Friday, November 20, 2015

Using the Mythic Game Master Emulator for solo roleplay

I've previously talked about how I use the Mythic Game Master Emulator (GME) to help me decide  NPC responses and the consequences of PC actions here and here.

In addition to using the GME for those sorts of what happens after situations, I've sometimes used the GME for running solo scenes. It works pretty well for that, though I find having to switch back and forth between GM and player is a little awkward and disassociative. Undoubtably if I did used the GME more it would feel less awkward. I ran a lot of solo D&D my first year in college. Partly as an escape from class and homework. (Kids, don't try this at university.) I don't recall what process I used. I certain a lot of random rolling on the wandering monster table was used. And I already had a megadungeon created that I used. It was large enough (about 3" thick with levels and very terse room keys) that I wouldn't remember the contents of all the rooms prior to consulting the key. So undoubtably there was a certain amount of listen at the door | hear nothing | open the door | now check room key to see what we encountered. I ran a dwarven fighter and spent entirely too much time doing that.

Recently, I ran a solo encounter between Gaston, my PC, and a couple of Masked Assassins. I find the GME is helpful in keeping the combat unpredictable and thus more interesting. To keep it interesting I try to make decisions for my PC quickly and before I've decided exactly what the NPC is doing. I'll use this as an example.

This combat is from the current adventures that the other PCs are involved in. I haven't gotten to that point in the Adventure Logs so I'll provide a little orientation.

What is Going On

The PCs are currently dealing with three different issues. The introduction is a bit long. If you want skip on down to the Example of Play.

First, Guy de Bourges, who is a spy for the mysterious Duke DeMainz [full name: Conrad D'Einartzhausen Landgrave de Barr and Duc DeMainz (SR 15)], has a long term mission to reduce the influence of the Prince de Condé (full name: Henri II de Bourbon, prince de Condé, Prince of the royal blood and second in line to the throne of France (SR 17)]. This is mostly being managed through Guy's two main agents, Le Serpent and Mlle Collette du Pré, a lady-in-waiting to the Prince's wife. Though the other PCs have helped come up with a plan to ruin an upcoming party that the Prince and Princess are hosting. The guests include the King and Queen, so a fiasco of a party could be just the ticket they need.

Second, Father Signoret, who is a Jesuit priest and a noted duelist, has been instructed by the Provincial Father to investigate some mysterious murders in the country around Paris. So far there have been three murders. The first was a middle aged woman whose heart was removed and who was viciously pecked at and scavenged on by crows that must have fed at night as she went out after supper to feed the goats and her body was found the next morning on a rocky outcrop in a field. The second was also a middle aged woman. She also disappeared in the evening and her body was found the next morning. Her bloody corpse was found on top of a neolithic stone table inside a rotten old ring of small standing stones. Both bodies had their hearts removed. And there was some indication that some sort of pentagram may have been drawn around the bodies in blood.

Third, Gaston, who is the Captain-Lieutenant of Cardinal Richelieu's Red Guards, has been assigned to look into the mysterious death (by poison) of Monsieur LeDroit, an agent for the Superintendant of Finance. LeDroit appears to have been investigating the actions of a secret society. The secret society seems to include several members of the Devôt faction and to be connected to the Spanish Ambassador to France. It may also be connected to the red sash wearing plotters who tried to foil the Treaty of France by assassinating the envoys from Venice, Savoy, and the Grey League or the red carnation wearing Spanish sympathizers encountered in Amsterdam during a past diplomatic mission.

In the last session, someone impersonated a servant at the Louvre and poisoned Guy using the same metallic poison that killed LeDroit. Fortunately for Guy, his trusted valet, Fabré is a highly skilled apothecary, and he had used traces of the poison that killed LeDroit to create an antidote which saved Guy. It appears that that secret society may have noticed the PC's interest and decided to do something about it.

Later that night, it is revealed that Gaston, too, has been marked for death.

Example of Play: Marked for Death

I had already determined that one or more of the Masked Assassins, last seen on the Ponte Neuf during the assassination attempt on the Pont Neuf, would use climbing lines to ascend Le Tour Dubois to attack Gaston in his office. The Assassins will be armed with weapons poisoned with "The Burning" a hideously painful concoction last seen in use on the Pont Neuf. [This occurs in game on the night of Wednesday April 10, 1624.]

First I created a little table to figure out how many Masked Assassins would be assigned the task. Masked Assassins aren't full Villain-level opponents, but they are Retainer Level-4. Two Retainer-4 opponents should be about equal to one Hero or maybe a tiny bit tougher. However, Gaston is a very experienced PC so he should be able to defeat two Retainer-4 opponents.

 2d6 Roll     Attackers

      12          (3) assassins

     7-11        (2) assassins

 2-6          (1) assassin

Rolling the dice, I got a 9, so the number of attackers = (2) Masked Assassins. [All die rolls are listed as roll+bonus-penatly.]

