A Rasp Of Sand Speedrun

I am going to be running a one-day A Rasp Of Sand (by Dave Cox) speedrun this Saturday. I'd been meaning to write a play review of A Rasp Of Sand since we finished our campaign a while ago. Since then, I've had the chance to give my input to a friend writing a review so not going to worry about the details there. I will note that I love this game a ton, only made very slight tweaks, and it does what it says on the tin really well.

For context in terms of this post however the general outline of our campaign was:

Duration: ~5-6 months, roughly weekly sessions of ~2h length
Playspace: Maps, characters, and notes in roll20, jitsi for video/voice
Generations: 4
Extent Reached: end of level 1 (Gen 1), died first room (Gen 2), past the reef gate (Gen 3), The Deep Queen (Gen 4, returned crown)
Experience: 150xp per room explored, awarded on descent
Party at End: (Gen 4) Academic 14, Cook 10, Fisher 11, Slug Farmer 11

Also holy crap I had forgotten the Academic was level 14! Snorting artifacts for sand (XP) is a hell of a drug. Also my buddy Vegas made me a thank you card afterwards with the most adorable art of a CHUM and it melts my heart every time I see it.

Pen and crayon drawing of a short, round little fish person creature. They have big bug eyes, mouth slightly agape in a friendly / clueless expression, and a necklace with two skulls on it. They are holding a long spear and are mildly threatening and welcoming at the same time.
Chum, by Vegas

We talked for a bit after the end about how the game encouraged player expertise and gave a different vibe in terms of lethality. Yes, you can die pretty easily but also that’s fine! gg go next! The driver in not dying is not preservation of character but that next bit of information that you can glean to make the next run easier. As Gen 4 continued the players did start to become more careful with their characters but that could have been a function of time spent playing (Gen 4 took by far the most time) or perhaps the idea that they were so close was a stronger motivator. I think if they had died at that point, after so long, I’m not sure I would have had it in me to run another long generation.

After returning the crown to The Deep Queen, we had all agreed that we didn’t think we’d want to play A Rasp Of Sand for a bit, at least not how we had been. Someone threw out the idea of trying to see how far we could get in a single, dedicated day and I latched on to it immediately. So here we go!

Going to start at 930am on Saturday and go till we can’t or we win. I’m making only a few changes from stock A Rasp Of Sand but these are all things I had also changed from the beginning, when I ran it the first time.

Temple level maps will be generated ahead of time. Originally I would roll them up and draw them by hand, before going to sleep, and it was a very relaxing process. I didn’t want to make them on the fly at the table because all the rolling seemed too cumbersome for live play. It also allowed me to connect the rooms in somewhat more organic fashion. This time rather than hand drawing I am going to use the excellent and very pretty Shifting Sands generator to roll up the maps to save myself some work.
Generating maps ahead of time requires changing the Sailor 4 ability “Current Construer.” Rather than allowing the Sailor to influence the room generator roll, they instead get an idea of the relative danger of adjacent rooms.
Doing XP per room, 150 XP each like in the book, but since the map is generated ahead of time it creates a choice for the players of if they want to push on exploring when they find the stairs down or if they want to keep pressing on.
Slugs effects do not reset between generations. I wanted the players to be able to hold on to the little bits of knowledge they scrape from the temple and this seemed a good way to contribute to that. This meant I had to change the Academic 5 ability that let the players prevent slugs from re-rolling. Instead, an Academic 5 can now simply identify any slug on sight.

That’s pretty much it though! I really liked this game the first time and hella pumped to run it again in a different way. It’s funny, was talking with my crew last night, about how I enjoyed popping off little stories when the Academic would hoover up sand from artifacts and Vegas said something like “Oh no, we don’t have time for dialogue or cutscenes, this is a speedrun!” Their wheels have been turning for a minute, it’s gonna be good.

Speaking of minutes, I definitely want to try and capture some stats, maybe like time per level / generation, number of rooms, something, but not sure yet. Will marinate on that as the day goes on.

This kind of turned into more of a review than I intended but can't talk about what I’m gonna do without talking about what I changed the first time. When my comrade’s review drops I’ll link it here, I’ve seen the draft and it’s a good read.

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