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Subject: Looking Over Heroes & Other Worlds rss

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Christopher Brandon
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The following review was posted by Branduan this week at his blog What Am I Playing At?

Looking Over Heroes & Other Worlds
Like I said awhile back I ordered "Heroes & Other Worlds" a new RPG inspired by Melee/Wizard/The Fantasy Trip of Metagaming days. So I'll have a go at a review of sorts.

The game is designed by one Christopher Brandon whom I know very little about, but he's got a blog if you want to get his perspective on his game direct from the designer himself. You can get the game from the same place I did, from LuLu print-on-demand, either as a $14.95 PDF or a $20 6"x9" 122p. paperback. Lulu often offers a monthly discount of 10 or 20% off a single item and often has other promotions so it is possible to get it at a "discount," I did & the discount pretty much covered shipping. Lulu didn't pose any problems and it arrived well before their worst estimate of delivery, securely packaged & undamaged. So, based on my experience, Lulu gets a thumbs up, & by extension so does Brandon for using it to self-publish. I might add I bought S. John Ross' Uresia System-less Edition from Lulu and was equally satisfied with the experience, so though only2 data points Lulu is starting to have a track record for me to work from.

Ok. So much for the Purchasing/Shipping experience. Why did I buy it? Well, I stumbled across Brandon's blog while hunting up Melee/Wizard resources online before & after I ran some people through the Death Test adventure for Melee/Wizard/The Fantasy Trip. Yup, I still have the original purple gargoyle and pseudo-crusader guy edition

I always liked the tactical nature of play and ease set-up character design of these old Metagaming products, so I was curious about Brandon talking about publishing his take on it as influenced by the early editions of D&D. Like many of us who played TFT, I felt the system definitely has some problems with XP/improving characters, and so on -- so a new take on it was welcome. After watching things progress a bit on his blog I thought I'd like to see the full rules (he's got a shorter version in his downloads section for free). So I thought for $20 why not give it a try, something I am admittedly less and less likely to do with the new RPGs or settings that start out at $40+ or more these days.I was also influenced by the fact that I have enjoyed reading and studying Mazes & Minotaurs (though unfortunately I have gotten the chance to play it), another system inspired by the early days of RPGs and trying to take the best of that era & update it. Why might you buy Heroes & Other Worlds? Well, if you're not a grognard like me, you might be looking for a game that has a simple fast system that still retains a tactical flavor, but does so in less than 125 pages and costs relatively little. One thing I can say right off, it's a nice little booklet that won't weigh down a back pack or unnecessarily fill cramped play space. There is much to be said for a modern equivalent to buying 1st Edition Runequest that provided a complete game system in 122 pages, though it was 8.5"x11" not 6"x9"-- Melee/Wizard had a pretty small page count & low price too. Do I need a new RPG? probably not so much, since any serious campaign I start is likely to use Chaosium's RQ2 or BRP, but for a quick pick-up RPG, I am more likely to use Heroes & Other Worlds (HOW) than haul out my increasingly fragile and valuable copies of Melee/Wizard/The Fantasy Trip. Yet, one could use HOW for a whole campaign, though like the grognard days you'd end up creating the world yourself, and undoubtable houseruling to fit your specific needs. Ok, that's why I got it & why you might want to buy it. Let's look at the product itself in a bit of detail.

Brandon introduces the game with a bit of explanation & introduction as to what an RPG is and why he designed this one, but admirably keeps it down to a page. He mentions Melee & Wizard & Moldvay's basic D&D to give his inspirations and waxes enthusiastic about what makes an adventure game. I rather like his emphasis on "Adventure Game" rather than role-playing, because while I like & support the role-playing aspect, I think Brandon's right that "adventure" is the key focus, something a lot of "story games" get wrong in my opinion. However, you feel about such opinions, I don't think it really affects play unless you want it to, so it's mostly interesting as a perspective on the designer's influence and intent, rather than a mindset like some approaches to various World of Darkness games or what I know of the Gumshoe system, where the intent has a distinct effect on the system and play.

