Saturday, March 25, 2017

Game log 12 March 2017: Not much happened

Dramatis personae


Mayhem, barbarian
Caleb, wizard
Xórin, fox-man scout
Ash, squire
Kim, thief
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)
Villûdē, guide (NPC)

Quid occurrit


This post is mostly for the benefit of having something down.

First game day, 26 Brugés, the only encounter was Xórin seeing Yogi late at night. He woke up Mayhem, and Mayhem threw him fish. This puzzled Xórin, who said, "Here rations, have some more rations." He wanted to hunt Yogi—"How can you not shoot that adorable face?"—but Mayhem told him to let Yogi go.

The next morning, not much happened. As they walked through the swamp at midday, they found a clump of red hair in some bushes. After Caleb cast Detect Magic on it found it wasn't magic, Xórin chose to learn its smell.

Three days later (30 Brugés—all months handily have 32 days, and the start of the month always lines up with the new moon), they made it to the peat farm in the morning. There, the lead farmer was burning peat. He shooed them away, saying that the ibathene had come too near the peat farm, and the heroes had the smell of the swamp on them. The next day, they made it to the Ūktrés River, and made a new raft.

(At this point, I realized that almost nothing was going to happen. They were two days from getting out of the swamp, and another three days from town. They were almost out of rations, other than Mayhem, so I pushed them along and said it would take 6 days, and everyone but Mayhem would be out of rations.)

Once at town (4 Néberos in the game calendar, or mid-October), they made it back to town. They found out that rations were threefold their list cost owing to a bad harvest. Ash had the Armor of the Ape identified, and put it on. He didn't tell the others of its powers. Caleb, the paymaster, paid Villûdē, who might try her hand at singing again.

Res aliae


We were playing in the coffee shop of the nursing home where Chris is for the moment. As such, we were playing around old folks, who perked up when the characters got to town and looking for lodging. "They're playing Dragons and Dungeons, it's hilarious! They're going to all these motels."

We got going late owing to Chris's meal time, and my wife texting me right as we were about to start, not realizing that I was out gaming.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Real life

A quick note. Right now, I am having trouble casting Dispel Real Life so I can get on with my blog writing. Specifically, there are two things:

  • I would have posted logs, but one of my players, Chris Lutgen (Caleb and Mayhem), has been having health issues so we haven't played, especially since we play at his dining table. We're talking nasty, life-changing health issues that have put him into a nursing home, at least for the moment.
  • I'm in grad school now, in addition to working full-time and being a husband and a father. And I hopefully will be running Dungeons & Dragons for one of my daughters and one or more of her friends soon, once the other father and I work out the plans.

I have been meaning to put up a review of Lairs & Encounters for Adventurer Conqueror King System. As should be clear, when I review, I make damn sure to go through everything.

Now, an aside. My master's program is in library and information science; since I'm a gamer, I'll have to play Conan the Librarian at some point. But anyways, I'm in a cataloging (er, "Organization of Knowledge") course at the moment, and am thinking of using my 100,000+ words of setting notes and hex entries as a project. So, if any of you have any ideas of what a markup language for RPG adventures and settings would have, I'd love to hear ideas. I'm thinking of NPCs/monsters, settlements, hexes, lairs, treasure/objects, traits, encounters, events, that kind of thing.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Game log for 30 January 2017: It's booty time, booty time, 'cross the lands of Nandêmē

Dramatis personae


Xóran, fox-man ranger
Caleb, wizard
Mayhem, pint-sized barbarian
Ash, squire
Kim, thief

cum


Kôštē, cleric
Villûdē, guide

Quid occurrit


Caleb sensed the podium was magical. After some fretting, Xóran got curious about the podium, and touched it himself. It did nothing to him. Caleb put some paper on the lectern, and it fell into the podium. Same thing happened when Kim put the owl idol she stole from the other room on the lectern. Kim also prodded the lectern with a centipede's body and one of her arrows, and both came out. So, Caleb stuck his hand into the lectern, and it went past the top like it was air. He fished out his notes, Kim's owl idol, and a jar, which had 110 copper farthings and 7 gold pieces in it.

