Sunday, 12 June 2016

Into the Odd solo - Part IX : Rescue !

Leaving the dusty chapel, the chambermaid once again leads the explorers through the maze-like corridors of the ancient castle. Aurélius is more content to follow now than lead, after the horrors into which they have blundered. Randeep still seems in a bit of a daze after her experience -- that dream or vision -- and her hand feels decidedly alien to her, but she says nothing. Fridoline feels her bruised or broken ribs complain with every breath, but at least, says her vanity, it won't scar.

[The PCs had managed a short rest in the chapel for Fridoline to recover her hit points. It was a successful encounter, so the 50/50 odds improve to likely when I asked--

Q: Can they get to the housekeeper without more problems? Likely (3+): O5 C7 - Yes.]

Finally the chambermaid stops in front of a door. "This is her lair!" she explains. The chambermaid tries the door, but it proves to be locked. "I haven't a key to her chamber."

"See if you can draw her out," suggests Randeep."

The chamber maid raps soundly upon the solid, wooden door. "Ma'am! Ma'am, come quickly! Ol' Hubert's been at the brandy again."

[The housekeeper gets a WIL save to see through the chambermaid's ruse, so she'll need some stats. As she's a main villain, I rolled her attributes using 4d6-drop-the-lowest, and gave her 2d6 hit points. Her choice of armament was dictated by the picture I found (see below).

the housekeeper
str 16, dex 8, wil 16, 6 hp
hammer (d6)

She rolled a 3 for her save. This is going to be a fight, so Aurélius as the party leader needs to make a DEX save to win the initiative; he does.]

The housekeeper throws wide the door, and stands silhouetted in the door frame, her hammer at the ready. The maid shrieks in fright, but the explorers stand ready, weapons in hand, and rush for their wicked foe.

[Round 1]
Fridoline hasn't time to bring the musket to bear, as her two fellow explorers are already leaping through the doorway as the dreaded housekeeper recoils from their onslaught. Randeep's sword flashes out [4 damage drops the housekeeper to 2hp], but the housekeeper catches the blade on the steely haft of her hammer, just inches from her face. The distraction is all Aurélius needs; he lunges and skewers the housekeeper's side. He swiftly withdraws the bloody sword, expecting his injured quarry to collapse at his feet [3 damage drops her to 15str]. But she stands firm [STR save succeeds, and she also passes her Morale check]. The housekeeper's surprising riposte lands upon Aurélius shoulder with a resounding thwump [6 damage puts him at 12 STR; he saves against the critical damage] but does not put him out of the fight.

[Round 2]
But not much fight remains. Randeep slashes right across the housekeeper's face. the wound is more bloody than serious, but the shock is enough to drop the vile domestic to the floor, senseless [3 damage leaves her with 9 STR, failed crit. save].

The chambermaid runs into the room, emboldened by her tormentor's  helpless state. She raises her own sword to finish her.

"No!" cries Randeep. "We need her alive!"
 [WIL save = 13, success]

The chastened chambermaid lowers her sword. Behind her, Fridoline quickly lowers the musket, thankful she'd not had to fire; but she could not have allowed the girl's revenge to
steal their prize.

The explorers bind the housekeeper's hands and take her keys. She keeps a flagon of water on her bedside table. The chambermaid is allowed the honour of throwing the water in her face to rouse her for questioning. She is uncoöperative in the extreme, but her captors do manage to goad at least some information out of her.

[what does she say? UNE: hostile - death - allies]

"You ignorant fools may not have realised it," say the housekeeper, spitting with fury, "but that wasn't really the Count at dinner! Soon you will have divined what is really afoot here in the castle, so I shall dissemble no more. Little good it will do you to know -- one of your companions is about to become the main course at our true liege's table! Ha ha ha!"

"We must save them!" cries Aurélius. "Take us to the dining room, quickly!"

"Not the dining room," says the chambermaid, "the kitchen! Follow me!"

Aurélius runs after her, followed by Randeep. Fridoline follows behind, shoving the housekeeper ahead at gunpoint. "Don't try anything foolish," warns Fridoline, "for I need little pretext to pull this trigger!"

[Q: Can the PCs arrive in time to save (1d3=)Wanda? 50/50 (4+): O5 C5 - Yes
+Event: NPC negative - Truce / Allies (see below)

The maid leads them quickly through the back passages to the kitchen, where a terrible sight awaits them. An enormous, fiendish man stands over some sort of grinding, bladed cauldron. He hold the unconscious Wanda above his head, and is preparing to throw her in.

