Sunday, 18 November 2018
In the bottom of the central shaft of the ruined tower there is a small anteroom. Within the dark little cell yawns a deep well leading down, down below the very foundations of the tower to the castle dungeons. A ladder of recent construction sits in the well. There is no doubt but that the evil Jola is somewhere to be found at the bottom.
Lycinia packs her unloaded pistol into her backpack. Ruprecht goes outside of the tower to discharge his arquebus into the ground (lest it be turned against them), and leaves it propped in an out-of-the way alcove for later retrieval. All eyes are on Thiery, who insists on having his pistols at the ready. Manfred protests that his ears are still ringing for their earlier battle -- and that in a place exposed to the air -- but Thiery proves intractable. No one wants to start an argument at the entrance to the dungeon, so the matter drops.
[Next scene: find Jola in the dungeon
CRGE: 'to conflict'
The dungeon was run with the DMG Appendix A. To simulate the dungeon being explored and partly cleared by Jola & friends, for each room the PCs discover I'll roll 1d20 for the room contents. Any results of 1-12 (empty) will be re-rolled on the 1d12+8 I usually use to see what had been there before. A Special result indicates that Jola and the aforementioned unopenable door has been found. Any treasures from the previously cleared rooms will be in the special room as well. The first level of the dungeon is DL 3 for purposes of random encounters etc.]
Oswold's lantern is lit, and lowered down on the end of a rope, which is just long enough to set it on the floor of the room below [Room I: empty - empty]. Lycinia volunteers to go down first. The ladder wobbles but is otherwise sturdy. One by one her companions join her at the bottom.
Four corridors lead away from the bottom of the shaft in all directions. There are two iron-framed doors as well, though one of these appears to be partly rusted shut. As the other shows signs of recent use -- powdered rust around it on the floor -- the party decide to check behind it.
It opens into a long, dark corridor.
"I'll go first," says Thiery. "There could be traps."
He proceeds at a slow walk, and makes a big show of looking round at the floor and ceilings, but no one is quite sure how effectively. Manfred would prefer to trust Lycinia's elven senses to detect any danger ahead, but he holds his tongue; he wouldn't be half sorry to see Thiery -- that is, SIR Thiery -- fall into a spiked pit or somesuch.
There is another door at the end of the corridor. Thiery pronounces it 'clear' and nudges it gingerly open with his foot.
The room beyond [Room II - Treasure only] is an enormous triangular chamber. Most of the centre of the chamber is made up of a pile of rotting wood, the remains of costly furnishings. The walls are covered floor to ceiling in stone carvings done in high relief, which unaccountably for a wizard's tomb seem to be scenes from the lives of the saints. The carvings continue down a passage leading out of the room, but this dead-ends in a small carven chapel.
The party examine the reliefs carefully, hoping to find some hidden meaning, but Brichtrethe assures them that the scenes are all correct and entirely conventional. Thiery does make one interesting discovery: inside the broken head of a monk, someone has concealed 15 gold coins [Treasure - inside item in plain view; 5gp x DL, per the (value-adjusted) unguarded Appendix A treasure table]. The coins bear the stamp of the current King, so whoever concealed them here did so recently.
Lycinia makes an interesting discovery of her own: the carved 'altar' is actually a secret door. Beyond the door is another chamber, much plainer than then one they've just left [Room III : empty - trick/trap]. In the southeast corner there is an open trapdoor, which had been painted to resemble the stone floor. The pit it reveals is deep enough that the lamplight does not shew the bottom [Chute down 1 level (cannot be ascended in any manner].
A long corridor leads out of the room, and crosses the entry shaft. They continue straight through it, and wind up in a maze of twisty passages, all alike. After an age of cautious advance, they come upon a large chamber [Room IV - empty (was: monster & treasure - 5 thouls)] which is heaped high with rubbish, splintered wood, and broken bits of masonry, forming a stinking warren of cramped passages through the space. A pair of disfigured, oozing corpses, both partially burnt, are visible down the first 'passage' into the den. No one is particularly interested in rooting through filth, so they pass it by.
It is clear that Jola's party have already explored this way, so our heroes spend less time examining the already-picked-over surroundings in favour of seeking out the witch.
The next room they come through appears to be a great dining hall [Room V - trap]. But this hall was made for the dead to feast, not the living. The great stone table and chairs seem to have been carved right out of the floor, and the food and drink piled high upon the table is all made of painted clay.
[1d6=] Brichtrethe triggers a hidden trap, and is scorched by a lance of fire [failed save vs. magic, 2d6=6 damage, leaving her with 13hp], but she shrugs it off.
The corridor leading out ends in another room [room VI - empty - empty] done up in much the same style as the dining hall, but resembling a well-stocked larder.
There was a door they had passed on the way to the dining hall, and they pause to investigate it on their way back. Thiery examines it, and finds it innocuous, but has a hard time pulling it open. Lycinia steps in and gives the handle a mighty pull [Trap - falling door, save vs. Petrification or suffer 1d10 damage]. The heavy door pivots from the bottom and falls over on her. With consummate grace [natural 20] she springs aside, and the false door crashes to the stone floor unimpeded. Thiery pretends not to notice the elf's glacial stare.
Brichtrethe bids them remember their mission, and they press onward. A pit opening up in the midst of a corridor necessitates some backtracking and a detour, but luckily Thiery, still in the lead, did not fall in [saved vs. Petrification]. Nor was he pushed.
At length they find another chamber [Room VII - empty - monster], which was once the lair of three cow-sized reptilian horrors. These now lie dead amongst the filth in which they made their lair.
In the next room [Room VIII - empty - was monster&treasure (shadows)] they find nothing save an empty stone coffer, in front of which a once-concealed trapdoor lies open. The adjoining room is [Room IX - empty - empty] given over to an ornamental fountain which has long since dried up, but is otherwise empty.
The door on the far wall opens into a long chamber with a high vaulted ceiling [Room X - monster & treasure]. Eight square stone columns are arranged in a diamond pattern in the chamber's centre. Suspended between them on chains of some unknown metal is the skin of some fantastic, green-scaled beast.
Several brightly-burning lanterns are placed on wooden crates around the room, and there is a makeshift table covered with parchment, quills, and ink. Three young wizards are examining the monster skin as the party enter the room, and don't even look up as they approach, so completely are they absorbed in their work. They have clearly been here for some time. Their robes are dirty and torn in places, and the young man's is missing a sleeve. A yellowing bandage is wrapped round his sleeveless upper arm. One of the young women has a fresh black eye. The other seems whole, but lacks shoes.
"Salvete," says Lycinia in the ancient tongue, and the young wizards all look up in surprise.
[I rolled Medium on the encounter table:
CH CN DX IN ST WI HP
Gevléarna mu1 f 8 11 7 14 10 6 4
Zandevine mu1 f 7 10 11 15 7 11 6
Thranxar mu3 m 9 12 7 14 7 9 10
treasure: 49GP, monster skin: 250#, worth 200sp
G- read magic
T- unseen servant, faerie fire, stinking cloud
Q: Are they studying the monster skin in situ? 62, yes - surge 6
"S-salvete," says the young man. "Qui sitis? Quid huc advenistis?"
"Vos idem rogo," replies Lycinia.
"What are they saying?" asks Thiery in a stage whisper.
"You have us at a distinct disadvantage," says the young man, "for we are unarmed and outnumbered."
"Then perhaps you had better answer the elf's question," says Brichtrethe, pointing for emphasis with her heavy mace.
"Very well. I am Thranxar, this is Gevléarna and Zandevine. We are, as you have no doubt surmised, wizards from the guild at Ildmarch, or, I should say, still apprentices."
"Apprentices?" asks Lycinia. "To whom? Anyone I know?"
"Both Gevléarna and I are under the tutelage of Dvooram-Pem, Grand Master of the Five-fold Mysteries. Zandevine studies under Arraioth Star-Seer."
"And what does the guild want with this place?" demands Brichtrethe.
