"So we're agreed. Tomorrow we set forth to the Orc's lair, kill him, and free these people from his menace."
The four people gathered with Wallace at the corner table of the pub nodded their agreement. The Orc - no one knew what it was called - and his band had been terrorizing the local area for months. It was said it wielded a magical axe and had a hide as hard as steel. Several previous attempts to rid the world of his presence had met with failure, giving truth to the rumor. Wallace was determined not to be another failure.
This was my first foray into Two Hour Wargames' 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl (2HDC). As the game's title states, it is an old school dungeon crawl Two Hour Wargames style. Using many of the rules from Swordplay and Warrior Heroes - Legends, 2HDC allows you to generate your Star, recruit its band of characters, generate a reason for crawling into the dungeon and the "Big Bad" who calls it home, and randomly generate the dungeon on the fly.
There is no need for dungeon tiles as the dungeon can be mapped with pen and paper. Combat is resolved on a "battle board" that represents either a room or a section of corridor. Opponents are randomly generated, so no two games are ever the same.
Having said all that, I am a sucker for printable terrain, either 3d or 2d. I discovered Heroic Maps on DriveThruRPG.com some time ago and stumbled across their Small Tiles Dungeon Core Set. It turns out that the tiles "required" of 2HDC are the appropriate size: corridors are two squares wide and rooms are 4x6 squares in area. So I printed out a bunch of tiles and mounted them on foam board and played the game directly on the tiles.
I intended this to be a one-off game as I didn't really expect any of the characters to survive the encounter. The Star - the character representing You - was a Human Warrior named Wallace. With a Reputation (Rep) of "5" he can have a total of 5 people in his band. He recruited two Humans, a Dwarf and an Elf.
The "Big Bad" of this dungeon was an Orc Knight.
The Big Bad is randomly generated. In this case, he was a Rep 5 Orc Knight. However, part of the generation of the random adversaries is a possible increase or decrease in their Rep. In this case the Dice Gods were kind and the Big Bad wound up with a Rep of 4. Besides determining how bad the Big Bad is, the Big Bad's Rep can be used to determine the size of the dungeon. The 2HDC rules recommend multiplying the Big Bad's Rep by 4 and using that number of tiles. Worked for me: 16 tiles.
The first tile is always a corridor....
The entrance to the lair was easy to find - the Orc made no pretense of hiding its presence. The ease of access mocked their efforts. An old children's story about a spider and a fly surfaced in Wallace's memory. Shaking it off, Wallace led his band into the opening in the hill side.
Adversaries are generated in two ways in 2HDC. At the start of the player's turn, two dice are rolled. If they come up doubles a Possible Enemy Force (PEF) is generated. The PEF is located X number of dungeon tiles away from the player's party as the die roll. For instance, double 5s would place the PEF 5 tiles away, or as far away as possible if there were not yet 5 tiles laid down.
PEFs are also generated when entering a room for the first time.
PEFs can be resolved as one of three things: actual contact, an increased possibility of contact, or nothing. If you actually run into something, it can be resolved as the Big Bad, some of his minions, or a rival adventuring party.
Working their way down the corridor the band came upon a door.
"Right. Thomas, on "three" you open the door and the rest of us will rush in and deal with whatever we find."
"One. Two. THREE!"
Bursting through the door, Wallace and his band stop short when they find themselves facing a well-armed and confident looking band of humans.
The leader of the band, a Knight by the looks of him, tipped his sword in a salute at Wallace. "Well, what do we have here?"
"We are here to find the vile Orc who has been terrifying the countryside and dispatch him to the hells. We bear you no ill will. Stand aside and let us pass."
"You dare give orders to ME?! You shall pay for your impertinence! At them, boys!
Bellowing his war cry, Wallace led his men into battle....
When meeting a band of rival adventurers you have the opportunity to try to talk your way out of a fight. It didn't go so well for Wallace. Fortunately, he won the Charge Into Melee Test....
Wallace rushed the Palidin. Easily ducking under the sweep of the Palidin's Bastard Sword, Wallace shield bashed his opponent off balance and stabbed him in the groin as he fell. The Palidin fell to the ground and did not move.
