Friday, 14 September 2018

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part XVII: „Man kann mich nicht höher hängen, als der Galgen ist.“


After dinner that evening, Travjane uncharacteristically volunteers to clean the kitchen; the dismissal of Darian's has meant that she and Darian have been flipping a Silverthaler each night to see who was saddled with the duty. But as she cleans, she also sets aside a curious assortment of herbs, which she gathers together in a small iron pot with a handful of candles. Darian is still sitting by the fireplace when she emerges.

"Whatever are you doing with all that?" he asks.

"Ummmm... witchy things," replies Travjane. "It's probably best you don't know all the particulars. But is there any of that wine left from last night?"

"Enough for libations to the great goddess Satuaria."

"Actually, I was hoping there was enough for libations to The Great Mother Travia in the name of Friendship, via the intermediaries of our collective bellies. I can't begin my ritual until midnight, and I'll just pace up and down till then if I've no one to talk to."

Travjane is truly glad of the company and distraction, for she and Darian get on as if they've been friends for years, but in truth her real motive is to put him at ease with the idea of a Daughter of Satuaria living under his roof and indeed practicing her witchery there. There are many in Mittelreich who would --perhaps justly-- fear and despise her for what she is, and most of the Church of Praios would see her burnt at the stake for even the suspicion of the dark deed she was going to perform this night.

When the midnight hour draws near, Travjane retreats up to her room. She lights the candles, and makes her night table into a makeshift altar, laying some of the herbs out to propitiate the Goddess, burning others in the iron pot so bitter smoke fills her room, yet even more acerbic is the black bile seething in the witch's heart. She prays to Satuaria for vengeance, and whispers every secret bit of malice she feels to her awful Goddess. Then she takes a strip of the cloth stained with her enemy's blood and sets it alight, holding it above the iron pot whilst she gives voice to her terrible Curse. The heat of the flame hurts her fingertips, but she does not let go the burning strip until she has pronounced her spell:

Solange du bist, O Kapitän, frei,
fühlt sich deine Zunge so schwer wie Blei.
Gehst du nur ins Gefängnis,
wird gelöset die Bedrängis.


["As long as you, O Captain, are free / your tongue will feel as heavy as lead. / Only if you go into prison / will the affliction be undone."
NB: A Curse sent this way does not take effect for 24 hours, and requires the target be asleep at the time of casting. The target learns how to undo the curse (as specified by the witch) in a dream. I didn't make any rolls until later, but I moved the mechanics here so they're all in the same place. So--

Q: Was the Captain asleep when she cast the Curse? (50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes.

Paralyze Tongue (SGC/INT/CHA skill 2); the Difficulty modifier is only half the target's Toughness, so -1 (Curses are stronger than spells in this regard): 2/3/6 QL1 = success, 3 hours duration.
The curse costs Travjane 14AsP (20 remaining).

Annoyed by Minor Spirits disadvantage: 1d20=18 (>14 AsP used): even the Mindergeister are afraid of Travjane's witchy wrath, and stay well away.

In retrospect, I suppose casting the Curse is sort of like the taking-a-scene-off-to-rest-and/or-regain-spells action in the Scarlet Heroes urban adventure rules, so the Captain should have been awarded an additional Victory Point, though it won't alter the final outcome (she is still far enough ahead in VP for a 'Complete Victory').]



Scene 40 (SH-9)
Action Scene: Face the foe's best warrior- or the foe himself if this is a climactic battle and they're fit for combat. Face a Fight instead of a check.


Travjane sleeps late the next day [and recovers 1D6+1=7 AsP for a good night's sleep, so she's back up to 27]. She spends the entire afternoon helping Darian in his shop. Linnert comes over for dinner, and she tries to distract herself by directing the conversation towards Kamillio's magic needle and coming up with another plan to get it, even though she's already decided for herself how to proceed. She can't help watching the clock as it slowly creeps towards the hour of Rahja [23:00]. Halfway through the hour of Ingerimm she takes her leave, and hurries out in to the freezing night.

Travjane is admitted to the Rathaus through a side door. She is shown down to the Ratskeller, where her official friend/co-conspirator has secretly assembled [1d6+2=] a half dozen soldiers. The mage arrives last, hidden under heavy cloak.


"I was afraid you weren't coming," says Travjane.

"I wouldn't miss this for anything," replies the mage, "It is probably the most interesting this little hamlet will ever get."

"You didn't bring your staff."

"No. I'd rather not be recognised if this goes badly. But I see you've brought one... of a sort."

"This? I'd hardly call it a staff--"

"Neither would I!"

"It's just a plain old broom handle."

"Planning on making a quick escape?"

"Ha ha! No, nothing like that."

"Would you care to enlighten me?"

"All in good time."

"Please, good my ladies," interjects the Ratsherr, "we have an important matter to which to attend."

"Of course, good my lord," says the mage. "Lead on!"

The little band sneaks out back entrance, moving as quietly as six soldiers in chain byrnies are able.

[Q: Encounter on the way? Unlikely (5+): O1 C4 - no, but...]


The cobbles of the empty streets glisten with frost. Only once does Travjane spot some torches in the distance, but they immediately disappear down a side street. No one who is abroad at this hour wants to be stopped by a watch patrol, be they innocent or otherwise.

When they reach the Captain's the soldiers break down the door and rush inside, but the Captain is not there.

[Q: Anyone at home? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - yes]

They find only the Captain's frightened cook cowering in [d6=] her room off the kitchen.

"Where is he? Where's the captain?" shouts Travjane.

[Intimidate (Courage/Intuition/Charisma skill 3) +2 bonus: 6/15/5 success
Q: Does she know? 50/50 (4+): O2 C4 - no, but...]


"Don't hurt me! I don't know anything! He warned me about the likes of you, and said he was going somewhere safe, where his friends won't turn on him." [UNE: prejudiced - dislike - allies]

"He knew we'd be coming!" says the Ratsherr, "The guard tower, quickly!"

[Q: encounter on way? Unlikely (5+): O3 C1 - no, and...
Q: How many soldiers with captain? 2d6=7]



The Captain's office is in a stout stone tower which flanks the main gate to the city. The tower's door is locked, barred from within. The soldiers bang on door. "Let us in!" shouts Ratsherr. "I demand entry!"

"On whose authority?"

"The council's. Now unbar this gate!"

[Q: Does the captain show himself? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...
Because they lost time going to his house, it's nearly midnight. So there will only be 1d10=7 bits of dialogue before rolling for the Curse (see mechanics above)]


The Captain opens the shutter of a first floor window, and looks down scornfully upon the little band below.

"Well, well," says the Captain, "if it isn't the little witch. Somehow I knew you were too stupid to leave my lovely city." [prejudiced - doubt - previous scene]

"Didn't your mother ever tell you that you should speak politely with witches?" says Travjane. "Or do you want to be cursed? I can oblige, if that's what you're after."

"It is late; even Mada [the Moon] will soon be asleep. Go back home. This noise your rabble are making is going to wake the whole city." [insane - chaos - contacts]

"Let us come in, then, so we can have a friendly chat."

"Go away! And take your toadies with you."

"My patience is at an end."

[Q: How does the Captain react? Beautifully / Defeated]


The Captain tries to spit back a retort, but chokes on his words. He tries again with renewed hatred, but his tongue does not move, nor his lips form words. His hands fly to his face, and find his mouth hanging open like the village idiot's. He remembers his dream of the previous night with sudden and horrible clarity. Travjane begins to laugh; the hideous sound of sheer malice seems to swirl round her and up into the night air like smoke. Her soldiers cower and exchange furtive glances. Even the mage takes an unconscious step away.

The Captain disappears from the window. Moments later the door is unbarred, and he comes out into the street, his head bowed in silent surrender. A soldier claps manacles round his wrists, and he is led off to the gaol.

[Thus, Travjane wins her city adventure. VP: 10-3=7, Complete Victory.

1d20=19 >14AsP for the curse, no additional heat is incurred.

1d10=9 > 3 Heat, so she is not booted from the city

Chaos decreases to Average (d10)]



Scene 41

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: dénouement of the city adventure

NPC list: NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Kleiber: knight & villain, villain henchmen, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Linnert the carpetmaker, the cobbler, Uli the cadet

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, explore ruins

[Q: Can Travjane be admitted to talk to Captain before his trial? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes.]


The Captain is slumped in a corner of his cell in the gaol beneath the Ratskeller. He's barely acknowledged a soul since regaining use of his tongue. A few mumbled words of assent to the charges levied against him, an admission that the copy of the love letter was made from the genuine article, and a tacit and taciturn acceptance that he shall be face a terrible punishment for his misdeeds. He hasn't even given a thought to the rats stealing the meagre crusts left for him by the gaoler. He has merely sat on the damp stone floor the whole time, motionless, apathetic to the numbing of his extremities, feeling nothing save his own misery, half cursing Rahja for abandoning her most ardent disciple to this cruel fate, half praying for her forgiveness.

