Today we are looking at the Monsters section of the BEOWULF: Age of Heroes rulebook. This is the last chapter before the Appendices but it’s a big one so we might split it apart.
The first section discusses the subject of enemies is general, including the distinction beteen foes and monsters. In the BEOWULF rules, Monsters with a capital-M are special. They have a feature, Undefeatable, that helps keep them alive until the Hero uses a special weapon, technique or special action that does standard damage to them. This makes Monsters unique in the game and rewards players for social encounters or investigations. A player that pushes past those components of the game in order to roll dice in combat will not be very successful. This is a reflection of the poem… think of Beowulf’s intuition to fight Grendel hand-to-hand and his seeking out of the only magic sword that can defeat his mother.
The Three Ogre Brothers was designed to be the sample adventure for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes. Unlike some sample adventures, it is purposefully designed to be repetitive, in order to strongly establish the tropes of BEOWULF adventures and provide opportunities for a Player to experiment with the format. After an initial introduction scene that provides the Hero with enough background information to be confident in the situation, they are introduced to the Ogre Lands and given a fairly direct path to the first ogre brother, or they can travel further inland to meet another of the brothers first.
The next chapter in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is all about treasure. We divide treasure into non-magical and magical and encourage the Gamemaster to present non-magical treasure items in a variety of forms. Very little treasure is found in piles of easily divided coins.
Today, we’re discussing the time between adventures for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes. While it can be exciting to rush from one Monster to the next, having downtime can help break up adventures and give a better sense of pacing to your Player. It also gives them time for the Hero to think about and work on long-term goals.
We have reached the final component of an adventure, the Monster. In BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, the capital-m Monster is special and has a fundamental part to play in the story of the adventure. It is likely that when the Monster is first met that it is undefeatable, the Hero can only do minimal damage to it.
It is now time to explore in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes!
Exploration can mean many things. In most adventures it means wandering into the wilderness, looking for signs of the Monster and trying to learn more about it. But it could also mean talking to the people of a settlement or perhaps just in a meadhall in order to discover more information. For some adventures it means meeting with ‘monsters’ or at least non-human intelligences.
If you recall from last week, we had just completed a voyage to reach the location of the adventure. This contained from one to three challenges, each requiring some sort of roll and providing a positive or negative consequence.
Now we have reached ‘Meadhall and Mystery’ – the Hero arrives and usually makes contact with the local leader(s) and may find a welcome place to stay in the meadhall. It is often here that they first find out substantive news of the Monster. (They have likely heard rumours before but now they might receive clarity now that they are talking to those directly affected.)
It’s Friday and that means it is time to dive into BEOWULF: Age of Heroes again. We’ve done the Portent and set the Inspiration Pool at the same time (as you generate the Portent, each step puts a token that the Monster, the Followers, or the Hero can use during the game). We’ve loaded the ship up with supplies and hired a Crew (these are different from Followers, more on that in a minute). We are ready for the Whale Road!