"N-nothing. I dare say there are none who know it's here -- right here under our noses all this time. We three were on an errand for our masters when we heard a rumour that the lost tomb of Hasshdilaz had been found. And so we took a small detour on our way back to Ildmarch, hoping to confirm that the rumour were true, and that we might win some small praise for our initiative in so doing. But when we got here, we found we weren't the first. Jola... is the worst sort of magician. She's been driven quite mad by studying the Forbidden Arts -- you've only to look at her to see it! She used her wicked spells to enslave one of the warriors sent with us. And the other just sort of disappeared. She puts us to work, trying to solve the mystery of the stone door. It's well beyond us -- it may be beyond her. When she tires of our failure, she sends us here to study this old carcass. Sometimes she summons us back, and we fail again, and... well, you see what we're reduced to."
"Does she have any weaknesses, this witch?" asks Brichtrethe.
"She's a very powerful magician. She can ensnare the mind and wrack the body. She shows no weakness..."
"Help us to defeat her!" says Brichtrethe. [reaction roll:2d6-1(CHA penalty)=7,neutral.]
"Please, we are too weak to move against her. And if you cannot best her, we would suffer all the more for having aided you. Please, all we want is to live through this and go back to the guild and our masters."
After brief deliberation, it is decided to leave the poor apprentices in peace, and to come back for them once Jola and her henchmen have been defeated.
[Q: Is it a trap? 23-6=no, surge 8]
Back through the labyrinthine passages go the party. When they reach the shaft, they hear a distinct sound of footsteps coming up one of the unexplored corridors to meet them.
4 living statues, crystal (AC17, HD3, Damage 1-6, Move 120', ML12, Special: rapiers and minor weapons attack at -2)
No surprise, PCs win initiative]
The party brace themselves for battle as four strange crystalline beings stride into the room. Each stands about four feet tall, and marches with a strange whirling gait on three stubby legs. They have three arms, all waving in a decidedly unfriendly manner, and above them the barest suggestion of a head.
Weapons are brought immediately to bear against the malevolent crystal enemies. But although many a hit is scored, nothing damages the beings, as the weapons all clang off their solid exteriors [entire party missed]. Ruprecht takes a solid hit it the stomach from one of their small 'fists' [4 damage puts him at 6hp] and Brichtrethe's mail skirt lessens a blow to the side to almost nothing [1 damage puts her at 12hp].
Again the sound of ringing metal fills the air to little effect -- save for Thiery's steel. A deft stab with his rapier sees one of the little creatures shatter [8 damage kills it]. Manfred suffers a punishing blow to the sternum [6 damage leaves him with 17hp].
Lycinia manages a glancing blow which sends shards flying [3 damage], but Thiery's strike cleaves the creature in twain [7 damage kills it]. Manfred shatters the arm that so recently hit him [8 damage drops it to 3hp] and Brichtrethe's mace leaves the last with cracks running through it [5 damage puts it at 7hp].
Lycinia wheels round and brings her sword down on the one fighting Manfred, smashing its 'head'. It falls and crumbles. What secret weakness has Thiery fathomed? For his rapier flashes again, and the final statue shatters, showering the floor with fragments.
As his compatriots are trying to catch their breath, Thiery merely assumes a triumphant pose, and sheathes his rapier with great panache.
"I never thought I'd be saying this," says Brichtrethe, "but you're a credit to my unit."
Saturday, 10 November 2018
Long ago, a great king ruled from a mighty castle upon this island. Now only a handful of sections of the outer wall remain, and the shell of the central tower. Those of the approaching party who know the old tales struggle in vain to remember the name of the wicked king. Should he really have existed, the damnatio memoriae imposed by his victorious enemies seems to have been total.
The day seems clearer and brighter as they peer at the tower from behind a crumbling wall. The ruin is still, seemingly lifeless. Thiery produces a brass spyglass from under his cloak, but even with the aid of this device nothing is seen.
Assuming they're still walking into an ambush, they ready their weapons, and cross the high grass to the tower's entrance.
[Q: How many additional NPCs are left in Jola's group? 1d20=6.
I rolled their classes on the chart in the Basic Rulebook (Moldvay, p. B52) with the proviso that results of demi-humans would instead be 0-level humans, and classed characters would be level 1d6. Treasure Type for each is U+V (0-level = U only). d30 Sandbox companion tables determined weapons & armour, and I added some missile weapons that seemed appropriate.
Jola has gained 1d3-1= 2 levels since last we met. I rolled a d6 for each spell on her scroll: 1-2 used, 3-4 scribed into spellbook, 5-6 still there. She will have 1d4-1=1 new magic item.
Q: Where is everyone? 1d6: 1-2 outside, 3-4 dungeon, 5-6 in ruin
1d6=1; the PCs are all surprised by the first encounter.
Q: Are they attacked? Yes, but... Trap, not weapons]
All is stillness in the great shell of the tower. The wooden floors have long since rotted away, leaving only the perimeter and outer walls. Windows and former doorways gape open at regular intervals, showing upper walkways and the sky outside. Some of the interior portions have crumbled along with the floors, so that what remains is a tremendous vertical labyrinth of passages, stairs, and numerous dead ends.
But the ruin is not abandoned. As the party pass through the gatehouse, a terrific noise is heard overhead, and then a cascade of heavy stones rains down on them from the murder holes above.
[2d6 damage, save vs. Breath Weapon for half, Dex modifiers apply to the save, and shields add +2.
Lycinia - save, 3dmg to 19hp
Thiery - fail 5 to 0hp
Manfred - fail 7 to 23hp
Ruprecht - fail (even with shield!) 6 to 10hp
Brichtrethe - save 4 to 21hp
Oswold - fail 6 to 1hp]
The stones fall thick and heavily. Lycinia's elven grace saves her from the worst of it, and mighty Brichtrethe holds her shield above her head and lets the rocks crash down upon it. The rest are not so fortunate. Manfred and Ruprecht both run out as stones crash down on their backs. Oswold is concussed and bleeding from a terrible blow to the head, and Thiery is knocked senseless, and lies half buried on the ground. Ruprecht quickly drags him to safety.
Manfred is quietly swearing about a fine start to their expedition, whilst Brichtrethe speaks an orison to the Light God, asking that He shew His Infinite Compassion to these stricken Soldiers of the Faith, and erase their hurts. Oswold and Thiery are bathed in a warm glow, and are once again whole [cure light wounds x2 brought them both to full HP].
The corridor in which the party has found shelter leads into the shell, so they follow it along to a narrow spiral staircase. They proceed up and through a series of passageways, cautiously moving past any gaps in the walls looking inward.
As the party are passing one of the larger gaps, a scruffy-looking man steps round the corner ahead, brandishing a pistol. The battle commences in earnest.
CH CN DX IN ST WI HP AC
ftr2 m 10 11 14 13 16 13 12 15 leather, sword, pistol
ftr1 f 10 16 11 9 13 9 9 16 chain, sword, arquebus
ftr0 m 10 13 6 16 10 8 5 18 plate, shield, sword, heavy crossbow
[Neither side is surprised, but the PCs lose the initiative. There was a lot of running round the castle after the missiles were discharged, so initiative was re-rolled after breaks in the fighting].
The man with the pistol [ftr2] fires upon Lycinia who is in the lead. The ball pierces mail, padding, and the white shoulder beneath, but the wound is not grave [-4 range penalty (35') cancels +4 to penetrate chain armour, 17+4 hit for 4 damage, dropping her to 15hp]. The man's compatriots are across the great yawning interior of the shell, but they both have a clear shot. The report of an arquebus rings out moments later, and chips of stone fly from the interior wall; Thiery even felt the ball whistling by. At the sound, Ruprecht reflexively ducks behind his shield, and fortunately too, for in the next instant there is a crossbow bolt sticking out of it at face height.
Lycinia returns fire as her assailant ducks back behind the corner. The ball barely grazes him as he ducks out of sight [1 damage drops him to 11hp]. Thiery takes a shot at him as well, but the bullet ricochets off the stone wall. Brichtrethe shoots her crossbow at the arquebusière [ftr1] across the vast expanse, but the bolt merely hits a crumbling wall, then tumbles clattering down into the chasm.
The scruffy man with the pistol reappears, having drawn his sword. He assumes a defensive posture [+4 AC]. His compatriots have disappeared behind cover to reload.
