Thursday, April 17, 2008

Savage Archaeology

So, inspired by articles like this:
What Real-Life Dungeon Exploration Might Look Like, Graduate Students in Tow
And this
Back From Yet Another Globetrotting Adventure, Indiana Jones checks his mail and discovers that his bid for tenure has been denied

I wanted to do a lighthearted subversion of the typical dungeon crawl. I'm using the Savage Worlds system, which is by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. I've mentioned it before in my reviews of Solomon Kane and Rippers, but it really is a fast system that you won't feel that you're bogged down with, and if you don't have it, they've got a free Test Drive with most of the basic rules to play. The only exception for this little adventure is the Big Events, but there's a list of monsters so just use something similar if possible.

Anyways, opinions are needed, this was scrapped together in a few hours of manic inspiration, also if you want to try a playtest for this minigame, lol. But really this is more or less an amusing diversion as a solo dungeon crawl turned on its head.

Savage Archaeology

Congratulations Professor! You have just received funding to excavate an underground site suspected to be the ruins of an ancient civilization. To this end we have laid in an adequate supply of index cards and graduate students to carefully complete an initial survey and mapping of the site. The University is expecting great things, and respectfully reminds you that you have not published recently. In order to remain of the highest standards, regular publication in a peer reviewed journal is expected, and we hope that this trip will offer you the opportunity which you have been lobbying the finance department for, to gather field data .

Armed with notebooks, index cards, pencils, and a variety of small brushes you and your sad lot of graduate students arrive in a foreign land. Record and map the culturally significant features of the site, preferably without destroying the contextual evidence of the site matrix.

Each grad student must spend 2 turns studying the object of their specialty to record it, passing an appropriate Knowledge check. The Professor may do the same, but is not limited to any one type of item. (If the Knowledge check is failed then another with the appropriate skill can attempt to identify it)
Anyone who enters a previously unknown room must make a notice roll, those that fail are subject to any traps in the room(roll randomly to see who the trap targets), and on a natural 1 has a 50% chance of ruining the artifact(stepping on, breaking, using as a rest stop, or in the case of living creatures, insulting their ancestry through their actions). After the turn a room is entered it is assumed to be "discovered."
Traps may be disarmed, though in doing so they are no longer valuable to fulfill the Engineer's requirement. Or simply bypassed by an agility roll.
If an object is removed from the site matrix or damaged, it cannot count towards the items recorded. For biologicals, they must be studied while still alive.
If indigenous peoples are encountered(not from the big events table) then one can make a persuasion roll for them not to attack. A raise means that they offer to trade(likely a spear, bow and arrows, or sling for one of your grad student's shiny digital watch and a few candy bars).
After 10 rooms have been mapped then roll on the Big Events table as well.

Professor – Wild Card
Agility D4, Strength D4, Smarts D10, Spirit D10, Vigor D6
Skills: Guts D8, Investigation D8, Notice D8, Knowledge D8 in Engineering, Anthropology, Linguistics, and Zoology/Botany
Hindrances: Bad Eyes(minor), Curious(major)
Edges: Command, Inspire, Scholar(your choice)

Grad Student Types
Agility D6, Strength D6, Smarts D8, Spirit D6, Vigor D6
Skills: Fighting D4, Guts D8, Knowledge(Appropriate D8), Notice D6, Driving D4, Taunt D6
Engineer – Lockpicking D6, can be used to disarm traps
Anthropologist – Persuasion D6
Biologist – Survival D8, Tracking D6
Linguist – Can translate and identify writing,
Med Student – Healing D8, Healer

Roll 1d4 to choose hindrance/edge for any Slacker/Thug/Jock
Doubting Thomas, Greedy(may make an attempt at stealing artifacts if possible), Brawny, Clueless

Slacker – Notice D8, Persuasion D4, Guts D4, Lockpicking D4
Thug – Fighting D8, Shooting D6, Intimidation D6, Streetwise D6, Guts D6. Comes with knife
Jock – Throwing D8, Fighting D6, Climb D6, Intimidation D6, Guts D6. Comes with 6pack of empty bottles

