Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Traveller - Star Trader: part 2 of an occasional series

[It's finally time for another instalment of Star Trader with classic Traveller, continued from here.

We left the party last time practically stranded at the starport in the asteroid belt of Fpozz/Foreven (2933 D000320-9 As Lo).

Full subsector details are here.]

- - -

Day 68

So it was decided. Aouth left without so much as a wave goodbye, and the four of us were left to look for a cargo. Diula and the doc really think we should be trying to find something a little less legal and more profitable. At this point I'm keeping an open mind. I can't really afford to say no, can I? But I'll be lucky to find a cargo at all in this backwater belt, legal or no!

. . .

Later: I found 30t of Liquor @ 12000cr/tonne. Says something about this place that no one here wanted it. Not like there's aught else to do here! Hells, I was half tempted to drink it all myself and put an end to this misery. Anyways, now I just need to find a ship to move the stuff.

Day 69

Only ship available is a type-s scout -- not enough cargo room. Shit.

[no random Port Events indicated this week]

Day 74

Finally, a free trader in port - the Terpsichore. Bound for Uloryy, and they got 35t free in their hold, too.

Diula & the Doc agreed to stay with the ship whilst me and Orneev make the cargo run.

totalling receipts--
starting ship's fund Cr905571

 -360000 liquor
    -300 warehouse fees
    -300 additional berthing fee (100cr/day)
    -360 food

  -16000 2x mid passage
  -30000 cargo space

    -120 living until departure in 3 days
    -300 berthing
    -300 warehouse

Cr497891 new ships fund

I'm leaving Kcr200 with Diula for emergencies & to prove my bona fides.

so fund is really Cr297891, and a prayer they don't screw us over.

[Day 77

The Terpsichore leaves Fpozz bound for Uloryy. No ship encounter is rolled, and there is no problem with the jump.

jump event: Crewman has an affair with a passenger
A free trader has a crew of, and there are 5 staterooms for passengers. Inty and Orneev are double-occupancy, as they are travelling Middle Passage.
Q: Which crew member: d4=2, engineer
Q: Which passenger: 1-4 NPC, 5 Orneev, 6 Inty; 1d6=2, phew!

This doesn't concern her, so the good captain won't be recording gossip about other travellers in her log.]

Day 85

arrive back in Imperial space at Uloryy/Foreven (3033 A877758-7 Ag)

Quiet trip in-system. [no ship encounter, misjump, or engine failure]

Hit the ground running and in no time at all my dear Orneev found a buyer for the liquor. I guess there's plenty more farmers than belters like to drown their sorrows.

[selling cargo: the -3 for selling liquor on an Agricultural world offsets Orneev's +3 for his Broker skill level. But the dice were very kind; 2d6=12: sell at 170% value]

So we're Cr510000 richer. Or is that less poorer? It sure as hell aint the Mcr10 we need to fix the Hekabe.

Day 86

Located a cargo for speculation: 8t ammo @12000/ton (super cheap!). Such a small cargo, we're going to wait and see if there is anything else on offer before we make the trip back.

Day 87

[World event: Goods are on offer direct from the grower/manufacturer. It is top quality stuff that will sell with a +1 bonus.]

This morning Orneev asks if I fancy a trip to the countryside. How romantic, I says. Actually, I got a really good business tip, he replies. Oh, you do know the way to a girl's heart!

We drove out of the city in some rental car -- wheeled, no less. The roads turned into just dirt tracks as soon as we passed the city limits. I swear, the car's engine was complaining more than the Hekabe's jump drives before they gave out. We travelled what seemed dozens of kilometres, and navigating with a paper map, we were really out in the wilds. Purple fields as far as the eye can see under a sorta orangey sky, it was kind nice scenery I have to admit. Plus the ground car had a sealed cabin, so we didn't have to wear filter masks inside. Except for the noise, and the bumpy road, and the broken radio, it wasn't such a bad trip.

We ended up at some big farm with acres and acres of orchards out back. They was selling some sort of fruit with an unpronounceable local name. It was mottled grey and oblong and really squishy, and if I hadn't seen other people eating it I never would of dared. It was really nice though! Orneev did a deal with the farmers, and bought a huge consignment: 35t of fruit @1200cr/ton. Plus free delivery to the starport. Plus a crate of fruit on the house, which we're going to bring back to share with Diula and the doc... if they haven't scarpered by then.

Day 88

Back in port the next day I went looking for a ship. The Terpsichore was still sitting there, and her listed destination was right back to Fpozz. She had 60t to fill in the cargo hold, too. They were a pretty tight outfit on that ship, so I sent a message to the captain to meet up, and he said they'd be happy to have us and our 43t of cargo. Decided we'd spring for High Passage this time, and they gave us adjoining staterooms to make a suite.

[Looking for a ship via Star Trader once again came up with Free Trader. I gave it a 1 in 6 to be the same ship that brought them to Uloryy. There was no random Port Event.]

funds on hand: Cr297891

 +510000 sell liquor
  -96000 buy ammo
   -1280 living expenses for the week
  -42000 fruit
  -43000 cargo space
  -20000 high passage x2

Cr605611 new on hand

Day 91

Jumped out of Uloryy. Things were going fine, but the ship felt a bit funny, couldn't put a finger on it though. Later I overheard the captain asking the engineer if everything was fixed in engineering, and if the power plant would hold until the next scheduled maintenance. I hate to say it, but their trouble made me feel a little better about the state of the Hekabe.

[Jump Event: Power failure – several tripped fuses, shuts down power in parts of engineering. The ship's engineer has a skill level of Engineer-1: he rolls 11+1, and fixes it before anyone was truly worried. But I asked Mythic--
Q: Does Inty notice anything at all? 50/50: 48, Yes.]

Day 98

arrived back at Fpozz/Foreven (2933 D000320-9 As Lo)

Quiet trip towards the starport. Wonder what we'll find when we get there...

=== === ===

[What will they find indeed? Diula and the Doc have had 21 days on Fpozz (starting from day 77). My intention is just to use the standard Star Trader charts to see what they get up to, and perhaps a bit of Travelling Alone as well; they aren't just going to play cards aboard ship for three weeks.

But what would a classic Traveller adventure be without a 1d6 table to determine the possible complications? So:

1. Diula (1-3) or the Doc (4-6) takes money & runs
2. Diula finds "special" cargo and is waiting with it
3. Diula has found "special" cargo and left doc whilst she delivers it
4. Doc is blackmailing Diula (1-3 wants money, 4-6 wants ship shares)
5. argument has erupted, minor only
6. argument has erupted, use combat rules

I haven't played the next part yet, but I hope to soon. Sorry for the suspense, but I haven't even rolled the d6 yet to find out where things start...]

Saturday, 20 June 2015

"Drink me"

or, potions and their labels.

This came about as the conflation of two ideas that had been knocking around in my head about fantasy RPG treasure.

NPCs can and should use any magic items in their possession just like PCs do. But PCs often acquire items of whose function they are ignorant, at least for a time. Why then, should NPCs be any different?

Potions are a common and useful treasure, and part of the fun of them has always been figuring them out -- usually by seeing who in the party is brave or desperate enough to drink one without knowledge of its effects. All well and good as a sort of trope, but why is it that no one ever thinks to put a damn label on the bottle?

