Sunday, 19 May 2019

BRP solo - Part V: „Macht mir den Teufel nur nicht klein“


Lightning streaks the sky and Lycinia quickens her pace, hurrying up the lonely street away from the guildhall. She's soaked nearly through by the time she finds shelter from the downpour under an awning. She shares the refuge with a young crier. The lass looks at her fearfully for a moment, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she makes up her mind to act, then timidly proffers a handbill. Lycinia scans the first few lines, then scowls and hands it back. "I have no desire to fight in a human war." [random encounter: baron recruiting mercenaries]

The rain, for all its vehemence, lasts but a few minutes, and Lycinia is soon on her way.

[Two more random encounters -- work gang repairing building & con artist who failed their Fast Talk (60%) roll -- were redacted. I almost passed over the encounter above, but it was a nice reminder of what else is going on in the setting.]


Scene 9

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: inspect the tomb

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Ildmarch's cemetery was originally built outside the city walls, but with the expansion of the New Town now sits within the outer ring. Despite being in one of the poorest quarters of the great city, only the wealthiest citizens can afford even a modest monument in this sprawling necropolis of marble and granite.

The rain has ceased to fall by the time Lycinia passes through the imposing stone arch and into the tomb-lined thoroughfare. The air is heavy with an earthy smell, which calls to the elf's mind memories of the ancient Hill King's barrow, whence came her magical sword. So too does she reflect on the strangeness of human burial customs, so much more like those of the dwarfen folk than those of her own. She pauses for a moment, uncertain where to start her search in this immense sepulchral labyrinth...

[Q: Is anyone about in the graveyard? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - no, but...]

...but then she espies a light in the warden's cottage, where a candle has been lit to banish the stormy day's gloom.

The warden has a jocular mien, at odds with the circumstances of [d6=]his daily labours, though it does darken somewhat when Lycinia tells him she seeks the tomb of a wizard. He courteously points out the route to the guild's section, but unconsciously makes a sign to ward off the evil eye as he does so.

The guild's plots are ringed round by a black iron fence. The enclosure is smaller than Lycinia had expected, but she supposes that most wizards prefer grand and terrible tombs of their own -- those that do not learn to cheat death. But here the monuments are no more grandiose than those of the mundane inmates of the cemetery -- and no less.

It is but a minute's work to find the resting place of Varaniira the Seeress.


[Spot Hidden (69%): 55, success.
Q: Is there something to find? 50/50: O4 C3 - yes, but...]


Lycinia immediately notes that the space before the door to the crypt seems much cleaner than those of its neighbours, less mossy and with no overgrowth of vines. She presses gingerly against the rusting door, and is less than surprised to find it swings open on oiled hinges. Within she sees an empty marble sarcophagus, its lid lying in pieces on the floor beside.

Lycinia goes back to talk to the warden, but decides to keep news of the spoliation to herself. For though marvellous Ildmarch may be used to the presence of its wizards, but they are not so well loved nor trusted, and the less enlightened would be sure to assume the Seeress broke out of the tomb herself, as a lich, vampire, or something even worse.

[Reaction (CHAx5%) roll = 09, special success
Q: Does he know anything? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 -  yes.]


The warden's cheerful demeanour has returned by the time Lycinia once again knocks upon his door. "Did you pay your respects to the great magicians of our fair burg? 'Tis not often they receive visitors."

"Do they not?" asks Lycinia.

"Them as is interred here don't seem to have many grieving friends in that there guild of theirs. But now you mention it, there were some folk lingering near the tomb a couple months ago. I chased them off. Nothing good never did come of normal folks hanging round the tombs of wizards." [UNE: knowing - report - knowledge]

"Did you know any of them?"

[Q: Did he? Unlikely (5+): O4 C4 - no, but... can describe one
+Event: Move toward a thread - esteem / Youth]


"Uncouth looking sort they were, at least most of them. But there was one, younger than all the rest, only it seemed he was in charge. Big mess o' curly hair and bright eyes, and this big ol' ugly windmill amulet."

Lycinia suddenly feels that her enemy has been toying with her.

[I actually didn't generate his appearance until this point, but I went back to the encounter on the road (scene 6) and inserted it in narrative there; another win for my posting-schedule lagging behind my playing.

Since Lycinia has now collected 3 clues (Move Towards a Thread results), it's time for her to make a roll. None of the clues point in any particularly strong directions, so she gets a difficult Luck (60/2=30%) roll: 90, no idea.]



Scene 10

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: interview apothecaries

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela, youth with the windmill amulet

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Lycinia's research at the guildhall has convinced her that making enquiries at the apothecary shops which the wizards frequent is the best way of picking up the trail of her quarry, either Geredrom himself or the cherubic youth who seems to be his apprentice. One of the guild's ianitores had told her of the three established shops in the Old Town (and where to find them). In a moment of perfect candour, he also did tell of two New Town shopkeeps, non-specialists to be sure, but whose no-questions-asked policies were much in favour of certain wizards who wished to conceal the substance of their Great Works from the rest of the guild. It was customary to visit these last in disguise. Will the good Elfin Lady be requiring one?

The components required for the gruesome rituals of which Lycinia read are quite rarefied, so she decides to start with the Old Town apothecaries.

[Setup: I used the d30 Sandbox Companion's Settlement Suppliers by Size of Settlement tables to determine how many apothecaries were in Ildmarch. Its population is about ~12000, (the smaller end of the Large City range), but for apothecaries (I used the magic supplies line on the chart) it uses the next column over. Thus there are 1d4+1=5 apothecaries

This scene's narrative is, by necessity, heavily truncated. Visiting a bunch of NPCs who have nothing to say in furtherance of the plot is exactly the sort of thing that gets cut out of a detective show. I have decided to leave my raw notes (including rolling up the shops with the d30 Sandbox Companion, and lack of formatting) for anyone who is interested. Scroll down past the green section if you aren't.


enc rolls : travelling peddler tries to sell trained rats, ignore

rowdy sailors, luck roll succeeds, ignored



3 in old town, 2 in new (non-specialists, but no-questions-asked. guild members visit (oft in disguise) to keep others in the dark about their research)


Old town 1
Interior: dirty
Prices: 125%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: robust 29/15/5
keeper attitude & react: poker-faced ±0

react: d30+3(cha): generally accommodating; will sell to PCs if item is in stock; will barter

reaction 65% roll:28ok

Q: Seen youth with windmill amulet? Unknown d6=4; 50/50: O4 C5 - yes

[friendly - happiness - treasure]so excited with his purchases. a model customer



encounter:town watch patrol



Old town 2
Interior: modest
Prices: 150%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: robust 29/15/5
keeper attitude/react: persistent +6

d30+3+6=31 will sell to PCs if item is in stock, and at discount (TBD by DM);
if item is not in stock, will try to hunt it down for PCs and attempt
delivery it to them (at standard price for item, plus applicable
delivery/courier fees); will barter for in-stock items

Easy react79, ok

Q: Seen youth with windmill amulet? Unknown d6=4 50/50: O6 C7 - yes

[prejudiced - partiality - superiors] didn't like him. apprentices are always blowing themselves up. but he wouldn't say who his master was!

getting nowhere. to new town...

enc lost peasant

assassin pursued by guardsmen

New town 1
Interior: dark
Prices: 90%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: average 20/6/1
keeper attitude/react: stoic ±0

react d30+3=30, will sell to PCs if item is in stock, and at discount (TBD by DM);
if item is not in stock, will try to hunt it down for PCs and attempt
delivery it to them (at standard price for item, plus applicable
delivery/courier fees); will barter for in-stock items

easy react, ok

Q: Seen youth with windmill amulet? Unknown d6=3 likely: O4 C2 - yes, and...

1d4: 1 here often, 2 seen him around, 3 at tavern, 4 elsewhere; 2

Around where? d10=new town, mercantile =this neighbourhood

Q: Anywhere specific? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - yes, and...
Cities random business: spice merchant

enc watch patrol

spice merchant
Interior: cramped
Prices: 75%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: average 20/6/1
keeper attitude/react: considerate +1

react+4: generally accommodating; will sell to PCs if item is in stock; will barter]



The first two Old Town apothecaries remember the strange youth, and have little real information concerning him. Lycinia decides to forego the third, and heads straight into the New Town. The first of the New Town merchants gives her a more solid lead, one so obvious she feels foolish for not having considered it herself: the youth is known to frequent a nearby spice merchant.

