Monday, May 19, 2014

The Forbidden City (with teens!): Session Three

Today we wrapped up our introductory pulse of Dagger tabletop role-playing with my middle school class (you can read a review of the game here).

I had observed that last time, despite the simplicity of the system, there were still kids who weren't sure how to proceed when asked to make a saving throw or weren't clear on which die to roll for damage (Dagger uses 1d6 for everything), so we started class off with a rules recap.  We then jumped back into the action and over the next 60 minutes or so, resolved turns 13 through 20.  The party had split and we continued to alternate between locations.  

In the southern cavern, while elves showered the ankheg with arrows, the knight who had forced the vault door at the top of the stair proceeded cautiously, wary of traps.  He was confounded however when a plucky female elf darted past him to snatch the jade masks found atop the crumbling altar in the room and retreat toward the battle below!

The ankheg, now below half its (40) hit points regurgitated a horrible gout of acid across three of the explorers, killing two and injuring a third (who made his 15+ saving throw).  The beast wasn't long for this world, however, for the knight soon descended the steps, successfully navigated the quicksand, and felled the vile thing with a flurry of blows.

Meanwhile, back at the tasloi ambush, another knight who had gained the top of the cliff began to scythe through the diminutive creatures even as his fellows broke off the attack to dart ahead into the unknown.  The tasloi soon broke and ran (Dagger has no morale rules -- one of my favorite parts of the 1981 Moldvay Basic D&D rules that were my first intro to role-playing -- so I just improvised).

Soon we moved out of melee-based turns and to a quick narrative segue as surviving members of both parts of the expedition reunited.  This shift didn't really seem to throw the kids at all.  The final encounter of the Black Canyon expedition was the dreaded rope bridge.  As soon as I peeled back the electronic "shade" on the Smartboard to reveal the bridge there were several groans.  "It's gonna get cut yo, and you are all gonna fall!"  Heedless of these risks, most of the 13 survivors did indeed begin to hastily cross the bridge, taking no real pains to coordinate with each other.  "What are you doing?  There's too many of us!  The bridge is going to break!"  Presently the party came under fire from the tasloi gathered on the far side of the bridge and well as those lurking atop a shelf overlooking the chasm. "They're gonna cut the bridge!"  Several dwarves and elves dashed forward and began striking the tasloi down in droves, but not before one of the hemp cables supporting the bridge was cut.  Everyone on the (now crowded) bridge had to roll a save or fall.  A second failed save meant a deadly plunge ... you can see the results below ...

And so, with the tasloi again routed, we came to the end of our first named adventure area with six of the original 23 characters surviving.  A student (whose dwarf had drowned in quicksand) recommended that survivors should be awarded 100 experience points and I gladly accepted his suggestion.  By consensus, next time we will begin a session within The Forbidden City itself featuring only the six survivors.  Once I've DMed them for a class I will move to the next batch of interested players, taking on more conventionally-sized groups of 4-8 players at a time.

Next Post ... student narratives.