The following tables can be used whenever potions are found as treasure or carried by encountered NPCs, to determine (separately) whether a potion is labelled and whether or not its owner knows the true contents of the vial. They are written with Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules in mind, but should be easily adaptable to any fantasy game, OSR or otherwise. The base assumptions are that potions of the same type do not necessarily have similar the same colour, taste, etc., and that it is not possible to determine the effects of a given potion from just a small sip. It also assumes that it is possible to have alchemists or wizards examine a potion to determine its nature (for a fee), and that these sorts of persons will naturally be found in larger settlements.  As always, the circumstances of your campaign will take precedence.

The first set of tables deal with the possibility that a potion is labelled. The second set is used to determine how a label is written, and the third determines whether the label is accurate. There is a subsection to determine if an NPC possessing a labelled potion knows what it is, including a chance that they are actually mistaken. There is a separate section at the end to determine if an NPC knows the nature of an unlabelled potion, or one whose label they cannot read.

That the tables are written as though a single NPC is encountered. If an NPC party is encountered, use the modifiers for the single best character in the group -- assuming that they get on well enough to not sabotage their companions. If you're in a hurry to flesh out an encounter, it might be best to ignore the labelling until afterwards, in which case just skip to the end and roll everything on the Unlabelled/Unknown chart.

Step I: Is the potion labelled?

There is a base 1 in 6 chance of there being a label on any given potion bottle. This roll is modified by the following conditions:
+1 if 2 or 3 potions carried/found together
+2 if 4+ potions carried/found together
+1 if property of alchemist, magic-user, or elf (alive or otherwise)
+1 if the encounter is in a city (any size), or town with a resident alchemist

If a potion bottle is unlabelled and in possession of an NPC, skip directly to Unlabelled/UnknownPotions to determine their knowledge of the contents.

Step II: Can you read the label?

If multiple potions are found together, the labelling scheme is very likely to be the same for all of them (roll of 1-5 on a d6). Roll 1d10 on the following table to determine how the potion(s) are labelled. Exact languages will depend on your campaign, of course.

d10 label is written in:
--- --------------------
 1  common language*
 2  ancient language**
3-5 scholarly language**
 6  exotic or monstrous language***
 7  meaningless writing†
 8  incomprehensible mark(ings)††
 9  alchemical symbol(s)†††
 0  a arcane single sigil§

* location dependent; if the potion is found in the ruins of the Lost City of the Zorg, then this would be Zorgese, the same result as rolling a 2. If it is in the possession of a 1st level fighter you meet in the tavern of Adventureville, it's in Common.

** magic-users, elves, and alchemists make a language roll at +3, all others have normal chances. Scholarly languages are often ancient (e.g. Latin in the Middle Ages) but may also be modern languages (e.g. German in 19th century Europe), or even monstrous tongues (Draconic et al.).

*** either a modern language spoken by an uncommon or distant PC race, or the tongue of some monstrous species, local or otherwise.

writing that offers no clue to contents ('Drink me', 'property of Xarrtog', '8975-A', etc.; roll 1d10-4 for these if you need to know the language of the unhelpful writing, treating results of less than 1 as 1.)

†† only intended for the writer's benefit. Indecipherable by normal means.

††† magic-users and elves make a language roll at +1, alchemists at +5, others at -2

§ magic-users and elves make a language roll at -1, all at others -3

N.B. Language rolls are as described on page 37 of the LotFP Rules & Magic Book. In brief, the check succeeds on a roll of (1 + INT modifier) or lower on 1d6. Rolling to read a potion label will not necessarily imply that a character has full knowledge of the language in question, rather that their familiarity with the tenets of alchemy and magic is such as to provide exposure to ancient and esoteric terminology. LotFP uses the same attribute modifiers as Labyrinth Lord and B/X.

Step III: True or False?

Assuming the label can be read, it will be necessary to determine whether or not it tells the truth. A roll of 5 or less indicates a true label, with the die type determined by the following circumstances:

1d6  if found in treasure
1d8  if carried by NPC
1d10 if carried by a real arsehole of an NPC

roll label is:
---- ---------
1-5  true
6+   false

If an NPC has a falsely-labelled potion, roll 1d8 or 1d10 (die type as above) on the following table if they are able to read it:

roll result
---- ------
1-5  NPC is ignorant of actual contents: thinks it is as marked
6-7  re-used bottle; NPC knows actual contents
8+   deliberately false label; NPC did it on purpose

Circumstances will dictate whether or not an NPC imparts this information to the PC(s), though rolls of 8+ will almost certainly result in the NPC lying.

Unlabelled/Unknown Potions

An NPC possessing a potion with no label or a label they cannot read will still have a chance of knowing what the potion is. A roll of 6+ indicates that they do know what a given potion is (check for each separately). The die type is determined by their general location at the time of the encounter.

If the NPC is -
In a dungeon: 1d6
In the wilderness: 1d10
In civilisation/home: 1d12

Magic-Users and elves add their INT bonus
Alchemists add double their INT bonus (or only half the penalty)
Characters 5th level or above (of any class) add an additional +1

roll result
---- ------
1-5  unknown
6+   known

The location assumes that potions will be found in dungeons, lairs, etc., and typically must be taken back to civilisation in order to determine their true nature. The closer an NPC is to civilisation, the more likely it will be that they will have managed to identify a potion or pay someone else to do it. If the NPC's reason for being somewhere is more definite than 'random encounter', roll the most logical die type. E.g. an assassin who has tracked the PCs from the city and decides to strike at them whilst they are exploring a dungeon would have a d12 for the civilised area they had been in until just recently.

Monday, 15 June 2015

LotFP solo dungeon crawl - Part VI

Three days later, resplendent in their magnificent new panoply, the brave adventurers once again descend into the Vile Vaults.

[They pass through the area they had explored without incident. Nothing's been restocked, and all the wandering monster checks came up nil. The real narrative starts at room 18, so...]

The room [Room 18 - monster only] is odd shaped, and old tapestries -- some almost completely faded with age -- line most of the walls. The chamber appears otherwise empty. But there is movement in the darkness beyond the edge of the lamplight. And then the party are surrounded by by a gaggle of vicious, biting, hateful monstrosities disgorged from some nameless nether realm. They hop forward awkwardly, but their talons make no sound against the stone floor. They are upon the party before anyone has a chance to react.

infernal monstrosities
unintelligent AL:C
AC: d13, HD 1/2, Move: 60', bite: 1d8, ML: 10 #appearing: 2d6
silent movement (surprise on 1-5)

[Surprise round]
The beasties snap with their fearsome jaws. For the most part, they seem unable to penetrate the fine new coats of mail purchased for the expedition. The dwarf, however, finds one attached to his forearm. And whilst the mail holds true, the sheer pressure of the monstrous jaws nearly splinters his bones [4 damage drops him to 4hp].

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
The creatures are more awkward than terrifying. Orvund, Inlina, and Mireille kill one each. Only Mireille is hit, as another takes the place of the one she killed, and its jaws slice right through the cuirbouilli she wears [3 damage drops her to 3hp].

[Round 2]
Unzukorag manages to shake the horrid thing off his arm at long last, and cuts it in half as it rushes back at him. Everyone but Brother Bromner slays another.

