Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hyrulian Adventures: Alignment in Legend of Zelda

Alignment in the Legend of Zelda games is an interesting beast. There is clearly an old school D&D, Law vs Chaos thing going on, right?



But there’s more to it than that. When we look at the mythology of the world, it centers around the power of the Triforce, of which there are three (four?*) parts: Wisdom, Power, and Courage. Each of these parts is personified in Zelda, Ganon, and Link, respectively.

*That fourth part would be the upside-down triangle there in the middle. The Triforce of Shadow? Not going there in this post, but it’s worth mentioning.

So, we have alignment working along these three axes. We have a Triforce of Courage that needs reassembling, and then someone to wield it. Who should that be?

Obviously, the person who has been the most Courageous! This will mean a great deal more bookkeeping for myself, as I will need to keep track of the PCs actions every game and make judgment calls (quite frankly, more than I’m really comfortable doing, but I think it will be worth it in the end) on whether their actions have been Wise, Courageous, or Power-hungry. In the end, only one of them can raise the Triforce of Courage and fight Ganon. Of course, I’m not going to tell them I’m keeping track of this kind of thing.
Side-note: what happens if someone who is not pure of heart or truly courageous enough to wield it gets his or her hands on the Triforce of Courage? Something exciting I’m sure… Because I'm not going to just come out and tell them who is supposed to wield the Triforce of Courage! 

Right now, I have it set up with a kind-of points system. Basically, each character will get a point in the appropriate column whenever they do something in-game that is especially Wise, Courageous, or Power-Hungry. I wish there was a good way to make Wisdom, Power, and Courage each PC's stats, but I'm not sure how to make it work. They feel more like personality attributes than physical statistics to me, which is why I'm keeping them separate. I do have plans to use these scores in a couple of different ways down the line, which I'll explain when we get there (eventually). 

But also, what happens to the character who has been the most Wise?

Or the most Power-hungry?

Any ideas? Sound off in the comments below! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hyrulian Adventures: Session 1

I was a little stressed out leading up to getting started yesterday; I haven’t run a D&D game in several months, and running a game for the kids can always be a challenge. On top of that, I didn't have as much prepared as I would have liked, and knew I would be winging some of the session. We started with character generation. We had five characters fully done up within an hour and a half. Microlite characters are pretty straightforward, of course, and most of the time was taken up buying supplies.

I explained it in an earlier post, but I’ll recap here. PCs start basically as level-0 townsfolk with three stats: Strength, Dexterity, and Mind. Stats are calculated using 12d6, dropping the three lowest rolls, and assembling three scores with what remains and assigning as the player sees fit. Ability modifiers are calculated by taking the score, minus ten, and divided by 2, rounded down. They all get 12 HP plus a Strength bonus. They all rolled on my Character (Family) Background Generator, which gave us the children of a barber, a forester, a farmer, an arrowsmith, and explorers. There are no levels. Character improvement happens through acquiring items in-game, training with NPCs, and success with certain tasks in the field. I’m still ironing out some of the details, but I have plenty of time and some good ideas, I think.

Regardless, things got off to a start with some combat. I’ve learned that with the kids, they need some action to start things off. So I explained the situation, plopped down a battle map, and we got to rolling dice.
They nearly died.

It was fantastic.

So, having successfully fended off the bokoblin attack and defended their fellow villagers and the refugees, they set off to help the town by acquiring more weapons and armor. They upgraded their “weapons” (really just hunting tools) by having the town blacksmith do a little work on some of the swords that were dropped by the bokoblins from the attack in town.

They have a general map of the area (which belongs to the daughter of the explorers), and they were faced with a few options. First, Lon Lon Ranch is some five or six miles from Kakariko Village, and there was some concern if the ranch would be okay. Also, Ordon Village, some twenty miles to the south, could also be in need of assistance. Finally, there was an area on the map clearly marked “Ruins” to the Northwest (the remains of the original Hyrule Castle, perhaps…?). They eventually settled on heading to the Ranch.

A random encounter happened first. Currently, as it is always dark and Hyrule is crawling with monsters, I’m rolling for every mile travelled. I roll 2d6, and if either face pops up a 1, bam, random encounter. Snake Eyes would be the discovery of something fairly major.

They came across a ruined tower, though it still had a second floor at least. It also had a pair of bokoblins guarding the entrance. An ambush took the guards out and they set up to move in. My father-in-law directed their movements, and they made quick progress with good cover, and the encounter with another four or five bokoblins inside didn’t last very long.

They did, however, fail to investigate upstairs. Not sure why, as bokoblins were coming at them from upstairs, but I wasn’t about to remind them. The tower’s not going anywhere, and whatever was up there will still be there, right? Maybe? Who knows.

They made it the rest of the way to Lon Lon Ranch, where they met Malon and her father Talon. Malon is the twelve year old girl who really runs the Ranch, and Talon does what he can to help out. When they come up, she is armed with a shortbow and certainly not thrilled to have strangers, but is willing to let them stay the night in the barn if they help out repairing the ranch.

Oh, and there’s a cave nearby where all these monsters seem to keep coming from, and little Malon just hasn’t been able to get over there and clear it out. Could you guys investigate?

In they went. Numerous encounters with Deku Baba plants later (the little bastards kept popping back up out of the ground after they killed them, wonder why...) and they were face to face with some robed evil dudes creating bokoblins in some kind of foul ritual involving rupees. The robed guys went down fairly quickly, but not before one of them toasted our heroes pretty good with a fireball attack of some sort.

