Sunday, 30 November 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part IV, The witch-duel

Scene 4

chaos: 6

Setup: 1d10=5, Altered (see below)

Qes, assistant shaman
STR: 11
CON: 14
SIZ: 9
DEX: 4
INT: 10
POW: 11
CHA: 13

Action Points    2
Damage Modifier +0
Magic Points    11
Movement         6
Strike Rank      7

1D20  Location  AP/HP
01-03 Right leg 0/5
04-06 Left leg  0/5
07-09 Abdomen   0/6
10-12 Chest     0/7
13-15 Right arm 0/4
16-18 Left arm  0/4
19-20 Head      0/5

Skills: Athletics 75%, Binding 78%, Brawn 49%, Dance 42%, Devotion 49%, Disguise 72%, Endurance 45%, Evade 33%, Folk Magic 87%, Influence 48%, Locale 74%, Lore(Animal) 73%, Navigation 78%, Perception 46%, Sing 49%, Stealth 71%, Track 77%, Trance 71%, Unarmed 40%, Willpower 47%

Folk magic spells: Beastcall(Local Bird), Disruption, Find Life

Equipment: Bracelet - MP storage matrix (holds 6 Magic Points)

The ground around the mouth of the cave is littered with the bones of small animals. The air in the cave feels decidedly clammy after the scorching desert heat. Lachaidiga shudders as she feels a moist exhalation of damp earth wash over her. The cave smells strongly of soil, tinged with the sharp odour of a cooking fire. Dancing firelight spills onto the cave wall from around a bend.

The two girls sneak into the cave, mindful not to step on the detritus on the floor. As they creep round the corner, Lachaidiga beholds the cave's occupant. A horrible old hag sits before a cauldron, stirring the steaming brew and muttering to herself. Strange ragdoll fetishes hang here and there, and looming over the scene, as if looking down over it, is a great and terrible idol. At first Lachaidiga is struck with terror at the ominous collection of bones and skulls, but then a sudden realisation hits her: the idol is the triple-moon goddess of witchcraft, with whose blessing she herself was marked at birth!

[Two sets of opposed tests were rolled.

First, the girls' Stealth (L:44%, Q:71%) vs. the witch's Perception (53%):
L:17, Q:47, W:18 - the witch hears Lachaidiga's footsteps

Secondly, Lachaidiga's Insight (60%) vs. Qes' Deceit (35%)
04 crit vs. 63 failure - Lachaidiga realises she's being set up

N.B. To determine how the scene was Altered from "help the shaman destroy the evil spirits", I had asked the following Mythic question:
Q: Is Lachaidiga helping the wrong person? 50/50: 11, Exceptional Yes + Event: NPC Action - Ni'arouj - Stop / Weather (Ni'arouj will want to stay in the village for 1d6=5 days for fear of sandstorms.

Also, had this not been an Altered scene, I'd have used a different witch picture. Now, back to the story.]

"Now!" whispers Qes, "you can kill her before she has a chance to strike!"

Lachaidiga hesitates as the witch suddenly looks up. "Ah, my assistant finally returns," she says, "and with a guest, no less. Who might you be, dearie?"

"Assistant--?" says Lachaidiga.

"She's mad! She'll say anything to confuse you. Don't give in to her power. Strike now!"

"Lachaidiga weakly puts her hand on her sword, but does not draw. She feels the witch's eyes bore deeply into her own.

"Moon-daughter, I bid you welcome into the sanctuary of our goddess," says the witch. "Do not be fooled by the lies of this upstart into violating its sanctity."

Qes turns to flee but finds her feet rooted to the spot.

"Such a mess she's made, too," continues the witch. Stealing a powerful fetish and loosing the spirits within. Three soldiers dead... such a waste."

"What do you propose to do now?" asks Lachaidiga hesitantly, to which question she quickly appends the word "mistress".

The witch laughs in spite of herself. "I see the sorcerous college has left its mark on you as well. 'Mistress'! We don't follow the snakes' hierarchy out here, missy. But let me ask, what do you intend to do now? Are you going to kill me for this little brat to take my place, or did you have something else in mind?"

"No, of course not. Not kill you, I mean."

[Q: What does the witch want? Oppress / Investment - her apprentice (investment) to be taken to jail (~oppression)]

"You're a funny one, letting her get to you so. Vanquished you without her magic, I see.  Well, if you want to redeem yourself, why don't you take her to the village magistrates and have them lock her up. I'll be along in a day or so, but I need to sit here and mind the spirit traps. I've managed to recapture two of the rotters, but the third is proving a bit of a nuisance."

Lachaidiga finds a ball of heavy string and binds Qes' hands behind her back. The witch salutes the eerie idol and thanks the goddess for her protection. Lachaidiga is certain that the skull nods its assent. Qes stumbles a bit as she is loosed from the magic's power and can move again of her own accord -- but not very far, for Lachaidiga has a firm grip on her arm. She prods her prisoner in the small of her back with her sword, and orders her to start marching.