[Round 3]
Orvund smashes the last of the weirdly silent things flat with his warhammer.

Other than the tapestries, there is nothing at all in the room. Not even droppings or evidence of the monsters' presence. The party soon give up searching, and head out down a short passage.

The next chamber [Room 19 - Environment only] is a very large, hexagonal amphitheatre. Row upon row of theatre-style benches are carved directly into the rock, one below the next, leading down to a large open stage-in-the-round. Immense iron braziers are evenly space around both the top and bottom rows, though none of them are now lit. The room is otherwise empty [but any wandering monsters encountered here in the future will be evil cultists, like the acolytes that will be encountered in the next room; serendipity seems to lurk in most random dungeons].

Not wishing to linger in the amphitheatre where the feeling of evil hangs palpably in the very air, the party make a hasty exit out the other side. The corridor bends, then ends in a door which hangs ajar. Light comes from within, and the sound of human voices.

Upon entering the room [Room 20 - Monster & Treasure], one is immediately struck by the sombre wall-hangings, and the piles of iron and bone ritual equipment occupying an array of shelves, and taking over even the surface of some benches and low tables. Five cloaked and hooded forms [4 acolytes + 2nd lvl leader] move amongst the ritual paraphernalia. Each bears a symbol of uttermost evil. There can be no question of parley with such as these!

a c1 m  3 10 13 13  6 13  6 16 chain, dagger, detect good
b c1 f 11 12 10 14 12  8  4 16 chain, lt. mace, bless
c c1 m 10  9 10 11  8  7  4 14 leather, warhammer, command
d c1 m  6 16 10  6 13 10  7 14 leather, spear, cure light
e c2 f  8 10 12 15 16 16  6 18 plate, hand axe, sanctuary, cure light

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
Inlina shoots her crossbow at the one she (correctly) surmises to be the leader, but the bolt is deflected by the heavy armour the woman wears beneath her robes. The rest of the party advance, to face off against the evil cultists. Orvund lays one low with a mighty blow from his hammer [8 damage drops A to -2hp]. Mireille runs the spear carrier through with her rapier [6 damage leaves D with 1hp], but the fanatic fights on.

The leader has held back for a moment, and uses the dark power of her unwholesome god to reinvigorate her bloodied compatriot; black oil fills his veins, and coagulates around the deep, piercing wound, stopping him from bleeding out his lifeblood. His eyes flash with renewed purpose, and fearsome rage [Cure Light Wounds healed him 1d6+2=5 points back up to 6hp]. Another of the cultists shrieks out a plea to the infernal powers, promising to perform unspeakable deeds in exchange for their aid [B casts Bless on herself]. The final cultist presents his symbol of wickedness to Brother Bromner, commanding him to "Begone" with all the might of the abyss [casts Command], but the staunch cleric merely laughs, as he knows his God of Light is shining down upon him, even in this despicable underworld of evil [he makes his saving throw].

[Round 2]
Inlina draws her rapier and moves forward, planting the blade firmly in the chest of the nearest cultist [C takes 8 damage, dropping to -4hp]. The man chokes as the blade pierces his heart, and he falls dead at her feet. Mireille slashes the spearman again, this time across the face, and nearly severs his jaw [D takes 8 damage, dropping him to -2hp]; he collapses from shock. The hook Sister Sinnet's polearm catches in the armour of the cult leader. She pulls it heartily and not only dislodges a pauldron, but tears through the shoulder below [polearms give +1 to hit heavy armour; E takes 5 damage, leaving her with  1hp]. The fiendish woman's black prayer is cut short by her cry of pain, and her daemon-god is not amused by this show of weakness [her spell casting is disrupted since she took damage]. Unzukorag faces off against a cultist [B], who comes at him with her mace. But her faith in her dark gods is not fervent enough; the dwarf catches every blow on his shield [even with the bonus from Bless, she missed].

[Round 3]
Inlina lunges at the leader. Her blade pierces the woman's now-unarmoured shoulder [rolls 19+2, -2 for rapier vs. plate, hits E for 2 damage dropping her to -1hp]. She falls and is still. Unzukorag makes short work of the remaining cultist, his heavy axe smashing through the man's mail shirt and the torso beneath.

Some of the fallen acolytes are still breathing. Each is put to the sword to end their malicious ways permanently. They are stripped of all valuables, possessing a good deal of jewellery between them -- stolen, no doubt [each of them has Treasure Type U; 4x jewellery is all that is present, but it's worth a fair bit: 1200sp, 800sp, 1200sp, 1500sp]. They also each wear a large silvered symbol of their unholy cult. The two clerics borrow Orvund's warhammer to smash these to pieces on the stone floor. The hangings are pulled from the walls, and  all the movable furnishings and wicked cult-objects are piled in the centre of the room. The clerics solemnly set these evil things to the torch before leaving the chamber.

The party make their way quickly back through the amphitheatre and to the odd-shaped room [Room 18], which they exit through the door they had overlooked earlier, which open immediately into a spacious square chamber.

The centre of the room [room 21 - monster & treasure] is empty, but each side wall has a low vaulted alcove, in which rests a pair of mismatched sarcophagi. The stalwart adventurers are not surprised in the least to see the lids slide back, and the undead occupants emerge. The four horrible cadavers are foul and rotten, their withered flesh dripping with a greenish oily fluid.

dripping cadavers
semi-intelligent AL:C
AC: 18, HD: 1, Move: 60', claws: 1d6+poison, ML: 12 #appearing: 1d8
poison causes shakes and nausea: 1d6 additional damage, and -2 to hit & skills for 1d6 hours
Treasure Type B

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
The dripping cadavers shamble forth, and the adventurers are waiting with weapons bared to meet them. The horrid things are single-minded in their advance. They do not even attempt to ward off the blows rained down upon them -- nor, it would seem, do they need to. They feel no pain, and despite their shrivelled and decaying forms, emerge from under a flurry of steel almost intact, held together as they are by wicked sorcery and infernal hatred. u hits 1tOnly the dwarf's stout axe is even able to make one of the things flinch [1 damage put it at 1hp; everyone else misses].

Their oily clawed fingers are little use against iron mail, but they grab at any exposed flesh. Unzukorag takes a heavy bash atop his helm by an exceptionally strong, bony fist [3 damage leaves him with 5hp], but the oily secretion does not drip down into his face [made his saves vs. poison]. Orvund feels the claws dig into his neck [4 damage puts him at 5hp], and wound burns from the awful venom [failed save; 1 more point of damage].

[Round 2]
Orvund feels shaky and weakened as the poison courses through his veins [-2 to hit from poison]. His hammer swings fall short of their mark. Inlina nearly manages to decapitate one of the things, leaving its head to loll at a bizarre angle [6 damage leaves it with 1hp]. Unzukorag cuts his enemy to pieces with a well placed blow from his axe. It falls into a gruesome, oily puddle of flesh and bones.

[Rounds 3 & 4]
Flushed with success, the dwarf powers into another one, ending its unnatural existence. Each of the clerics is suffused with the righteous might of their deity, and dispatch the remaining two before they can inflict any more harm.