"Unhand her you monster!" cries Aurélius.

The giant fiend turns at the unexpected voice, and sees the explorers in the doorway. A slow understanding creeps over his face, then, with a mighty roar, he throws Wanda straight at them.

[Based on the image, his STR was automatically 18. His other attributes are the normal 3d6, and he gets 2d6hp.

the fiend
str 18, dex 12, wil 4, 4 hp
various kitchen implements d6

The PCs all need to make a DEX save; failure results in 1d4 damage (this is most certainly an impaired attack) and being knocked down. Wanda also takes 1d4 for this rough treatment unless everyone dodges, in which case she bounces off the door frame for 1d8.]

The unconscious Wanda plows into the centre of the explorers' band, but most of them instinctively step out of the way. Randeep, unfortunately, hesitates, and finds herself thrown to the ground beneath her senseless friend [Randeep takes 4 damage (2hp left). Wanda takes 2 damage leaving her at 5 STR].

[Round 1 - PCs lose initiative]
The Fiend has a cleaver within reach, which he throws at Aurélius, who ducks just before the whirling chopper splits his skull [5 damage drops him to 0hp]. Fridoline turns her musket on the Fiend and fires. He barely winces as the ball tears through his shoulder [4 damage drops the brute to 0hp]. Aurélius charges forward, and opens a bloody gash across his midsection, which the fiend regards with little more than a sneer [5 damage puts him at 13 STR].

[Round 2]
The fiend takes up a rolling pin from his table, and bashes Aurélius over the head. He drops instantly [4 damage leaves him with 9 STR, failed his crit save]. The housekeeper's hands are still bound behind her back, but her rage is unchecked. She takes advantage of Fridoline's divided attention, and headbutts her in the side [unarmed attack; 1d4=2 damage, putting Fridoline at 0hp.] Fridoline is more surprised than hurt. She wastes no time in turning her musket on the housekeeper like a club, forcing her back with a resounding blow to the sternum [6 damage puts her at 0hp -- being roused for questioning necessarily counted as a short rest]. Randeep has regained her feet, and she steps over the limp body of her comrade to lay into the Fiend with her blade. Even he is at pains to ignore a punctured lung, and he collapses over the unconscious Aurélius [4 damage dropped him to 9 STR, failed crit save].

[Round 3]
As Fridoline is raising the heavy musket for another attack, the housekeeper rushes forth and head butts her in the stomach. Fridoline is forces back into the wall, and she hits her head with an awful crack. She sinks listlessly to the floor, her breath escaping from her lips in a kind of sigh. She lies senseless beside her weapon, her raven tresses cascading across the kitchen tiles [1 damage dropped her to 7 STR, and she failed her save; she may not be the best fighter in the party, but at least she's got style]. But there is yet work to be done! Randeep turns and swings her sword at the housekeeper's exposed back. What could have severed her spine instead draws a red line across her bound arms. Still, the shock is enough to send her crashing down to the floor [1 damage drops her to 8 STR, failed save].

The chambermaid had been watching the struggle, from the corridor, half-peering round the door frame for fear of being attacked. Seeing the enemy vanquished, she bursts into the kitchen. "Oh, miss, you've won! How happy I am that you've carried the day! Not once, but twice have you defeated our accursed tormentor, and now her enforcer too lies dead at your feet!"

"Not dead yet," says Randeep. "I need you to guard the pair of them whilst I attend to my friends. If they move, their value as prisoners is officially at an end!"

"You needn't fret, miss. Now that they are undone, there are others who will be emboldened to aid our cause." The chambermaid crosses to the wall with the bell-pulls, and rings for all the below-stairs servants. One by one they arrive, and prove the chambermaid right [this is the Event from above]. They form up into a determined band, and arm themselves with carving knives, fireplace pokers, brass candlesticks, rolling pins, meat tenderisers, &c &c [all d6 weapons]. The Fiend is deemed useless as a prisoner, and deposited into the macerator that both human and poetic justice be served.

Once the explorers have been brought round, the angry servants march with them en masse to the gaol.

[Q: Any impediments? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and...]

The gaolers are unwilling to stand up to the mob, and soon the explorers have both their companions and their equipment back -- all except for Fridoline's red-oil stave [this is the Event: Introduce a new NPC - Take / Technology from part VII]. Fridoline is not about to let this slight go unanswered. The frightened gaoler tells her that all arcana are sent to the lab for analysis. The angry mob is all too happy to show the explorers to the laboratory; there is some hope they will smash up the place.