But he still has the senses of an old soldier. And into his awareness comes the sound of movement, out of step with the constant drip drip drip from the vaulted ceiling. The footsteps which approach are unfamiliar, not the clicking and scraping of the gaoler's hobnail boots nor the soft rustling of the Ratsherr's silky shoes, but the soft pad of bare feet. He looks up, and sees a cloaked woman drawing near, carrying a small parcel wrapped in torn rags. His heart is already sinking as she throws back her hood.

"You! Come to gloat, have we?"

"I brought you some food," says Travjane.

"Why?"

"I was hoping we could talk."

"Hoping? Why don't you just use your curses to force me." [UNE: prejudiced - reputation - current scene]

"Ask yourself: do you really want to put ideas like that in my head right now?"

[Intimidate (COU/INT/CHA skill 3): 10/6/14 - success, QL1
vs.
Willpower (15/13/12 skill 4) -1 penalty for situation (so attributes are effectively 14/12/11): 13/16/12 - failure, 1 skill point short]


"I concede your point," grumbles the Captain. "So, what were you hoping we could talk about?"

"Sir Decius Kleiber."

"Not the sort one goes casually asking questions about." [mysterious - shadows - antagonist]

"Oh, but I wasn't at first! Not specifically. I'd not heard the name until the owner of the Emporium Mirorum said it to me. I assume he said it to you too, and that's why you summoned me for our little chat. Does that mean he's crooked too? No matter -- I want to know why you warned me off Kleiber."

"He's an important figure both at the Academy and in the wider barony. Also, he doesn't appreciate anyone interfering with his affairs. And he is, shall we say, intemperate in his response to such meddling. Or perceived meddling." [hostile - destruction - antagonist]

"Wait -- you were trying to protect me?"

"Hardly, my dear girl! I was trying to protect Weihenhorst. And myself, of course. I didn't want a visit from Sir Decius asking why I would allow a mere peasant girl to tarnish his reputation on my watch."

"Well, he's no longer your problem. But he's still mine."

"And just what do you intend to do about him?" [inquisitive - interest - enemy]

"I haven't decided yet. But it will be more terrible than anything I've ever thought of before."

"Indeed?"

"Don't take that condescending tone with me! Do you realise that you are now in chains because you were unkind to me once, and tried to threaten me?"

"Just for that?"

"Just for that."

"And Kleiber robbed you--"

"He murdered someone dear to me."

"I-- I see. Suddenly the prospect of being scourged, branded, and expelled from the city does not seem so bad."

"Precisely. But as to your expulsion, I urge you to get as far from here as you might, and above all, to have nothing to do whatsoever with Kleiber. I've kept a trinket or two of yours that I came across in my investigations. I can use them to send curses to you wherever you may be. And if I think you're moving against me, well..."

[Intimidate (COU/INT/CHA skill 3): 6/9/10 success]

"I swear by Travia, Guardian of Vows [Schützerin der Schwüre] as well as your namesake, that I shall never knowingly provoke you again."

"Good. Then take this food. I promise it isn't poisoned."


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Adventure Points

Travjane earns 8AP for the Scarlet Heroes city adventure.

When I marked them down on her character sheet, I realised I hadn't yet awarded any AP for her (disastrous) expedition to the ruins, including the bandit encounters and the interlude with the kobold. So for scenes 25-30, she earns 8 more AP (scene 24 was an Interrupt that only involved NPCs). Back in Scene 23, I noted that she had 10AP to spend, and used them to increase some skills, but I totally forgot to award any AP for the adventures she'd had in the city itself (scenes 12-22). I am awarding 5 AP for that period.

So she's earned a total of 31AP up to this point, and only spent 10.

Time to spend AP then! She'll be increasing one skill and some magic, all things she's been using.

Intimidate +2, cost 4 AP
Radau (Fighting Stick) +3, cost 6 AP
Paralyze Tongue +3, cost 6 AP
Witch's Bile +1, cost 2 AP
 *Spray, cost 2 AP

* a Spell Enhancement from Aventurische Magie I, which requires a level of 8 in the spell. Spray gives a -2 penalty to defence rolls against the spell.

Travjane now has 1 AP left unspent. Her updated character sheet is here.

She's got at least a fortnight of downtime (1d20+14 days) before her adventure picks up again, so she has time for the skill increases above. I was a bit surprised that she didn't get booted from the city (due to Heat) at the conclusion of her urban adventure. But there's still most of a sandbox to explore, and revenge to pursue, so the next post will pick up her adventures as she sets out from the city.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part XVI: „Wir könnten viel, wenn wir zusammenstünden“


Travjane feels pleased at her interview with the guild mage. The guilds have a formidable reputation; even the mages of the White Guild are prone to arrogance and elusiveness, to say nothing of the fearsome Black Guild. She expected haughty disdain and a complete dismissal of her petition. Instead, she got haughty disdain and tentative acceptance -- a greater result than she'd deemed possible.

Scene 36 (SH-5)
Investigation: Be waylaid by a hostile Actor with a Clue. Face a Fight instead of a check.


[Actor: Battered ex-adventurer. Using a random archetype from the rulebook (skipping witch) 1d10=thief.

Thief's Stealth (Courage14/Intuition14/Agility15 skill 10): 15/11/13 QL3
vs.
Travjane's Perception (Sagacity/Intuition/Intuition skill 2): 15/7/8, failure]


Filled with a heady optimism, Travjane is wandering aimlessly through the narrow, winding streets of the merchant's quarter when a hand grabs her arm and something sharp prods her lower back. "Just keep walking," says a [d6=] woman's voice softly. "Now turn here... now into this alley."

The woman manoeuvres Travjane down the cramped alleyway, and behind a stack of old casks, out of sight of the main street. She turns Travjane roughly about. Travjane is surprised to find that the woman is a few finger-breadths [several cm] shorter than she, but not at all to see her wrapped head to toe in a dark grey winter cloak, with a scarf of the nearly the same colour but not quite (by The Twelve! Darian is starting to rub off on her) concealing all but her glaring green eyes. The stiletto in her hand points at Travjane's midsection, following her every small shift like the unerring needle on a Südweiser [the aventurian compass points Praios-ward (south)].

"You've been to see that black mage," says the woman. "How come? What are you playing at?" [UNE: knowing - report - last action]

Travjane sighs. "I'm not in the mood for this right now. How about you go away and I won't hurt you."

[Travjane's Intimidate (Courage/Intuition/Charisma skill 3): 12/17/12, success QL1
vs.
Thief's Willpower (Courage14/Intuition14/Charisma12, skill 7): 6/17/9, QL2 wins resisted challenge]


"I don't think so."


[Initiative: T16 thief20]

The woman thrusts her stiletto at Travjane, but the witch dodges back out of reach [attack misses / dodge succeeds]. As the woman is about to rush forward, Travjane crouches low and feels the magic well up in her legs. "Allez-hop!"

[Travjane casts Krötensprung (Toad Jump): Sagacity/Intuition/Constitution, skill 6
-1 for 1 action: 2/2/5, success at QL 2. She needs at least 1d4+2=4m, so her Body Control (Agility/Agility/Constitution skill 4) roll is at-2: 5/5/16 just succeeds.
Also, 1d20=9 >2AsP spent, so no Mindergeister appear to torment her.]


The toad witch makes a great leap before the astonished eyes of her attacker, and alights in the low gutter where two slanting roofs meet. Hands on her hips, she looks down at the woman in the alley way with derision, though rather ruins the effect when she gives in to the childish impulse to stick out her tongue.

[Q: Does the thief try to follow? 50/50: O4 C5 - Yes.]

The woman rolls her eyes for an instant, but then begins wordlessly climbing up after Travjane, scrambling atop the pile of casks and jumping up to catch the lowest eave.

[Her attributes + Climb 8 skill would succeed without a roll, but Travjane is going to try to kick her off. I couldn't find a rule for it, but resisted Feat of Strength (Constitution/Strength/Strength, skill 0 for both) checks seem like the right answer.

Travjane: 4/2/3 success -vs.- Thief 1/17/6 failure]


The woman is about to swing herself up onto the roof, but Travjane bends down and prises her fingers off the edge. After a brief struggle, the woman loses her grip and tumbles down to the ground with a thud [16 damage drops her to 11LP & 2 levels of Pain]. She gets up and flees, limping back into the street.

[T +1 VP, +1 Clue]

Travjane sits on the edge of the roof and contemplates what just transpired. She's sure the Captain is on to her, and that this attempted assassination was under his orders, but she isn't sure if the would-be assassin was a soldier in disguise or a free operative. So the Captain either can't use his own people for the dirty work and must look outside, or else their loyalty wavers. Or perhaps when they raid the merchants, they really think they are upholding the law. Whatever the case, he can't move against her openly. Does this mean she's winning?

[Because she used magic in a way others might hear about, she may incur Heat. According to SH, a roll of 1d10 under the highest spell level used adds a point of Heat. There are no spell levels in DSA, but a roll of 1d20 under the number of Astral Points spent (of the most costly spell, if more than one was cast) will increase Heat.

1d20=17 > 2 AsP spent, so no additional Heat.
1d10=2 < 4 TNIAS, so +1 enemy VP

T5 C1 heat 3, Clues: 1]



Scene 37 (SH-6)
Investigation: Search a Location related to past events where a Clue can be found. Roll a die; on an odd result, you face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check.


