This game was an exercise in taking what I had prepared and then juggling it throughout the entire session!
I had decided to keep things fairly simple and aim for a three-scene session. Each scene would be a basic challenge that the players would work to overcome, and then they’d move on. This is what I jotted down originally:
- Scene 1: Sneak through Elven territory and don’t alert the patrol
- Scene 2: Fight off a Direhorn while you raid its den for parts
- Scene 3: Catch a lone scout before she can get back to the main group.
That was about the extent of my prep beyond the maps and a few of the elves. Get in. Get out. Done.
But that didn’t happen.
In scene one, a few low rolls turned their attention away from sneaking and into diplomacy which also didn’t work out. Two players getting captured and chained up was unexpected. Wasn’t sure what I’d do there. Then the elves recognized Galahad and loaded him up to be taken back to command. Oh perfect! I’ll switch Scene Three with Scene Two and tweak the premise of that scene. But before the elven rider could get away, the players magically translocated with her and reclaimed Galahad. Guess I’ll put Scene Three back…
As they moved to Scene Two, their shenanigans allowed them to capture the Elven commander and her dire wolf who were on the look out to escape. All I needed was a round or two where they weren’t being looked after and they’d make a break for it. Then I’d have the perfect set up for Scene Three again!
But as we began infiltrating the Direhorn Den, they never got the chance. JA-78 stuck to their prisoners like glue.
Oh well, Scene Three eventually got cut entirely because Scene Two in the den took more time than I expected. Instead of just one Direhorn, I presented a family group. Two calves and their parents. And those Direhorns are no joke. I ran them pretty much out of the book, except the calves only got one action, and the parents got two with some extra stat/effort boosts.
What I really liked about Direhorns is that most of their attacks rely on saves. Make a DEX save and avoid damage. Make a CON save and push through the debilitating roar. Stuff like that. Plus, I chose a map that presented large and small corridors. Those corridors provided long paths for the Direhorns to charge down and the use of corners could really help avoid the Direhorns attacks.
With how several players were rolling though, they didn’t get a chance. Smiling Elk, and Mugen both went down multiple times. Thankfully Regeneration was commonly available spell to the group and fallen players could be reached before their dying timer ran out.
This was a moment where the dynamic dice option of BATTLE FURY crossed my mind. Essentially, every time you fail a roll you get a plus one to your next roll. That keeps stacking until you eventually succeed and then it resets to zero.
It’s a great way of mitigating cold dice and avoiding the disappointing feeling of being in a game and never really getting to do anything, but I hesitate to use it most times. I generally find most games have multiple ways to mitigate low rolls like hero coins, buffs, and player aid. If we always succeed, it kind of cheapens things in my opinion. So I’m usually more in favor of changing tactics when the dice are cold and finding ways to interpret the failed rolls into the story.
But that’s just me. As the next opportunity arises, I’ll probably find some way to insert Battle Fury momentarily and then pull it back out after one or two successes. It’s never be something I’d want on my game permanently.
As Scene Two came to a close and we rolled our session end timer, the players wrapped things up and made off with the parts they needed, allowed their elf captive to go free, and began rebuilding Galahad’s body so he can get revenge on his mutinous Warp Shell crew. Success in all counts for me!
Watch the Session
What could have been a blood bath turned into a game of highs and lows. There were critical roles made that elevated the game to cheers and laughter. But the dice also turned cold and made it tough for things to actually work and entire turns felt a little wasted. Overall, the session was a success but things could have gone very different had a few rolls failed or if the team didn’t come together.