After a nice one page Table of Contents you get two more pages "Getting Started" covering what dice you play with (several d6), the difference between players & "referee", how the dice are used in tests (attribute tests are 3 or more dice rolling under attribute, with more dice for more difficult tests) and so on. Not the over-long explanation some games use these days but enough to give a kid or tabula-rasa player an idea of what to do with the game before the rules are explained in detail.

Next comes a section on Heroes, that is to say character creation, and like Melee/Wizard/The Fantasy Trip (TFT) the first three attributes are Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. In TFT strength was essentially Hit Points and Magic Points and Intelligence defined how many spells or skill you knew. The common concern about TFT was that this lead to high Strength Wizards fueling their spells and high IQ warriors with lots of skills, not a big problem at low levels, but since you could advance attributes with experience a problem if you had a campaign that wasn't very very stingy on XP. Anyway, HOW rather nicely addresses these concerns. First Brandon adds an Endurance attribute, but rather than junking the Strength/HP link in Melee/Wizard he adjusts it. Regular non-player character (NPCs) still live and die by Strength points, but player characters (PCs) and special opponents have Endurance which can fuel spells or represent damage absorbed or with effort avoided. Run out of EN and PCs start using Strength to fuel spells or take damage. I like it, still relatively simple but you don't have to have a high strength wizard.

So, that brings up another similarity to TFT, there are classes, but just two, adventurer and wizard. Reminding me a bit of Runequest, despite the nominal classes, adventurers can learn spells and wizards can learn skills and use weapons, it's just that there are penalties and advantages to sticking with the focus of skill user vs magic user.Each of the 4 attributes (ST, DX, IQ, EN) starts at a base of 8 points and you can add 10 more to customize your hero. The main effect of the classes is thus whether you are a skill user like a fighter or thief with maybe one or two useful spells or a wizard that has a bit of skill with a sword or dagger. Not everyone will like this but it reminds me of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser or Roger Zelazny's Dilvish stories, a general division between adventurers and wizards but with a bit of cross over in practice.

There are also brief optional rules for non-human heroes, which mostly boil down to adjusting minimum attributes, making say dwarfs stronger and elves weaker in strength and the reverse in IQ. It's not a detail heavy system so if you don't like the rule, go humans only or primarily as PCs, otherwise do like we did with TFT and make some really unbalance weird PC creatures. There is also a movement attribute, which can either be used rather abstractly or like TFT precisely with a hex map for characters and monsters/opponents to battle on. In addition to attributes heroes get 5 points to buy skills and spells, with again Wizards getting an advantage to focus on spells and adventurers to focus on skills. Skills are all tied to attributes and give a bonus to using that attribute when being tested in play. Unlike TFT attributes don't change, and instead XP is spent on new skills/spells or increasing a skill level to give a bigger bonus on an attribute test. A starting thief might simply have Pick Lock/Trap as one skill and get a +1 compared to someone trying to pick a lock with no skill, but after substantial experience might raise that bonus to +2 or +3. Again still simple, but in my opinion more functional that how TFT did things by allowing attributes to be raised. In this case it seems like there would be a bit of the feel of old school Traveller where attributes didn't change and skills increase slowly or not at all. Again not to everyone's taste, but nice for keeping the game simple and straightforward. I also like the implied focus of experienced characters shifting from improving skills to eventually focusing on the same kinds of things experienced Traveller PCs focused on: owning a fort/base/ship, gaining power and influence or at least prestige amidst the game setting and rivals and opponents. There are about 50 skills of rather broad definition, kept simple and covered in just two pages.

Spells take a bit more work to explain & detail getting their own section of about 14 pages. Like Wizard and TFT spells are tied to IQ though one could easily add a school or color or some other flavor appropriate to setting. The spell names are like TFT (and Runequest) descriptive and pragmatic (Dazzle, Rope, Iron Flesh, etc.) but one could easily add fancy spell names if one wanted to say emulate the Tekumel setting, or Jack Vance's nifty elaborate spell names from his Dying Earth setting. Casting spells requires and IQ attribute test, which I like since it gives a chance at spells failing or succeeding at interesting times in game play as well as offering critical success and failures options like no EN cost or extra EN costs, but if one doesn't like the rules it could easily be ignored. As I said before spells drain endurance and then strength, so compared to some RPGs magic is general a bit more low powered unless a wizard has some source of extra power to fuel long term or mass effect spells, which is a nice in system explanation of why evil wizards are always kidnapping or enslaving people, they want to fuel major league spells. Spells are pretty straight forward so I won't discuss any more about them.

