Wednesday, 12 April 2017
LotFP solo hex & dungeon crawl : Part II
4 March, A.D. 1601
The next day sees them arrive safely at the village of Drudenwiese. It is a smallish settlement in a large meadow [Wiese], surrounded by deep forest that could very well be the haunt of elves [Druden] and sprites, but for all that the village turns out to be unremarkable. The inn is sufficient, if not truly comfortable, and the peasants are more than happy to sell provisions and other sundries to the strangers in their midst.
[Lalie has spent 3sp(lodging) and 3cp(food) x6PCs x4days = ~80sp (rounding up for convenience & extra wine) on the trip. She and Éliane shell out a further 160sp for supplies; they buy a mule (25sp), saddlebags (1sp), 2 weeks' iron rations for 6 people (84sp), and 2 tents (50sp).
Here begins the exploration portion of the adventure. I generated a quick 10x10 map (with custom settings) in Hexographer and put Drudenwiese in the middle of the bottom row. The treasure map indicates the treasure is to be found somewhere between the mountain range and the small peak at 01.00.
I used the Scarlet Heroes wilderness tables for the hexcrawling. The party's movement rate is 18 miles per day, halved for forest & hills. For simplicity's sake, I made the hexes 4.5 miles across (rather than SH's recommended 6 miles), so they can travel 2 hexes/day, or explore 1/day; the forest is pretty thick so it seems a realistic reduction. There's only a 1-in-6 chance of noticing a feature if the party is travelling, but I roll a lot of 1's. There is also a 1-in-6 chance of getting lost each day; Horst has a bushcraft skill of 3 to mitigate this.
I guessed (correctly) that the Scarlet Heroes tables would put ruins somewhere in right area of the hexmap. Had there not been any, I would have improvised some other woodland horror from which to make an adventure.
Fresh water and fodder for the mule is easy to find and not tracked. The party's supplies were tracked on scratch paper as I always lose track of things like this if I just type it into my notes.]
The party set out from the quiet little village and head north into the forest. Progress is very slow once they get more than a mile from the settlement. The occasion hunter's track is found, but even these are choked with undergrowth.
The first two days pass wholly without incident. On the third they pass the remains of a hunting camp where a fire had gotten out of control. Some bushes are scorched and burnt, and a tent has been reduced to cinders, but fortunately the spring rains kept the blaze from spreading. The camp seems to have been in recent use -- a pack is discovered containing a loaf of bread that has just gone stale -- but whether the fire was deliberate or accidental is impossible to determine. Horst tries to make sense of some footprints in the soil, but none lead out of the camp in any certain direction.
[Hexcrawls are fun to play, but there are a lot of dice rolls that produce nothing worth reporting. For example:
d6= not lost
d6= no encounter
d8= no event
d8= no feature
d6=1, maybe lost
bushcraft roll d6=2, not lost
d6= no encounter
d8= no event
d8= no feature
d6= not lost
d6= no encounter
d8= no event
d6=1, notice feature when travelling
1d2= feature in hex 03.04
feature=Settlement, Hunting camp
current state=Scorched by fire
contents=Signs of recent use
Can Horst make any sense of tracks? Bushcraft 3: d6=4, no.
extra encounter roll for recently used camp: d6=no encounter
So from here on in, I'll only be narrating the important parts.]
Horst announces they've reached the area roughly indicated on the treasure map, so they'd best slow down, or they're liable to walk right by the ruins. They readily take his advice; that's what they're paying him for, after all. [search hex 03.03]
As [1d6=] Waldemar is answering nature's call, he stumbles (literally) across a sleeping adder. The serpent, incensed by its interrupted beauty sleep, expresses its displeasure by biting him (nowhere embarrassing, fortunately) before slithering away from the clumsy primate. The venom leaves him weak and feverish, but does not spell his doom.
[The party search hex 04.03.
event=Poisonous vermin bite; Td4 damage. I let T=1 as they're just in a normal forest, and I'm not using the Scarlet Heroes reduced damage rules. I even gave Waldemar a saving throw vs. poison for half damage, but he failed: 3 damage left him with 1hp.]
As dusk approaches, they come upon a bubbling spring [d8=feature] of cool, fresh water, and decide to make their camp thereby. Poor Waldemar looks as if he's about to drop, and if the natural source has any healing powers, he could certainly use them!