The spice merchant is a pleasant middle-aged [d6=]woman, though she seems completely inured to the exotic perfumes permeating her little shop. When Lycinia inquires after the youth, her face becomes instantly grave. [Reaction (65%) roll 05, special success]

"Him!" she exclaims. "Yes... I know him. I do wish he'd stay away. There's something... unnatural about that one."

"Please, go on." [Persuade (23%) roll fails.]

"I daren't!"

"How often does he come here?" continues Lycinia. "I need to find him. I'm looking into his activities on behalf of the mage's guild."

[Q: Does mention of the guild loosen her tongue? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - yes, and...]

"He needs a lot of melegueta pepper, and keeps coming back to buy more. I can barely keep up with his demand. He's threatened that if I any sell to anyone else..." [insane - turmoil - equipment]

"How often does he come by? Is he due back soon?"

[Q: Is he? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - yes, and...]

"He'll be back tomorrow."

"Good! Let me come back early and wait for him here."


Scene 11

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: Altered (was: waiting)
Alteration: surprize / Corse

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela, youth with the windmill amulet

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Lycinia returns to the shop early the next morning. It's dim inside, but a single candle still burns in a wall sconce. "Hello?" she calls. "Anybody here?"

[Q: Is anybody there? Unlikely (5+): O6 C6 - yes
+Event: Move toward a thread - observe / thing
Q: Who's here? (1d6): 1 corpse behind counter, 2 corpse rigged as 'trap', 3 animated corpse, 4 corpse + murderer, 5 corpse + youth, 6 animated corpse + youth; d6=4; d6=f: the murderess was generated with my Excel-based random thug generator]


She walks into the shop. Behind counter, see discovers the merchant's bleeding corpse.

The Murderess
STR 11  CON 13  SIZ 16  INT 10
POW  9  DEX 10  CHA  9
Dmg Mod +1D4    HP 15
   
Dodge 22%, Fast Talk 23%, Conceal 12%, Sleight 26%, Listen 43%, Spot Hidden 34%, Track 19%, Hide 10%, Move Quietly 16%

weapons: Dagger (54%/36%) 1D4+1+1D4
armour: hard leather helmet AP2

[Rolling the murderess' MQ (16%) vs. L's Listen (44%): 45 vs. 49...
Both failed, so the Murderess needs a Luck roll (45%) to avoid being heard:89, fail]

The floor creaks in the stockroom. "Who's there?" says Lycinia, drawing her sword. "I hear you!"

[Q: Is there a back door? Unlikely (5+): O1 C5 - no.

The murderess tries to Hide (10%): 18, failure.
Lycinia's Spot Hidden (69%):13, special success.]


There is some shuffling in the stockroom, and a shadow moves under the heavy curtain that serves as the stockroom door. Lycinia nudges the curtain aside, and sees a husky woman (nearly Brichtrethe's size) trying vainly to hide behind a wooden coffer.

[Round 1]
Lycinia tries to ensorcel the woman before she can attack, but the woman leaps at her with a dagger, and her need to parry the blow ruins her concentration. [Actually, she failed her roll to cast Sleep; -1MP for the attempt.]

[Rounds 2-3]
The woman presses her advantage, and Lycinia cannot work her magic [-1MP] under the furious assault, but neither can the woman best the elf's skill with a blade [hit,parry;hit,parry].

[round 4]
Lycinia abandons the peaceful approach, and lashes out with her sword, mangling the woman's arm. Her dagger falls from benumbed fingers at Lycinia's feet.

[L's attack roll was 06, special success, vs. a failed parry. 1D8+1=7 damage to the Right Arm. The murderess has a useless arm and only 8hp left.
Q: Does she surrender? Likely (3+): O6 C5 - Yes.]


"Please don't kill me!" pleads the woman, sinking to her knees.

"What have you done here?"

"A... a job. I needed the silver."

"Who hired you?"

[Q: Does she tell the truth? 50/50 (4+): O3 C7 - no.
d30 Key NPC = queen mother (normally I re-roll that result, but it seemed a perfectly sarcastic response]


"The queen mother."

Lycinia smacks her across face with the pommel of her sword. [1D3+2(as cestus)=3 damage] "Don't get smart with me!" [easy Persuade (23x2=46%): 22, success]

"Alright, alright! It was Boniface." [knowing - news - antagonist]

"Who's that? I mean, what does he look like?"

"What?"

"Humour me."

"Uh, young guy. works for a wizard or something. Curly hair, pretty eyes. Always wears that ugly windmill necklace."

"I need to find him. Take me to see him and I'll forget I ever met you."

"Why would you?"

"Nothing else matters."

[Lycinia's Fast talk (13%)for the probable lie: 47, failure; murderess' Insight (6%), 11 failure, she has no idea what to make of that statement.

Q: Does she agree? 50/50 (4+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...

Q: When? d24=1am
Q: Where? new town, wealthy quarter; Cities random building=scholar's house]


"I'll take you. I'm supposed to meet him tonight to collect my fee."

"Fine," says Lycinia. "I'm going to bolt the door, and we're going to wait here until then. You'd best bandage that arm of yours. And if you don't mind, I think I'll be tying you to a chair..."


Scene 12

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: Altered (was: to the meeting)

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela, youth with the windmill amulet, murderess

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

As they head out into the nighttime streets, Lycinia warns her captive to keep her wounded arm concealed under her cloak; luckily it is a clear and frigid night, so it will hardly look suspicious.

[enc: merchant (& 1d6-2=0 retainers) tries to buy something from characters]

They've barely made it out of the New Town when a [d6=] man rushes at them from out of the shadows. "That sword! Just from the pommel I can tell it's a magnificent piece. What a tidy sum it would fetch on the collectors' market. I don't suppose you'd consider parting with it? I can pay handsomely. In gold, of course."

[Easy Persuade (23x2=46%) roll to chase him off; d%=13, success]

The way that Lycinia's hand flies to her weapon tell the merchant she isn't intending to draw it for display, and he scurries off into the night.

"He must've had a few too many, eh?" smirks the murderess, only to be disappointed that after nearly 15 hours together she's still not gotten the elf to respond to her with anything but cool disdain.

Before they have reach the scholar's house, Lycinia goes over the plan once more. "I will use my magic to become invisible. You go inside, pausing in the doorway to complain that your injury pains you -- making enough noise that it will mask my footsteps as I slip in beside you."

"Good plan, boss. What could possibly go wrong?"

[Casting Invisibility, taking an extra round for +INT to skill (46+16=62%): d%=56, success -4MP (based on her SIZ); Lycinia now has 6MP remaining

Q: Is the youth alone? Doubtful (6): O6 C2 - yes, and...
Q: Does he have any unusual senses or an active Perception spell? 50/50: O6 C3 - Yes, but... not any that will grant automatic success.

Some rolls--
Lycinia's Move Quietly (41-4=)37%: 76, fail
Boniface's Listen 29%: 83, fail
his Sense (10 + 1d6x10=)40%: 50, also fail]


The murderess raps a staccato rhythm on the door, and the curly-haired youth opens the door to admit her. "Thank the Gods of Hell and the Night!" exclaims the murderess as she pauses just inside the threshold. "I was afraid I couldn't get the knock right with me left hand, and I'd be stuck out here in the cold all night! Look what that cow did to me fighting arm!"

[Q: Does Boniface say anything first? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - No, but...]

Lycinia has meanwhile crept invisibly in behind her, sword in hand. Boniface, unaware of her presence, shuts the door firmly. An awkward silence falls over the room.

"So, uh, if you just give me my money, I s'pose I'll be off, then."

[Q: How does he kill her? d30 Phenomena (ridiculous result=weapon): strange weather]

Boniface holds out a purse of silver with one hand. As the murderess reaches for it, he stabs her in gut with a short sword. [hits abdomen, d6+1=7dmg, leaving her unconscious & bleeding with 1hp] She topples to the floor, her lifeblood forming a dark pool where she lies.

[His base stats were also a product of my Thug generator:

Boniface
STR:  8  CON:  7  SIZ:  9  INT: 13
POW: 13  DEX: 14  APP: 10
HP: 8  DM: +0
Combat: Shortsword 49%/31%, Dodge 47%
Skills: Fast Talk 30%, Insight 42%, Hide 57%, Move Quietly 57%, Listen 29%, Search 33%, Sense 40%


Lycinia is going to attempt to hit his sword arm; attacking from invisibility is Easy (x2), which cancels the Difficult (÷2) for the Called Shot. She rolls 03, Critical success. Damage is capped at 4 points (2x arm HP), which puts Boniface at 4hp.