Of course, the two youngest adventurers took the bait of the evil-looking daggers dropped by the robed fellows. And as they were trying to leave the dungeon, fighting their way through the Deku Baba plants that had grown back, one of the plants grabbed the boy as he tried to stab it with said evil dagger and chewed him up good. The rest of the group took the plants out and hauled the boy out, but he would need a few days to recover, and that only with the aid of some famous Lon-Lon Milk. Needless to say, they’re not really sure what to do with those daggers now…

And that’s where we left things. The plan is for some of the adventurers to borrow horses from Lon-Lon Ranch, leaving the injured boy there for a few days while they head back to Kakariko to deliver some of the weapons they’ve acquired, and then head back to Lon-Lon and then down to Ordon Village. We’ll see how things go, of course.

Overall, a good first session for the campaign, I think. If there’s anything that’s going to kill the kids, though, it’s greed. They all suffer from “Gimme Gimme” syndrome; they all want the shiniest new thing to show up, and it’s always a competition amongst all of them to see who can get it. They were going after fallen rupees in the middle of combat. Seriously. It nearly killed a couple of them on a couple of occasions. Once that nonsense started, any thoughts of taking it easy on them vanished. Not that I was fudging any die rolls (everything gets rolled right out in front of God and everyone), but I certainly wasn’t going to bring my B-game as far as tactics with the monsters was concerned. After all, they had been warned before the game started that their characters were fragile and could easily be killed if they weren't careful...

The kids had a good time, though. There was certainly some frustrations from every seat at the table at some point, be it from a string of poor die rolls or lamenting bad decisions, but all their characters (barely) survived to see another session, so we’ll continue on!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hyrulian Adventures Begin

Hyrule has known peace for a thousand years at least, under the strong but caring leadership of the Royal Family.

All that changed last Thursday morning, when the earthquakes began. While rare, earthquakes are perfectly natural events, and certainly no cause for alarm. Until they continued. For three days. Much of Kakariko lay in ruins, only the sturdiest buildings surviving.

The next day, a boy, carrying a shield and a sword and wearing a green tunic, rode into town, and sought out the elder Sahasrahla. Within a couple hours, he was gone again. Apparently, he was the “Hero of Legend”, but you had never heard of this legend before.

Then the monsters came.

And then the darkness followed. The sun has not been seen in days. You can hear the howling of the monsters in the wilds.

A few hours ago, refugees arrived from Hyrule Castle Town. Hundreds of people, many of them injured, all of them terrified of what they had seen at the castle. Monsters had descended upon the town, undead rising up from the cobblestones, and the castle torn up from the very ground itself, and by some magic remains suspended there, transformed into a twisted, evil, Forbidden Fortress.

The refugees and other survivors have been gathered in the village temple. There are a few soldiers with them, and their primary concern is building up defenses for the village and its people. No one knows what has happened to the Royal Family. None of the survivors knows anything about the “Hero of Legend”. The Elder Sahasrahla pulls the five of you aside. He fears the worst; the Hero has fallen, and the Triforce of Courage is shattered and scattered across Hyrule. This evil, these monsters, can only come from someone wielding the Triforce of Power, and if what the refugees say is true, there is a good chance that someone has taken captive Princess Zelda, the bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom.

The Triforce of Courage must be recovered, reassembled, and wielded by someone pure of heart if there is any hope at all of returning the light to Hyrule! 

But first, Kakariko Village must be defended from attack...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Out of Hibernation and In Search of the Unknown!

Out of Hibernation and Into the Unknown!

It's been a good bit of time since we last checked in! This is due in part to a general lack of D&D-type gaming over the last few months, as our gaming focus has been primarily on Magic: the Gathering of late. 

However, the little gnolls have begun a journey In Search of the Unknown! A family friend, Jans, wanted to run a regular game of D&D for his ten-year-old (I think) daughter, which now includes my four minions and another of her friends. They are using the D&D Next playtest rules (the most recent one) for this adventure, and I'll probably have some thoughts on the playtest rules in a future post. 

My father-in-law and I stayed to watch events unfold and help keep the kids kind of on-track. The characters include a trio of elves (rogue, wizard, cleric), a pair of dwarves (cleric and fighter), and a human sorcerer. 

They made it to the Keep, and the silliness ensued in short order. The boys decided their dwarves would go over to the tavern, and the girls (the elves), whose characters were apparently abolitionists, promptly followed them, smacked them, and tried to take their ale away. 

Calmer heads prevailed, as Jans made it clear the local townsfolk were aghast at their behavior. I think sometimes my kids just have to cause drama with each other, as they all like to boss each other around. They also all like being the center of attention, and the younger ones especially will say and do silly things for that express purpose. 

Regardless, they did eventually make it to the dungeon. They didn't have too many problems with the monsters they encountered, and were doing fairly well at examining their surroundings and treading carefully...

Until they got to the room with all the various pools of liquid. By the time we called it a day, the dwarf fighter was fast asleep and unable to be awaken, the dwarf cleric was covered in neon green goo and completely intoxicated with the elf wizard and human sorcerer, the elf rogue was glowing blue and had a hand badly burned by acid, and the elf cleric was glowing orange, I believe. 

It may be a bit late to tell them how to use a ten-foot-pole...

Regardless, they all had a lot of fun, so I think this may be a once-a-month type of thing. It did light a bit of a fire under my butt to run some D&D again, though! If I work at it, we should be able to start Hyrulian Adventures in the next couple of weeks (possibly this weekend if I really bust my ass!). Hopefully I'll have some more material ready for that shortly. 

It's good to be back :)