Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Keep on the Borderlands, Play Session #19: What Happened?


We're playing B2 — Keep on the Borderland, so if you haven't played that you might want to skip this entry.


Clockwise round the table, starting with the Labyrinth Lord:

  • T.K.B., the Labyrinth Lord.

  • L.B., playing - Taffy the Halfling and - Alice the Cleric

  • E.A., playing - Curufin the Elf and - Drusilla the Ranger.

  • M.A., playing - James the Cleric and - Jeffrey the Monk.

  • T.A., playing - Glen the Strategist (a wizard) and - Dooley the sly (a thief).

Actual Play

[Unfortunately, my notes on this session don't seem to make sense.]

Was this the session where temporarily evil Dooley was killing things in the stables at the Keep?

WVHTCF 50 Fathoms, Session #6: Back to the Whip Islands

WVHTCF 50 Fathoms, Session #6: Back to the Whip Islands




2021-08-09 12:06:19

This is an actual play report from the Savage Worlds 50 Fathoms plot point campaign from Pinnacle Entertainment Games. These actual play reports are available in html from T.K.B.'s blog.


Clockwise round the table, starting with the GM:

  • T.K.B. — GM

  • B.MC. — playing Azrulektos, a Kraken warrior/wizard

  • C.A.H. — playing Karl Kroc, a Masaquani treasure hunter and navigator

  • M.A.H. — playing Moorumah, a charming but rather dim Grael


Partial session report from e-mails provided by the GM. The notes on the setting and system background were provided for a friend who isn't playing in this campaign, but was interested in what happened this session.

C.A.H. took notes. [Additional details pending, to be provided by C.A.H.]

Actual Play

Setting Background

We're playing the 50 Fathoms campaign using the Savage Worlds rules; it is a fantasy pirates game, in a world that was flooded by the evil magic of a trio of witches, now called the Sea Hags. The Sea Hags flooded the world making a magic connection to the seas of earth, letting in a flood of water and sometimes sailing ships from various eras, which come through in an area called the Flotsom Sea, in the center of the map of the world.

The players were exploring the Whip Islands, where wreckage from the Flotsom Sea often washes up, and had found a small chest of silver ingots (1000 pieces of eight worth) underwater amongst some wreckage of a ship. Their Spanish pirate crewman, Senor Miguel Figuroa, said that it was likely from the wreckage of a Spanish treasure galleon! They couldn't find any more on the inside of the reef, so they left their ship anchored in the cove inside the reef and took their ship's boat outside the reef and began exploring underwater. (B.MC.'s character, Azrulektos, and one of their crew are fully aquatic and can breath underwater; another NPC and M.A.H.'s character, Muroomah, are semi-aquatic and can stay underwater for more than 15 minutes; and Azrulektos had cast a spell on C.A.H.'s character, Karl Kroc, that lets him breath normally underwater.) (Actually, I think A. cast that on Muroomah as well, so she could stay underwater longer.) They found another small chest near a large part of the bow of the ship, but noticed something large moving behind the bow section. They fastened a rope around the chest, and yanked the rope to signal the two crew in the boat to pull the chest up. Unfortunately, the underside of the chest had been chained to a spike driven into the rock of the seabed, and wouldn't come up, and a giant octopus appeared from behind the bough. Muroomah charged forward and with her new and very fine great ax killed the giant octopus with one blow. [The GM is afraid that this was the second giant octopus she's killed with one blow.]

Muramah Sez

Mooramah kill eight armed thing with one blow! Ugh! Moormah want to find other sushi to kill. Dis fun.

Unfortunately, a bunch of octopons appeared around the bow of the ship, and everybody decided to flee the obvious trap.

Upon arriving at the surface they found another group of octopons already surrounding their small ship's boat. The two crewmen in the boat fired their two pistols at the octopons, but missed. At least they had alerted their crewmates aboard their ship, anchored 1/8 of a mile away, behind the reef, in the cove. In the mean time, it was a melee in the water. Muroomah did massive damage, attacking all the adjacent octopons with her ax and sending them dead and bleeding to sink into the sea. Azrulektos stunned and damaged octopons with his magic. Karl Kroc attacked bravely. The NPCs were unable to hit anything. However, the octopons kept coming, with new pods of them showing up when the originals had been disposed of.

Things had gotten to a grim point. All the PCs were wounded, a couple of the NPCs and Muroomah were unconscious, and Azrulektos was out of spell points.

