Wednesday, 10 June 2015

LotFP solo dungeon crawl - Part V

Rumours of the re-discovery of the Vile Vaults of Valstraktis have been heard throughout the land, enticing ever more adventurous souls to seek their fortunes therein. It is striving of just such a band of brave -- some might say mad -- stalwarts which forms the matter of this our tale.

[I made another table for determining why subsequent parties are going into the dungeon. It's a bit silly in it's attempts to be widely applicable, but for a more serious game something sensible could still be extracted from most of the results.

TABLE X: Why is the new party going into the dungeon?
Roll 1d8. Add +1 to the die roll if the result on Table IX was a 5 or 6 (decades or centuries)

die Result
--- ------
 1  One of the members of the lost expedition is a close friend
    of a PC in the new party, who wishes to rescue them or recover
    their body for burial.*
 2  One of the members of the lost expedition is a relative of a PC
    in the new party, who wishes to rescue them or recover their body
    for burial.*
 3  One of the new PCs got a treasure map off a guy down the pub.
 4  PCs are wandering through the wilderness en route to somewhere
    else and stumble across the dungeon by blind chance.
 5  There are rumours abroad of unholy goings on out by the (wherever
    the dungeon is located), and the PCs have been (1-2 hired,
    3-4 requested, 5-6 Geased), by (1-2 Mayor Craven, 3-4 Goody Turnip,
    5-6 Lord Zalgron) to root out and destroy the Ancient Evil
 6  There are rumours abroad of unholy goings on out by the (wherever
    the dungeon is located), and the PCs have decided to look into it
    themselves, for the sake of Goodness, Glory, or Gold (choose as many
    as apply).
 7  The PCs owe (1d6: 1 the Queen, 2 the Thieves' Guild, 3 the Assassins'
    Guild, 4 a wizard, 5 the Wicked Baron, 6 the Church) either 1d6x1000gp
    or three times their net worth, whichever is higher. They suggest you
    look for money to pay them back here...
 8+ One dark night, whilst a storm rages outside, the PCs (who are
    possibly strangers to one another) are sitting in the local tavern,
    when the door bursts open. A bearded man in a heavy cloak staggers
    into the common room, an arrow protruding from his chest. He collapses,
    and the PCs rush over to him. "An ancient evil," he gasps through
    gritted teeth, "is stirring in the darkness. You must destroy the
    ancient foe, before... before...." With this he has breathed his last
    (despite the fact that the game rules you are using have no mechanism
    whereby he could have survived the hit point loss long enough to wander
    in here and then die, and even though there's like 3 clerics within
    an arm's reach healing spells somehow can't save him). On his body you
    find a map to the dungeon. You know that you must complete the man's
    quest, lest the whole world suffer some grim, unspecified fate.

* Rescue or recovery will depend on the time elapsed. If PC(s) in the first party were rendered unconscious rather than killed (if the rules you are using do not have a mechanism in place for this, assume anyone brought to exactly 0hp counts), an intelligent creature may take them prisoner rather than slaying/devouring them immediately. Assume a base 50% chance, adjusting upwards if the PC in question is worth a sizable ransom (and the creature has a use for the money), downwards if the creature is undead, etc. Captured PCs may be held in either the creature's lair, or any obvious gaol-type rooms already mapped. If no suitable area exists amongst the already-mapped locations, put an X somewhere in a randomly determined blank square, either on the dungeon level where the PC was captured or the one just below it; when the newly mapped areas lead to this square, the prisoner's cell will be found [see Gaol under Environments for details]. If the map seems to pass right by it, it may be an oubliette, accessible only via a trap door in the ceiling or a secret door in a wall. Alternately, PCs captured by evil clerics or demons may be about to be sacrificed; in this case, they will be found by an appropriate altar. If one lunar month has elapsed, there is an 70% chance that the sacrifice has already been performed. This increases to 90% after three months, and 100% after one year.

I've also started this page to collect all the tables & environment rules in one place.]

The band was led by Orvund, a would-be knight, looking to win fame and glory in battle against monstrous foes.

Fighter, Level 1, male
Cha 8 Con 13 Dex 12 Int 14 Str 16 Wis 11
Hit Points: 9
Armour: chain & shield
Weapons: spear, javelin
Equipment: backpack, crowbar, 7sp

Next was Inlina, on the run from the Capitol, where she had been an enforcer for a notorious crime lord -- now deceased.

