Saturday, 7 November 2015

Dragon Warriors solo - Part VI: Amongst the ruins

N.B. From this point on, I'm using the variations I came up with for Mythic.

Scene 9

Chaos: Average d10

Setup: explore the ruins

NPC list: Lady Melisenda, Earl of Avincester, the Secret Enemy, Benoist the brigand

1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home
4. earl's mission

The ruins of Château Fittauges are in a fragmentary state; after the Mad Comte's enemies sacked the castle, they pulled down the curtain and destroyed the keep as best they could. There is many a stone building in the village up the road, built from the shattered fortress' remains. The destruction would have been more complete, but soon the noises started, and then the accidents. Rumour spread abroad that the Mad Comte's ghost was taking his revenge on those who dared steal his castle's stones, and the evil place was shunned.

Certainly travellers and bandits alike give the ruins a wide berth. Even the birds, it is said, dare not fly over the broken remains. But there are some brave souls or mad who seek their fortune amongst the shattered pile. And it is such a band -- four stalwart knights and a courageous sorceress -- who now approach on a chill autumn morn.

They move amongst the broken walls, pass beneath the crumbling archways into the shadows of once grand chambers. Each holds a weapon at the ready, fearing at any moment the unquiet dead might rise to repulse the living from their domain. Somewhere amongst these broken walls must lie the entrance to the secret vaults. But where?

[Each character needs to roll a Perception check in order to find something important. They get a +5 bonus to their scores for broad daylight, but even with the increase only Loys makes his roll.

Q: What does he find? 1d6: 1 hermit, 2 tower stairs, 3 kitchen stairs, 4 clue, 5 tracks, 6 well
2=tower stairs]

"Look here!" calls Loys. "Under these planks, it looks like a stair."

His companions rush to tower to see his discovery. Indeed, beneath a worm-eaten section of a collapsed upper floor, a stairway leads down into a dark, damp, and very narrow passage. It takes the combined might of all four to shift the old timbers aside.

"We must descend," says Loys sternly. "I shall lead with my lantern. Reynaud, you shall follow me, then Ysmena, and Ailbert shall guard our rear." Igniting his lamp, Loys makes his cautious way down the uneven steps. A praeternatural chill strikes him at the bottom, its icy fingers clutching at him between the very plates of his armour. His breath makes billowing clouds in the lamplight.

[My PCs may be completely in the dark, but I know the layout of this area as it is a real place to which I've been. I also decided in advance what monsters live here on the basis of having looked through the DW Bestiary and thought, "oooh, my adventure so needs those". I love random tables and all, but sometimes things just cry out to be in the adventure. So...

Q: Are they attacked in the passage? 50/50 (4+): Oracle die 5, Chaos die 0 - Yes
How many assailants? 1d4=1 (out of 5 + 1 leader)
Which? 1d6=6, the leader
PCs are Surprised.]

Loys creeps down the cramped passage. He can't quite stand upright, lest his helm keep scraping across the ceiling. "If there be creatures ahead in the blackness, he thinks, they must certainly know we're coming. 'Twere bad enough that the lantern announce our coming." The others are as quiet as they can be, and follow close behind. They proceed very slowly, ten paces, twenty, thirty, and yet the narrow channel leads forward.

Then a sound comes out of the blackness ahead, the beating of leathery wings. Seven chittering bats fly into the light, and swirl around the heads of the small company to attack. But then just as suddenly they vanish in a puff of acrid smoke [each got one attack before dissipating, but none managed to cause any damage].

Loys bids his companions pause for a moment and be still. Nothing is heard but their own anxious breathing, so they proceed once more down the winding passage.

[A Stealth roll is in order: 23-6(Loys' Perception) = 17
2d10=14, surprise - hiding up against the wall behind the bend, using a special power. When the PCs approach within 3m, percentile dice are rolled (40% chance, both roll under 40) for Loys and Reynaud, who both need to make subsequent REF rolls on 1d20. Loys makes his, but...]

There is a patch of black ice coating the floor. Loys slips, but manages to catch himself. Not so Reynaud, who tumbles to the ground with a clatter of armour plate. Ysmena tests the floor carefully with her feet, and finds she stands right before the ice patch. Planting her feet firmly, she helps the fallen knight back up. He mutters a quick thanks, his voice icier than the stones beneath him.

