Friday, 8 July 2016

Into the Odd solo - Part XI : « Par le chemin des aventures / Ils vont haillonneux et hagards »

The tunnel ends after nearly a mile, opening up into the remains of a brick building somewhere deep in the mushroom forest. The explorers don't quite know where they are, and it's the middle of the night. They permit themselves a short rest at the tunnel's end whilst they consider what to do.

[They're in a pretty sorry state:

Randeep: str 5/11
Aurélius: str 9/13, wil 7/9
Fridoline: str 7/11, infected
Wanda: str 5/12, dex 3/10
Severin: str 6/14, infected
Gregor: str 1/6, dex 7/8

And of course (d6=1) I rolled a random encounter, so the rest is interrupted, leaving Randeep with 0hp.]

As the wretched band are taking stock of their predicament, a voice is heard singing a sweet melody. Soon a second voice joins it, and a third, producing a most ethereal harmony.

Aurélius and Severin rise and start walking towards the sound, out into the blackness of the night [the other 4 made their WIL saves]. "Come back here this instant!" cries Fridoline, but the pair are oblivious to her demand.

Weapons drawn, the other explorers rush after their mesmerised comrades. Wanda grabs the lantern. Only Gregor remains behind and hides in the tunnel; his injuries are too severe to risk getting in a fight.

Aurélius and Severin stumble forward into a sort of clearing amongst the gigantic mushroom-trees. Fridoline shines the lantern before them, and the beam of light reveals the first singer. It is a young woman, lovely and fair as the heroine of any novel. Her long, silky, blonde hair stretches out from her head to each side and seems to float in the air. Fridoline widens the beam of the lamp to reveal an unsettling sight. The two singers beside the first, lovely maidens all, seem to connected by the very hair growing out of her head and into theirs. They have no bodies, but float in space, undulating in the non-existent breeze.

forest siren
str 9, dex 17, wil 16, 12hp, armour 1, bite d4

driven to kill player characters
The siren can bite up to 3 targets within close proximity to one another.
Enchanting harmonies: WIL save or follow the siren helplessly

The singing stops abruptly when the creature(s) notice that not all the visitors to their clearing are under their spell. Aurélius and Severin stop moving, but still seem to be sleepwalking. The other explorers raise their weapons as the siren rushes them.

[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
Randeep fires her musket at the central head. The ball puts out one of its eyes, but it mostly seems to just anger the creature [5-1=4 damage]. Fridoline discharges her pistol at the leftmost head. Her shot hits between the eyes, and erupts out the back of the skull in a spray of blood [6-1=5 damage, dropping it to 3hp]. Wanda slashes the rightmost head with her sword, but the blade just glances off its skull [1-1=0 damage].

And then the thing is upon them, biting with three strong jaws filled with small, even teeth. Randeep and Wanda fall before the hideous onslaught [reduced to 4 and 3 STR respectively, both taking Critical Damage], but Fridoline manages to evade the pert, snapping mouth [1 damage puts her at 1hp].

[Round 2]
Fridoline drops her pistol and takes her hatchet in both hands, striking at anything that dare approach her. Once, twice, thrice the weapon strikes something solid, and Fridoline is rewarded with eh sounds of crunching bone. Soon the three heads lie still and bloodied at her feet, looking like the beginnings of some revolution [6-1=5 damage, dropping it to 7str; d20=9 crit].

Aurélius and Severin suddenly come back to themselves as the siren falls. They help the injured Randeep and Wanda back to the tunnel. It is unanimously agreed that it will be best to remain there until daybreak. They sleep in shifts, with two awake at any given time.

[Q: Does the rest of the night pass without incident? Likely (3+): O5 C2 - Yes, and... the soldiers gave up hopes of pursuit]

~ Day 4 ~

The explorers get a late start, as the events of the previous night took their toll on them all. It's already mid-day by the time they set out through the mushroom forest, (hopefully) in the direction of the stone circle and friendly cultists.

[Half movement points today.

The WIL save to avoid getting lost fails (20!) but 1d6=6, they drift almost the way they wanted to go, NW to plains. In the plains hex, Randeep makes another WIL save: d20=11; so they know which way to go to get to the stone circle...

...but d6=1, another encounter]

About an hour after they leave the mushroom forest, they spot something large and moving upon the horizon. Before long it closes the space between them. It is an enormous war machine, clanking and rumbling its way across the plain.

[Q: Where's it from? (1d6)
1 Bastion, 2 Burthen, 3 local hex, 4 other City, 5 the past, 6 space

3=random location; hex 38.51 (I put a GM-only tank icon on the map as a reminder.