[Q: Any special effects? Unlikely (5+): O2 C4 - No, but... double chance of encounters in this hex.]
Waldemar looks scarcely better the next morning. Beate offers to stay in the camp today and look after him whilst the others continue their exploration.
[Exploring hex 05.02:
feature: ruin, Isolated monastery. That was rather sudden, so I decided to check the oracle--
Q: Is this their goal? 50/50 (4+): O5 C6 - Yes.]
They return before Beate has even thought of making a fire to cook some broth for the patient's lunch. "What's wrong?" she asks.
"Wrong?" says Lalie. "Ma chère demoiselle, we've found the ruins!"
"And...? Didn't you explore them, even just a little?"
"No. We should all go. In full strength."
Beate doesn't understand their reticence, but holds her tongue [this is her first adventure, so she yet lives in blissful ignorance of the horrors the others have seen].
There is some quiet discussion concerning what to do about Waldemar (some of it quite privately, out of earshot of the rest, and in French). But he seems to be on the mend, and everyone agrees they may need his spear should the ruins prove to be inhabited by bandits (or worse), so they plan to stay by the spring for another day and attempt the ruins on the morrow, in full strength.
[He will heal back to full hit points on this day if he isn't killed first by the
Encounter=Human, Bandit x1d6
I used the SH encounter tables to flesh it out--
Their Current Purpose, Given Their Location, Is To....Check a trapline they have in the area
Attitude=Looking for an excuse to prey on the hero
Size/Condition=Maximum normal encounter numbers or size
I used the bandit stats in the SH as a starting point. The leader (f) is a 1d4=first level fighter, the rest are 0-level.
sx CH CN DX IN ST WI HP AC
a f 9 11 16 7 6 11 2 17 shortsword
b f 6 16 7 12 15 11 3 14 shortsword
c f 10 9 12 10 7 11 4 15 shortsword
d m 6 14 11 13 9 12 3 14 long bow
e m 12 11 9 11 13 4 6 14 short bow
f m 14 16 9 7 16 8 9 16 halberd
Q: Day encounter? Likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes.
surprise dice=3,1 bandits surprised
As usual, this was played out in strict initiative order, but will be narrated in a more sensible fashion.]
The day is mostly peaceful, even a little boring, but as it wears on footsteps are heard walking through the underbrush. A group of six raggedy persons is heading towards the spring, seemingly oblivious to the presence of the party. They are clad in dirty rags and armour cobbled together from various cast-off pieces, though one -- the leader, most probably -- wears a full set of pikeman's armour and has a halberd resting on his shoulder. Behind him walk three women carrying shields and short swords, and a pair of mismatched bowman.
Artuš calls out a friendly soldier's greeting. The newcomers start at the sound, then turn to see its source, and raise their weapons in anything but a friendly reply.
[Round 1 - PCs lose initiative]
The bowman nock and loose arrows before their targets have had a chance to even stand up [targets were decided on 1d6: 1-2 A, 3 B, 4 L, 5 E, 6 H (Waldemar is asleep in a tent)]. One arrow sails past Artuš' head and sticks in a tree. The other sails past his head on the other side, and sticks in Beate's chest [4 damage leaves her with 1hp]. She screams and scrambles for cover behind a thick stump, and Horst follows close behind.
Lalie and Éliane draw their pistols as they rise. Artuš draws his sword, rising and trotting towards the enemy.
The bowmen change targets [d8: 1-3 L, 4-6 E, 7-8 A], surmising the pistolières a bigger threat than even the soldier rushing at them. Their arrows fail to hit their mark, however.
The halberdier and one of the swordswomen move up to meet Artuš, who bats their arms aside easily [they roll abysmally]. Artuš delivers a punishing blow with his sword, smashing the man's ill cared-for gorget in two, and leaving a bloody wound [8 damage drops f to 1hp].
The other two swordswomen move up and around, trying to manoeuvre behind Lalie and Éliane. Two shots ring out [random targets (d6): 1-3 longbow, 4-6 shortbow]. Both women assumed their companion would instinctively target the longbowman, so take aim at the other. One ball catches him in the abdomen, and blood sprays out his back as it continues through unimpeded. The second hits him between the eyes a moment later. He falls to the forest floor, and his soul continues falling ever downward, for he did not die in a state of grace [5+8 damage put him at -7hp].