Fighter, Level 1, female
Cha 6 Con 11 Dex 16 Int 7 Str 9 Wis 10
Hit Points: 8
Armour: leather
Weapons: heavy crossbow, rapier
Equipment: backpack, quiver + 10 bolts, tinderbox, 2 torches, sack, steel holy symbol, 7sp, 3cp

Mireille was an apprentice wizard, sent off by her master to gain practical experience in the wider world.

Magic-User, Level 1, female
Cha 13 Con 13 Dex 16 Int 18 Str 12 Wis 9
Hit Points: 6
Armour: leather
Weapons: rapier
Equipment: backpack, 50' rope, 2 vials of holy water, steel mirror, 5sp
Spellbook: Hold Portal, Message, Detect Magic, Read Magic

The dwarf, Unzukorag, suffered a lust for gold, which he was sure he'd find hidden away in the wizard's Vile Vaults.

Dwarf, Level 1, male
Cha 10 Con 16 Dex 9 Int 12 Str 14 Wis 8
Hit Points: 8
Armour: chain & shield
Weapons: battle axe, 2 throwing axes
Equipment: backpack, lantern, 3 flasks of oil, tinderbox, sack, 3sp

Rounding out the company was a pair of clerics, Brother Bromner and Sister Sinnet, sent by their order to battle with the forces of darkness.

Brother Bromner
Cleric, Level 1, male
Cha 11 Con 13 Dex 10 Int 9 Str 9 Wis 11
Hit Points: 5
Armour: leather & shield
Weapons: sword
Equipment: backpack, silver holy symbol, lantern, 2 flasks of oil, vial of holy water

Sister Sinnet
Cleric, Level 1, female
Cha 10 Con 11 Dex 13 Int 8 Str 11 Wis 11
Hit Points: 4
Armour: leather
Weapons: pole arm, 2 darts
Equipment: backpack, steel holy symbol, sack, 50' rope, grappling hook, 13sp, 5cp

[This adventure begins 3 weeks after the last. As rooms restock after 1d4 weeks, a roll of 4 will indicate that no one new has yet moved in. And as before, movement through already-mapped areas will be random.]

Marching order:

The party descend into the Vile Vaults. The first chamber [Room 1] has seen much in the way of battle, as the mouldering carcasses strewn about the floor attest. There is also an inordinate quantity of green slime about the place, which our heroes put to the torch without a second thought.

They make their way down a short corridor, and open the door at its end. Inside the room beyond [Room 2] is a pair of the strangest, most unearthly looking beings imaginable, talking to one another in an incomprehensibly alien tongue. The are man-sized, and boneless, standing erect on four tentacle-legs. Their pale white skin glistens with moisture. Each wears a sort of copper breastplate, and carries a short sword and buckler of the same metal.

The beings stop suddenly as the door opens, and scurry towards their visitors with evil intent.

bizarre beings
intelligent AL:C
AC: 14, HD: 3+1, Move: 90', damage by weapon type, ML: 9, #appearing: 1d6
gaze attack: hold person, usable once every three rounds
Treasure Type: C

[Surprise round]
The sight of such bizarre beings stops our heroes momentarily in their tracks. The lead two creatures direct waves of almost palpable psychic energy at the fighters in the front rank. Orvund shakes off the mental assault, but Inlina is stunned, and unable to move [as Hold Person, for 6 rounds].

[Round 1 - monsters win initiative]
The party shuffle into the room to do battle, but the enemy has the advantage. Orvund's shield takes the brunt of the assault against him, but Sister Sinnet misjudges the reach of her adversary, whose sword opens a deep cut in her leg [1 damage drops her to 3hp]. She backpedals, and brings her lochaber axe down solidly on the thing's shoulder [7 damage] as her dwarven companion lays into it with his battleaxe [6 more damage; it has 2hp left]. Runny grey ichor sprays from its wounds. Orvund strikes back at the other with his spear, hitting just below the breastplate [4 damage leaves it with 8hp]. It squeals out a terrible imprecation about the genetic makeup of Orvund's brood-mother, which the ignorant mammal is unable to decipher.

[Round 2]
The creatures' small, copper swords prove no match for mail of good steel, and hard oaken shields [both miss]. Mireille's rapier bites deep into one of the creatures [5 damage leaves it with 3hp] whilst Unzukorag fells the other with his axe [3 damage drops it to -1hp].