Q: Can he suffer blood loss? unknown d6=6, doubtful: O1 C6 - no.]


Boniface stands over the dying woman, seeming to revel in his deed. Lycinia pads closer and lashes out, bringing her enchanted blade down in a high arc upon his sword arm. It neatly bisects his limb halfway to the elbow, but no blood flows from the wound. The whole of the stump shews rotten gangrenous flesh beset by writhing worms, and the smell of decomposition wafting from it causes the suddenly visible elf to retch.

[Initiative:
L 18+5
B 14+10
He attacks with (1d8): 1-3 spell, 4-6 demon power, 7-8 other (un)natural weapon: 5
Vomit Acid (40%, 1D8, range 4m)]


The angelic-faced youth laughs for a moment, a mellifluous sound at odds with the aura of corruption he exudes. Then he tilts back his head and a stream of yellowish bile issues from his throat. [Attack 40%: d%=30 hit, L's dodge (63-4=)59%: 34, success]

Lycinia's warrior instinct takes over, and she deftly side-steps the toxic stream, which eats through the overstuffed armchair behind her. She takes a swing at the demonic youth, but he just as nimbly avoids her blade. [sword would have hit, but dodged]

[Round 2]
Boniface spews another acid stream, but Lycinia has already moved aside [miss]. She buries her sword nearly up to the hilt in his chest, where his heart should be [4 damage reduces him to 0hp]. His mocking grimace vanishes as he topples to the floor. His body starts to froth and boil, quickly losing all cohesion as it melts into a noisome oily mass.

Lycinia's eyes burn from the stench, but knows she must search the house.

[Time to roll for Clue #4 (from last scene): she gets a Normal skill roll; Spot Hidden (69%) seems appropriate: 66, success.]

There is a desk piled with papers, upon which she finds a deed to an old theatre, recently purchased in the scholar's name. With it she finds old plans of New Town streets with sewer entrances marked, and the same markings on a more recent plan, showing the new arrangement of streets laid out after a fire ravaged the quarter. She also finds a ring of old, tarnished keys, one of which, she hopes, will unlock the theatre [Spot Hidden: 36, success].

[Q: Is the scholar's corpse present? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - yes, but... not all of it
Q: Is there any treasure? Unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - yes, and...
Boniface is TF6: jar of 250 coppers, purse with 12sp & 2gp, windmill amulet worth 658sp]


The rest of the house produces little of interest. The scholar's library is extensive, but his focus on plants and animals in the natural world has left little to excite one dedicated to supernatural studies. The scholar himself -- or rather, what is left of him -- has been reduced to a dried cadaver, laying in jumbled pieces atop his bed.

Lycinia had hoped that the unnatural, spiritual substance of the demon-youth would have disappeared into the aether by the time her search was concluded, but this unholy fiend seems firmly rooted in the physical realm. She feels the amulet could be important however, so fishes it out of the gelatinous decomposition with a fork and washes it thoroughly with wine.

She wraps the amulet in a cloth, and puts it in a pouch with the city plans, deed of sale, and the ring of keys, then slinks invisibly away and back to the guild.




[Thus concludes the investigation portion of the adventure. I think if I do this again I will hand out clues whenever they seem to fall naturally, rather than waiting for Mythic to produce Move Towards a Thread results from the Oracle. Those would make good extra, unexpected clues, though, and keep the investigation from drifting steadily and inexorably towards the most obvious conclusion. Also, mysteries work better with a small, known group of NPCs, so maybe I should have just used the Horror theme like I usually do. It worked for Call of Cthulhu...]

Next post: into the dungeon!

Monday, 6 May 2019

BRP solo - Part IV: „Ich frage keine Blume / Ich frage keinen Stern“


"You cannot come in here like that!" protests the ianitor, Cemmeret, as the gargoyles take up position behind him with their halberds.

"But time is of the essence! I must see Orezuthía at once."

"This is a place of study and repose for the members of our guild, an august body to which you, unless I have been misinformed, do not currently belong. We aren't in the habit of allowing ill-tempered warriors in full armour and bristling with weapons to stomp inside whenever they feel so inclined. Not even elvish ones."

"Fine. I haven't the time to argue," says Lycinia. The gargoyles tense as she takes the pistol from her belt, but instantly relax as she places it carefully on the step before her. She unclasps her sword belt, which clatters down around her feet. Her miséricorde is still skittering down the stone steps as she begins wriggling out of her mail hauberk, which she discards just hastily.

"Now I will go to see Orezuthía," says Lycinia as she shoulders her sack and pushes past the sputtering ianitor. The gargoyles step aside to admit her into the hall, and she is almost certain she can see a smirk flash cross their stony, otherwise impassive faces.


Scene 7

Chaos:
Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: back to the Guild

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard


"I need a necromancer," says Lycinia, half out of breath.

"I believe 'hello' is a more usual greeting in these lands," says Orezuthía. "And keep your voice down -- that's not the sort of magic one does here."

"No, I mean in the original sense. I need someone who can speak to the spirits of the dead."

"Really? Whatever for?"

Lycinia opens her leather satchel to reveal a human head inside. "I have some questions I need to ask her."

"Oh! What a sight. But I see that my trust in you was well placed. You really are willing to do whatever it takes, aren't you?"

"Théscine once said I over-react sometimes... but this seemed the most expedient course of action." (In point of fact, Lycinia couldn't bring herself to cut off the head of the woman she found still alive, but does not see any wisdom in revealing this fact.)

[Q: Does O know Speak with Dead? Unlikely (5+): O5 C4 - Yes, but... not memorised. Can cast from spellbook.]

"I know the spell you're after, but I haven't used it in an age. Tell me everything whilst I find the book it's in."

"I would very much like to learn this spell," hazards the elf. "I found it on a scroll once, but I had to use it ere I could copy it down into my own grimoire."

"Then you understand," says the wizard, digging through piles of old tomes, "we have to prepare our questions in advance. And that we'll be limited by how long she's been dead. When exactly did she die?"

"I don't know. This morning, perhaps? Maybe last night?"

"Oh? So you didn't k--"

"No!"

"Don't get tetchy. I'm well past judging you... just intrigued. Ah! but here it is; now let's get started. Hmmm... just put that on the floor. No, leave it in the satchel. I don't want it dripping everywhere."


[Speak with Dead isn't included in Classic Fantasy, but is trivial to convert. I didn't worry about skill as Orezuthía can cast slowly and has plenty of time & Magic Points to get it right. The LotFP spell allowed the deceased a saving throw to resist, so POW vs. POW on the resistance table. As a 9th Level M-U, Orezuthía has POW of 1D8+13=18, the farm girl has the normal range, 3D6=12; this gives her a 20% to resist, but she fails the roll.

Q: Has she been dead more than a day? Certain (2+): O1 C1 - No, and... died shortly before L got to the farm (thus, they get three questions since it's within 24 hours).
+Event:  Move toward a thread - use / charms. the questions will result in a Clue.]


They discuss avenues of questioning before casting the spell. Orezuthía agrees to follow Lycinia's lead, though she herself will still need to ask the questions. When all is in readiness, Orezuthía opens her dusty tome and begins the incantation.

The head's eyes suddenly open when the last syllable is pronounced. Orezuthía sets the weighty volume aside and addresses the head. "What happened leading up to your death?"

The head's lips move sluggishly, and the voice that answers seems detached and far away. "He tricked us! We thought Geredrom was our friend, but then he put a sleeping draught in our wine. When we awakened, we were chained up in the barn, and he used our insides to form a magic circle as we yet lived..." [UNE: knowing - speech - antagonist]

"What about the delivery of serpents?" says Lycinia, and Orezuthía echoes her words.

"He didn't say. We were happy to keep them in the barn for a while. They ate all the rats." [friendly - gratitude - retainers]

"Did he say why he was doing this?"

"He babbled something about needing to appease some wicked goddess, and to trick her into reversing death itself." [hostile - death - antagonist]

The head has barely fallen silent before Orezuthía exclaims, "The madman! He thinks he can bring [d6=] her back!"

"Her?" asks Lycinia. "Her who?"

[Q: Who? 1d6: 1 mother, 2 daughter, 3 friend, 4 lover, 5 wizard, 6 demigod; d6=5]

"Varaniira the Seeress, one of the most powerful wizards of this age."

"Why?"

