Sunday, 19 April 2015
LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Seventh: „Es stand in alten Zeiten ein Schloss, so hoch und hehr“
At dawn the next morning the Light God, through, of course, his humble servants, namely Frère Ambrosius and the village priest, erases the wounds of both the brave elf and the noble Manfred, that by their example Evil shall always be shown to have no power in the face of Virtue [i.e. some Cure Light Wounds spells are cast].
Manfred, his sister, and Lycinia are anxious to be underway. The confessor is resigned to the necessity of following them in order to see the evil cult vanquished.
[Q: Can he convince the village cleric to come too? No Way: 72, Yes.]
CH CN DX IN ST WI HP AC
Fr. Gulz C2 9 12 8 12 13 15 6 11 spear, holy symbol
Not only does the priest assent to come, but he also suggests a detour (the Altered scene) to get soldiers from Huntsman's Gate. All agree, and set out at once.
"I'm certain," says Lycinia as they walk through the forest, "we can get some reinforcements at the fort. I have met Commander Leofstan, and did him a great favour once." [back in parts 17 & 18]
Lady Margiste laughs at the remark in spite of herself. Lycinia's face flushes red. "What's so funny about what I said?" she demands. Lady Margiste's only answer is a barely-suppressed chortle.
"Need I remind the good lady," interjects Manfred, "that Huntsman's Gate falls withing the March of Limenne. I'm therefore their liege lord!"
It takes a day's travel to reach Huntsman's Gate by foot. The trip is uneventful; short of typical wildlife they encounter no one. It is already dark by the time they reach the fortress.
[Q: Is there time for a quick audience with the commander? Very Likely: 52, Yes.
Q: Will Manfred be given troops? Very Likely: 96, Yes... but only 2d6 of them as it was a crap roll; 2d6=2.
Q: Is armour available for Lady M? 50/50: 45, Yes. 1-3 leather 4-6 chain; 4!
Q: Horses? 50/50: 75, Yes. Leofstan reluctantly provides some.]
As they ride away from the fort the next morning, Manfred is still fuming over his reception by his subjects. "I can't believe the state of this place! Troubles in the North... the siege of Castle Uldmere... I know there's a strain on resources right now, but this is absurd. Untenable! If I hadn't better things to do, I'd see that Leofstan's head on a plate! Filthy peasants!"
It takes about 6 hours in the saddle to travel down the road to Finnsover, then back over the bridge towards Château Télème. The closer they get to the castle, the darker the sky becomes, and the air more like winter.
CH CN DX IN ST WI HP ML AC
f0 m 14 8 13 7 10 9 3 8 16 leather&shield, lt xbow, sword
f0 f 9 11 10 14 14 7 4 9 15 leather&shield, lt xbow, sword
setup: altered (was: the final confrontation with the cult)
The unclean Thing has swollen to gigantic proportions. It now hangs halfway down the outside of the shattered tower, and has grown down inside the castle, so that the structure of the rear wing has been compromised. The eerie moans emanating from the nameless abomination have increased in pitch and frequency, filling the air with a cacophony of otherworldly clamour.
[Q: What's up with the cult? Ruin / Disruption - Only 1d6=1 cultist left alive; there Were 1d10+1=8 of them]
It is dark in the courtyard and hard to see. The remains of the bonfire smoulder. No one is about. Lycinia and Manfred reluctantly light torches against the darkness, afraid it will give away their position, but unable to proceed otherwise.
Attracted by the light, the last remaining cultist runs towards the party from [1d6=6, f] her hiding place in the servants' chapel.
[Q: What does she want? Attract / Liberty
Q: Is she horrifically injured? 50/50: 83, Yes.]
She is covered in blood, and her mangled right arm is in a makeshift sling. "Please save me," she begs. "The high priestess turned on us -- turned on us all! "
[Q: Is Manfred inclined to listen? No way: 77, No. +Event: Ambiguous Event - Transform / Legal matters - (this will come up later)]
Manfred's only response is with his rapier. He spurs his horse forward as the woman's body still twitches in the reddening snow.