Q: Which way is it headed? 1d6=3, towards the castle
Q: What is its mission? Abuse / Enemies - a punitive siege
Q: Does it (seem to) notice the PCs? 50/50: O1 C1 No, and... they'd be beneath its notice
+Event: Move toward a thread - Travel / New ideas (see below)]

Whatever the war machine is, it's too large for the explorers to affect in any way. They hide in the tall grass, and it passes them by.

They resume their journey to the stone circle. And as they are walking, [1d6=] Wanda is stuck by an idea she wishes to share.

"It occurs to me," says Wanda, "that we may not have been going about this search in entirely the right way. I mean, I had some reservations even before I nearly wound up as Wanda stew to be fed to some landed fungus."

"This isn't going to be another of those mad schemes of yours," says Severin, "like the time when you hired that magician to help us capture Outpost 3-G."

"I thought he had a very impressive list of powers."

"His CV said he would do parties and special occasions!"

"If you'd seen him working his wonders at Adolphe Blanc's bar mitzvah, you'd not have doubted his power."

"Come, now," interjects Gregor, "that battle was ages ago, and we didn't survive it by bickering. Now, Wanda, do tell us all this new idea."

[Event: Move toward a thread - Travel / New ideas
two random pictures were drawn and a random hex selected]

"Well, then, my idea was this: we ought to go consult the Sea Oracle."

"The Sea Oracle!" exclaims Fridoline. "Why didn't you say earlier?"

"The rest of you seemed so intent on exploring the swamp!"

"But have we anything to trade the Oracle?" asks Aurélius.

"We need rest and shelter before we do anything," says Randeep, "but I am sure we could work out a trade."

"Why are you all looking at my stave?" asks Fridoline, nervously.

They are all too tired to answer, and continue the march to the stone circle in silence.

[Stone circle hex: 1d6=1, another encounter!]

As the stone circle is sighted off in the distance, so too is a line of people coming away from it. It is soon revealed to be a procession of cultists carrying some sacred relics on a pilgrimage.

The explorers call out a friendly greeting to the cultist at the head of the procession. She is about to return their friendly halloo, when she immediately goes wide-eyed. She raises her standard for the procession to halt.

"Blasphemer! Unholy trafficker with vile daemons! You bear the Hand. You and all you touch are profaned. Begone! No, not back that way. Tread not the path of our pilgrimage, lest you profane it with your tainted tread!"

The explorers are in no position to argue with the cultists, and do as they are bid, proceeding past and away from the circle to [1d6=6] the north west.

[As I was typing up the encounter with the Hand of Sabazios, it occurred to me that being touched by the mysterious, foreign god may have an effect when dealing with other religions in the area, especially the Order of Liberation at the stone circle. So I made a table to roll on:

Local cults' reactions to the Hand of Sabazios (1d6)
1 you are blessed by the gods! (good reaction)
2 you are cursed by the gods! (bad reaction or pity)
3 unclean! (need WIL save to avoid confrontation)
4 blasphemy/heresy! (automatic confrontation)
5 arcanum schmarcanum (no different to any other)
6 What's a 'sabazzos'? (no idea)

This time I rolled a 4. Luckily the cultists are peaceful.]

The weary explorers trudge across the plain until they can walk no more. They are forced make to camp in the middle of the plain, and draw straws to see who must take first watch.

[Quiet night? 50/50 (4+): O3 C8  - No. Random picture=]

~ Day 5 ~

After a miserable night in leaky tents, they decide that the most likely course is to find a coastal settlement, and somehow get passage to the sea oracle's abode; they can't go back to Burthen empty-handed. They set out to the north east, intending to skirt the mountains and eventually gain the coast.

[NE to plains hex 32.41; Contents: d30=ruins

d30 Sandbox Companions ruins tables--
RG3: Inhabitants & Number d30=1: chimaeras; nuisance

Suggested Ruin Inhabitants by Type and General Level:
level doesn't matter, so d12=12; sphinx
nuisance= 1 monster only]

Some ruins are spotted ahead near the foot of the mountains. They appear overgrown and uninhabited. The explorers are anxious to get to a settlement, so they decide to pass by them rather than go a long way round.

But soon a shadow passes over them, as if a great bird had flown by. They look up to see a creature circling them watchfully. It makes a few more passes then flops down before them. It is an emaciated and haggard seeming sphinx.

haggard sphinx
str 17, dex 15, wil 8, 15 hp, claws d10
driven to grill travellers

NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: cautious
inquisitive - demand - current story]

"Who are you that are come to my domain?" groans the sphinx.