The battle ended, Brother Bromner prays that the Light God remove the hurt of His servant Orvund. Perhaps it is Orvund's own shaky faith that stands in his way; his wounds close up but are still sore to the touch, and he is yet wan and trembling from the insidious poison [Cure light wound restores 1d6+1=3hp, bring him up to 7; of course it won't help with the poison].

The dwarf dismisses Sister Sinnet's attempts to heal his wound with a curt "mind you go fuss o'er someone else," as he proceeds to rifle through the greasy interiors of the sarcophagi for loot. He is rewarded with a pair of shining gemstones [500sp each]. He tears off a strip of fabric from his cloak to wipe them clean before stowing them in his pack [I decided he needed to save vs. poison for going through the filth in which the undead had lain; being a dwarf he made the roll easily].

The door leading out of this crypt opens right into a long, ovoid chamber [Room 22 - stairs down 1 level]. The walls were once carved in low relief, but the figures thereon have been defaced by the claws of some great beast -- which last the party is relieved to find absent. A staircase descends into darkness. No sound is heard from below, and so, emboldened by their recent successes against evils both living and undead, the party proceed downward.

At the bottom of the stairs, the corridor continues straight. As the party proceed down it, they hear a sudden, sharp metallic sound, as three spears shoot out from recesses in the stairs behind them [C - spear trap, spears attack as 2nd level fighters]. One of them clatters against the ground, but Unzukorag and Brother Bromner are both hit [U 4 damage to 1hp; B 3 to 2hp]. This time, the dwarf does not protest at Sister Sinnet's ministrations [cure light wounds heals him back up to 5hp]. Listening in the darkness, they hear more mechanical noises, perhaps the trap is resetting itself and loading more spears. They proceed apace down the corridor lest they suffer more shafts out of the darkness.

The short corridor leads into an empty chamber [Room 2.3 - Trick/Trap]. Everyone scurries inside and away from the entrance; who knows how far the next spears might fly? But moments after they are inside, a stone wall slides across the entrance [D], sealing them inside. They've no choice but to press onwards.

As they approach the passage leading out of the room, they hear the sound of running water ahead. They walk towards it, and emerge into a long room, bisected by an underground river [Room 2.4 - actually from the side passages Special table]. The stone floor slopes down to the water, and becomes rougher and more like a natural cave. A few stalagmites even rise from the ground by the river's edge. They can just make out the opposite shore with the light from their lantern. A rowboat bobs in the current, tied to one of the stalagmites on the far shore.

Orvund is the strongest swimmer, despite still feeling woozy from the poison. He refuses to hear the others' protests, and they eventually concede to let him swim across to the boat. Besides, he says, the cold water might just do him a world of good [in retrospect, I should have re-rolled the 1d6 hours for the poison duration, and kept the result if it were lower than the original. Or maybe even given him a chance of a new saving throw]. Orvund strips down to his breeches, and ties a length of rope round his waist, giving the other end to the dwarf. He wades into the chilly water and begins to swim across.

[Q: Which direction does it flow? south to north
Q: Is anything lurking in the water? No.
Q: Is the current exceptionally strong? No.

Orvund needs to roll lower than his STR (at -2 for nausea) on 1d20 to swim across without incident. He succeeds.]

Orvund swims across to the boat, and is [Q: oars? Y] happy to find a pair of oars inside. The boat seems just big enough for six passengers. He rows back to the other shore and his waiting companions. "Well," he says, peering downstream into the darkness, "aren't you all interested?"

They are. Orvund puts his armour back on, and they all pile into the boat and head down river.

[Q: Does the river lead anywhere interesting? Exceptional Yes.
Q: Does it go far? No.]

They haven't gone more than a few hundred feet when they come to a landing [F] carved into the cavern wall. Beyond it, the cavern ceiling droops down further and further, and it seems unlikely they could progress further without getting the boat stuck or drowning. They moor the boat on a large iron ring set into the stone platform, open a simple iron door, and head down the corridor beyond it.

At the corridor's end stands an ornate door of iron, with indecipherable sigils incised in whorled patterns across its surface. It opens at the merest touch. The room beyond [Room 2.5 - Monster & Treasure & Environment] is very large, and lit by rows of torches set into the walls, burning with unnatural green-tinged flame. There is a fine mist pervading the chamber, which whirls and eddies in the torchlight and smells unaccountably of sandalwood. At the far end of the chamber is a great wooden coffer painted with pictures of knights fighting a losing battle against winged demons. Before it, four low stone benches or biers are set into the floor, and a naked human corpse, shrivelled and wasted as if dried in the sun, lies atop each.

[The above description of the room is merely a flight of fancy. The actual Environment I rolled is: Disease - anyone passing through the room must save vs. poison or catch a random disease. Anyone injured in combat in the room saves at -4].

As the party enter the room, the corpses animate, standing up from their biers and coming forward with grasping claws outstretched.

dessicated corpse things
semi-intelligent AL:C
AC: 14, HD: 2, Move: 90', claws: 1d6, ML: 12 #appearing: 1d8
cannot be turned, immune to fire
Treasure Type B

[Round 1 - initiative is tied; monsters act on DEX-rank 11]
The things move surprisingly swiftly, given their state. Inlina shoots her crossbow as they advance, but the bolt sails over the shoulder of her target. Mireille hurls her last vial of holy water. The glass shatters against the sternum of one of the cadavers, and the blessed liquid within burns and froths against its withered flesh like acid [4 damage leaves it with 1hp]. Sister Sinnet deals only a glancing blow with her poleaxe [1 damage puts it at 12hp]. And then the cadavers are upon them! One batters Orvund with its fists,  smashing the fighter's shield back into his own face and sending him reeling [4 damage drops him to 3hp]. Another finds a weak spot in Brother Bromner's mail. Terrible claws push aside the straining links and rend the flesh beneath. He falls to the ground, a bloody pool already spreading over the stone from underneath him [4 damage put him at -2hp]. Unzukorag tries to avenge the fallen cleric, but the cadaver swats his axe out of the way [taking 1 point of damage, leaving it with 10hp].

[Round 2]
Mireille draws her rapier [-2 to hit], and lays low the cadaver facing her, still smouldering as it was from the holy water. Orvund joins Sister Sinnet in the fray; his hammer smashes through dry ribs, causing a shower of flaking skin. Her poleaxe glances off the top of its skull -- and yet it comes for her [4+6 damage leave it with 2hp]. It rushes past the warrior to grab the warrior nun, and its brutal flailing fists land on both her shoulders with a terrible crack. She collapses at its feet [6 damage puts her at -2hp].

[Rounds 3-7]
After taking both clerics out of action, the cadavers seem to lose their unholy might. Mireille takes a painful bruise to the ribs [1 damage puts her at 5hp], but none of the others are touched. Perhaps losing a third of their number has convinced the living to fight more defensively. Whatever the case, the fight stretches on, and the living dead are vanquished in the end.

The clerics' sacrifice was not in vain (though it is unlikely they would see it this way); the painted wooden coffer is full of treasure [Treasure Type B]. Amongst ruined piles of silk garments and worm-eaten furs, there are 1000 silver coins and three good-sized gemstones [500sp, 100sp, 1000sp].