They went back into the altar room, then went through the other door. They walked through a banquet hall with old wooden benches and tables, then down a hall to a bedroom with a rotten four-poster bed, then from there down another hall. After walking about 20 feet down that hall, Villûdē, Mayhem, Caleb, and Xóran smelled an odd smell, and brought their hands to the faces, or at least weathered the gas that made the smell. Ash, Kim, and Kôštē, however, lost their sight as the gas hit their faces.

The sighted led the blind back to the banquet hall, and sat them down on the benches. They sat the blind on the floor when they found that the benches crumbled under their weight. Kôštē couldn't diagnose her own problem, though Caleb knew the gas was an alchemical gas. They chose to make camp. First, they tried going upstairs, but found that a rain storm was happening. So, they went back to the foyer to go to sleep. That night, Caleb had a nightmare about beavers striking him, but they kept away if he hewed near a wall. Kôštē couldn't see, but cast Watchdog right where she lay down to hopefully nab anything that got near. Luckily, nothing came.

(And the dice made sure of that. I have random encounters happening on a 7 or less on 3d, with a clue on an 8. For a long rest, I add +2, then the modifier from the Speed/Range Table, reading "yards" as "hours." Eight hours should be +6—+4 from 8-10 hours, and +2 from making 1 hour a zero rather than a -2. I suppose I should come up with a possibility of multiple encounters, like a second one for every 4 less rolled than the target number. Regardless, I rolled 18.)

The next day, they awoke, and found that the blind could now see. They went back to the room with the four-poster bed, and most everyone stayed there while Xóran and Mayhem went down the hall to see if they could find the gas. Xóran's fox nose smelled the gas, and once they stopped short, they easily found the flagstone that triggered the gas and pulled it up.

However, as they were doing this, the last few minutes of Kôštē's Watchdog spell caught some bother. Thus, nobody was surprised when three giant rats wandered towards them. The heroes made short work of two of the rats, while the third fled.

Kim ran after it.

The rat ran much faster than Kim, which didn't stop her. However, as she started to run out of the laboratory, she jumped back from a fuzzy pseudopod that lunged out at her. Hardly able to see, Kim shot three arrows at the jelly, stepping back as she did so. She drew her sword and missed with it before realizing that there was almost nothing she could do to the jelly, being as she could hardly see it. Thus, she ran back to the others.

The gang went forward, and walked down the hallway with the trap wrecked. After a turn, they walked into a room with a stone man, a dial and slot on a wall, a pillow below the slot, and a sword without a hilt. The stone man said to them, "Greetings. Would you like to play Swords and Ladders?"

The stone golem showed them how the game worked. The golem put the hilt-less sword into the slot, then started turning the dial. After three seconds, the slot let the sword go, falling onto the pillow. The one who made the sword fall straightest won, and the bet was a gem. If the player won, the golem said the game would twin the gem. If the golem won, it smashed the gem.

Kim tried three times. The first time was a tie, leading to nothing happening, while the next two times, the golem won. Both times it won, it smashed her gem. She chose to quit rather than spend her last gem, and gathered as much gem dust as she could.

From there, they went back to the foyer, and went into the privy that they had shut the other day. This time, Kim, Ash, and Mayhem lost their breakfast, and the rats started to fight them. However, the heroes made short work of the rats, even while Mayhem puked through the fight. Xóran took some damage, but Kôštē could not heal it at all, leaving the wound looking good but still hurting. After the fight, Kim opened a small box neared the toilet, and found 7 piece of gold.

Seeing no sign of the armor, they chose to look through rooms into which they had went the last time they were in the dungeon. When they got to the pantry, Kim looked into the cooking pot on the floor, and found a dial in it. After finding that they could not lift the pot, Kim turned the dial. The water pipes in the wall shifted, and when they met, everyone could see the door, which they could easily open. They walked down a short hall and found a room empty other than a rusted cage, then walked into a cave with a big chasm in the middle, a bridge athwart the chasm, a pool before the bridge, and a glimmer of light from their spell beyond the bridge.

They took a better look toward the glimmer. It was coming off metal. The metal of a breastplate.

Caleb talked about his dream, and they chose to give the pool a wide berth, sticking first near the wall then near the chasm as they made it to the bridge. Kim and Caleb checked out the bridge, and saw that it was rickety. Kim chose to try it, and slowly went over it. Ash and Mayhem tied together the ropes of the gang, and then around Ash's waist, and Ash started over the bridge when he saw that Kim was almost over the bridge.