"To hear her final prophecy, of course! No doubt he's found a way to compel her to speak it. And avoid her curse." [hear / sentiments]

"Her curse?"

"You really don't know, do you? I am surprised word of her prophecy hadn't reached the faerie forest."

"More likely it has -- but has not been divulged by order of the council."

"No doubt. Well, her final prophecy was said to be about a power so great she dared not pronounce it, for fear of the repercussions. So she went willingly to her own death, but only after she had conjured a curse so terrible against any who would disturb her rest, that it..." Orezuthía shudders in spite of herself.

"I understand. I don't suppose you'd let me use the library?"

* * *

[And for the record, I had asked--
Q: Does Lycinia get her 'parcel' through city gate without any problems? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes.
but putting that at the beginning would have spoilt the surprise. There were also no random encounters of note on the way back.]



Scene 8

Chaos:
Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: in the library

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard


Orezuthía escorts Lycinia to the great library. The elf can't help but look round in wonderment at the row upon row of magnificent stacks, groaning under the weight superannuated tomes, even older scrolls, and tablets of wood, clay, and stone that predate many of the ancient elvish books she was once allowed to consult in the magician's school of far away fair Feyalldra.

"Try not to look so gormless," scolds Orezuthía, "or you'll be relegated to the apprentices' section." Lycinia composes herself at once. Orezuthía strides across the room and right up to the podium behind which the head librarian, a being whose face is perpetually shrouded in the darkness of its heavy cowl, is sitting and turning the vellum pages of a codex bound in human skin with an unnaturally withered, begloved hand.

"This one's looking into a delicate matter of Guild business for me," says Orezuthía, jabbing a thumb over her shoulder. "I trust you'll afford her every courtesy you'd afford me."

The cowled figure makes a shaky, yet sweeping gesture towards a nearby wooden frame, upon which rests an oversized tome, nearly as tall as Lycinia herself. "Our catalogue," says Orezuthía. "It's easier if you know how to ask it for what you want, but I'm sure you'll make do." Lycinia once again regrets having had to use a spell from the captured scroll [Bookspeak] before she had the chance to transcribe it into her own spellbook. She suppresses a sigh, and begins leafing through the weighty book.

[Library research may be one of my favourite things in real life, but it makes for terrible storytelling. So imagine, if you will, a montage sequence of Lycinia searching through the gigantic catalogue, running her finger across the carefully scribed rows of titles and shelf locations, and her eyes lighting up as she finds a book she thinks will help. Then doing it again... and again... and again... then finally getting a stack of books to consult, and reading... reading... reading some more. To really shake things up, imagine the quizzical look on her face as she comes across a significant passage, then flips back 10, 20, 30 pages to compare it to something she'd read earlier in the book.

So anyways, she can make one Library Use (34%) roll every 4 hours; realistically, that's going to be 2 rolls.

1st roll: d%=20!

Q: What does she learn? return / existence : reincarnation as way of bypassing hereditary curse

2nd roll: d%=04! special success. She'll get 1d3=2 pieces of information

From my grimoire title generator (WIP):
   The Bizarre Night of Miscreation
   written by a dreadful king
   Spells contained: special

She learns --
conceal / air : must be done in place hidden from the sky
approach / moment : astral cycles, 1d8=7 days left

Q: Does the ritual require constant tending? 50/50: O6 C6 - Yes.
+Event: PC negative - advance / order (see below)
Q: Does it require perishable supplies? 50/50: O3 C4 - no, but... distinctive ones
Q: How long does it take in total? 20+1d100=81 days]



Lycinia spends the whole day in the great library, but when she finally stumbles back to Orezuthía's chambers she is beaming with her success.

"I know what Geredrom is doing," says Lycinia triumphantly.

"Tell me before you collapse," replies Orezuthía.

"It all makes sense now. It was all there in this ancient grimoire I found. Have you ever read The Bizarre Night of Miscreation?"

"Oh, honey, I'm just not that sort of girl!"

"I'm being serious. The ritual in there... all described... I may never eat again."

"Intriguing!"

"He's... not exactly resurrecting her, and it's not precisely re-incarnation either. He's... it's like he going to regrow the flesh round her bones and have her, well, reborn. The serpents were just there to harvest their skin, and the other thing, the ritual to appease the Mother of Carrion, it was...."

"You'd better get some sleep before you fall over."

"I'm afraid of my dreams..."

* * *

But sleep she does, and when she wakes the next morning she resolves to set out into the city on Geredrom's trail. But as she leave the guildhall, she does not realise she is being followed.

[Time for the Event from above (PC negative - advance / order); another guild member moves against Lycinia due to her connection with Orezuthía.
1d8: 1-2 O's rival, 3-7 apprentice of O's rival, 8 non-wizard guild servant; 5
d6=f

Terenbela, initiate of the 2nd circle
Apprentice wizard

Personality: Shifty, Lucky

STR 11  CON 13  SIZ 11  INT 15
POW 13  DEX 12  CHA 14
Damage Mod +0
Hit Points 12

Spells: fools' gold, light, burning hands, hopelessness


I have some random NPC generators I made for Magic World & RQ3 that I've been using for stats, and adjusting skills etc. as needed. Someday I hope to redo them properly. Until then, I'm assuming 1d6x5% increase in skills that seem plausible, and INTx2 + 1d8x5% for beginning spells (to be rolled as needed).

Terenbela's Move Quietly (36%): 17, success
vs. L's Spot Hidden (69%): 74, she doesn't notice]


Terenbela is one of the younger apprentices, but has taken to the cutthroat internal politics of the guild like no other; there is no doubt amongst the master wizards that she shall have a long and fruitful career in their venerable institution, though possibly at the expense of one or more of them, should they not be careful. But today she is content to do the bidding of her [d6=]master, and further his schemes against his rival Orezuthía by striking at her associate. Terenbela has never met an elf before, and wishes the circumstances were otherwise, but she is certain she can best the fairy princess in guile and cunning, if perhaps not any other way. The dagger concealed under her cloak is but little comfort today; for an elven lady is never without her sword.

She swallows hard, and once she is certain the elf is far out of earshot, she begins weaving a spell upon her. [She casts Hopelessness (100m range); skill 60%, 42 = success.
POW vs. POW to resist: Lycinia has a 45% to win the contest: 25!]


Terenbela bounds up the narrow path after the elf, meeting her right before the iron gate. "Hey! hey, wait a moment," she calls. "I don't know what that old witch has got you doing, but it seems pretty hopeless."

Lycinia turn to see the breathless young woman opening a money pouch and pouring out a fortune in [fools'] gold coins into her hand.

"I feel bad for you," continues Terenbela. "Really I do. Here, take this. You can use it to get out of Ildmarch, start a new life, m--"

"Cast another spell on me and those coins will be paying for your funeral." [Persuade fails]

"Huh. You're a better magician than I thought. Especially after what they've been saying about you. You know, with what happened last time you were in Ildmarch." [UNE: mysterious - obscurity - last story.
Fast Talk (30%): 01 critical vs. L's Insight: 05, special success -- the Critical is thus reduced to a Normal success (=lie believed for 5 minutes)]


"Last time? What have you heard? What are they saying?"

"It's not my place to say. But after what happened with Itragad..."

"Yes... well..."

"and then, the...."

"and what?!"

"It's not my place to say."

"Just what is your place?"

"I'm an apprentice! But, y'know, at least the wizards aren't all whispering behind my back. I don't envy you at all. Sure you don't want my help? This money will get you pretty far in the human lands."

"I-- no! I have things to do. I suggest you get out of my way."

"Things to do? I just hope you're up to it, is all." [scheming - compromise - skills]

"Be off with you!" shrieks the elf.

[Q: Does Terenbela follow her? Unknown 1d6=4 50/50: O1 C1 - no, and...
+Event:  Ambiguous event - surprise / heaven]


But Terenbela does not hear Lycinia's words, for a that moment a peal of thunder resounds in the heavens, and the wind comes in greater gusts. Terenbela takes a look up at the glowering black clouds, then hurries back inside the guildhouse, leaving the fuming elf to cool her anger in the shower of rain that begins to fall.


next post: grave robbers, murderers, and apothecaries

Monday, 29 April 2019

BRP solo - Part III: "Death fell a weeping in his charnel-house"


The next morning, Lycinia heads off to find Rannard d'Otorio's shop. As she passes by a dark, narrow alley, she overhears a snippet of conversation between two unseen individuals.

"I trust the advance is sufficient."

