Monday, 20 November 2017

LotFP solo - Part V: In labyrinthum

Mikuláš steps cautiously through the door, followed by Valentinus and Theophilus. Each feels a momentary disorientation as he crosses the threshold, a confusion of the senses and feelings of vertigo. It lasts but an instant, only to be replaced by alarm and revulsion. For they have not come into the entry hall of the house; instead they find themselves in a small bed chamber, which is moreover the scene of recent carnage.

The mutilated corpse of a manservant has been stuffed into a narrow oaken armoire, and a man in his night-dress lies dead on the floor in a pool of blood. A fireplace poker is still clutched in his hand, and a crossbow bolt protrudes from the wall by the doorway.

"What happened here?" gasps Valentinus.

"One thing's for certain," answers Theophilus, "we'll be glad of our weapons ere the night's done."

"God willing, they'll be enough."

"Quite. We should look round. See if there's anything in here to give us a better idea of what's going on. Frater, that means you too. Mikuláš!"

The three go through the meagre furnishings, and Theophilus even dares a peek underneath the bed but they find nothing that is important or might elucidate the goings-on in the house.

[1 turn elapses; Search rolls d6=6,6,6, failure, so not asking the oracle if there are any clues]

The door still hangs ajar, but it is impossible to see out into the area beyond; all is indistinct darkness, and peering at it starts to hurt one's head. Looking out the window produces a similar result.

"This can't be all there is!" blusters Theophilus to hide his fear. "I'm going to see what's in the next room."

"Are you sure that's wise?" asks Mikuláš.

"No. But what choice have we?"

Mikuláš shrugs. "I suppose you're right," he says. [reaction roll=8]

Theophilus walks bravely forth, and the others follow. After the momentary blur of strange sensation, Theophilus' voice rings out. "How the devil did we end up in a pantry?"

"This can't be happening," mutters Mikuláš.

"Let's go back," says Valentinus.

"Are you sure that's wise?" asks Theophilus.

"You've a better plan? Besides, we haven't a surfeit of exits from which to choose."

They go back through the door. When the strangeness and confsion clears, they at first believe themselves back in the room they had started in, but they are in fact in another room altogether, though one which bears a strong resemblence to the first. There are fortunately no signs of death here, but insetad signs of life: a travelling chest has been stowed atop the wardobe which is full of clothing, the bed as been slept in, and a [d6=] man's toilet articles are on the side table.

[I used the Scarlet Heroes dungeon tables to stock the room, but it came up empty (no encounter- no treasure - no hazard - no feature)
Q: Bed slept in?  50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes.
Q: Any weapons here? Unlikely (5+): O2 C6 - No.]

Theophilus and Valentinus search the room, but they discover only that whoever the guest of this house is, he has above average means and impeccable taste.

Meanwhile Mikuláš, pale with fright, has sat down heavily upon bed, and begun mumbling to himself. "Je pravda... nebyl jen zvěst... už začalo..."

The others don't understand a word. Valentinus weakly attempts to comfort him with with religious platitudes, or at the very least shock his Protestant sensibilities with Catholic doctrine as a distraction. He doesn't seem to be getting through, so takes the torch from Mikuláš' hand lest he light the bedclothes on fire.

"Let's get out of here," says Theophilus at length.

"To what end?" asks Valentinus.

"We have to find somewhere eventually. Don't we?"

[From here on in, I'll be keeping records of Turns Elapsed for each group (on a separate piece of paper!) so I know when they find each other. Something is going on within the house that makes movement from room to room obey other-than-terrene laws. This idea occurred to me when looking at the Locations Within A Dungeon table in Scarlet Heroes. I thought the habitation column would be useful for late-night burglary scenarios, but the abstract way that the dungeons progress might lead your thief from the kitchen to the master bedroom via the kennels.

I did modify the table a bit to fit this particular house:

1 mechanism room
2 cellar (servants entrance)
3 guest room 1 (*Marius's body, servant in armoire)
4 dining room
5 guest room 2
6 guest room 3
7 brother's room
8 kitchen
9 library
10 master bedroom
11 pantry/scullery
12 salon
13 entry hall
14 servant's rooms (below stairs)
15 shrine
16 servant's rooms (garret)
17 stairwell/landing (*dead thing)
18 storeroom (tub)
19 study
20 vault

* see scene 8

When I made the table, I had no real idea what the Mechanism Room or the Shrine would be like; everything was to figured out in play, so I figured a couple of unknown quantities on the table would be fine. The Vault, of course, is the key to the adventure, but other than the presence of an important NPC there (who hasn't appeared yet), I hadn't determined anything about it in advance either, intending to make some random rolls when the PCs arrived.

Rather than counting down the minutes, I am assuming as a baseline that each room visited counts as a Turn unless it's obviously longer. A room that is simply passed through takes little time, but in practice no more than 2 rooms per Turn are allowed. In addition to the PC groups, I also have a group of NPCs to track. They stay 1d3-1  turns in each room, doing whatever it is that unsupervised NPCs get up to. I've scanned the turn-tracking paper for posterity, and I will upoad it when I get to the end of this section, but for now I cannot, as it contains spoilers.

Previously unexplored rooms are being stocked with the Scarlet Heroes random dungeon tables. I have an entire extra .txt file dedicated to keeping track of room contents & NPC stats.]

Scene 17 - track B

Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=3, Interrupt (was: explore the house)
Interrupt: Dark Secret - Judit - hasten / despair

NPC list: Zuzka, Cloelia (cleric), Brutus (brother), Zdeňka (maid)

Threads: investigate brothel, investigate death

In the lantern-lit entry hall, Judit is staring at the blank wall where once the front door stood. "We can't be trapped in here," she whispers, "we just can't."