"Dear sister," says Manfred at last, as they all stand gazing upon the crumbling château, "we've nearly reached the end. But the danger may be too great. I'd feel better if you didn't come into the castle... to do what must be done. If something should happen to me, you're the last of our line. I can't risk that something may happen to you. Indeed, I can't ask any of the rest of you to come with me. But, Margiste, dear sister, I beg you to remain outside in safety."
"I understand," says Lady Margiste. "And though I burn with the desire to avenge our family -- and sweet Emmeline! -- I find myself unable to countenance the thought of what you shall find within. I shall remain outside, dear brother, in safety -- or as near to safety as may be found in this accursèd place -- and pray for you."
"I shall not be kept away," says Lycinia defiantly. "I shall see vengeance done for Emmeline. My sword will strike for us both, Margiste."
The confessor and the two soldiers elect to stay with Lady Margiste to see that she is safe [all the NPCs needed to make a morale check in order to venture inside the castle; Manfred was the only one to succeed].
"It's settled, then," says Manfred. "Lycinia, do you have the flask?"
"I do. Do you wish to carry it?"
"No. It is a wizardly thing. It may require your... finesse."
"Take this," interjects the confessor. "All the heinous items of that benighted cult are collected in this sack: the scarabs, the mask, the blasphemous grimoire of that traitor, Franval. Let the flames consume them also!"
"And the necklace," adds Lycinia, rummaging in the pouch at her belt. "I'd almost forgot."
"The necklace!" cries Lady Margiste. "Oh, Emmeline!"
"Weep not, dear sister," says Manfred. "until we have finished with this dreadful business."
And so saying, Manfred walks purposefully towards the shattered entryway to his ancestral home. Lycinia follows after, sword in hand. "The Light God protect you!" calls Lady Margiste behind them, but they can scarcely hear her over the rumblings of the ancient stones, vibrating with the might of the unholy Thing growing through them.
Manfred walks into the half-collapsed foyer, and makes his way cautiously up the remaining staircase, heading for the tower -- his father's tower -- at the back. Lycinia follows him in silence. Now and then the whole castle quakes, and stone and bits of masonry are shaken from the walls and ceiling. [Save vs. paralyzation or take 1d10 damage; both save] Fortunately, both Manfred and Lycinia dodge the worst of the falling débris.
As they round the corner into the last long corridor, a horrific sight stops them in their tracks. The unholy Thing has grown from the tower and into the long hallway. It pulses and throbs, threatening to burst the walls asunder. Before it lies a pile of bodies -- the remains of the cultists -- covered in blood and some still with knives protruding from their wounds. The pustulent Thing extends tentacles of corruption towards them, consuming all the flesh it touches, absorbing it to swell even larger.
Only the leader of the blasphemous cult yet lives, standing before the pile of her slaughtered brethren, a wicked dagger at her belt staining her linen robes with dripping gore. She is human, or once was; her skin has taken on a decidedly unearthly sheen, and has a dark green mottled tint which reflect the nameless horror she now venerates.
She turns to look down the hall at the approach of the interlopers. Her face is hidden by --or has it become?-- an impassive silver mask, resembling the one found earlier amongst the stable-girl's effects.
Even at the opposite end of the hall, the sight of the tumescent monstrosity feeding upon its former servitors is enough to stop our stalwart heroes in their tracks, as they must steel themselves to approach for this last, desperate battle.