Wallace glanced to his left to see Diril land an overhand blow to the Soldier he faced. His helmet clove in two, the Soldier dropped to the floor dead.
Soloman took the Knight's sword on is shield and countered with a stab to the Knight's head, striking his neck. A spray of blood filled the air and the Knight fell to the floor clutching his bleeding neck.
Swords flashing, Thomas and the two sword wielding Warrior traded blows and parries. Feinting a high strike, Thomas dropped to a knee. Parrying with his left hand sword, Thomas swung his right hand sword and caught the Warrior high on his left hamstring. As the Warrior fell to the ground, Thomas drove his left hand sword into the Warrior's chest.
Dutiful as ever, the remaining enemy Soldier charged Wallace, even after seeing his four companions fall. The Soldier fought like a man possessed by a Demon, but Wallace and Diril eventually bested him.
I did not see that coming. I was pretty certain my adventure was over nearly before it began.
In Melee combat, opponents roll a number of dice equal to their Rep. There are various additions and subtractions to the number of dice based on different circumstances and other factors. The goal is to achieve more "successes" (roles of 1, 2 or 3) than your opponent. The more successes you have over your opponent makes it more likely you'll knock them Out of the Fight (OOF).
Wallace rushed the Palidin and bested him four successes to none, and sent him out of the fight.
Diril bested his opponent by one. The difference in successes is called "Impact". Wallace's attack had an impact of 4; Diril's, an impact of 1. When you roll for damage (a single d6) you have one of three outcomes: a roll of 1 means you've killed your opponent outright; a roll greater than 1 but less than or equal you your attack's impact puts your opponent OOF. A roll greater than your attack's impact knocks down your opponent. Your opponent immediately takes a "Knock Down" test, sort of a savings roll. The result of that test is either a carry on, OOF or Obviously Dead (OD). In Diril's case, he knocked down his opponent who promptly failed his Knock Down test.
Solomon's attack on the Knight was much the same as Diril's attack, with the exception that the Knight went OOF instead of OD.
Thomas' fight with his Warrior opponent was kind of interesting. When both opponents score the same number of successes they are considered "Evenly Matched" and keep fighting. They actually fought five rounds that way before Thomas Knocked Down his opponent and eventually out of the fight.
The battle with the last Soldier was wild. Wallace knocked him down with his first blow and he spent the entire fight on his back defending himself against Wallace and Diril. Stars have "Star Power", a number of dice equal to their Rep, five dice in Wallace's case, that they can use to mitigate damage. Whenever a Star is knocked down or put OOF, the Star can roll his Star Power dice. Each success (1, 2 or 3 on the die) reduces the damage by one level. However, if you roll a 6, you lose the die for the rest of the adventure. Twice the Soldier tagged Wallace, once with a Knock Down and a second time with an OOF. Wallace's Star Power saved him, but he lost two dice in the process.
Elvin never had a clear line of sight to an opponent and was not a factor in this fight. That proved to be a recurring issue in the confines of the dungeon. In 2HDC, it seems like you almost need to place your shooters in the front of your party. I'm not too comfortable with that just yet....
Wallace spoke a small prayer over the fatally wounded Soldier before granting him the Mercy Blade. A man who would charge five foes after seeing his comrades fall deserves what mercy can be granted.
Standing up and taking stock of his band, Wallace noticed the Elf, Elvin, leaning against the far wall picking at his finger nails with the point of an arrow.
"And just what in the hells were you doing, Master Elf?"
"I never had a clean shot, and I didn't want to waste arrows shooting you in the back."
"Fair enough, I guess. Is anyone hurt? No? Take anything useful off of the bodies and let's move on."
Leaving through the door on the opposite wall of the room took the band to a four way intersection of corridors. As Diril started to step into the center of the intersection to better see the surroundings, Thomas barked "Stop!"
Freezing in place, the Dwarf looked to the Thief. "There's a trip block right there. Back up slowly and let me disarm the trap.
Doing as instructed Diril and Thomas traded places. The Thief rummaged through his pack until he found the tool he needed. "I just need to pry this stone up, that way it can't press down on the trap's trigger. I just about have..."