Travjane spends her afternoon helping Darian sell a client a gown that will never look as good on her as it does on Travjane. By evening she has become restless and decides to see if she can find any incriminating evidence in the Captain's hidden love nest. When she's sure that the dancer will be performing at the Purple Lion, she heads out into the streets.

[Stealth (Courage/Intuition/Agility, skill 6) to avoid detection near the love nest: 13/5/2, success

Q: Is there an obvious way in other than just the front door? Unlikely (5+) O5 C2: Yes, and...]



It is a bitterly cold night, so the streets are nearly deserted. Travjane still takes pains to avoid meeting any other travellers abroad. When she reaches the love nest, she closes the shutter on her (that is, Darian's) lantern so it emits just enough light to see the ground before her [about 1,5 Schritte (1.5m)]. She moves along the outside of the building, hoping to find a means of ingress other than the front door. Phex [the god of thieves, merchants, and luck] must be smiling upon her this night, for she finds the shutter of a ground floor window has not been secured. No light comes from within, so, after casting a quick glance down the street to be certain she is not seen, she clambers inside.

[She needs a Perception (Sagacity/Intuition/Intuition skill 2) roll to find the Clue: 1/7/7, success]

The small townhouse looks like any other residence, though with the exception of the bedchamber it is only minimally furnished. There is an oversized vanity table of white-painted hardwood, carved with gilded scenes of cavorting nymphs and fauns, obviously imported from Horasreich at great expense. Travjane finds it on just the wrong side of good taste, but after rifling its contents for a few minutes is rewarded with a folded parchment bearing a broken wax seal: a billet-doux!

She begins to read: "Please, my exquisite one, accept this most miserable present, which cannot but pale in contrast to your all-too radiant glories, my dearest one, my divine, who art more beautiful that Rahja herself. I have mortgaged my good name against it, my pearl, my ruby, squeezing out the gold of the sweaty populace of this pitiful city. Run away with me, and we can spend my fortune together to build a Palace of Perfect Passion..."

[Body Control (AGL/AGL/CON, skill 4) not to retch: 8/18/9, failure]


"Blech!" says Travjane, feeling her stomach churn. She reads no more, but folds the missive carefully and puts it in her belt pouch.

[Q: Anything else she can use against the Captain? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - Yes, and...
Perception (SGC/INT/INT skill 2): 14/9/12, success]


Travjane examines the bed, which appears to have been freshly made. She opens one of the linen chests, and is rewarded with a mass of dirty sheets. "Ugh," she says, but proceeds to dig through them. One has four short parallel stripes, which her lantern light reveals to be of a brownish red colour. "Oh, my dear Captain, it looks like your mistress is quite the scratcher," thinks the witch. "If your letter doesn't work a miracle, through this blood you'll feel my curse." She cuts a swatch out of the bloodstained fabric with her dagger, and stows it away in her pouch.

Just then she hears the creak of floorboards. She is not alone in the house!

[1d6=3, face a fight.
Q: Who is here? (1d10): 1-2 landlord, 3-4 maid, 5-6 guard, 7-8 florist, 9 dancer, 0 captain
d10=Guard (stats as Gardist in Aventurisches Almanach)

Travjane's Stealth (Courage/Intuition/Agility, skill 6): 11/17/7, success QL1
vs.
The guard's Perception (Sagacity11/Intuition13/Intuition13 skill 8): 20/10/17, fail]


Travjane climbs gingerly out the window, closing the shutter silently behind her, and pads silently off into the night.

[+1 VP, +1 Clue

1d10=8 > 5 TNIAS, so no additional enemy VP

T6 C1 heat 3
Clues: 2
]



Scene 38 (SH-7)
spending a clue for an Action scene: Pass an incriminating or disgraceful Clue to an Actor who can make sure important people learn of the evidence.


Darian is waiting up when she returns, reading by his fire. He heats up a pot of Glühwein, and she shows him her "treasure". Darian is a bit perturbed by the bloodstained cloth, but anxious to hear the contents of the letter. Travjane reads it aloud in her best imitation of the Captain's stern voice.

"So what do you think I should do with this?" asks Travjane once her recitation is complete.

"There's only one thing you can do," says Darian, wiping away tears of mirth. "Take it straight to the Rathaus."

"Not to the Twelve-Gods' Church [Zwölfgötterkirche]? It's sacrilege!"

"Come now, saying one's lover is more beauteous than Rahja herself is hardly sacrilege."

"It is when it's this badly written! But seriously, I'm loathe to hand this over. Just in case."

"Make a copy then. I know you say you were under the tutelage of a Praios-priest for years, but I doubt you'll find such a warm reception from the ones here. Your chances are better with the civil authorities than the divine."

Darian makes a copy for her in his best chancery hand, and in the morning she proceeds directly to the Rathaus to beat the crowds.


[She needs a Law (SGC/SGC/INT, skill 0) roll to get in this time: 3/8/4, success]

The Ratsherr is huddled over the little brazier in his office when she is shown in. "You're here early," he observes. "I'm sorry it's so cold in here. It takes a while for the coals to heat the room in the morning."

"The cold doesn't bother me," replies Travjane. "And I have something to show you which will warm you right up with the fire of great passion... or something like that."

"Whatever can you mean?"

"Read this. It's only a copy, but I assure you it's genuine. I have the original concealed in a place of safety. Tell me what you think."

The Ratsherr peruses the letter with a studied impassivity. "It's very incriminating," he says.

"It's practically a signed confession!"

"It wasn't intended as such... but it may be nearly as good. So how do you intend to proceed?"

"That depends," says Travjane, "If you can help me bring the Captain to justice, I am willing to follow your lead. If you don't think we can yet, I plan to make dozens of copies of this letter and post them all over town. But it would be better for Weihenhorst, I think, to handle this with more discretion."

[rolling Fast Talk to keep the Ratsherr on side (Courage/Intuition/Charisma, skill 2; the letter gives a +3 bonus, cancelling all penalties for status as an outsider and a witch): 14/2/9 success.

Q: Does the Ratsherr have enough authority to order the Captain's arrest? 50/50 (4+): O1 C8 - Yes.
Q: Is the Captain a lesser noble? Unlikely (5+): O3 C7 - No (he can be tried in the city, then).]


"I believe I can help you," says the Ratsherr.

[+2 VP for winning an Action scene

1d10=5 < 6 TNIAS, so +1 enemy VP

T8 C2 heat 3
clues: 1
]



Scene 39 (SH-8)
spending her last Clue for another Action scene: Rally an Actor and their comrades to oppose the foe.


[NB: The beginning of this scene and the end of the last sort of melted into one another. I really prefer Mythic's organic scene structure to Scarlet Heroes' mechanistic one.]

"Are there any soldiers in Weihenhorst whom you trust?" asks Travjane.

[Q: Are there? 50/50 (4+): O6 C4: Yes, but... one is corrupt.

Travjane needs a final roll against Convince (Bekehren & Überzeugen Courage/Sagacity/Charisma skill 0) to keep the Ratsherr from wavering in his resolve: 8/3/4, success]


"There are," says the Ratsherr. "It will take me some little time to prepare. But we could make the arrest tomorrow night."

"I want to be there. You may need my... skills."

"Agreed."

They agree to meet in the Ratskeller [cellar of the guildhall] on the following night when the clock strikes eleven. Travjane says her goodbye, then heads off to find the mage. She finds her still at her inn, where the frightened innkeeper agrees to ask the Black Guild wizard if she will receive a visit from a witch.

[Fast talk (CRG/INT/CHA skill 2) at -2 to convince her it's worth coming along: 3/15/7, success QL1]

"The Captain's downfall is at hand," explains Travjane. "I have a city official ready to arrest him, and he's got a troop of loyal soldiers. We move tomorrow night. Will you be there?"

"I will come," says the mage. "But I will not be leading the charge."

"Nor will I... probably. But I've faced down worse in a fight -- recently, in fact -- so his sword doesn't scare me."

"You're brave, witch. Or foolish. I suppose I'll find out which tomorrow."

After leaving the mage, Travjane brings some food to the poor, wretched cobbler in the gaol. She tells him that he must persevere and be brave. The Captain will soon be brought to justice, and he must tell everything he knows in court. Also, he must apologise for the wrongs that he has committed, pay whatever silly fine the court levies against him for spreading false rumours about his rival for the affections of Noiona the milkmaid.

"I will do as you say," says the cobbler, practically weeping. "But how am I ever to repay you?"

"It has been brought to my attention that I really need a sturdy pair of travelling boots," says the witch.

[+2 VP

1d10=4 < 7 TNIAS, so +1 enemy VP

T10 C3 heat 3

Total VP=10
, so (in the next post) the adventure will automatically proceed to the final Action Scene]


Monday, 20 August 2018

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part XV: „Rings um ruhet die Stadt; still wird die erleuchtete Gasse“


My dearest Travjane,

I hope this letter finds you well. I confess I have had a presentiment of doom ever since you left. I'm sure it cannot but be my own foolishness, mingled with the sorrow of parting with a new friend, and one so instantly dear to my heart. From what you have told me of your adventures, I am sure that there be no dangers the equal of my little ogre-slayer! But do write as soon as you've returned, or I shall have more sleepless nights.

