Thursday, 3 December 2015

Dragon Warriors solo - Part X: The Mad Comte's treasure

Most of the chests in the room are broken and empty, but against one wall is a huge chest of painted hardwood reinforced with iron bands, sitting on its own small platform. Loys goes to open the chest...

[Of course it's trapped (1d6): 1-3 physical, 4-6 magic: 2; (the LL AEC trap tables produce spiked pit.

The trapdoor will affect Loys + [1d4-1=] 2 others. 1d3=Ysmena is furthest away. According to the Speed table, a trapdoor opening underfoot has a 13, so the other PCs need to roll higher than 13-Evasion on 2d10 to leap out of the way in time.

Loys: 13-3=10, 7=fall
Reynaud: 13-4=9, 12=jump out of way
Ailbert: 13-3=10, 9=fall

damage: 1d4 for 3m fall -2 for armour +4 for spikes

Loys takes 4 damage, leaving him with 6hp. Ailbert takes 6 damage, dropping him to 1hp.]

...and as he does a large section of the floor opens up beneath him. Ysmena is standing far enough back, and Reynaud is deft enough to leap to safety, but Loys and Ailbert tumble into a deep pit, with long iron spikes set into the floor. Loys' armour proves sound again the spikes, but poor Ailbert finds himself impaled, and is nearly killed. Ysmena advances to the rim of the pit, and holds the lantern over it. "Are you two alive down there?"

"I live," grumbles Loys, "but Ailbert will need some help to get off this spike. They're iron, so they must have been put here before our fairy friends moved in and -- hey! a door!"

Reynaud hacks off the dead bugbear's foot with his sword in order to slip the chain off its leg. He throws the chain down into the pit, and tests his weight against it. "I think this should be a safer way down," he says.

"Before we descend," says Ysmena, "I'm going to collect the goblin's treasure from the chest."

"I hope it is worth this effort," says Reynaud.

[Is it? rolling for the hobgoblin's treasure hoard class (1d6=4) indicates another Poor treasure.
4d12=24 florins
1d10=1 crowns
1d6-1=3 gems/jewellery worth 50F each
15% chance of 1 magic item: d%=01! : a 6th level scroll (Ysmena can use it, but won't know what it is until 6th level)]

Reynaud and Ysmena clamber down the chain easily [climb difficulty of 6, anyone with REF at least 6 (like the PCs) needs no roll]. Ysmena opens the little leather sack from the chest, and their hearts all sink a little: there's just a handful of coins and three bits of old jewellery. The magical scroll seems a real treasure, but Ysmena is forced to admit that she doesn't know what it does. The only way to find out would be to read it aloud and release the magic...

Turning back to the arcane arts she does understand, Ysmena heals Ailbert with her sorcery to keep him from bleeding to death [Lesser healing twice (2MP), bringing him up to 5HP; she's again down to her last magic point].

Then all eyes turn to the door. Reynaud volunteers to open it. Ailbert and Ysmena stand in position to launch missiles and magic through the doorway should a guardian be revealed beyond, Loys readies his sword to chard in afterwards. Reynaud then reaches a gauntleted hand towards it...

[Q: Is it trapped? Certain (2+): O4 C6, Yes
The trap is (1d6): 1-3 magical, 4-5 physical, 6 both: 1

I don't have a good magical trap table, so I usually roll on the LL AEC Random Characteristics table. The result this time is Twists. So touching the door causes a magical attack against everyone in the room, and if it succeeds the victim suffers a random madness (from DW p124). I gave it an arbitrary Magical Attack value of 12, or 18 for the one actually in contact with it. Die rolls:

L (12-5) < 11, resisted
R (18-4) > 13, succumbed
A (12-4) < 10, resisted
Y (12-7) < 14, resisted

Reynaud suffers Intermittent Catatonia.]

The instant Reynaud's fingers make contact with the door, a terrible noise begins to resound throughout the room. It is felt more than heard, waves of force vibrating forth from the door as if from an enormous bell. Everyone recoils in shock, save Reynaud, who stands motionless, his hand still outstretched. When it has subsided, they find that they are shaken but unhurt, but Reynaud still does not move. He does not even react when they shout at him, nor when Loys raps him hard upside his helm.

They are on the point of dragging him bodily out of the way when he suddenly pulls the door open and as if nothing had happened. "We'd better get going," he says.

