Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gallius the Gladiator [Barbarians of Lemuria, Actual Play]

I know this isn't Lemuria, but it's still an arena, a six-legged beast,
and a guy doing the Harryhausen with a spear. A.k.a., "win."

My 13th Age campaign at the FLGS fell through once again—seems like Pathfinder and 5E have cornered the market on D20 fantasy in Urbana. But I was prepared for the flop, pulling out Barbarians of Lemuria's new Mythic Edition after I only picked up a third player this past Thursday. I was interested in seeing how the Mythic Edition rules changes shook out in play, and I also wanted to stick with a low-prep game.

The three players were more than willing to switch systems and launched themselves into character creation. Here are the heroes they generated:

Gallius of Satarla

Attributes: Strength 0, Agility 2, Mind 1, Appeal 1
Combat: Initiative 1, Melee 0, Ranged 1, Defense 2
Careers: Thief 0, Sailor 1, Soldier 1, Sky Pilot 2
Boons: Alert, Friends in High Places, Keen Eyesight
Flaws: Braggart, Greed

Koth the Festrelian

Attributes: Strength 3, Agility 1, Mind 0, Appeal 0
Combat: Initiative 1, Melee 2, Ranged 0, Defense 1
Careers: Hunter 1, Mercenary 1, Slave 2, Gladiator 0
Boons: Born Athlete, Sneaky, Strength Feat
Flaws: Fear (Whips), Illiterate

Ralak of Malakut

Attributes: Strength 0, Agility 2, Mind 2, Appeal 1
Combat: Initiative 1, Melee 1, Ranged 1, Defense 1
Careers: Thief 2, Spy 1, Noble 0, Herbalist 1
Boons: Deft Hands, Savant, Silver Tongue
Flaws: Hunted (Tyrusian Nobility), Obsession (Sorcerer-Kings' Formulae)

The heroes began play in a cell under the Great Satarlan Arena (sound familiar, BoL veterans?). Gallius was there because his superior officer caught him dallying with said officer's daughter. Ralak had been arrested for kissing a noble woman whilst trying to hide his face from the agents of the Tyrusian nobility. And poor Koth, he had been sold to the Arena management to cover his recently deceased master's debts.

As heroes, our protagonists were not going to become fodder for the games. They staged a breakout, relying on the mighty strength of Koth (and the insanely good rolling of Koth's player). First Koth lifted the metal grate locking them in their cell. Then Koth used his bare hands to rip the locked door to the prison chamber off its hinges. Ralak had freed the other prisoners in the prison chamber in the hopes of generating maximum confusion. Gallius broke legs off a chair to serve as clubs for Ralak and himself; Koth opted instead to use the chamber door as a weapon.

In the ensuing melee with the Arena guards, Koth took out nearly all of the opposition with a boxcars-driven Legendary Success: he simply bulldozed them into the walls with the door. Ralak and Gallius had much more trouble with the single foes they ended up dispatching. Rather than fight more onrushing guards, the heroes fled to the right ... and thus into the open floor of the Arena.

The guards chuckled, sealing the Arena gates and opening the passage to the beast pens. As the crowd roared for blood, a hideous jemadar launched itself at the heroes. Koth tried to ward it off with his trusty door, but the beast raked him with its claws (10 of Koth's 13 Lifeblood were lost in a single blow). But Ralak and Gallius made amends for their mediocrity in the battle against the guards. Seizing spears from the sands of the Arena, they threw themselves at the jemadar. Rallak scored a Legendary Success, hamstringing the beast and forcing it to a standstill. Then Gallius threw his spear at the jemadar's skull, striking it right between the eyes for a Mighty Success that brought it down.

Celebration was brief: the Arena guards began to approach the heroes en masse. In the open space of the Arena floor, they would be able to form Hordes and overwhelm the rebellious trio. But just then the shadow of a sky boat fell across the heroes, and a rope ladder was tossed from above. The heroes seized this unforeseen opportunity and scrambled up the ladder to the deck of the now rising sky boat. There they encountered a woman clad in the robes of an Oomisian merchant. "Now that I've freed you," she said, "we can discuss how you'll be showing me your gratitude."

BoL plays just as smoothly in its Mythic incarnation as it did when I ran this scenario using the Legendary rules. The new Initiative rules (which look very much like the Initiative house rules I developed back in 2010 but with the advantage of not requiring NPCs to roll) worked without any hitches, and I was particularly pleased with the new Damage rules for weapons: the impromptu clubs were easy to peg as 1d6L weapons, and Koth's door was a 1d6 weapon (it had the heft of a heavy 1d6H weapon, but lost the H due to its unwieldy nature). The players also appreciated the ability to buy a third Boon by way of picking a second Flaw; they felt this made for more varied heroes. All in all, I'm pleased with how the game is handling in this latest version.

In a week's time, the heroes will find out just who the mysterious benefactor is ... and what he wants from them ...

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