Yrs affectionately,
Baronesse Ulinai von Galgenkreuz

P.S. You must tell me your family name! I never did get it, and my sole confidante at the academy, to whom I've told every wonderful detail of our Rahjaverhältnis, is teasing me mercilessly.

[It's been a while since my last DSA session. In the interim, the English version (The Dark Eye) has been released, which I have found has some things translated differently that the original Quickstart (though not the updated one). There's also a Rules Wiki in German and English.

so I will make a conscious effort to use proper translations instead of just guessing. I beg, as always, the readers understanding if I forget to check or leave anything in Garethi (German). The biggest difference that long-time readers will notice is that the attribute Cunning has been renamed Sagacity. I've redone Travjane's character sheet, which you can find here: http://aleaiactandaest.blogspot.com/p/travjane-character-sheet.html ]



Scene 31

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: back in Weihenhorst

NPC list: NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Kleiber: knight & villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Captain of the guards at Weihenhorst, Linnert the carpetmaker, the cobbler, Darian's apprentice, Uli the cadet

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, revenge against Captain, explore ruins

Travjane had woken Darian at dawn on the fourth day of their miserable sojourn in Hohendorf. She'd packed their bags in the night, and even packed some rations for the journey. A very sore half elf then honoured his promise to his friend the witch, and they set out on the wintry road towards home.

The journey was uneventful, their return anything but. Linnert was still at Darian's shop when they arrived in the frosty evening, berating Darian's apprentice with imprecations that would make a Thorwalish sailor faint. After a glance at the account book, Darian saw no need to stop him. The next morning, Darian turned his apprentice out into the street with a half-week's wages, and the threat of a witch's curses should he ever be heard of in Weihenhorst again.

[The die rolls were:
Q: Is Linnert really mad about their failure? 50/50 (4+): O1 C6 - No.
Q: Has Darian's apprentice done real harm to the business? 50/50 (4+): O1 C4 - No, but... enough]


"The look on his face!" laughs Darian as Travjane is brewing a pot of herbal tea. "Do you think he actually believed me about the curses?"

"I hope so," replies Travjane. "I did."

"I suppose I'll have to take on a new apprentice soon. I can't afford not to. I'd rather hoped we'd have found some treasure in the ruins to offset our costs. I don't suppose..."

"I'm no tailor! I can do the mending, but that's all. [Clothworking 1] I can help model for you again, but I'm afraid that is the limit of my powers."

"Of course. That's all I ask. You did quite increase my sales with the gowns. But if you're going to show off my creations to the monied beldames of Weihenhorst, I'm afraid you're going to need to wear shoes."

"I suppose since I led you off into a monster-infested ruin, it's the least I can do! In fact, I'd been meaning to visit my friend the cobbler. I'll need some money for the shoes, if you don't mind. Oh, and a little extra for a courier. I need to send a letter to my little cadet."


[Over the course of the previous adventure, I had two Move Towards a Thread Events for the Revenge against the Captain thread, and an additional Event putting the cobbler in gaol, so this plot is moving into the endgame.

I will use the random Scarlet Heroes Urban Adventure schema for the basic structure, but let the scenes flow as I would any others, since the 1-check-per-scene is a little too mechanistic for my tastes. Furthermore, I will not be interpreting all the Fight results as strictly combat encounters, and will of course re-roll inappropriate results on the adventure tables (there are no Watch Sorcerers in Weihenhorst, nor is there a wharf, etc.).

The plot is obviously #7: "A Target faces a calamity due to a crime committed by an untouchable Antagonist. Draw the Target and pick the Crime. If the Antagonist is not obvious, it requires a successful Investigation scenes to discover who was responsible, and the rest of the adventure to catch them, kill them, or expose them to legal consequences."

Victory points start at 0 for Travjane and the Captain. I'm starting Heat at 2 to account for the things she's already been involved in, even though most of her magic use was fairly subtle.

The outcome of this will determine whether or not the Chaos Level goes up or down for the start of the next adventure.]



Scene 32 (SH-1)
Investigation:  Hunt up an Actor whom you have reason to suspect can give you a Clue.

Travjane seals her missive with a kiss, and a great deal of wax lest anyone at the Academy has prying eyes. None would dare interfere with Her Ladyship's post, she hopes. Travjane watches the courier ride away from the city gate, then hurries over to the cobbler's shop on her second errand of the morning.

[Q: Is it boarded up? Likely (3+): O3 C4 - Yes]

But she finds the shop has been boarded up, and an official writ nailed to the door indicating the cobbler's arrest and a seizure of his assets. She goes into a nearby bookbinder's to ask what happened.

[Fast Talk (Courage/Intuition/Charisma skill 2); -2 penalty for being a peasant, additional -1 for witch's streak: 15/2/5, failure]

The bookbinder has nothing to tell her. She tries a few other merchants and tradesmen, but no one is willing to talk. But are they afraid of the captain... or her?

[For her failure, the Captain gets 1 Victory Point.

I've played a handful of SH city adventures, but for some reason I can never remember the following rule, so I'm putting it here in full as an aide-memoire: "After each Investigation or Action scene, roll 1d10; if equal or less than the total number of Investigation and Action scenes so far, the foe gains 1 Victory point."

1d10=8, so no additional VP

Totals:
T0 C1 heat 2
]



Scene 33 (SH-2)
Conflict: Outmanoeuvre a local official suborned or bribed by the foe. Roll a die; on an odd result, add 1 Heat to the community.

She'd hoped not to have to, but after a fruitless visit to Linnert's shop (he was at least happy to see her) she decides that the only way forward is to make enquiries at the Rathaus (Guildhall). She buys shoes from a market stall (the icy cobblestones were starting to hurt her feet, and Darian would be ever so cross if she failed to do her one errand for him) then proceeds to the Rathaus apace.


Once there, she is faced with a full waiting room, for many of the good folk of Weihenhorst have come today with their petitions. After a brief, somewhat flirty conversation with the young clerk...

[Fast Talk (Courage/Intuition/Charisma, skill 2) to charm her way past the clerk: -2 not local, -1 witch's streak, +2 Good Looking II for a total -1 penalty: 13/14/11... just succeeds]

...she is told that one of the Ratsherren (aldermen) will see her anon. Anon seems to have a much different definition in the city than it did in Travjane's little village, but several hours later she is summoned back into one of the chambers.

[1d6=m, Actor description: balding, proud, seeks vengeance for a slight.]

The man who receives her cuts a commanding figure in his fur-trimmed robes of state, but his velvet cap is pulled low on his head to hide his receding hairline. The creases on his forehead give him a stern and dower mien, but there is a vibrancy in his eyes which tells Travjane that she may have found the right potential ally -- or a terrible foe if this be a blunder on her part. She intends to size him up before revealing too much, but he is anxious to get right down to business, receiving her without so much as a "the Twelve bless you".

"So, Miss, you are here to make a complaint about the arrest of a local tradesman."

"I am. I believe the watch has overstepped its bounds in this matter specifically, and several others besides."

"I see. Go on."

"I've asked round, and it seems to be an open secret amongst the merchants of this fair city that the watch is seizing property at the slightest provocation. But none dare complain, lest it happen to them."

"And your concern in this matter would be what, exactly? Forgive me for saying so, Miss, but you don't sound like a citizen of Weihenhorst."

"And that is why I feel emboldened to point out this injustice. For it is unjust, you must agree."

"I see. But certainly you must have more than knowledge of this so-called 'open secret' to bring before me. Else I fear that your complaint is but a waste of time."

[She needs to make a roll against Empathy (Sagacity/Intuition/Charisma skill 5) to suss out the official; QL will be penalty for his resistance roll in the next challenge: 7/10/1, QL2]

"Alrik the cobbler has been thrown in gaol and his property seized by the Captain. His only crime is attempting to besmirch the reputation of a rival in love. Such a misdeed is worth a trifling fine, if indeed a magistrate would even deign to hear such a case. But that isn't why he's really incarcerated. The truth of the matter is that, upon being presented with evidence of his misdemeanour, he refused to pay to have it hushed up."

[Law roll (SGC/SGC/INT, skill 0): 4/10/11, success

vs.

Willpower Cou12/Int13/Cha12, skill4; -2 penalty: 19/17/12 failure]


"You are, of course right. The Captain has gone too far, and ought to be stopped before he brings down --ahem-- any one in the city government. But we need something more substantial to go on than just, er, common knowledge."

"You shall have it within the week."

"Good."

"Mightn't you have an inkling of where I should look? I'm certain I can find something, it's just I don't have your local knowledge.

The Ratsherr sighs deeply. "Very well; I have heard that the Captain has changed his drinking habits of late. He used to drink at the [d30 Sandbox tavern generator=] Three Knights, like the common soldiers. Now he spends all his time at the Purple Lion. Like he's too good for them."

"I'll start there."

[The hint was actually a reverse-engineered justification for the random Investigation Scene & Actor results in the next part.

Travjane +1 VP, Captain -1 VP (conflict scene)
1d6=odd, so +1heat (as per the scene description)

T1 C0 heat 3]



Scene 34 (SH-3)
Investigation: Tail an Actor who might have a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight.