Outside, the early evening sun is still as ardent as it was at noon. Fortunately, the lake is still visible from the crest of the hill, so Lachaidiga need not worry about finding the village. After they trudged down the hill and through the rocks and sand of the plain for a quarter of an hour, Qes turns to her captor.

"Please, Lachaidiga, This is all a mistake. She's a horrible person. Horrible! Trying to turn us all to black magic. I had to try to stop her like that. There was no other way. And I really like you!"

"Don't make me hurt you."

[Qes had tried to pit her Influence (48%) vs. Lachaidiga's Willpower (79%).
80 vs. 61 - She did not weaken Lachaidiga's resolve at all.

Q: Will Qes make and escape attempt? Likely: 35, Yes.
She'll need to make a Brawn (49%) roll to slip her bonds: 47, success.]

As they make their way across the empty plain, Lachaidiga lets her mind wander. At first she starts to chastise herself for not minding the prisoner carefully, but then reasons that there is nowhere for the girl to run, and certainly nowhere to hide. Qes takes advantage of Lacahidiga's carelessness, and manages to slip her hands free of the poorly-tied cord. She runs forward a few steps, then turns to face her startled captor.

"I gave you a chance!" hisses Qes. "You'll never know what you gave up. And I... well, I can't begrudge the vultures a nice piece of flesh now and again!"

Before Lachaidiga can protest, Qes spits out an angry incantation and stabs furiously at the air before her. A wound opens up on the sorceress' arm as if rent by an invisible dagger.

[Qes cast Disruption (Folk Magic 87%), which is resisted by Lachaidiga's Endurance (28%)
Qes rolled a 58, success. Lachaidiga managed an 09, also a success, but since Qes rolled higher the spell still takes effect. Lachaidiga takes 1d3=2 damage to the (random it location, 1d20=13) Right Arm. Each casting, successful or not, will cost Qes 1 MP; she has 11 of her own and 6 stored in her bracelet.]

The momentary shock of the pain gives way to indignation, and the sorceress begins casting a spell of her own in return. As Lachaidiga pronounces the words of power, Qes gesticulates again, and a bloody cut is slashed across her stomach.

[Qes rolls 57 for another casting of Disruption, Lachaidiga fails to resist with a 23. She takes 3 points to the Abdomen.

For taking a Minor wound during spellcasting, Lachaidiga needs to make a Willpower (79%) check, or the difficulty of the casting roll will increase by one step (-1/3 skill level). Fortunately she rolls a 41 and is unhindered. She is, of course, once again casting Smother (Invocation 63%) which will be resisted by Qes' Endurance (45%); It takes her 2 AP and 2MP to cast (1MP for the base spell +1 for range (POW in metres).
Lachaidiga rolls 06, critical success vs. Qes' 20. Critical beats normal success, so the spell takes hold. Qes will suffer Fatigue beginning at the end of the following round.]

[round 2]
Lachaidiga gestures as wildly as her adversary, practically throwing the magic against her. The spell pulls all the air from the shaman's lungs and stops her throat. Qes chokes on the words of spell as she lashes out again and again, but her magic is still strong. Lachaidiga's thigh starts bleeding, and a second gash opens up across her stomach, criss-crossing the first.

[2 successful Folk magic rolls vs. 2 failed Endurance rolls. Lachaidiga takes 2 damage to the Left Leg, 3 more to the Abdomen, leaving her 1hp from a Serious wound in that location.

At the end of the round, Qes rolls a 68, failing her Endurance roll. She accrues 1d2=2 levels of Fatigue. She's now Tired, and all her skills are reduced by 1/3.]

[round 3]
"Please," implores Lachaidiga, "stop this madness! You're only making it worse for yourself!"

Qes is starting to falter under the weight of the baneful sorcery, but her only response is to keep flaying the sorceress with her own vicious curses. Lachaidiga winces as she suffers a slash on one shin, then the other.

[30 vs. 34, 20 vs. 12; even when Lachaidiga makes and Endurance test Qes always rolls higher. 2 more damage to the Left Leg (2 more hp until a Serious wound), 1 to the Right Leg.]

"Don't be a fool!" continues the sorceress. "My spell will destroy you even if you kill me!"

Lachaidiga is lying, of course. But whether Qes believes her or not, there is no escape without victory; she either kills the sorceress or faces the gallows. But the pain in her lungs is sapping her strength.

[She rolls a 16, making her Endurance roll, so only gets 1 more level of fatigue. She is now Wearied: all skills at half.]

[round 4]
Qes is moving clumsily now, but the hatred in her eyes is undiminished. She again lashes the air. A great rent opens in Lachaidiga's right arm, cutting down to the bone.