And the clerics still live, though only just, and they won't survive much longer unless a way back to the surface can be found. In fact, none of them will. The survivors have a swift conference, and decided on a plan of action.

They split the pile of silver between the clerics' packs, and bring both packs and injured clerics back to the boat. They row back to the landing where Orvund first got the boat [E], moor the boat on the stalagmite, and take the clerics ashore. They are laid out, and hidden amongst the rocky ground in the cavern [room 2.4] as best they can be. The sacks of coins are left beneath their heads like pillows. The plan is to find the way out first, and then come back for the bodies and the loot. It would be too risky to take everything with them, as the weight would slow them down considerably.

A single long passage leads away from the riverbank. The party follow it round a bend and past a worm-eaten wooden door, to a more promising looking portal at the end of the corridor. The door opens onto a balcony overlooking a flight of stairs leading down [Room 2.6 - Special: stairs down 2 levels]. The dwarf notices something odd about the far wall, and after examining the stone for a few moments finds a secret door leading into a long corridor. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief at this; a further descent is a most unpromising option!

Stepping out into the passage, they are greeted by an unusually foul odour -- even for a place such as this [F - wandering monster]. What should have alerted them to approaching danger is passed over as just another unpleasant circumstance [PCs are surprised], until a pair of rude javelins come out of the darkness towards them, hurled by a pair of foul-smelling reptile men [2 troglodytes]. one of the javelins catches Inlina in the stomach [3 damage puts her at 5hp], but thanks to her mail the shaft does not run her through.

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative; everyone saves vs. poison so no stench penalties]
Each of the reptile men holds a stone axe. They heft these weapons and approach to attack. Orvund is quicker than they expected, and before they have even come five paces he has rushed in and felled one with a vicious blow of his sturdy hammer [8 damage dropped it to -1hp].

[Round 2]
Wide as it is, fighting in the corridor is still a cramped affair. Trying to stay out of each other's way means no one gets into position next to Orvund, who must parry blow after blow from the heavy stone axe to slow the creature's advance. [all miss; the troglodyte made its morale check]

[Round 3]
As his companions are still dithering behind him, Orvund chances a look over his shoulder to see where they are. This momentary lapse allows the creature to get in through his guard, and the stone axe nearly lays the warrior out with a terrific blow to the top of his helmet [4 damage drops him to 1hp].

[Round 4]
Orvund falls back as Mireille and Unzukorag step bravely forward. The dwarf assumes a defencive attitude as the wizard lunges with her rapier, skewering the creature's side [4 damage put it at 9hp].

[Round 5]
Dwarf and wizard change tactics; The dwarf delivers a powerful blow with his axe, but seems to have only made it angrier [8 damage drops it to 1hp; it makes its morale roll and will fight to the death].

[Round 6]
The furious, ululating beast swings blindly with its axe, but woman and dwarf duck under it with ease. They catch the creature in the midsection between their weapons, and it falls to the ground in two twitching halves, spurting blood everywhere [6+8 damage reduces it to a tidy -13hp].

Assuming that the creatures have nothing of value -- or that they could never get the smell off anything valuable that they did have -- the party continue quickly down the corridor. They round a bend, and come to a 4-way intersection, from which they randomly take the left passage, thinking the cloying reptile smell is fainter in that direction. The corridor ends in a door, beyond which is only a small closet [G], filled with of old and rusting tools.

Going back to the intersection they turn left again, and find another door. Beyond it they find what once must have been a well-appointed dining room in the highest style of an ancient empire [Room 2.7 - empty]. But now all the tables and dining couches have collapsed, and the painted wall frescoes have flaked off, and the bronze tripods have long since been looted.

A single door leads out, and directly into the next room [room 2.8 Monster & Treasure], which still contains dozens of clay amphorae stacked along the walls. But in the middle is a more arresting sight: three canine-faced, meeping, half-human monstrosities are busied with some unwholesome feast. They look up suddenly as the door opens, gobbets of some poor soul's rotting innards dangling from toothy maws. They screech and leap up to attack the uninvited guests, who stand stock still with horror and disgust [3 ghouls; the PCs are surprised, but the ghouls all miss].

[Round 1]
The party come back to their senses in time to make a fighting withdrawal back into the ruined triclinium. The cannibal-things follow at a loping pace, and pace about before them, sizing them up eagerly. [PCs won the initiative; everyone's attacks on both sides missed].

[Round 2]
The blasphemous things are over eager to sample the flesh of the living, and rush forward. They dodge effortlessly past axe, sword, and hammer [PCs all miss]. Mireille's cuirbouilli armour is shredded down the front, by raking claws which leave a trail of gore from their unclean meal. Orvund's mail fails him, as terrible claws find its weak spot and pierce his stomach to latch onto his innards [3 damage drops him to -2hp]. Unzukorag tries to defend the fallen warrior, but Inlina's foe turns suddenly and grabs him from behind [4 damage puts him at 1hp; fails save vs. paralyse]. He is struck through with a mortal dread of the unliving, and his limbs no longer obey him.

[Rounds 3-4]
Seeing their companions fall before the terrible ghouls, Inlina and Mireille lose heart, and rush for the exit. They flee out door, and slam it shut. Inlina braces herself against it whilst Mireille shouts the words of her spell, fingers wildly gesticulating in mystical patterns. There is a sudden pounding on the door, as the emaciated corpse-men throw their weight against it...

[Q: Can Inlina hold the door long enough for Mireille to cast Hold Portal? Y]

... and then the outline of the door glows silver for the blink of an eye. The pounding at the door becomes more and more furious, but a praeternatural force now holds it shut. At length it ceases. The two women breathe a sigh of relief -- and try not to think of the gruesome feast to which their companions have just now been invited!

They fumble about in the darkness, eventually producing a torch and tinderbox from their packs, and making some light. Mireille takes the torch, and Inlina readies her crossbow. They say a silent prayer for the departed, and head back to the intersection.

They try the last unexplored passage, and are just about [H - wandering monster] to enter a small room [2.9] at its end when two more ghouls emerge from it, attracted by their torchlight.

[PCs win initiative]
Inlina shoots the lead ghoul. The bolt buries itself deep in the creature's chest, but it barely seems to mind [4 damage leaves it with 6hp]. Spooked by the seeming invulnerability of the things, both women turn and set off at a dead run.

[pursuit rules: everyone rolls 1d20+movement rate/10. Mireille is unencumbered, so still has 120' movement. Inlina is lightly encumbered, and so has the same 90' movement as the ghouls. The rolls:
Mireille: 19+12=31
Inlina: 2+9=11
ghoul-α: 6+9=15
ghoul-ω: 9+9=18]

Mireille rapidly leaves the others behind. Inlina is slowed by her heavy armour, and the two horrors keep pace. One reaches out with its filthy claws, and the aura of the grave overcomes Inlina. She feels her limbs stiffen as she tumbles to the floor, and the horrid creatures drag her back to their den [2.9] for a snack.

Mireille makes her cautious way back to the secret door and continues up the corridor past it. She comes into an immense chamber [Room 2.2 - trick/trap]. The wall to her left as she enters is covered in a mosaic, which someone has seemingly ornamented with an application of chintzy gold paint. At the other end of the room is a passage, before which a hole in the stone floor yawns open.

