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Advice on climbing down a mountain?


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#1 progressions

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:08 AM

Hello all,

 

In our party's first session last night, I wrote an exploration-based adventure where the party must climb down into a crevasse on Christophsis to find an ancient temple.

 

I tried to adapt the mountainclimbing from the "Conical Six" modular adventure in "Suns of Fortune".

 

I wrote the "climbing down the cliff face" section with the idea that there would be several levels, and it would take a successful Athletics check to move between the levels, and the PCs would do so at the risk of attracting flying ice bats (mynocks) in the area.

 

It didn't go as smoothly as I would've liked. 

 

I originally set the difficulty at Hard Athletics checks, and this proved tough for any of our beginner characters to pass, so I changed them to Average on the way down. 

 

I wasn't sure how best to run this encounter, so it just felt clumsy overall.

 

Just wondering if anyone has run a sequence like this?

 

Our party is exploration-based so I foresee more of this type of adventure, trekking through jungles, climbing up or down mountains, etc. Any advice?



#2 2P51

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:18 AM

You can always play test something without yer folks there to see how an idea works ahead of time. Specifically the general guidelines on difficulty can give you a rough idea of tough a roll should be. I dont have the book handy but its discussed in the beginning section on the dice mechanics. Id say people familiar with a task an equipped properly average sounds about right.

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#3 progressions

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:43 AM

Yeah, making the check Hard was a bad call right at the start, because the group doesn't have any climbing gear and this is literally their first adventure so they don't have any ranks in Athletics. 

 

Possibly I could have offered "Athletics or Coordination", because several have better Coordination than they do Athletics.

 

It also felt clumsy from a structural sense, because I didn't have different things happening on the different "levels". 

 

I wanted it to represent taking some time to climb down the side of a cliff, with various different challenges along the way. But I didn't really come up with different challenges.



#4 CrunchyDemon

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 04:51 PM

I'd probably have done something like "Athletics check" at each "level".  In my imagination I picture the top of a mountain harder to get down than the rest.  So I'd probably toss fewer and fewer red dice into those checks, the further down they went.

 

After each level was reached, I'd have triggered an encounter.

 

I would have thrown a variety of things in at each Athletics check for example, "rock slide" or, "line breaks", and I would have added setback dice or upgraded difficulty dice at each section.


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#5 Desslok

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 04:55 PM

Well, off the top of my head, I would have come up with a list of things to throw at them instead of a "Okay, you're at 15,000 feet. Roll your climbing. Now you're at 10,000 feet. Roll again. . . "

 

I would have brainstormed a list - a sudden snow storm, avalanche, random yeti, ice glare, high winds, ice fields to traverce, breaking through the snow-pack into a chasm, stranded climbers in distress, natives (potentially hostile or not) and general fatigue.  Now, don't throw ALL that at them, but come up with three or four challenges to throw at them you like and do that instead. Oh and throw some resilience checks their way and a survival or two - just for a change of pace - and don't forget to peck away at their strain, too.


Edited by Desslok, 13 February 2014 - 04:56 PM.

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#6 kaosoe

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 07:59 PM

I recall that modular encounter had a shop you could buy gear from at the base, including an apparatus that would slow your fall down so it wouldn't kill you. That's one of the reasons why that encounter isn't as bad when you fail your athletics checks.

 

The hard part about dealing with situations like these, is how you treat failure. For this one, strain is a good choice. Climbing up and down mountains takes resilience (not the skill).


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#7 2P51

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 09:14 PM

I recall that modular encounter had a shop you could buy gear from at the base, including an apparatus that would slow your fall down so it wouldn't kill you. That's one of the reasons why that encounter isn't as bad when you fail your athletics checks.

 

The hard part about dealing with situations like these, is how you treat failure. For this one, strain is a good choice. Climbing up and down mountains takes resilience (not the skill).

Dropping favorite things and breaking them is an option for a failure, painful in a narrative way without killing your players.

 

Slipping and having a safety line catch them but still suffer some wounds.  

 

Discovering the path down they chose is buggered, and they have to go back up and try a different path down.


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#8 progressions

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:12 PM

Great suggestions, everyone!

 

Desslok, I especially like the idea of coming up with that list of several of those events that could be triggered on each level. I think it would have gone a little smoother if I had done that, and incorporated some of these suggestions into them.



#9 kaosoe

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:31 PM

Dropping favorite things and breaking them is an option for a failure, painful in a narrative way without killing your players.

 

Slipping and having a safety line catch them but still suffer some wounds.  

 

Discovering the path down they chose is buggered, and they have to go back up and try a different path down.

 

 

Very good ideas.


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#10 kaosoe

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:31 PM

Double post [Deleted]


Edited by kaosoe, 13 February 2014 - 10:31 PM.

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#11 progressions

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 10:47 PM

I think I probably should have given them some ropes or climbing gear, along the lines of the Modular Encounter which has a shop they can get gear from.

 

This was the party's first adventure and I wanted to start right into it, with them already climbing the mountain, but I could tell some of the players felt a little weird about that, and not having the choice to prepare more fully.

 

They didn't really have credits to buy climbing gear with but I could've spotted them a couple of ropes...



#12 Liloki

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 11:04 PM

Desslock's suggestion of an "event list" is one I commonly use.

 

As for implementing the descent in an interesting fashion in your game, there are a few variations that come to mind.

 

If they need to get down because there is a time factor involved, set an overall number of successes they need to achieve to make it or a number of successful checks (don't make it too many either way or you'll drag out the encounter). Then pad the time limit by 2-3 turns to account for some failed checks. Threats will trigger adverse things from the event list (disturbing a bunch of space bats) while advantage may trigger beneficial events (finding a section with good natural handholds, etc.).

 

If they are not under the gun, then you can just go with a net target number of successes per leg of the climb (don't make the targets too high since you'll have 2-3 legs of the climb). Have the events list triggered by Threat and Advantage as before. This way if a player does phenomenal they can make it down in 2-3 checks and perhaps find something interesting along the way. While others may take awhile to get down.

 

Arriving at different times can be more interesting when there happens to be something lurking at the bottom of the climb and the first arrival gets a turn or two to try and handle it on their own while their teammates are still trying to hurry down without killing themselves.


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