Darian agrees to accompany Travjane to the Purple Lion. She intends to extend the invitation to Linnert as well, but Darian politely declines on his behalf, explaining that it's not his sort of place. Travjane is intrigued, and doubly so when Darian suggests she wear one of his fancier creations to fit in.

She is not disappointed. In all her years as the innkeepers' daughter she'd never dreamt that such a place could exist. For one, it's so clean, though she is the only one to pass through its portal who spares a though for the poor sod who must toil to keep it that way. Then there is the clientèle: over half wealthy travellers, mingling with the cream of Weihenhorst society, such as it is. And finally the entertainment: no farmer with a mouth harp upon a table nor shepherd piping by the fire, but a small stage, apparently purpose-built. Travjane watches with rapt attention as a trio of musicians take the stage. Judging by their dress and complexion, they must hail from the distant southern reaches of Aventuria, perhaps Khunchom, or Al'Anfa, or even Brabak, like poor lost Renahban. The trio strikes up a wild melody on instruments Travjane cannot name, and the crowd falls silent. A dancer [Actor: exquisite dancer; 1d6=f] glides out before them, and the crowd pulls back to give her room. She is not at all dressed for the weather, and as she whirls and spins across the floor she begins to shed what precious little she is wearing, one filmy veil at a time.


[Perception (SGC/SGC/INT skill 2: 9/6/9, success]

But it is after her show that Travjane's interest is truly piqued, for who should the foreign woman be talking to out of the whole crowd, but the Captain. He tries to give her something out of his satchel, but she puts him off with a gesture and whispered admonition. This must be why he's changed his habitual watering hole, Travjane is sure.

When the musicians disappear, Travjane tells Darian she must wait outside to see where the dancer goes. Darian is all too eager to oblige. He wants to rush home and make some sketches based on the dancer's outfit. "South Aventurian styles could be big next spring," he explains.

Travjane is more affected by the boredom than the cold, but her perseverance pays off. She finally sees the dancer, -- bundled up in a heavy cloak, of course -- leave the tavern, and follows her through the streets...

[Stealth (COU/INT/AGL, skill 6) to tail: 10/10/11, success with QL2.
vs.
Perception (12/13/13, skill 2) 19/6/17: failure.]


...to a non-descript cottage on a minor street in the merchant's quarter [random location = Hidden love nest]. Scarcely a minute later the Captain appears[his Perception roll at QL 1 does not beat Travjane's QL2]. He knocks, and the dancer opens the door to him. He produces something from his satchel, a small parcel wrapped in fine silk. The dancer unwraps it eagerly, then holds a glittering gold necklace up to admire. The two disappear inside.

[T +1 VP, +1 Clue

1d10=7 > 2 (Total Number of Investigation & Action Scenes, hereafter abbreviated TNIAS), so no additional enemy VP

T2 C0 heat 3
Clues: 1
]



Scene 35 (SH-4)
spending a Clue for an Action scene: Bring in an outside authority or useful Actor to oppose the foe.

The next day, Travjane heads into the wealthy district to track down the mage. She doesn't find her at the inn where she is staying, but contrary to all her expectations, the good Burghers of Weihenhorst are incredibly helpful, telling her just when they saw her last and in which direction she was headed. She finds the mage in a market square, buying a mug of Glühwein.


[the mage was determined to be a Guild Mage back in scene 18, so what I need to know about her is (1d6): 1-2 White, 3-4 Grey, 5-6 Black guild: 6=Schwarzmagierin
I had a portrait earmarked for her in my pics file, so I picked the first Black Guild Academy I could think of that allows red robes, according to the Codex Albyricus, the ancient book of Mage's Guild law: Halle der Erleuchtung zu Al’Anfa (in the Aventurische Magie I sourcebook).]


"Salve, O maga," calls Travjane. "Oportet me tecum loqui."

The mage turns, looks Travjane up and down, then laughs. "We read Bosporano in the Hall of Enlightenment at Al'Anfa, girl, we don't speak it."

"Sorry, but I thought, as you were a mage--"

"I assume that is why you would speak with me?"

"Yes, I--"

"And what business have you with the Black Guild, witch?"

"I've heard that the watch captain does not treat the Guild with the proper respect. Nor does he treat my Order with any either. On top of that, he's crooked, but he is about to suffer a terrible fall -- at my hand. So I hoped, when the time were right, I could count on your support."

[Etiquette (SGC/INT/CHA, skill 0) to deal with mage: 5/5/10, success]

"You've certainly made me curious. I will support you, when the time is at hand, and provided that there is no great danger to my person nor my reputation. But should you make a mess of things..."

[T +1 VP

1d10=5 > 3 TNIAS, so no additional enemy VP

T4 C0 heat 3]

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part X : Ghouls


Sandra and Ewa keep getting too far ahead of the two over-burdened farmers, and are constantly stopping and waiting for them to catch up. Sandra can barely contain her irritation, and even Ewa is showing signs of annoyance.

"This is getting really rather old," huffs Sandra as the two farmers lumber up to them.

"If you guys can't k--"

Ewa doesn't finish her reproach, but suddenly raises her rifle and points off inland, at the high grass. Sandra changes her grip on her monoblade and calls out, "Who's there?"

[the journey back will be handled by a Waylay (BOLD): 2d10=easy foes

% of way back? d%=35

1d6=4 ghouls (AC 6, Move 20, HD 2, Atk 2 claws at +2, 1d6+poison*, Skill +2, Save 14+, ML 9, special: -2 to all rolls in strong light)
   *A ghoul's poison is quick and nasty, soon turning the afflicted into a shivering mess. It can be fatal in 36 hours: Toxicity 8, Virulence 3, Interval 12 hours, With each failed save the sufferer gains first the Feverish, Shaking, then Delirious negative conditions, and dies if a fourth save is failed (see rulebook p.44).

Surprise: the party's Perception  vs. the ghouls' Stealth: 2d6-1=9 vs. 2d6+2-2=6, no surprise; encounter range = 30m]


The four crouched shapes are barely visible, but the moving grass gives them away. They begin to spread out as they advance toward those who have strayed into their hunting grounds. They stay low in the grass [soft cover, -2 to be hit] but as they get closer their shapes are unmistakable. "Ghouls!" gasps Nev.

The ghouls are feral, humanoid mutants who will eat any meat or carrion, but seem to take a special delight in hunting down humans. They have slimy, mottled green skin and are completely hairless. Their eyes are so small as to give the impression that they haven't any; their face is mostly given over to their grinning, fanged jaw. Ghouls are not thought to have intelligence, but do possess a predatory cunning.


[Round 1 : initiative E6 S7 ghouls 8,7,4,1, Mo 8, Nev 7]
Mo and Nev start backing up, more afraid of turning their backs on the ghouls than they are walking backwards towards the cliff. The ghouls all advance [20m] to within pouncing distance, keeping low in the grass. Ewa squeezes off a shot at one of the advancing monsters, and is pretty sure her aim was off -- that, or they don't feel pain [she did, in fact, miss].

[Round 2]
One of the ghouls leaps onto the path and straight at Ewa, and a second at Sandra. Sandra fends off its attack with her blade [they both miss], but Ewa is too slow in bringing her rifle about. A single claw leaves a bloody tear in the side of her neck, and she can feel the poison burning like acetone in the wound [1 damage puts her at 5hp]. The ghoul tries to grab her rifle, but she twists it in its grasp and fires, blowing a hole right through its torso. It falls back into the dirt, twitching [2HD damage kills it]. A second ghoul attacks [1-2 Ewa, 3-4 Sandra, 5 Mo 6 Nev] Ewa whilst she's distracted, raking claws down her arm [2 hits, 0 & 2 damage leaves her with 3hp]. The last ghoul pounces on Mo, and nearly disembowels the hapless mutant, who collapses in the long grass. [For suffering their first loss, the NPCs in the party must check Morale: 2d6=4, they fight on.]

[Round 3]
Sandra swings her monoblade in a fierce arc, decapitating her opponent. The ghoul's headless trunk falls back, spurting a fountain of greenish ichor [4HD damage kills it twice over]. Ewa turns her rifle on the remaining ghoul facing her, and fires a round into its chest [2HD damage], killing the monster. The last ghoul turns to leap at Sandra. It's already gory claws rake down her back, but do not take her out of the fight [2 hits for 1HD each puts her at 4HD].

[Round 4]
Ewa shoulders the rifle and readies her crowbar as Sandra and the ghoul feint back and forth. Sandra's blade draws a long, frothing cut across its torso [1 damage drops it to 1HD], whilst its claws barely break her skin [1 hit for 0 damage].

[Round 5]
Ewa swings her crowbar, but the ghoul hops backwards out of the way. Sandra rushes forward and skewers it, and it slide off the end of her sword, expiring messily.

[Both Ewa and Sandra need to make Physical saving throws against the ghouls' toxin: E 18, ok; S 9, fail.]

Ewa runs to the fallen Mo, and finding him not past all hope, slaps a stim patch on him. He jerks back to the land of the living, then he and Ewa set about binding their wounds [Ewa regains 2hp, Mo 1HD, but he fails his Physical save against the ghoul toxin]. Sandra merely crosses her arms and glares at Nev.