[Q: Can she avoid the chute? Yes. Needs a save vs. paralyse at +2 to get round it: rolls 15+2=17].

She skirts the ledge of the hole without difficulty, and comes into a long, wide passage beyond. Going down it, she comes upon rotten corpses strewn around on the floor [B], but despite her worst fears, they do not get up to attack her. At the end of the passage is a small room [2.1] with more corpses, at which she does not tarry.

She follows more passages, deciding seemingly [or, in fact, actually] at random which way is likely to promise freedom from this terrible place. She comes to a wide staircase leading up [to room 7 on level 1], and then almost runs through a series of empty corridors [H to G to E to D to A, with no random encounters at any of them] before finally returning to the entrance chamber. She races up the stairs and out into the green forest.

[Dénouement of sorts]
Mireille makes it back to the village safely. She has with her two 500sp gems, and 1200sp worth of jewellery. This is all worth 2200xp. Combined with her share of the combat award (101xp) and what she had earned in the previous episode (317xp), she now has a total of 2618xp, and is the officially the first survivor of an expedition into the vaults to attain 2nd level. She gets [1d4=3 +1(13 CON)] 4 more hit points, and is eligible to research a new 1st level spell for free. However, she fails a saving throw vs. poison, and so contracts a disease from the bad, misty air in room 2.5. After a day or so of feeling poorly at the inn, she intends to hire a coach to take her back to the city, and make a large donation at a temple in order to get the disease cured. Then she can learn a new spell, and set about recruiting help to return to the Vaults, so she can destroy the ghouls and recover her friends' bodies -- and their share of the treasure!

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.]

Sunday, 7 June 2015

B/X Treasure Type & LL Hoard Class conversions for LotFP

I've been happily using B/X and Labyrinth Lord monsters in my Lamentations of the Flame Princess games, but the treasure tables have presented me with a bit of a crisis. Not only is there the switch from a gold- to a silver-based economy, but also the relative values of some of the coins have changed. I started by just dividing the GP found by 50 and EP by 25, but the average treasure values (Moldvay p. B45, Rules Cyclopedia p. 226) were really skewed doing it this way. Simply demoting the SP to CP and GP to SP was a similarly inelegant solution. If it were just wealth for wealth's sake it wouldn't be much of an issue, but as I am using the SP for XP rules as written I wanted the average values to match those of their B/X counterparts. So here is my proposed solution.

The tables I used as reference were from my original Moldvay Basic set and the Rules Cyclopedia (the Special Items column). My changes only affect the coins. Gems,  jewellery, and Special Items are fine as is, since converting their values is trivial. I've also left the magic items column alone, though for LotFP you will probably want to lower the chance of magical treasure appearing or ignore this column altogether.

The individual Treasure Types (TT P-V, HC I-VI) can remain as is, or nearly so. The absolute values will be higher in most cases (especially the last pair) but as coins looted from intelligent creatures do not yield XP (LotFP Rules and Magic, p. 33), this isn't much of a problem. You could always roll smaller dice for GP and EP. The other individual treasures are fine, but you may wish to downgrade the Treasure Types held by individual monsters (e.g. give goblins P or Q instead of R).

The Lair tables have been totally redone. I've reorganised the columns so that the XP values remain the same for each type as they did in B/X. Thus the GP column changes directly to SP, and the SP column becomes CP. EP becomes GP (quantity adjusted for value) and PP becomes GP (also adjusted by value). So now we have 1000s of SP & CP, 200s of EP, and mere 10s of GP. This left the original CP table hanging. Rather than making a table for ha'pennies or the like, I changed CP into a new category called bulky items. A bulky item can be assumed to be worth 10SP (2d10SP if you prefer), and count as an Oversized Item for purposes of Encumbrance. Example bulky items would be an iron fireplace grate, large copper cooking pots, a nice (if plain) wooden chair, etc. These are all things whose value will often be enough that desperate low-level characters (or greedy high level ones with a waggon) will consider taking them on their way out of the dungeon... just like enormous piles of copper in B/X.

I did away with Platinum coins altogether as (according to a quick web search) they weren't minted until the 1700s, which falls outside the standard early-modern period of the game. Electrum coins, on the other hand, were made in the 7th Century BC in Lydia from a naturally occurring mixture of gold and silver. For gaming purposes the EP table will represent one of two kinds of coin: either ancient electrum coins or more recent gold coins which have been in some way debased. But this is a purely a matter of flavour.

To make it easier to use, I've done the full tables in both Labyrinth Lord and BX versions so you don't have to worry about which TT maps to which HC.

I had intended to upload this as a PDF to  dropbox, but I am having broadband issues. So here are .JPGs of the tables instead. Edit: the PDF is here now.



Finally, here are the TT:HC equivalencies, to save you the trouble of looking them up:

Treasure Type A = Hoard Class XXII
Treasure Type B = Hoard Class XXI
Treasure Type C = Hoard Class XX
Treasure Type D = Hoard Class XIX
Treasure Type E = Hoard Class XVIII
Treasure Type F = Hoard Class XVII
Treasure Type G = Hoard Class XVI
Treasure Type H = Hoard Class XV
Treasure Type I = Hoard Class XIV
Treasure Type J = Hoard Class XIII
Treasure Type K = Hoard Class XII
Treasure Type L = Hoard Class XI
Treasure Type M = Hoard Class X
Treasure Type N = Hoard Class IX
Treasure Type O = Hoard Class VIII
Treasure Type P = Hoard Class I
Treasure Type Q = Hoard Class II
Treasure Type R = Hoard Class III
Treasure Type S = Hoard Class IV
Treasure Type T = Hoard Class V
Treasure Type U = Hoard Class VI
Treasure Type V = Hoard Class VII

Friday, 5 June 2015

LotFP solo dungeon crawl - Part IV

Six days later the hardy band descend once again into the Vile Vaults of Valistraktis. They [blah blah blah, eventually going north from room 11 to room 13]

The large chamber [Room 13 - treasure only] holds little of interest, save a small iron coffer sitting on a low stone bench. Nol produces a set of tools from his backpack, and Friar Falon holds the lantern close so he can work. As he is digging around with his picks, a needle shoots out from the lock, glistening with a poisonous crystalline residue. Nol is fortunate [save vs. poison succeeds on a 19] that the needle didn't quite puncture his skin. But his best efforts come to nought. In the end, Pseltus opens it by applying his crowbar. Inside are 92 silver coins, stamped with the image of an ancient general -- one that famously did not become emperor. Insensible to the obvious historic importance of the coins, our heroes divide them up into their purses and continue their expedition of plunder.

Exiting the chamber leads to a crossroads [B] at which they turn [towards C]. They make right for an opening at the end of the passage, oblivious to the danger ahead, and without noticing the secret door which would save them from harm. The halves of the false floor over the pit swing open on their hinges. Bonnart just manages to step back onto solid ground [saves vs. Paralyse], but Pseltus is too slow, and tumbles down 10'. His pride is hurt more than anything else [2 damage puts him at 7hp], but he gives vent to his fury with a tirade of curses at which I should blanch, were I to see it in print, and thus I shall spare you, the readers, a full description of such loathsomeness. Friar Falon bids him hold his tongue; not that he isn't a man of the world (as he says), but rather the volume is sure to attract the attentions of any monsters which might happen to be wandering by. A suitably-chastened Pseltus is speedily hauled up by his companions, who brought plenty of rope for just such an eventuality.