She breaks out in silent tears. Šimon tries to comfort her, asking over and over aain what is the matter, but she only whispers half-incoherant phrases:  imprisoned... never again... outside... can't escape... can't escape....

[Q: Can he get her to rally? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - No, but... she comes round after 1 turn, but will have -2 to all actions due to the shakes for 1d3=2 more turns.

+Event: Horror - NPC - open / head]

Šimon finally begins getting through to Judit. Meanwhile, the waifinsh little maid has been clinging closer and closer to Pauwel. Zdeňka throws her arms round him, and looks up at him with her fearful, watery eyes. Then there's a tearing sound, and her scalp begins to split, and pulls back. Strips of skin begin to pull off in all directions, and the long strands ensnare Pauwel like so many bloody cords...

[The skin demon (AC: 14, HD: 4, HP: 21, Move: 120', 1 attack, damage 1d6, ML: 9, special: 'web' at will (one at a time, range 5', save vs. Paralysis to avoid, immobilised opponent is hit automatically each round), surprise on 1-4)

d6=5, no surprise round.
Initiative rolls were tied; dex 3d6=9, so order is: J, Š, (P), It]

[Round 1]
Šimon draws his dagger and advances, but is unsure of where to strike [miss]. The threat of immediate danger brings Judit back to the present. She lunges at the bleeding Zdeňka-monster with her rapier, skewering it through the torso. The now-skinless head turns and regards her angrily [she hit (despite a total -4 penalty) for 7 damage, dropping it to 14hp] and hisses with malice. A long toothy maw erupts from the maid's midsection through the gory rags of her dress, and begins to furiously gnaw into
Pauwel's stomach [auto hit; 5 damage leaves him with 3hp]. Pauwel twists and turns, struggling against the strips of skin twind round his wrists and ankles.

[Round 2]
The demon turns to interpose Pauwel between it and its adversaries like a shield. He screams for help, but both Šimon and Judit are afraid to strike again, lest they hit him [miss x2]. A gush of blood sprays out of his mouth, then he goes limp [4 damage puts him at -1hp].

[Round 3]
Šimon grabs Judit's hand and runs, pulling her behind him. He throws open the nearest door, and they rush through, without looking back at the wet slurping and snapping sounds behind them [5 damage kills Pauwel].

Between the panic and revulsion, they scarcely notice the vertiginous sensation of passing through the portal. But one moment they were in the entry hall, and the next they have suddenly found themselves in the cramped servant's quarters in the garret. A dim light suffuses the room, produced by some sort of green glowing fleshy sac, suspended from a roof beam by a single golden thread, hanging down at chest height between the two beds. The light pulses slowly, and the sac emits a nearly subsonic hum.  On each of the beds lies a housemaid, fully dressed and in a rigid posture, arms straight down at her sides. Their breathing is slow, rising and falling with the pulse of the light.

[The die rolls for the above:
d20=16, servant's rooms (garret)]

Room contents (Via Scarlet heroes): Hazard only
SH is a bit bland in this regard, so I rolled on the Labyrinth Lord AEC random characteristics chart: d%=94, Suspends animation.
The hazard's form wasn't immediately obvious from that so misc room contents: d%=99 Waterskin, empty, rotten

1d2=2 maids present

The PCs need to save vs. Paralysation: Š 20, J 20 !]

"Ugh!" says Judit. "What is that?"

"Nothing good," mutters Šimon. He tries shaking the sleeping maids awake, but they do not respond. The closer he gets to the hanging sac, the more the sound makes his teeth ache.

"How did we get up here?" continues Judit.

"Now is not the time to worry about how," says Šimon. "Or why. We need to find a way out of this trap."

"Yes, of course. But we can't leave them with... with that thing."

"What do you suggest?"

"Stand back. And be ready to run if this is a mistake."

Šimon back up to the door as Judit takes position between the beds. She takes her blade in both hands, checks the angle once or twice, then swings at the thread with all her might...

[Her STR is 9, so:
Q: Does she cut the thread? Unknown: 1d6=4, so 50/50 (4+): O4 C6 - Yes.
Q: Does it break the spell? Likely (3+): O6 C4 - Yes, but... (1d8): 1 maids are evil when they awake, 2 maids are evil and monstrous, 3 maids wither and die, 4 sac releases poison gas, 5 sac releases laughing gas, 6 golden thread delivers shock for 1d8 damage, 7 golden thread delivers magical backlash which randomly swaps 2 attributes, 8 sac is alive and attempts to escape


The golden thread snaps with a soft twang, and the fleshy sac plops at Judit's feet. It deflates with a wet sigh, filling the room with a colourless gas. The maids awakened the instant the thread was severed. One crie out, as if awaking from a nightmare, the other sits bolt upright. Then the gas starts to tickle their throats and they begin to giggle. Judit and Šimon join them a moment later. The giggles turn to laughter -- awful, joyless laughter that won't stop. Šimon loses hi balance, and slides to the ground, his back against the door. He almost drops the lantern. Judit tries to steady herself against the bedframe, but falls to her knees. Peals of maniacal laughter fill the room, and the four of them are helpless to stop it.

Judit recovers first, followed by one of the maids. Šimon is still in the laughter's thrall, and lies helpless and wheezing upon the floor. The second maid seems to be getting worse by the minute, and the laughter is replaced by thrashing and spasms. Flecks of blood stain her mouth and the bed linens as the fury mounts, and then all at once she falls senseless.

[Everyone needed to save vs. poison or be inapacitated by laughter for 1d3 turns.  Those making their save are still affected for 1 turn. Each turn of the horrible laughter inflicts 1 point of damage.