When Ash made it to the end of the bridge, a wave of slowness hit him. As far as he could tell, Kim was moving fast as she walked towards the armor. She jumped like lightning as a spear shot out of the floor at her, and then gas flooded out and hid her from him.

Kim, however, saw Ash standing like an idiot, and walked towards the armor. She jumped away from a spear, then held her breath as the fumes from a gas started to pour out over her. She deftly leapt to the armor and back, grabbing it as she did so, then moved back through the gas towards the bridge, with only a lone spear going along the back of her armor. Kim waved to the others to pull Ash slowly over the bridge then, when he was over and out of the spell, she walked back over.

As they walked out, Caleb saw that the armor, which was a breastplate with a bit of beads along the edges, a painting of an ape roaring on the middle, and the faint smell of blood, was magical.

Res aliae


This was the first time that the random rolls for Weirdness Magnet worked in their favor. I had kept forgetting to use the results in game for many weeks, and almost forgot again, only telling them a bit after the dream. But it had always been the dream. Feels like cheating, truth be told, as the terrible dire demon beavers are nasty, though the trap was theoretically tough. The rolls were with them, however—Kim and Ash didn't make the bridge fall down, and Kim did well with the trap near the armor, resisting the fatigue damage from the gas that could have made her fall down. Kim and Caleb didn't make the Per-based Architecture roll, but I didn't hide that the bridge was rickety. Seemed like something that would be plain to me.

Breaking Bridge


Every time someone new steps on the old bridge, roll 1d. If the roll is less than or equal to the number of folks on the bridge, the bridge falls apart.

Detect: Per-based Architecture at +2.
Disarm: No.
Circumvent: No, unless someone finds another way over the chasm. The jump is 20 yards, making it unlikely.
Evade: The last fellow who got on the bridge can Dodge at +1, as can the first person if more than three folks are on the bridge.
Effects: 6d crushing from the 45-yard fall.
Shots: 1.
Rearm: No.
Steal: No.
Offensive Rating: 27.

Armor Trap


The armor is on a stand on the far side of the bridge. This trap activates once someone is on the side with the armor and no one is on the bridge (or the bridge has broken).

Detect: Per-based Thaumatology, or Per + Magery for mages, at -2.
Disarm: Dispel Magic (resists at skill 20).
Circumvent: Someone can stay on the bridge, if it still stands.
Evade: Dodge to get out of the way of the spears. Anyone who has Decreased Time Rate (see below) is at -2.
Effects: Resist Will or get Decreased Time Rate (p. B129) as long as you are on this side of the chasm. Everyone regardless must keep away from the spears that shoot up from the floor every 2 yards. Roll 1d each second for each person who moves at least 2 yards. On a 1-2, a spear comes out of the floor and does 1d+1 impaling damage unless he dodges as above. Once someone is within 2 yards of the armor, all hexes within 5 yards of the armor stand fill with gas. Resist HT or take 2d fatigue damage. Holding your breath can help; make a Smell roll at -4 to notice the gas fast enough to do so.
Shots: Infinite.
Rearm: Automatic.
Steal: No.
Offensive Rating: 54.

They don't know how much the armor is worth, but it is one of the first bits of magical treasure they have found. Whether they keep it or sell it is up to them, though a breastplate would only be a boon to one character, likely Ash. They need to get it out of the swamp, regardless.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Game log for 15 January 2017: New guy gets the glowing, spongy ball

Dramatis personae


Mayhem, barbarian
Caleb, wizard
Kim, thief
Ash, squire
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)
Villûdē, guide (NPC)

introducens


Xórin, fox man

Quid occurrit


The next morning, Xórin, a fox man, came to the peat farm. Ajurês the peat farmer was talking to Caleb about the bad harvest, telling him to have his friends go. After some yelling and greetings, Xórin joined the group.

The first day was easy going, as easy going as a swamp could be. The second day was slower since Kôštē was low on rations, so everyone gathered more and hiked less. That evening, Ash was on watch, and he saw three lights off to the edge of camp. He woke everyone, including the new guy, who wasn't all that happy about it being night.

The will-o'-the-wisps weren't too happy about the armed gang, so they swooped towards them. Kim tried to strike them from behind, but that didn't help much. Neither did Caleb casting Darkness at the wisps; they flew through it. However, Ash found he could smash the wisps, and as such, he did the best against the little glowing buggers.