"We are explorers," says Aurélius, "seeking shelter in the wilderness."

"And how come you to this wilderness?"

"We have suffered many travails," says Randeep, "having been sent forth from Burthen to seek a lost party of travellers. We must find them and fulfil their quest."

"What an obligation! Certainly it is not something into which ye have entered lightly... or freely?"

"Perhaps not...", admits Fridoline.

"And you've found enemies all round. Hiding on all sides of you, lurking in shadows, ready to pounce." [mysterious - shadows - enemy]

"You speak with much wisdom," says Randeep. "Perhaps you can advise us how to find our way safely." [WIL save=8, succeeds]

"Oh certainly. But I require something of you in return." [scheming - negotiation - future action]

"And that is?"

"My arch-nemesis, a certain M. Blaise Alias, has fled from our last encounter to hide on the infamous Île de la terreur, in the midst of the ocean. Kill him -- bring me his head as proof -- and I shall reveal to you my great secrets."

[This was rolled on my Mission table: 1d6=3. bring me the head of person X

Q: Where is person X? 1 Burthen 2 Morve 3-4 random hex; random hex 45.48 (on forested island)

Q: Who is person X? Oddpendium: barge pilot, interested in new career; connection=irritation (the sphinx exaggerates!)]

"If we could get to the island, we wouldn't be in need of your immediate assistance," says Fridoline.

"The offer stands. You'll need my help some day. I'll be here, waiting for you. And Blaise, or at least part of him." [friendly - support - contacts]

The explorers press on. After a time they are briefly elated to see houses in the distance, nestled in the shadow of the mountains. But as they draw near, their elation turns to dejection as the houses resolve into the dire little hovels of Frumpley's Coombe.

The explorers pass swiftly though the dismal hamlet, taking pains to avoid prolonged contact with its inhabitants. One or two try to engage with them, a slurred admixture of entreaties and hidden threats, but tired as they may be the explorers do not attempt to take shelter here. And then there's the thievery...

[1d6=Severin needs to make a WIL save to avoid thievery: 16, failure.

Severin is infected, and he has nothing to steal (one can't pickpocket a sword) so the thief gets away with a handful of fungus rot. The village will all be infected in 2d20=28 days.

Q: Any other settlement encounter? 50/50 (4+): O3 C6 - No]

Severin once feels that someone has put a greedy hand into his pocket, but muses that as he owns practically nothing -- and is skint besides -- that no harm can be done. He does not confront the thief, but trudges on purposefully.

Soon, though not soon enough, the hamlet is behind them. They press onwards, and the blue of the ocean finally reveals itself in the distance ahead.

[All the PCs must make WIL saves. Surprisingly, only two of the six fail.]

"Θάλαττα! θάλαττα!" call Aurélius and Severin in unison. The others are too exhausted to complain at the hackneyed jest, though a great sigh is heard to escape from Fridoline.

[Stronghold of the Priestess hex--
Q: Is there a patrol encounter? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes (5 med. horsemen as before)
Q: What do they want? Befriend / Danger]

A group of five lavishly-festooned and heavily armoured horsemen ride forth from the great fortress by the seaside. The leader wears a brace of pistols.

"Who goes there?" he shouts.

"We are explorers," replies Randeep, "Seeking shelter in the wilderness." [WIL save=7, success]

"You look like you've been in the war."

"And we feel like it!"

"Come, we can offer some respite. Seems like you've earned it!"

~ ~ ~

[Reception at the priestess' fortress--

1d6=6, the Hand means nothing to them

Wil save [Randeep] to get a good reception from those in charge. d20=5, success

Q: Can the priestess heal the infection? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - Yes
+Event: Move toward a thread - Proceedings / Vehicle

PCs will be given passage to see the Sea Oracle. But as they are in terrible shape and need healing, they will take a Long Rest. Not only do all their attribute return to normal, but the three actual PCs get to go up a level, from Novice to Professional, having survived an expedition (the castle) & come back with a good story, an arcanum, and useful info (the location of a powerful arcanum).

Each gets +1d6 hp and can roll to increase attributes.

Randeep: +5hp, no attributes increase
Aurélius: +4hp, +1str
Fridoline: +4hp, +1str, +1dex

There is no rule for advancing 1hp-and-a-sword Companions in level, but if they survive the next bit of adventure I will advance the other three to the level of Novice.]


  1. And here I was expecting a TPK. Awaiting the next installment....

    1. I expected to at least lose Gregor this session, as 2 points of damage would've killed him. I worry for Wanda, Severin, and Gregor's chances at survival from here, as I / the PCs will all be much more willing to risk combat with their new HP totals.