        CH CN DX IN ST WI HP
Daniela 11 11 10  9 14  8  5
Lenka   12  6 15 12 10 10  2

J saves 1 dmg to 5hp
Š fails 2 turns, 2 dmg to 4hp
d saves 1 to 4hp
n fails 3 damage, but goes unconscious in 2 turns, at 0hp]

Šimon's crisis passes, but the unconscious maid cannot be roused. Judit tries to help, and when it proves to be futile, she tries to comfort the other.

"My name is Judit, and this is my wise friend Šimon. What's your name?"

"D-- Daniela".

"Things have gotten very strange, very terrible in this house, but we are going to escape. Will you come with us, Daniela?"

[Reaction roll = 9]

"Y-- yes."

"Here. Take my dagger, just in case. Now, it would help if you could tell us what's going on?"

[Q: Does Daniela know anything? 50/50 (4+): O2 C4 - No, but...]

"There were doors we were told we must never open, never touch. I was too afraid to disobey."

"Do you know who did this to you?"

"I'm... I'm not sure..."

"Come on, we're getting out of here."

With a last tearful look back at poor Lenka, Daniela follows her rescuers out of the room.

[they exit to 1d20=5, guest room 2
contents (via Scarlte Heroes): encounter & hidden treasure

Encounter: d30=thief
Allegiance (SH): A rebel or hostile group opposed to the location’s rulers.

According to my turn/location tracker, the NPCs from scene 7 (Brutus & Cloelia) were here last turn. So,

Q: Was the thief here last turn too? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... hidden.
Q: Is thief well-armed? Unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...

The thief is a specialist, level 1d4=2. I fleshed himout with my origin/social tables. His name was rolled via World of the Lost.

Dutch gentry, male
Specialist, level 2
CH 16 CN 7 DX 14 IN 11 ST 8 WI 8
HP 5 AC 13
stealth 4, tinker 2, climb 3
wheelock pistol, dagger

His room was guest room 3 (the empty one that Theophilus, Valentinus, and Mikuláš found); this room belonged to d6= a lady.]

When the disorientation fades, they find themselves in a cozy guest room, not unlike the one where they were attacked by the stinking monster. The clothing and personal articles distribted round the room make it clear that a lady is a guest here -- though it is no lady whom they see crawling out from beneath the bed, but a handsome, if somewhat consumptive, gentleman. He looks shocked to see strangers, and has a pistol in hand, but does not hold it threateningly. [Reaction 2d6=7, neutral]

"Who are you?" says the man, his German betraying hints of his native Dutch. "How did you get in here? What's going on?"

"We could ask the same of you," says Šimon.

"I am a guest of Marius Grollenbach."

"Herr Grollenbach is dead."

"You killed him?"

"He tried to kill us. Why did he invite you here?"

"Business, or so he said. But what I've just overheard suggests a darker purpose." [UNE: insane - façade - allies]

"Go on."

"How do I know I can trust you?"

"You don't. But you've little choice."

"They spoke of blood, of doors, of some sort of unholy rite. I believe I was to be a participant... providing the blood, of course. And you?"

"I don't think we were meant to be here. But things have... started. And now we find we cannot escape."

"Ah. That does present an obstacle. I myself intend to escape. But I first intend to relieve these madmen of a few valuables to finance my trip back to Rotterdam." [scheming - plan - rewards]

"The whole world has fallen into pieces," says Judit, "and you think only to fill your pockets?"

"This sack, actually." [the hidden treasure from this room: the lady's jewells, purse, and a few misc. items]

"Do you know how to escape?" asks Šimon.

"No. I thought to try a window... but then I looked outside, and didn't dare open it. I assume you're finding the house a bit... jumbled."

"Indeed. But there must be a way through this labyrinth."

[Q: Will Floris come with them? Likely (3+): O5 C3 - Yes, but... is too self-serving to be of much help]

They agree to join forces. Leaving through the only door deposits them back into the below-stairs servants' entrance, where they first were brought into this house. They enter as if they had come out of the door to Magdollna's room, at the end of the narrow passageway.

[d20=2, cellar
contents (SH): treasure, hazard
LL AEC random characteristic: Emits a slime or ooze]

"What is that?" shrieks Floris as he rounds the corner.

The others come up behind him for a look, and see Anežka's swollen and distended corpse lying in a pool of sickly yellow fluid.

"That is -- was -- our associate, Anežka," says Šimon.

"How did she get down here?" asks Judit. "Was she... was she still alive when we left her?"

"What happened to her?" asks Floris.

"Something got to her," says Šimon.

"And the exit is gone!" cries Judit, practically choking on the words. "Just another blank wall where we came in!"

"I wonder what's in these cupboards?" muses Floris as he begins to dig through them. "Hello! what have we here?"

He has to step carefully round Anežka's body, lest he put his foot in the ruesome pool. [F needs Breath save to avoid, 1d20=19] He finds some silver plates in one of the cupboards to add to his sack of spoils.

"Please can we get out of here," says Daniela.

Scene 18 - track A

Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=1, Altered (was: explore house)
Alteration: Fr. Mikuláš charges off

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka, Fr. Mikuláš, ruffians

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

Without warning, Fr. Mikuláš leaps up and charges out the door like one posessed. Valentinus and Theophilus hesitate a moment, then run after him.

[to d20=2, dining room
Contents (via Scarlet Heroes): Hazard & feature

Feature (SH): An unusual piece of movable furnishing / Elaborate lighting apparatus, possibly still working / Simply beautiful to behold. Valuable if portable]

They find Mikuláš in the long, wood-panelled dining room. Above the massive table hangs a spidery chandelier made of an unknown metal, which bears 13 tapers that appear to have just been lit [magic chandelier, candles burn forever].

