Cal Arath, the Barbarian Prince

We have arrived onto the Solo Gaming Appreciation Month. This is the month where it’s dedicated to solo roleplaying as people do challenges for their RPG games. The challenges for this month seem simple enough for me to do, especially since most of the games I picked are of the “two birds, one stone” kind of game.

One of the challenges is to play a game you have never played before. The other is incorporating a board game into the gaming. From the conversation we had regarding what counts, I managed to pick two of the four games devoted to this month. The first of which is Barbarian Prince. This seems to be one of those “RPG in a box” kind of games, where it plays more like a board game but with RPG elements. How much? Well, that’s where we will find out.

The story for this game is simple: the Barbarian Prince’s dad is killed and he must improve himself and his funds to wage war on his usurper. I like it. It gets you right into the action without dumping a lot of backstory and it gives you a sort of Conan-style story at the same time.

Okay, so the Barbarian Prince has a name: Cal Arath. He has a trusty broadsword called Bonebiter. With a combat of 8, Endurance of 9, Wealth of 2 (I’ll say about 4 gold pieces?), and a Wits of 5, I think we can brave through this game. The game begins with my trusty servant Ogab smuggling me onto a caravan where I am randomly placed at one of six locations.

I awaken at the Ruins of Jakor’s Keep. Well, one hex away from the ruins. The game is entirely hex based, and as such, I will need to move. However, there’s a risk that I’ll get lost. As such, we roll 2d6. Thankfully, I didn’t get lost. Then we roll 2d6 again to see if we get a random event. We do not. And so we arrive at the ruins. But, travelling takes up a day and so I must rest for now. Well, first I must hunt for food.

This is rolling the total of your Combat + Endurance – 2d6. The result of the first night is 9 food. However, before I am able to enjoy my food, I am ambushed by the usurpers. Or rather, I ambush the usurpers. Yeah, as it turns out, I surprised them. I’ll admit, combat is a little odd to get my head around, but as soon as I figured it out, I was able to hurt one of the four mercs.

The major factor of the combat is that the way to damage isn’t as clear cut as other systems, rather, you must roll a certain number with modifiers based off the combat difference between you and your opponent, how wounded they are, and so forth. So, I was able to incapacitate someone enough where they can only do one wound if at all.

Meanwhile, the other three were easy to take down, whittling them little by little. It was a long, arduous fight, but in the end, I pulled through with only two health left. I obtain the gold they had left behind, about fifteen in total. That said, they did a huge number on me and I need to sleep off the wounds. Though, I will do so after I explore the ruins.

The next day, I do exactly that, only to find nothing. I rest for the day, and the other days to follow, until I’m up at full. Of the days I’ve rested, only one event occurs: An abandoned mine where I find a dead prince’s tomb. I score 48 gold and a Gift of Charm, which, when given to someone, will enable me to pretty much act friendly to me. This will come in handy.

So, I spent about a week healing up, but I am about one fifth of the way towards my 500 gold piece goal. However, I have only five more weeks before the deadline. So, I gotta act fast. I’m gonna try and head to Cumry. I try to cross a river… Aaaaaand I get lost. Not only that, but I trigger another event. A raft man offers to ferry me across the river for one gold.

Done.

Eat food and the next day, we cross the river. Unfortunately, we still get lost, but at least we managed to get across into the forest on the other side. The rafter and I part ways as I continue on my journey. Along the way to Cumry, I encounter three bandits. I really like the combat system for this game, it’s dynamic and interesting. Other combat systems are basically “roll to hit, you miss. Roll to hit, you hit”, but modifiers change depending on how hurt you are and rolling high doesn’t always mean a hit.

However, during my fight with the bandits, I unfortunately am killed and thus, my adventure ends. It seems that either the game is hard due to it being a product of its time (as most games back 80’s tend to be difficult) or if I ended up screwing something up. In either case, though, I had a blast playing the game. It was rather exciting to explore the lands and see what kind of crazy fun I can get into.

Last year, I mentioned how a video of GeekGamers playing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service inspired me to play some gamebooks. Now, while Choose Your Own Adventure books can qualify as a gamebook, what I was actually looking for something like that game was something called a Paragraph Game. This is where the game has different paragraphs chunked up with tiny number/letter codes to refer to. In a way, this is more random than a Choose Your Own Adventure book because there’s no set path.

Given the rather short adventure I was in, I wouldn’t mind going through another game of Barbarian Prince soon, but for now, I definitely recommend it to people who want to play something old school.

Now, while I’m gonna focus on another game next time, Cal’s adventures aren’t quite done yet. There is the hypothetical situation that he never encountered those bandits. What then? Well, here’s a little hint for the next game he’ll appear in.

The clinking of glasses was a welcome noise for Cal Arath. After exploring braving his way through the land, he finally had the rest he deserved. He paid some fine gold for the wine. Finer gold to recruit a magician named Talltree. Talltree had a rumor that was worth investigating. The Baron of Huldra isn’t the true baron, but rather a double bastard. He had imprisoned the true heir to a tribe devoted to flame magic over at the Wredwrock Badlands.

As coincidental as it is, Talltree was heading over there to oversee the marriage between the tribe’s princess and an outsider, as per Flame Tribe tradition. It wouldn’t hurt for Cal to investigate matters. If it’s true, perhaps he can have the heir overthrow the Baron and in return, have his army back him up to retake his throne. This seems like a piece of cake, he thought.

Of course, to truly take his rightful place, he must hear some lamentations.

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