Lycinia runs forward, drawing her sword as she goes. The man endeavours to turn the blade aside with his own, but he did not count on the elf's strength and fury [effective AC 19; +2 attack bonus cancels -2 drawing penalty; she rolled a natural 19]. Her blade continues unimpeded towards his midsection, and he is transfixed [7x2=14 damage leaving him at -3hp, mortally wounded]. He sinks to his knees as she retracts the gleaming blade, then collapses face-first, his life gushing out upon the stone floor.
Everyone is behind cover now. Brichtrethe motions for Lycinia to continue forward with Thiery. She, Manfred, and Ruprecht double back to the nearest stairway leading up.
[The arquebusière (ftr1) needs 7 rounds to reload. Since there's no map, the two groups of PCs will take 1d12 rounds to find their foes: 5 & 7 respectively. The crossbowman (ftr0) will get 1d4=1 chance to fire across the middle before the PCs reach him.]
Both groups hurry through the ruins as fast as they might, swiftly deciding which passage to take, guessing how many flights of stairs they must climb. Only once does a crossbow bolt speed across the chasm, but bounds off the wall behind Ruprecht as he is dashing forward.
Lycinia and Thiery round a corner and find the arquebusière still hurriedly loading her weapon. Seeing them she lets it fall and snatches up her sword, which she had leant against the wall [she even wins the initiative]. She and Lycinia clash swords, though neither can break through the other's defence. The woman makes a single mistake, and Lycinia's sword sweeps across her chest, but the stout mail does not yield.
The woman gets in close, and the two lock hilts [ftr1 miss]. With a mighty shove, Lycinia pushes her back into a wall, and smashes the crossguard into her face. She falls reeling to her hands and knees, bleeding from the nose and mouth and spitting teeth. A knock on the crown of the head with the pommel of Lycinia's sword drops her [9 damage puts her at 0hp].
On the other side of the shell, Brichtrethe rounds a corner to find the plate-armoured crossbowman. Both hesitate as they see their foe [both surprised, tied initiative], then Brichtrethe lets out a battle cry and charges down the passage. As she does so, he shoots. The bolt pierces her mail and buries itself in her upper arm [2 damage puts her at 19hp] but she seems to take no notice. She brings her mace down on his shoulder, deforming the armour plate and crushing bones [10 damage drops him to -5hp]. The life leaves his eyes and he clatters to the ground.
After a minute or so, the two halves of the party are reunited. Ruprecht is despatched down to the ground level to fetch Oswald, who had remained hiding on the first staircase, whilst the rest scout round the last few upper passages of the shell.
[Q: Is the villains' camp in ruin itself? Yes, surge =2]
In a mostly-solid room on the top most level, Jola and her henchmen have made their headquarters. Lycinia does not intend to leave her prisoner unguarded, but Manfred insists she help search the camp. When Ruprecht appears at the top of the stair, Manfred is waiting for him. "Here," says he, handing Ruprecht the arquebus, "finish loading this and guard the prisoner."
"Can I keep it?" asks Ruprecht meekly.
"Can you--? By the frozen shores of Cocytos! stand up for yourself, man!"
[Q: Anything important in the camp? 83+2=yes and... it's J's spellbook
Q: Are there any clues? 02, No and unexpectedly...Foreshadowing – set a thread to be the main thread for the next scene. The current scene should then start wrapping up and heading towards the next scene.]
The villains' camp seems to mostly contain the mundane necessities: bedrolls, foodstuffs, cook pots, etc. But wily thief and sharp-eyed elf soon turn up items of real interest.
Thiery discovers a purse containing 28 gold coins -- and a pair of coppers hidden in a pillowcase. The gold is divided up, two apiece; the extra two coins go by lot to lucky Oswold and Thiery. The two coppers sit untouched for a while on a table, but Oswold scoops them into his purse when he thinks no one is looking.
But Lycinia has found, she exclaims, a treasure beyond price. Wrapped in a shred of black velvet is Jola's grimoire, an unassuming and cheaply-bound tome with its spine broken in two places, and unaccountable grey-green stains on some of the pages.
"Oswold, light a torch," orders Brichtrethe. "We shall burn that unholy thing."
"We shall do nothing of the sort!" protests Lycinia. "Not until we've examined it thoroughly. Can you risk destroying Jola's notes, which may be the key to unlocking the treasure vault wherein your precious Standard lies?"
"Fine. But remember my warning about black magic, elf. Let us go see if your prisoner has anything useful to tell us." And with that, Brichtrethe strides away.
[Q: Does the arquebusière have any info? Yes, surge =2
ftr1 passes her ML check; reaction=4, defiant and hostile.]
The prisoner is slowly coming round. Brichtrethe splashes her face with a waterskin to rouse her fully. The angry cleric asks pointed questions about the make-up of Jola's forces, their disposition and armaments, but is only met by stony silence. The questions only get more heated.
"Look at the lot of you!" she finally says, spitting blood in Brichtrethe's face, "You don't have the faintest idea what you're up against. You certainly don't have what you need to open the door. She's brought so much crap and hasn't managed a thing!"
"So this witch is after the treasury too!" exclaims Brichtrethe. "If you've nothing else to say, I suppose we're done here."
"You'll soon be in her thrall!"
[Q: Does the cleric believe in taking prisoners? 30-2=28, No. surge 4]
Brichtrethe's only response is to crush the woman's skull with her mace. The cleric's companions -- Thiery and Oswold particularly -- look on with an admixture of surprise and horror, but she does not notice, intent as she is on the impassive elf.
"There shall be no mercy for the servants of darkness," growls Brichtrethe.
"It is not I who require convincing," states Lycinia flatly.
Friday, 2 November 2018
The next morning the party break camp early and continue riding along the shore of Lake Ild towards Uldmere. The day is cold, as spring refuses to blossom, and a heavy mist hangs over the water. Brichtrethe insists on leading the way, her lance held high as befits a knight. Oswold follows her dumbly. Thiery talks incessantly at whoever will listen, though in the end this is mostly Ruprecht, who's too either too polite or too resigned to tell him to shut up. Manfred and Lycinia lag behind a little, and fall to talking amongst themselves.
"I don't think much of your friends," says Manfred.
"Nor I of yours," Lycinia replies.
"Brichtrethe is a hard woman, I'll own. But we go way back... and I may owe her my life, you understand."
"I had wondered."
"We served in the King's army together... it must be ten years ago now. She's always taken being a soldier very seriously. And the Light God works his miracles through her, so she's a bit convinced of her rightness in all things. But for all that, I trust her implicitly."
"But she doesn't seem to like you. Or anyone."
"Oh, she likes me well enough. I'm probably accounted one of her best friends. She just disapproves... of everything."
"Not that I blame her where dullard the soldier and Sir I-bought-myself-a-title are concerned."
"Oh, come on. Ruprecht's all right. I admit that Thiery is a bit much..."
"Why ever did you bring them along?"
"Who else do I know? I've worked with them before on a... a job that got weird really fast. They neither of them balked at what we needed to do, acted with perfect courage and discretion, and they kept their wits about them."
"We'll see. But if Thiery -- excuse me, SIR Thiery -- doesn't mind his manners soon, I'm going to knock the rest of his teeth out."
"I won't get in your way."
The journey continues with no real incidents. In the afternoon [random encounter (forest), reaction=10] they come upon a boar happily foraging in the forest. It ignores them completely to concentrate on its task. Manfred thinks it might be rooting out truffles, and refuses to ride on. Brichtrethe takes one of Thiery's pistols and fires into the air to scare the beast away. Manfred sulks the rest of the way to Uldmere.
[Q: Does the party receive a good reception in Uldmere? 16-8=No, but... the peasants are too afraid to start any trouble. (reset surge)
Q: How's the siege? Abandon / Riches = costly
Q: Can Brichtrethe talk to the commander? 60, Yes. Surge +2
Commander: 1d6=f; cunning, dignified; 1d8-1=ftr6]
Uldmere is a fairly large town whose citizenry are a mix of famers and fisherfolk. Foodstuffs from Uldmere are traded throughout the kingdom, and especially in Ildmarch, whose merchants take an active interest in the fortunes of the town which feeds them. Even the wizard's guild has a presence here; the twinned gargoyles above the entrance to the town hall were given to the town by the guild to aid the mayor in times of strife -- though some say they are also there as the guild's eyes and ears.
