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.

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