Beyond the door is a short passageway that empties out into a vast chamber of dressed stone, whose far wall is beyond the reach of their lantern light. They advance into the darkness. "Hey," says Ysmena suddenly, "look at the floor. It looks like we just crossed the boundary of a large magic circle carved into it..."

On the other side of the room, a shape stirs in the darkness, and flops forth into the light, revealing a thing spawned in the very depths of Hell. Its bloated, shapeless body has two stubby arms terminating in wicked claws. There are no legs of which to speak, just a long serpentine tail. Two small, vestigial-seeming wings sprout at odd angles from its lumpy back, and its head is at the end of a long, snaky neck. It has no mouth nor nose nor face, just a single, huge, lidless eye taking up the whole of the head.

The heroes know they must slay this abomination or perish in the attempt.

[It's a Hellion, generated with the random tables in the DW Bestiary.

Attack 20, claw (d8,4)   Armour Factor 4
Defence 12               Movement: 15m
Magical Attack 16        Evasion 5
Magical Defence 8        Stealth 10
Health Points 23         Perception 4 (panoptical)
Rank Equivalent: 8th

Evil Eye (as the spell*)
Reflexes 17

* since it only has the one eye I'm not imposing the Attack & Defence penalties for lack of binocular vision. It can still see just fine because it's a fiend from the Pit.

There's no surprise. The initiative order is Hellion, Y, R, L, A; all actions were resolved in this order when I was playing, even though the narrative swaps some of it round in order to flow better.]

[Round 1]
The horror slows its advance, and rears back. An unearthly, pale blue light begins to stream forth from the baleful eye, as waves of pure evil wash over the heroes [it activates its Evil Eye power]. Ysmena is already speaking the words of a spell. A lance of flame darts forth from her outstretched fingers, but at the last instant the thing writhes away from it and is unscathed [she spent her last magic point on Dragonbreath, which it Evaded]. Reynaud charges with his sword pointing straight at the fiend. Loys follows hard behind, an earnest prayer upon his lips. Ailbert raises his crossbow and shoots. The bolt sinks deep into the thing's blubbery midsection, and oily pus oozes from the wound [the d10 ABR easily penetrates AF4; it takes 4 damage, putting it at 17hp]. Ailbert breathes a sigh of relief to see the damage his shot has done; he had feared it would prove immune to their weapons. Reynaud makes the mistake of letting his gaze meet the creature's. He feels a fire in his brain an d a pull on his very soul, but the staunch warrior will not let it take him so easily. "The eye!" he screams, "don't look at the eye!"

[Each PC has a 40% chance to meet the hellion's gaze; rolls are made at the end of each round. Those meeting the gaze are subject to a 1d12 Fright attack (roll 1d12-Rank; the character needs to beat this number on 2d10 or die!). Reynaud looked like a goner when I rolled a 12, but he was very lucky (2d10=15), so there was no ill effect. Evil Eye is subject to a spell expiry roll; it will end at the end of the round (after killing everyone) if it rolls a 12 on 2d6. It didn't expire this round.

Characters may elect to reduce the chance of meeting a gaze attack. For each 10% reduction they suffer a cumulative -1 attack and -2 defence. The PCs will all be using 20% reductions, for -2/-4. The hellion will be splitting its Defence equally between all attackers (up to 3).]

[Round 2]
As Reynaud averts his eyes, the creature blindsides him with a buffeting from one of its bony wings. The sheer force of the attack staggers Reynaud back a few paces, as he feels his ribs almost fracture from the strike -- even beneath his heavy plate [4 damage drops him to 6hp]. Wincing in pain for a moment, he can barely raise his sword for a counterstrike [missed]. Loys plunges his sword deep into the horror's midsection, and pulls it free, dipping with foul slime [crit for automatic ABR; 4 damage puts it at 13hp]. Ysmena averts her eyes, and takes a small copper flask out of the pouch at her belt and unstoppers it. Ailbert casts his crossbow aside and readies his battleaxe, also looking away.
[neither knight in mêlée meets its gaze, and the spell does not expire.]