The siege of Uldmere Castle has not been allowed to spill over into the town, which has declared itself neutral (obviously at the insistence of Ildmarch mercantile concerns), yet the streets and public houses are choked with the King's soldiers, and discipline away from the actual siege has been notoriously lax. The only thing the peasants of Uldmere hate more than the unruly soldiers are groups of armed strangers.
Brichtrethe insists that the party ride through to the besieging army's camp, and for once there is no dissention. Once there, she requests an audience with the general, which upon presentation of her orders to the aide-de-camp is swiftly granted.
The general has little to say, and little time to spare. The siege is eating into the King's coffers, disrupting the kingdom, and making no progress. She looks cursorily over the scroll authorising Brichtrethe's mission and hands it back. "This is a noble mission you've undertaken, Dame Brichtrethe," says the general, "and very worthy of a knight of your holy order. But -- you'll forgive me -- I'm a practical woman, and I can't sit back and hope that this mythic banner will inspire my troops to suddenly take the castle. They're more mercenaries than mystics, you understand, and I wouldn't bet on them knowing nor caring much for ancient legends. That said, my aide will find you food and a place to stay, and even arrange passage out to the island. You rode here? I'm going to need to borrow your horses until you return. And I do, most fervently, hope you return. I've heard bad things about that island. There was terrible magic used there once. They say it echoes there still, and that no one who goes there ever comes back. Not whole, at least. I hope you can prove them wrong." [UNE: mysterious-whispers-power]
The party is given a place to pitch their tents on the outskirts of the camp, practically in Uldmere. Manfred balks at seeing their horses led away, but in the end agrees that ferrying them over to the island would be more of a hassle than it's worth. Ruprecht is worried that someone will recognise him as a deserter, though he gives no voice to the sentiment. He pleads fatigue from the journey, and goes to sleep early so he may hide in the tent.
[night encounter: 1 bandit; reaction=8
Q: Are only some of the PCs present for the encounter? 33-2=No, surge +4
Q: What does (1d6=f) she want? Deceive / Competition - instead of a bandit, she's rather a spy (specialist level 1d6 if it comes up) for de Molleré's faction.]
Most of the other soldiers ignore the newcomers, but one young soldier asks if this is indeed the unit of Dame Brichtrethe, and if so might she have a few words with the great knight.
"I've heard talk in the camp that you'd come on here on your quest. The banner of St. Orvein. How exciting! You must really have been noticed by the upper ranks to be given such a wonderful mission -- oh, 'mission' sounds like it's just another day in the King's army. This is a quest, just like in all the old stories. And I can say I met you someday!" [UNE: friendly-delight-superiors]
[Q: Does Brichtrethe believe her? 15-4=No, but...]
Brichtrethe thinks the girl is completely overstating things, and has been secretly fearing all along that this mission was only given to her to get her out of the way. But, she reasons, she has been doing well of late, and may indeed come to the attention of the upper echelons for completing her task.
It's a cold, clear, morning as they set off, rowing a pair of boats down the river from Uldmere with a light breeze at their backs. Even the mist of lake Ild has almost burnt off by noon. They see a few fishers on the lake near the town, but the rest of the day come not upon a soul. It is evening when they reach the island, and they want nothing more to do than set up camp on the beach and get some well-earned rest.
7th level Cleric
CH 10 CN 11 DX 8 IN 12 ST 7 WI 12
Q: Is the cleric part of enemy force? Yes surge+2
Scene stage change: to Conflict
Q: What's she doing? Cruelty / Failure - sent away for her failings]
That night, as he and Lycinia are on watch, Manfred spots movement beyond the circle of firelight. "Who goes there?" he calls, rising and drawing his sword.
"It is I, Melitta, a priestess of the Light God. I saw your campfire. I mean you no harm."
The woman who steps into view is in her late 40s, with blonde hair fading to grey. Her white robes are marred with grass stains, but a large golden symbol of the Light God shines round her neck.
The rest of their companions (save Ruprecht, who is a heavy sleeper) have been roused by Manfred's shout, and they get up to see the new arrival.
"Well met sister," says Brichtrethe when she sees Melitta's holy symbol.
"Well met. What brings you to this curse-shrouded isle? Are you here to bring the Lord of Day's Magnificent Radiance to dispel the shadows of ancient wickedness?"
"Aye, and more than that. I am on a sacred Quest to recover the Standard of St. Orvein, that it be used to inspire the army of Right in order to vanquish the heretic de Molleré."
[Melitta's response via UNE: mysterious - rumour - allies
The rumour (via bibliomancy):
et iam porticibus vacuis Iunonis asylo
custodes lecti Phoenix et dirus Ulixes
praedam adservabant... (Verg Aen, II:761-3)]
"Oh sister," says Melitta, "I beg you to reconsider. The wrong people are in charge of our Holy Church. Under de Val d'Oine, the treasury is nearly bankrupt -- as will be our Sacred Doctrines under his incompetent leadership!"
[Q: How does Brichtrethe deal with this free-thinker? Mistrust / Information]
"Words. Mere words. I don't credit them at all."
[Q: Will Melitta stay? 35-2=No. surge +4]
"I thought the light was leading me to friends here in this terrible place. I see I was mistaken." At that, Melitta turns to leave.
[Q: Does Brichtrethe have any real suspicions? 84+4 yes, and...]
"Stop right there!" shouts Brichtrethe as she raises her mace. "You'll not slink away so easily back to your apostate masters. Elf, help me search her!"
[Q: Do they find anything incriminating? 05, No, and unexpectedly...Framing – an NPC (new or pre-existing) or object becomes critical to the main thread.
Q: Melitta? No surge +2
Q: Can she tell the PCs who it is? 61, yes surge +4
Q: Who? d30=Magic-User; 1d6=f]
"Please," pleads Melitta, "I mean you no harm. There's no hospitality here, so I'd rather be on my own. The one that convinced me to come to this island can go hang. She's just using us. I'm certain of it. She has no loyalty but to herself, the witch!"
"What witch?" demands Brichtrethe.
[Q: Is the witch anyone that anybody knows? 97+4, Yes, and unexpectedly...Limelit – the rest of the scene goes great for the PCs.
Q: One of the M-Us Lycinia knows? 84, Yes surge+2
Which? 1d3: 1 Siorighan, 2 Orezuthía the Arcane, 3 Jola]
"It's this fiend called Jola."
"Jola?" says Lycinia. "Wait: long white braid, thin as a rail, a bit mad? That Jola?"
"You've met her...?"
"Oh, I've met her all right. She was trying to summon demons at the time. What is she after here?"
[Q: What? Expose / Power]
"There's some ancient magic she wants. She didn't really say, exactly. That is, I didn't really understand her magician-speak. She hasn't found it yet. And she turned me out into the cold saying I wasn't helping, and she was tired of my incompetence. But I suppose I should count myself lucky to have escaped."
[Q: Can Lycinia convince the rest that anyone Jola throws out is probably ok? 70, Yes surge +4]
"She's nothing incriminating on her," says Lycinia, "and isn't even armed. And anyone that Jola casts aside can't be a bad sort. I say we let her go if that's what she wants. I'm not in the mood to take prisoners."
"What if it's a trick?" asks Brichtrethe.
"Then she can think over what I just said about not taking any prisoners."
Brichtrethe registers her displeasure, but as the rest seem to agree with the elf, she bites her tongue, and allows Melitta to wander off into the night.
[Surge: to endings
Q: Anything else happen at night? 33-4=No. surge+6]
[Q: Is there an encounter on the walk to the ruins? 60, Yes. surge+8
fighter, 1d6=m, 1d8-1= 7th level, react=9
CH 8 CN 12 DX 10 IN 13 ST 13 WI 9
Q: What is he doing? Negligence / Dreams - fighter has ingested something funny.]