The next day, they saw the santer, and not long before sunset, they found the tower again, and went inside. Kim headed straight for the room with the altar, and looked for the rats, but found none. Xórin asked if it was an altar of Nemmagós, goddess of the night. Kôštē said that it was.

Xórin said that he hated the goddess Nemmagós and her followers. He poured some berry juice onto the altar, then he and Kim relieved themselves on it.

Uh, OK.

They then went into the next room, and found there were a bunch of big centipedes, which they beat handily. Then they checked out a metal podium that throbbed with electricity.

Res aliae


A fair amount of time was spent getting through the last of character creation, so this log is short. The fights weren't too involved; I handled the giant centipedes without a map.

Xórin is a character that Roman has played in a few games, namely Rifts and Midnight. He fights with two broadswords, which meant I had to read up on the rules for two-weapon fighting once again. Roman keeps reminding me of a two-weapon fighter he played in my GURPS space marines game a decade ago, but I keep remembering him playing Master Chief.

I'm disappointed in how I handled will-o'-the-wisps. I'm afraid I need some way to have them lure wayfarers other than sheer curiosity, which doesn't work if the guy on watch doesn't have the Curious disadvantage. My version is a D&D translation that doesn't quite get the sense of wonder. I can't recall if GURPS Faerie has something.

Edit: I think this will make the will-o'-the-wisp more interesting:

Look at the Pretty Lights! (Resist Will): Anyone who sees a will-o'-wisp must resist Will or try to follow it. Anyone with Curious takes a penalty to the roll based on his self-control number (use the table for Phobia, p. B149). Those who fail to resist must come toward the will-o'-wisp for as many. This lasts for as many minutes as the number by which he failed his Will roll, or until the will-o'-wisp attacks. If someone affected is given clear information to the contrary (say, someone makes a Hidden Lore roll to realize this is a will-o'-wisp), he may resist again.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Game log for New Years Day 2017: Rats!

Dramatis personae

Caleb, wizard
Mayhem, barbarian
Kim, thief
Ash, squire
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)
Villûdē, guide (NPC)

Quid occurrit

Caleb woke up the next day, still weak. Kôštē slugged a potion, and Caleb went looking for herbs to help her. He found some horehound, and cast Create Steam to help her lungs. Mayhem moved the camp a mile away, and the gang gathered food all day.

They started walking to the south the next morning. They soon saw a beast as big as an ox, with shaggy red fur and a bald head. Caleb gathered this was the santer, which Villûdē said was right. "The banter won't do anything to you if you don't do anything to it."

Kim perked up. "So can we touch it?"

Villûdē said, "That might count as doing something to it."

It bolted away after a few seconds, but Mayhem picked up its trail. They followed it all that day and the next. While they were camping on second night of following its path, they heard some howling to the southeast, albeit from afar. Nothing came for them, however, and they picked up its trail again the next day. At midday, the santer did come near them, but bolted again.

The morning after that they came to the wreck of a tower. Kim found a big stone in the floor that had a slim gap around it, so Mayhem and Ash lifted it to show a trapdoor. It was not locked, so they opened it and all went down after tying up their horses.

They went down the stairs under the trapdoor, and at the bottom was a jaw trap, which Kim saw right away. There was enough room around it to keep from stepping on it, so everyone did so, and found himself in a triangular room with a hallway to the left, one straight ahead, and a door to the side of the hallway straight ahead. Kim led them left, and after a short walk, they found themselves in a room with old spoons, broken knives, and a shattered pot. The wall on the other side had some metal pipes on it, and there was a door on its wall, and on the wall next to the hallway through which they went into the room.

They picked the door next to the hallway, and went down it, into a room with books. Most books were ones they couldn't read since they were in Old Erstokkese, and there was another in a tongue nobody knew that had clean writing and awesome paintings of men in shorts, some other men in armor, some holding sticks, others holding big round things. The few women in it were mostly wet. The one book in Mannish was Things Said to Me by Sages by Klévos Algídes. Sadly, the sages didn't have many good things to say, mostly useless advice. There was one door out of this room, which opened to a dusty room with no other doors.

They walked back to the kitchen, and went through the other door. They followed it down a hallway that turned a few times, when Kim saw a thin wire on the floor. She got down and looked at the walls, and saw a small hole in it, at about the height of a man's heart. She cut the wire, and nothing happened. Thus, they walked past to another door. They opened it, and saw a crypt lined with coffins. As they started walking towards the coffins to open them, a dozen giant rats came out of the gaps and some of the coffins and struck.