Down, down, down a long spiral staircase the explorers descend in to the castle's hidden dungeons, carved out of the very bedrock upon which the pile sits. At the very bottom of the stair is a reinforced iron door; it's locked, of course, but the housekeeper's keyring soon sees it opened.

[Q: Is the scientist alone? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - Yes, and... unarmed]

The laboratory is filled with strange apparatus that defy description. Myriad noxious chemical smells wash over our heroes as the door is opened, and the sounds of bubbling, boiling beakers and and electrical marvels assail their ears. At his workbench in the midst of all this stands the Scientist, who is all but oblivious until he finds himself surrounded by the armed band.

"Who are you? How did you get in here, past all the guards? Why are all those servants standing at the bottom of the steps?"

"We are former prisoners of the housekeeper," says Randeep, "but she no longer holds any sway in the castle. We have rescued ourselves, and put a stop to the horrors in the kitchens. Now we have come hither to retrieve the last item that was stolen from us -- the stave you're looking at right there!"

[She needs a WIL save to get him talking; 1d20=8, success

NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: cautious
knowing - telling - treasure]

"I take it then you know that the Count is indisposed."

"Indeed. And despite his 'presence' at dinner. We were charged with the recovery of a certain item by the so-called Count."

"Ah, yes! You would have been. The Brank is the only known item powerful enough to heal the Count. This useless trinket can do nothing."

"Hey!," snaps Fridoline, offended.

"What is wrong with him?" continues Randeep.

"It's a... delicate matter."

"Tell us. Or we won't help." [WIL save=12, success]

"The Count has been afflicted by some strange ailment. He's no longer himself, and we have to keep him locked up in the cells beneath the lab. He's become a sort of invalid. We must grind up meat into paste to feed him. he won't touch anything else."

"Why me?" asks Wanda. "I'm not meat!"

"When we run out of livestock, we are forced to use prisoners."

"Doesn't that make him a cannibal?"

"Technically, no: he's not human right now..."


  1. "He's not human right now" . . . hmmm, was he ever? . . . could he become human again knowing what he's done?

    Perhaps we will find out . . . and perhaps not.

    -- Jeff

    1. I'd say he was all too human. He had no idea of the housekeeper's madness.

      As to his fate, I will observe my customary silence.

  2. Good sir, this is frankly an amazing AP report (can we call it an actual play report? I'll say yes). I have a question : how much time does each part take in actual game time? Do you spend an hour, three, four or more? Is it two sessions that you spread in digest-able parts?

    1. Thanks. Solo gamers definitely do use the term AP report (thoug I prefer the more prosaic 'writing up my adventures').

      To answer your question, my posts represent highly variable amounts of playing time. The entire post-dinner escape up through the meeting with the scientist (parts 7-9) was all one session, roughly 2.5 hours. Writing out my notes nicely afterwards takes considerably more time. I write the posts to give the illusion of narrative structure, but it's all really just emergent storytelling from a sequence of random events (and a bit of inspiration). This post (part IX) is one of the few instance of the end of a game session actually coinciding with the end of the narration.

    2. Writing up one's adventures does sound less linguistically barbaric and more fun, yes.

      I find this very helpful! I wanted to try out Booty for Booty by the same author, which is built for solo play, but didn't know when to take noes and when to "write out" stuff in more detail. I'll try stopping after around two hours if the game takes more time than that, and writing it out afterward instead of doing the playing and the writing at the same time.

    3. My notes are a mess. Even the conversations are set down in fragmentary form, sometimes with only a line break or dashes to indicate a change of speaker. My method of recording game mechanics is even more abbreviated, and descriptions of things are often omitted wholly. I just write down enough so I can recall how I imagined the setting/characters/action, so I can write it out nicely for the post. I think game notes are more of an art than a science, but it doesn't take too long before you develop a technique that works the way you need it to.

  3. You should get a commission because I'm buying "Into the Odd" thanks solely to your after-play reports.

    Along with being a real hoot, it truly puts the Gothic in Gothic.

    Thanks again for your "test drives"!

    1. Excellent. Honestly, I'm just happy that people check out the games themselves. It like the gamer equivalent of turning your mates on to a new band.

    2. An expensive hobby, then (for us)! I've been compelled to pick up the hardcover Dark Eye rules and almanac after your DSA AAR.