5th level Magic-User, (formerly) human female
CH 13 CN 10 DX 10 IN 14 ST 11 WI 16
AC 15 HP 15
Special: (random Summon trait) AC+1d4=3
1 charm person, magic missile, sleep
2 continual darkness, mirror image
3 gust of wind
[The encounter range starts at (3d6x10=) 90'. I rolled that the PCs were Surprised; thus the hesitation described above. The cult leader will use the surprise round to cast Magic Missile (1-2 at Manfred, 3-4 at Lycinia, 5-6 at both; 1)]
The cult leader rasps out syllables of eldritch power, and gestures wildly. Cascading waves of blackness emanate from her fingertips and wash over Manfred, clouding his thoughts, eating at his soul [11 damage drops him to 19hp].
[round 1 initiative rolls are tied, so actions take place in descending DEX order.]
Lycinia moves forward [move 40'], sword in hand, as the cultist begins chanting another incantation. Manfred rushes up after Lycinia, raises his crossbow and fires. The bolt hits the cultist in the shoulder, causing blackish blood to ooze forth [rolled a natural 20 so didn't have to look up moving-whilst-firing rules; 6 damage puts her at 9hp].
A great wind comes up in the corridor, forcing Manfred and Lycinia to stand firm against it [the MU's Gust of Wind spell. Lycinia plants her feet firmly and speaks a spell of her own, shouting over the gale. Manfred merely tosses aside his crossbow, which flies down the corridor behind him, and draws his rapier. The cult leader has been working on another charm of her own. Manfred feels claws digging at his psyche, trying to subvert his will, but his resolve, indeed, his mighty rage is too great to succumb to the wicked enchantment [saved vs. Charm Person].
As the unnatural wind subsides, Lycinia suddenly disappears, hidden by her own magic [Invisibility]. She advances once again [40'], drawing her pistol as she moves. Manfred's eyes are growing heavy, and his limbs seem unable to respond. A sweet lullaby fills his senses, a melody none but he can hear. He sinks to the floor in heavy slumber [the cult leader's sleep spell easily overcomes his 4 hit dice on 2d8].
Lycinia approaches to within a few paces of the cult leader, who is beginning the words to yet another spell. She raises her pistol and fires, winking back into view with the violence of the deed. The shot barely grazes the woman's hand [2 damage puts her at 7hp] but the shock spoils her concentration on the spell.
Lycinia closes to attack. Her sword crashes down on the woman's shoulder, snapping her collarbone [5 damage puts her at 2hp]. Undaunted, she draws the sacrificial dagger from her belt and lunges forward. The razor-sharp edge just manages to find a weak spot in Lycinia's armour [(19+1-2= AC18]. The wound is bloody but superficial [1 damage].
The elf backpedals gracefully, and with a single swift motion whirls her blade into the woman's face, cracking the silvery mask in twain [3 damage puts her at -1hp]. She falls back, a mass of corruption flowing forth from beneath her sundered silver visage.
Lycinia stands over the twitching body, and says firmly, "this is for Emmeline", as she drives the tip of her sword into the woman's heart, twisting it until the body lies perfectly still.
Lycinia wakes Manfred. The two approach the pulsating horror filling the end of the corridor as close as they dare. Manfred puts the sack of cult objects on the floor, as Lycinia retrieves the brass flask from her pouch. Manfred looks at her expectantly.
"I've no idea what will happen," she says, divining his question, "but I think we'd best be prepared to run. I'll count three. One...two...thr--"
AS her fingers apply just a little bit of pressure on the stopper, the flask bursts open, emitting an enormous gout of roaring flame. Lycinia drops the flask in pain and surprise, and she and Manfred flee down the corridor. Both are singed by the intense heat and hungry flames [2d6 damage each,as if passing through a wall of fire: 8 & 8].
The furious elemental unleashes its rage on everything surrounding it: the wall-hanging, the furnishings, even the very stones of the castle seem to catch fire. As the elemental comes in contact with the unclean horror, it shrieks and howls, poisoned by the very evil of the beast it consumes.
Lycinia and Manfred soon burst out in to the courtyard to join an anxious Lady Margiste and her guardians. She is overjoyed to see them both returning whole. But her joy is soon commuted to sadness, as the fires spread throughout the entire castle, consuming it in an inferno of crackling flames.