(Beer Bottles – 3/6/12, Str+D4, -1 to attack, after a hit it shatters and becomes unusable)

Native Beaters/Guides(Does not wish to enter into the site at this time, but will provide protection for any researchers who escape from the site)
Agility D8, Smarts D6, Spirit D6, Strength D6, Vigor D6
Skills: Fighting D8, Guts D4, Notice D8, Shooting D8, Stealth D8, Survival D6, Tracking D6

Map Creation

Room Creation(Note, if you already have a dungeon generated, feel free to use that, and overlay it with the room features and events)
1-3 Continues on after this room
4-5 – Turns Left
6-7 – Turns Right
8 – Tunnel Up
9- Tunnel Down
10 – Roll again twice

Room Features (A=Anthropologist, E=Engineer, B=Biologist, L=Linguist)
1 An underground river flows through it
2 This room is mostly empty
3 Dust, and more dust
4 Lava pit

5 Old potsherds litter the floor(A)
6 A statue of an unknown god or goddess dominates the room(A)
7 Old burial jars and human remains litter the floor(A)
8 Simple tools and stone artifacts are evident(roll on weapons table). (A)

9 Ancient writing covers one of the walls(L)
10 Hieroglyphics depict the dangers of the next room (L)
11 Ancient clay tablets rest upon an alter, possibly describing 10 suggestions(L)

12 A rare species of insect thrives here(B)
13 A luminescent fungus is growing throughout the room(B)
14 This room is filled with bats(B)
15 Fossils of prehistoric beasts litter the floor(B)

16 An exquisitely arched ceiling with a hole in it (E)
17 A Natural underground cavern has been integrated into the structure(E)
18 Evidence of pipes and plumbing systems(E)

19 – Empty room
20 - Roll twice

Events D20
1 - A pit trap(one time use)
2 - A swinging blade trap(first person into the room is effected)
3 - A poisoned dart trap(line from one side of room to the other)
4 - A boulder trap(comes rolling down next hallway if applicable, or in line with previous hallway)(one time use)
5 - Encounter with a wild dog
6 - A big cat has made this site its home
7 - A hunting party of indigenous peoples
8 - A silver dagger rests upon a sacrificial alter
9 - Strange chanting can be heard
10 - Holy man or hermit lives here
11 - Unstable foundations give way(treat as pit trap)
12 – 19 No event
20 Roll twice

Big Events D12
1- Crocodiles, 1d3 of them
2- Pygmy Cannibals, 1d6 per turn
3- Morlocks, 1d4 per turn
4- Minotaur
5- Zombies! 1d4 per turn
6- MacGuffin! Grab it and Run
7- Rumble, Rumble, the site begins to collapse, 1 room per turn starting at outermost areas
8-12 Nothing so far

First, make up a suitable name for your paper, some examples being, "Pre-Sauron Architecture in Subterranean Mordor." "Hyborian Hieroglyphics in Stygian Burial Mounds." "Early Paleolithic Trap Making of the Cannibalistic Shoggoth Worshippers" or something along that vein, make it snappy!

Each item recorded : 200
Recorded at least 2 of each: 200
Recorded less than 2 of each: -200
MacGuffin recovered : 400 (Though you get a stern talking to about inappropriate recovery methods by your head of department)
Each Grad Student Killed : -100
Each artifact/site/trap damaged or removed : -50
Each indigenous creature/plant harmed: -25
Each sentient native killed : -75
Each Turn taken : -10

Scores under 1000, unable to acquire funding(or willing grad students) for next year's trip. Tenure revoked!
Scores over 1000, translate into cash for the next trip. Survivors are assumed to return next year. For 200 you can get a student of your choice, for 100 you get to roll randomly among the slackers, thugs, and jocks. It can also go towards buying supplies. Two notes of supplies, 1. It's hard to justify guns as an expense(for some reason the dean doesn't think they're necessary), though you can get them on the black market for 2x listed price. And 2. If you have a video camera along, the student equipped only needs to take 1 turn to record their find.

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