[Round 3]
The beast batters Reynaud again with its stumpy wing, but this time the knight's armour saves him from injury [failed its ABR]. Reynaud's swift riposte draws a faint line across the thing's blubbery hide, but it seems not to even notice [also failed his ABR]. Loys nearly trips over the snaky tail, and cannot bring his sword to bear as he tries to right himself [rolled an 18, miss]. But as he does his eyes meet the terrible blue gaze of the creature. But as the evil glow starts to pull at his awareness, Loys shouts back, "You have no power o'er me, vile fiend!" [the Fright attack needed a 6 or lower to kill the knight, but the 2d10 roll came up 20.] Ailbert moves up to attack, whilst Ysmena drinks her elixir. Magical energy courses through her veins, restoring her to full capacity [the Potion of Replenishment restores 2d4=4 (all) MP].
[no spell expiry]

[Round 4]
The thing is still intent on battering Reynaud, but his armour protects him from the worst of it. He in turn cannot land a blow of his own. Reynaud catches a glimpse of the terrible eye, but he is far too wrothful to succumb. Ysmena uses her magic to sap the beast's strength [her magical attack for the Weakness spell succeeds, giving it penalties: -2 Attack -1 Damage]. Loys' sword again strikes true, opening another oozing wound in the creature's pulpy side [down to 9hp]. Ailbert's axe, however, practically rebounds off its thick hide.
[Ysmena's weakness spell also needs to make Spell Expiry Rolls; neither spell dissipates during the combat...]

[Rounds 5-7]
The creature and Reynaud are intent on battering one another into a pulp, but neither is capable of piercing the other's defences [failed ABRs all round]. Ysmena hurls bolts of fire at the slithering beast, but each time it twists away from the searing flame [Dragonbreath x2, both evaded]. Ailbert lands a punishing blow; a shower of gore splashes across the flagstones as he severs the last few metres of it tail [6 damage drops it to 3hp]. Loys stares defiantly into the terrible blue eye as he stands firmly before it. His sword flashes in the blue light, which is suddenly extinguished, as neck is severed cleanly from the body. The horrible thing falls to the floor with a sickening squelch, and Loys drives his sword one last time into the creature's very heart to end it.

Before everyone's astonished eyes the creature begins to disintegrate. Every part of it, even the gore and slime on their swords, disappears like dust blown off an old book. After a few heartbeats, it is as if the thing had never existed in the mortal realm.

The chamber proves to be mostly empty. Here and there are bits of mouldering bones,  broken weapons, and rusting armour, the remains of doughty knights come in search of the Mad Comte's treasury. Other than these, there is only the magic circle incised in the floor, whose far end begins underneath a heavy wooden door.

"Finally," says Ysmena, "the treasury."

"How can you be certain?" asks Loys.

"It's written in big letters right above... oh... right. I forgot."

"Good enough for me," says Reynaud impatiently, and kicks the door inward before anyone has a chance to respond.

The treasury is only the size of a modest castle bedchamber. A wooden latticework covers all four walls, even around the door. From the lattice are suspended the Mad Comte's treasures: the severed heads of all his enemies, most now no more than grinning skulls.

The knights stand in shock at the sight before them. Ailbert's teeth begin to chatter, so loud that he fears the others might hear. But Loys' and Reynaud's shock is of altogether a different sort.

"This is the Mad Comte's treasure?" says Loys. "There's no gold!"

"Nor even silver," add Reynaud.

"He wasn't called the Mad Comte for nothing," offers Ysmena.

"Yes, but... such a guardian... all for this..." mutters Loys.

"Wait!" says Reynaud, "bring the lantern forward. What's that gleam?"

Ysmena steps forward into the grisly treasure vault, holding the lantern high. On the floor is a glitter of gold and precious stones: the richly bejewelled cover of a book, lying where it had been angrily thrown so long ago. Forgetting herself, Ysmena scurries across to the book. She sets the lamp on the floor to examine the tome. The spine is badly broken, but the vellum pages are still held fast. She turns carefully to the first page, and reads aloud: His incipit Tractatus lachrymarum elementiciarum, sive doctrina regis annui sapientissimi, vesperi anteaquam trucidatus est sacerdotibus mandata...

"This is it!" exclaims Ysmena. She closes it carefully, and puts it into her pack for safekeeping.

"At least we can finally get away from these ruins," says Reynaud.

The knights turn and trudge back through the demon's room to the bottom of the pit. One by one they ascend the chain into the bugbear's lair, then Loys leads the way up the short passage to the surface. When he emerges, blinking his eyes against the light of the overcast day, he is greeted by a dozen or more archers, arrows nocked and aimed right at him...


  1. Here come the "tax man" . . . and there are only two things we are sure of in life . . .

    -- Jeff

    1. True, but adventurers sometimes get a saving throw.