The other evening I was again able to sit down with my fellow Soldiers for a session of OSH, this time one person could not join us and so we had only three players. The goblin, Pee Pee returned, as did the fighter Con and the mysterious magic user named Orpheus. The elf, well, he had other things to take care of.
Heading into this session I did zero prep, well, not true. I thought about the game a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean obsessive. I liked the system, fluid, simple, and very fast. However, somewhere inside of me I thought something was amiss. I felt the system was perhaps too limiting, heck even the author questions its use in a dungeon crawl! Could we use it for regular gaming in something like a long term campaign? I set out to challenge the game system and get a better feel for it.
We picked up right where we left off.
The group stood at the bottom of the pit beneath the tavern, a sleeping minotaur at their feet. I immediately wanted to jump into some roleplaying to test out the group and the system. I had Beatrice, the female Minotaur, lean over the edge of the pit and shout “George!” all teary eyed. The group played along. 😉
Seems the group had just slain boys from COL Baxter’s posse. Baxter, Beatrice (and then George after he awoke) explained, was a local business man who ruled with an iron fist, buying up land, purchasing the local law, etc. Toss in your favorite western cliche ruthless cattleman from the movies and you nailed it. Surely he was being told at this very minute by some spy in the town that six of his boys were slain by some new comers to town, George offered to shelter them in the inn while the tavern was repaired, so long as they agreed to lay low and after the heat toned down to head into the basement below and get rid of whatever was down there. Seems George had heard strange noises and smells were coming from below, this concerned him deeply and he was desperate for assistance. The group eagerly agreed and waited fro three days to heal up, let the heat fade, and then slipped down in the basement to assault the depths.
—- At this point I want to take a moment and discuss the roleplaying aspects of Old School Hack. The players eagerly grabbed on to the roleplaying, something I found surprising given they were all 4e boys, yeah I know I shouldn’t think like that, but I do. OSH really helped with easy resolution of any conflicts or attempts to interject control over the story, the system really is a story game at hear, even though I don’t think it wants to call itself that, it really is. These guys really have latched onto the ability to help steer the story in directions they want. Awesome Points rule.—-
This is where the story got a little weird.
The group descended into the depths and discovered the ladder went to the sewer beneath the town. It was terrible. Wet, smelly and slippery. The tunnel proceeded about fifty years’s and joined a larger tunnel with a stream of sewage running down the middle, left to right. At various spots along the tunnel pipes jutted from the wall, spewing forth more nastiness at irregular intervals. To the left the group thought they heard a raging water, no unlike a waterfall. Pee Wee, the goblin headed forth, able to easily walk beneath the poo spewing pipes…but what did it matter, as a goblin he loved poo! He discovered the tunnel led to a larger room with indeed a waterfall and alarm pool of water, poo water. The poo is important here as it played a large part of the hilarity that ensued.
Con, the brave, testosterone filled warrior bravely follows the goblin, failing every roll as he marches down the hall. He is covered in poo by the time he finds the goblin. Ironwood joins them and they opt to ignore the waterfall and check out the door to the right of the room.
Con threatens the goblin and forces him to try the door, fearing it could be trapped. Sure enough a dart flies from a concealed trap, narrowly avoiding the goblin, but a quick duck saves the fighter as well.
Suddenly, the water springs to life, a giant snake like creature formed from the dirty water itself! Thinking quickly, Con picks up the goblin and deftly uses him as a shield against a water-poo attack. The goblin is none too happy and struggles to no avail. Con offers the poor goblin as a sacrifice and tosses him into the water. Con then leaps after him, braving the water to fight the demon. Pee Wee circles around and heads up the stairs, followed by the mage. A simple check later and they managed to open the door, closing it quickly behind them.
Con, now trapped with the water creature, engages in combat, getting hit a few times with power poo blasts of water. His attacks seem to be rebuffed by the water creature’s ability to form shields of water to block attacks. In a rage, he lunges forward in a bear hug attack and discovers inside is a goblin! He tosses the goblin across the room, away from the water and into the corner.
Pee Wee and Orpheus discover a small room behind the door with a previously unnoticed balcony that overlooks the lair of the water weird below them. Hearing the enraged Con below, the mage quickly spends some Awesome Points and casts a spell to Wizard Lock the door to the room. A little debating with Con on the virtues of goblin-life and wether or not he should slay the water controlling goblin ends with him agreeing to spear the stranger in return for the door being unlocked.
Con brings the goblin to the room for questioning. Pee Wee notices immediately that though he is dirty and poo covered, he wears a golden ring that is shinny as if new! Treasure to be had! The group questions the goblin, who we discovered is named Pug (yes, after a certain famous magician), and he tells a horrible tale of orcish oppression of the poor goblin people of the sewers! Pee Wee is enraged and demands that the group continue farther into the depths to free his people.
We ended the session here, I thought it was short but the role-playing that went along with the very little fighting has proven to me that OSH is an effect system for elegant play, beyond that which first appears when reading the rules. The system is fluid and quick, the arena concept makes movement, area erect spells and ranges—and all the rules that go along with them—unneeded at all and supports fast play.