[Disruption 17 vs. 57. Lachaidiga takes 3 more damage to the Right Arm, reducing it to 0HP: a Serious wound. She will bear a permanent scar from the experience, and must pass an Endurance test (opposed by the attack roll) or the limb will be useless until healed. She fortunately rolls an 18, so can still use her sword arm.]

The agony causes her to scream like a Fury. Before she even realises what she is doing, she is charging full bore towards her opponent, sword already besmeared with her own blood. Qes stands her ground, and tries to throw another curse, but this one doesn't take. And then Lachaidiga barrels into her, running her through, burying the short sword up to its hilt in her stomach.

[Qes rolled a 57, failing to cast the spell (skill reduced to 44% from Fatigue).

A charge attack is at one difficulty level higher, so Lachaidiga's effective skill is 22%. Her attack roll is an unsurprising failure, so she expends a Luck point to re-roll.
An 09 results in a hit, with 1 special effect since it's uncontested. She chooses Impale (roll damage twice, use the better one). Her damage modifier goes up one step for the charge so rolling 1d6+1d2 results in 8 damage to the Abdomen, reducing the location to -2hp, a Serious wound. Qes falls but makes her Endurance roll (opposed by the attack roll, but her 12 beat the 09) so remains conscious.]

Lachaidiga loses her grip on the hilt of the sword, greasy with both their blood now, and it remains protruding from Qes' midsection as she is knocked down into the dirt. She thrashes about for a few moments, struggling to the last to vanquish the sorceress standing defiantly over her, until she herself is overcome and slips away into unconsciousness.

[--series of failed Folk Magic and Endurance rolls redacted--]

Lachaidiga flops down beside the bleeding girl, notes that she's still breathing, then decides to attend to her own wounds. Her own healing charms are enough to repair most of her injuries, but she has no spell strong enough to put her right arm to rights. Even with the bleeding staunched, she can still see exposed muscle and bone. She tears a strip from the hem of her gown -- another thing her magic is powerless to repair, she thinks -- and binds the wound as best she can before turning her attention to Qes.

At first she tries to retract the sword, but finds it won't budge, being lodged in a bone somehow [failed Brawn roll to retract impaled weapon]. Giving up, she says her healing charm over the wound with the sword still in it, hoping to keep her prisoner from losing too much more blood.

Lachaidiga finds the cord that she had used to bind Qes' hands, and this time uses it to bind the girl's feet together, pulling the cord as tight as she can until she's sure they'll turn blue. She then tears another long strip from her dress, and binds her hands in front, leaving some trailing to grab onto herself. Qes begins to stir, but a quick slap on the sword hilt sees her cry out sharply and faint away again.

"Right," says Lachaidiga to herself, "onwards to the village."

Taking hold of trailing fabric, she begins to drag her unconscious prisoner across the rocky plain. It's slow going, and awkward with her left hand, but she is determined that justice will be served, that Qes will pay dearly for her crimes and betrayal. She has to stop many times to catch her breath, and is more than usually alert to the possibility of another attack, but Qes never quite comes back to herself. And whenever Lachaidiga suspects that she is on the verge of coming to, a quick kick to the sword hilt puts her right back down. After the first few stops, she does not wake up again.

[Lachaidiga's Healing spell actually did stop the bleeding, but I ruled that the dragging and general mistreatment would inflict another 1d6 damage. I rolled a 2, so it doesn't degrade to a Major wound.]

The villagers of Pahem are horrified at the bloody spectacle of Lachaidiga dragging Qes into the town square. The village elders rush out to see the cause of such commotion, flanked by soldiers for protection. Lachaidiga answers their bewildered questions, and recounts the meeting in the cave under the moon goddess' image. [Influence roll 12; they believe her.] Once during the questioning, Qes begins to come round and Lachaidiga kicks her again without thinking. The soldiers become tense, some even unsheathing their weapons, but none are brave enough to move against the gore-bespattered sorceress.

The elders are sorely grieved to hear of Qes' actions, and summon the magistrate, a young priest of Anzakàr sent -- some might say exiled -- to mind the small temple of Anzakàr in the village and serve as a sort of territorial governor for this minor colony.

"Lady sorceress," stammers the young priest, "I am saddened that your first visit to this fair village be tainted by such... such terrible events. I would like to extend my gratitude for apprehending this... this dangerous renegade despite to obvious peril of so doing. I shall see to it that your injuries are attended to and that you suffer as little further... discomfort from the affair. But, I am sorry to add -- and you understand the necessity of this I am sure, good lady -- that tomorrow we must conduct a formal hearing of this matter in the sight of the image of Anzakàr in his temple, that his Sacred and Benevolent Justice may guide us to a proper judgement."

"Of course," says Lachaidiga, "I shall happily give a formal deposition in the Sacred Hall. But for now, all I really want is my arm looked at, then a bath, and a clean dress. Oh, and I want my sword back!"

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