With a small sound, the tip of Thomas' tool broke. As the trigger stone fell back into place, Thomas threw himself back. With a cry of pain, he landed on his back with an arrow sticking out of his left arm.
Looking at Wallace and the others, he muttered "Never buy tools from a merchant you don't know." Then, he passed out.
Wallace and Diril removed the arrow and patched the Thief up as best they could. Eventually, Thomas came around.
"Do you want to head back on your own, or stick with us?"
"I think I can function, Wallace, but my left arm will be useless in this sling."
"Right, then. We'll press on. Which way? Left, right or straight ahead?"
"I vote for the left", said Solomon. The others agreeing, the party took the left corridor.
Prior to moving, the Player rolls two dice to see if a PEF is generated. Doubles 6s were rolled. That means a PEF was generated as was to be placed 6 dungeon tiles away from my party. As there were only two tiles on the table at the time, I placed the PEF marker as far away as I could.
PEFs move after the Player moves. Two dice are rolled and for each die that rolls 4 or less, the PEF moves one tile. The PEF will always move a minimum of one tile. In this case, Wallace's band moved to the four way intersection. The PEF rolled well enough to move two tiles, catching up with Wallace. Resolving the PEF determined it was a trap.
When I created Wallace, I made him a Warrior/Thief. Characters with more than one profession are "at-Rep" in their primary profession, and "Rep-1 at their secondary profession. That makes Wallace a Rep 5 Warrior and a Rep 4 Thief. Since Wallace and Thomas are Rep 4 Thieves, either one could have attempted to disarm the trap. I chose to let Thomas do it. He bungled it and was injured to the extent that he had to function as a Rep 3 character for the rest of the adventure.
Another door. Another mystery to be solved.
"Just like last time. One. Two. THREE!"
The group burst into an empty room. After searching for any hidden doors, they continued out the far side of the room and deeper into the Orc's lair.
"Straight ahead, or to the right? I'm thinking..."
"Wait! Did you hear that?"
Turning to look back down the corridor they'd just moved through, the band found themselves facing a pair of Goblins. The fight was quick and furious, with Diril killing one Goblin outright, and Wallace administering a grievous wound to the second.
Rising from granting the Goblin the Mercy Blade, Wallace looked at Elvin. "Damn it, Elf! You're supposed to be watching our back!"
To his credit, Elvin had the presence of mind to look somewhat abashed. "I thought I heard something ahead of us. My attention was in that direction."
Wallace was beginning to wonder if the Elf was a liability. Two battles and he hadn't so much as fired an arrow.
Leaving the empty room, another PEF was generated. Tile placement again dictated that I place the marker in the entrance corridor.
The next several turns were uneventful. Wallace's party delved deeper into the Orc's lair while the PEF marker continued to stalk them and gain ground.
In order to keep the dungeon on my table, I rejected tiles that didn't fit.
Eventually, the PEF caught up with Wallace and Company
and a very short fight ensued.
Choosing the right hand branch from the three way intersection where they'd fought the Goblins, the party came upon another three way intersection. Choosing the left hand corridor, the party made two additional left had turns and came upon the bodies of two Goblins.
"A circle", muttered Diril.
Nodding his head, Wallace agreed, "Aye. Let's head back down this corridor and keep going straight from where we turned before."
Retracing their steps, the party once again found themselves at the left-branching intersection. Except this time, there was an Ogre and two Orcs to greet them!
Charging at the Ogre, Diril easily ducked its clumsy swing of its mace and struck a sound blow to the beast's knee. Bellowing in pain and fury, the Ogre fell to the ground.
Wallace found himself facing a very accomplished Orc Warrior. Fighting for his life, he finally landed a blow that put the Orc on the ground.
Diril succeeded in dispatching the Ogre, and the two then slew the second Orc.
After killing the Goblins, the party moved to a three way intersection. Randomly choosing the left branch, a PEF was generated in the corridor with the dead Goblins.