Loys is bending over to examine the ground more carefully, when two sharp pieces of flint whistle towards him out of the darkness. One clatters off the wall beside him, the other bounces off his sturdy helm [2 sling attacks (d6,3): one missed utterly (natural 20), the other scored a hit but can't penetrate plate (AF 6) unless a critical is rolled.]

There is the sound of footsteps padding away, footsteps very close indeed. Loys holds his shield before him, and takes a few tentative steps forward. The ice has disappeared. "Come," says he, "let's press on!" And he picks up his pace.

[Q: Further attacks? Likely (3+): Oracle die 5, Chaos die 9 - Yes]

More jagged flints are hurled out of the darkness. One makes a spark against Loys' heavy greave, the other bounds off his shield. He does not pause in his advance, and again two flints fly at him, but are unable to hurt him through his solid armour.

But then his lantern is suddenly extinguished. He stops dead in his tracks. Ailbert lets out a shriek of fright. Ysmena is mumbling something, and more flints are glancing off Loys' armour, clattering along the walls and floor.

A soft glow surrounds Ysmena, like the cool radiance of of the full moon [cast Moonlight for 1MP; it will last 10 minutes].

[Q: What do the enemy do? (1d6) 1-2 reinforcement attacks 3-4 magic 5-6 retreat
1= 1d4 reinforcements; there are now 4 attackers total]

As if in answer to the magical illumination, more and more flints come winging out of the dark, but still none can hurt the brave knight, who draws his sword and surges forth.

And then Loys is caught in fairy net of fine gossamer, which checks his advance. He struggles against it, all the while sharp flints pinging off his impervious steel shell. At last he breaks free, though glistening cobweb shreds still cling to his limbs. The hail of stones abruptly ceases, and the pattering of many small feet recedes into the distance, to be suddenly silenced by the slamming of a door.

[It took Loys two attempts at a STR check to be free of the net, during which time 8 more attacks either missed or could not pierce AF6. I asked Mythic--
Q: Do the attackers retreat at this point? Likely (3+): Oracle die 3, Chaos die 5 - Yes.]

Loys walks forward more boldly now, and the door at the end of the passage is soon in view. It's a solid, heavy affair, made even heavier by the damp, swollen wood. Rusting iron bands still cling to the warped surface, and the whole is covered in a thin frost that glistens in the magical light.

Loys removes his helm and listens at the door as best he can -- without pressing his ear to the surface [rolls 2d10=6, which is exactly his Perception, so I rolled on the Labyrinth Lord AEC Random Sounds table].

An eerie giggling is just audible to the knight. The sound sends a shiver up his spine. "They're waiting for us beyond, whoever -- or whatever -- they be." He replaces his helm, then applies all his might to the door, which bursts open with a wet scraping [to force a door requires a STR check on 1d20; each attempt causes 1HP damage. Fortunately Loys' first attempt is a success. He's now at 10HP.]

Loys' momentum carries him into a long, low room of grey stone, with numerous alcoves in the uneven walls. Two hideous creatures await him. They have the stature of malformed children, with over-sized heads, grey-green skin, and sharp, evil features. They are clad in rude peasant garb, save for the blood-red floppy caps they wear. Each holds in a twisted hand a sword formed from an icicle.

The two uncouth goblins are on Loys before he can react, stabbing at him with their icy blades.

[Round 1 - REF scores for the goblins are 14 and 9]

The first lunges at him as he is regaining his balance. It strikes up and under his shield, but the ice cannot bite into the solid steel plate [Loys is splitting his Defence equally between the two goblins. 13-4=9, the goblin rolls a 4. Their icicles count as shortswords (d8,3), but 1d8=5: deflected].

Reynaud follows Loys into the room [moving more than 2.5m, so can't attack], hoping to even the odds, but the second goblin ignores him in favour of his master. But Loys has recovered, and smashed the icicle sword away with his shield [the goblin hits, but 1d6=1: shield catches the blow]. As the goblin staggers back a pace, Loys swings his sword upward, nearly cutting the horrid sprite in twain. A terrible shriek issues from its twisted mouth, and its eyes burn with hate. It shall not be bested so soon! [Loys needed 16-7=9 or less to hit, and rolled a 3. 1d8=4, penetrating the goblin's AF1, 4 damage drops it to 1HP.]