"Absolutely. You may be sure that by this time tomorrow, Devnal shall have breathed his last."

[Encounter: overhear assassin talking to employers. 85% that the assassin will attempt to silence the characters if they notice.

Lycinia's Move Quietly (41%) vs. Assassins spot (25+(d8x5)=45%): 30 success vs. 93 fail]


Lycinia walks quickly but softly by. "Perhaps I should have asked Orezuthía for an advance," she thinks.


Scene 5

Chaos: increased to Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: to the importer's shop

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, sage, importer

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

[First, some outstanding business from previous scenes--
Q: Will there be any fallout from the last scene (notary's house carnage)? 50/50: O1 C1 - No, and... by the time the bodies are discovered the adventure will have concluded.
+Event: NPC Negative - Sage - behold / horror : sage sees beyond this reality, permanent insanity.
Q: Will/did the woodsman get away from the city watch? 50/50: O4 C5 - no.]



The importer's resembles nothing so much as an apothecary's shop -- or a witch's hut. Strange vessels and boxes of wood, metal, and glass hold the limbs, bones, eyes, fur and occasionally intact cadavers of a myriad of animals, recognisable and otherwise. More hang from the ceilings, and pride of place is given to the dried body of two-headed, six-limbed crocodile which stretches the entire length of the interior. Behind a desk in the midst of this menagerie sits Rannard d'Otorio himself. His more-than-ample frame is swathed in the finest silks, and weighty golden rings burden his pudgy fingers. Seeing Lycinia enter, he looks up from his account book with a gleam in his eye.

"Friend elf! How may I be of assistance this fine day?"

[Importer's personality: Inactive, Boastful

Lycinia's Reaction (65%) roll: 17, success

UNE--
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: sociable
hostile - resentment - wealth]


"I'm trying to find a guild wizard, with whom I've heard you do business."

"Dear lady, I supply a number of guild wizards with the rarest and most unimaginable wares. I dare say that without my humble business, the guild would be practically bereft of components for the Art. So you'll have to be more specific."

"He's called Geredrom."

"Ah. Yes. Him."

"He was here?"

"Oh yes, he was here, the boor! Would you believe, he argued with me about the price of the merchandise, said if I understood the importance of his great work I'd not be so greedy."

"Did he say what the great work is, perchance?"

"No, and I didn't ask! I concluded our business as speedily as I could so he would leave my shop."

"I was told he bought live serpents. How many, if I may ask?"

"[1d10=]Half a dozen! Can you believe? It took me more work than I'd care to think about just to secure one of the beasts."

"Did you deliver? or did he take them with him?"

[1d8: 1-3 delivered, 4-6 took with, 7-8 servant came later: deliver
Where to? d30=farmstead 1d4 hexes distant]


"Light God protect me! I didn't have them here; I'd have been eaten alive. No no no, they were kept safely in my warehouse in Frommsport. He had me -- that is, my drayman -- deliver them to a farmstead some little way from the city. Now, are you familiar with the roads leading to the Châteaux Pruduems and l'Oret...?"


Scene 6

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: to the farmstead
d8=Altered (see below)

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Lycinia decides to retrieve her armour for the journey, even though it's scarcely four miles out of town. But she finds she must postpone her trip, as the heavens open up and the winds howl, and she must seek shelter from the driving rain. She finds a reputable-seeming tavern on the outskirts of the new town in which to wait out the storm. Her choice of such a dull hideaway is motivated solely by the desire to not run into any of her friends; she'd rather not talk about the task she's been set by her 'sponsor'.


Day 119

Lycinia sets off on the road early the next day.

[d30 road encounter=individual, seeking tutelage in magic (level 0 magic user)
d6=m]


She has not gone far out of the gates before she comes upon a young man in travelling clothes walking the opposite way. He has a fair complexion, a mass of unruly brown curls and beaming grey eyes. A golden amulet in the shape of a windmill is the only embellishment of his otherwise simple attire.

[via donjon  : "fair in appearance, with curly brown hair and gray eyes. He wears modest garments and a gold amulet."
d30 Sandbox Companion -- Expanded Heraldry Charges/Sigils, 1d7=HRLD3d:OTHER/MISC., 1d30=windmill]


"I'm off to join the guild and become a wizard!" he chirps.

"I think you might be overestimating their acceptance policy."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Oh, nothing... just, good luck to you!"

[Q: Does he importune her at all? unlikely (5+): O3 C1 - No, and...]


Hulmun's farmstead is well back from the road, but Lycinia can see it in the distance on the crest of a hill. After a short while she finds a dirt track leading from the road through the fields.

[Q: How is the scene Altered? Dangerously / Horrible
Q: Is anything obviously amiss? 50/50 (4+): O1 C3 - No, but... it requires a Spot Hidden roll to detect

Spot Hidden (69%): 29, success

Q: What does she see? 1d6: 1 bodies, 2 lurking monster, 3 prisoners, 4 madmen, 5 ritual place, 6 boarded up windows
d6=4, madmen d6=3 of them]


Lycinia notices a trio of wild-looking, filthy, farmhands creeping round the front of the farmhouse brandishing a scythe, pitchfork, and sickle.

[Q: Have they seen her? Unknown: d6=4; O3 C3 - No, but... they are looking for something
+Event: PC Positive - perceive / despair]


They do not see the elf, for all their attention is focussed in towards the rest of the farm. Then suddenly an awful wail pierces the silence. The madmen stiffen as they hear it, then abruptly [d3=3] they all run off to investigate its source.

Lycinia crouches down in the corn, and uses her magic to become invisible [taking an extra round for +16%, rolls 14 anyways: success. She spends 4MP or the spell, leaving her with 8]. She creeps up to the farmhouse and slips in the open front door.

[Q: Anything inside? 50/50: O1 C6 - No.]

She takes a cursory look round, but finds nothing out of the ordinary. Nor is there anyone within. She peers out of an upper storey rear window towards the outbuildings...

[Spot Hidden (69%), success.

Q: Anything obvious? Unlikely (5+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...
1d6: 1 bodies, 2 lurking monster, 3 prisoners, 4 madmen, 5 ritual place, 6 slaughtered livestock
d6=6]


...and sees nothing amiss at first. Then she notices a dead goat lying in the mud not far from the barn. Some dead chickens are scattered nearby.

[Q: Are the madmen allied with the Thing? 50/50 (4+): O1 C6 - No.

The base chances for using farm implements as weapons are 5-10% according to Magic World, so:
Q: Do they get any hits in? Unlikely (5+): O2 C1 - No, and...]


More screams emanate from the barn, this time in more than one voice. But silence abruptly returns. Lycinia leaves the house. She is creeping towards the barn as her invisibility spell ends.


[Its Listen (27%): 61, fails
vs. Lycinia's Move Quietly (41-24 encumbrance = 17%): 57, also fails]


Lycinia peers into the darkness of the barn, but even her sharp elfin senses cannot pierce the gloom [Spot Hidden (69%) at Normal difficulty due to low-light vision, but d%=83, fail]. But the Thing inside can see her silhouette in the doorway, and it launches a volley of quills at her, which whiz past her head [it missed].

[I spent perhaps way too long making a random demon generator in Excel, which uses the rules found in Advanced Sorcery (Magic World supplement) combined with hit location tables from the BaSIC bestiaire by Antonéus.

Lesser Demon               
STR (1D8)  3   Mov 14
CON (5D8) 21   HP  16
SIZ (2D8) 10   DB -1D4
INT (2D8)  8   Armour: 3-point slime
POW (3D8)  8
DEX (5D8) 20
APP (1D8)  4
               
Attacks: Quills 30% 1D8+1, range 30m
         Bite 50% 1D10

Powers: Sleep, Burrow 5m/hour       

Humanoïde caudal 
Ex : gorgone, naga, océanide 
Loc.        Mêlée Missile PV
Queue       01–06 01–06    6
Abdomen     07–10 07–10    6
Poitrine    11–12 11–15    7
Bras droit  13–15 16–17    4
Bras gauche 16–18 18–19    4
Tête        19–20  20      6



It works pretty well, though I haven't cleaned up the output for ease of cutting & pasting yet. And the hit location tables are still in French. Tant pis.]