"Can we still make it there before dark," asks Nev, "or should we turn back?"

"Drop some of your gear and we'll make it," says Ewa.

"But..."

"I'm not getting caught after dark with only five bullets left!"

[friendly NPC reaction=5, Bribeable]

"But this is all we own!"

"A bunch of weapons you didn't even use," growls Sandra.

"We're farmers, not warriors."

"OK, how's this for a deal?" says Ewa, "Drop the gear, and I won't tell you stole it. I'll even help retrieve it later."

[Q: Acceptable? 50/50 (4+): O4 C6 - yes]


Nev and Mo find some bushes off the path a ways to stash the bulk of their haul, then they all continue apace to the Coast Guardian Station. The Guardians usher them into a small and sterile meeting room, where the Commander soon joins them, eager to hear their report. After an hour's cross-examination (which seems to Ewa to last five times that long), the Commander finally makes a pronouncement: "We must find out where they are coming from, and put an end to this menace."

"I'd say you need to draw them out again," says Ewa. "Send a detachment to the lighthouse to wait, and have a lone tracker follow them to their lair. That's what I'd do, anyways."

"So good of you to volunteer!"

"Volun-- wait, I didn't mean... Shit. OK. But I really need some ammo off you lot this time...."

[friendly NPC react=8, Quick consent]

"Absolutely," smiles the Commander. "I can't have my scout disappearing before we've had our intel. And if you survive, I'll even let you keep the ammunition as a token of my esteem."

[Q: Will the Commander send additional troops? 50/50 (4+): O1 C3 - No, but... he requisitions more backup from the Castle
Q: Is there another NPC wanderer amongst them? 50/50: o6 C7 - yes. 1d2=catgirl
Q: Can/will Niamh heal Sandra's illness with her mutation? 50/50: O1 C8 - No.]


Ewa, Sandra, Nev, and Mo are given cots to sleep on in the mess hall; the coast Guardians are not used to entertaining visitors. An armed guard watches over them, to make sure they don't stray through the installation -- or eat all the stores. In the morning, Sandra and Mo have succumbed to the ghouls' toxin, and are sweating and shaking with fever. Ewa says a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Archangel Wojtyla for sparing her from this grisly fate.

Three more 'volunteers' arrive from castle, Niamh the catgirl and two locals in scrap plate armour. Niamh is saddened to see Sandra laid low by the poison, and doubly so since her powers of healing are ineffective against the toxin.

The little band are sent out almost immediately, with Ewa leading the way.


Scene 17

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: find ghouls' lair

NPC List: -

Threads: the Quest, mission

[The journey is once again handled by 1 encounter check (d6=4, no encounter), and 1 BOLD waylay: knowledge - occult - grim]

"So," says Ewa to one of the taciturn locals, practically yelling to be heard over the wind, "where's this 'entrance to hell' then?"

"Gimme them binoculars of yours when we get to the top of this hill. I'll show it you."

Ewa hands them over, and the young [d6=] man scans the cliffs ahead. "There!" he says, pointing. "That old brickwork structure. Gives me a fright just looking at it. Take a good look all you want, this is as close as we're getting."


Ewa peers at it for a time. It's a small, regular structure like the foundation of an old building, nothing more. She certainly doesn't shudder with superstitious dread like the local did when he first spied it. Ewa hands the binoculars to Niamh for a look. The catgirl shrugs.

"I really want to scout it out," says Ewa. "Maybe it's called the entrance to hell because the monsters live there. Please tell me I'm not the only one who's thought of that? Anyone else coming?"

The two locals shake their heads in furious refusal.

"Fine," says Ewa. "Be that way."

"I'd go too, but I think I'd best stay with these two," says Niamh. "Keep an eye on things back here."

Ewa clambers down the path, pausing often to look back. Somehow the catgirl watching through her binoculars makes her feel slightly less alone. For as much as she saw nothing untoward about the structure, the closer she get to it, the more she finds her mind straying back to the pictures of hell in that old book the vicar had, with the demonic mutants devouring the naked people and the atomic fires and giant skeleton floating above it all, and she wonders if she, too, is a miserable sinner, and hell is waiting to gobble her up, and she'll burn in the radioactive flames and be gnawed upon for an eternity until the horn section plays for the last judgement. Maybe, she muses, she shouldn't have been so shitty to Junemay after all.

She makes a quick circuit of the structure to reconnoitre, and instead of the jaws of a hideous dragon, finds merely a green sheet metal door at the bottom of a short concrete staircase. So probably not a hellmouth.

[She needs to roll Wisdom/Perception 8+ : 10-1,success]

The door is slightly ajar. Moreover, there is an obvious track over the dirty concrete, as if many people have been back and forth, and quite recently.


All is darkness beyond, though when Ewa's eyes adjust she sees light emanating from a door at the far end of the downward-sloping entrance corridor, a few dozen metres distant. Ewa props the outside door open with a stone for a little more light, and creeps inside a few paces.

[Q: What does she find? Trick / Technology :  a trap...

I rolled one from a random Mutant Future adventure map key (generated via http://wizardawn.and-mag.com/tool_hexcrawl.php):

BUILDING TRAP: A bomb explodes that causes 1d10x2 damage to all of those close to the central spot of the area. They only take half damage if they save for energy attacks.

Wis/Perception 10+ to notice the IR "tripwire", 2d6-1=fail. She also fails her saving throw. 2d10= 1,4; 1hp damage only.]


Ewa has only gone a few metres down the long concrete corridor when she blunders through an infrared beam. Breaking the beam sets off an ancient plasma mine which has been affixed to the wall. The blast fills the corridor before her, but Ewa is fortunately spared the worst of it. The pressure knocks her back a few steps, and she steadies herself against the wall for a moment.

But then she snaps into a defensive stance, as her acute senses pick up an undercurrent of impending danger. Moments later she can hear claws clicking against the concrete floor, as [1d6=] three ghouls come scuttling out of the darkness towards her.

[Initiative: Ewa 5; ghouls 1,1,4]

Ewa fires a short burst from her combat rifle [13+1+2+6=hit; 4+2=6 damage, killed]. The bullets tear through the lead ghoul, but [Morale 2d6=7, fight] its companions continue right over the gore bespattered corpse.

The first one leaps right at Ewa, reaching out with a sinewy arm to drag its claws across her shin [one claw hits for 1d6=2, 1hp damage. She saves against the toxin]. The other ghoul cannot reach her in the narrow corridor.

[Round 2]
Ewa fires another burst as she retreats slowly towards the gleaming daylight. The lead ghoul drops. [4hd damage kills it. Morale 2d6=10, fail]. The other ghoul scurries back into the darkness.

Ewa runs 30 metres from the structure, then hurriedly bandages her wound. Luckily it isn't deep and, more luckily still, she doesn't feel the sting of poison. She goes back to rejoin the others, pausing often to cast a nervous glance back at the entrance to hell, even though her danger sense assures her no ghouls are following behind.

"They're in there," Ewa says. "They set a trap... they're smarter than they look."

"We should go back and report," says the local.

"Are you ok?" asks Niamh. "Your leg..."

"I'll live," says Ewa. "But our friend's right: we ought to go back and report."

[Q: Do they make it back without incident? Likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes
Q: Is the mission at an end? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - No, but... just one more task.



But first...

XP:

So, at some point around scene 16, I realised I hadn't been doing anything about awarding XP. The Scarlet Heroes XP system is too deterministic for my tastes, but the Other Dust one doesn't quite jive with my playing style, either.  I'll be using it as a baseline in lieu of a better idea, since the combat & treasure model of most OSR games is an even worse fit for this campaign.

I am perfectly happy to give Ewa 1000xp for her adventure to Hastings (counting it a as single "session", even though it took two to play through). From her first meeting with Tansy & Shelly to her arrival at Dover -- essentially a wilderness adventure though punctuated by a couple enclave visits -- 1000xp seems a bit high.

She should probably have earned 2000xp total by the end of this scene... but I hadn't come to any real decisions about it yet. As I am writing this now, I've actually played 2 more scenes, which include some fairly momentous events. I should probably give her 2nd level retroactively between scenes 17 & 18; she hasn't had time to train any skills yet, and the extra hit points are a non-issue since (spoiler!) she doesn't die.

But it speaks well for the game that I played this far without even caring if my PC was advancing or not. If only I had gotten my notes typed up nicely before now...]

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part IX : To the Lighthouse


Scene 16

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: station mission

NPC List: Sandra, Niamh, Krish

Threads: the Quest, mission

The next day, Ewa and Sandra are let out and their equipment (minus food) is returned. A warband leads them on a 45 minute trek up dusty old roads to a flat, paved area with a ruined building, not far from the edge of the white chalk cliffs. Past the building is an ancient wooden fence. "This is where we leave you," states the war leader. "Go through the stile and follow the path along the cliff top until you get to the installation. You can't miss their tower."

Once Sandra and Ewa have passed through the gate-- "Close it behind you!" shouts the war leader, pointing to the corroded, ancient sign. "Can't you lot read?"

Once Sandra and Ewa have passed through the gate and closed it behind them, they set off down the path. The war party hastens back to the safety of their castle.