[Round 3]
The remaining creature fails to overcome Orvund with its psychic blast. Mireille sticks it in the side, and it falls to the ground.

Orvund makes sure these awful things are dead whilst the others search the room. They find a leather satchel containing 30 gold coins, which seems to be covered in the blood of its previous (human?) owner. [I am giving out XP by the book (LotFP Rules & Magic, p. 33-4). I think whatever these things are, they probably don't use human currency, so the 30gp will be counted for XP under the heading of "Money hoarded by creatures who have no actual use of it"... assuming anyone makes it out alive!]

The party go back through the entry chamber and through an intersection [A] where they come to another door [L]. Listening at the door, they hear nothing beyond [not even the water dripping into the puddles as they failed their listen checks]. Inside the room [Room 11 - Environment] are puddles of foul water, with disgusting lumps of rotten flesh lying therein [the remains of the burst gaspod creatures. 1d4=4: the room has not been restocked]. They do not linger, but proceed apace through this chamber and another [Room 13] empty one.

At the next intersection [B], a group of five animated skeletons [wandering monsters] spring into action when they come into the party's torchlight. They hurriedly retreat into the empty chamber [Room 13] so they have room to fight these eerie foes.

There is a great clash of spear on shield, but despite their swift movement and unshakable formation, the undead warriors prove little challenge for our heroes. Orvund suffers a few abrasions [2 damage], and Inlina has a nasty head wound [3hp left], but no one else was even scathed. Sister Sinnet's prayer erases the warrior's hurt through the mercy of the God of Light [cure Light Wounds restores her HP to full].

Hefting their shields, they return back the way they came. The passage soon empties out into a small chamber with two exits in the far wall [Room 15 - Monster only]. Eight more skeletal warriors stand at attention along the walls. They lower their spears and advance.

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
Inlina draws her sword as the first of the skeletons draws near. She slashes out at it, removing one of its arms, and splintering half its ribs, but it still comes at her [3 damage puts it at 1hp]. Unzukorag's battleaxe shatters one of the skeletons, and Brother Bromner's righteous might leads his sword to destroy another. Poor Mireille nearly loses her life to a spear thrust, but the jagged blade gets caught in her leather armour, sparing her the worst of it [2 damage puts her at 4hp].

[Round 2]
Mireille's conterattack removes the head of her foe, who collapses in a jumble of bones at her feet. Brother Bromner fells a second one with his uncompromising steel. Inlina is hit lightly in the shoulder [2 damage leaves her with 6hp]. Sister Sinnet takes a solid blow to the side of the head, fortunately with the spear's haft rather than the rusty point [1 damage drops her to 2 hp].

[Round 3]
Orvund thrusts his spear directly into the sternum of his enemy, shattering the ribcage instantly, and sending the rest of the bones tumbling to the floor a moment later. sister sinnet is run through [2 damage puts her at 0hp] and collapses.

But three of the skeletons remain intact. Inlina, Mierille, and Unzukorag make short work of them whilst Brother Bromner runs to his fellow cleric's aid. After a short prayer, she stands again, uninjured, and ready to continue the expedition.

They proceed down the right-hand corridor, ignoring a side passage, and come to a chamber that is completely filled with a thick, white mist [Room 16 - Monster & Environment: Wall of Fog]. as they stand at the edge of the fog, trying to make out what lies within, a tentacle of bone lashes out, hitting Brother Bormner's shield with a loud crack [surprise round - it missed].

fog tentacle bone wraith
intelligent AL:C
AC: 18, HD 4, Move: 120', bone tentacle: 1d6+adhere, ML: 12
anyone hit by a tentacle is stuck fast and cannot retreat
immune to missiles
won't leave its fog

Spooked by the sudden, terrifying attack, the party retreat back down the wide corridor. Whatever lies in wait, shrouded by the impenetrable mist, does not come forth to show itself. But they are sure it is an affront to all that is Good and Natural, and must be destroyed. Three vials of holy water are unstoppered, and passed round. Orvund, Inlina, and Mireille take them, and walk bravely into the billowing fog.

[Round 1 - it wins initiative]
It's hard to see beyond an arm's reach in the fog. But there is the suggestion of something big and bony moving about, tentacles flailing in every direction. Mireille feels a bone tentacle fly past her head, as she ducks just in time [it missed]. The three start sprinkling the holy water at everything that comes near -- or appears to. There is a sound of sizzling as drops of the pure liquid come in contact with the unholy, unseen thing [Mireille & Orvund hit; 6+2 damage reduces the wraith to 9hp].

