Monday, 23 October 2017
LotFP solo - Part II: Noc ve Starém Městě
30 April, A.D. 1601
"Disturbing rumours have reached my ears, my little Anežka."
"Not about me, boss... I hope."
"Of course not. You've never let me down yet. And that's why I need you to look into something for me. You're a good Catholic, aren't you?"
"You know me boss: confession every Sunday. Seems like I always got a lot of sins to confess doing our line of work."
"As do I... as do I. But there's a bishop that needs a favour done -- discreetly -- and he's offered me an indulgence in return."
"Huh. Aren't you a Lutheran, boss?"
"Quite. But as you say, we must often sin in our line of work. So my immortal soul can use all the help it can get."
"Gotcha. So what's the job, then?"
Scene 5 - track B
Chaos: Under control (d12)
Setup: Ambiguous Event - Inquire / Rumour
NPC list: crime boss
[As I said, going along and adding PCs to the party didn't quite go the way I'd hoped. So this is the start of the second adventure Track (B). There were 5 PCs left unused, so I rolled 4d6 to decide who would be starting in this track (no rerolls or duplicate numbers, and 6=no one). Rolls were 1,3,4,5: Šimon, Anežka, Pauwel, Judit.
Since this is the first scene of their horror adventure, it too starts on an Ambiguous Event (according to the Mythic Variations horror theme). I rolled Inquire / Rumour, so, using my Rumours tables:
type: location - single room
magnitude: major, ruin (-8)
topic (Mythic): Abuse / The spiritual
She starts with Pauwel in tow +1d6-2=0 others. Oh, well...
Also, the PCs in this Track will all be speaking Czech amongst themselves unless otherwise noted.]
Anežka sets out into Josefov as the sun is disappearing behind the horizon. She's not planning on moving too fast on her little errand, so her attire is as non-descript as she can manage: a simple frock with a skirt that won't impede her movement but will easily conceal her dagger. With her is Pauwel, whom she considers a bit of an upstart and isn't sure she can trust. He's dressed like an off-duty halberdier, complete with halberd. She's told him to keep his distance unless called for, to which he grumblingly consented.
They proceed to a lively little tavern in the Jewish quarter. Anežka tells Pauwel to get himself a drink and blend in -- she's here to find a friend.
Her friend, Judit bat Nachmias, dresses like a man -- a gentile man, no less -- and swaggers about the nighttime streets of Josefov wearing a rapier as a sort of self-styled saviour of her people. Anežka thinks she's quite mad, but a good sort for all that. She finds Judit in the crowd, and lays out her proposition. Judit readily agrees, but insists that whatever happens, it cannot reflect badly upon the Jews of Prague. Also, she wants a share of the take -- for the poor. Anežka insists that publicity is the last thing anyone wants, and she'll be glad to split the earnings.
Anežka is about to say that they should collect her associate, but when she glances in his direction she sees that he has already gotten into an argument with one of the locals, a small, white-bearded old Jew. She pushes through the crowd to stop him, and finds Judit rushing ahead of her.
"Leave him alone, you brute," snaps Judit at Pauwel, and she puts her hand on the hilt of her sword for emphasis.
"Pauwel, what did you do?" says Anežka firmly.
"Do? He started it!"
"I don't care. Apologise, and let's get going."
Pauwel knows better than to protest, and immediately issues his half-hearted apology. Anežka seems satisfied, and motions for the three of them to leave. But the moment they have walked out into the street, the little old Jew scurries out of the tavern after them, and takes Judit by the arm.
"Judit! What are you doing? These are criminals!" he says.
"Šimon, I need to help them. It's important. You know I wouldn't otherwise."
"Huh. Well, in that case, I'm coming with you. So you don't have to be alone with them," he says, looking straight up at Pauwel.
Anežka can see Judit's admiration for the old man radiating from her face, and agrees to have him along, if only to keep Judit sweet. Besides, he may know more important people in Josefov than young Judit.
"So," asks Judit as they are all following Anežka through the streets, "just what, exactly, are we doing?"
"We're going to have a little nose round Madame Urania's," says Anežka. "I assume you all know of it?"
"Why ever would we need to go to such a place?" says Judit.
"It seems that some of the good Madame's clientèle are clergymen--"
"That's hardly a secret," says Šimon.
"Yes, but some have disappeared following their visits. Rumour has it that they're being murdered in a back room."
"Well, they shouldn't be going to such a place," says Judit.
