Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

FF:TIRpG: Shaggradd's Hives of Peril: Play Session #1

As I've mentioned before, I've been planning to use the RPGs derived from the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks for pickup games with the kids, and today I was able to put that plan into action, starting as planned with Fighting Fantasy — The Introductory Role-playing Game (FF:TIRpG), using the second adventure from the the book, Shaggradd's Hives of Peril. [1]


M.A. and E.A. were watching a movie, but T.A. (as always) was eager to play, and as we were getting started C.A., who had heard us talking about gaming earlier and said he wanted to play, wandered in and wanted to join in, so I had him roll up a character too.

  • T.K.B. — GamesMaster.

  • T.A. played Ezarik (e-ZAR-ik) — SKILL 8, STAMINA 17, LUCK 10.

  • C.A. played Oswald — SKILL 10, STAMINA 21, LUCK 12, who was already lost in the treasure vaults in the dark.

Actual Play

T.A. had rolled up his character and was speaking with Shaggradd when C.A. showed up. I decided that Ezarik would meet C.A.'s character, Oswald, down in the treasure vaults, where he'd been sitting in the dark after his candle burned out after he‘d run from a monster. So we rolled up a character, who turned out to be skilled, strong, and lucky, named him Oswald, and went back to Ezarik.

Shaggradd blindfolded Ezarik, lead him around by hand, spun him around in a circle, told him to hunker down, and pushed him into a low tunnel. After he refused the 2% extra on the 10% entrance fee for her to cast a Reverse Teleport on him, she pulled off the blindfold and pushed him further in, and slammed a door on him. After he lit his lantern, he could see that he was in small tunnel with rotting wood sides, that opened out into a taller and slightly larger roughly circular room. The floor of the tunnel and the room were both dirt, and in the cent of the room was a pit trailing down into blackness, with a rope tied to a black spike hammered into the rotting wall of the chamber, covered with spider webs.

Descending the rope he ended up in a 1, small chamber dug into the earth, with four exits at right angles. He took the exit to the west, leading to 30, a large cavern with a skull carved into the east all, with three tunnels leading out through missing teeth in the skull. He headed out the middle passage, and after a little while heard the sound of a stream, but couldn't see it. [2] A little further on he found a little man, about a metre tall and dressed in what appeared to be the entire skin of a small dragon[3], wings and tail included, cleverly formed so that the rear feet were boots, the fore feet were gauntlets, and the head was a helmet, with the face appearing through the mouth of the beast, sitting next to a puddle of wax that was all that left of his candle. This was Oswald, a hobbit, and as it turned out he was very hungry. He had lost his way while being chased by a monster, and then his candled had burned out, leaving him waiting in the dark, as he hand not taken advantage of Shaggradd's offer of a Reverse Teleport either.

Continued on to 35. Pulled lever. Could see just a bit by the light of a phosphorescent plant growing on the surface of the cavern. Not knowing where they were they headed out the only entrance they say, and back to 30, where they recognized the skill. This time they took the right (north) passage to 31, and started to enter the middle passage there, but a troll popped out of the passage and attacked them. After exchanging a few blows with the troll and getting a small cut on one cheek, Oswald fled, leaving behind his companion and his companion's lantern! Ezarik stayed behind and fought the troll for another round, and then pursued his companion, and luckily the troll did not follow.

Meanwhile, Oswald ran back down the passage to 30, bounced off the wall and ran through the passage to 1 and straight across and out the passage that lead to the collapsing stairs, slide down the stairs, stumbled across the gravel beach, through the water, and finally sat down on the ground beyond the stream in 19, in the dark again. He could smell some delicious fruit nearby….

Ezarik, fleeing the troll, guessed at the likely route Oswald had taken and quickly found him, sliding down the collapsing stairs into 19 and wrenching his arm in his fall. Glad to be reunited, Oswald drinks some water from the stream while Ezarik eats some of his provisions. The smell of delicious fruit was coming from some large green fruits on a strange underground tree. After they rested a few minutes they continue exploring, taking the passage east until it forked and then taking the north-east slanting passage until it ended in a dead end, 20. Returning to the fork in the passage, they entered a very hot room half filled with burning coals, 21, where a fiery lizard squeaked at them. Oswald squeaked back, but the lizard was puzzled. They left that room through another door, where they discovered a tall red-headed man sleeping (22). Unfortunately, he woke up and was very angry, demanding that they leave immediately. They went back through the door to 21, Oswald apologizing to the man for waking him up, and the man calming down and going back to bed. Then they returned to the cavern with the stream, where Oswald climbed up into the tree and started to pick a fruit, noticing a key in the tree as he did so. Unfortunately, just at that moment, five of the fruit hatched into large angry goose-like red birds, and began attacking. Oswald fled east into the passageway, as did Ezarik, though he tried and failed to grab the key as he fled.

And this is where we ended for the evening.

Over the course of the evening we learned that Oswald's dragon armor and dragon tooth sword were not family heirlooms, that he could play both the piano and the flute, and that he had lost a wand and a map earlier in the these caverns.


The simplicity of FF:TIRpG makes it a great pickup game. There are only three stats, SKILL, STAMINA, an LUCK, so rolling up a character is trivial, which is great for when somebody unexpected shows up in the middle of things and wants to play — say, for example, a three-year-old, C.A. And the rules are so simple that after you have played a few times you can easily remember them, so you don't even need to have your rule book handy.

Playing with a three year old has a few pitfalls. C.A. has a great vocabulary, and uses pretty complicated sentences, but his pronunciation is somewhat unclear, adding to our communication difficulties. He's not familiar with the fantasy genre, so doesn't know that there are no flashlights or cars or technology. And he hasn't quit figured out that once his character is in a situation, he has to deal with the situation using only the resources he has at hand already and what's available in the situation.

On the other hand, he's also a lot of fun to play with. He comes up with lots of interesting details about his character, he tries interesting things, he has fun seeing what's going to happen next.

T.A. liked the game, though it was not his favorite. (I think he's used to more detailed systems, and prefers them to something this simple.)

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