There is a bit about armor and weapons &equipment and how they interact with strength or dexterity. Generally armor stops damage and can give DX penalties, if you like it you can also use optional rules to require minimum strengths for various weapons and/or armor and tie encumbrance to strength, again very similar to TFT.

Next we get 4 pages on actually how to run and play an adventure. Brandon recommends 4 to 8 players, or fewer players controlling several PCs or PCs and NPCs. Players are advised on the utility of a Caller to speak for the party to the GM and a mapper to deal with tracking heroes within the adventure location, good suggestions but can be dispensed with as appropriate to taste or experience of the players and/or referee. In turn Brandon discusses such details as Time/Turns, Light, Doors, Traps and so on giving kids or tabula rasa players a feel for how to handle the ambiguities of role-playing or as Brandon calls it "adventure games."

Next there is a good 8 pages on Combat with a pretty good example of play. Like TFT a hex map is useful since the combat rules take into account location to a degree (attacking from behind or above gets a bonus) but a map isn't really necessary per se. There is an option for critical hits. Players have a bit of tactics with various advantages to regular attacks, berserk attacks, dodging, parrying, counter-striking and so on. Similar to TFT but with a few interesting additions like the counterstrike action, basically a riposte where a hero who survives an attack can counter attack if a DX attribute test succeeds. Like TFT that inspired it a nice little combat system with just enough tactics to be interesting without bogging down in detail or complexity.

Next is where experience is discussed, and like I said regarding attributes, experience goes toward buying or improving skills & spells, not increasing attributes. Experience is earned for attribute tests passed (at a rate of 3XP per test), with optional rules to add some detail to this. Being a Runequest/Pendragon fan I naturally like tying experience to successful use of a skill/spell/attribute. Brandon also suggests additional XP rewards for problem-solving, excellent game play, or good sportsmanship by players, but leaves it optional. Advancing in a skill you already know costs 100XP x bonus level, moving from +1 Pick Locks to +2 Pick Locks costs 200XP. New skills cost an adventurer 100XP or for a wizard 500XP for a DX based skill or 100XP for an IQ based skill or a spell. So you can get a feel for how fast advancement would work, but this could easily be tweaked with house rules if one wanted faster or slower experience accumulation.

That winds up the player focused part of the HOW system and now Brandon turns to the Referee's tasks and needs. I like how he goes over in some detail NPCs and hirelings. He has some handy and short charts for rolling up torch bearers/porters, shield bearers (aka auxiliary fighters to aid the PCs), specialists (a thief to open traps or an scholar to decode ancient texts,etc.) and hired wizards. The quick and easy NPC/Hireling personality chart is a nice touch, useful and a good sample if one wants to create something more complex or more tied to your setting.

The section on "Terrors" is essentially 22 pages of bestiary, with short but functional descriptions and stats. I like that Brandon includes simple behavior category for each "terror"/monster/opponent, based on four categories: aggressive, territorial, cowardly, and unpredictable. Thus Giant Ants are territorial, Bats cowardly, Gargoyles aggressive, and Pegasus unpredictable. While there are few specific monster creation rules (mostly covering special attacks or effects and appropriate IQ levels) most referees and players should be able to extrapolate and come up with their own opponents if they want something not specifically described in the bestiary.