System Background

In Savage Worlds the player characters (and some non-player characters) have "bennies", which they can spend to reroll Trait rolls (Attributes like Strength, and Skills like Fighting or Boating), but not damage worlds. They can also spend them to stop being shaken (a stunned condition in which they cannot act, often the result of minor damage), or to attempt to Soak (get rid of) wounds which they have just taken.


After fighting waves of octopons, everybody was out of bennies, and Azrulektos had two wounds. Each would gives the player a -1 penalty to all Trait rolls. Azrulektos drank a potion to restore some power points, and rolled 2d6 to see how many were restored, and got snake eyes: 2. He was out of bennies, so I said if he took another wound I'd let him reroll, and he did, getting 7 power points back. Then something else happened and he rolled badly, and I said I'd let him reroll that, if he took another wound. That would make his fourth wound, which would mean he'd have to roll on the Incapacitation table. He accepted, made his reroll, which wasn't any better, failed his roll on the Incapacitation table, which meant he was Bleeding out, and had to make Vigor roll to stabilize, and rolled a critical failure (snake eyes - ones on both his Vigor die and his Wild die), which is instant death.

Stupid GM's House Rules :-(

After game reasoning: So, a badly thought-out house rule and a bad run of dice "killed" Azrulektos. My mistake was overestimating how helpful the rerolls for additional wounds would be, and underestimating how deadly the results of those wounds would be. I won't be using that house rule again. Since I was very dissatisfied with the results of my mistake, I went looking for a different in game result that could be plausible.

In game he drank a potion, and a couple of rounds later keeled over dead without any physical attacks on him. Reasoning from the in-game events led to me to think that the mana potion must have been magically cursed, which lead to the idea of a coma, rather than actual death.

Back to the game. Anyway, the other crew brought the ship up, and fired a volley of muskets at the octopons, scaring them off, brought everybody on board, and fled to Baltimus, and a healer. (Azrulektos was the company's healer, too, unfortunately.)


The GM suggested that, unless someone thought it was a bad idea, we should recton 1 the game mechanics interpretation and in-game result slightly, since there were no in-game physical wounds for those last two wounds. Instead of there being actual wounds, the potion that Azrulektos ingested (discovered in an Octopon treasure chest, if I remember correctly), in addition to restoring mana points (the bait), was also cursed and triggered a delayed magical attack on the imbiber, with the end result that a couple of rounds after he drank it it wounded him and put him into a death-like coma. A successful Natural healing roll will bring him out of the coma. An application of the Healing spell will enable him to continue to survive in the coma for five days. Since Grimnar found a good healer when you all arrived in Baltimas, all that is needed is time and money.

B.MC. thought that would work fine, and nobody objected.


Each PC each got +3 XP.

Swords & Wizardry: Complete Rules

I bought a copy of the PDF and paperback 1 of Swords & Wizardry: Complete Rules 2 from Frog God Games this evening, and after a quick scan of the PDF my initial reaction is positive: it does look like what I'd hoped it would be: a much better organized restatement of the seven original D&D booklets, and I think it is likely to become one of my favorite versions of D&D. Matthew Finch of Mythemere Games and Frog God Games have done what looks like a fine job.

Swords & Wizardry: Complete Rules is a retro-clone of original D&D.

And the text is OGL Open Game Content; to quote from the OGL section at the back of the book:

This entire work is designated as Open Game Content under the OGL, with the exception of the trademarks “Swords & Wizardry,” “S&W,” “Mythmere Games,” “FGG,” “Frog God Games,” and with the exception of all artwork. These trademarks, artwork, and the Trade Dress of this work (font, layout, style of artwork, etc.) are reserved as Product Identity.

There is a mini-review at Tenkar's Tavern, and a thread at theRPGsite with some discussion about it, including a very interesting post about the ranger.

I'm going to have to sit down and read this in detail very soon.


I'd have liked to have gotten one of the hardback copies, but those sold out long before I'd realized they'd been published.


The cover says Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook, while the title page says Swords & Wizardry Core Rules.

Recent Reading: Bernard Cornwell

  • Agincourt, by Bernard Cornwell, copyright 2009; Harper/HarperCollinsPublisher; ISBN: 978p0-06-157891-5.

    Books mentioned in the historical note:

    • The Face of Battle, by John Keegan

    • Agincourt: A New History, by Anne Curry

    • Agincourt, by Juliet Barker

    • Longbow: A Social and Military History, by Robert Hardy

    The bows used at Agincourt were 130 to 140 pounds pull.