Now that the pit is opened, the secret door is easily spotted by Nol. The party proceed into the large round chamber with the pool and islet [room 3 - not restocked]. They see the bloated remains of something horrid floating in the pool, and peering across can just make out the chest on the islet, standing open and apparently empty. No one is willing to risk getting wet for a (probably) empty chest, so they continue on.

The fountain room [room 4 - not restocked] is full of splintered bones and rusted swords. Everyone halts in the doorway, waiting for the skeletons to assemble and animate, but the bones are dusty and still. [Q: Does anyone drink from the fountain? No.]

Leaving by one of the doors, they go down a long passage which seems to dead end [M]. But the sharp-eyed elf notices a slight dissimilarity in the stones of the wall. Pushing against it causes a section the wall to swing outward, a secret door into the passage beyond. It stretches off into the darkness in both directions, so they proceed to the right.

At length they come to a chamber full of roaring flames [Room 5], shooting out from the floor, ceiling, and walls. Nol studies the pattern of the gouts of fire, and thinks he sees a way through. "There must," he opines, "be treasure beyond." If he can time it just right... The others agree to let him try, and offer him the lion's share of any riches he finds beyond in recompense for his daring.

He sprints around the shooting flames, and almost makes it unscathed [fails his save vs. breath weapon]. He receives a nasty burn from the fire [1d6= 6 damage, dropping him to 1hp], but he is through to the other side.

"Well," he thinks with forced cheer, "at least I don't have to worry about lighting this torch, now."

He proceeds quietly down the passageway (though the torch will give him away to anything looking his direction). He narrowly avoids another pit trap [N - trick/trap: spiked pit; N saves vs paralyzation], and at last comes to a large open chamber.

The room [Room 14 - monster & environment & treasure] is filled from wall to wall with a thick, brown, gloopy sludge [environment - sludge: halves movement rate]. But the light from his torch glints off something in one corner -- a stout chest with brass fittings sits partially obscured in the sludge.

As Nol is sloshing towards the chest, the sludge begins to quiver around him. Six humanoid shapes rise out of the muck, living agglomerations of the very filth in which they live.

sludge people
semi-intelligent AL:C
AC: 13, HD 1, Move: 60', fists: 1d4, ML: 8 #appearing: 1d8
sludge attack (save vs. paralyse or movement rate halved, attacks at -2), immune to missiles

[Round 1 - no surprise, monsters win initiative, Nol fails his saving throw]
The creatures throw huge globs of sticky sludge at Nol, who is hampered by the filthy substance. He turns to flee, but is quickly overpowered, and dragged down into the pool of muck.

. . .

The rest of the party waits for a while, and it is soon apparent that their comrade has run into trouble [they wait 1 turn (10 minutes); no random encounters]. After deliberating for a few moments [Q: Does anyone decide to go after him? Yes], Tirnéal and Bonnart volunteer to brave the flames and mount a rescue.

The pair dash through the flames, but both come out the other side quite singed [failed saves, 3 damage each; B 6hp, T 2hp left]. They go down the corridor, easily skirting the yawning pit, and come to the sludge room. Nol is nowhere to be seen. When the creatures rise from the glop, both man and elf intuit their comrade's end, and flee back down the corridor to avoid a similar fate.

[no surprise, PCs win initiative. Chases are handled by rolling 1d20+(movement rate/10). The PCs get 1d20+9 vs. the sludge people's 1d20+6.]

Tirnéal sprints away from the hideous things, but two of them nearly overtake Bonnart. They grab for him with their slimy hands, but cannot hold the warrior [attacks miss]. Both man and elf dash back through the flames, and  the monsters fortunately do not follow them. Bonnart is once again scorched by the traverse [3 damage drops him to 3 hp], but the agile Tirnéal manages to avoid harm.

Battered, bruised, and burnt, and with their spirits dampened further by the loss of one of their number, they decide that once again it were more prudent to leave the Vaults and regain their strength before continuing their exploration.

They make it back to the village without incident, and hole up in the inn for 4 days whilst they heal. They decide a replacement party member is in order, but they aren't inclined to recruit just anyone from amongst the peasants. [Q: Can they find a replacement? Yes. - random 1st level PC] Fortunately, on the third day, a wandering mage comes through on her way to the city. Seduced by their tale of danger and treasure, she readily joins with them, intent on discovering the magical secrets reputed to be hidden within the infamous Vaults.

Magic-User, Level 1, female
Cha 11 Con 15 Dex 8 Int 13 Str 10 Wis 6
Hit Points: 5
Armour: leather
Weapons: sword
Equipment: backpack, 4sp
Spellbook: Read Magic, Spider Climb, Hold Portal, Light

Rested and recovered, and with their number replenished, they once again proceed into the Vile Vaults. [Fast forward to something interesting... The PCs go east to [A], south to [D], north to [E], without incident/encounter/interest. When they reach [G], a random encounter is indicated: 1 bandit. Reaction=9. (1d6=m) He came from (d6): 1-2 room 10, 4-6 point H; 3=H.
Q: Does he have friends on lower level? Yes
Q: Was there some sort of disaster? Yes - 3 zombies
Q: Does he want the PCs to help fight them? Yes.]

A torch is seen flickering in the corridor up ahead [G]. The torch's owner stops suddenly, and looks as if he is about to run off, but decides against it, and instead calls out a greeting.

"Well met! I thought for a moment you were a pack of monsters."

"Lucky for you, friend, that we aren't," says Bonnart, eyeing the man's shabby leather armour and dented shortsword. "What brings you to this place, all alone?"

"I wasn't alone until just now," he replies, staring at his feet. "My friend and I thought to explore deeper within these ancient halls in search of their hidden riches. And I mistook Alcam's foolhardy boasting for true bravery. We descended to the next level, and were set upon by a trio of the walking dead! They slew him at once with their dead, punishing fists. I panicked and ran. It is shameful to relate, but 'twould be even more so were I to fail to ask your help in recovering Alcam's body..."

His voice trails off, as his resolve wavers at the thought of confronting the angry dead once more. But the cleric speaks up boldly. "I would consider it our duty to assist you, fellow treasure hunter. For there, but by the Grace of Heaven, go we!"

The others nod their assent; for it would be foolish to dissemble in front of the man whose god they hope shall erase their injuries!

The bandit leads the way with his torch, down the ornate staircase, and deeper into the Vaults. [The bandits made it (1d4=) 1 room past the stairs. The first things I rolled for the second dungeon level were 'corridor continues 60 feet' and then wandering monster. I decided this would be the zombies in (plodding) pursuit.]

As they proceed down the long, wide corridor, a trio of shambling corpses come into view at the edge of the torchlight [A], moving relentlessly towards them, arms outstretched. The battle is short [3 rounds] and furious, but in the end the three cadavers have been hacked to pieces, and only Pseltus has received a terrible wound [at 0hp]. Friar Falon prays over the injured warrior, and the divine radiance infuses his limbs, making him once again hale and hearty -- perhaps in recompense for his earlier honesty! [1d6+1=7hp restored]

The bandit leads them on to the small room where his friend was felled by the mindless dead [room 2.1 - monster only (now empty)]. He wishes no more than to take his friend's body out of this place, and never return. The party wish him godspeed, and intend to press onwards. They continue down the wide corridor [west from B], which empties out in to a long chamber.