Next comes a section on treasure. This used to be a standard thing in RPGs: Runequest, TFT, D&D all had treasure tables some better some worse, and some just odd but Brandon has a nice spin I can't really remember being handled exactly this way before. His five categories of treasure are: Pocket, Pouch, Pack, Chest and Lair with brief tables letting you roll up a selection of things from seven treasure types: Cooking, Personal, Useful, Coins, Gems/Jewelry, Oddity, and Magical. So if you kill a goblin you can find anything from moldy bread to tobacco to caltrops or a tinder box to a mechanical bug to coins gems or magic item. Definitely a concept a few other games could take note of. It addresses the size/location of the treasure on one axis and the function/purpose on another. If I ever run my Pavis/Glorantah campaign for Chaosium's Runequest 2E I'll be using Brandon's treasure tables or something inspired by them.

And that takes us to page 89 and we're pretty much done with rules! Later there are 6 pages of weapon & armor stats and equipment lists, not exhaustive but enough to give any enterprising Referee or Player a chance to extrapolate something new for his campaign based on some sword &sorcery genre basics.

So you're thinking, what's the rest of the 122 page count?

First a choose-your-adventure style solo game, where you start at entry #1 and work your way through an adventure by numbered entries depending on what you do/achieve. The adventure (Orcs of teh High Mountains) is created by Jerry Myer with Dark City Games who have their own "retro-clone" of Melee/Wizard/TFT and publish adventure for it. I haven't had time to play it yet, but it looks serviceable at first glance. It's nice that Dark City Games provides a PDF for free download on their website of the adventure since it might be handy for a referee to print out a copy he can mark up, and that the PDF has a hex map so one can get the full tactical flavor inherited from TFT if one wants. It would be nice if some counters were included to represent heroes, monsters etc. but a bit of hunting on the Dark City site or Melee/Wizard/TFT related internet sites can provide both counters and hex maps so that's really just a quibble. I might add Brandon himself offers a couple hex maps suited for HOW or TFT on his blog's download section too. Anyway, back to the solo-adventure I think this is a nice bonus. Chaosium originally offered several solo-quest adventures for Runequest & I had fun with them and I've heard of several people that made extensive use of them when they had no players. An of course Melee/Wizard/TFT had Dead Test and its sequels. Solo play may not be optimal for most people but it's a nice option and a good learning tool for mastering the game for either referees or players.

Next Brandon offers a short essay on creating dungeons with a sample dungeon included. Like the sample solo-adventure I haven't played it, but it looks serviceable. Another nice touch for the novice or those eager to play right from the "box" or book as the case may be. His dungeon creation tables and sample dungeon are brief but like the "Terrors" bestiary should give imaginative referees or players a start on creating their own dungeons and adventures.

Last but not least there are four simple but functional character sheets on a single page that can be copied and cut out for use, sort of a book mark style format (you can download this from Brandon's blog too if you don't want to xerox the page in your rule book). Like TFT a character sheet isn't needed per se, one could easily just write out the necessary attributes skills etc. on an index card or even a sheet of scratch paper like we did in the old days, but the sheet is a nice inclusion.

Finally Brandon has a brief advert promising to publish a supplement with more options, spells, creatures, etc. to be called Blades & Black Magic; as well as hoping to produce an homage to Death Test called Grim Venture (a nice name I'm surprised that no one else has used for an adventure title now that I think about it); and a magazine to support things further called The Cauldron (presumably also available through Lulu via PDF or print once it gets going). Encouraging news though life and gaming being what they are, I won't hold him to his ambition, since I think Brandon's done a good job at providing an all in one RPG at a reasonable price already. Any further production will be a pleasant bonus. But I really do like the sound of "Grim Venture." So I am hoping he has the time and energy to complete his future plans.

