Every now and again, I wake up feeling like everything is perfect. It isn’t often, and it is rarely on a Tuesday. Tuesdays and I have never got on, but that is another story.
It is about 8 months since I have done a solo dungeon crawl, and last week was all about tactical combat and verging on the tabletop wargaming. If you know me, you will know that I am terrible at wargaming and tactics. This is one reason I often play combat medics/healers/clerics; no one will ever ask my character where to place the artillery!
Anyway, as a counterpoint to the tactical combat of Lancer, I am playing Barbaric this week. I have always had a soft spot for anything derived from Traveller. Barbaric is a long way from its sci-fi roots, but surprisingly, it plays in a very similar way.
As an aside, when I was building 3Deep, I started the skills at 1, compared to Traveller starting at 0. In Traveller, if you don’t have a skill at all, you get a penalty. If you have the skill you avoid the penalty, and that is <skill>-0. As your skill improved, it would progress to <skill>-1, and maybe <skill>-2, which would give a dice modifier [DM] of +1 and +2, etc. I always felt <skill>-0 was a bit rubbish. It pretty much seems like you had no ability at all. The only gain was avoiding a penalty. That is why I went from unskilled to <skill>-1, giving a bonus of +1. Barbaric does skills my way. The first level of a skill is +1.
Barbaric also has a lot fewer skills than Traveller/Cepheus Engine. The skill set has been reduced to just 7 skills. 3Deep reduced the Traveller skill list down to 17 skills but it is genre neutral so had to cover more bases.
I think you can see why I may have an affinity towards Barbaric; we are on the same wavelength.
The first step in creating solo rules is to create a character. The second step is to create the opening scene of the adventure. This will test out how fragile a solo character is, and test drive the GM tools, rules, and options.
So meet Kane:
The black d6s [5+2] are Kane’s Endurance .
The red d6s [6+6+3+2] are Kane’s Lifeblood .
I am contemplating giving solo characters advantage on their Endurance and Lifeblood rolls. If that rule was in place, Kane would have had 8 Endurance and 17 Lifeblood. Not a great difference.
Now I get to spend Kane’s skill points. He gets 5 skill points to spend across the 7 skills. I want to take at least a point in Sorcery, that gives me a chance to play the magic rules. I can see Kane as a mostly hunter gatherer type barbarian with some affinity to the spirits of the land. All the skills are useful but I cannot have them all. I settle on
I choose the Hunter trait. This gives Advantage on throws when attacking from Ambush.
I now get to choose 2 spells. I choose Call Animal and Sleep.
Starting equipment is food and water for 3 days, a backpack, waterskin, and knife, and in my case, 120gp. I add to that light armor, a shield, sword, a bow, bedroll, (6) torches, flint & steel, 20m of rope, and thieves’ tools. That leaves me just five silver pieces in change.
I am carrying 11 things (excluding the flint and steel). The backpack carries four without encumbrance, so this just comes under my allowance of 7 things.
That is it; I am ready to play.
I want this to be a dungeon crawl. So I am going to use dungeon geomorphs to make the map as I go. I need a pretext, so I decide that a nearby cave, local to my village, has recently started spewing out wave after wave of terrible insects and vermin. These are mostly giant centipedes and giant cockroaches. This gives me the option to throw in some giant spiders and possibly a slime later if I want.
I have been elected by my village to find the source of the insect plague and put an end to it.
Before I start playing, I will create a little random encounter table. Giant Centipedes are as tough, if not tougher than me, so I will make them uncommon. Giant spiders are quite tough as well. Snakes fit in with the idea of horrible creatures that the village would be scared of.
My random table looks like this.
I will modify this table as I play. Either to reflect different locations or to add greater variety.
The last thing to do is have a starting location. The map tiles I am going to use are Dyson Logos Business Card maps. There are 20 tiles available. I will just randomly pick a tile each time I move from one map section to another.
This is my opening location:
I am entering from the top of the map, into the cave mouth.
This is to be continued….