Delve Playtest pt. 2: Delve Harder.

Recap: the adventurers (in marching order) are the Thief, the Swashbuckler, the Shieldmaiden, and the Elf. The Thief picked up a Fog Flask after destroying an animated skeleton, and the Elf dispelled a magic sigil to gain an Ancient Grimoire.

AP: 8 HP: 6

Does this storeroom have exits? It does if any of the players say it does, but the Thief wants to wait and see if the other, earlier corridor holds anything interesting.

Back at the right-hand corridor, a safe hallway (5,2) leads into a gray hallway (double 4s). The party puts up 1 AP to make it dangerous (they’re still on the first level), which the gamemaster notes but doesn’t escalate right away. A few rolls yield more hallways, which everyone decides to discard (and a note is made to adjust the number of halls on the dungeon table). Finally, a (6,5) yields a safe Grand Chamber. The party lucked into a big score! However, it’s not all good: a grand chamber automatically has both 2 hazards and 2 treasures, plus either another hazard or another treasure based on whether it’s a white or black entry.

AP: 7 HP:7

(It becomes apparent that the AP flow is significantly out of whack following the rules as written, since the unforced appearance of this safe Grand Chamber would suck 8 AP out of the pool. leaving it dry. While the game wants to encourage dangerous areas, the more important emphasis is simply to explore: putting down a natural safe area should not be a penalty – the choice should be to pay points from the pool to get a safe area when it’s needed or press forward and see what happens. Thus, the AP is not going to be adjusted for this encounter.)

Secretly, the gamemaster rolls (3,1), a Vagrant, and (4,3), an Illusion. The gamemaster decides this indicates that the antagonistic NPC adventurer is a magician, and the Illusion is her phantom double. (That explains the sigil and the Grimoire from earlier, and the catacombs imply the party’s facing down a Necromancer.) The gamemaster also rolls real quick for the treasures: a Sorcerer’s Staff, another Ancient Grimoire, and a pair of Gryphonskin Boots. (At this point, the gamemaster mulls whether the treasures should be Revealed along with the hazards, because the rules haven’t decided either way. The spot decision is that treasures are only Revealed if there are no hazards around, unless an adventurer wants to spend turns looking around.)

The gamemaster narrates to the party, using details to provide cues without resorting to game terms: an earthy, moldy smell hangs in the air of a sunken laboratory space lined with preserved remains. The Thief passes an AP to the gamemaster to Sneak in, and the rest of the party files in after. Though the adventurers don’t know it, the figure that addresses them is the Illusion – the actual Necromancer simply mimics silently along with the Illusion, trying to misdirect the group. “Halt, intruders! Depart my atelier or be destroyed!” It’s on!

AP: 6 HP: 8

The party decides to go half and half at each visible ‘opponent’: the Thief and Elf opt for the apparent threat, the Illusion, with the Shieldmaiden and the Swashbuckler sparring off against the real Necromancer. The Thief keeps Sneaking, so that’s an AP down, and the Swashbuckler goes ahead and spends another for Fast. The Elf ponders spending a third to kick in a Magic spell; a question arises as to when the Elf’s player is obligated to declare the effect of the Magic. It seems to make sense that a magician has to decide what “spell” they’re casting when they start, meaning when they spend their point on the special. The Elf’s declaration is to ultimately not use Magic, just opting to Shoot. This can still be described as a spell, but it’s functionally no different than any other ranged attack.

The Thief and the Elf are going to get to go first, followed by the Shieldmaiden, then everyone else. The reason the Thief has the Assist special is, in part, to simulate “back-stab” or “flanking” tactics that make others’ attacks more successful. The Thief’s player is going to pull that into play here, stating that the Thief slips behind the Necromancer to take him out. Granted, that’s the Illusion the Thief is attempting to out-maneuver, but that’ll come up soon enough. The Thief has enough Move to change their distance from Far From to Close To, but not enough for Next To.

There’s a moment of humor as the players realize they’re attempting to apply positional advantage to a mapless game, then the Elf goes. (On the turn chart, Move comes before Shoot, so even though their turns are simultaneous, the effects unfold sequentially.) While the Thief is closing the distance by lurking from shadow to shadow, the Elf lets loose lightning with a hair-curling “pop”. The roll is (1,5): the player thinks it’s just a standard attack roll, and mulls asking for the Thief’s Assist, but it’s actually the test to discern the Illusion and thus “defeat” it. A Shoot total of 10 is indeed good enough – an E result – and the gamemaster describes how the Elf sees the electricity arc right through the form of the evil wizard and into the copper alembics on the shelf.

The Shieldmaiden is about to lunge forward, but with over half of the party’s Adventure Pool depleted, her player is not sure about burning another one to use another special. As melee is about to occur, the AP is 3, while the gamemaster is up to a whopping 12 Hazard Points to throw back. The Swashbuckler’s also notes that the turn structure – everyone resolves a complete turn in Move order – still leaves him going later in the turn; is Fast meant to be a global qualifier, or just indicate that the character can cover a lot of ground? There’s an argument to be made either way, but it’ll have to wait until this fight is over.

The Shieldmaiden’s spear would likely find its mark easily if she could get Next To the Necromancer (she’s got a Strike of 6, and the Necromancer doesn’t really do Defense with a 1), but the best she can do is to get Close To him. Still, she’s got a 1-point advantage, and his Defense is abysmally low, so she can basically take the die she wants and its corresponding effect without fear of not succeeding. The roll is double 3s, so she opts to take the white die. The Necromancer is drunk with stolen vitality from his magic, though: a Health of 6 means he can take the hit.

AP: 3 HP: 10

The Swashbuckler’s turn occurs at the same time as the Necromancer’s: the opponent first decides to Move away from the Shieldmaiden, making her Far From him and imposing a penalty. There’s some talk about whether he ought to be able to do this, since it’s an enclosed chamber and he was already at the far end, but it’s agreed that it would be broken to let adventurers corral every creature hazard they come across: the gamemaster can narrate that the movement takes advantage of cover to net the same mechanical effect. Still, there’s some spatial weirdness to be considered as the players take turns using their Moves to increase or decrease range bands. In the meantime, though, a necromantic spell surges forth, conjuring cold tentacles made of shadows from the gloom of the laboratory to ensnare the Shieldmaiden! Description aside, this is a Shoot attack with the Paralyze special attached (-1 Hazard Pool). It’s an even test (3 Shoot vs. 3 Defense), and a (3,4) does the trick. The Necromancer is betting on lasting long enough to sap the adventurers’ Move scores so that they can’t catch up if he bolts for it. The Swashbuckler’s Fast Move follows Shoot, crossing the rest of the distance to get Next To the Necromancer, so that he can use his impressive Strike of 5 to whittle the wizard down. Shatter wouldn’t help much against a Defense of 1, so the special is saved for later. (4,5) lets the Swashbuckler take the white die and knock another point of Health off the deceptively wizened foe.

2 thoughts on “Delve Playtest pt. 2: Delve Harder.”

  1. Any way a fella might be able to take a look at this Delve game you speak of? It sounds terribly interesting. 🙂

    1. Hey, Matt, I’d be happy to pass along the playtest version: shoot me an email to the address on the Press page with “Delve” somewhere in the subject line.

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