A few other notes before I wind up. Like I alluded to at the beginning, the "digest" size is very handy and the font is quite readable (the only flaw to Mongoose's digest version of Traveller was the scaled down material was a bit hard on the eyes). I like the cover art by Brandon's talented wife, but you can make your own mind up about that. The interior art is black and white line drawings and generally inspiring if not as ambitious as high price RPG tend to be these days with their slick pages, color illustration and fancy trimming art on pages. It certainly compares favorably with the art in the old Melee/Wizard/TFT and gives an inspirational feel for the type of game sought by the author. I particularly like the image for the start of the combat section, which looks to be inspired to a degree by the old TFT cover among other old school influences. If art is your thing, no this doesn't fall into the same class as say Pathfinder's art, but it's pretty good compared to the old brown box 1st edition of D&D that I once had. Let's see, what else? Oh yes, setting. While the choice of monsters, spells, sample adventure/dungeon etc. implies a bit of setting you're mostly on your own, but given the array of literature, history, fiction and gaming stuff one can find online you can probably come up with your own setting and fit it to these simple rules. Indeed, many of us played Death Test & its sequels without really needing a well defined setting. So, yes, it's not going to give you a setting, but being relatively rules light you should be able to adapt or create your own. What else? Oh yeah, if you are a Melee?wizard/TFT fan How is pretty much compatible with Death Test and other stuff produced for TFT and it looks like HOW would work pretty painlessly with the stuff produced by Dark City Games as well as home-brew stuff like Brett Slocum's take on using TFT for Tekumel. well, I think I've covered everything. Okay, then, time to wind down. Or up, or whatever.

So, for anyone complaining "too long didn't read" -- You're at the wrong blog ! get over it ! But I will try and summarize a bit.

Heroes and Other Worlds is, by today's standards a simple and rules light RPG that comes all-in-one in a handy booklet with a sample adventure and a sample dungeon included. I would heartily recommend it for someone wanting to replace their worn copies of Melee/Wizard/TFT or for someone wanting a simple game to try out on their kids that won't cost an arm and a leg yet could be played for years if they get to liking it. Likewise, though it may have some odd things for the current gamer to get used to, it's a good system in a small package for a reasonable price -- though this niche has other options like the a fore-mentioned Mazes and Minotaurs, Swords and Wizardry etc. I say it compares favorably and provides a different approach. It would also be a good RPG to take on a vacation or some other trip, portable and complete in small package. So, there it is, thumbs up from me, for what it's worth. Hope this review is useful to ya.

As for me I have this week's game of Pendragon to go back to thinking about.

Hope you all are having fun at whatever you are playing at.
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and here's the play report . . .

Game Day: The Bandit's Lair Melee/Wizard/HOW
Game Day went well for the most part & much fun was had playing out my "Bandit's Lair" adventure. As you can see from the picture I had my full resources available, Melee, Wizard TFT:ITL, and Heroes & Other Worlds. I also had not only my original hex maps & counters, but various hex maps & counters scavenged from the internet. For my adventure I had Tollenkar's Lair, but since I didn't expect my player to really get to the "bottom" of things with just 4 hours of play, I re-titled it "The Bandit's Lair" to focus on Little Kess & his drunken thugs. I was hoping for 5 players, but two couldn't make it, so I was fortunate that the three I had took to Melee/HOW with gusto.

I wasn't sure if I'ld pick up any random new players, or if the players I expected would want to create characters themselves, so I made up four characters using the HOW rules and the character sheets in the back of the HOW book, which I might add are a nifty bookmark format (possible because MeleeTFT/HOW don't require big character sheets) and since the four character sheets have character illustrations of a wizard, a fighter, a dwarf and an elf I went with that as inspiration. The wizard was a straight forward spell caster. The human adventurer used shortsword and daggers and had various thief like skills. The dwarf was your basic battle ax wielding loot seeker, and the elf was your stereotypical bowman. HOW character design is quick & easy and I got that done in about 20 minutes before people showed up. One of my three players had played in my go at Death Test a year or so ago and so was vaguely familiar with Melee's rules and play. My other players were entirely new to Melee/HOW though they may have had some current D&D experience or at least World of Warcraft or other video game RPGs. As it happened, they were happy to take my pre-fab characters and give them names and proceeded to make them their own in play. One played the sneaky human fighter, but really got into looting better weapons and improvising weapons. One played the dwarf & captured the slow but deadly style of the chainmail wearing two handed battle ax wielding fighter (and drew a really cool picture of her image of her female dwarf warrior). The third player focused on the wizard immediately but also played the elf, as I had warned the might be a whole bandit gang. He really took to offensive use of magic but also got to liking the value of ranged attacks from the elf.