It's barely two miles to the ruins. The party strike camp in the morning after a somewhat leisurely breakfast, and set out on the way. Each has a weapon readied, for they fear to meet the witch or her cronies.
About the halfway point of their journey they see a man in full plate armour lying on his back in the tall grass. At first he seems dead, but as they draw near they can hear him babbling quietly, though if it be a real language or nonsense it is hard to say.
Brichtrethe walks up to him, and nudges him with her foot. "Are you well?" she asks.
"Well? Oooohhhh... isn't everyone. On a nice day like this with all the sparks and rain."
"It isn't raining," states the cleric flatly.
"Killjoy," says the man. "You're just like her. Maybe worse than her. She's the reason I got out. Before... before... before she opens the gate. I'm sure it wasn't made to be opened. But she can go through it for all I care. I'm all better now." [UNE: insane-turmoil-superiors]
"Gate? What gate? Make sense, man!"
Manfred leans over the man and looks at him carefully. "I don't think you're going to get any sense out of him, dear Brichtrethe. I've seen men in this sort of stupor before... in the sorts of establishments one doesn't admit to frequenting. He'll be like this for some time. And then sleep."
"Have we met...?" asks the man dreamily.
Manfred slams the man's ventail shut and continues towards the ruins.
Wednesday, 17 October 2018
"Dammit! Lycinia," thundered Manfred, "the bloody door's stuck!"
"Oh, good," said the elf as she opened the door, positively beaming, "that means the spell worked."
"Well, I'm glad your research has proved fruitful, though I could do without being made to look an arse thereby. I am -- moreover -- also happy that your research has now been concluded, for it is time we were leaving Wandlebourne."
"So soon? What's the occasion?"
"A summons. An old friend, or thereabouts: one whom I can't ignore."
"A friend? What's she like?"
"Oh, I'm sure you'll get on famously!"
Scene 0 - preparation
[I made one new PC, with 10% less XP than Manfred to start, which made her a 4th level cleric. I rolled her a random mission, and picked a random hex on the map for starters.]
Manfred leads Lycinia into Terentius' drawing room, where the friend is waiting for them. She seems to be the largest human Lycinia has ever seen, a towering, muscular woman with sharp features and skin the colour of red clay. She wears rugged chain armour, and an oversized holy symbol of the Light God.
"Princess Lycinia of Feyalldra," says Manfred, "may I introduce the Reverend Dame Brichtrethe, Knight of the King's army."
"This is your comrade-in-arms?" asks Brichtrethe. "Bit of a change for you, isn't it?"
"Charming," says Manfred. "I'll allow that unusual circumstances threw us together, but I dare say there's no one I'd rather fight alongside."
"She's an elf," states Brichtrethe.
"Perspicacious as ever, my dear."
"Don't you 'my dear' me, or I'll break your jaw again. I told you, Manfred, I'm on a holy mission; I don't think this is any time to throw in my lot with your little fairy princess, here."
"We need her. Especially where we're going. I know you don't trust wizards. Lycinia understands magic just as well as do they. Don't be obstinate; you can't afford not to have her along. Besides -- we've pledged our swords to fight together. If she doesn't go, I won't go either."
"Great Lord of Radiance! you are so full of shit Manfred. But as I have nowhere else to turn, you have me at a great disadvantage. So I'm going to take you at your word. You and your fairy friend can come with me on my mission. But if I so much as suspect her of practising the Dark Arts, I'll cave in that pretty little head of hers."
"You needn't worry. We've fought side-by-side against the most unholy aberrations... things even you would dread to approach. I don't say this lightly."
"Very well. My mission is to recover the Standard of St. Orvein the Just from the hidden tomb of the evil wizard, Hasshdilaz, which has been discovered after all these years. When our troops rally around the Standard, they'll have the Divine Blessing they need to finally take Castle Uldmere, and bring that Heretic out in chains! I, and I alone of my Order, have been given this sacred mission, to carry out as best I see fit. But quickly! for the King's treasury is not infinite, and the strain of keeping this army in the field will soon take its toll. I received my orders at the Monastery of the Blue Stones, and after a night spent in vigil I felt the Blessed Hand of His Great Luminescence urging my steps toward Wandlebourne. And here it was that I learnt of your... change in circumstances. But what better way to restore your family's holding than to strike a blow at the Heretic who is tearing this kingdom apart? I'm anxious that we leave as soon as possible. This city of merchants and moneylenders is a wretched place to try recruiting soldiers. You know I prefer to lead a small unit, but at the moment its just the three of us, and that's hardly enough for decent assault tactics. So, do you know any good fighters here who could fill out our ranks?"
"I'm so pleased to meet you!" screams Lycinia.
* * *
Somehow Manfred is able to keep elf and cleric from going for each other's throats, and by evening's end they have even come up with a plan. The next few days are spent in preparation; Brichtrethe hires a linkboy, Manfred buys horses and provisions, and Lycinia tracks down Thiery and Ruprecht, who readily agree to abandon their lives in Wandlebourne for a chance at a real adventure -- except that Ruprecht balks at deserting from the army (which would be the second time in his life that he's done it, though he keeps stumm on this particular). Brichtrethe agrees to talk to his captain, who is easily persuaded to attach Ruprecht to her 'special unit'.
Ruprecht reacts to his new companions with his usual forbearance. He's just happy to have more interesting prospects than garrison duty.
Thiery is quietly awed by Manfred, and thinks Brichtrethe is patently ridiculous, though also a bit terrifying.
Brichtrethe finds Thiery beneath contempt, but likes Ruprecht because he's a proper soldier.
Manfred is simply disappointed that neither of Lycinia's friends is particularly attractive.
Oswold the linkboy is such a dud that no one really thinks about him.
female, Cleric, Level 4, Lawful
Cha 7 Con 16 Dex 12 Int 15 Str 18 Wis 12
Hit Points: 25
Social Standing: Knight & Priestess
Personality: pious, direct
Armour: chain & shield
Weapons: mace, miséricorde, heavy crossbow, lance
male, 0-level human, Neutral
Cha 8 Con 13 Dex 12 Int 8 Str 14 Wis 13
Hit Points: 7
Social Standing: commoner
motivation: avoid responsibility
personality: vacant, negative
lantern, tinderbox, oil
[Brichtrethe's personality was initially extrapolated from her stats and character class, especially the part where she'd be a better fighter than cleric. I also used the oracle for a while to see how should react to things in order to round her out. Oswold's personality was rolled randomly; he's even more of a gem than was Haddie.]
Dame Brichtrethe insists they leave at dawn, but it takes some time for them all to assemble at the city gates. Thiery is unapologetically late (and terribly hung over). Manfred and Lycinia arrive last, having had to take their leave of Terentius and Lady Margiste. The lawyer assures Manfred that everything is in hand, and he shall administer Margiste's fortune as he does his own. He assures Lycinia that Margiste shall continue her fencing lessons. Margiste bids her brother and her 'new sister' a teary goodbye.
It is a long, but tranquil [no encounters] day's ride from Wandlebourne to the Church of St. Gelevaard.
[I started this adventure using CRGE as the yes/no oracle (and keeping Mythic for complex questions).
You may recall that when first we met Manfred, he was not only a vocal supporter of the heretic de Molleré, but was in fact on a dastardly errand of his own to kill one of the Orthodoxy's suppporters. Now he's gone over to the other side. Could this be a true change of heart, a political manoeuvre, or simple apathy? Whatever the case, his arrival at the Church necessitates consulting the CRGE Oracle:
Q: Any suspicions on Manfred? 45, No. Surge +2
Q: Any other trouble at the church? No. Surge to +4]
The courtyard is starting to fill up with the first pilgrims of the year, but Dame Brichtrethe is somehow able to secure indoor lodgings for her party. She is a bit incensed that none but Ruprecht and Oswold join her in the chapel for evensong (and these only out of a sense of obligation towards their commander). Their stay passes otherwise without incident.
The next day they set out through the forest towards Lake Ild. When they reach the lake, Brichtrethe leads them south, saying that this is the surest route to Uldmere. There, they should be able to secure passage across the lake to the island, their destination.
