Thursday, 21 May 2015

Magic World solo - Part V - In the sorcerer's tower

The doors to the sorcerer's tower are wrought of solid brass. A demonic-looking door knocker glowers at the would-be visitors. And the closer they approach, the more they feel an unearthly cold radiating from the polished metal. They hesitate; all eyes are on their leader, Kaddal-Frum. But the violent nomad is as perplexed as the rest.

"Oh, come on," sighs our exasperated heroine, "there's only one way to figure this out." And so saying, she knocks at the door.

[I had asked Mythic--
Q: IS there anything weird? Likely: 43, Yes. - d30 Sandbox phenomena: strange weather.
Trying the door knocker: 1-2 ianitor, 3-4 doors open by themselves, 5-6 enemy opens the doors, 7-8 nothing happens; 1d8=...]

The doors swing slowly open. It is very dim inside the tower, and the bright sun outside makes it seem doubly so. A human face comes into view, and another behind. [1d6=] Two enemy spearmen [the d6 throws for gender are starting to make it look like the enemy army is segregated] appear in the doorway.

"Oh, hello," says one of them. "Who are you?" [reaction= friendly but reticent]

"Oh, um, hi," she responds, "we're just here to see the sorcerer."

"You'd better come inside then."

[PC's Sense roll: 29, success. Q: Have they been ensorceled? 50/50: 76, Yes.]

The two soldiers don't seem quite in control of their own faculties. They drift away from the door and stand in the dim interior [area 1], not looking at anything in particular -- not even the new arrivals nor each other. Our heroine turns to her fellows and mouths the word 'sorcery', gesturing in the direction of the spearmen. Kaddal-Frum nods in assent, and motions for them all to enter. They slowly proceed, following our heroine at a safe distance.

She tries to hide both her reticence and irritation, and strides boldly up to the spearman who'd opened the door to them. "Why are you here?" she asks.

"We're waiting for our commander. He's been in conference with the sorcerer, and hasn't come back yet. Maybe he won't come back. But we must wait." [UNE: hostile-capture-enemy]

"But what brought you here in the first place?"

"We bore a gift for the sorcerer. To win him over to our side. So we could win the war." [Q:why? Change / Balance]

"I see," she replies, then goes back over to Kaddal-Frum, whispering, "Isn't that our mission?"

"Shh!" he says angrily to her. Then he calls loudly, "We need to see the sorcerer! where are his servants?"

[Q: Are there any about? Likely: 60, Yes.]

As if in answer to his question, the beating of leathery wings is heard in the darkness. A horrid imp with bat wings and course, sagging skin flaps into the chamber. It addresses the nomad in a thin, nasal voice. "And who be ye? And why are ye come hither? And who be these feckless churls behind ye, all a-bristle with iron and steel?" [UNE: inquisitive - questions - allies]

Kaddal-Frum swallows hard, but addresses the little demon firmly. "We have come to see your master."

"What then shall ye offer me to bring ye before the Master?" [scheming - plan - wealth]

"Stand aside, foolish creature!" says Kaddal-Frum, "We bear a gift for him--and him alone."

The demon flies off, laughing. Kaddal-Frum merely shrugs, and motions for his until to follow him deeper into the tower.

[area 2 - d30 phenomena: strange weather]

The air becomes suddenly very warm, then hot, then humid and sweltering. The stone floor becomes uncomfortably warm, and is even somewhat painful through the soles of their boots. They hasten their steps, feeling the heat sap their energy. It's too much for Hylg, who passes out and falls face first onto the floor. Our heroine and Oibor grab the unconscious soldier and drag him along with them, out of the strange heat chamber. He is suffering severe heat stroke, and his face is burnt from where he fell.

[Everyone needed to make a Stamina (CON x5%) roll or take 1d6 damage. Only Tjól succeeded, but most of them only took 1 or 2 points of damage. Hylg lost 6hp, a Major Wound, which gave him -1APP.]

She tries to rouse Hylg, but he's sliding between delirium and unconsciousness. At least the next area [area 3] seems cooler. And damp. And then she feels the water around her ankles, seeping slowly through her boots. It is rising and rising... now she is swimming, swimming for dear life as the ship recedes in the distance, leaving her behind. And she is pulled under the crashing waves, and starts to drown...

