[Delve] The playtest gets a reboot

With some of the rules tweaks lately, let’s hit the reset button on the ongoing playtest session. Rewind to the beginning: in this alternate universe, the players pick the Bard, the Elf, the Thief, and the Viking. We start at 4 Adventure Points in the Pool as usual.

One of the things that still needs to be decided is whether the mere act of entering a dangerous or safe area results in a gain or loss in AP, respectively. On the one hand, it leads to AP inflation, since pushing ahead gets the party an AP regardless of the result. That means 2 AP for every dangerous area, and 1 for a safe area. Let’s see how it shakes down either way by running the same sequence of events with each possibility.

Starting with the low-AP rules…

From the entrance, the party starts by pushing ahead [+1] (5,5 = Intersection, 3 paths) It’s doubles, so the area is gray: neither safe nor dangerous until someone decides. The party opts to force it safe [-1] to have a secure zone around the entry.
Pushing ahead on the left path [+1] finds (3,6 = Dangerous hall), with an immediate follow-up roll leading to (1,1 stairs down).
To keep this from being too easy, the gamemaster immediately decides to force a hazard in the dangerous hallway [+1] (3,4 = Illusion). The gamemaster decides to yoink the Berserker’s stats and say the illusion is an ogre “guarding” the stairs. It doesn’t have any specials, though, so it’s worth just 2 AP to beat. However, since it’s not real, they don’t roll against its Defense; instead, they must succeed at a Master test for either Strike or Shoot to realize it isn’t real.

Initiative goes Bard/Elf/Thief, then Viking/Illusion. The party goes into the fight with 6 AP; the gamemaster has 4 HP to work with.

It’s a fight!
Elf starts a spell [-1] to attack the Illusion.
Thief uses Assist on the Viking [-1].
Bard Shoots at the Illusion: (3,1) miss!
Viking uses Fast [-1]. Then, Strike at the Illusion (1,6; assist 1,6): hit on the black die either way. The Viking’s player decides to call for a hand-over, putting +1 HP. The Viking also isn’t fooled by the illusion any more, and uses that narration to call out a hint to the others. They still have to make their tests, though.
Illusionary ogre returns the favor: Strike vs. Viking (2,1) hit!
Elf’s spell attack resolves last: (6,5) hit! But since it’s not a Strike or Shoot, it doesn’t let the Elf know that the ogre isn’t real.

Round two!
Elf Moves in
Thief also Moves (…behind the enemy, naturally), Assisting the Bard [-1]
Bard Shoots again (1,1; assist 4,1) hit! The Bard sees through the Illusion.
Viking uses Fast to duck away [-1]
Elf draws his sword and Strikes (5,1): against the Master difficulty, that’s a miss!
Thief Strikes with a dagger (4,6): either one would work, so she takes white, hit! The Thief sees through the Illusion.
The ogre is in a bind: the Viking cleverly moved after Shooting could happen but before Striking, so it’s left with no action to take.

Round three!
Using the lighter AP rewards, the Bard and Thief would like to Assist the Elf, but with only 1 AP left, they can’t afford to. They just hang back and hope.
Elf Moves back, while Illusion Moves in to swat at the Thief, the last to hit it.
Elf draws bow and Shoots, using her Level bonus (+1) (3,6): hit! Finally, all adventurers see through the Illusion and it is defeated. The Hazard Pool went up to 10 from all the activity, but the party gets their 2 AP reward, bringing them up to 3 AP, while the Hazard Pool stands at 8.

Stepping back to analyze, the party would have gone into that fight with 7 AP for just entering the hallway, which wouldn’t have tipped the scales too much: the Bard and Thief might have both thrown their Assists on the Elf for that last shot, but things would basically have gone the same way. Let’s continue.

The party backtracks to the intersection (A) and pushes ahead [+1] down the center path, which yields (5,3 = treasure) something nice! It turns out to be (2,2 = Greedy Coin), which the Thief pockets for later.
Backtracking to intersection A again, pushing ahead [+1] down the right path leads to (4,1 = safe hall to 5,1 safe intersection, 3 paths). The dungeon is starting to open up a bit, but isn’t exactly cranking out thrilling adventure.
From this new intersection (B), the adventurers push ahead [+1] down its left path into (3,2 = Storeroom). It’s a safe place, and they make note to remember it for perhaps a good camp site later.
Back to intersection B again, pushing ahead [+1] down the center path – looks promising! (2,5 = Dangerous hall to 1,2 Dangerous Anteroom). The higher-AP rule option would have just given the group 2 more AP.
In either case, the gamemaster springs a trap in the anteroom [+1] forcing a hazard. It turns out to be (1,4 = Toxic Gas) a cloud of deadly vapor! Each adventurer must test Health [M] to avoid the consequences.

We’ll leave off there for now. It becomes apparent that opting to reward the party for entering dangerous areas on top of the “push ahead” reward will add up over time. In the stingy rules, the party has a Pool of 8 AP, with the Hazard Pool hovering at 8 until that gas trap was forced, bringing it down to 7. By comparison, the adventurers would have 10 AP with which to deal with the dungeon if they had a reward for entering the dangerous section, and they haven’t actually had any trouble since the illusionary ogre.

The two options for ironing this out seem to be either to keep the rewards light so far, or to even the score by giving the gamemaster a Hazard Point when the party enters a safe zone. If that were the case, the Hazard Pool would be at 11 after that last stretch of uneventful dungeoneering. That certainly lends the unconscious tension of looming danger down the line, and means the group would already be almost halfway to the game-changer if the Danger Level for the dungeon is 50.