After about half an hour of muddy, overgrown paths, they spot the tower, a tall, metal structure with a revolving radar dish on top. As they draw nearer to it, they come upon a herd of horses grazing on the hillside.

A unit of guards comes down the hill towards them. They are all clad in light blue, Old Terran armoured jumpsuits [equal to Harmony Armour, AC4] emblazoned with an ancient device on the chest, and carry laser weapons. The in-built helmets and large, red goggles give them a uniformly anonymous look.


"Surrender your weapons and come with us."

Ewa and Sandra have no choice but to comply with the command, but Ewa can swear she sees Sandra roll her eyes at the pronouncement. They are led under heavy guard up the hill to the installation, which presents an awesome sight to the eyes of the two wastelanders; the tower ever turns, lights blink and flash, and machinery hums. They see no signs of damage to the small complex's structure, ancient or otherwise.

"What is this place?" asks Ewa.

"It is Her Majesty's Coast Guard Station. And we are the Coast Guardians. Now wait here whilst I fetch the Officer on Watch."

The guardian disappears into a door in the side of the complex. Ewa and Sandra both crane their necks to snatch a brief glimpse inside the structure to know what wonders it may contain, but all they can really see is an exceptionally clean corridor.


The Officer comes out, wearing a similar uniform distinguished only by a braided epaulette. He wastes no time in getting down to the briefing.

"There is an ancient lighthouse a ways down the cliff top. It is used as a guard tower for the small farming enclave nearby, as it overlooks their fields. They are a part of our protectorate here. We lost radio contact with them three days ago, so we need to send out a party to see if there is a real problem. There are bands of savage, cannibalistic mutants that live in the hills round here, and we've seen an increase in attacks lately. We fear that this may be part of the problem. Can either of you operate a radio?"

"I can probably figure it out," says Ewa. [Int/Postech skill total of +1]

"Good. Get it working if you can and make your report post haste. If not, come back in person. But don't travel after dark, whatever you do. And mind the perimeter fence around the lighthouse grounds. It should be electrified."

"I, uh, noticed you have a lot of gear," says Ewa. "I don't suppose you got any ammo I could have for my combat rifle?"

[SH, Friendly NPC reaction roll=6, Persuadable

Charisma/Persuasion (-1), need 7+: 7-1, failure.]


"Ammunition is in short supply, so we can't spare any. This is a reconnaissance mission, not a combat operation, so if you do your job right you won't need it. If the place is crawling with mutants, we don't expect you to go in -- just bring back an assessment of their numbers and situation."

"Right..."

"And this isn't a salvage mission. Don't stray, and don't go poking around anywhere you come across on the way. Avoid the old tunnels at Fan Bay... they lead straight down into hell."

"We'll do that, boss," says Sandra. "But you want to tell us why they sent us from the castle and didn't come themselves?"

"Because they're ruddy cowards, is why! Anyone at the castle who proves their mettle gets taken up here for training when the call comes. Only the select few have what it takes to keep this station running. We have a job to do here. It is our sacred duty." [scheming - negotiation - knowledge]

"What job is that?" asks Ewa.

"None as need concern you, outsider."

Their weapons are returned, and they are on their way.

[The journey is handled by 1 encounter check (d6=6, no encounter), and 1 BOLD waylay: party - misunderstanding - proficient]


The dirt path continues in a meandering fashion along the cliff top. There are occasional branches, but only one obvious direction of travel. The fierce wind makes progress slower than expected. Some of the bushes are bent double under its force; in fact, they appear to have grown that way.

"So," screams Sandra to be heard above the wind, "you're good with technology, I take it?" [the waylay]

"Not really," yells Ewa in reply. "I just learnt a bit about postech when I used to go scavenging."

"So you, like, couldn't help us out getting into an installation...?"

"A what?"

"An installation!"

"That really depends on what's keeping you out."

The footpath winds ever along the top of the cliff. Ewa and Sandra are careful not to get to close to the cliff edge. One good gust could send them over and into the rocky sea. After a while, the white tower of the lighthouse can be seen in the distance. Ewa and Sandra pause to look at it through Ewa's binoculars, but there is no movement, and nothing to see.


"I don't like it..." mumbles Sandra.

"If it looks bad, we can go back," says Ewa. "They said so."

[Q: Any obvious exterior signs? 50/50: O5 C3 - Yes, but...
Wisdom/Perception roll (7+): 3-1, fail]


"You see anything?"

"No. You?"

"Nothing -- and that's what worries me."

"We'll keep our eyes open then," says Ewa, "and make sure we don't miss anything."

They continue on their way, weapons held ready. They hear nothing but the roaring wind, and see no one in hills and waving fields of grass. Save for the lighthouse visible in the distance, they could be all alone in the world. At one point Ewa feels something crunch beneath her foot, but assumes it's just a branch; had she bothered to look, she would have seen that she'd just trod upon a human jawbone, with shreds of meat still attached [the failed Perception roll from above].

The perimeter fence encloses a wide area round the old lighthouse. Ewa and Sandra leave the path and clamber through the high grass to approach it. Sandra seems inordinately concerned that something is lurking in the clumps of large shrubbery situated here and there in the fields, but Ewa tells her she's just being paranoid; if there were danger about she'd know.


[Q: Is the fence still electrified? 50/50: O4 C8 - Yes.
Ewa needs to roll 8+ on Int/Postech to defeat the fence: 11+2=success]


Ewa plucks a long, green stalk and tests the electric fence. "It's still live," she says.

"Better be careful how we get in," says Sandra.

Ewa ignores the repeated admonition and starts rummaging through her gear for some tools and wires, and less than a minute later has rendered a section of the fence inoperative. Sandra looks on as she works, but doesn't let herself trust in Ewa's handiwork until Ewa has climbed the fence and leapt over onto the other side. Sandra follows quickly after.

[Q: Are there survivors inside? Unlikely (5+): O5 C6 - Yes. 1d6=3 survivors
stats as Enclave Dweller, each 50/50 M/F, 20% mutant as usual.
Q: Are the party spotted by a lookout? Unknown d6=3+: O1 C1 - No, and... the lookout is either dead or unconscious: needs to make a save or die of wounds/toxins... d20=failure.
+Event: NPC action - Procrastinate / Travel]


They walk once round the building, but see nothing out of the ordinary, save that the structure seems to have been well-maintained: a true rarity. There are a few shutters missing, and the ground floor windows have all been boarded up from within, but there is nothing unusual about either of these findings. Ewa tries the front door carefully, but it doesn't budge. She shrugs, then knocks loudly. "Hey! Anyone in there? We were send by the coast guardians to check up on you! Hello?"

[Reaction roll (SH NPC Stranger): 2d6=6, Qualified refusal]

"Who are you?" comes a hesitant voice through the door.

"We're travellers... conscripted to come check things out."

"How do I you're not raiders?"

"The coast guardian officer sent us. Said you've not contacted them on radio."

[new reaction roll=11, Helpful consent]

"OK. Guess you aren't raiders then if you know the radio's out. Go over to the tower. We'll lower a rope and you can climb up. Take too long to unbarricade the door."

The promised rope is thrown from the first floor window, and our heroines climb inside. They are greeted by a pair of men: a null-strain human of English descent and a mutant with mauve skin and a tree-trunk like head.


"It's just us who's left," says the human. "Matty up in the lookout tower didn't make it."

The mutant just looks dejectedly at the floor.

"Who're you, then?" continues the human.

"I'm Ewa. This is Sandra. We're not from round here."

"I'm Nev. Me purple friend's called Mo."

"What happened here?" says Sandra nervously.

"Our farm enclave nearby was overrun by ghouls. Usually only attack stragglers at night, but this time 'twas a whole wave of them. Fought our way here but they got in. We hid up the tower. In the morning, they were gone. Took all the bodies too. Place was well smashed up. Got the fence back online, but the radio's had it. Seen a few ghouls walking by day, checking us out maybe. But we boarded it up and they haven't broken back in. Been too afraid to go for help..."

"How many farmers were there?" asks Ewa.

"Not many. Maybe 50. Just enough to work the fields and send food to the Coast Guardians -- both here at the lighthouse and at their main facility. Sometimes they let us borrow their horses, and--"

"Ok. Great," says Sandra. "Will you come back with us?"

"To their base?"

"Yeah.  They'll want to hear your report."

"Sure we will. But we need to collect our things first." [the Event from above]

....

Nev and Mo clamber down the steps to the main building. Ewa sits back against a wall and closes her eyes, hoping to catch a little rest. Sandra looks out the window, scanning the countryside with a pair of binoculars.

About 45 minutes later, they hear heavy, plodding footsteps coming up the stairs. Nev and Mo appear half a minute later, panting and sweating beneath the heaps of gear each has collected. Ewa can barely suppress a laugh.

"Ummmm..." begins Sandra.

"We should still have time to get back," says Nev.

"With all that stuff? You're having a laugh! You can come back for it when this is settled. You'll slow us down."