"It was foolish of you to run off without us," scolds Valentinus. "If this chandelier hadn't been lit, you'd be alone in darkness."

"But it is lit," retorts Mikuláš, and he stands upon the table to take a candle for himself.

[save vs. breath or 1d6 fire damage; d20=18, ok]

"Ow!" cries Mikuláš as he pulls back his hand in pain. "What unnatural thing is this?!"

"We must be more cautious," says Valentinus. "Now, are you going to stay with us?"

[Q: Does he see reason? Likely (3+): O6 C2 - Yes, and... contrite]

Mikuláš humbly assents.

"There's more than one door in this room!" shouts Theophilus. The other two look at him, visibly confused by the note of triumph in his voice for such a bland statement. "In every other room," he continues, "we've had to leave by the door we came in. Perhaps if we do't leave by the same door, we'll get out of this labyrinthine nightmare."

"Or go deeper within it," says Mikuláš.

"The door we came in," says Theophilus, ignoring him, "obviously leads to the entry hall. Or should, I mean. This one here must go to the kitchen... damn." Opening the door has revealed only the usual indistinct, headache-causing blackness. "I'd hoped for the kitchen," he says, trying not to sound defeated, "but I still say we leave through here."

The others can think of no argument. They follow him through the doorway... and find themselves in the salon. Once he recovers, Valentinus hazards a look back through the doorway they have just seemingly exited, but he is not at all surprised that it shews only darkness.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

LotFP solo - Part IV: Souvislost

30 April, A.D. 1601

Kateřina Smutná is sitting in the parlour of her family's modest home in New Town, idly reading a Latin treatise on astral magic which purports to have been written by Albumasar (which attribution, honestly, the young lady doesn't half believe) when she is disturbed by a loud rapping at the door. The door opens and the family servant pokes her head through. "Somebody called Miss Frawsswaz is here to see you, miss."

"Miss Françoise Toussaint, mayhap? My new French tutor?"

"Could be, miss. Only her Czech is worse than my French!"

"Show her in, please."

The servant disappears back into the vestibule, and Kateřina hurriedly hides her book beneath a cushion. She's not sure how much Latin Mlle Toussaint reads, but she cannot take the chance of being seen reading such a notorious volume. An interest in black magic is certainly not becoming for proper young ladies, nor indeed good Christians of any stripe. And Mlle Toussaint is a most notorious gossip.

Scene 11 - Track C

Chaos: Under control (d12)

Setup: Ambiguous Event - Inform / Illness

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová

Threads: -

[There's only one PC left, so Kateřina begins a new Track on her own. The ambiguous event I rolled for the scene starter fits perfectly with the illness/horror random event from scene 1.

I made a quick table to determine the source of the information (1d6): 1 a mutual friend, 2 a rival, 3 a gossip, 4 a servant, 5 overheard in a crowded room, 6 Eufemia herself.]

Mlle Toussaint rushes into the room in more than her usual state of agitation. "Oh, my dear Catherine, have you heard the news about poor Euphémie? Oh, it's dreadful! Absolutely dreadful! And so sudden!"

Kateřina can tell the news must be serious, for Mlle Toussaint hasn't even bothered to effect her usual Parisian accent, allowing instead her native Burgundian patois to shine through. "Slow down, my dear Françoise. Have a seat. Let me pour you a glass of wine and you can tell me everything. What's this about Eufemia? I confess I mostly only understood you say her name."

Mlle Toussaint does as she is bid, as Kateřina takes a decanter of wine and two glasses from the side board and plays hostess.

"It's awful. Truly frightening," says Mlle Toussaint, once she and Kateřina are seated comfortably. "It came on so suddenly. One minute she was the very picture of health, the next... oh! so gravely ill. She's had her physicians round, and even consulted that other one -- you know, the Spaniard, what's-his-name -- very dark, I hear he's a Mahometan. Well, he can't do anything either. They say she may die! Can you believe it?"

The interview continues in this vein for quite some time, until Mlle Toussaint excuses herself, as she absolutely must go inform Mlle Kubin of the terrible news. Kateřina resolves to pay Eufemia a call that very day.

Scene 12 - track C

Chaos: Under control (d12)

Setup: call on Eufemia

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová

Threads: Eufemia's illness

Kateřina sets out not long after Mlle Toussaint has left. She walks briskly through the labyrinth of twisting narrow streets that is the Old Town, and makes to cross the Vltava. She heads past the University with a small sigh of regret, then heads over the Charles Bridge.

[Q: Problem getting there? Unlikely (5+): O3 C3 - No, but...
+Event: Horror - PC
d30 Sandbox Companion phenomena table = sightings of dead]

Kateřina must fight her way past the dense crowd, though she's used to charging her way through. But then she sees something that stops her cold in her tracks. In the centre of the bridge there is a terrible figure of a knight in full armour, clutching a gory sword and bleeding profusely from a dozen terrible wounds, his armour rent and holed from the Turkish grapeshot that ended his life. Yet there he stands, in the midst of the crowd of people flowing unconsciously round him, even as they must alter their course to get past.

[She must make a saving throw vs. magic 1d20=13, failure.]

Kateřina is suffused with fear, and stands rooted to the spot as the dead knight walks toward her with a heavy, purposeful gait. He stops mere inches from the frightened girl, and removes his helm. Even before the awful face below is revealed, Kateřina knows whose shade stands before her. "I'm so sorry, Honza," she says. The knight screams a single word at her with its ruined mouth, and then vanishes.