[The bandits have a 7 Morale, so must check it when guns are first used against them; 2d6=6, they will stand.]
The longbowman nocks another arrow, and tries to avenge his comrade in arms. Lalie shortly has an arrow protruding from her right shoulder. She cries out something one would not expect from a woman of her noble breeding, but does not falter despite the pain [3 damage leave her with 3hp].
[Swordswoman tactics (d6): 1-2 both rush in at L&E, 3-4 both hesitate for 1 round, 5-6 on rushes and one waits.]
One of the swordswomen (c) rushes at Éliane, but is tripped up by dirty cook pots and nearly falls [rolled a 3]. Éliane turns at the sound, and discharges her second pistol right into the woman's stomach. She falls, helpless with agony [4 damage drops her to exactly 0hp]. Lalie takes careful aim at the longbowman, who drops bleeding beside his companion [5 damage to -2hp].
Artuš presses his advantage. The swordswoman fights hesitantly, which saves her life, for the halberdier makes a bold assault, and finds his doom on the point of the mercenary's sword [6 damage drops him to -5hp].
The two remaining swordswomen turn and flee in opposite directions into the forest. Lalie lets her pistols fall to the ground [Checked morale again due to losses: 2d6=10].
Lalie speaks some strange syllables in the barbarous Chaldean tongue, and makes a pagan gesture in the air before her. Two streaks of shining yet colourless light whizz from her fingertips to burn the fleeing women, though neither is so hurt as to halt her flight. [Lalie cast magic missile; 1d4 damage each, save for half.]
Waldemar sleepily emerges from his tent, looking flushed with health. "What happened?" he asks. Éliane fusses over her poor dear Lalie's wound whilst Horst tries to tend to a very irritable Beate, who soon sends him away. Artuš takes Horst and Waldemar to help him search the fallen bandits. They find a total of 15 silver coins, and a thin golden bracelet set round with tourmalines [1x costly jewellery, 400sp]. The bracelet will be stowed in the (currently empty) treasure pack, but the coins are given over to Horst. Waldemar helps himself to the longbow, and the halberdier's breastplate and tassets [+2AC].
When they come back to the camp, they find Lalie wiping blood off the blade of her rapier and talking to Éliane. "...mais, ma chère mignonne," she is saying, "elle a faillit de te blesser ! Ah ! but I see our friends have returned. Before she died, this brigand confessed that there are ten total in her band, and they have made camp not far from here. Perhaps we had ought not to remain by the spring this night."
[Interrogating the injured swordswoman: reaction roll=7, neutral, so she only gave them the barest information about numbers. Bandit lair=2d6
Q: Any useful rumour? Doubtful (6): O5 C5 - No. +Event (see below)
Q: Will the bandits track them down that night? Unlikely (5+): O3 C6 - No
This was a good time to check Horst's Loyalty. 3d6+3=16, giving him Loyalty/Morale 10. 2d6=5, he survived the encounter and isn't sorry to see the bandits dead, so he isn't thinking of running.]
They move their camp in a clearing about half a mile from the spring, and make only a small fire to cook some broth, and they make sure it is put out before dusk. The injured are spared from taking a turn keeping watch. The half moon is visible through the forest canopy, and whilst it does little to illumine the scene, at least it provides a record of the passing time for the watchers.
As Éliane sits on an overturned log, listening to the sounds of the nocturnal forest, she has aught else to do but gaze up at the heavens. But the fatigue of exploration and excitement must be beginning to overcome her, for the longer she stares upward, the more her tired eyes see movement where there is none. She rubs her eyes, and tries to focus again. And then she realises that it be no illusion nor trick of a tired mind -- the fixed stars are in motion, subtly changing their positions in the firmament. [the Event from above: Ambiguous event - fix / heaven]
She drops her pistols in amazement, clambers back into her tent, and begins shaking her friend awake. "Lalie! Lalie, my sweet, wake up!" she whispers. "You've got to come see this!"
Lalie follows her groggily outside, and follows Éliane's finger pointing straight up into the sky.
"You see it too? Then I'm not mad. Tell me, what can it mean?"
Lalie stares for some time as the constellations stretch and contort almost imperceptibly.
[Q: Meaning? tell / melancholy]
Lalie takes Éliane's hands before she has the courage to speak. "There is great sadness ahead for us all."
"Even us?" asks Éliane.
"We'd better not tell the others."
"No. Of course not."