hp. See the last post if you don’t know what an “hp” is.

Halleck has to roll an 11 to hit the snake, which means it’s easier to land a blow against it than against the goblin that Halleck fought a few moments before. However, unlike the goblin, the snake can actually hit back. I’ll let you read the gripping blow-by-blow of the battle (What do you mean, you haven’t yet purchased this off dmsguild.com?). I shall mention that the snake auto-hits twice, then hits Halleck no more.

Turning the page, we are given the distressing information that this rattlesnake is actually poisonous! I think they mean venomous! Did you know you could drink a gallon of venom with no ill effect, unless you have a mouth sore, or something? Not that I’ve tried it. Whatever. If the snake bites Halleck, it does one point of damage, but then the concept of the “Saving Throw” is introduced. For a fighter that is level three or below, his saving throw for poisons (or venoms) is 12. The player will want to roll a d20 and hope he gets a result at or above 12. That means that the snake’s bite did not envenom Halleck. If the player rolls less than a 12, then Halleck takes two more points of damage. It’s quite harrowing, but since the poisonous-venomous rattlesnake can only hit twice (“This fighter is Nintendo hard!” ~ P. V. Rattlesnake), the battle ends with Halleck still standing–perhaps only barely, though. He can recover his health with a few days’ rest, but why would he want to do the sensible thing? He’s here for treasure, and P.V. Rattlesnake’s little nest egg will barely cover the cost of replacing Halleck’s beautiful sword when he loses it later to the rust monster. Oops; spoilers.

Now, comes the most unrealistic part of this adventure: Halleck hears a voice, and shutters his lantern and peeks around the corner and sees a beautiful woman. She’s got her own lantern, and she seems to be praying. This is Aleena the cleric. Since she’s beautiful and religious, then I’m sure she’ll survive this adventure. She claims that she lives in the town nearby, so you’d think that Aleena and Halleck were already acquainted, but perhaps she’s lived a sheltered life, all cloistered in the cloister, and stuff. She probably ran through the hills, singing, before entering the cave.

Okay, I’ll stop. Aleena actually helps Halleck out quite a bit. She tells him which way the goblin went, she informs him what clerics are, and she restores his hit points. There is no talk of religion or gods or churches at this point; all we know from Aleena is that clerics can 1. Fight and 2. cast spells that “enter their minds”. She then invites Halleck to sit, and explains the differences between magic-users (not wizards, mages, or sorcerers) and clerics. Magic-users have book-learnin’ while clerics have meditation. She talks about types of attacks, like poison, that require Saving Throws.

We next read of another ability score (for the record, we have already spoken of Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Constitution): Charisma (CHA). Halleck is a likeable fellow; he was able to put Aleena at her ease, even after sneaking up on her with his lantern shuttered. His CHA score is 14.

We also learn about his Wisdom (WIS). This is his lowest ability score, at 8. Halleck is probably the kind of guy who would jump out of a plane at 25,000 feet without a parachute:

 

Aleena offers to assist Halleck, just like the beautiful alien women would help Captain Kirk. As soon as Aleena said she would help, Fate looked up from binge-watching “Early Edition” on DailyMotion, and frowned.

Halleck and Aleena, walking side by side, down dark corridors with lanterns half-shuttered. They run across a few ghouls–foul, undead creatures that seem to be a fairly tough monster for a first-level adventurer, especially since there are four of them. Here we get the first mention of a “church”: the symbol of one of the town churches hangs on Aleena’s silver necklace. She shouts, in a harsh voice, “BEGONE, vile things!” I wonder if she pronounces it “beegahn” or “beegohnee”. Whichever it is, it works, and the four ghouls scramble, Three Stooges style, out the door, while Yakety-sax plays on the dungeon intercom. (As an aside, the themes of The Three Stooges are “Three Blind Mice” and “Listen to the Mockingbird“; either of those would have been acceptable alternative tunes). Aleena pauses to let Halleck know of other types of creatures that are “neither dead nor alive, but something horribly in between!”

They proceed, and come across a door, which one sometimes finds in caves. Halleck can’t force it open, which is a pity, because it probably has a lot of sweet swag, according to Aleena. Aleena bemoans the lack of a thief. Halleck gives her the “WTQ?” look, and she explains that thieves can pick locks and disable traps. Well, this is Basic D&D, so they can eventually, but most of the time they won’t be any more effective than Halleck trying to break down the door. Aleena then lets slip that, while she usually tries to go adventuring with some companions–a thief, a magic-user, and a couple of fighters (Five Man Band, what?), this time around no one else wanted to join her. Considering how things are about to turn out, I don’t blame them; don’t blame them, at all.

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