Next I checked their Sneak, which was 8+4=12, easily a success given that Gaston is neither an assassin himself, nor was he especially expecting such an attack inside his own office in a guarded tower in the Louvre. (He was cautious of what he was eating and drinking after the poisoning of both M. LeDroit and of Guy de Bourges. With a roll of 5+4, the first Masked Assassin opened the window without any difficulty.

I then used the GME to determine how alert Gaston happened to be at that moment. Based on his location and level of caution, I assumed he was likely to be surprised. This means that on a roll of d100 there 01-15 = Exceptional Yes (great surprise), 16-75 = Yes (surprise, free attack, cannot spend Fortune Points to get a near miss, no defense), 76-95 = No (unsurprised bonus die to initiative, can spend Fortune Points to get a near miss), 96-00 Exceptional No (Gaston is prepared). I rolled 69, indicating surprise so the Masked Assassins get the first round free.

Round 1

I figured the Masked Assassin's best chance was for both to quietly enter the room then attack. I assumed that was likely (same odds as above). If they didn't do that, then the first Assassin would fire his balestrin (1-handed crossbow) from outside the window.
  • So the GME question is, "Do they both enter first?" I rolled a 96 = Exceptional No. So Assassin-1 fires his balestrin from outside the window, then enters the room with Assassin-2 following the same set of actions next round.
  • Assassin-1 uses his surprise to get an Aimed Shot, which gives him a bonus die on his attack. Roll: 9+4=13, Hit; damage is 1d3+Poison. Rolled damage of -1 LB; and Assassin-1 enters room as a free move.
  • Gaston’s Might Check vs. Poison damage is 5+2-1=6 Fail so he takes an additional -1LB damage; for his might roll vs. the Intense Pain of the poison, he spends a Fortune Point and rolls 9+2-2=Success.

Round 2
  • Roll for Initiative results in the following order: Assassin-1, Assassin-2, Gaston
  • I used the GME to decide whether Assassin-1 draws melee weapons or reloads his balestrin. He tries reload using the Quickload Maneuver and rolls 4+4-2=8 Failure, so it takes him 2 Minor Actions to load. He will finish loading next round.
  • Assassin-2: Split Action takes an Aimed Shot/Balestrin: 9-2+4-1 [for Gaston's Defense]=10 a hit, but Gaston who is now alert can react. He dodges which subtracts an additional -2 from the shot, turning it into a miss.
  • Gaston: uses Quick Draw 6+3-1=9 Success; needing to finish Assassin-1 before he can reload, Gaston Lunges against Assassin-1 and spends a FP. Even using the fortune point, the roll is a paltry five, but given Gaston's extremely good fencing skills that is 5+7-1=11 a hit. Damage is +1d6 for the Lunge so Assassin-1 decides to yield Advantage. [One of the reasons that Retainer-4 are much tougher is that they have Advantage of 2 which allows them to retreat form an otherwise fatal attack. Heroes have a base of Advantage 3.]. 
  • Gaston has the Advantage over his opponent so he choose to push his advantage. [He sacrifices 1 Advantage to get a second attack.] This attack is an 11+7-1=18 which easily hits. and Gaston rolls 2 sixes for damage so with his Might bonus he does -14 Lifeblood. This kills the assassin in one blow. The Lunge is through throat with a follow through sideway cut that nearly beheads Assassin-1.
  • Gaston uses his minor action to Shove Assassin-2 out the window. He rolls  9+3-0=12 and succeeds. 
  • Gaston, rolls again to stop the damage from the poison, roll is 8+2-1=9 success so Gaston takes no more damage from the poison. Roll to endure the pain is 11+2-2=11 another success. This time Gaston didn't spend a FP since both Assassins were dead or gone and it wouldn't matter so much if he had a penalty due to pain. [Technically Gaston didn't need to make a second roll vs. pain. But I forgot that. Tough for Gaston, but luckily he made the roll anyway.]

Round 3

  • Initiative: Assassin-2 [wins on tie] with Gaston. I figured the Assassin or Thief skills applied better here than Duelist or Soldier so the tie went to the Assassin.
  • Assassin-2 tries to catch the rope: 8+2=10 Success; I use the GME to see if he will reload, otherwise he'll conceal himself. Before figuring that out, I decide that Gaston will grab the dead Assassin's balestrin. If the Assassin-2 survives being shoved out the window, the idea of using their own weapon to take down the last assassin appeals to Gaston's sense of poetic justice. 
  • GME roll is 91=No so instead of reloading he takes the cautious approach and swings to the side to get out of sight;
    Gaston picksup Assassin-1’s Balestrin; Goes to the window to check on Assassin-2.
  • Assassin-2 rolls 6+4-2=8 fails Sneak vs. Gaston's Savvy so Gaston notices the rope move, but can’t see Assassin. 
  • Gaston decides to cut the rope. I roll an attack and damage to see how long it takes to cut.; roll 5+7=Hit; Damage 6+2=8 rope is cut. Assassin-2 falls.

