Sunday, 5 October 2014

Runequest solo - part VIII, A meeting with the enemy

scene 26

chaos 6

Setup: snoop around the tavern

1. (the murderer or murderers)
2. Ay-Meddush, the merchant
3. Huollof, the caravan leader
4. chieftain Ulevaard and the barbarian delegation
5. prefect (PC's enemy)
6. Maruthus, the nosey neighbour
7. Izzeri-zatah, the high priestess of Ziburrun, the knowledge god
8. Alkinu, the suitor
9. Enzzal, Lachaidiga's eldest brother
10. the mason - a witness
11. Nillath, priestess of the Sun

1. solve murder
2. stop wedding

There are some parts of every great city, even mighty Anzakàr, where a high-born lady should never be seen to set foot. It is just one of these places to which our heroine has made her solitary way through the night-time streets, wrapped in her heavy cloak for warmth as much as for disguise.

The low place which she seeks, a nameless tavern in a nameless square, is even seedier in person that the barbarians' descriptions of the despicable place. Now, it is not the poverty of the neighbourhood that offends her sensibilities, for she is aware of the inequalities to be found in the City. Nor is it the roughness of the surroundings; she had to dodge a street brawl between two women of easy virtue [random encounter from Cities] to get here. It is not even the manifold vices practised openly in the tavern. For is it not whispered throughout polite society that she herself was once caught in the Vice-Admiral's conservatory with-- but she must now concentrate on the dangerous business at hand. If only the smell of this place, that rank admixture of cheap wine, rotten food, and desperation, did not turn her stomach so.

[Easy Endurance (42%) roll to keep from being sick: 26, success. Streetwise (36%) to avoid a major problem: 36, success (barely). Formidable Insight (29%) to notice a clue in anyone's behaviour: 75, failure.]

Lachaidiga summons all of her resolve and strides confidently into the tavern. Most of the patrons are too gone, or too busy engaged in turpitudinous activities, to take any notice. But some do notice, and she feels the cold weight of their regard. "They can all tell I don't belong here," thinks Lachaidiga. "I'll have to use that to my advantage."

She strides purposefully up to the barman, and places a pile of coins before him on the counter to get his attention. "Barkeep, I am looking for a business associate of mine, a barbarian by the name of Herleif. He came in here to meet a third party a night or two ago for some negotiations. Tell me, do you remember him? No? Perhaps a few more silvers will help you to reflect."

The barman slips the coins into his purse, as he explains that he might have seen the guy but he didn't really think anything of it and he didn't stay too long and is she going to order a drink or what?

[Q: Does her blatant display attract any attention? 50/50: 29, Yes.

I've used the Runequest Enemy generator to populate the tavern (using 'Loud Lilina's bar on a rough night'). Randomly selecting a stat block off the PDF I saved results in Storm Bull Initiate 1 on page 3, which I will interpret as an initiate of the as-yet-unnamed Storm God. The picture was drawn at random from my NPC portraits folder; it makes him a barbarian.
The man is 1d6=5 sheets to the wind.
Using UNE for his conversational opening nets: hostile - resentment - last action]

A barbarian abruptly stands up from his stool at a nearby table and totters over to Lachaidiga. "Hey, lady!" he slurs, "Wha's th' big idea comin over here an' meddlin' in our affairs all the times? The more you poke your sorcellous nose into things, th' more of our good folks gets killed."

"I'm trying to help!" she cries, "Why else would I be here, in this sort of place? I'm looking for the murderer, and a solid lead has led me here!"

[Q: Is she overheard? 50/50: 06, exceptional Yes. By the villain (I had to go get a portrait and a stat block at this point, but in the narrative I'll reveal the villain's identity piecemeal as the PCs learn it).

In order for the villain to realise she's making a scene on purpose, he'll need to roll his Insight (53%) vs her Deceit (55%): Villain 76 failure, Lachaidiga 26 success; he doesn't realise he's the one being set up.]

The barman hastily interjects. "Now, Vald, that's no way to talk to a fine lady, and especially not a fine lady sorceress. You go sit back down before I have you thrown out. Again. Now, my lady, I think it might be best if you didn't stay round here much longer. It's... it's not the sort of place for you."

"Yes, I can see that plainly. I shall leave, but if you, or any of these... persons here have any more information, please see that it gets to me at the city prefect's office."

And so saying, she marches disdainfully out into the street.

[Q: Is she followed immediately? 50/50
: 19, Yes.

Her Perception vs. the villain's Stealth (47%): L 33, Villain 10; both rolls succeed but as she rolled higher she is aware of his movements.]

She crosses the busy square and stops under a low, stone bridge across from the inn. She makes a pretence of struggling to put on her headdress in order to hazard a few glances over her shoulder. She sees a soldier, whom she recognises from the common room, talking to a tall person wrapped up in a long cloak with a heavy cowl. The soldier motions towards her, and the mysterious figure glides off in her direction, long cloak billowing behind.

"Now we're getting somewhere," thinks Lachaidiga as she proceeds apace down the dark, narrow alleyway.

scene 27

chaos 5

Setup: 2=Interrupt (was: lead pursuer into the Ylhooni's ambush)
Interrupt: PC Negative - Failure / Expectations

1. (the murderer or murderers)
2. Ay-Meddush, the merchant
3. Huollof, the caravan leader
4. chieftain Ulevaard and the barbarian delegation
5. prefect (PC's enemy)
6. Maruthus, the nosey neighbour
7. Izzeri-zatah, the high priestess of Ziburrun, the knowledge god
8. Alkinu, the suitor
9. Enzzal, Lachaidiga's eldest brother
10. the mason - a witness
11. Nillath, priestess of the Sun

1. solve murder
2. stop wedding

As Lachaidiga hurries through the narrow side-streets of the city, her mysterious pursuer seldom lags far behind. She is careful not to stray too far from the main streets with their steady flow of night-time traffic, lest she open herself to an attack. She is also careful not to get too far ahead. Several times she stops, pretending to adjust a sandal or her cloak whilst to afford the cloaked figure time to catch up or wind its way through a passing crowd.