[Round 1 - Initiative: it 23, L 22]
Another volley of quills fly out of the darkness as Lycinia peers inside. In the deep shadows within she can make out a long, almost human-sized form, crouching low to the ground [Spot Hidden succeeds, so she can attack]. She raises her pistol and fires. [Pistol skill 37%: 07, Impale! 2d6+2=9 damage, -3 for its armour  results in 6 damage to the tail, reducing the location to 0 (no more quill attacks), with 10hp left in total]

[Round 2]
Lycinia backpedals round the front of the building and switches her pistol to her left hand (not wanting to just toss it into the mud) and draws her sword. The nightmare thing scuttles forward out of the barn and into the light. It is a dripping mass of sinew and muscle, looking as it had just been skinned. It drags its torso along on two distended, backwards-jointed arms. In place of legs its abdomen tapers into a long meaty spike-tipped tail, which now is dragging limply behind; two holes leak a black oily ichor where Lycinia's ball pierced it. The thing's head is a long rubber tube ending in a toothy maw. It has no eyes of which to speak, but the elf has no doubt but that it see her, as it scurries at her, teeth gnashing, but she evades the slavering jaws [bite (50%): 26 hits. Lycinia dodges (63-24 encumbrance =39%): 31, success].

[Rounds 3-4]
Lycinia and the creature dance round one another, but neither has the upper hand. Her sword dissuades the jaws from coming too close [parry 61%], but neither can she score a hit on the surprisingly nimble beast [dodge 49%].

[Round 5]
The things pulls back as if to strike, but instead throws its "head" back and emits a high trill. The sound is felt more than heard, and Lycinia must steel herself against the sensation of all her nerves resonating with the awful noise [it uses its Sleep power, matching it POW vs. her CON (+3 bonus for elf): 8 vs. 17, 95% to resist, which she does]. Shaken from the neural assault, her swing is well wide of the mark.

[Round 6]
It springs forward, the jaws coming straight for Lycinia's face, but at the last moment she interposes her glittering sword, and the teeth clack against the cross guard [bite 06, special success, but her parry rolls was 01, critical]. It pulls back, and Lycinia drives her blade down onto its shoulder, cutting deep through the viscous slime and nearly severing its arm [(1D8+1=)9-3=6 damage, down to -2 in the limb, 4hp total remaining.]

[Round 7]
It stomps toward her furiously, balancing on one arm, but she easily fends of the clumsy assault [bite succeeds, parried]. Her sword flashes out, cutting deep into its sternum [dodge fails; 7-3=4damage, to 0hp]. It flops down, twitching and oozing. With both hands Lycinia plunges her blade through it into the ground. Its struggles cease.

After wiping the foulness from her sword, Lycinia opens both of the barn doors to shed some light on the interior, but the horror that greets her gives her pause to regret the decision. The corpses of the three madmen are just a little way inside, bristling with the quills that ended their lives; these she had expected. But in the back, beneath the hayloft, there are the suspended bodies of five more of the farmer-folk. Four of them have been attached by the wrists to four of the support beams holding up the loft, the fifth is attached to the back wall. Their stomachs have been opened, and their entrails pulled out and strung together to form the design of a magic circle. And worse, one woman yet lives, and regards the approaching elf with dull, uncomprehending eyes.

"Sleep now," whispers Lycinia, and uses her magic to bring the dying woman into a gentle slumber.

Lycinia can find nothing else of importance at the farm. She wraps a grisly trophy in cloth and conceals it in her pack for later study (she hopes) back at the guild. She sets both the barn and the farmhouse ablaze, and does not set off on the road back to Ildmarch until she is certain the fires will consume all the evils of the place.

next post: wizardry and revelations

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

BRP solo - Part II: "And I have no remorse and little fear"


Lycinia hasn't gone far from the sage's home when she overhears a mismatched pair talking in low tones. One appears to be an enormous woodsman. His hair and beard are wild, but wilder still are the piercing eyes staring madly out from his craggy face. A sharp hatchet hangs at his belt, the freshly honed blade glinting when it catches the light spilling out from various shops into the street. His interlocutor is an emaciated woman in clerks' dress, complete with ink stained fingers and a pronounced stoop.

Scene 3

Chaos:
increased to Average (1d10)

Setup: Interrupt (was: go talk to importers)
Interrupt: Move toward a thread (a clue!) - behold / conversation

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, sage

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

[When/where? (1d6): 1-2 just leaving, 3-4 a block away, 5-6 leaving neighbourhood; d6=4

How many? 1d3+1=2

Who? (via Location Crafter):
Dangerously / Rustic (d6=m)
Efficiently / Feeble (d6=f)

UNE: hostile - judgment - contacts]


"We shouldn't have gone to the sage first," says the notary. "He's likely to blab."

"Don't worry," replies the woodsman. "I can keep him quiet."

Lycinia's interest is piqued, and she decides to follow the two.

[Move Quietly roll to tail them. 41-4(ENC penalty)=37%: 36, success
vs.
their Spot (35%) rolls: d%= 59 & 84, both fail.]


They are headed, unsurprisingly, right to the sage's house. Lycinia stops short, under an awning, and whispers the words to a spell. An instant later she walks toward the house, unseen by all mortal eyes. [She took an extra round for the casting, giving a bonus equal to her INT (+16%) to cast Invisibility (46+16=)62%: 13, success. The spell costs 4 Magic Points, leaving her with 8.] She watches and attempts to Listen [44%] through the window, but cannot make out any of the conversation within.

[Q: Do the pair get violent? 50/50 (4+): O6 C0 - Yes.]

She see the woodsman looming over the terrified sage. Their words become heated, though no more distinct through the thick glass. Then the woodman's hand flies to his belt, and he brandishes his hatchet above his head. Lycinia knows she must act. She hurriedly speaks the words of an incantation...

[initiative rolls:
Rustic DEX 3d6=10 +1d10 initiative roll = 12
Lycinia DEX 18  -1(spell level) +1d10 = 25; she goes before the axe can strike

Casting Sleep (51%)  d%=32, success; the spell cost 3MP, and affects everyone in the area.

Everyone must match their POW vs. Lycinia's (12) on the Resistance
Sage 15 (35% to succumb): d%=20, success!
rustic 8 (70%): d%=17
notary 9 (65%) d%=28]


...and the sage, woodsman, and notary slip peacefully to the floor in a deep slumber.

Working the charm has rendered her suddenly visible, but if any of the passers-by have noticed the sudden appearance of an elf in the street, they do not react. Such is simply the way of things in a city possessed of a mages' guild.

Lycinia casually walks inside, and rouses the sleeping sage.

"what...? Who? How did you...?"

The elf puts a finger to her lips. "Softly! They won't be asleep for long. Who are these two?"

"Associates of Geredrom."

"Obviously. I was hoping for a little more elucidation." [Easy Persuade (23x2=46%) to get more cooperation: d%=60, fail]

"I can't say any more! I know nothing! Please leave."

Lycinia sits on the notary's chest. She clamps a hand over her mouth, and holds a long, pointed dagger at her throat. The woman wakes with a start.

"Your friend wouldn't talk so I cut his throat," says Lycinia. "I'd caution you not to make the same mistake. Now, what are you doing here?" [Easy Persuade again, success]

"W-we needed to silence the old fool before his prating cast suspicious on us."

"Who's 'us'?"

"The two of us here."

"And...? I have a name in mind, and should you not admit it your usefulness is at an end."

"Geredrom. We're working for Geredrom."

"Good. Where is he?"

"I... I don't know."

Lycinia presses the point of her miséricorde into the woman's throat a little more.

"I'm telling the truth! We've not yet earned the master's trust enough to be shown the sanctum."

"How does he contact you, then?"

"He sends a messenger."

"How often?"

[1d6: 1-2 daily, 3-4 weekly,  5-6 as and when]

"At his pleasure."

"We're going for a walk then... back to yours."

Lycinia stands up and pats the pistol at her belt. "Don't run," she says to the notary as she helps her up from the floor. "It's easier to hit a target in the back." As they are leaving, Lycinia turns briefly to the sage. "I'd call for the watch before that one comes round." The notary looks startled to see her companion yet lives. "I lied," explains Lycinia, "but only about that. I meant it about not running."

[Q: Does the notary try anything stupid? Unknown: 1d6=5, unlikely: C3 O4 - no, but... will look for an opening.
Q: Where is notary's home? d10=new town, wealthy, minor street (in other words, 3 encounter checks away)]



They have gone barely three blocks before a dishevelled young man in filthy rags staggers up to Lycinia and grabs the hem of her tunic. "Pleassshe, you mus... mus help meeeee. I'm the Count d'Arndellllll. The...rrr after meeee."