They fought back, and won, after both Caleb and Kôštē fell from bites. They looked in the coffins, and Kim found a small chest. She picked its lock, and found 110 copper farthings and 69 silver pennies in it. Kim took the money, and Mayhem and Ash put the sleeping Caleb and Kôštē each in a coffin before opening the one other door in the crypt. The gang followed the hallway, which went back into the triangular room.

Kim opened one of the doors in the triangular room, and a smell hit them. Both Kim and Villûdē started puking from the smell, while Mayhem shut the door upon seeing another ten giant rats standing before a toilet. After Kim and Villûdē stopped coughing up their breakfasts, Kim opened the other door. The room beyond it was eight-sided, and there was a stone table in the middle, with broken glass all over. There were two doors—one on the wall straight ahead, and another to the right.

Kim opened the door straight ahead, and they found themselves in another eight-sided room. This one had a white alabaster altar on a dais in the middle of the room. The altar had a small idol of an owl, two incense holders, a pewter decanter, and a goblet. Under the altar was a small chest. Kim went for the chest, and found it unlocked. She opened it, and felt a sudden need for more danger. In the chest was a deep amber potion, which she took, along with the idol, incense holders, decanter, and goblet. Bolder, she pushed past everyone and led them back to the first eight-sided room.

There she was about to go through the other door when many swarms of rats came out of the walls. After making them skitter, Kim got on the floor and stuck her sword in one of the ratholes in the wall. Mayhem grabbed her by the scruff, and they went back to the crypt to get their spellcasters and the books they found before going.

Mayhem knew they weren't going to last much longer without rest, and asked Villûdē where they could get some. She said they could make it to the peat farm in a few days, so they set out to go there. The next day, the casters awoke, and Kôštē healed the others, before slugging her last potion the day after that. Kim, however, had a cough, but it wasn't nasty. The third day was the fall equinox; Kôštē wanted to be helping with the harvest, her first since becoming a full cleric. On a fourth day of trekking (22 Brugés) and a slight cough from Ash, they made it to the peat farm, whose farmers was amazed to see them.

Res aliae

Caleb was still down HT from the witherweeds, which I shouldn't have had him be as much. Looking back, HT should have come back at a point a day. So now he has it back at the peat farm. He still needs to deal with having sewer rot from a rat bite, however.

They will get to rest up at the peat farm, and I'll grant them some character points next time. Seven, from my quick count. It seems I need to flesh out the peat farm more, as they keep coming back to it.

Monday, December 5, 2016

4 December 2016 Game Log: Nature Kills

Dramatis personae


Kim, thief
Mayhem, barbarian
Ash, squire
Caleb, wizard
Kôštē, cleric (NPC)
Villûdē, guide (NPC)


Quid occurrit


After the fight, Ash picked up the shield of one of the fallen orcs. It had a crude drawing of something on it, with both fangs and horns. Maybe it was the orc’s girlfriend.

Kôštē healed Kim most of the way, then healed Caleb enough so that he woke up. She also healed Mayhem of some of his pain, but he was still asleep.

The next morning, 4 Brugés, was wet from rain. Villûdē got everyone back to the raft, but nowhere else. (I failed every roll for her, so the gang was moving at 5% of its normal Move.)

She did make camp alright. The alligator came again in middle of night. Ash warned everyone, and Kim slipped behind alligator and stabbed it, but she couldn’t finish the job so the alligator slipped away.

The next day had nicer weather. Kôštē finished healing Caleb, and healed Mayhem. However, he was still asleep, so she dumped two healing potions down his throat so he could wake up instead of dying from dehydration. They whole gang left the swamp to rest up. On the way, they saw the alligator in morning, but it swam away.

When gathering food that afternoon, Ash found a blackberry bush. He tried to pick some, and the ground gave way and he fell down three feet. The roots of the bush tried to grab Ash, but missed him twice and Ash climbed out.

The next day had good weather. Kôštē healed Mayhem most of the way up. They chose to take a chance and go to Vēristés Castle to warn them of orcs. Caleb gave a note to guards and left after hearing them rant and swear a few times. That night, they camped midway between the castle and the swamp.