The ensuing argument lasts almost 20 minutes. Ewa closes her eyes again and does her best to ignore it. In the end, Sandra cajoles them into leaving half their load behind -- though they can still barely walk at a normal pace [3/4 movement rate]. Ewa climbs halfway up the lighthouse and looks out the window, scanning the countryside with her binoculars. She can see no creatures moving about, though the wind blowing the long grass makes signs of movement rather more difficult to detect than she'd like.

Arms at the ready, they set out across the cliffs.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part VIII : Dover


Day 12

Ewa follows the road further, walking on the hills beside it. In the distance ahead, she espies a great, ancient castle. She peers at it through her binoculars, and sees people moving along the battlements. But beyond the castle to the south she sees an expanse of open water: the sea! the sea!

[Then the GM hat had to go on...

There are several adventure locations in Dover, and a lot more up the coast. I have vague ideas about what some of them will be like, and for others I have no opinion whatsoever. I'm not fleshing any of them out until Ewa comes directly into contact with them, and even then, only so far as is required for the current adventure. Partly this keeps things mysterious for me as a player, and partly it just means that set-up time is kept to a minimum and I get to actually play more.

Dover has the following areas: Dover Castle (enclave), Fortress Redoubt (rival enclave), the Port (mysteriously functional), and the cliffs, which contain the Coast Guard Station, Fan Bay Deep Shelter, and the South Foreland Lighthouse. Beyond that there are fields, wilderness, and the ruins of most of the city (a necropolis, as far as the encounter tables are concerned).

At this point it was necessary to figure out the Castle enclave. The random enclave generation tables gave me the following:

Size: small (1d4+1=) ~400 adult inhabitants
Government: tyranny
TL: 2
Tags: expert artisans, secret masters

The castle should be able to support a much larger population (it's huge and in good repair, plus has WWII tunnels). But rather than re-rolling to get a better amount, I decided this would mean that they have recently suffered some terrible disaster.

I had given her (above) a Wisdom/Perception check at 6+ to notice signs of habitation; 9=success

Q: Can she just walk straight into town unseen? Unlikely (5+): O4 C5 - No.
Q: Has she been spotted? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 - No, and...
+Event: Move toward a thread - Inform / News = get a rumour from random people encountered]


Ewa continues cautiously along the road. In the distance she spots some tall, wooden guard towers flanking it. She disappears back into the weeds and scraggly forest, and decides to try getting closer undetected. She goes up and around through the hills, and pauses often to survey the area with her binoculars. She's not entirely certain that the watchtowers are even manned.

She continues her roundabout approach, and before long discovers another group of travellers lying in the tall grass at the crest of a hill, peering out at the terrain below.

[They are (random encounter): 1d6+2=3 wanderers

Q: The same three as before (day 9)? Unlikely (5+): O1 C8 - No

Reaction roll, 2d6=9]



Two of the travellers are null-strain humans, a man and a woman, both in the prime of life. The third is a mutant, some sort of cat-woman with orange and black fur. All three are laden with equipment, a generous mix of recovered artefacts and post-collapse manufactured items. The cat woman turns to face Ewa, revealing her strange, metallic eyes. "Who's this, then?" she says, and the other two look over their shoulders.

"Get your head down, girl," says the human woman brusquely. "You don't want them to see you."

Ewa crouches low in the grass. "Uh, hi. I'm Ewa. I take it you're not from round here?"

"Hi, Ewa," says the woman. "I'm Sandra. This is Krish, and our feline friend is Niamh. And we most definitely aren't from round here."

[UNE--
Conversation Mood: sociable
inquisitive - suspicion - community]


"We came to see if the rumours were true," says Niamh the catwoman. "It's a working port alright. But why? What's it used for? And who owns it?"

"Let's get a closer look, then," says Ewa.

"That's a bad idea," says Krish.

"No, with these," says Ewa, holding up her binoculars. "I've got an extra set somewhere. They're a bit knackered but they'll do."


Ewa hands over the good pair of binoculars and rummages through her pack for the spare ones she found. They take turns, and get a thorough look at port. There are many heavy trucks arranged in rows awaiting loading on one of the docked ferries, but whatever cargo they contain is locked safely within their trailers. More are off to the sides in various states of repair, with open bonnets, missing doors and wheels, and occasional signs of damage or decay. At least some of the buildings seem to have power, but it can be hard to judge in daytime. Robot sentinels are posted throughout. Only once are humans seen; a small group of people in stained coveralls are led away from one of the less-damaged wrecks and into a building by a pair of armed and armoured robots.

"I don't know what's going on down there," says Sandra, "but it gives me the creeps."

"Everything gives you the creeps," says Niamh.

"And that's why I'm still alive."

"So now what?" asks Krish.

"So, Ewa," says Sandra, "you wanna stick with us? Maybe we can help each other out. Share any spoils, that sort of thing." [UNE: friendly - aid - the character]

"And food!" adds Niamh.

"Uh, yeah, OK," says Ewa. "But maybe we should find somewhere safe to camp out for now. There's too much weirdness here."

[Ewa had made her Mental save against paranoia, so was free to agree with them. So, to flesh them out a bit--

I treated them as Wanderers off the encounter charts (random classes, level 1d4+2). Sandra is a 4th level Survivor. Both Krish and Niamh are 2nd level Scroungers.

I rolled on the NPC charts for group as a whole, so--
Big Problems for the NPC(s): Owes a powerful person a favour they can’t afford
Current Greatest Desire: Safety for themselves or an imperilled friend

Q: Are they forthcoming about their problems? 50/50 (4+): O4 C2 - Yes, and...

Who do they owe? Battered ex-adventurer
Why? Release / Animals: they let [d6=]his livestock get loose
What do they owe? 1d6x100= 300 rations
Where is he based? hex north of 9

Q: Do they make it out of town without incident? Likely (3+): O2 C2 - no, and...
+Event: PC negative - Usurp / Travel]


The four make their way back through the grassy hills towards the road out of the city. As they go, Ewa's new companions become quite talkative, explaining that they come from an inland enclave to the north, but that they accidentally crossed one of the prominent citizens by an accident that involved the loss of some of his herd animals, and they aren't allowed back until they can bring in enough salvage to compensate for the loss. Ewa responds by telling them of her Quest, and her adventures in the wilderness since leaving Eastbourne.

So engrossing is the tale that none of them notice the figures moving in the grass around them until they are completely surrounded by a war party with an assortment of well-made [TL2] firearms.

"Welcome to Dover, strangers. You had best hand over your weapons and come quietly. We don't want to hurt anybody. But you're trespassing on forbidden ground."

They hand over their arms and go quietly. The war party takes them down a twisty old road and up into the castle through the sheepoid pasture and inside the walls via one of the back gates.


They see fewer people within than one would expect to occupy such a great and fortified structure. Even the guards seem stretched thin along the battlements. A sombre pall seems cast over the settlement.

The prisoners are marched into the castle proper and down into the dungeons, where they are put in a holding cell. Eventually a null-strain human official come to see them, with guards in tow. [1d6=] He is bald, and wears strange electronic goggles. His spotless white Old Terran lab coat gleams in stark contrast to his grubby woollen trousers and worn leather shoes. The guards close him in the cell with the prisoners, and he addresses them cordially.

"Normally we just relieve trespassers of their equipment and send them packing, or shoot them if there's trouble. But today is a special day, so we're going to make an exception. The CG station is requesting supernumerary manpower -- and that always means trouble. We can't spare anyone, so we're going to send two of you. The other two stay here as hostages. You could cut and run... but I don't think I need to sully this friendly chat with the rest of that sentence. It's not a long walk from here to there. We'll hear about it if you don't show -- they've got a radio and so do we."

"What if the two you send get killed?" asks Sandra.

"I'd rather like to think that they won't. Maybe you should choose the two least likely to die."

"Um, sir," says Niamh, pointing her claw at Ewa, "we just met her today..."

"That's between you and her. Why don't you talk it over amongst yourselves whilst you enjoy the bounty of our stores. It's stew night. I can't say much for the colour -- or the smell, come to think of it -- but it tastes a treat!"

The official is let out, and a guard brings in plates of stew and bread, a decent amount of water, and a half of beer each.

"So who goes and who stays?" asks Niamh.

[roll for each: 1-2 wants go 3-4 wants stay 5-6 undecided: 4,2,2]

"Well if this is how they treat their prisoners," says Krish, "I volunteer to be a hostage."

"I wanna go," says Sandra.

"Me too," says Niamh. "What about her?"

"I want to go," says Ewa. "I got all the way here from Eastbourne by myself. I don't want to get stuck here when I'm so close to the coast. Besides, I can't really taste the food anyway..."

"Yeah, but... can we trust you?" asks Sandra. "I mean, why wouldn't you just run, since you want to see the coast?"

"Because it would be wrong. Because you wanted to help me when we just met and I can use friends like that out here. Because if I didn't just abandon a bunch of clueless podborn to their fate, I'm not going to abandon you lot."

[Scarlet Heroes reaction table (Friendly NPC) roll at -1 penalty for circumstances: 10-1=9, Pleased Consent]

"You're a bit weird," says Sandra with a sigh, "but you seem genuine. Fine. But who gets to go with her?"

"You believe her?" asks Niamh.

"Call it a gut feeling."

Niamh and Sandra play rock-paper-scissors to decide; [1d2=] Sandra gets to go.