Kateřina feels as if she might swoon, and runs across the bridge and into the first tavern she sees to get a drink. The beer is scarcely worth the krejcar [-1cp] she throws down to pay for it, but the sour taste shocks her back to her senses so that she might continue on her way.

[Q: Any other problems along the way? doubtful (6): O3 C8 - No.
reaction roll for the doorman: 2d6+1(CHA)=13.]

Kateřina is nearly herself again when she reaches Eufemia's house. The servant's face brightens as he opens the door to her. "So good to see you again, Miss Smutná," he says, genuinely happy to see a friend of the household -- and one with whom he may drop all pretence and speak their native tongue. "The Mistress will be pleased of your company!"

Kateřina is not even announced, merely led into the house and up the stairs to Eufemia's bedchamber. Eufemia lies abed, pale and listless, with barely the strength to sit upright. But she makes an effort to rise when she sees Kateřina, and motions for her to sit beside her on the corner of the bed. Kateřina helps her friend up, plumping the pillows behind her to make her more comfortable, and taking her trembling hand in her own.

"Dearest," says Kateřina, "whatever has happened? You look dreadful."

NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: cautious
insane - turmoil - last action]

"Oh, Katřinka, I have erred in my calculations. I thought I could out-manoeuvre Felicitas and get the book from her, but she must have known, and struck me down even as I was engaging the service of a couple of rogues to procure it for me."

"Struck you down?"

"Before even I'd sent them on their way."

"Have you tried to make peace?"

"I didn't want to give her the satisfaction. But it's been four days, and I grow ever weaker... and my agents never returned."

"Never returned? What did they do?"

"One can only imagine! I sent Theophilus and Pater Hastatus. You know them?"

"Theophilus, of course, I've met. And I know Hastatus by reputation. But why--?"

"I'd imagined them a bit cleverer than... Oh, what's the use! They've failed or worse, and now..."

"Have you anything she wants? I will bring her a peace offering. I am sure I can appease her somehow -- but you'll need to abandon hopes of the book... at least for the present."

[Q: Does she agree? Likely (3+): O3 C6 - Yes.
offering: d30 Artefact/Relic=figurine/idol]

"That golden statuette on the mantelpiece," says Eufemia, gesturing weakly. "The little faun. She's always coveted it."

Scene 13 - track C

Chaos: Under control (d12)

Setup: call on Felicitas

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka

Threads: Eufemia's illness

[Q: Problem getting there? Unlikely (5+): O4 C8 - No.

reaction roll to be let in 10+1=11, no problem

NPC Relationship: hostile
Conversation Mood: withdrawn
knowing - speech - antagonist

Q: Has Felicitas recovered from the attack? (uncertain odds: 1d6=4) 50/50 (4+): O2 C8]

Kateřina is admitted almost immediately by Felicitas' servants, but is then left standing alone in the grim entrance hall, with nothing to do to while away the time but stare in bemused contemplation of the newly-hung orientalist tapestry. She isn't sure whether it was woven in Cathay and is supposed to depict Dutchmen, or if the figures upon it are supposed to represent the inhabitants of that far-off land, as imagined by someone in the Low Countries. In either case, she finds it rather in bad taste, and wholly out of place in the dark hall, ignorant as she is of the bloodstains it was hung to conceal [mostly Gephardt's, from scene 3].

She is finally admitted to Felicitas' parlour. The room is dim, lit only by a single wall sconce. The tall, green faïence stove has made the air uncommonly warm and close. An incense burner adds a sharp, spicy smell, which almost masks the odour of the sick-room. Felicitas sits in a high-backed upholstered armchair, nearly invisible in the dim light save for her eyes glittering intensely down on Kateřina.

"Well?" says Felicitas.

"I am here to ask you to make peace with Eufemia. To end your magical assault upon her person. I bring this statuette as an offering."

Felicitas leans forward into the light, and Kateřina gasps at the sight of her.

"Look at me! do you really think I am responsible for Eufemia's condition? You're as stupid as she is! It is all I can do to sit upright to receive you."

"I am sorry. She thought--"

"I very much doubt that she did think! But tell me: can you?"

"Think? Of course. Now that I see you, it is plain you are both suffering at the hand of someone else.... but who?"

"We've a mutual adversary. But I need to know your rôle in all this..."

"My...? Eufemia is a dear friend! What other rôle should I be playing?"

[Q: Does Felicitas believe her? (unknown odds: 1d6=5) Unlikely (5+): O6 C10 - Yes]

"You're quite serious, aren't you? Yes, I do believe you are. Your loyalty does you some credit... though I should not hesitate to tell you I think it misplaced in such a one as Eufemia. I suggest you call upon the Domus Horatia. You'll likely find the answers you seek there. You will likely find a great many things... horrible, horrible things..." [mysterious - uncertainty - antagonist]

"I see. Thank you for your candour."

"Think not upon it, child. I've no reason to dissemble, if you would truly undo this evil magic. And if you fail in the attempt, then none of this shall have mattered. Now leave me with my new statuette! And tell Eufemia I should like to see her. Perhaps there may finally be a détente, if we live through this."

[Q: Any problems getting back? Unlikely (5+): O2 C9 - No.]

Scene 14 - track A

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: back to Eufemia

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka, Fr. Mikuláš, ruffians

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

[I put on my DM hat and decided this was a good time to unite tracks A & C. The worse Chaos Factor takes precedence, so Kateřina is now part of Track A. I've combined the NPC & Threads lists.

Q: Is Fr. Mikuláš (the NPC cleric) still with Valentinus & Theophilus? Unlikely (5+): O5 C8 - Yes
Q: Does he have a problem with Magic-Users in party? Unlikely (5+): O3 C6 - No. (NB: It would have been Likely odds, but as he's still working with Theophilus it seemed that he was probably more tolerant]

Kateřina returns straightaway to Eufemia's. She is surprised to hear the servant who opens the door to her address her with absolute formality -- and in German. "Miss Smutná, please wait here with these others. The mistress will receive you all in the sitting room once it's prepared."

