Quick Play Report: Lunch Box Heroes

Quick Play Report: Lunch Box Heroes
For a while now I've been on the lookout for a "simple" game that is less rules and more story. Now do get me wrong, I'm an old HackMaster player through and through, but sometimes I just want to let loose and have a few while running a game.

My group tried Murderhobos and it was "ok". I actually thought the rules were great and there was a lot of potential, just not potential to use it quite like I wanted. That could just be me after knocking back a couple, or maybe something just didn't "click". If nothing else it helped guide me in what I was looking for.

Bean! really seemed to pick up where I thought Murderhobos was missing. I liked the idea of a "simple" set of game mechanics, like can you distinguish between two numbers and count to six? I saw some serious potential there as well, but the use of beans as a probability generator, in the art, all over the text....it was a bit much. I was actually considering stripping down the game to get something going while tying one on.....

....until one of my interweb friends told me he had his own rules-light d2 system of his own he was working on. It is called Lunch Box Heroes (LBH) and it isn't out yet. "Rules Light" is almost an understatement. LBH doesn't build off of Bean!, but they tread some of the same ground and in most of the areas I care about LBH does a better job.

Now this isn't a review, but I figured I'd set up a little backstory. This weekend my group got to playtest the current rules and have fun. Sadly we were all playtesters for HackMaster and we take that role a bit too seriously to imbibe and play...for the most part. The real playtest will come later no doubt.

Half of the session was just creating characters. We took our sweet-ass time doing so and the biggest hurdle was just wrapping our heads around the sheer level of flexibility that we had in creating PCs. Sure a question her or there came up and I think I hampered things with my prototype character sheet, but some of the ideas were just foreign enough to make us scratch our heads for a while. We made up two PCs each. My first was a Sorcererer (that is not a misspelling!) named Tim and the second was a pretty craptacular fighter named Sir Roderick, Not Appearing in this Game. Yes, I had fun with these PCs and no, I wasn't playing a GMPC.....I won't go there.

The small adventure for the night was "A Simple Lair" from Crooked Staff Productions. I cannot find this adventure online, but if you have it...SPOILERS!!!

The party consisted of a Warrior (Katie), a Rogue (Garrett), and a Warrior-Rogue (Ezio), all human. Despite attempts to be creative, all three characters are loosely based on established "fantasy" characters, with Katie being a version of Thor, while Garrett and Ezio come from the Thief and Assassin's Creed video games. The trio is making their way to the next town when they get caught up in a bad storm. The briefest of discussion about making a camp versus checking out a known abandoned Dwarven outpost nearby ends with Ezio's player stating they should just take the plot hook and run with it.

Yes, it is already going to be one of those games.....

The group enters the small outpost and cannot see squat inside. Nobody has any torches, or food for that matter. Even though I gave out some basic starting equipment and some money to buy stuff, nobody chose to get anything. Sucks to be them.

Katie, who wields the mighty hammer Mew Mew (Mj√∂lnir's nickname in the Thor movies), decides to call down lightning to turn  Mew Mew into an improvised torch. A quick magic test later and why the hell not? Here's some experience points for creativity. Before the group lies a wide corridor that has a sharp turn left. Also to the left is a wide alcove inset with a large steel door. Garrett checks the alcove for traps, with Ezio assisting. They find what used to be some dart traps, but they've been expended for some time. Before opening the door I ask for some passive checks/tests (basically if I ask for a check they can't get experience for it, but it will help drive the story) which are failed miserably.

After a bit of deliberation about how to open the door.....I think the passive tests made them think the door itself was trapped....they open it to find two orcs playing dice beside an old well. This room is lit and Katie asks if she can "release the lightning". I let her make a ranged attack against both orcs and the lightning bounces off one and strikes the other hard. The attack is on and the orcs rush the party, focusing on Katie and Ezio. Garrett has a special piece of gear that makes enemies ignore her until she makes an aggressive action, so she is overlooked so far. Some ineffectual back and forth during the first round of combat ends with Garrett backstabbing one orc to good effect. Ezio then downs one orc and the group gangs up on the remaining orc.

Searching the room nets the group a number of coins, the dice, a couple torches, a longbow with 10 arrows, and some vinegary wine, which gets dumped onto the floor because the wineskin might prove valuable. The well is filled with "refuse" (I'll leave it at that) and is quickly ignored.

Checking out the bend in corridor, the group find a longer narrow hallway ending at a door and a similar alcove in the left wall. Not wanting to leave a door behind them as they check out the hallway, the two rogue-types check it for traps and they open the door. At first all they can see is a table with a tiny oil lamp illuminating some papers and loose coins. As they step in with their looted torch burning bright they find "either the ugliest looking human they've seen or the best looking orc they've seen" trying to hide in the corner. The party doesn't quite "get" that it is a half-orc. He know's he's outmatched and outgunned so he offers a simple bet on a dice game: I win you all leave now and if I lose I give you some treasure and go on my way.

The whole idea of a bet confuses Ezio because they could just kill the half-orc and loot his body, but why not? They can always just kill him later if they lose. The game is called "doubles" and is a simple rolling of 2d6. Highest total wins, but doubles trump score so the highest set of doubles always wins. The game is best out of five. Garrett wants to use her newly acquired dice in case the half orc wants to cheat. This gives me an idea.....I grab one of my sets of d3 figuring I had a higher chance of doubles that would give me an edge. I also grab a regular, plain looking, set of d6's and ask the players to choose which dice for me to use. They picked the more colorful d3s. The players manage to win, mostly because they got luck with double fours to my double threes on the first toss.

True to his word, the half orc hands them a large uncut piece of jade, scoops up his papers and coins, and then leaves the room peacefully. He does check in on his fellows and after seeing them dead, decides that it isn't worth it to renege on his agreement with the party. Little did the player know that the coins and papers were probably the best loot in the mini-adventure.

The only other items in this room were three crude sleeping pallets constructed of piles of dirty clothing most likely taken from victims of orc raids along the road. The party wisely decided not to use those pallets to rest and continued on to check out the rest of the outpost.

The only remaining room contained a small stockpile of shipping crates filled with mostly rotting food. There were a few items that were edible with a little work and with an almost-impossible passive test succeeding, Ezio manages to find a small secret compartment containing a vial of mysterious liquid. Wiping off the dust of ages from the vial, Ezio tries to ascertain its contents (magic test), but fails miserably.

At least the party has a bit of shelter and some food to survive the night......