The Terralon Diary, Part 1: Are You Sure Blowing Up Bits of the Cosmos Is a Good Idea, My Liege?

Hello folks, as promised I’m going to spend 2022 working my way through The Gates of Terralon, a linear RPG experience presented in the form of a desk calendar. Here’s how the first week of that went.

Office tear-off desk calendars, of course, often combine Saturday and Sunday into one sheet, and the Quest Calendar series is no exception, so since this year starts on a Saturday we’re off to a slow, gentle start. The calendar opens by explaining to us that before we choose a PC, we’ll go through a short tutorial section playing an assigned character just for that part, and encouraging us to familiarise ourselves with the rules for this first couple of days. OK, fair enough.

3rd January introduces us to our character for this tutorial: Commander Royce Barrington, commander of the king’s armies in the fight against a rampaging demon horde. No character sheet is given for him in the accompanying hero book, since we’ll only be playing him for a bit – his stats are on the back of the sheet for 3rd January – but I will use the blank sheet in the Hero Book to record his stats since it’s a bit sturdier than the 3rd January sheet (and it gives me an early chance to see how wipe-clean the markers actually are).

4th January finds the King explaining our mission to us: apparently we’re going to do a surgical strike which will shut down the demons’ link to our world, leaving them unable to enter. Apparently the King and I are both devotees to the god of Law but regard the existence of demons as a sort of divine mistake, so I guess we’re going to eat a big heap of hubris by the end of the scenario.

As the King explains the mission, we roll our stat bonuses on 1D4. The stats are the standard D&D stats, so I suspect the system is going to turn out to be a take on 5E with some of the D&D sacred cows like stats scaling from 3-18 removed – kind of like how True20 also reduced stats to just bonuses, though by my recollection True20 doesn’t randomly generate stat bonuses on a flat die roll – something you do here, and which will seem to result in swingier stats because you lose the bell curve. That said, all my stats are 2s and 3s – the teeny tiny D4 that came with my set doesn’t roll that well, then again D4s generally don’t.

Something I also noted today is that the sheets in the hero book are very good at the whole wipe-clean thing – maybe too good. I’m left-handed, so I kept smudging out stuff as I wrote, and I worry that if I flip to another page in the book to consult the rules I’ll end up smudging my sheet. Probably good that I retained the rules sheets from the calendar for quick consultation too.

5th January is easy enough – it’s weapon selection time. Weapon choice determines an attack bonus, a defence total, and a damage die: I chose a Greataxe, which doesn’t have the best damage but offers decent attack and defence scores. Then on 6th January we get our first skill check – a survival roll to see how our journey to the Sun Temple where our mission is to take place goes in terms of ration consumption. Again, 5E influence is seen here – we have to roll a D20, add our Wisdom modifier, and remember to add our bonus for being an expert at survival stuff. (Neatly, the skill check blurb includes a reminder of what bonuses are applicable.)

7th January gives us a chance to have our first fight – we need to get past the guardian of the Sun Temple by fighting them. We get one round to attack and defeat them, if we don’t defeat them we still get in but are injured by them along the way, we can get a bonus by correctly answering a riddle. This is all nicely communicated. What’s also being communicated is that this guy is a servant of the cosmic force of law, like we’re meant to be, and we’re trying to invade some manner of divine otherworld as part of the big plan to use a massive bomb to destroy the route demons take to get to our world. I’m starting to think our King might not be on the level!

Anyway, that’s the first week’s fun settled. I can already see that doing this on a week-by-week basis might not generate enough material for each article, so rather than do another 7 days before next article in this series, I’ll instead drop another article once I have completed the tutorial section and selected my “real” PC for the adventure to come, which flipping ahead I see should be within the next couple of weeks or so.

4 thoughts on “The Terralon Diary, Part 1: Are You Sure Blowing Up Bits of the Cosmos Is a Good Idea, My Liege?

  1. matt712013

    I am doing the Quest Calendar as well.
    I was wondering why the gate guardian is still there, if a larger force already went through ahead of me. Perhaps it refreshes continuously, the text does say “Like all who have come before you”. 🙂

    The greataxe is a good choice for landing hits, but I feared the damage at 1d6 might be too low to kill enemies in one round. It seems damage does not get a bonus from Strength.

    Looking forward to reading which PC you choose!

  2. Pingback: The Terralon Diary, Prologue: Let’s Game Through 2022! – Refereeing and Reflection

  3. Pingback: The Terralon Diary, Part 2 – Refereeing and Reflection

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