The grotesque Thing in the tower throbs and pulses with greater urgency as the flames spread up and along it. It withers and chars under the relentless heat, finally emitting a single, shrill note which fills the heavens with sound before falling silent forever. Then the shattered tower collapses, spilling the flaming corruption into the side courtyard, where it forms a foetid, flaming pool.
Manfred puts his arm round his sister, and they, along with their companions in this sad affair, watch as their ancestral home burns through the night until naught but embers remain in the blackened shell.
Epilogue : Wandlebourne
They next morning the exhausted band make their way to Brightpool, where Manfred dismisses the soldiers. Following a swift journey across the bay, our heroes arrive at the home of Terentius Holzfäller to deliver the sad news of his daughter's fate. The wealthy lawyer is, of course, devastated by the news, but listens impassively to all Emmeline's friends have to say concerning her heroic and selfless actions in furtherance of their struggle against a great evil. Terentius has rooms made up for his guests to which they retire, exhausted from their adventures. Only Manfred stays up, requesting a private meeting.
In the morning, the substance of their meeting is revealed. Manfred intends to abdicate in favour of his sister, making her Marchioness of Limenne. He shall go out into the world to find a fortune, that they may someday rebuild the Château Télème and restore their family's prominence in the Kingdom. As Margiste is still only 17, Terentius will become her legal guardian and manage her affairs until she comes of age. Frère Ambrosius will remain with her as confessor.
Later that day, Manfred asks Lycinia if he might have a word. "It's going to take a few weeks to settle everything," he says, "and then I'm... free. Or something to that effect. I hardly know if it be a blessing or a curse, or both."
"Today is not the day to ask me," responds Lycinia.
"No, I suppose not. But you're the only one who could possibly see my predicament: a conversation for another time, however. I should like to enquire what you'll do next."
"Find somewhere else to go, I expect."
"Terentius would never turn you out into the street. He's said you shall always be welcome here, and he means it. Trust me on this."
"Perhaps. But I can't see staying long in Wandlebourne. In the short term I just want some time with my books and my magic; it's wonderful for regaining one's clarity of mind."
"You should stay here then. We'll all be busy in the courts, setting everything down on parchment and making it all legal and binding. I own it will take the better part of a month. And then..."
"And then it's away from Wandlebourne. Off northward, perhaps. In search of adventure, fortune, and glory, though not necessarily in that order. And I thought perhaps... well, I was wondering if you'd come with me. Think of it: a life of adventure, danger, treasure... your sword and mine, fighting side-by-side. What do you say?"
"Of course!" says Lycinia.
...and thus another adventure draws to a close.
Manfred's decision to abdicate was the Ambiguous Event (Transform / Legal matters) rolled in scene 48. I had already decided that he might stay on as a PC, so this just made a better case for it.
To set him up, the LotFP rules for starting characters over 1st level are a perfect fit. Manfred is the type of person who would always be carrying a small pouch full of gems and gold for bribes. His 'starting' wealth is 180+(9d6x10) SP. A fairly abysmal roll nets him 350sp; I assume he left the balance with his sister. He's also got a rapier and a crossbow. He and Lycinia took so much damage during the adventure that I think they will both be buying new armour. His starting XP total will be 10% less than Lycinia's: 9722xp.
And speaking of XP, the entire adventure produced 0sp worth of treasure. Since treasure is assumed to provide the bulk of XP in LotFP, I am arbitrarily tripling the combat awards. Manfred came in late and missed a couple encounters, so he gets fewer but as he started at 4th level I'm not really bothered. Lycinia gets a total of 2748xp, whilst Manfred earns 1662.
Lycinia finally advances to 4th level. I rolled a 5 for new HPs; +1 for CON puts her up to 22hp total. She also gets to learn a random spell for free, but still must take the time to research it. The random spell turns out to be Wizard Lock, requiring [(3d6x2)-2=] 22 days.