"I'm not one to judge," says Anežka, "but the Church has a reputation to uphold. So they'd like to keep this quiet. And the last thing you people need, my dear Judit--"
"Is to be accused of butchering priests," sighs Šimon.
Scene 6 - track B
Chaos: Under control (d12)
Setup: d12=3, Interrupt (was: case the joint)
Interrupt: Move toward a thread - Attract / Pleasures (see narrative)
NPC list: crime boss
Threads: investigate brothel
The entrance Madame Urania's establishment is located on a quiet side street on the outskirts of Josefov. It is rumoured to have other, more secret entrances, but whether they really exist, or are just idle speculation, or indeed mere tales told by Madame Urania to increase the allure of her place, is unknown -- at least to our heroes, who are now standing a good distance away in the street, and discussing their next move.
"Well, someone's got to go in," says Anežka.
"I volunteer," says Pauwel. "Only..."
"I'm afraid my purse is a bit light."
"I'm not exactly drowning in gold myself."
"I hate to say it," says Judit, "But he's right. This isn't the sort of place one just walks into without money for... for whatever."
The others (save Šimon, who just crosses his arms over his chest) dig into their own money purses and hand over all the bílé groše they find within. For bribes or (ahem) something. Anežka suggests he leave his armour and halberd behind if he wants to get in the door, which he does. She also tells him not to be too long, or she'll go in after him playing the angry wife.
[Q: On a scale of 1-6, how lavish is the place? d6=5
Pauwel needs to roll reaction of 10+ to even get in the door: 5+1(CHA)=no]
The others stand and watch Pauwel saunter up to the entrance, then go round the corner out of sight. Pauwel exchanges a few words at the threshold with the guards, who grab him by the arms, pick him up, and throw him bodily into the street [for 1d4=2 damage, dropping him to 8hp] where he hits his head on the cobbles.
[The Interrupt result was Attract/Pleasures, which in the context of this scene can only mean one thing: a roll on the 1st ed. DM's Guide harlot encounter table to see who comes to Pauwel's aid.
1d100=17, brazen strumpet. Scripsit Gygax: "the harlot is 30% likely to know valuable information, 15% likely to make something up in order to gain a reward, and 20% likely to be, or work with, a thief."
A young woman rushes out of the brothel. She's pretty enough, but is wearing a soiled dress and apron, and has her indifferently golden hair tied up in a scarf. She rushes to comfort poor Pauwel, and has angry words with the bouncers. They still insist he stay out.
"You could have gotten killed trying to go in there," she scolds, even as she is kneeling down to soothe the shaken young man. "The gentlemen in there aren't simple soldiers, and don't take kindly to their privacy being threatened like that."
"I have 25 grošů."
"That's so sweet! What were you going to get for it in there? Half a cup of wine?"
"I, um, er...."
"Come, let's away from here. Let me find a bandage for you head."
"You're too kind."
"My name's Zuzka," says the young woman as she helps Pauwel to his feet.
"Why were you really trying to get in there, Pauwel? Tell me, please. I must know."
"Why would I...?"
"Come now, my poor, injured Pavlik. You don't seem that thick. What are you up to?"
"The boss sent us to have a look round. There's someone gone missing."
"There's someone you ought to see then. A friend of mine. [1d6=]She'll have a tale to tell you." [UNE: knowing - account - contacts]
"We'd best go get my companions first. I'm not exactly in charge."
Scene 7 - track B
Chaos: Under control (d12)
Setup: d12=1, Altered (was: meet Zuzka's friend)
NPC list: crime boss, Zuzka
Threads: investigate brothel
[Setup: Since Zuzka isn't one of Madame Urania's more valuable assets (she is often sent out into the streets or is hired as part of a package deal, and also has to do the cleaning), I decided her friend with the useful information must be coming from another angle, rather than being an inside source. So...
Q: Who is her friend? d30 Castle Employee table = chambermaid
Q: Are they related? 50/50 (4+): O3 C2 - No, and... foreign
d20 on my Origin table = 20, Other
Q: Where is she? 4=Staré Město
Hungary was the first Other place to pop into my head, so I found a list of Hungarian names online somewhere to arbitrarily come up with the new NPC, Magdollna from Hungary.]
Following curt introductions, and a few jeers at Pauwel's misadventure from both Anežka and Šimon, Zuzka leads her new friends through the streets of the Old Town to the back of a townhouse in a dark alley. She knocks at the servant's entrance door...