I set up the adventure with a straightforward tale of bandit raids and most recently a village looted and burned with a stray wounded bandit leaving a clue that the wizard recognized as hinting at an ancient manor now gone, but likely still leaving dungeons. The bandits I described as a ruthless bunch of thugs killing and looting for fun and profit, possibly including both humans and orcs and numbering by the villagers' guesses at more than 10 and as many as 30. Afterword, I gave them a brief run down on how Melee/HOW works -- 3d6 rolls vs stats with modifiers for skills, etc how the Melee style hex map, counter facing with front/sides/rear and mega-hexes worked and we were off. Mostly I explained rules as needed. The simple character sheets/stats seemed to go over well, and the visual /tactical nature of the hex maps & counters also seemed to make the players comfortable quickly. I had printed out a roughly 24" by 11" hex map of woods around a clearing where I inked in the entrance to the ancient cellars/dungeon and had the players decide how to approach/deal with the two guards drinking on duty while guarding the entrance. I explained how one of the guards was sitting on the ground with a jug of liquor while the other was gesticulating and telling a story. The wizard wanted to go straight for the magics, and noting a sleep spell on his character sheet, elected to cast sleep on the standing guard with success. To the adventurers' advantage the other guard failed his intelligence check and assumed the standing guard was drunker than he had seemed and suspected nothing so he too was quickly put to sleep magically.

The party decided to tie the two bandits to a tree (after looting what little coin the two had), and ventured down into the dungeon. Now I pulled out the cut out mega-hexes so standard for Melee and laid out the stairway and room and corridors that lead aware from the room. Another win for visualization. Anyway, the adventurers quickly figured out that the bandits relied on the entry-room as a kitchen due to the ventilation, they also found the closet with utensils and managed to notice and avoid the alarm trap. Again the HOW skill rules worked very well in practice.

Next they set about exploring corridors. An attempt was made at mapping but they quickly decided they were heroes and would wing it since the place was large and thanks to the hexes, twisty. They heard raucous partying sounds from one of the two corridors leading off the entryroom/kitchen and decided to go down the other, quiet corridor. Soon they found the pantry with moldy cheese, moldy beef jerky, and so on. They also found a hidden closet from the old days of the dungeon, but unfortunately the random contents consisted of a green slime. Sensing that fighting a vile blob was a profit-less endeavor, they slammed the door shut and slimes being rather thick it stayed put. They explored further and faced with a "T" intersection took the more travelled path & avoided the rubble strewn area.

Next the adventurers found a door in the corridor and went down to find another corridor that sloped down a level to a door or rather most of a door with a cloth covering the hole in the bottom half. The sneaky thief type wisely checked this & they disarmed and avoided the trap-crossbow aimed to fire through the cloth at anyone opening the door. In the room the sneaky guy found two sleeping bandits & the group decided safety was the better part of survival and killed them in their sleep, after all the bandits were ruthless killers and there might be dozens more about! More looting occurred, including the thief upgrading from cloth padded armor top proper leather armor. They also found a trunk of bed posts, possibly used by the bandits as torches since the dungeon was liberally lined with them for lighting.

Next they went back up the sloping corridor and further down the corridor they had originally been on. The sneaky guy tried to scout ahead but they sent the elf with him and he bungled his stealth roll. Alerting the two bandits in the room at the end of the corridor. The two bandits a tough shortish guy with a mace and an orc with a mace came on charging against the thief and the elf and combat proper ensued. I had been especially wanting to try the endurance stat rules from HOW, both to see how they worked and to see how much of an advantage they gave to PCs when NPCs normally didn't have endurance but took damage directly to strength. The combat was quick and deadly, the orc going down quickly to arrows and a blow from the thief, but the thief being quickly in peril from a good blow from the mace guy (who they didn't know was the bandit leader Little Kess, nor did they know til after that his mace was magical and did and extra point of damage). The mace guy got a savage blow in on the thief only to have the dwarf and wizard show up and start adding the dwarf's crossbow and the wizard's magic fist to the mix. Kess would have been a match for the thief and elf, but faced with four opponents he went down quickly. The loot from the bandit leader's body was very satisfying in addition to the magic mace that the thief took for his pains. The wizard magically exchanged some endurance for the thief, but that still left the thief with injuries that exhausted EN and left him low on ST. Rather than drain the wizard with healing spells, they decided to barricade themselves for a few hours and regain some EN by resting. They also discovered ore loot, including some fancy silver candle sticks (somewhat bloody, presumably from some previous bandit foray) that the dwarf used her recognize value skill to assess as quite valuable. Sure enough, a couple hours was enough for somebody to notice the two thugs dead leader and henchman, which since much blood had been shed had been left in the corridor.

