Thursday, 7 May 2015

Magic World solo - Part II - The cave

Scene 2

Chaos: decrease to 4

setup: gather clues at the cave

NPC list: bad guy(s), bad guy minions, contact, quest giver, interested 3rd party

Who am I?
What am I doing?
Who did this to me?

[I had rolled a random destination for the trail out of all the landmarks on the map. There were no random encounters on the way there.]

The trail goes on through the forest for some way, and finally ends in a large gap, at the far end of which yawns the mouth of a cave, overhung with the roots of the trees on the hillock above. She finds a vantage point a bit off the track, from whence she can observe the cave, and hopefully not be seen herself.

[Q: Any activity visible? 50/50: 44, No +Event: New NPC - Develop / Intrigues
Random NPC: d30=thief; description via]

After an agonisingly dull wait, she hears someone coming through the forest [makes a Listen check]. Without even realising she's doing it, she mumbles the words of an incantation to the gods of moonless nights, that they might hide her from mortal eyes [casting cast Cloak of Night level 2 costs 2MP and gives her +40% to her hide skill. She must pit her Hide (47+40=87%) vs. the newcomer's Search. She rolls an 08, which is a Special success. I rolled for the thief and got a 67. To get a special success with that roll would require a skill level of 335%. Since that's fairly unlikely, I decided to put off determining the thief's actual skill level unless it comes up.]

A youth walks up the path toward the cave. He has curly red hair, is clad in leather armour, and wears a long sword and dagger at his belt. His footsteps draw quite near, but he marches straight past, oblivious to her presence.

The youth stops before the mouth of the cave, leans nonchalantly against an obliging tree, and then whistles sharply. After a few moments, a woman emerges. She is tall and overweight, and her unevenly cropped hair is the same coppery colour that of the youth before her. She is wearing worn cuirbouilli armour, and carries a stout, leaf-bladed hunting spear.

From her somewhat faraway hiding place, our heroine strains to Listen [(61%): 59=success, but only just] in on their conversation.

"Ah, my dear," says the jocular youth, "you're looking lovely as ever. This wilderness living really suits you. And I love what you've done with the cave! Very homey." [UNE: Relationship=(randomly)Friendly; neutral conversation mood]

The woman scowls. "Is there a reason you're here? Or have I just offended some devil who's sent you to torment me?"

"You wound me! After all this time we've been working together and you still make that face every time we meet. Or does your face just always look like that? No matter; I come with a message, and the hopes and means of furthering our chummy alliance. We've done so well by each other all this time. 'Twould be a shame to throw it away now." [UNE: friendly-alliance-history]

"Spit it out already."

"I love our little chats so! That's why I always ask Gzashal for the privilege of being the go-between. He's got another job for you, you see. Interested? Hm?"

[Q: Does the woman accept? Likely: 33, Yes +Event: Move toward a thread - What am I doing? - Stop / A project]

"Assuming it pays well, we're interested. But we can't meet today. We need a few days to recover from the last job he gave us. But it looks like Yuclender's plans are finished. He's got no one left to carry them out!"

"Good. Then you'll be able to devote yourselves fully to this new avenue of endeavour. But Gzashal is anxious to see you. He's requested you grace him with your beauteous presence [in 1d3 days=] tomorrow."

[Q: Will the youth stay here? 50/50: 01, Exceptional yes - he has to.]

"Yeah, fine," says the woman after a thoughtful pause. "I guess I'd better tell Aadferick to make a bigger stew then."

As the pair disappear into the cave, questions begin to whirl in the mind of the hidden observer. "Who are they? she thinks, "And what of those names they mentioned? Do I work for this Yuclender? Is he my ally? my liege? And who is Gzashal, and why did he want us killed? Or were we just pawns in some game between the two?"

The answers, she knows, will not come. At least she's found the cave on her map, to give it some context. She should probably be able to get from here to the city now, or to the temple. Though she'd like a word with whoever it was that sketched out this little map, if only to ask them why they hadn't labelled anything thereon. But for now, she'd like a look in the cave, in the hopes that it contains some more definite clues to the sorry mess she's in. Perhaps she'll get her chance on the morrow, when they go to meet with the mysterious Gzashal.

She goes to look for a better hiding place, somewhere on the high ground above the gap where she can still see the comings and goings. She finds a small deadfall which should, she hopes, do the trick [makes a Hide roll]. She's a bit worried about being found during the day, and forces herself to stay awake [succeeding in a Stamina roll (CONx5=55%)] to stay awake until nightfall.

[Q: Is there a night patrol sent out form the cave? Unlikely: 25, Yes. They get a Search skill of 15+(1d6x5)=30%, but roll a 32, failure.] There is a quick patrol made by some of the cave's inhabitants at dusk, but they fortunately do not discover her position.

