Thursday, 26 April 2012

Games Night: Isle of the Unknown

I was supposed to be away for work this week, and so there was no regular games night set up. Instead Patrick suggested that I join in a game he was hoping to run using Lamentations of the Flame Princess as the system and Isle of the Unknown as the source material. A few people were supposed to join us at our regular haunt, but they didn't turn up; fortunately my nephew and a friend of his were there and joined me as fellow shipwreck/piracy victims on a mysterious island...

As I say on my Games I Have Played page, I've only played D&D once really. I enjoyed it, but didn't get a great feel for the game. Patrick said that LotFP is very much like D&D - all I know is that it was great fun as a system, fast and intuitive. I think that the game does require a mindshift from other things that I've played more recently, as your survival chances are pretty slim as a Level 1 anything. The ten skills that start with a 1 in 6 chance of working whenever you use them makes "good ideas" have to be great ideas to stand any chance of working (in some ways you want to minimise the dice roll). As a Specialist, my character class meant that I could add an extra four points in those, so upped the odds in some skills. Sneak Attack worked beautifully. Seeing as I ended up in negative hit points after a failed Stealth roll, perhaps I should have assigned the points differently, but no matter.

Very different though from Cyberpunk, where hurried thinking easily leads to loss of life, and Apocalypse World where the focus on story leads to a level of flexible harm.

Isle of the Unknown is a great setting, and Patrick GMed it really well. He had told me about it some time ago - he was looking for a way to randomise the different island hexes - and that was one of the first things that got me thinking about the relationship between maths and RPGs. The random element lead us on a merry dance, negotiating with slime bear-worshipping goblins, sneak attacking mine owners (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and then holding out in a mine office building against two dozen lizard men, their warlord and a shaman.

We really pulled something together - or so it felt - in that last stand setting. My Specialist - Charley Shortbread, best random character name ever - had the idea to throw lanterns full of oil at the shaman and the warlord while they were outside (which lead to the shaman being killed before he could get a spell off). And then we barricaded ourselves at the top of some stairs to bottleneck the lizardmen attacking us. A supply of pick-axes that were thrown picked some off, and then our magic-user read Patrick's house rules for unmemorised magic (hacked from Apocalypse World) and started casting Sleep like a madman (two failed rolls lead to him being cursed by a storm cloud and cursed to always talk about the moon in every sentence). Our fighter kept the barricade and distraction going, while I tried to sneak out and Sneak Attack the warlord... Which is how I ended up lying in a pool of my own blood. The magic-user cast one final great Sleep spell and all the lizards went down. Close scene with me being put to bed to recover...

All in all a great night!

Memorable Exchanges from Games Night
Me: "Does throwing a lantern count as a Sneak Attack?"
Patrick (DM): "Only the first time - and the burning oil doesn't get the damage multiplier!"
Me: "Awww..."

Patrick: "Why would you do that, why would you stab the mine owner in the back of the neck when he had just finished offering you a job?"
Me: "I'm Lawful!"
Patrick: "...What???"

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