Kateřina is admitted to the crowded vestibule, where three haggard men are waiting. She sees a mis-matched pair of priests, and behind them meets a familiar face.

"Salve, O mi bone Theophile," says Kateřina.

"Oh, come now girl!" he says. "I'm not your schoolmaster."

"I'd heard from Eufemia that you might be coming," she replies tactfully.

"Oh! I... well, that is..."

"Do you know this child?" asks Valentinus.

"Child?!" cries Kateřina. "Child?!"

Now it is Theophilus' turn to be tactful. "She's much older than she appears, my good man," he says. "Pater Valentinus, allow me to introduce Catherina Moesta."

"Salve, Pater Hastate," says Kateřina with a curtsy.

"Pax tecum," responds the priest.

"First we're in school, now church," groans Theophilus.

"Well, you did introduce me as Catherina."

"That's only because I can't pronounce that barbaric name of yours, good miss." Kateřina smiles at Theophilus' pleasantry, though Fr. Mikuláš rolls his eyes. Kateřina looks pointedly over Theophilus' shoulder. "Oh, yes," he begins, "this is, um--"

"Bratr Mikuláš Kovář," says Mikuláš.

"Těší mě," says Kateřina happily.

The servant then reappears, and ushers them all into the sitting room. Eufemia is sitting stiffly in her chair, doing her best to look serene and regal. Valentinus and Theophilus are immediately cowed by her presence, and spend most of their time avoiding her gaze, for they are ashamed of at their own failure in the good lady's service. Kateřina, for her part, can see through Eufemia's façade, and is sorely worried for her friend's health.

Theophilus apologetically recounts their misfortunes, omitting nothing, and exhorts the other two to fill in the gaps in his tale. Fr. Mikuláš adds what little he knows, explaining that some of his flock took ill after an altercation with Felicitas, and he felt compelled to look into the rumour of black magic which reached his ears. [UNE: inquisitive - questions - knowledge; his intentions (Mythic): Care / Misfortune].

All that concluded, Kateřina relates the substance of her meeting with Felicitas, and suggests that the four of them pursue her suggestion. They agree to all go collect the things they will need, and meet upon Karlův Most (Charles Bridge) to go investigate.

[Q: Anyone have problems in transit? Likely (3+): O2 C5 - No.]

When daylight has faded, they have reconvened and set out for the residence of the Grollenbach siblings, which is known in some circles as the Domus Horatia -- so called because according to family tradition, begun by Horaz von Grollenbach, all children are named after great heroes and heroines of antique Rome. Several of the current line are widely known to share the Emperor's interest in alchemy and magic. But there are whispers that they have a more sinister design than the transmutation of base metals into gold.

Eufemia is certain that they do traffic with unclean spirits, so the little band has armed itself well. Kateřina has a crossbow, and Theophilus an arquebus, which they take pains to conceal beneath their cloaks as best they might whilst going about the streets. Valentinus has brought some holy water, and a dagger besides. Only Mikuláš is unarmed, trusting in his Faith to see him through [as an NPC I rolled 1d10 for his memorised spell and had already chosen the PCs'; M Bless, K Charm Person, T Sleep, V Command]. He also carries the torch.

Scene 15 - track A

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)*

Setup: d8=3, interrupt (was: get into house)
Interrupt: Horror - PC (d3=Valentinus) - observe / stranger

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka, Fr. Mikuláš, ruffians

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

They cross silently into the Old Town. Kateřina has a vague idea where to find the Grollenbach residence, though she's never been, and the others follow her meekly. More than one of them silently wishes she gets lost and they never arrive at that place of evil whisperings.

Valentinus lags a bit behind. Down a narrow alleyway, he sees the Stranger, a [d6=] man in a long, old-fashioned cloak and an impossibly tall hat. The Stranger's face is completely in shadow, but his eyes smoulder like ardent coals. His gaze locks upon Valentinus, his eyes burn into his... there is something unearthly about the Stranger.

[V must save vs. Magic to avoid (d30 sandbox Companion phenomenon=) transformation
d20=19, success]

Valentinus feels a wave of illness wash over him -- his ears ring, his vision blurs, his skin burns, and his guts are twisted -- but a prayer forms on his lips and it passes, leaving him weak and sweating.

The others notice he is no longer with them, and find him at the end of the block bent nearly double from distress. They rush to his aid. He mumbles something about a strange man, tries to point down the alley, but the Stranger has already melted away into the darkness -- if he was ever even there!

Scene 16 - track A

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)*

Setup: d8=1, Altered (was: get into house)
Alteration: cause / tears (something simple will go poorly)

NPC list: Eufemia Švarcová, Felicitas z Trautenberka, Fr. Mikuláš, ruffians

Threads: Eufemia's illness, get book

Valentinus soon recovers, and his accustomed contumely masks any lingering dread. Kateřina leads them onward and after winding through a handful of adjoining streets, they reach their destination.

The house appears dark.  They stand across the street watching for several minutes, but there is no movement, within or without.

"Well?" asks Theophilus impatiently.

"Oh, really!" says Kateřina. "I suppose one of us must..."

She walks directly up to door, tests it gingerly, and seeing that it is indeed firmly shut, knocks.

[Q: Is there an answer? 50/50: O6 C4 - yes, but...]

The door creaks open just a little. Inside, all is in darkness.

"Hello?" she asks timidly.

