Got a chance to do some Labor Day Hero Kids. We did the “Fire In Rivenshore” scenario, which was a bit of a detour from some of the hooks I’ve been setting up, but I still took some time to remind them of everything that is going on, since it’s been a little while. I felt relieved at the smoothness of having the scenario there guiding me as to what happened next. It’s a very railroadey one, but organically so I think. I mean, a fire has broken out. Sure, you could let the whole town burn down, but really?
It started with various skill checks (bucket brigade, helping the injured, rescuing a Aeon Mageblood’s daughter from the burning building, etc.). After reading the intro I gave them the “what do you want to do?” and Kai suggested we call a fire truck. Good idea, but this is olden times, remember? No phones, no trucks. After I explained what a bucket brigade was, Kai immediately decided that’s what he was going to do. His description of himself, carrying buckets on both arms, both legs, his head, and one on each finger was delightful. He also gave up a healing potion immediately when presented with the “helping the wounded” skill check, and was rewarded with an automatic success as well as the injured man giving him a magic staff from his younger adventuring days that he was too old to use anymore. Looking for ways to get some weapons to the Erin and Kira in the future as well. The staff lets him re-roll 1s in combat. This actually made him very excited when he rolled a 1, which is mechanically a good thing I think. And afterwards he recounted the story of “how he got this staff” as well, so I think that was a success.
Kira saw the girl in the top window of the burning building and immediately charged in up the stairs, getting burned in the process, but effecting a valiant rescue. It was only after the rescue that Kira found out that the girl Aeon Mageblood was trying to convince to jump and be caught was actually his daughter. She wanted to know what happened to the girl’s Mom and I said she’d have to ask Aeon Mageblood that question. By then they had already moved on, but I hope she comes back to that. It’s a good question that shows some interest in the world we’re creating as a whole and might also provide the opportunity for another adventure hook. (Killed by goblins? Kidnapped by pirates?)
They next realized that the tavern was on fire and Roger was trapped under a fallen chandelier. Kai was still in “bucket brigade mode” and kept running outside getting water to douse the labyrinth of flames I had wet-erase-markered all over the tavern map. This worked pretty well, though he didn’t seem nearly as concerned about actually rescuing Roger as he should have. The girls, on the other hand, bravely ventured in. Erin shot a barrel with her arrows in the hopes that it would contain water to put out the fire, and it did. (Look, I know not every idea needs to work, but since she somehow missed the barrel with her arrows the first two rounds due to some really poor rolls, I threw her a bone.) They combined their strength to lift the chandelier and started dragging Roger towards the exit. Each round, I’d been describing how bad the smoke was getting, and eventually the two of them collapsed, leaving Kai outside as their only chance. Despite having moved through the door every other time he entered the tavern, he just moved his figure right in through the wall next to them. I said “how did you get through there?” He said, through the window. I said okay, that’s fine, how did you break the window? He yelled “I PUNCHED IT!” and I was going to give him a nasty cut for this except that Erin and Kira both said “wait buddy, that seems like a really bad idea!” He ended up deciding to use his newfound staff to break the window instead (see, how very not 4th edition of us!). He had brought his bucket of water along (of course) and Erin explained that if he drenched their clothes or some rags with water, they could use it to breathe through and avoid smoke inhalation. This worked great and they were able to rescue Roger yet again. On the bad side, I broke a cardinal rule of GMing. They asked if they could jump over the fires and I said “no, they go all the way to the ceiling”. I later realized I had missed that the adventure itself explicitly provides a skill check for doing exactly that. At the time, I felt like I was just describing the fire and setting the goal for them, but a “yes, but” instead of a “no” would have gone a long way there. Live and learn.
The sheriff tasked the kids with finding out what was causing these fires, since they seemed to be magical in some way, springing back up even once put out with water. I felt like everyone was enjoying the adventure, though Kai did keep saying “are there any bad guys in this one?” Apparently the roleplaying and skill checks weren’t as exciting to him as combat is. Fortunately, there is one combat encounter here with some brigands trying to rob the store. I made it Aeon Mageblood’s store and had the robbers be pirates from the ghost ship (who seem to keep popping up in every adventure… dun dun dun!). They dispatched them without much difficulty and Kai got to joyously yell “ZAP!” as the leader wounded him.
The final vignette has them discovering the source of the fire. A little street urchin named Bree who is mad that the bullies keep making fun of her dirty clothes and having no parents. When she gets angry, the fire just comes out of her. This is a very roleplay-ish moment, with Bree asking the kids not to turn her into the sheriff and conditions for what happens based on what they choose. I was impressed that they chose not to attack her immediately (good restraint Kai!) and he even offered to buy her some new clothes. Anyway, Kira pointed out that she had the talking skill and so she took the lead in talking to Bree. I made her do it in character with really only one actual skill check at the very beginning of the conversation. When this failed, I told her she needed to tell Bree something different, so she did. By the time Bree asked them to let her go and promise not to tell the sheriff, Kira shouted “I promise! You can go!” and then immediately turned to Erin and Kai and said “Now you guys promise too!” And they just went with it. Funny in a way, as I think it was supposed to present kind of a moral dilemma, but for Kira the “right thing to do” had never been clearer in her mind. The follow-up of course is that they now had to face the sheriff. I asked if she was going to tell him that they let Bree go and she said no way. I said so you are going to lie to him? She said yep. A quick skill check later and they were in the clear.
Pretty amusing. It really seems to me like Kai loves the combat stuff, Kira loves the interactions of the characters, and Erin is a total min-maxer, a vestige of having played plenty of tactical minis games and exactly zero RPGs. She complained that I wasn’t rolling dice where she could see the results. I explained that’s part of the deal (though I’ve never actually fudged a roll yet). She didn’t think much of that haha! Truth be known, I kind of like rolling openly, at least some of the time, because there can be a lot of drama when my monster needs to roll a 6 to survive the attack and does it. Based on this, I later changed and make all combat rolls openly now.