The chamber [Room 2.2 - trick/trap] is mostly bare, save the wall covered entirely in inlaid and gilt mosaics opposite the entrance, which even at this distance glint in the lantern light. Curious to see if it contains any clues about the layout or contents of the Vaults, the party advance to examine it. But the floor suddenly drops out from beneath their feet, depositing them all in a perfectly smooth chute [trick/trap: Chute down 1 level (cannot be ascended in any manner)]. They slide rapidly downwards and out a hole in the ceiling...

[room 3.1 - circular; abt.2700 square feet; has a pool
Q: Are the PCs dumped directly into the pool? Yes
Q: Is it deep? Yes.
What kind of pool is it (on the pool table)? Magical pool! Turns silver to gold once only.]

...and dumps them right into a deep pool of brackish water. Their light sources are suddenly extinguished, and all but the two wizards must struggle with the weight of their heavy chain armour. [As it's a deep pool , they take no falling damage, but everyone in chain must save vs paralyse to get the armour off. Each failure accrues 1-4 damage; if the damage reduces to anyone to 0hp, they have drowned. Those who survive recover 1hp/minute of this damage.]

Sitting in the dark at the edge of the pool, Gweni ignores the screaming and splashing and uses her magic to create a ball of light to illuminate the room. Yastrax follows suit, using his own magic to summon an Unseen Servant, whom he commands to find a lantern and some oil and as many torches as possible. Whilst he lays them out to dry off a bit, the others pull themselves from the pool -- all except for the cleric, who has been pulled to the bottom by the weight of his heavy mail coat. The two fighters dive back in to rescue him, but it is too late.

Yastrax orders his magical servant to retrieve the rest of their equipment from the pool whilst the rest of them lay out the body of the unfortunate friar. They realise they must leave him here for the time being, but they decide to redistribute the useful items in his pack, as they may need them.

It is then that they make a wondrous discovery: all their silver coins have become gold! Truly strange are the vicissitudes of fortune occasioned by their fall into the enchanted pool.

The lantern seems to be out of commission for now, but Yastrax manages to get one of the torches lit. Hopefully they will regain the surface before its light gives out. Gweni's spell has nearly run its course by the time they are once again equipped. There is only one exit to this room (even the chute has closed), so they make their sodden way down the passage.

At the end of the passage is a small chamber [Room 3.2 - monster & treasure] of dressed stone with a door on one wall, still shut though the bar across it lies splintered on the ground. Three human corpses lie in the middle of the chamber, in the remains of rusted mail coats. They begin to stir when the torch light plays over them, and rise to do battle with the living.

waterlogged undead
intelligent AL:C
AC: 15, HD: 3, Move: 90', claws: 1d6, ML: 12, #appearing: 1d6

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
The gruesome, rotted corpses advance as the party ready their weapons to strike. Yastrax's sword knocks the remains of a nose from one's face [1 damage puts it at 19hp]. Tirnéal's spear bites deep into another, tearing through rusted chain and decayed flesh [5 damage drops it to 10hp]. Only Yastrax is injured in the first counter attack, as the remains of a steel gauntlet smash into his shoulder [2 damage puts the hearty wizard at 5hp].

[Round 2]
A flurry of furious fighting ensues. Bonnart lays in to the lead corpse-thing with his sword [4 damage puts it at 15hp], barely commanding its notice. Pseltus fares somewhat better, inflicting a solid hit on his foe [4 damage drops it to 8hp]. Gweni smashes hers in the side of the head, but its rusty chain coif keeps her blade from splitting the grinning, maggoty skull beneath [3 damage leaves it with 7hp]. Pseltus receives a glancing blow from a mailed fist [2 damage drops him to 5hp], Gweni is clawed by bony fingers [2 damage leaves her at 3hp], and Yastrax is staggered by another blow from the steel gauntlet [2 damage leaves him at 3hp].

[Rounds 3 & 4]
Tirnéal's spear transfixes his enemy's rotten chest [3 damage], and as it struggles free, Gweni delivers a powerful overhand blow, crushing its skull and sending rusted links of chain flying [8 more damage destroys it]. Pseltus removes the arm of his foe, but it continues to fight, undaunted [5 damage leave it with 3hp].

[Round 5]
With its arm out of the way, Pseltus is able to cut right through the weakly-armoured side, bursting rotten ribs and dropping the creature to the ground [5 damage destroys it].

[Rounds 6 & 7]
The last corpse thing is no match for the heroes. Tirnéal and Gweni team up again, and she does tremendous damage as the elf's spear holds the opponent at bay. But it is Yastrax who strikes the final blow, sending the things head rolling across the flagstones.

Once they are certain the bodies will rise no more, the party search them and the things around them on the floor. All the cloth, wood, and leather they once carried is rotten. Their swords and armour are useless, and even their belt buckles and the fittings on their backpacks have rusted through. It seems before their deaths they too had been deposited in the pool. Sadly, they were carrying no silver to turn to gold, nor indeed wealth of any other kind [Treasure Type B: all the rolls save for magic items came up zilch]. But inside a mouldy quiver three arrows gleam bright and new [+2 arrows]. Yastrax is sure they must bear a strong enchantment, and puts them in his own quiver. When they are out of this place, perhaps the elf will buy a nice bow to go with them.

With this chilling reminder of what might happen to them if they tarry too long, they open the door at once and proceed down the corridor. As they near the corner [A - wandering monster], they are Surprised by two awful phantoms flying round the bend, trailing a dark mist in their wake.

awful phantoms
intelligent AL:C
AC: 16, HD: 5, Move: 120', claws: 1d10, ML: 12, #appearing: 1d2
flight (move 180'), humans slain rise as undead (stats: see monsters in room 3.2)

[Surprise round]
One of them reaches out for Pseltus with its terrible claws. He blanches as it touches him, and falls senseless to the floor [6 damage drops him to -1hp].

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
The other awful thing touches Bonnart. A sickly cast comes over his features, but he shakes it off to fight on [4 damage leaves him with 2hp].

[Rounds 2 & 3]
Yastrax's sword swings through the larger phantom, disrupting its form and sending billows of mist swirling from the 'wound' [8 damage puts it at 25hp]. Gweni inflicts a similar 'injury' on the smaller one [4 damage leaves it with 15hp]. Tirnéal gets too close, and the phantom's bony fingers sweep across his face, causing the elf to wither and collapse [10 damage drops him to -5hp, dead].

[Round 4]
Gweni doubles over as the phantom strikes her, dropping her sword, and moments later falling over in a heap atop it [4 damage puts her at -1hp].

[Round 5]
Yastrax feels the life drain from his limbs at the caress of the awful phantom. He drops to the ground as his life ebbs away [6 damage puts him at -3hp].

[Round 6]
Bonnart now faces both phantoms alone. He fights like one possessed, but in the end they surround him in their cold embrace.

- - -

And so a third party of adventurers was rolled up...