Suddenly a hand? claw? appendage? darts out from the blackness and pulls her into the house. [save vs. paralyze not to drop the xbow: 12, just failed]

Kateřina's crossbow catches on the door frame and she loses her grip on it. It falls to the cobbles as she disappears inside, and the door slams. [d%: 1-50 bolt stays in, 51-99 bolt fires into street, 00 bolt hits other PC: 89]

The others rush up to the door, but stop short. Theophilus readies his arquebus, lighting the match off of Mikuláš' torch, and sheltering in a neighbouring doorway in order to get the match into the lock. Valentinus picks up the fallen crossbow, and goes looking for the bolt. Mikuláš just stands looking mortified.

"We've got to try to save her," says Theophilus to the quaking priest. "I suggest you ask God for the strength to do this."

"Y-you seem so calm. Have you done this before?" [UNE: inquisitive - curiosity - last story]

Theophilus just blows on the match to fan the spark.

"I found the bolt," says Valentinus, "Father Kovar (sic), that means you must open the door for us."

[V's Search (Wis mod +2) =3; 1d6=1, found it.

It was now time to check the NPC's Morale. I gave him a +2 bonus for the reasonable request, and his well-armed compatriots: 2d6=3... there was no way that could fail, so I didn't determine his actual ML score yet.

Q: Can he open the door easily? Unknown (1d6=1, no contest, but roll for qualifiers/event): O6 C6 - Yes
+Event: Ambiguous event - conceal / vows : M's reticence is actually a ruse. He desperately wants to enter this house, because of a secret promise he has made to...? This can be his Dark Secret, as far as my Event table is concerned.]

Mikuláš opens the door. Despite his torch, they can't really make out any details in the absolute darkness within. Neither Kateřina nor her mysterious assailant are to be seen. Mikuláš holds the torch high, and they proceed within.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

LotFP solo - Part III: Nestvůra

Judit draws her sword and starts up the steps. Pauwel follows behind with his halberd, then Anežka and Šimon, holding the lantern high. Anežka looks back and is surprised to find the man with the poker coming after them.

"I'll not have strangers running loose in my house amongst my valuables," he says. "You understand."

"Of course"

Scene 8 - track B

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: d10=1, Altered (was: PCs go search the house)

NPC list: crime boss, Zuzka, Marius (owner), Cloelia (cleric), Brutus (brother), Zdeňka (maid)

Threads: investigate brothel, investigate death

CH 14 CN 12 DX 13 IN 10 ST 15 WI 9
AC 13, HP 5
fireplace poker (Att +1, 1d6)

[Q: Did the monster leave a trail? Likely (3+): O5 C3 - Yes, but... need search rolls to notice

3d6 = no 1s, all fail; A has search-2, but also fails

I'm not using a map, but they're just in a townhouse. The search proceeds from room to room in a sensible order. In each location, I rolled 1d6, with 1 indicating an encounter with the monster and a 6 indicating something else of interest to be rolled on the LL AEC tables.]

The party make their way up to the main floor, and start a cautious search from room-to-room. They find nothing untoward in the kitchen, nor the pantry, nor when they cross the long and richly-furnished dining room, nor the cozy salon beyond it. They then proceed up the steps, and enter a bedroom from the landing, where Anežka notices something amiss.

[I rolled a 6; A made her search roll, to discover (via LL AEC) d%=Blood, puddle.]

"Wait," whispers Anežka harshly. "What's that on the floor by the armoire?"

Šimon stand back against the wall, holding the lantern so Anežka can see to investigate.

"It looks like blood," she says, "dripping out from inside."

Judit and Pauwel ready their weapons as Anežka tugs on the armoire door. It swings open to reveal the body of a manservant shoved inside, soaked in blood from numerous wounds.

[Q: Does Marius play along? 50/50: O5 C2 - Yes, but... unconvincingly]

"How could such a creature open and close the door?" asks Marius.

"Wait," says Anežka, "you've seen it?"

"I, er, uh..."

Šimon puts a dagger in Marius' back. "Answer the question," he says.

[reaction roll 2d6=10]

"How do you think it got into our house? Knocked at the front door? Hah! That little maid needed to be taught a lesson... talking to that whore about things she'd overheard in our household. Now, I give you the option to join our cause... or I'll feed you to my pet."

"What cause?" says Judit. "What're you talking about?"

"Lay down your arms and we can discuss this rationally."

Šimon's answer is to drive his dagger between the man's ribs [damage is 1d4x2 for backstab skill; 6 damage drops Marius to -1hp]. He yelps in surprise, then doubles over and crashes to the floor.

[Q: Is the monster near? 50/50 (4+): O6 C9 - Yes
Q: How does it react? Fight / Danger; well, then...

I used my usual mish-mash of the No Salvation for Witches and Summon spell tables to generate the monster.

NSFW monster gen:
Bulbous quadruped with raw and exposed flesh.
Tendrils dripping with banana-yellow mucus.
smells of Faeces

HD 5, HP 19, AC 14, MV 60', ML 10, 1 attack, 1d3+poison, special: Silence (always on in 15' area)

Rolling for surprise as the room goes silent... d6=5, no surprise]

"What the h--" begins Anežka, but she is abruptly cut off. Her mouth still moves, but no sound comes out. Not a sound can be heard at all, not her angry question, nor the creak of the floorboards, the hiss of the lantern, nor the anxious beating of their hearts. And then the smell hits them, an overpowering faecal smell like an open cesspit on a sweltering summer's day.

The monster appears moments later, a squat and bulbous quadruped. The thing most resembles a skinned bear cub, with raw exposed muscle, but with no head to speak of, just a lumpy tumescence above the shoulders, from which four glassy black eyes stare out. Four spindly tendrils sprout from its back, dripping with bright yellow mucus.