"Be off with you!" growls Lycinia, shoving him away. "Find a place to sleep it off!" [Persuade (23%) roll to scare him off: success]

The man lurches away.

[Rolled encounter was actually: 'drugged noble who has escaped captors and needs help'. Lycinia needed a Physik (23%) roll to realise he wasn't just a drunk, but failed.]

When they pass into the new town, a group of street urchins race past, almost knocking them over. A group of watch soldiers are in pursuit, clanking and huffing, straining to run in their heavy breastplates and tassets.

"Don't think of entreating them for help," says Lycinia quietly. "Remember your friend has been arrested by now."

[Third encounter (PCS witness a warrior being robbed) bypassed entirely.]


Scene 4

Chaos:
Average (1d10)

Setup: at the notary's house

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, sage, notary, rustic

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

The notary lives in a very tall, very narrow cottage on a quiet little street in the New Town. She has sworn to Lycinia that she lives by herself -- her servant lives out -- so they should be quite alone inside. Lycinia mostly believes her, but keeps a hand on her sword as the notary fumbles for her key and walks inside.

Only a single candle burns inside on a table in the parlour, left by the maid for her mistress' return. The notary offers to light some more, but Lycinia declines the suggestion; her elven senses are perfectly attuned to the half-light. She finds a blanket on the settee, cuts it in strips with her dagger, and ties the notary to a wooden chair. The last strip of cloth she binds loosely round the woman's neck for a gag, but does not stop her mouth.

"Let's talk some more," says the elf, sitting across from her on the settee.

"Why... why are you doing this?" [insane - confusion - current scene]

"Does it matter?"

"I just don't see why an elf would..."

"Would what?"

"Involve herself in human affairs."

"I'm doing this for a friend. A human friend. We do have them."

"A friend in the Guild?"

"Maybe."

"Hah! You're mad. Or else, very naïve. Guild wizards don't have friends: only pawns. Even elven ones."

"Maybe. But the one I seek is also of the Guild. So let me ask the same question: why are *you* involved?"

"If Geredrom deciphers the riddles, and can reveal the Great Mystery, he'll have more power than the whole Guild combined. Better his trusted servant than the rabble to be swept away when his might is unleashed 'pon the unsuspecting world." [mysterious - conundrum - power]

"You believe him that capable?"

"I have seen a glimpse of his Power. He made gold out of nothing! out of the very air! and then laughed, said it wasn't what he'd hoped to conjure, and gave me the solid lump as a gift. I weighed it; pure solid gold. It was worth 1319 silver pieces!" [insane - accident - rewards; the lump was approx. as much gold as 26GP]

The conversation continues in this vein for a while, until Lycinia gets bored, applies the gag, and sets about searching the house.

[Spot Hidden 69%: 14=special success

Q: Anything worth finding? unknown d6=3, Likely: O2 C2 - No, and... (damn, no skill tick then)
+Event: New NPC - enter / House (has own key)
Random NPC: d30=patrician
relation to notary? 1d4 1 lover, 2 co-conspirator, 3 housemate, 4 Geredrom's messenger: 1

Listen 44%: success]


She finds nothing of even passing interest, but as she is looking she hears the front door open, and a man's voice call out "halloo?". She rushes down the stairs taking three at a time [Agility roll (90%) succeeds] to find a man in a voluminous ermine cape looking more than a little surprised at the sight of his bound paramour and an elf on the staircase.

"Who are you?" say Lycinia and the man in unison. And then, still in unison, they draw their blades.

[Q: Does the patrician attack? 50/50 (4+): O5 C0 - Yes.

Patrician
STR 9 SIZ 14 CON 11 DEX 12 hp 13
Rapier 45%/50%*

*25 + 1d6x5% for each

Initiative:
patrician DEX=12; +1d10-5(drawing weapon): 14
Lycinia 1/2DEX (for starting on the stairs)=9 +1d10-5: 14

Patrician's Attack: 36 (success) vs. 58, parried
L's attack 48 (success) vs. 96 (fail); hits d20=chest, 1d8+1=7 damage, reducing the location to -1hp.]


They rush at each other, Lycinia leaping gracefully down the last three steps. Her shining sword bats his rapier aside and continues straight into his chest, slipping between to ribs with a crunch and a gout of blood. He falls, helpless and gurgling. [For going to negative HP in the chest, he must make a Stamina roll (CONx5%) every round or lose 1hp from blood loss until he either receives successful first aid (Physik) or dies.]

Lycinia kicks his rapier away and kneels beside him. "I hadn't hoped to kill you," she mutters, "but scream, and it will be your end. Now lie still and let me tend that."

In his injured state, he cannot but comply, nor even complain as the elf sets about her rough ministrations, trying to staunch the flow of blood with the hem of his expensive cape.

[He would need to roll CONx1 (11%) to take any action.

Her Physik is a mere 23%. His Stamina roll is 55%. He only has 6hp left.
r1 fail/fail down to 5hp
r2 fail/fail down to 4
r3 fail/succeed
r4 f/s
r5 s/s bleeding stops

He can still try to roll CONx1 to perform an action, but bleeding will recommence in the attempt.]


Lycinia binds his hands and feet with strips cut from his cape and leans him upright in a chair. She gags him with some ermine as a precaution, then turns back to the notary.

"Is this Geredrom's messenger?"

She shakes her head.

"Is he involved in the plot?"

She shakes her head again.

[The notary doesn't want to let on who the patrician really is, so she must pit her Fast Talk (1d4x5+5=10% ) v. Lycinia's Insight (44%): d%=55 fail vs. 03 critical success! Lycinia gains +25% on Communication skill checks for rest of scene.]

"So he's not worth keeping alive, then."

"MMMMMpppHHHff!"

"I've had enough of this. the guild is going to stop Geredrom, and I'm the instrument of their design. I'm going to take off your gag and you're going to tell me everything you know or even suspect or I'm going to have you thrown into jail as your paramour here's murderess." [Persuade 23+25=48%:  13, success]

"He must next make a great sacrifice to the Mother of Carrion [UNE knowing - telling - future action; Mythic - give / Mother; Loc. Crafter Descriptor 2= Ruined]. He requires [1d6: 1 people, 2 livestock, 3 predators, 4 scavengers, 5 exotic species, 6 quantity over quality; 5] strange beasts from across the sea to make the sacrifice most pleasing."

"What beasts?"

"Enormous serpents from the jungles of far-off Ifrac." [random wilderness encounter=jungle, Snake (Python)]

"Where's he getting them?"

"Rannard d'Otorio, an importer, deals in such creatures."

"Where do I find this importer."

"[d6=]He has a shop in the New Town. He's usually there... when he's not on the docks in Frommsport."

"I'd best be going then."

"Wait-- what's to become of me? You can't just leave!"

"I don't intend to," says Lycinia, as the light plays along the blade of her miséricorde. "I'm sorry it must end like this, but you'd have done the same to me..."



next post: more leads, and a pleasant trip to the countryside

Saturday, 20 April 2019

BRP solo - Part I: „Sei es Ernst und sei es Spiel“


Lycinia shrinks into her cloak for protection against the driving rain as she hurries through the labyrinthine streets of Ildmarch. She told her companions that the Mage's Guild had agreed to help them with their quest as recompense for saving the three lost apprentices from the vile clutches of the mad witch Jola, but only she, as a magic-user herself, would be allowed to meet their benefactor within the halls of the guildhouse itself. Well, she thinks, it is mostly the truth, is it not?

She almost envies her companions pursuing their several goals in this storied human city. Brichtrethe, knight and priestess of the Light God (not necessarily in that order), had decided to recruit another warrior for her cause; for it was most certainly hers, and she would never scruple to let the others forget her Holy Purpose. The sow. Poor Ruprecht seems to have no will of his own, and was probably following his Lady Commander on her recruiting mission. For his sake, Lycinia hoped that it would take them quite a long time to find a suitable comrade-in-arms, lest Ruprecht be compelled to spend the rest of their time in marvellous Ildmarch listening to sermons in the Light God's church. Thiery -- that is, SIR Thiery -- was off at a gaming table somewhere. Manfred had sworn to kill him if he lost all their collected treasure at cards, and there were none but who believed the threat. Manfred, dutiful Manfred, had made a deposit in his sister Margiste's name with one of Ildmarch's reputable bankers, and wrote her a letter explaining all this, despatching a rider to Wandlebourne with all haste. Lycinia had quietly added some of her own loot to the deposit -- for what use have elves for gold? -- and added a few lines to the missive, sending her affection and inquiring about Margiste's progress with sword and spear. His duty admirably discharged, Manfred disappeared into one of Ildmarch's less reputable quarters, announcing his intention to spend the meagre sum he had kept back on the company of a handsome young man. Or three.