[Round 2]
Ysmena and Ailbert shuffle into the room, and try to flank the fiendish imps. The faster one turns its attentions to Reynaud, and there is a clash of icy steel against steely ice, but neither weapon finds its mark [both missed]. Loys' opponent fares no better, and after a second useless feint finds itself impaled upon the knight's sword [natural 1 hits and automatically bypasses armour. 4 damage drops it to -3, dead]. It falls back as Loys retracts the blade, black blood gurgling from its sundered midsection.

[Round 3]
The other goblin turns to flee, but Reynaud cuts it down with a most unchivalrous blow between its shoulders [dropping it to 0hp]. As he finishes it off, a faint light is seen, very briefly, at the back of the room, revealing the foot of a staircase.

[Q: Any last attack? 50/50 (4+): O3 C5, No + Event: Cruelty / Dispute - Remote event (more on this later)]

Loys and Ysmena run to the staircase, only to find it empty. A sliver of light at its top reveals a door to the outside. "There must be more of these loathly goblins," says Loys.

"Yes, but let us search this chamber first," says Ysmena, "Perhaps there is a hidden door to a lower vault."

Ysmena and Loys search the room whilst Ailbert stands guard at stairs, and Reynaud at door to the passage (which he kicks shut). Ysmena bids Reynaud to rekindle the lantern whilst they're here; her magic will not last indefinitely.

[Q: Do the goblins keep their treasure here? 50/50 (4+): O5 C3 - Yes, but... well hidden

I used the treasure generator from the Cobwebbed Forest.

I decided that each line item would require a separate search roll. Giving them an effective Stealth of 12 against the PC's best Perception of 6 (12-6=6) means each item will be found on a roll of 7+ on 2d10. The lucky searchers find all but the ivory.

Copper Pennies: 21
Silver Florins: 14
Gold Crowns: 5
A small Carved Ivory of poor quality worth 14F.
A tiny Polished Obsidian Stone of poor quality worth 16F.]

The goblins have tucked all their precious treasures in to spaces between the stones, concealed them in the darkest corners, and buried them in piles of rubbish. Or perhaps the piles of rubbish are part of the goblins' hoard; who can say? Amongst the collected sticks, dried leaves, animal bones, oddly-shaped pebbles, bent copper pins, potsherds, lengths of string, and birds' nests, Loys and Ysmena manage to find a handful of coins -- copper, some silver, even a few gold -- and a small piece of polished obsidian. It's hardly a fortune, but it doubles our heroes' collective purse.

Not a one grumbles as Loys puts all the treasure in his own purse for safekeeping; in this the knight's honour is without reproach.

Weapons are readied, and then they climb the short stair. Ailbert has some trouble with the door but after a bit of effort he manages to pull it open. They are just in time to see four more stunted goblins running off in different directions, clambering up walls and cackling as they disappear amongst the ruins. Ailbert shoots after one with his crossbow, but the bolt whizzes past the creature and embeds itself in the grass.

He is about to reload when a pack of wolves comes into view. They appear on all sides of the party, and are even visible through the archway to their right. It would seem they have them up against a wall. And there is something unholy in the way that the wolves are staring at them, as if they are spurred on by an unnatural hatred.

[Since the hobgoblin is controlling the wolves, this will be a fight to the death. There are 2d10= 11 wolves. For convenience, their REF scores are all (3d6=) 15; initiative is thus Ysmena, wolves, other PCs. Wolves do d4,5 damage so 3 out of the 4 PCs could only be hit on a natural 1. That said, the wolves rolled an awful lot of natural 1s! The fight ran 15 rounds, so I will truncate the narrative a bit; this was definitely more fun to play out than it would be to read.

I sketched out a very rough battle map, and threw 11d6 down on top of it to determine how the wolves were positioned. Only 4 were close enough to move and attack in the first round.]

[Round 1]
The wolves descend on the company form all sides, backing them into a corner. As the knights steel themselves to receive the onslaught, Ysmena shouts words of arcane potency. A gout of flame leaps from her outstretched hand, immolating one of the onrushing wolves.

One of the wolves barrels straight into Loys. It fastens its jaws around his armoured calf and begins to worry the knight, nearly wrenching his limb out of joint [the very first wolf rolled a 1. Loy's shield didn't deflect the hit, so he took 5 damage, leaving him with 5hp; this invokes the optional Shock rule (5+ damage bringing the target under 10hp). He needs to roll his current HP or less on 1d10 to avoid passing out. Fortunately he rolls a 4].