[rolling her Perception (48%) vs. the pursuer's Stealth (51%): L 21, P 56; she keeps them in sight, so no surprises.]

The pursuit continues. Lachaidiga is confident she can lead the cloaked figure right into the ambush that the Ylhooni chaos-fighters have prepared. Only a few more streets, and then she will reach the stairway between levels where they are waiting with their heavy iron swords.

There is commotion in the cross-street ahead. Many people are bearing torches down the main thoroughfare. Lachaidiga is certain she will have to rearrange her headdress yet again when she crosses over the street to give her pursuer time to get by; she does not relish the thought of being caught on the same side of the crowd.

But as she steps out in to the street she sees an immense throng surging towards her, waving torches, beating drums, rattling sistra. An ecstatic dancer takes her suddenly by the hand and begins to whirl her round. She is caught up in the procession and has no choice but to go wherever it take her.

[Q: Can she get to safety? 50/50: 37, Yes.
Where? random picture above (which turned out to be Gods' Street, so disengaging from the procession is actually impossible as that's where they were heading).]

The procession makes its frenetic way up to Gods' Street, where it stops before the blood-stained altar before the temple of Haanveshth, the triple-headed god of fertility and abundance.

Lachaidiga is finally able to break away from the crowd as they gather to watch the victims being led forth, and hear the chant of the priest.

The rest of the street is populated with small groups of priests and the faithful wandering this way and that; for Gods' Street is never quite deserted by the pious folk of Anzakàr. Lachaidiga stops for a moment and looks back to see that a familiar cloaked figure is still following her. She doesn't think that she can make her way to the appointed place in such a way as to avoid being caught [she failed her Locale (37%) roll to come up with a route], so instead she decides she'll look for succour here.

Her first thought is of her gentle Nillath, so she hastens up the street to the great Temple of the Sun. As she climbs the great marble stair leading up to the awesome golden doors of the temple, she finds her way blocked by a pair of white-robed acolytes, young girls barely in their 15th year, who are busy tending the sacred flame burning atop the Shrine of the Dawn.

"Greetings of the eternal Sun be upon you," says one of the two girls, somewhat hesitantly.

"I need to see Nillath," says Lachaidiga, "the priestess. Is she about? Please, if so, take me to her."

The two young girls look at each other for a moment. One of them leans over and whispers something in her companion's ear. The other girl nods, and takes a step forward. "Nillath is busy," she says.

"But this is urgent. Tell her the lady Lachaidiga needs to see her."

"We have orders never to admit you into the temple. You have not been welcome here ever since... the Incident. Please, lady, go away. I don't want to have to summon the guards."

Lachaidiga pouts, but says nothing. She descends the stair back into the street, and practically runs to the next great temple, that of Anzakàr, patron god of the City which bears his name.

[Q: Is Udzar-sippuk at the temple? Very Unlikely: 08, Yes.]

She receives a much more pleasant welcome, and is delighted at the news that Udzar-sippuk is there, though he is at present performing his sacred duties. She is invited to partake in the ritual, that the strength of Anzakàr be hers to calm her evident distress, a proposition to which she readily assents. The hymn to Anzakàr, Refuge without Peer, has been a favourite of hers since her god-father taught it to her as she sat on his knee.

The ceremony lasts [1d4-1=] two hours, after which time she pushes her way to the front of the ritual chamber to greet her friend.

"Udzar-sippuk! I must speak with you. It's about the murders!"

"Lachaidiga?" says he. "What's going on? You look a state."

"Oh, my dear holy man, how you do flatter a girl!"

Lachaidiga explains everything that has transpired since Alkinu barged in on them investigating the jeweller's shop: her capture, her deal with the prefect, her plan with the Ylhooni.

"...they've probably given up by now and gone home. Which I should do as well, but I'm afraid the murderer is still out there waiting for me."

"Or they may be watching your house," ventures Udzar-sippuk. Perhaps you should come back to mine."

"I was hoping you'd say that. Are you armed?"

[Q: Is he armed? Very Unlikely: 71, No.]

"I'm not a priest of War. We don't carry weapons in this temple."

"Well, I've got my sword at least."

Udzar-sippuk takes a torch to light their way, and the pair walk out into the night.

[Q: Is Lachaidiga still being followed? 50/50: 09, Exceptional Yes.
Her Perception (48%) is rolled again vs. the pursuer's Stealth: L 01 (critical success!), P 10 (normal success); Lachaidiga wins the contest.]

As they stroll arm-in-arm out of Gods' Street, Lachaidiga glances round and notices that her pursuer has not given up the chase.

"Don't look now," she says to Udzar-sippuk, "but my new friend is right behind us. There is going to be a lot of empty streets between us and your home at this late hour. But don't worry. I've an idea."


  1. Fascinating. I wonder where it will go next.

    -- Jeff

    1. With luck my home internet will finally get fixed so that I might show you. Loading the pictures over coffee shop wi fi was an arduous process. . .