That evening, just after the marvellous pink sunset has ceded the sky to the sombre blue of impending twilight, the riders happen upon a strange scene on the shore of the lake.
[random wilderness encounter (still using my old Expert rulebook for these): werewolf x4; 4d6= f f m m
Q: What were werewolves doing on the beach? Malice / Extravagance - robbing some people
Q: Are they in animal form? 88+4=92, Yes, but... they're changing back (reset surge)
surprise dice = 1 & 1; everybody surprised, encounter range 60'
Q: PCs come in in the middle of the metamorphosis? Yes. Surge+2
reaction=9, the werewolves will not immediately attack, but...
Q: Does the cleric act out? 68, yes surge+4
Initiative rolls were tied, so everyone goes in groups according to their DEX bonus.
+2 Lycinia, Thiery
0 Brichtrethe, Ruprecht, α, γ
-1 Manfred, β, δ
The werewolves will each transform back to wolf-form in 1d6 rounds.
# sx DX AC change HP
- -- -- ----- ----- --
α f 11 16/12 rd.1 22
β f 7 15/11 rd.6 20
γ m 10 16/12 rd.5 22
δ m 6 15/11 rd.2 10
Werewolf: AC 16/12, HD 4, Mv 180'(60'), 1 bite 2d4, ML 8, Special: silver or magic to hit in wolf form, summon 1-2 wolves]
As they come to a small, tree-shrouded inlet, they see the torn and bloodied corpses of a trio of peasants, whose small boat is beached nearby. Surrounding them is a pack of four enormous wolves of an unnaturally evil countenance. Before the astonished eyes of the onlookers, they begin to change, assuming human form: two men and two women, naked save for copious amounts of blood around their hands, faces, and chests. One of the now-human werewolves notices the party's approach, and raises her hand as if in greeting, but...
...Brichtrethe merely lowers her lance and spurs her horse angrily, charging the nearest one. The lance tears through his shoulder, and he is thrown back into the sand, barely clinging to life [δ is hit for 10 damage, dropping him to 0hp].
The eldest woman [α] has arrested her change mid-way, and in the blink of an eye is once again a wolf-man. She howls, her voice shattering the evening stillness [summons wolves, who will arrive on round (1d4=)3].
The rest of the party draw their weapons, as their two remaining foes retrieve swords from the ground where their prey had lost them.
Lycinia charges the werewolf matron (α) swinging her magical sword. The canny werewolf rolls with the strike, but the silvery blade bites deep, and the wound smokes angrily as if doused in acid [1d8=3, x2 for charging, x2 for the sword's enchantment =12 damage, putting α at 10hp].
Thiery fires one of his pistols, though it is not clear at whom he was aiming [16+3-8 (-4 range, -4 firing on horseback)=11, miss].
Ruprecht rides up cautiously.
The werewolf matron [α] swipes at Lycinia with her terrible claws, but the elf fends her off with her shining sword.
The male [γ] swings his sword in a high, overhand arc at Brichtrethe, who slams it aside with her gauntleted fist [missed].
Manfred spurs his own horse and charges the swordswoman [β] with his rapier. She tries to cut him down off his horse with her broadsword as he passes. There is a terrific clamour as their blades clash, but that is all [both miss].
Lycinia swings again and again at the werewolf matron, who dodges every blow. Thiery draws his rapier, and rides closer. His second pistol is in his hand that grips the reins.
The werewolf matron catches Lycinia's sword arm in her powerful jaws. The elf is able to shake her off without being pulled from her saddle, but the arm is nearly dislocated, and it is only the strong mail she wears which kept her from losing the limb [α hits for 7 damage, leaving Lycinia with 15hp].
Ruprecht attacks the swordswoman [β], and delivers a glancing blow to the chest with his heavy mace [5 damage dropped him to 15hp]. The swordsman [γ] stabs Brichtrethe in a weak spot of her mail; she can feel the links and padding give way as the point of the blade is pressed into her abdomen [5 damage puts her at 20hp].
Manfred wheels his horse about, but cannot get close enough to the swordswoman without getting in Ruprecht's way [miss].
Two wolves arrive at a run. They nip at the horses of Ruprecht and Brichtrethe, but without effect [miss x2].
Thinking she's found the elf's weakness, the matron makes another leap at her sword arm. But Lycinia was anticipating it, and feints with her sword, moving it at the last instant into the path of the gaping maw. The blade slices the top of the werewolf's head clean off, and it falls, the frightful wound cauterised by the silvery weapon [α takes 8x2=16 damage putting her at -6hp, dead].
Thiery takes aim and fires at one of the wolves, wounding it only slightly. But the tremendous report of the pistol frightens the animals, who break off their attack and flee [the wolves' morale dropped to 6 when the matron died, and guns force a ML check when used against anyone with a ML of 7 or lower, which the wolves failed].
The swordswoman is now between Ruprecht and Brichtrethe, who both pummel her with their heavy maces. She is bruised and battered, and her left arm hangs useless at her side, but she fights on [β takes 8+8 damage, leaving her with 3hp]. Her attempts to find weakness in the cleric's armour come to naught [miss].
The swordsman takes advantage of Brichtrethe looking the other way, and opens a grievous wound in her thigh [γ hits for 6 damage, putting Brichtrethe at 14hp].
In the whirl and confusion of the battle, Manfred once again cannot get close enough to strike [misses γ]. He curses his horse and the useless nag that bare it.
There is a mighty clash of arms, steel resounding on steel [everyone misses]. The swordswoman [β] drops her sword as the change comes over her, and she transforms into a black-furred, snarling wolf. Ruprecht and Brichtrethe pull back from it, fearing their arms may no more wound the frightful creature.
Lycinia sees the wolf about to leap at Ruprecht. She rides up behind it and brings her sword down upon its shoulders, neatly bisecting the horrible beast. It falls into the sand in two twitching halves [she hits β for 6x2=12 damage, dropping it to -9hp].
Ruprecht smashes the swordsman right in the sternum. But what should have been a fatal blow is merely a nuisance, as bristly grey fur sprouts under the mace head, and man becomes wolf [γ takes 2 damage, putting him at 20hp]. The wolf lets out a loud howl, not of pain, but of exhortation [γ made a successful ML check, so didn't flee. He summons 1d2=2 wolves as reinforcements, who will arrive in 1d4=2 rounds].
The sole remaining werewolf perceives the elf as the only real threat, and springs with praeternatural alacrity towards her throat. Lycinia's gleaming sword nearly disembowels him mid-leap [γ takes 12 damage, dropping him to 8hp], but it is not enough to arrest his momentum, and then he is upon her. His slavering jaws clamp down hard on her shoulder, bursting the rivets of her mail. She cries out, and nearly falls from the saddle [γ hits her for 3 damage, bringing her to 12hp -- 1hp away from (having to look up rules about elves and) lycanthropy].
The werewolf springs again at Lycinia, who fends it off with her sword. The blade opens a long gash in its side, which smokes and bubbles slightly after the werewolf crashes to the ground [10 damage puts him at -2hp].
The pair of summoned wolves arrive, trot round the margin of the battlefield for a few moments, then run straight back into the forest [failed morale].
[Q: Did/does Lycinia notice her sword has changed? 71+4, Yes surge+6]
The battle ended, Lycinia sits back in her saddle and stares fixedly at her sparkling sword.
"Lycinia! Lycinia!" bellows Manfred. "I think it's a fine weapon too, but dammit! this is no time to sit back and admire it! Some of them are still breathing."
The elf dismounts, and goes over to the unconscious werewolf. She takes its head off with a single stroke, and the body transforms back to its human shape. She then goes to the other man, who Brichtrethe's lance had felled. She hesitates, and looks at the hilt of her sword once more. "All of you, come round," she says, "I don't know if it will stay like this once the last werewolf is dead."
All her comrades (save Oswold, who is still far out of earshot) come over to see what Lycinia is on about. She holds out her sword's silver pommel for all to see. "Look," she exclaims excitedly, "it's a wolf's head! Not an old wizard's. Manfred, you know what my sword looks like. It's changed! Wait, everyone, let me see..."
