In the last days of April 2017, I came up with the idea of running an RPG session (or sessions) during the May long weekend in the so-called sandbox style, described i.a. here or here. In 2016, I run several such sessions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay II edition (WFRP II ed), but despite all my liking of the Old World (and especially Border Princes, where the action of those sessions took place), I wanted to try another setting, and more importantly, another system.
At the time, Michał Dzidt, presented the early version of his own system, which he called OHET. I looked through this short rulebook and found that it suited my needs to a great extent. In OHET there are no experience levels, or health points, or the range of weapons and spells carefully measured in meters (or worse, Imperial units). Only 2 out of 6 possible test results are plain, “succeeded/failed”, and the other 4 results force the Game Master to be more creative, which encourages a varied gameplay.
OHET’s rulebook is available on DriveThruRPG: for free in a version without illustrations and just for 5 $ in the version with (very nice) illustrations.
Although my preferred conventions are post-apocalypse, low fantasy (i.e. with limited presence of magic and other supernatural elements) or even games set in the historical realities, while OHET is definitely heroic fantasy, nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance.
Having chosen the system, I still needed the setting (in April 2017 there was no setting specifically for OHET) and a nice map divided into hexes (regular hexagons). I managed to find the latter:
This map presents a fragment of her author’s, Laura R. Osborn, own world, but I preferred to run a session in a more familiar universe. I was wondering and discussing with friends, including one of the players, what it could be. There were various concepts, including Middle-earth, Westeros, Faerûn, Thedas (the Dragon Age setting), the world from the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind and some others, but in the end I decided on the Witcher universe.
The mountains on the east of the map are ideally suited for Mahakam, and on the shores of the lake you can place the capital of Temeria, Vizima and the surrounding area, well known to all who played the first video game set in the Witcher universe.
Regarding the time of the action, I decided to start the game on April 25, 1267, which is 5 days before the Belleteyn festival and about two months before the memorable wizard convention on Thanedd Island, described in the fourth volume of the Saga, “The time of Contempt”.
According to the original concept of the author of the map, I assumed that one hex is 5 miles wide. There was no time to consider whether the distance on the map would be consistent with the data from the books.
Because it was the first RPG session ever for 2 out of 3 players, I decided to give every character three Destiny Points known from Warhammer, so that they won’t die after 10 minutes of play (and at least 30 minutes of character creation) and won’t get discouraged to this hobby forever. It was a good idea, the player controlling Nat used one of her Destiny Points to avoid being mutilated while fighting the Scoia’tael.
I chose hex number 14013 as a starting point – near the center of the map, to minimize the risk that the Heroes will go beyond map’s edge. I planned the storm as the explanation of how did they get there. However, from the moment the heroes went ashore, the players had full freedom of action.
The weather was randomized, as was its duration (tine for the next roll to establish the weather).
The road to the hills (hex 15013) took the protagonists four hours – three for crossing the hex covered with forest and additionally one for bad weather.
All the encounters were randomized. Heroes heard the vejons from the distance as the result of a successful Wisdom test, the most frequently tested attribute during these sessions.
Vejopatis was mentioned in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings video game and taken, as well as Melitele and Kreve, from the Baltic mythology.
The forest where the heroes spent a long time is the hex 14014.
Casimir got the “no, but” result in the hunting test, so he wounded the deer, but the animal escaped.
The heroes did not dry themselves until about 6 PM, more than 12 hours after getting out of the lake, which, considering the rain and wind that prevailed that day, prompted me to call a Constitution roll. Nat and Mar passed, Casimir did not.
During the first night, players accepted the principle that Nat takes the first or the last watch to have 8 hours of uninterrupted rest to regenerate her spells.
The Nat injury was the “no, and” result (critical failure) in the roll of search for medicinal plants.
The Casimir’s vision was caused by the “yes, and” result in the Wisdom test, intended to check his vigilance during the guard.
Nat got the “yes and” result in the treatment test, hence the temporary Constitution bonus for Casimir. Apparently she found ginseng 🙂
In the night encounter roll, “escapees” were rolled, I thought that it would be more interesting if they turn out to be vejons seen earlier in the hills.
The players scored the “yes and” result in some defense rolls, so I decided that Scoia’tael surrounded them, and then they hurt each other with friendly fire. A bit absurd, but I did not have a better idea.
The panic of one of the elves was the effect of the “no, but” result in the ranged attack test.
The first session ended after the skirmish. Due to the late time and fatigue of both players and MG, we did not decide how to spend Experience Points accumulated during the session.
Before the second session, I wrote a letter from the Iron Wolf. The players analyzed the content of the letter for some time at the beginning of the session… and then apparently they forgot about it. Perhaps during the hypothetical next session, they would bring the letter to some important person in Vizima…
In my experience, players (not only those with whom I played OHET) do not respect human (or elf) rights towards their prisoners. On the other hand, the elves attacked first and almost killed the heroes.
And if they were taken captive by Scoia’tael, their fate would be unenviable.
On April 27, the party went through the following hexes: 14014, 13014, 12015.
Sheep sound was the “shepherds” result of an encounter roll and the nestling wail – “the falcon’s nestling fell out of the nest”.
Mar trampled the nestling because he scored “no, and” result in the Wisdom test. The heroes had a 50% chance to encounter angry mother of a nestling, but they were lucky.
On April 28, the party went through the following hexes: 11015, 10016, 09016, 08017, 07017, 06017 (Podgrodzie). The shipwreck was on the hex 07016.
The discovery of shepherds’ corpses was the “battlefield” result on the encounter roll, which I linked to the earlier sheep encounter.
Riders were the “robber knights” result on the encounter roll, and their escape was an unusual “yes” result of Mar’s Charisma roll. I decided that “yes” result should be beneficial for the players and the robber knights were very dangerous and could have killed the party. The players, however, were quite disappointed that they did not get the chance to fight the riders, three on foot against seven on horses…
Meeting the merchant was the “someone recognizes the heroes” result on the encounter roll. His drunkenness and favorable attitude were also randomized. Because the session was nearing the end and the merchant was so benevolent, I did not randomize gossips, but revealed almost everything I had up my sleeve.
The robber knights mentioned by the merchant were, of course, the same that the heroes met briefly.
If the game was continued, the characters could hear a gossip about the demonic sheep circulating in the vicinity of Vizima. A gossip sown by Nat 🙂
Casimir, who often took a risk, gained 6 Experience Points (XP), which he spent on raising the Constitution from low to average and adding one word to his Concept. Nat got 4 XP, for which she bought 2 new words to her Concept (which in her case means 2 new spells). Mar got only 1 XP, which he did not use at all.
To sum up, these sessions were considered successful by everyone involved. OHET worked very well.
In the following months, I tried the systems that Kuglarz listed as his sources of inspiration, in particular Fate: Accelerated Edition (FAE) and Freeform Universal (FU).
I also invite you to my fanpage! In addition to information about new posts, I plan to share curiosities about games, books and of course, castles.
My other posts about RPG:
- review of four RPGs about factions and intrigue;
- report from “The Sword, the Crown and the Unspeakabler Power” session (one of the systems reviewed in the above post),
- analysis of simulative and narrative RPGs;
- report from adventure in Mythic Greece and its continuation,
- report from “Dogs in the Vineyard” session;
- my RPG summary of 2018; 2019 and 2020.