Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Doom of Daggerdale


a Solo-a-Module Month project

Project Prospectus

Solo a Module a Month was just announced on the Lonewolf Solo G+ community. What to do? I don’t have a huge repository of modules, but I have some. I’ve been thinking about Wolfgang Bauer’s Doom of Daggerdale, which is an old one I’ve had that I know pretty well. It also fits a setting that know well, so that helps.

Two questions to answer:
  • How does one play a module solo?
  • What tools/gizmos/rules will I use to attempt this?
The first one I’ll answer loosely. I certainly don’t see tremendous fun in running something I know already. So, instead, using the module’s description and synopsis, I’ll strip the scenario for its elements. I vaguely remember its NPCs, creatures, sites, and motivations. Most of all, the scenario provides a hook and an inciting event. Using the people and places involved and its inciting event, I will use these to set the scene and allow the whole thing to go off the rails. Whenever a plot or motivation or action presents itself from the text of the module, this gives me an opportunity to ask, is this actually true?

It’s totally plausible that this will be come un utterly unrecognizable adventure. In fact, that’s the area about this endeavor that most intrigues me. Having a basic starting scenario is also a big help, because I often have trouble thinking of intriguing or compelling starts to new solo projects. So, there it is. Also, rather than spend time pouring through the module in detail, I’ll rely mostly on the description on the back cover and a few notes I’ll make in advance:
Randal Morn certainly has his hands full! The temple of Lathander, which burned to the ground eight years ago, seems to be the source of a curse affecting the entire town. People are taking ill, animals are dying overnight, crops are failing. All this seems to have started after Eragyn, priestess of Cyric, disappeared from Daggerdale. Shortly before that, a forgotten mage-lord’s crypt was discovered and opened; things just haven’t been the same since. 
Constable Tren is displeased with the situation, what with suspicion being cast in the Zhentarim’s direction as well as toward Cyric’s priesthood. He’s undoubtedly making the Dalesfolk’s lives more difficult than usual because of this upheaval. Randal has sent out the call for aid to all who are interested and able to help; his freedom riders have their hands full already. 
A missing evil priestess, a mage-lord’s crypt-curse, a plague, and possible Zhentarim involvement: all the elements of a rousing adventure in one place! Where do your characters sign up? Step right this way, won’t you?
A few notes from the top of my head:
  • Colderan the mage-lord has risen from the dead and is pulling the strings behind the scenes
  • A dream-curse is affecting the Dalesfolk
  • An ancient dwarf fastness of a clan that were bitter enemies of Colderan contains a secret weapon to defeat the mage-lord
  • The action takes place in Dagger Falls, a Zhentarim Protectorate in the Dales
  • Randall Morn is the rightful ruler in exile, who lives in the countryside with his rebels
  • I also like the cover of the printed module — it’s moody and might bring some inspiration
None of these are sacrosanct — in fact, I’m expecting a good bit of throwing it all out, and significant points of departure.

Now, for the how, here’s what I’m leaning towards: Mythic GM Emulator to help set scenes. This will provide some amendment to the things that will happen. Using Mythic, I’ll limit the use of the emulator for setting scenes to provide randomness to the setup, and a special treatment towards Fate Questions — questions will center around whether or not particular concepts, conceits, and motivations as presented in the module are true or false. For all else, my preferred method of gleaning details comes from rolling nine Rory’s Story Cubes and answering who, what, when, where, why, and how to color and detail scenes accordingly. I find this latter method faster, and don’t enjoy slowing down to check the Fate Chart.

For my actual game system, I’m toying between my two favs: Fate Core or Barbarians of Lemuria. Both have a good deal of generic power that can quickly mold to D&D tropes. I’ve always been enamored of Nessalantha’s wonderful play report of Dragonlands, a wonderful Legends of Anglerre (setting using a previous iteration of Fate when it was still FATE) actual play. One of the many wonderful things about the report is how she generates NPCs on the fly by deducing what’s needed (skill rank, aspect, etc), keeping it spontaneous and lite. The report, even after several years, has served as a shining example of Fate in a solo environment.

I also love BoL — so quick and easy to stat anything, which is very much appealing.
However, I’m going to take a leap and use Fate Core, adding Nathan Hare’s High Fantasy Magic for those sorts of elements. I’m also going with the Quick Character Creation method in Core to get right to the action. I’m seeing that two issues of the game include Plague and Fear in a Border Town Under an Evil Regime (Current), and An Ancient Evil Awakes (Impeding).

Quickly, I’ll come up with three PCs that I’ll introduce one at a time in my first session to hook them to the scenario:

Amelia Destaroon
A slight dark-haired beauty with a penchant for intrigue and deception.

High Concept. Beautiful Cat-Burglar
Trouble. Web of Lies
Aspects. Novice Harper Agent
Peak Skill. Deceive

Janson Morn
A cousin of Lord Randall, Janson is a roguish outlaw ready at any time to let fists fly at the usurpers of his native land.

High Concept. Fighting Rogue on the Run
Trouble. Poor Impulse Control
Aspects. Brawny Cousin of Lord Morn
Peak Skill. Burglary

Shoshana Ezgrandilia
White-haired and pale, Shoshana is a flashy woman in embroidered robes, and a pupil of the Simbul.

High Concept. Adept Learner of the Arcane
Trouble. Brusque and Arrogant To a Fault
Aspects. Seeking the Secrets of a Fallen Wizard
Peak Skill. Lore

Hopefully, I’ll have the tenacity to see this through at least to some degree.


  1. I find this latter method faster, and don’t enjoy slowing down to check the Fate Chart.

    I do suggest checking out Mythic Variations 2 released a few months ago - it's got an an alternate Fate Roll that doesn't use the chart. You might still prefer the Story Cubes, but I figured you should at least be aware of it.

    1. I haven’t yet picked up MV2, but I’ve been meaning to. I will get that at some point (love all of Tana Pidgeon’s stuff), but will continue using the Cubes for a while. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I second the recommendation for Mythic V2. It makes mythic many TIMES more intuitive and easy to improvise with, for me. (I don't change the odds based on Chaos, though).