Lycinia stands right beside the unconscious man, and begins counting out paces away from him in a straight line, as evenly as she can upon the sandy beach. "...13...14...15. Oh! it did! It changed back!"
Her companions rush over to see, as she proudly holds up the sword, with its pommel once again the head of a dour, long-bearded man. Then she steps toward the werewolf once more, and the wolf head re-appears. She plunges the blade into the unconscious werewolf's heart, and as his life ebbs so too does the pommel regain its human guise.
[Q: What does Brichtrethe think? Struggle / The spiritual]
"Where did you get that?" asks Brichtrethe.
"Ummm... in a tomb. Of a wicked old king of the hill people. He wasn't using it, so..."
"Strange," replies the cleric. "Such a holy purpose, but in the hands of a pagan barbarian -- or an elf."
Lycinia merely shrugs in reply.
[Lycinia's sword automatically detects lycanthropes at 20', but the wielder must be paying attention to see the pommel change to the corresponding animal head. It inflicts double damage on lycanthropes in any form, burning them as though coated in strong acid. Merely touching the weapon will cause them 1d4 damage per round. It counts as both a silver and a magical weapon for purposes of overcoming other monsters' immunities. Should the wielder contract lycanthropy, the sword will burn them for 2d8 damage and they will drop the weapon immediately, taking 1d4 additional damage if it must be removed from a scabbard first. Lycanthropes are no more aware of the sword's presence (nor its changing) than anyone else, though they do tend to pay more attention to silvered weapons when they see them. Unlike mundane silvered weapons, the sword will not break.
The 'peasants' killed by the werewolves were actually smugglers, so might have treasure.
Q: Do they? 41-6=No surge+8]
Brichtrethe insists the werewolves and their victims be buried. She intends to give them last rites, and pronounce the necessary exorcisms.
They only have two shovels, so as some start to dig, others collect firewood and set up camp. Brichtrethe pauses to ask the Light God to heal the wounds she suffered in Righteous Battle against the Enemies of Goodness [cure light wounds, 5pts brings her back to 19hp]. Manfred suggests tactfully that she minister to Lycinia's even more serious wounds, as without her sword none of them might have survived the encounter. Her insistence that elves have no souls is easily countered by Manfred reminding her that a true commander looks after her troops. Her conscience assuaged, Brichtrethe says a prayer to heal the elf [for 8 points, back up to 20hp].
Tuesday, 9 October 2018
It's been ages since I've posted anything for my first LotFP campaign, but I found a bunch of mostly-edited notes, so...
With the close of the last adventure, Lycinia holes up for three weeks of uninterrupted spell research, learning (1d20=)Wizard Lock, her free spell for attaining 4th level. Manfred has lots of legal business in the city of Wandlebourne during this time, after which the recently-abdicated Earl and exiled elven princess intend to head off together in search of adventure.
But a party needs nore than just a fighter and an elf. You may remember Ruprecht and Thiery from Lycinia's strange side quest in Wandlebourne. I'd already planned on bringing them back for the next adventure, but we last saw them two-game months ago. What can they have gotten up to in that time? It's back to the Midkemia Press Cities catch-up tables to find out. I'm going to try using them as written without any deviations just to see what happens; if either of them die they'll be replaced with a new by-the-book 3rd level character of the same class. I hope they'll at least make 2nd level, though. They each have 7 weeks of catch up to do, not including the end of the week in which they went on their Dangerous Mission with Lycinia. Manfred also gets 3 weeks of events of his own. Lycinia is sequestered Terentius Holzfäller's study the whole time, and so doesn't get any catch-up table rolls.
Not that it makes much difference, but week 2 is the last week of winter, with spring starting in week 3.
After his dangerous mission, Thiery has nothing to do but pay his cost of living:
80sp for lavish room & board, 15sp for clothes maintenance.
Event: He is accused of a crime! One of his enemies (he never finds out which) accused him of acquiring his new-found wealth through elicit means. He's hauled before the magistrate, and it looks like the odds are against him (-11% conviction on the conviction roll for all the people he's Offended, and an additional -15% for being a plebian). [1d%=]50-26=Convicted. The magistrate sentences him to 1d8+2= 4 weeks in gaol. However, he's got money, and that makes a difference; he can bail himself out for 100sp/week of sentence. He will still have the gaol term on record, but may walk free. Our hero snidely counts out 8 gold coins (400sp) right then and there. This has been an expensive week; 95sp room&board and maintenance costs are paid out on top of it all.
+25xp (which he wouldn't have gotten if he'd gone to prison)
No events this week. He goes out gambling with 200sp, but only manages to break even. He treats himself to a few nights on the town as a reward for dealing with the courts (=level 6 Companionship) totalling 300sp, and pays the usual 95sp for lifestyle maintenance.
event: And now he offends yet another townsperson, earning an additional -1% penalty to avoid another conviction. The dice are unkind to him, both the real-world and the in-game ones; he gambles with 400sp, and loses double his stake! He's learnt his lesson about not getting nearly murdered, but still may have some work to do on the not being an arse front. He makes another show of paying his debt in gold, coin by coin (16gp). 95sp more go to living expenses, but he's not really hurting for money at all.
Event: This week he Helped an Aristocrat -- probably with a loan at the gambling table to avoid the threat of impending violence. The aristocrat has connections, and offers a minor title in recompense. He is now Sir Thiery, and you can be certain that he shall always introduce himself thus from now on. I even wrote the 'Sir' on his character sheet. He gambles 250sp this week and loses it all; I will interpret this as not an actual loss at the table but rather as the loan mentioned above, which he'll never actually see repaid, no matter how adamant his new friend was that he will honour the debt. 95sp maintenance.
No event. Breaks even gambling. -95sp maintenance.
Event: He is given chance to invest. This being Wandlebourne, the investment is probably in a shipping concern. And this being Thiery -- exuse me, SIR Thiery -- the offer probably comes from one of his gambling 'friends'. He invests 2000sp, hoping that it will do well, not really caring if he loses it all. He gets to roll on the investment chart with neither bonus nor penalty; the investment will realise a 5% return next week (10sp). He gambles an additional 200sp the traditional way, and breaks even. -95sp expenses.
No event. Loses 250sp gambling. Realises +5%(cum.) return next week on his investment, and collects 10sp due to him. Spends 95sp on expenses and 300sp on lvl6 debau-- I mean, Companionship.
In 7 weeks, he's only earned 175xp (total xp: 805), and so remains 1st level.
Specialist, Lvl 1, Neutral
CHA 11 CON 12 DEX 17 INT 11 STR 9 WIS 6
HP 5 AC 14
Skills: stealth 2 tinker 2 sleight 2 climb 2
leather armour, dagger, pipe, tobacco, tinderbox, wooden holy symbol, brace of pistols
Now on to Ruprecht:
After completing a dangerous mission, he needs to roll to keep his job (as a charcoal burner). By some miracle he makes the roll (there was only 15% chance as it's a plebeian job). He saves no money this week, but at least the roof over his head and the food is all free. He doesn't know what to do with all the gold he's just earned, so finds places to hide it whilst he ponders his situation.
Event: Thieves steal 1d100=62% of his money (1sp, 1cp, 19gp). To offset this loss, he does manage to save 75% of his salary: 3sp. Things aren't that great right now.
Event: He has an opportunity to enlist in military, and decides that going back to soldiering has to be better than burning charcoal all day for a pittance. As he's technically a deserter, he claims to be from Cheapington (it's near enough to Badger's Glen where he grew up). He is given enlisted rank and will earn 10sp/week, of which he manages to save 75% (7sp, 5cp) this week.
Event: He befriends a townsperson. This gives a +1% to avoid conviction rolls, cancelling his old penalty. He only saves 1sp this week, but goes out gambling with an even 100 and wins 50sp on top.