Wallace's party took the left branch and the PEF moved to occupy the intersection Wallace had just departed. Wallace and Company looped around to the left and found themselves in the corridor where they'd fought the Goblins. The PEF had followed them into the loop, but when Wallace's Band returned to the left-branching intersection, the PEF moved to join them.
The PEF was resolved as more Big Bad Minions, this time a Rep 5 and 4 Orc and a Rep 3 Ogre.
Wallace won the Charge into Melee test and he and Diril went to work, with Diril quickly knocking down the Ogre and my camera's battery dying.
Wallace and Diril made short work of the trio of Minions. The Rep 5 Orc was challenging, but it suffered a series of bad rolls that Wallace used to his advantage. Wallace and Diril then tag-teamed the second Orc.
I then took a break to let my phone charge... :-}
After searching the bodies of the Orcs and Ogre, the band continued down the corridor to another door. Entering the room, they found two Orcs waiting for them. Without hesitating, Wallace and his band charged the Orcs.
Wallace faced off against another skilled sword wielding Orc and again found himself in a close struggle. Meanwhile, Diril quickly beat down the other Orc, and Thomas killed him before he could regain his feet.
Solomon attempted to assist Wallace, but was knocked down for his efforts.
Wallace struck the remaining Orc, knocking him to the ground. Diril swung his axe in a great arc, but the prone Orc rolled out of the way and countered with a blow to Diril's helmet, which dropped the Dwarf senseless to the ground.
Seeing Diril go down, Wallace shifted his position to provide an opening for Elvin and shift the Orc's attention from the unconscious Dwarf.
Elvin shot, but the Orc took the arrow on his shield. Wallace then found an opening and killed the Orc.
Taking stock of the situation, Wallace found Solomon getting to his feet apparently unharmed. Diril was out cold with a nasty bruise to the side of his head. After a few minutes his eyes fluttered open, and with a few choice oaths, he regained his feet.
Searching the bodies and the room revealed nothing of interest.
Departing the unexplored door, the band immediately entered another room.
Who thought one Orc could cause such meyhem? Wallace attacked the Orc and had to use his Star Power to stay on his feet, losing another die in the process. Solomon wasn't so lucky, getting knocked off his feet. Fortunately, he recovered from being knocked down without any damage.
Wallace and Diril teamed up on the Orc, with Wallace shifting to his left to provide Elvin an opening and knocking the Orc down. Diril lost his melee and went down OOF.
Elvin then shot at the Orc, but struck his shield. Wallace then struck the Orc and killed him.
After the battle, I remembered that Dwarves are "stout" and take the Knock Down Test with 3d6 instead of the normal 2d6. As going OOF is important after the encounter, I rolled a third die to see if he "really" went out of the fight. He did.
A group of four Humans stood at the far end of the room, weapons ready. They did not look like they wanted to exchange pleasantries.
"I don't suppose we can just let each other pass on their way, could we?" asked Wallace.
"Not likely", replied the female Soldier.
And the battle was on.
Wallace and his Band charged their opponents. Wallace found himself facing a quick Thief wielding a pair of swords. After a spirited exchange, Wallace landed a stroke that took the Thief out of the fight.
The female Soldier bested Diril and knocked him to the ground, but the stout Dwarf quickly regained his feet.
While Solomon traded blows with the Knight, Thomas found himself out matched by the second Soldier. The Soldier took advantage of Thomas' inability to parry with his left arm and quickly put him out of the fight.
Seeing Thomas go down, Wallace shifted his attack to the male Soldier. Wallace quickly realized that the Soldier was more than he seemed as the blows from his sword seemed heavier than he expected. It was unsurprising Thomas fared so poorly. The Soldier eventually went down, but it was a hard fight.
Solomon deflected to the ground a blow from the Knight's two handed sword. As the Knight's sword struck the stone tiles, Solomon trapped the blade by stepping on it. Backhanding his shield against the Knight's helmet knocked the Knight's head back and exposed his throat to Solomon's blade. Solomon seized the opening and dispatched the Knight.
Beset by three foes, the female Soldier fought bravely, but she failed to parry a stroke of Diril's axe and crumpled to the floor dead.