Round 4

  • Assassin-2 rolls 10+2-2=12 which succeeds and catches himself on a projection from the old medieval tower wall despite a Hard (-2) difficulty. 
  • I use the GME to decide if he will retreat (which I decide is likely), but with a roll of 99=Exceptional No; he will continue with his mission now! 
  • Next I ask if he will climb up to another window and try again; a roll of 73=No. 
  • So I ask if he will disguise himself and try a stealthy approach? 49=Yes; 
  • Rolling for him to get down off the tower results in 9+2=Success.
    Meanwhile, Gaston puts down the Balestrin, picks up and arms a pistol, looks out the window. Sees no one. Checks other windows. Heads downstairs armed w/ pistol and sword, alerting any guards as he encounters them. 
  • Note that since no one is in combat, these rounds are subjective and variable in length.

Round 5

  • Will Assassin-2 try to disguise himself as a Red Guard 29=Yes. 
  • I roll a d6 to see if he encounters a named Red Guard or a generic guard. A roll 6 on 1d6 = he encounters a named Red Guard. I look at the list of named guards, subtract Gaston and the PCs who are in Marseille and roll a d10. A result of 3 tells me that the Red Guard encountered is Remy Janvier who is alone. [Assassin-2 isn't an idiot so there is no real reason to have him tackle multiple guards.] 
  • I roll for Assassin-2 to sneaks up on Janvier 8+4-0=Success. 
  • Assassin-2 uses a Lunge w/ Bonus die for surprise + a called shot (+1 Damage); roll 10+2-1=Hit; Rolling 1d3+1+1+1d6 for damage = -10 Lifeblood. [Note that a dagger in the right circumstances is deadly in H+I.] 
  • Assassin-2 is trying for stealth, so he does not use a poisoned weapon so his target won't cry out from the excruciating pain. The damage drops Janvier to 0 Lifeblood. Janvier falls unconscious and bleeding.
  • Assassin-2 puts on his crimson tabard as a disguise. In this situation his Assassin 2 career should help with the disguise. With a disguise roll of 7+4=11 even if we subtract Gaston's Savvy 2 this is a success. So Assassin-2 will get initiative plus a bonus die for his first attack against Gaston.

Round 6

  • Assassin-2 attacks with a poisoned stiletto and Lunge w/bonus die+called shot; 7+2-1=Miss. Gaston's defense is still in effect since he has already been attacked, he is looking for the assassin, and he is prepared with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. 
  • At this point, Gaston wants a prisoner to question so he uses Disarm, a maneuver he has mastered giving him a bonus die on his roll. He rolls 12+6=18 and a Mighty Success. The Assassin is disarmed. Gaston gets a free action vs. the Assassin due to the Mighty Success. 
  • He rolls at attack to put the assassin at sword's point; a roll of 10+7-1=16 easily succeeds. 
  • Gaston uses his boon of The Look which gives him a bonus die to Intimidation. He again rolls a mighty success so Assassin-2 is captured and Gaston has a prisoner to question.

Round 7

  • Gaston finds Janvier and calls for a surgeon. Janvier (who was only at 0 not at negative Lifeblood) survives and recovers. Gaston recovers 2 LB, but is still down -1LB from the poison.


  • At this point rounds are irrelevant. But the order in which Gaston does things may matter. 
  • Gaston ensures that Assassin-2 is bound and guarded by Red Guards that he trusts. He gives the guards strict instructions to watch him carefully and to keep him alive. 
  • Gaston then goes to checks on Cardinal Richelieu. Gaston doubles the Cardinal's guards and puts them on alert. 
  • Next Gaston sends four Cardinal’s Guards to get Fabré with his potions and antidotes, including the antidote for The Burning. Two of those guards are to stay and protect Guy. [They may not actually find Guy as his player already decided Guy is keeping out of sight since he was poisoned.]  
  • At the same time, two more Cardinal’s Guards are sent to the Jesuit Professed House to warn Signoret. Gaston assumes a master duelist like Signoret can look after himself outside the Professed House and inside he should be safe from assassins, so the Red Guards are to return after warning the Jesuit.
  • Also in parallel, two more Red Guards are to warn and guard the Seigneur de Chambre. Gaston owes de Chambre for his help in rescuing his nieces and doesn't have a good sense for how capable the Seigneur really is, him being the sort of court fop that Gaston typically despises and sneers at.

I may run the interrogation of Assassin-2 as a solo event. But in any case, now I know what happened with the attack on Gaston and the other players don't need to sit around at our regular session while stuff happens to Gaston .If I had resolved it at a regular session, I'd have turned over the two Masked Assassins to a couple of the players to run. That gives them a chance to experiment with a different type of character and different tactical options. And they usually seem to enjoy that.

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