Both Reynaud and Loys manage to wound one of the snarling wolves, but neither falls under their swords. Ailbert draws his own blade and moves to defend the unarmoured sorceress.

[Round 2]
There are now four wolves harrying Loys, and two on each of the others. Ysmena hurls a bolt of fire right into the jaws of the one closest to her, cooking it inside out [Dragonbreath again; she's now down to 1MP]. The wolf's fellow seems suddenly reluctant to approach the woman-who-burns-with-fire [or perhaps it just rolled a 19 on its attack...].

Loys brings the hilt of his sword down hard upon the wolf attached to his leg, crushing its skull.

[Rounds 3-4]
Ysmena squares off with a single wolf. It rushes in and sinks its teeth into her flank [5 damage drops her to 4hp; she rolls a 2 for her check against the shock]. She cries out in agony, but does not succumb. She slashes the wolf's shoulders open with her dagger, and it pulls back with a yelp.

Ailbert is beset by two wolves. One distracts him whilst the other nips at his exposed hands and face [he takes a hit: 5 damage drops him to 4hp. He makes his check vs. shock].

Reynaud is battered by the repeated lunges of a wolf, who practically rams into him. Again and again it comes, causing the knight to stagger backwards and almost fall [5 damage puts him at 8hp; makes the check vs. shock]. As it readies for another pounce, his shining sword drops the monster -- for monsters these truly be!

Loys keeps his shield between himself and two of his foes, and hacks at the third until it lies still.

[Rounds 5-7]
Her weeping wound makes Ysmena feel desperate. She calls upon her ultimate reserve of magical energies to throw one last bolt of flame. But the wolf springs aside, and it merely blackens a patch of grass.

Loys is knocked down, and moves not [5 damage drops him to 0hp, hors de combat]. His sword falls from his limp fingers. Reynaud cries out in anguish at the sight, drawing the attention of the slavering wolves above his master. They waste not a moment but spring right for him [technically I rolled a d3 for each to see who they went for next].

Reynaud finds his sword-arm nearly wrenched from its socket as a wolf clamps its maw around his wrist [5 damage leaves him with 3hp; makes his shock roll]. He just manages to shake it off, and when it lunges for him again it rushes full into his blade. Another tries to sneak in under his guard, only to break off a tooth on the rim of his shield [the wolf hit on a 1, but Reynaud's shield roll also came up one, negating it].

[Rounds 8-15]
Nor Ailbert nor his foes have made much of a showing in the battle. Even the sorceress behind him has managed to score more hits with her dirk. After she fells the wolf before her, she runs back a bit to take up Loys' shield. And it is then that Ailbert finally slays a wolf of his own.

Reynaud is hacking at wolves in every direction. But even as he lays one low another jumps upon him. He loses his balance, and is propelled backwards, landing hard against a flagstone. He does not get up [5 more damage puts him at -2hp -- one away from death].

Ailbert and Ysmena fight back to back, prepared to make a valorous last stand if the Fates today would cut their threads. But in the end they still stand. When the last of the wolves has been slain, they rush to sides of their fallen comrades, and exalt to find they yet live.

[Loys is at exactly 0hp. Reynaud is at -2, and so suffers a permanent injury: head injury, -1IN (he now has 7 Intelligence.]

Ysmena and Ailbert drag their unfortunate friends off into the nearby copse. "I am drained of magic," says Ysmena, "and must wait until midnight before I can use any more. Can you stand guard?"

[Q: Does Ailbert have the resolve? Certain (2+): O6 C2, Yes, and...]

"My lady," says Ailbert falling to his knee, "I swear upon this my sword that no harm shall befall any of us whilst I keep watch!"


  1. Uh, doesn't he know that one shouldn't swear oaths that they may not be able to keep?

    -- Jeff

    1. Ailbert's problem is that he absolutely doesn't know he shouldn't make such vows. He's a bit naive and tends to adopt the morality of whoever is in charge. Loys likes to fancy himself as the hero in a chivalric romance; he'd make the same vow, though neither he nor Ysmena are foolish enough to believe it. Reynaud wouldn't have even bothered with the pretence to heroism.

  2. This DW solo adventure is both fantastic and inspiring. Thanks to your example, I'm now puttering around with my own solo RPG effort. Thank you for sharing with us.

    1. Thank you! I am glad it's inspiring. What are you working on?