Searching the bodies, Wallace picked up the male Soldier's sword and immediately felt the magic in it. Looking at the unconscious Thomas, Wallace was impressed the injured Thief hadn't gotten himself killed.
Solomon stood holding up a handful of arrows. "Elvin, what do you make of these?"
Taking one of the arrows to study, the Elf smiled. "True Arrows. The Knight must have taken them off a Bowman he defeated. I can put these to use."
"Well, lass, what is this pretty armor you have on?" mused Diril. Stripping the leather jerkin off the female's body, Diril immediately had an increased awareness of his surroundings. "Too bad it won't fit, but I see how this could be useful."
A groan brought everyone's weapons up and fixed their attention on Thomas, who had regained his feet. Appearing to be in considerable pain, his left arm hung useless at this side.
"Thomas, you'll need to stay with us and see this through to the finish. You'll never make it out of here on your own."
Thomas, white faced and sweating, looked at Wallace and nodded.
"As we've learned, doors from rooms might lead to other rooms. Solomon, you'll get the door and Diril and I will rush through. You follow, then Elvin and Thomas. Thomas, you stay with Elvin and fight only if you absolutely have to."
All nodded their agreement and steeled themselves for another fight.
"One. Two. THREE!"
Solomon threw the door open to reveal a room empty of life and treasure.
Exiting the room, the corridor turned to the left, and then to the right and ended with another door. Breaching this door as they had the others, the Band found themselves in what appeared to be the Orc's personal quarters.
"Damn it! Where is the vile creature?!" bellowed Wallace in frustration.
"Wallace, we need to get Thomas out of here", Elvin spoke softly. Looking at him, Wallace could see the Elf was nearly holding the Thief upright.
"Right. Out we go. Diril and me in the lead, then Solomon, with Elvin and Thomas bringing up the rear. We'll not tarry and hopefully we'll make it out without a fight."
With that, Wallace and his band set off to exit the Orc's lair.
Okay, so my phone's battery died again. Blame it on my wife; she drained it taking photos at the Gaylord Texan's Holiday Ice display....
In any event, Wallace found four Humans waiting for them in the room. He failed the Talk the Talk Test (the female Soldier scored more successes than Wallace) and a fight ensued.
What made this fight different was three of the four rivals had magic items on them. When PEFs are resolved, a die is rolled to see if they have magic items. This was the first time any of the PEFs had magic items. The Knight was carrying some magic arrows he obviously couldn't use. The male Soldier had a Sword of Rage with conferred +1d6 in combat. And, the female Soldier had magical Armor of Awareness, which gave her an advantage in the Charge Into Melee Test. Ultimately, it was a bad deal for her. Not only did she lose the Charge Into Melee Test, the magic armor was of less armor value than what she initially had on.
Thomas was put out of the fight again, and again fared poorly on his After The Fight Recovery roll, losing another point of Rep. He would have to continue the adventure as a Rep 2 character. Not good.
The trip from that fight to the Treasure Room was pretty uneventful. The next room was empty. The next two tiles, numbers 14 and 15, were left and right turns, and Tile 16 was a corridor. As the dungeon only had 16 tiles, that corridor became a room. However, since it started out as a corridor, it did not have a PEF to resolve. Consequently, the Band found a Treasure Room devoid of foes. Searching the room revealed a Battleaxe of Virtue which does +1 impact when winning a melee, and a Hard Shirt, which is a magic shirt that has an armor rating similar to chain mail.
After looting the Treasure Room, Wallace set out to leave the dungeon. They had not yet found the Big Bad - the whole point of the excursion - but one of the PEFs they might encounter on the way out might include him. There was still hope for a successful mission.
Leaving the empty room next to the Treasure Room, a PEF was generated. It looked like Wallace might have to fight his way out of the dungeon after all.
The PEF was fast moving and quickly intercepted Wallace's Band.
Retracing their steps, Wallace's Band left the Treasure Room and worked their way through the empty room and the room where they'd fought the female Soldier. Entering the next room, where they'd fought the two Orcs, the Band was greeted by an Ogre and two Orcs. Without hesitating, Wallace, Diril and Solomon charged the Orc's Minions.