[Rounds 2 & 3]
The three make a hasty retreat, as half-seen tentacles thrash wildly in the roiling mist. Orvund and Inlina ready their weapons to attack, to which the dwarf adds his axe. They advance into the fog to do battle. Orvund thinks he sees a white and bony body in the centre. Certainly his spear hits something hard [3 damage leaves it with 6hp]. But just as he is on the point of seeing the face of his hidden foe, a tentacle strikes from his unshielded side, knocking him momentarily senseless [5 damage puts him at 2hp].

[Rounds 4-6]
The bone creature has become timid, scarcely showing itself. they hear it moving about,but it is never where they believe it to be. They lash out time and again at the stark whiteness, only to have their blades pass through wisps of fog. [everyone misses]

[Round 7]
Orvund at last sees a definite shape ahead. He thrusts his spear with all his might. There is a cracking of bones, followed by a clattering and the unseen creature falls into its constituent pieces, which scatter over the stone floor.

They search in vain for treasure in the fog, finding only white bones. None can guess as to what creature the bones could have come from. And there seems to be no skull.

They go back they way they came, heading up the side passage and into an oddly-shaped room [Room 17 - Monster & Treasure & Environment]. Within is a black-robed man, holding a warhammer [an acolyte]. He is moving very slowly, so as not to disturb the thick layer of dust lying over the floor.

[environment -  choking dust: if stirred up by quick movement or combat, all within must save vs. poison or suffer -2 to attack rolls until 1d6 minutes after leaving the area. Check each round until a saving throw is failed; the penalty is non-cumulative. +4 to saves if prepared (cloth over the mouth & nose, holding breath, etc.)

reaction roll = 5
Q: Did the acolyte come through the gas corridor? No
Q: Why is he here? Befriend / Fears (he serves a monster in the dungeon)]

The man takes one look at the party, then shouts, "You lot are just here to rob the place! Sacrilege! Leave now whilst you still can!" [UNE: knowing-discourse-treasure]

Inlina responds with her crossbow. The bolt hits the man in the eye, and he falls like a discarded marionette [natural 20, 8 damage put him at -4hp]. A cloud of dust billows up around him. It takes the better part of a minute to settle, though the air is still full of particles. After waiting so long to search the man, the party are disappointed to find he has nothing of real value. Orvund does decide to trade his spear for the man's warhammer.

The corridor leading out of the room [K] is filled with some sort of gas or smoke, but it looks diffuse enough to risk going through it. This proves to have been a poor decision; after the first few steps, everyone is seized with shakes and blurred vision and nausea [gas - sickness, must return to surface].

They somehow make it out of the dungeon and back to civilisation in one piece. They will spend a day at the inn to recover, then head to the city for supplies; each of them now has a small fortune in gold.

[They each earn 317xp and get 5 gold coins. Everyone but the magic-user buys chainmail for the next expedition, in three days time.]


  1. (note -- I have not yet read past opening table)

    You missed my favorite tool in social games . . . but it would work in a solo one to as a "reason" . . . a dream.

    I often tell the least forthcoming (shyest) player about a "dream" his character has had . . . and it will get stronger and stronger each night until the party does something about it. The dream doesn't even need to be very specific . . .

    . . . one of my favorites was "the party has forgotten something critical; they will fail without it" . . . and I won't have anything in mind. The party will eventually come up with something that they will "need" (which often becomes the seed to a side adventure).

    Anyway, I'd suggest perhaps adding a "dream" as a cause for visiting the dungeon.

    (now to go read the rest of the post)

    -- Jeff

    1. You're absolutely right. I will be adding dreams to the table, along with 'sent to retreive/destroy an item', which I realised was another oversight.

  2. I think that I would have left the dungeon before they did . . . but I was not there.

    A nice little delve. And I have copied your TABLES for (perhaps modified) use in "Laughing Owl".

    -- Jeff

    1. They were in surprisingly good shape. I think I may have omitted the Cure Light Wounds on Orvund; he's not (quite) foolhardy enough to lead the way as the front-rank fighter on only 2hp!

      I'm looking forward to seeing what you make of my tables. May they serve you well!

    2. Delve #20 for Laughing Owl was finished prior to your charts . . . I just have not written it up yet . . . so don't expect too much yet.

      -- Jeff

    3. Not to worry. I always run behind with posting too.