The next morning, she wakes with a start. She greedily consumes the last of her meagre provisions, and drains most of the canteen. Whatever happens today, she thinks, it will be her last day hanging about outside the cave. She once again take up her dull vigil.

[She succeeds in a Search roll to notice them leave.
Q: Do they all go? Unlikely: 95, Exceptional no. Just the leader and the youth.
Q: Does anyone emerge later? 50/50: 04, Exceptional yes. 1d6=3 of them.]

Sometime mid-morning she watches the youth and the angry woman set out from the cave. She had been hoping that more of them would leave, and decides to watch a bit longer. After an hour or so she is rewarded for her patience; three more people emerge from the cave bearing hunting spears. There is an enormous man wearing a red feather in his cap, a shifty-looking mustachioed man, and a slightly-built young woman in a long hood. They stride off into the forest in the opposite direction to the others.

By her reckoning, there should only be two more inside the cave -- assuming she had been right about their tracks. [There's actually 1d4=3 of them]. Her curiosity overcomes all caution; she decides to sneak into the cave to have a look round.

She decides to risk it and sneaks into the cave.

[room I - monster & treasure

1d3=1 person present. donjon was down for network maintenance, so I rolled a d30 on the Key NPC chart, getting 'pilgrim (as 1st-level cleric)'. I opened my copy of the Homeric hymns at random and got Hermes, so the encounter is with a priest/ess of the god of wealth.

Q: What's (1d6=m) the priest doing? Work hard / A path]

Inside the cave is a large, oblong space with a vaulted ceiling. The remains of a cooking fire still smoulders near the entrance, and a pair of torches set in copper stands on either side near the back illuminate the areas the daylight does not reach. Two gaps in stone walls lead off into the darkness. The rocky floor is in the main uneven, but mostly uncluttered, thanks, no doubt, to the man currently sweeping  it up with a bundle of rushes.

[the PC must roll Move Quietly (67%) vs. the priest's Listen (15+1d6x5) 35%: 48 vs. 61: success]

She creeps up behind the man, who is obliviously going about his task. She puts her dagger to his throat, and he stands stock sill. "Sssshhhhh," she cautions, tapping him on the back with the hilt of her sword for emphasis, "we're going to go outside and have a little chat now."

[Q: Does the priest resist? Unlikely: 04, Exceptional yes. There's no way he could use a spell in this position, so,
Q: How? Trick / Animals]

The priest makes as if to comply, then suddenly lets out a piercing whistle. The sound of scampering feet answers immediately, rushing down one of the dark passageways.

[I've been working on an excel spreadsheet to randomly generate full stat blocks, but it isn't finished yet. Thus, the stat blocks below are only partial, as I only rolled what I needed for the encounter. All the priest's skills were 15+(1d6x5); this approximates the skill level for 'regulars' according to the MW rulebook, but still provides variation. Spells were, of course, totally random.

Guard Dog
STR  5
CON 11
SIZ  6
DEX 11
HP   9
Bite 40% 1d6-1d4
Dodge 25%
TF 4

DEX 13
CON 11
SIZ 11
HP  11
Dodge 30%, Listen 35%
TF 6
Spells: Clumsiness 1, Sorcerer's Armour 4

Initiative is in descending DEX order: PC, priest, dog]

[Round 1]
As his assailant hesitates for a moment -- surprised by the whistle and the running footsteps [and ceding the initiative] -- the priest attempts to twist out from under her grasp. He ducks down and away from the dagger at his throat, only to find it plunged into his flank instead. He falls to the ground of the cave with the long dagger buried up to the hilt in his side, and the light leaves his eyes forever. [the PC rolled an 05; with her dagger skill of 52% this is a special success. The priest failed his dodge, so he is hit and the weapon damage is doubled to 2d4+4 (+ normal damage bonus) . 11 damage kills him outright.]

She looks up as she lets go the dagger, and sees a mangy guard dog rushing for her, its slavering jaws snapping. It is wary of the steel in her hand, and does not get close enough to fix its fangs in her flesh [it rolls a 59 for its bite attack (40%), a miss.]

[round 2]
As the dog comes at her again, she brings her sword to bear. The blade crashes down on the top of its head with a loud crack as its skull gives way. It falls and is still. [sword attack hits, dodge fails, 1d8+1+1d4=10; the dog is killed.]

[Q: Was anyone else roused by the noise? Very Likely: 64, Yes. 1d2=1 person. d30= pilgrim (as 1st-level cleric) again; 1d6=4, a priestess.