[no surprise, initiative rolls are tied. It has Dex 3d6=15; so all attacks are simultaneous, save  Pauwel who goes last.]

[Round 1]
The thing whips its tendrils at [1d4=] Šimon, who is closest to the door. He ducks back away from it [it missed] and runs further into the room, out of reach. Anežka shoots her crossbow, but her hands are trembling so much so that the bolt hits the ceiling right above the doorframe [rolled a 4].

Judit thinks only of defending Šimon. She lunges at it with her rapier and cuts open some of its raw muscle. A brownish oily fluid seeps from the wound [2 damage].

Pauwel lowers his halberd and pokes at it from behind her, opening another leaking wound [1 more damage brings it to 16hp].

[Round 2]
It lumbers forward at Judit, and smacks her across the face with one of its tendrils. Her cheek swells and stings with the contact, and she shudders a bit as a feeling of nausea runs through her [she takes 1 damage, dropping to 6hp, but makes her saving throw against poison]. Judit's riposte puts out one of the beastie's staring eyes [4 damage]. Anežka throws her crossbow aside and comes at it with her dagger, stabbing down into its glistening shoulder [2 damage]. Pauwel hasn't much room to manoeuvre, but manages a credible chop at the creature, which tears open its back [7 more damage brings it to 3hp].

[Round 3]
Despite its wounds, the thing fights on [made its Morale check]. It catches Anežka's hand and wraps it in a tendril as she tries to stab it again. She jerks back her hand in agony as the mucus burns her skin [she missed; it hit for 1 damage, and she failed her save]. Judit and Pauwel take advantage of its struggle with Anežka and catch it between their steel [1+6 damage reduces it to -4hp, dead]. It sprawls on the ground oozing innards out the hole in its flank, and does not move again.

Anežka's face and hands start to swell. She looks round in fright, pleads --still silently-- for help. Her eyes roll wildly as she starts to fill out her dress oddly, and the fabric starts to split. She panics, running from room towards the stairs. Seconds later she collapses, expanding all the while, and rolls down the stairs into the entry hall.

Šimon and Pauwel are standing still in shock, but Judit has the presence of mind to search Marius' body.

[Q: Has he anything of interest? 50/50: O6 C2 - Yes, and...
d30 Table AG8: ARTIFACT/RELIC: 28, talisman]

"What is this?" asks Judit, as she holds up a square of parchment covered in sigilla and characteres, with a smattering of Greek writing.

"I can hear again," says Pauwel dumbly.

Šimon makes sure Marius is dead, and tells Pauwel to do the same for the creature. He looks pale, but complies. Šimon takes the talisman from Judit, examines it with a frown, and pockets it for later study.

"Now what do we do?" asks Judit.

"We leave this Sheol."

[Q: Can they get out without problems? Unlikely: O3 C3 - No, but...
+Event: Horror - NPC - Zuzka - Attract / Prison]

They hear a stifled cry from below, and when they come out to the top of the stairs they find the young maidservant coming up towards them. She holds her arm gingerly, as it is bleeding from a deep cut. "Y--you're alive," she says. "They'll want to speak to you."

Judit points the end of her gory rapier at the girl. "Why should we--"

"They have your friend."

"Zuzka!" gasps Pauwel.

"She's locked in the room with... with poor Magda... They'll kill her if you leave now. They'll kill me!"

"This is not our problem," says Judit firmly.

"It's still mine," says Pauwel. "Don't you want to see this nightmare ended?"

"Not particularly."

"It could have far reaching consequences," offers Šimon. "It could come to hurt us all in time."

"Damn these goyim," mutters Judit. "What do they want, then?"

"To talk, they said," says the maid.

"Do they have more of those creatures?"

"I didn't know they had the one."

"I don't want to walk into another ambush. I'm afraid it's too late for Zuzka. We're getting out of here. You, girl, come with us. We'll keep you safe. We can come back later -- with reinforcements."



Scene 9 - track B

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=4, Interrupt (was: escape the house)
Interrupt: PC negative - Pauwel - Pursue / Opposition

NPC list: crime boss, Zuzka, Cloelia (cleric), Brutus (brother), Zdeňka (maid)

Threads: investigate brothel, investigate death

Zdeňka clings to Pauwel as her saviour, and looks up at him with her terrified, doe-like eyes. He absolutely falls for the young maid's helpless routine, and vows that he'll see her out safely, and come back to avenge poor Zuzka some other time. But what vile thoughts are going through her head as she leans softly into this big, strong, gullible soldier, I cannot now say. It is as if I too, O reader, were as entranced as he by this girl's youthful pulchritude and fraicheur.

Scene 10 - track B

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: escape the house

NPC list: crime boss, Zuzka, Cloelia (cleric), Brutus (brother), Zdeňka (maid)

Threads: investigate brothel, investigate death

[Q: Can they get to the front door easily? Likely (5+): O1 C5 - No.
Q: Why not? Move / Portals (events are set in motion early; to be explained in a later scene)]

Judit rolls her eyes at the sight of Pauwel and the maid, but holds her tongue. She leads the way down the steps as quietly as she can, lest the other inmates of the house hear movement and come to investigate. She is also afraid of what else the sounds might summon. The others follow behind, emulating her stealth as best they can.

At the bottom of the stair they find Anežka's swollen corpse, half covered in the rags of her dress. Judit steps round it and tries not to look, but must in order to make her way past, lest the straining skin burst at the slightest contact.

She leads them forward to the end of the entry hall, and stares for a few moments with incomprehension at the blank wall before her. "Hey," says Judit, "where'd the front door go?"