The day after that had great weather. They made it back to their raft, and went back into swamp.

The eighth of Bruges also had great weather. While floating through the swamp, the raft hit a small bank of land. This is something that happens many time every day, but this time, the weeds on the land grabbed Kim. She slipped out of their grip, and Villûdē pushed the raft away. 

Yogi Bear wandered to camp in the evening, the night of the first quarter moon. Mayhem threw him some fish and he trundled away.

The next day, they made it to north end of naga island. They spent most of the day after that foraging. Mayhem searched the north end of the island for lairs and found none.

The next day was still warm, with a midday rain shower. However, Kim and Kôštē felt ill, with mild fevers and coughs. They went into the thicker woods to the south to look for lairs other than the one of the nagas they knew therein. Late that afternoon, some weeds slashed the legs of Mayhem and Ash. Ash stepped back, but Mayhem cut the weeds before him with his axe. A cloud of smoke came from weeds, and now everyone backed off. The smoke made Villûdē, Kôštē, and especially Caleb weak.

Cindy Bear came to camp in middle of night, and Mayhem threw her a fish.

The weather the next day good, so Mayhem kept searching for lairs. However, he found none. Mayhem finished his search for lairs, found only the nagas’. Caleb also started feeling sick, but Kim started feeling better. Yogi came in middle of night after another rain storm. Ash threw him some of Kim’s food, and threw him more when he didn’t go away at first.

The ground the next day was damp from rain. Kôštē’s cough was getting worse, while Caleb still weak from the smoke but his cough wasn’t worse. Most everyone stayed in the camp. Yogi came for food again at end of night.

Res aliae


The fight with the tangle weed was our first chance to try GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling. It seemed to work. I don’t think it’s any more complex than the normal GURPS grappling rules, but it’s more GURPS-like. Still, it’s a bit fiddly, as I kept having to look up the thrust damage Kim’s Escape-18 gave her at each level of active control from the tangle weed. The blow-by-blow was:

Tangle weed: hits Kim with frond, does 6 CP.
Kim: rolls Escape to break free. Her Escape is normally 18, but down to 15 due to active control of 6 CP. She succeeds, and does 3 CP, knocking the active control the tangle weed has to 3 CP.
Tangle weed: tries force posture change to get her down to the ground. It was at -4 to get Kim to go from standing to lying supine in the sunshine (brownie points to anyone who knows from where I got that line), but it spent its 3 CP to weaken the penalty. It failed.
Kim: rolled Escape to break free again, and succeeded easily.

Am I getting this right?

There was quite a few plants this time, owing to many rolls of true random encounters. One (the devilbush) I timed to sync up with the delver who did the worst at foraging that day, which was Ash. The tangle weeds I had randomly hit someone on the raft. The witherweed happened to hit the folks in the front rank as they were wandering through the woods. I think I should have given a few Per-based Naturalist rolls, though  Kim and Ash lack the skill so likely would have failed (defaults would be 7 and 5, respectively).


I do like the effect of the plants, however. I’m thinking of them as the slimes of the wild. Slimes in the dungeon keep the group moving, heightening the peril. Plants in the wild keep the group from going further, heightening the peril. And the witherweed was truly wicked after the gang got exposed to Pontiac fever. and lost HT as damage and thus making sure they failed a few rolls. It didn’t help that the cleric got hit the worst. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Where the hell did our horses go?

I made up a house rule on the spot today that I want to share. When the alligator struck, I had the horses make Fright Checks, which is common. Both wound up fleeing: Ash's riding horse right away, and the pony after a few seconds. After the fight, to round them up, I had Ash make an Animal Handling (Equines) roll. He missed by 6, so I ruled that he spent the next three hours looking for the horses.

So, here's the rule: if your mounts or pet dogs run away in a wide-open wilderness (not a dungeon), make the appropriate Animal Handling roll. Apply the penalty from the Speed/Range table for long range, reading "yards" as "animals." Thus, a lone horse gets a +2 bonus, the two horses got no bonus or penalty, and three horses gets a -1 penalty, and so on. If you succeed, you get them back with little fuss. If you don't, you get them back after a half-hour for every point by which you missed the roll.

This not only speeds play, as I don't want to game out every time the horses bolt and run (which is pretty much all the time, as neither is combat-trained), but encourages folks to spend points on seemingly useless skills like Animal Handling.