Running “Maze of the Blue Medusa” using
Bastionland, Lamentations of the Flame Princess,The Black Hack.
As I mentioned before I’d like this dungeon crawl to be more of a light-hearted board game than a depressing exploration of character mortality. That being said, the dungeon I picked is chock full of dark, gritty stuff. The next question is: What system should I use?
I won’t go too much into the nitty gritty rules, but these two are worth mentioing:
1) When attacking, simply roll damage. There is no to-hit roll. 2) When multiple attackers target an individual, they roll together, keep highest.
No matter how many people attack at once they can’t deal more than 8 or 10 damage each round, preventing wild damage swings one way or another. It also encourages players to spread out and engage separate targets than simple focusing on one at a time. It makes combat quick and deadly while still requiring some strategic thought. Nice.
The System: Plan B
Halfway through writing this article I ran a short game of BastionLand to test out the system with my group. I loved it, and we all had fun, but my group approached me and requested something a little crunchier, a little more complex for this extended dungeon crawl.
So I revisited my list of Dungeon Crawl systems and picked the next thing on the list: “Lamentations of the Flame Princess”. I’ve heard a lot of good things, and from an initial skim it looks like a solid choice.
Several Days Later
Halfway through reading Lamentations, I hit a brick wall.
I’ve never really played an OSR game before, and a bunch of stuff in Lamentations felt like a quiz I hadn’t studied for. I’m sure that a lot of this confusion comes from my own unfamiliarity with OSR tradition, but it upset me enough that I had to stop reading it.
I spent an hour searching through the rules to see what Charisma was for: hirelings. What? I had never heard of hirelings before I read these rules, and still only have a vague understanding of why you want to bring a dinky NPC along with your main character.
After spending another hour, I still don’t know what Wisdom is used for, aside from slightly modifying one of your saves (how you avoid harm/damage/bad stuff). Why are 1/3 of a character’s defining elements treated like afterthoughts? Why are there so many rules about owning land and boats?
Let me know what I’m missing in the comments, because I am genuinely puzzled by this game.
The System: Plan C
All that to say: I eventually landed on using “The Black Hack”. It looks fairly straightforward, and does some neat things through the Usage Die. I also appreciated all of the user-made content for the game (thanks Dieheart).
To help me learn the rules, I made a fancy reference sheet that you might also benefit from.
I’ve had my eye on “Maze of the Blue Medusa” for a long time. Not only does the adventure look top notch,. but the book and the writing are simply gorgeous:
Sadly by the time I heard about it the book was out of print!. With no plans for a reprint any time soon I decided to print my own. Fortunately the organization of the book lent itself well to tiny little booklets. These turned out great, and should work well at the table.
Any suggestions for me before I start? Any other adventures I should check out? Any rule systems I missed?