...except she isn't. She's inside a sorcerer's tower, in a large candlelit chamber (whose light somehow does not go beyond it), not letting the magic delude her senses. She looks at her companions. Kaddal-Frum is shaking his head, looking round in wonder at the others as is she. Tjól is walking in circles around the perimeter of the chamber, Oibor is crouched down in the middle, as if hiding, and peeking out over the top of something stealthily. Nerstin is busy rummaging through the empty corners, putting handfuls of nothing in her belt pouch time and again.

[d30 phenomena: hallucinations. Each must match their POW against a POW of (2d6+6=) 16 on the resistance chart or believe they are doing something else entirely. The PC and Kaddal-Frum resisted, and Hylg is unconscious. Tjól believes he is making a long journey. Oibor believes he has deserted the mission. Nerstin is acquiring keys to unlock magical portals.]

Our heroine tries to block Tjól's path, but he goes round her without noticing anything at all. Kaddal-Frum slaps Oibor, who does not even respond. He is pulling back his fist to strike him hard when she interrupts. "Let's leave them for now and ask the sorcerer to free them."

He grunts in acquiescence and they continue further in. The next area [area 4, d30 phenomena = shadows] is lit by a single candle. Shadows dance over the walls as the two approach, seemingly more than the flickering candle could produce. There is a narrow stair leading up from an alcove near the far wall. "Well, then," says Kaddal-Frum, and is abruptly silenced.

The shadows suddenly rise up from the walls as if alive, and plunge the chamber into darkness. A current of icy fear stops both nomad and wanderer in their tracks. A small, man-like form coalesces in the midst of the blackness, its eyes gleaming with malice.

[When I rolled Shadows, I immediately thought of using a Shade (darkness elemental). Sadly, they have been omitted from the Magic World book; but my 2nd edition Runequest is sitting right there, so...

Medium Shade
POW 14
STR 22
HP 22
Attack 40%

As the Shade engulfed them, they were hit with it fearshock, which they needed to resist their CON vs. its POW. Fortunately, they both did, and suffered no ill effects. They also need to make an INTx5 in order to attack each round.]

The little dwarf exudes waves of cold darkness. She fights off the momentary feeling of panic gripping her soul, and raises her sword against it. Her nomad companion is hefting his axe, and poised to strike. The mannikin comes at them, clawed hands outstretched.

[round 1]
She is faster than this being from the nether realms. Her sword slashes down through it, causing it to screech and wail [7 damage drops it to 15hp]. It recoils from her, eyes smouldering with praeternatural rage. Kaddal-Frum's axe swings short as it retreats [it missed both of them; Kaddal-Frum's attack missed].

[round 2]
She presses her assault on the creature of darkness, which once again is rent by her blade [5 damage drops it to 10hp]. Kaddal-Frum cries out in frustration, "The darkness! I cannot see!" [he failed his INTx5 roll this round, so can't attack] The shadow man falls upon Kaddal-Frum, who has left himself vulnerable in his panic. Its terrible claws hook into Kaddal-Frum's flesh, freezing his blood. He collapses stiffly to the floor, his axe still gripped tightly in his frozen hand [the Shade rolled a critical hit, for 6+6=12 damage, killing him outright].

[round 3]
Stepping over the lifeless nomad, she lashes out against the tittering creature. Her sword passes right through it, dissipating its physical presence on this plane [11 damage kills it].

The darkness flies back into the natural shadows, and the candle flame once again illumines the small chamber. She looks down to see the lifeless, frozen body of the nomad. She bends over him, opens the pouch at his belt and removes the iron flask from within. "Now it's up to me to bring this to the sorcerer, if I live through the trip up the stairs. Why am I even doing this? I could just walk back out of the tower right now, and turn my back on this whole sorry army affair. But, then again, I've come this far..."

Scene 7

Chaos: up to 9

setup: roll of 10= meet sorcerer (actually as planned!)

NPC list: bad guy(s), bad guy minions, contact, quest giver, interested 3rd party, Sergeant Eldega, army, other army, sorcerer

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

The iron flask in her hand, she slowly ascends the dark, cramped stair to the first floor of the tower. The staircase doubles back on itself, but she perceives a warm glow from above, and can make out the silhouette of a partly-open door at the top.