Wallace found himself evenly matched with an Orc Knight, the obvious leader of the trio. He was eventually able to knock the Orc off his feet, but the Orc quickly regained his feet before Wallace could finish him.
A roar to his left caused Wallace to look in that direction, just in time to see Solomon miss a stroke and overextend himself. Before Solomon or Wallace could act, the Ogre brought its mace down on the back of Solomon's neck with a sickening thud. Solomon fell to the floor lifeless.
Diril bellowed a curse, and Wallace turned in time to see Diril's Orc sweep the Dwarf's feet from underneath him, sending Diril crashing to the floor.
As the Orc Knight regained his feet, Wallace found himself outnumbered and on the defensive. Dodging the Ogre's mace, Wallace counterattacked and ripped opened the Ogre's leg, severing an artery. The Ogre fell to the floor with his life spilling from his leg.
The Orc Warrior struck Wallace a mighty blow to the back; it was all Wallace could do to retain his footing.
Leaving Thomas, Elvin raced across the room and shot the Orc Knight through the throat, dropping him dead. He followed up with a second arrow that put the last Orc on the ground. Diril promptly clove the Orc's head in twain.
Removing his axe from the Orc's skull, Diril looked around and saw Solomon lying on the floor. He had not seen him fall.
"Dead before he hit the ground. This Ogre was more capable than the last one. I fear Solomon underestimated him and paid a dreadful price", Wallace replied.
"We can't leave him here to rot with this vermin."
"No, we'll carry him out a grant him a proper burial."
After searching the bodies and redistributing their burdens, the Band carefully picked up Solomon's body and uneventfully exited the Orc's Lair.
What a miserable battle. Wallace won the Charge Into Melee Test and the Orcs kicked their butts. It took several rounds of combat, and the loss of two more Star Power dice for Wallace to put the Orc Knight on the ground. Then Diril was knocked to the ground by the Orc Warrior, and Solomon rolled zero successes in his melee with the Ogre, who promptly rolled a 1 and dropped Solomon dead.
The only shining light in this battle was Elvin. Racing across the room, he dropped the Orc Knight with a True Arrow, then hit the Orc Warrior with another arrow, putting him OOF. Diril finished him off.
That was the last PEF the Band encountered on its way out of the Orc's Lair.
After the encounter is finished, the survivors divvy up the loot. Loot comes in the form of magic items and coins. The coins can be obtained either as treasure from searching rooms/looting bodies, or as "rewards" for killing foes: bronze for killing a foe with a Rep lower than yours; silver for killing a foe of equal Rep; and, gold for killing a foe of higher Rep.
After distributing the loot, the survivors have the opportunity to improve their Rep, if the mission was successful and they did not go OOF or leave an OOF party member in the dungeon.
If you don't meet those criteria, you stand the possibility of losing Rep. That's the position Wallace found himself in: the goal of the mission was to kill the Big Bad, which they did not do. Fortunately, no one lost Rep as a result of the mission's failure, and Thomas regained the Rep he lost while in the dungeon.
The coins are used to provide additional opportunities to improve Rep. Of course, you have to meet the "improve Rep" criteria to use them, or they are lost to you.
To recap, here are the survivors and their loot:
And, our fallen Solomon:
Finally, an overview of the dungeon as generated and the events that occurred:
All in all, I had a fun time with this game. I can't remember the last time I used an Ogre or Goblin miniature in one of my games, and building the dungeon with the tiles I made the game a lot less abstract than it might have been.
There is a lot of page flipping as you set up for a battle, but once you've generated your opponents, you pretty much stay on two pages of the rules. I found myself having to re-roll some combats as I forgot to apply/account for some of the racial attributes the various races have. A couple of times I forgot to roll for PEF magic items, or use the benefits they confer.
One of the things I like about 2HDC is you don't have to obsess about having miniatures with exactly the right weapons/armor as rolled. If the generated character is supposed to have a sword and shield with leather armor, and all you have is one with an axe and shield, go for it. The difference in the weapons doesn't really affect the game play. It goes with the whole Two Hour Wargames philosophy: just play the game and don't obsess over the little things!
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