I ran another game for a friend of mine and six kids via Zoom. It went fine. Today was the first session without a fight and some of the kids were vocal about the fact that there had been no fight. They wanted to fight! Even though we have don’t have many fighters in this party. Today we had:
The conflicts all required people to talk and none of the characters had social skills. They convinced the marauding soldiers to quit their marauding and return home, with the help of a hefty bribe; they failed to convince the powerful water mage to leave their home and move elsewhere; they managed to convince the bitter elf that they had “resolved” the problem with the powerful water mage and had him reveal the power of the dwarven piecer (a magic sword). There were a few more rolls – whether the fighter was making a good impression on the water mage, whether the old woman in that village would talk to the archer, whether she trusted the archer, and so on.
I guess this is simply a post to say that the simple 2d6 system I’m using works quite well for non-combat conflict. 👍
As for the setting, I’m using a mini-setting generated by Hex Describe. That is, it’s a setting with stats and treasure for a classic D&D campaign using typical treasure tables and magic items. I’m essentially trying to talk myself into “every level is worth a skill” (and every skill may or may not be worth +1).
The dragon hunter fighter _Ravivarnan_ (level 9) is trying to hire two score desperate peasants to go and slay _Burning Bone of the Mountain_ (2209). “I am generous: two shares of the treasure found for me, the rest to be shared equally amongst the other survivors.” A potion of _silver tongue_ (royal purple, silvery flakes, 1h, everybody who hears your voice must save vs. spells or be _charmed_ ). A goblin assassin’s _short bow_ +1 with plenty of notches along its side. A suit of elven _plate armour_ +1 with elven runes commemorating the slaying of the green dragon _Forest Despair of the Forest_.
I’m starting him with 3 hits for being a hero, +2 for heavy armour, +1 for the elven bonus, +1 for the shield, for a total of 7 hits.
As for skills, I’m brainstorming nine “skills” based on the description above: dragon hunter, assassin, archer, hunter, sneak, talk, heal, climb, stab.
Let’s say the party manages to jump Ravivarnan: I might give him a +2 with his knife (assassin, stab). If Ravivarnan manages to ambush the players, however, I’ll give him +5 (assassin, archer, sneak, climb, goblin assassin’s short bow +1). I imagine him climbing up to an excellent position, preparing his arrows, and then as long as he wins the opposed rolls he keeps the initiative and keeps shooting. In order to close in, they have to beat that. It imagine that this is going to be hard.
As for magic items, I think simply taking magic items with their D&D bonuses works really well and makes them wonderful. I make sure to provide visible magic effects: the dwarven piercer +1 has glowing runes that can be activated; the plate armour +3 dedicated Nergal is black and has green lines of glowing power pulsating when activated. It works well.
The plate armour +3 turns the fighter into a power house: 3 hits, +2 for heavy armour, +3 for the magic bonus, +1 for the shield, for a total of 9 hits! At least he can tank...
As I'm using this setting, I realize how many high-level characters there are, how powerful the magic items are they carry, how easy they are to kill if you meat them alone and you have a party of seven or ten characters... We’ll see how this develops. Perhaps this is not a campaign to run for fifty sessions. Maybe just twenty sessions? I don’t know.
I’m thinking of announcing that building a stronghold and establishing yourself simply costs 100’000 gold pieces. It’s an idea I got from Freebooters on the Frontier, if I remember correctly. Perhaps that’s a good way to make all the money found mean something. Right now the D&D treasures distributed by Hex Describe are mostly useless for the characters in this campaign. Making a building the explicit goal of the campaign (or the optional exit for the characters) makes sense to me, at least.