But these thoughts vanish as Lycinia passes through the gate at the end of the lonely lane, and finds herself once again before the great edifice of the Mage's Guild, lit from without by the glow of hoary magics, and where the lights in the alchemists' towers burn all through the night. She feels the pull on her soul, the promise of occult learning hidden within the shadowy halls, and she advances to greet the gargoyles scurrying down the carven facade to greet, or challenge, her arrival.


[As I have mentioned several times, the return to the dungeon on the island in Lake Ild was fun to play but would have been intensely dull to write up. It was pure DMG Appendix A door-monster-treasure, and whilst that made for a few fun afternoons, I couldn't countenance writing up that much combat. Since I'm switching game systems, I thought I could take the opportunity to just draw a line after the last post and start anew from there (even if it does mean the PCs lose that scroll of Cure Serious Wounds & Remove Curse and the Wand of Haste). I'm keeping the general flow of things, which involves Lycinia going on a side quest and then their return to the island to open the door in Hasshildaz' tomb. I know what the adventure will be on the other side. I decided to redo the side quest as it was a Call of Cthulhu-esque city investigation (which would have benefitted from skill rolls) ending in a small dungeon which was one of my very first attempts at making dungeons less monotonous, but still devolved into lots of random monster fights.

I'm going to run the adventure with Mythic Variations' Mystery theme. 'Move toward a thread' results on the Focus Table result in clues. When 3 clues have been found, our heroine may make a Difficult roll to ascertain the location of the end dungeon, using whatever skill or attribute roll seems appropriate based how the adventure is progressing. If that fails, the 4th clue allows a roll at Normal difficulty, and 5th and further clues all allow an Easy roll.

I'm using Midkemia Press' Cities book for random encounters; I'll roll any time she moves about within a district or crosses into a new one. Totally mundane encounters may be omitted from the narrative if, for instance, she just walks on by. She's not in the habit of starting a fight every time someone bumps into her on the street.

I used the d30 Sandbox Companion to generate an adventure framework:

Trigger: drawing
Major Goal: deal with growing threat
Obstacle: find hidden/lost location
Location: Tomb
Location Feature: Pit
Villain Goal/Reason: Revenge
Theme: Doom
Key NPC: Sage

Some of it might not come up, depending on the flow of things, but it's always nice to have something to interpret the Oracle round. I (as the DM) already know the entrance to the end dungeon; I was playing with donjon.sh one day and got a Weird Location from the Weird Random Generator which was such an inspiring image that I took a screenshot and saved it in my folder for this campaign.]



Scene 1

Chaos: Under control (1d12)

Setup: (random) NPC action - Extravagance / Trials

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane

Threads: -

Orezuthía the Arcane receives the elf in her incense-perfumed chambers. She appears to have aged since their last meeting, the unplaceable agelessness having ceded to a decided decrepitude. Perhaps it is merely the insouciance for her attire; instead of a voluminous wizard's robe covered in mystical sigils, she is clad in a threadbare peignoir over a frilly purple nightdress.

"It's been over five months since you last were here. I was beginning to think you weren't going to return."

"Five months?" says Lycinia. "Hardly a drop in the ocean of time."

"For an elf, perhaps... But do come in. Sit. Um, just put those scrolls on the floor... Now, as much as I'd love to hear of your adventures, I'm afraid that will simply have to wait. There is a pressing matter which weighs heavily on my mind, and I require your assistance. Do this for me, and I may be able to secure a position for you in the Guild. Or perhaps help you and your little friends to open Hasshildaz's door."

"Let's not dissemble. This isn't a request I can refuse, is it?"

"We begin to understand one another! But I can indeed open the door."

"What must I do?"

"Geredrom, Walker on the Hidden Path, Thaumaturgist Peerless, Cantor Occultorum -- and a right pratt, if you want my opinion -- has gone missing from the Guild. He was always destined for a bad end, and the others believe he's met one, but I am not so sure. It would be best if he did, for all of us, probably for all of Ildmarch. I found this drawing amongst [1d6=]his papers. I don't recognise any of these sigils, but they haunt my nightmares. I need to know what he's planning. And..."

"And what?"

"I need you to put a stop to it."

"I understand."

"For good."

"Of course."

"So there's absolutely no chance of him trying again."

"Why are you being so circumspect?"

"Decorum, I suppose. One oughtn't make such requests, especially about fellow Guild members, even those with such unspeakable... proclivities. But I need absolute and utter certainty."

"This, then, is the price for your assistance with the door? I may have been exiled from my homeland, but we elves have a certain decorum, too."

"Do not refuse me girl. You forget, the Guild's good favour towards you is dependent upon my favour."

"So where is this Geredrom?"

"If I knew that..."


[Random locations table (1d10):

d10 neighbourhood
1-2 old town, wealthy
3-4 old town, mercantile
5-6 new town, wealthy (nouveau-riche)
7-8 new town, mercantile
9-0 new town, poor


(even = major street, odd = minor (this matters for the Cities encounter tables); the Mage's Guild is in the wealthy quarter of Old Town on a minor street of its own, but only there is only a 10% chance of random encounter nearby.]



Scene 2

Chaos: Average (1d10)

Setup: go visit sage

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, sage

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

The light is fading from the sky when Lycinia leaves the Guild, but the rain has finally stopped. She makes for the merchant's quarter, whose streets are surprisingly busy.

[Encounter: Magician with 1 bodyguard accidentally bumps character
d6=f, guard d6=m
Q: Is she a guild wizard? Certain (2+): O3 C2 - Yes, and... knows of L.

Reaction roll (RQ2): neutral d%=61, unsure
UNE: prejudiced - view - equipment]


As Lycinia weaves her way through the crowd, a young woman in simple but costly wizard's garb walks right into her.

"Watch where you're going, you elven thug! And mind you don't bump into an honest citizen with that arsenal you're carrying.

[Lycinia has sword, dagger, and pistol, but she's left her chain armour behind.
She gets a Reaction (CHAx5%) roll (65%)=71, fail]


Lycinia bites her lip and tries to be diplomatic. "Sorry,  didn't look where I was going. We elves are unused to such throngs. I'm actually on guild business."

"Sure you are. But far be it from me to come between Orezuthía's villein and her... orders." [prejudiced - belief - allies]

[Lycinia can try a difficult Etiquette roll (16%) to defuse: d%=38, fail]

"Orezuthía is indeed my sponsor, and she's asked me to look into something for her. Nothing more."

"So you admit she's set you a task! I almost pity you. But now I bid you good evening."


Lycinia reaches her destination without further incident. Orezuthía had told her of a sage whom Geredrom was known to consult. The windows of the sage's house are glowing in the twilight, and when Lycinia knocks a servant ushers her right in for an interview.

[Q: Is the sage in? 50/50: O5 C1 - Yes, and...

The Sage
ST 5 CN 12 SZ 10 IN 16 DX 11 PW 15 CH 12
HP 11 DB -1D4
Personality: Direct, Confident


UNE--
NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: forthcoming
insane - madness - last action]


"Geredrom? Why should you be looking for him? You're mad! Stay away, stay far away! He's headed for disaster, dabbling in such things as man -- nor elf -- was never meant to go near."

"But I must find him," insists Lycinia, "and bring him back to my... my friend at the guild."

"Your friend at the guild? Why? What does she want with him? To use his evil knowledge?" [inquisitive - suspicion - last scene]

"No, she wants him to stop. The guild takes a dim view of wicked magics."

[Reaction roll (65%) to not get thrown out: d%=39, success]

"Your little venture couldn't possibly go wrong, now could it? At least you've no soul to lose in the bargain, elf." [scheming - plan - flaws]

"Will you help me find him?"

"He came to see me a few days ago, asking what I knew about human and animal gestation." [d30 on the sage specialty table = biology & anatomy]

"And?"

"It's a big topic! But his questions had a decidedly sinister cast to them, so I turned him out."

"Where else could he go? I've got to find him. Is there anyone else in the city that would have such knowledge?"

[Q: Does he have any specific ideas? 50/50 (4+): O5 C4 - No, but...]

"Plenty of people: surgeons, midwives, livestock importers..."

Lycinia's heart sinks.


next post: our heroine stumbles upon a lead...