[Q: Answer? 50/50: O1 C3 - No, but... light within]
...but there is no answer. "Someone must be about," says Zuzka. "They're not the sort to just leave candles burning all night -- misers that they are."
"Allow me, my dear girl," says Šimon, as he produces a long file from the pouch at his belt and begins fiddling with the lock. [he has Tinker 4; d6=1, he picks the lock easily]
"See? it was open after all!" says Šimon with an impish wink.
Zuzka opens the door cautiously.
[Q: Anyone about? Unlikely: O3 C10 - No.]
The door opens into an oddly-shaped foyer, the thoroughfare between the below-stairs servants' quarters, scullery, storeroom, and stairs up to the main floor of the house. A large, simple cabinet occupies the main wall opposite the door. It is dark, save for a single candle left burning on the scullery table.
Zuzka tells her companions to wait here, whilst she goes to fetch her friend, Magdollna. She creeps down the narrow passage as silently as she is able, though her footsteps seems to fall heavily in the stillness.
[Sneaking: d6=4, failure
Q: Anyone around to hear? Unlikely (5+): O3 C5 - No.]
When Zuzka reaches Magdollna's room, she opens door, and sees....
[The scene Alteration, determined via the LL AEC Random Characteristics table d100=39, Enlarges]
...her friend lying in bed, swollen to three times her normal size. The girl's clothing has ripped away in shreds. Her skin is stretched thin over her tumescent bulk, and seems about to split.
[Q: Can Zuzka repress her scream? Doubtful (6): O1 C9 - No.
Q: Is there anyone in the house who hears it? Unknown 1d6=1 Certain(still must roll for modifiers & possible events); O2 C1 - Yes, and...
They will arrive in 1d6=1 round]
Zuzka begins screaming and screaming. The others are startled for a moment by the noise, but before any one of them has made a move either down the dark passage towards Zuzka or out the door to safety, they hear the heavy sound of footfalls coming down the steps towards them.
[Q: Who are they? (1d6): 1 villains, 2 servants, 3 family, 4 random, 5 guards, 6 roll twice; 3=family, 1d6+1=4 people
Q: Any classed characters? Unlikely (5+): O5 C8 - Yes (one of them; 1d4=Cleric, 1d6=3rd level
Q: Armed with gun(s)? 50/50: O1 C9 - No
CH CN DX IN ST WI HP AC
Marius (owner) f0 14 12 13 10 15 9 5 13 fireplace poker
Brutus (bro.) f0 9 13 10 12 7 10 2 12
Zdeňka (maid) f0 9 11 15 13 12 16 3 13 lantern
Cloelia (sis.) c3 12 13 14 15 12 12 12 13 dagger
spells: command, prot. from good, sanctuary
NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: neutral
scheming - plan - allies]
Four people come rushing down the steps, and stop short when they see there are intruders in their household. The man in the lead is about 40, in his night-dress and brandishing a fireplace poker. Behind him are another man and woman, in their late and early thirties respectively. The three are obviously siblings, with the same high cheekbones and strong jaw, and the same thick, wavy, sandy blond hair. They are still dressed, though not well enough to receive visitors in such a fine house. With the siblings and bearing a lantern, is a house maid, a small, waifish girl of no more than 15.
Everyone starts talking at once: "Who are you?" "Where did you come from?" "How did you get in here?" "Who's screaming?"
"One at a time!" shouts Anežka in German to match the householders. "Pauwel go see what that screaming's about."
Pauwel runs down the narrow passage to fetch Zuzka. He looks in the door to the maid's room, and as his eyes adjust to the dim light...
[saving throw vs. poison, CON modifier applies: 1d20=3+2, failure]
...what he sees causes him to recoil into the passage, where he is violently ill. He stops heaving long enough to grab Zuzka and drag her back to the others, who are all eyeing one another nervously. Zuzka can barely speak, but Pauwel explains what he saw, briefly and between retches.
"It's loose in the house," says the maid.
"What is?" asks the man with the poker.
"The... the... nestvůra!" she replies.
"We speak German in our house," he scolds.
"I... I can't explain what it was. It had no skin and no mouth and it smelled like a full chamber pot. It touched Magda with its long arms and... it's too awful to tell! So I ran, ran to fetch the master...."
"Please," says the man with the poker, "you must help us! This thing is loose somewhere in the house."
"Ummm....," says Anežka.
"If you don't I'll go to the authorities to report you as intruders. Perhaps it was you who brought this thing here!"
"It seems we've no choice. All in a night's work, then."
to be continued...