When she pushes open the door, she is greeted by a horrific sight. Writhing upon the ground is some sort of composite creature, a jumble of limbs and claws and grotesqueries, with moaning, human head. It is oozing away from a mail hauberk; a shield lies discarded nearby. Over the creature, prodding it with a long, rune-covered staff, stands the sorcerer.

[Mythic questions to set the scene were:
Q: Is the sorcerer done talking to the enemy commander? Unlikely: 83, Yes.
Q: What was the result? Debase / The physical (obviously the Curse of Sorcery spell)

Reaction roll: hostile, roll Charisma (APPx5%) at -20%]

The sorcerer looks up as she comes into the light. "Another uninvited guest! What in the name of the Unknown God of Mysteries is going on today?!"

"I, um, have something I'm supposed to give you," she says weakly. [Charisma roll (50-20=30%); 99=fumble...]

The sorcerer seems unimpressed by her excuse, and, in a fit of pique, pronounces a dreadful curse against her.

[His POW=14+2d6: 20. Curse of Sorcery matches POW vs. POW; she only has a 30% chance to resist, but rolls a 16. Since most non-sorcerers have almost no chance to resist such magic, I decided that the sorcerer's surprise would allow for a new reaction roll; 62=neutral]

"Heh," says the sorcerer, making a face. "Didn't think you'd survive that. Who are you? Not one of these ridiculous soldiers, obviously. Just why have you come here?"

"I'm not really a soldier, but I'm stuck with them right now. We were charged by General Angklabas with bringing you this elixir."

"Angklabas! That useless upstart couldn't lead a parade without major casualties." [UNE:hostile-judgement-allies]

"Like I said, I'm stuck with them. I was press-ganged. And since they hang deserters... Anyway, they sent us to deliver this potion, and I'm the only one who made it up here to hand it over."

"Lousy predicament you're in. I certainly don't envy your position. Let me see the elixir." [UNE: insane-turmoil-flaws]

The sorcerer nearly snatches the flask from her hand. He breaks the waxen seal, uncorks it, and sniffs. She studies him intently, trying to get a sense of his motivations, or even just what he'll do next, but his mercurial demeanour and frankly inhuman expression make it impossible to form an opinion [her Insight (41%) check fails].

[Q: Is the Sorcerer satisfied with the potion? Unlikely: 65, Yes.
Q: Does he agree to the general's request? Impossible: 74, No.
Q: Does he want anything, then? 50/50: 14, Exceptional Yes.
Q: What? Trick / Intrigues]

"This is... an appalling bribe," says the sorcerer. "Is there more of this... fluid?"

"I... I don't know," she stammers. "We were just given the one flask."

"That's probably for the best. Your general will be wanting my answer. Give him... give him this!" He decisively takes a hand mirror of polished bronze down from one of the many shelves lining the walls of the room, and hands it over, saying, "Yes... give this to dear General Angklabas. But I wouldn't look at it if you know what's good for you. Now get out of my tower!"

She accepts the mirror meekly. She can feel [Sense roll] the bad magic radiating from it before her fingers have even touched its surface, upon which images of gods and nymphs dance in some sort of underworld scene. She doesn't even need the sorcerer's warning; there is no way she would dare let this thing catch her reflection. She puts it into her pouch straightaway without so much as the barest glimpse of the gleaming metal.

"Would you release my comrades downstairs from the magic? They seem to have gotten... stuck." [Charisma check is a 96...]

"Get out of here before I change my mind about you!"

She does not need to be told a third time.

Scene 8

Chaos: stays at 9

setup: Modified (was: return to camp)
Interrupt: Ambiguous event - Betray / Tension

NPC list: bad guy(s), bad guy minions, contact, quest giver, interested 3rd party, Sergeant Eldega, army, other army, sorcerer

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

As she is hastening back out through the lower level, the little demon flies in front of her to halt her advance. "Ne'er have I known the master to be so unnerv'd aforetimes. What hast thou said?"


  1. What will she tell him . . . and will he believe her if she does?

    -- Jeff

    1. Good questions, for which I haven't any immediate answers. I will try to answer them soon; but first, a diversion.