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Faerie Wood session report: “Bowls!”

September 23, 2012

So, yesterday I talked about fighting in Faerie Wood and jokingly disparaged “cinematic” combat. Then, in the session of that game I ran a few hours later, we had a leprechaun leaping from the back of a charging centaur, sailing over the heads of some startled goblins, and landing on their leader, stabbing him with a +1 bonus to hit and damage. A scene of which Peter Jackson would be proud, I feel.

I have owned Faerie Wood for nearly nineteen years, but had never run a game until last night. (It should be noted that I did almost no gaming at all between 1994 and 2011.) The ripple of interest generated by my first post about the game made me contemplate blowing the dust off my copy and giving it a whirl. My players were enthusiastic, and so it was that we took a break from exploring Stonehell Dungeon and entered The Wood. I chose to run an adventure by the game’s author Garry Robson called “Bowls!”, because it’s fairly simple and linear. Probably overly linear, truth be told, but that didn’t seem like a big deal for an introductory session in which the players and GM alike would be getting the “feel” of the game.

Character generation took a while, not because it’s especially complicated but because the options were relatively unfamiliar to the players. The eleven faerie “races” with their various characteristics and abilities were perused, and the players made their choices. Next, stats were rolled. Faerie Wood uses five primary stats – Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma – and a couple of not-quite-stats (that are still rolled randomly), Magic Points and Luck. Unlike D&D, it’s not 3d6 down the line for everybody. Instead, it’s more like some iterations of BRP, so (for example) dragon hatchlings are strong (STR 2d6+8) and tough (CON 4d6), but a bit clumsy and not the sharpest tools in the box (DEX and INT both 2d6).

Finally, gear was selected. Faeries don’t use money, so characters get a number of “equipment points” equal to twice their Luck score to spend on whatever kit they fancy. Luck is usually in the 3d6 range, so an average faerie will have 20-odd equipment points. A candle costs 1 point, a rope 3, a longsword 6 … You get the idea.

In the end, the party consisted of:

Fred, a bold leprechaun cobbler with (it transpired) poor social skills.
Splip, a feeble sprite (STR 2, rolled on 1d6+1) with a squeaky voice and a blowgun.
Barry, a dim-witted, spear-wielding centaur … with a cloak.

The adventure began with a game of – surprise! – bowls, despite Fred’s contention that cricket was a superior pastime for civilised folk. After a couple of ends, and with the score more or less level, a bowl of Barry’s hit the jack with such force that it rolled away down a slope and disappeared. Investigation failed to recover the jack, but revealed a large-ish hole in the ground, from which emanated the sound of running water. Unfortunately, the bowls didn’t belong to the player characters; they were an antique set borrowed from the elders of the village, and there was some doubt as to whether permission for the “loan” had actually been granted. Fearful of the trouble they might get into if the jack were not returned unsullied and untarnished, the plucky PCs decided to venture into the hole. Yes, “Bowls!” is as close as Faerie Wood gets to a dungeon crawl.

Down in the hole, the light of Splip’s candle illuminated the clear, cool water of an underground stream and, floating unconscious in the water with a jack-shaped dent in his incongruous hat, a frog. From there, the quest proceeded. I’m not going to deliver a blow-by-blow account, but the PCs revived the bruised frog and chatted with him over a few glasses of potent fungus wine, followed the course of the stream, encountered a powerful earth spirit with questionable taste in cave decor (the leprechaun tactlessly called it “vile – apart from the gold bits”), kicked the arses of a bunch of goblins (that’s when the fantasy acrobatics described at the start of this post occurred), tried out a few minor spells, and eventually found the jack lying at the bottom of a magic pool – turned to solid gold. This discovery precipitated an argument: Fred the leprechaun wanted to keep the gold (after they’d managed to recover it safely from the pool), while the others (Barry especially) were rather dismayed that the valuable jack had been “ruined” in this way. (With the notable exceptions of leprechauns, dragons, and the evil dwarves, faeries don’t have much use for gold.) Eventually Fred was overruled and they took the jack to the earth spirit, thinking that since he was good with rocks and minerals and all that stuff he might be able to turn it back. Still smarting from Fred’s insult, however, the huge elemental took the golden ball in one massive stony paw, then withdrew into the solid bedrock, saying, “Hmm. I’ll put it on my ‘to do’ list. Come back in a few months, maybe.”

We ended with the characters trying to decide whether to own up and face the music or just put this little mishap behind them and leave the village for pastures new…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard Farr permalink
    September 24, 2012 9:39 am

    I dunno about cricket, but in the brainstorming session when we were coming up with ideas for Faerie Wood participation games, the original suggestion was that the missing item was in fact a zolfball. Zolf was in those days a brand new sport that had just been invented by a brownie who was a friend of the player characters, and it was his obsession with “always playing the ball where it lies” that began the underground adventure.

    Bowls is easier, because you don’t have to wear silly trousers.

    Well done for running ‘Bowls!’ in what was probably its first outing for seventeen years! I enjoyed your account of the game.

    • September 25, 2012 8:56 am

      Cheers! It was great fun. But now I’m sad that silly trousers weren’t involved.

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