Unknown to the players, the bandit lieutenants were not as sharp as their leader and after discovering their leader dead, they pretty much called the few sober gang members together and split up to search the entire dungeon, just to be "safe." Not a bad plan, but in practice the bandits thus met the adventurers in groups of twos and ones emanating on the upper dungeon level from the kitchen area. Many of the thugs were busy checking lower levels, some found the entrance guards and freed them. The ones who had been making noise in the beginning were too hung-over to do much.

So, the dwarf on watch (and the one with the best "hearing" rolls, noticed two more bandits coming towards their room. The heroes left the door ajar but were behind a barracade improvised from a table and some boxes and they got the jump on the two bandits who, trusting in their bravado, kicked the door open and jumped in shouting "AHA!" They were promptly shot with a crossbow by the dwarf at short range and from the elf's bow across the room, and the wizard summoned a wolf that appeared at their feet and set to biting one of the bandits with vigor! The thief, still injured played things cautiously behind the barracade. The two bandits quickly got taken down, effectively facing 5 opponents. By random roll again one of these two was a lieutenant and had very shiny loot. The dwarf and elf were still at full EN & ST, but the wizard was running low on EN and the thief was low on both EN & ST. They decided to explored the rubble strewn corridor on their way back to the entry-room. Here they found some more storage and another (this time empty) sleeping room for bandits, and upon exiting met two more thugs searching the dungeon. The wizard decided to go very low on EN and toss a fireball and killed one bandits leaving the other taken down by the rest of the team in short order. Only to have a lone thug show up and he too was taken out by missile fire and thrown knives. Clearly with two of the four adventurers low on steam as it were, they decided to be happy with the loot they had and make for the exit before a more careful bunch of thugs got the jump on them.

So they headed back to the kitchen/entryway only to meet the last lieutenant and another thug coming to check up on the other lieutenant and the lone messenger that had been sent to say nothing was found on the other levels. This lieutenant was very good at tossing knives but between a summoned wolf and arrows and knives from the thief and elf, and the dwarf finally getting into action with the battle ax, he and his thug were soon in trouble. The thief tried to scoot up to the surface and ensure he survived only to find two thugs who had been guarding the surface coming down to check on the noise. One was killed instantly when a second summoned wolf got a "critical" bite and the other saw the lieutenant and his companion go down, and decided to run for it himself. A wise idea since the thief started putting thrown daggers in his back.

Unaware that the now leaderless bandits were mostly on the next level down and waiting for new orders, the team of adventurers looted the bodies, booked back to civilization to get a nice reward for finding the bandit's lair. I figured the injured fleeing bandit had tried for town to get help or at least treatment for his wounds and been caught by officials & confirmed much of what the adventurers said to the magistrate. Plans were made to properly clear out the bandit lair . . .

The players enjoyed the game and are keen to have another go at exploring more of the dungeon. I liked how the Endurance rules worked, both for adventurers and wizards: enough of an advantage that four PCs could enter a well populated dungeon and hold their own, but not enough to keep them from seeing their danger and leave before they got overwhelmed by numbers or trapped in a bad position. The players took as satisfyingly "old-school" approach, checking for traps, avoiding combat with the treasure-less green slime, and making good use of surprise, numbers, position and magic. All in all a very successful game and I may try running it again in July, hopefully with at least some of the same players. Both I and the players liked the HOW rules with the addition of hex maps and counter worked. Heroes and Other Worlds definitely has moved up on my list of systems to use for role-playing.
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