STR 12
CON 10
SIZ 12
INT 13
POW 16
DEX 15
CHA  6
HP  11
Spells: Sorcerer's Sureness 4, Muddle 1, Pox 1
Skills: Move Quietly 20%, Quarterstaff 50%
TF 9

When she heard the commotion, the priestess cast Sorcerer's Sureness at level 4 (for 4 magic points), which gives her +80% to her stealth skill. Things look bad for our heroine...]

She retrieves her dagger from the fallen priest, and wipes the both her blades clean on his tunic. The pool of blood in which he lies tells her it will be useless trying to rouse him for an interrogation. She shrugs her shoulders, then wanders over toward the back wall to fetch a torch. Then suddenly...

[priestess' move quietly (100%) vs. the PC's Listen (61%); 34 vs. 04! The special success beats the normal success, so she notices the priestess.]

...she wheels about to confront a woman padding up behind her, quarterstaff poised to strike.

[normal initiative, so the PC goes first. [sword attack (62%) vs. quarterstaff parry (50%); 41v15= both normal successes, so the hit is parried. The priestess's counterattack produces the same results.]

She swings her sword at the surprised woman, who instinctively blocks with her staff. A tiny chip flies from the hardwood as the sword bites into it [cosmetic only, not damage to the weapon's hp]. The woman thrusts back with the iron-tipped end of her staff, but it too is turned aside by her foe.

[round 2]
The sword rings as it once again rebounds off the solid wood [the hit is parried], and she feels the vibrations in her sword arm. The iron shod staff whirls round at her, and the momentary distraction hinders her defence. [the priestess rolls a 10, a special success. The PC's parry is only a normal success, which only commutes the Special hit to a normal one. 1d8= 3 damage, dropping her to 4hp. This puts her past the Major Wound threshold again, so she needs to roll POWx4% to stay conscious: 39, she's OK. Well, as OK as anyone can be with only 4hp left.]

The staff cashes into her side; she can feel her fractured ribs pushed back out of place. The flare of pain shoots through her, so great she nearly passes out, but with grim resolve she refuses to give in.

[round 3]
She lashes out with her weapon, so fast her opponent has no chance to block. [33 successful attack vs. 55 failed parry]. The sharp blade catches her in the neck, right above the stiff leather collar of her armour, and nearly severs her head from her shoulders. [damage roll is 13(maximum); soft leather armour reduces damage by 1d4-1, which is this case was 0.]

"Dammit," she thinks as she contemplates the nearly headless woman on the cave floor, "this isn't helping me get any answers."

She lowers her sword, and the movement sends fresh waves of pain through her injured ribs. She gingerly investigates the new injury, and can feel the unevenness beneath her fingertips. Gritting her teeth, she applies pressure with her hands and twists her torso slightly. There's a painful popping, but the bones snap back into place. She experiments with a bit more movement, and is pleased to find that it is no more sore than when she first came into the cave. It will have to do. [She made a successful Physik (35%) roll, which heals 1d3 to a single wound. A roll of 3 completely cancels the 3 points she took from the staff hit. She's back to 7hp, but  can only be further healed by time or magic, but even magic can only be applied once per day to any given injury.]

She pauses fora few moments to regain her composure, and then stands absolutely still, straining to hear anything that should yet be approaching with murderous intent. All is stillness in the cave, save the occasional crackling of the torches [she actually failed her Listen roll, but no one else was coming anyway]. She decides instead to make a cursory examination of this chamber before moving on [she makes a Search roll].

She finds a few dirty pots and pans near the fire, and an enormous greatsword propped up against one wall, but nothing else of any real interest. Checking the bodies, she finds that each has a coin purse, netting her 31 bronze and 5 silver coins. The priest wears a plain gold ring [90BP] and the priestess has a polished carnelian pendant [90BP] and a wrought gold ring set with a fine emerald [1300BP]. "So I'm desperate enough to loot the dead," she thinks with mild disgust, as she nevertheless puts the treasure into her bag. [The horde was rolled on the 2nd edition Runequest treasure tables; the priest, guard dog, and priestess had a combined Treasure Factor of 19. To adjust for the fact that Bronze pieces are 5 to the Silver Piece rather than 10 Clacks to the Lunar, I halved the amount rolled on that column. I may very well revisit the treasure table to avoid enriching my PC(s) overmuch from easy encounters; but, as you shall see in posts to come, this keeps not being an issue.]

Satisfied that her loot is safely stowed away, she takes one of the torches from the wall and decides to explore one of the passages.


  1. What does her fighting skill tell her about her probable past?

    -- Jeff

    1. I hadn't actually thought about that. I would guess that it doesn't say overmuch. She's skilled but not flashy.

    2. Okay. I just wondered how she felt about her "comfort level" with fighting/killing . . . after all she (and we) do not know anything about who/what she was prior to her amnesia.

      -- Jeff