Event: He befriends an Aristocrat, who has a proposition (there was a list of options to choose from). She has a Dangerous Mission in mind which should pay well (1d6x normal). She needs him to guard a ship (via the random mission tables at the back) and can offer [1d20  x 1d6  x 100=] 600sp, to of course be paid in gold. Whether or not he accepts, he also gets a +10% bonus to avoid conviction. The pay could be better, but it's still tempting, and as he can get a week off from the army he accepts. He spends a few sleepless nights aboard a ship in the harbour, mace in hand, ready to repel a malefactor or malefactors unknown. Perhaps he should have declined... he's all alone with no one to back him up if there's a problem. Last time he had two helpers along... (I rolled 1d6 to determine his chances, and got a 6 which gives him a flat 60% chance of death... but I rolled a 00!) Perhaps the mere presence of a guard has scared off these unseen murderers, or perhaps they simply had something better to do. After three uneventful nights aboard ship he collects his 12gp. But as I'm doing this by the book, he gets full XP: 1d20x100= 1400xp. He spends a modest 12sp on modest companionship (level 3; he avoids the 5% chance of falling ill) and goes back to the barracks.
Despite trying to maintain a low profile (INT 13 makes him eligible for the -20% modifier), an event still befalls him this week. And what an event! For he receives a marriage proposal. The woman in question is of plebeian background and has no dowry to speak of. He's not really ready to settle down, and so politely declines.
no savings this week, but +25xp
Trying to lay low isn't helping. A friend (fellow soldier) of his offends their employer (captain). Ruprecht is not going to get involved, which results in his erstwhile friend becoming Offended (-1% conviction penalty) against him.
no savings again. +25xp
Ruprecht has either offended the gods, or else is the least streetwise person in Wandlebourne. For the third time now thieves steal his money. This time he's a bit more fortunate than usual, as they only make off with (1d100=) 3% of his money: 36sp and 2cp.
no savings to offset the loss, +25xp
Ruprecht has earned a total of 1575xp for his 7-week catch up; it's enough to make him 2nd level (total xp: 2030). The lucky bastard rolls the maximum (8) for his hit point increase (which means next time he'll roll a 1, with my/his luck).
Fighter, Lvl 2, Neutral
CHA 7 CON 9 DEX 11 INT 13 STR 15 WIS 12
HP 16 AC 17
Social Standing: Peasant
mace, chain armour, shield
And finally, Manfred's turn:
In all the to-ing and fro-ing between Terentius' townhouse and the courts, Manfred manages to befriend an aristocrat who feels pity at Manfred's plight and bequeaths him a present of 400sp to help finance his 'mission' to reclaim the castle. He's got no actual expenses at the moment as he's living under his benefactor's roof, and certainly isn't going to risk gambling away the remains of his fortune.
Manfred is offered a chance to invest, but really can't afford to right now.
male Fighter, Level 4
Cha 5 Con 17 Dex 8 Int 12 Str 12 Wis 10
HP 30 AC 15
Social Standing: former Marquis of Limenne
Personality: taciturn, curious
chain armour, rapier
And Lycinia's stats for completeness:
female Elf, Level 4
Cha 11 Con 14 Dex 16 Int 16 Str 15 Wis 9
HP 22 AC 18
Social Standing: Princess
Personality: taciturn, curious
chainmail, magic longsword, silvered dagger, wheelock pistol, spellbook(s), scrolls
And so everyone is caught up and ready for the next adventure, which begins as an old acquaintence of Manfred's comes into Wandlebourne looking for him, and presents him with an interesting proposition...
Friday, 14 September 2018
After dinner that evening, Travjane uncharacteristically volunteers to clean the kitchen; the dismissal of Darian's has meant that she and Darian have been flipping a Silverthaler each night to see who was saddled with the duty. But as she cleans, she also sets aside a curious assortment of herbs, which she gathers together in a small iron pot with a handful of candles. Darian is still sitting by the fireplace when she emerges.
"Whatever are you doing with all that?" he asks.
"Ummmm... witchy things," replies Travjane. "It's probably best you don't know all the particulars. But is there any of that wine left from last night?"
"Enough for libations to the great goddess Satuaria."
"Actually, I was hoping there was enough for libations to The Great Mother Travia in the name of Friendship, via the intermediaries of our collective bellies. I can't begin my ritual until midnight, and I'll just pace up and down till then if I've no one to talk to."
Travjane is truly glad of the company and distraction, for she and Darian get on as if they've been friends for years, but in truth her real motive is to put him at ease with the idea of a Daughter of Satuaria living under his roof and indeed practicing her witchery there. There are many in Mittelreich who would --perhaps justly-- fear and despise her for what she is, and most of the Church of Praios would see her burnt at the stake for even the suspicion of the dark deed she was going to perform this night.
When the midnight hour draws near, Travjane retreats up to her room. She lights the candles, and makes her night table into a makeshift altar, laying some of the herbs out to propitiate the Goddess, burning others in the iron pot so bitter smoke fills her room, yet even more acerbic is the black bile seething in the witch's heart. She prays to Satuaria for vengeance, and whispers every secret bit of malice she feels to her awful Goddess. Then she takes a strip of the cloth stained with her enemy's blood and sets it alight, holding it above the iron pot whilst she gives voice to her terrible Curse. The heat of the flame hurts her fingertips, but she does not let go the burning strip until she has pronounced her spell:
Solange du bist, O Kapitän, frei,
fühlt sich deine Zunge so schwer wie Blei.
Gehst du nur ins Gefängnis,
wird gelöset die Bedrängis.
["As long as you, O Captain, are free / your tongue will feel as heavy as lead. / Only if you go into prison / will the affliction be undone."
NB: A Curse sent this way does not take effect for 24 hours, and requires the target be asleep at the time of casting. The target learns how to undo the curse (as specified by the witch) in a dream. I didn't make any rolls until later, but I moved the mechanics here so they're all in the same place. So--
Q: Was the Captain asleep when she cast the Curse? (50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes.
Paralyze Tongue (SGC/INT/CHA skill 2); the Difficulty modifier is only half the target's Toughness, so -1 (Curses are stronger than spells in this regard): 2/3/6 QL1 = success, 3 hours duration.
The curse costs Travjane 14AsP (20 remaining).
Annoyed by Minor Spirits disadvantage: 1d20=18 (>14 AsP used): even the Mindergeister are afraid of Travjane's witchy wrath, and stay well away.
In retrospect, I suppose casting the Curse is sort of like the taking-a-scene-off-to-rest-and/or-regain-spells action in the Scarlet Heroes urban adventure rules, so the Captain should have been awarded an additional Victory Point, though it won't alter the final outcome (she is still far enough ahead in VP for a 'Complete Victory').]
Scene 40 (SH-9)
Action Scene: Face the foe's best warrior- or the foe himself if this is a climactic battle and they're fit for combat. Face a Fight instead of a check.
Travjane sleeps late the next day [and recovers 1D6+1=7 AsP for a good night's sleep, so she's back up to 27]. She spends the entire afternoon helping Darian in his shop. Linnert comes over for dinner, and she tries to distract herself by directing the conversation towards Kamillio's magic needle and coming up with another plan to get it, even though she's already decided for herself how to proceed. She can't help watching the clock as it slowly creeps towards the hour of Rahja [23:00]. Halfway through the hour of Ingerimm she takes her leave, and hurries out in to the freezing night.
Travjane is admitted to the Rathaus through a side door. She is shown down to the Ratskeller, where her official friend/co-conspirator has secretly assembled [1d6+2=] a half dozen soldiers. The mage arrives last, hidden under heavy cloak.
"I was afraid you weren't coming," says Travjane.
"I wouldn't miss this for anything," replies the mage, "It is probably the most interesting this little hamlet will ever get."
"You didn't bring your staff."
"No. I'd rather not be recognised if this goes badly. But I see you've brought one... of a sort."
"This? I'd hardly call it a staff--"
"Neither would I!"
"It's just a plain old broom handle."
"Planning on making a quick escape?"
"Ha ha! No, nothing like that."
"Would you care to enlighten me?"
"All in good time."
"Please, good my ladies," interjects the Ratsherr, "we have an important matter to which to attend."
"Of course, good my lord," says the mage. "Lead on!"
The little band sneaks out back entrance, moving as quietly as six soldiers in chain byrnies are able.
[Q: Encounter on the way? Unlikely (5+): O1 C4 - no, but...]
The cobbles of the empty streets glisten with frost. Only once does Travjane spot some torches in the distance, but they immediately disappear down a side street. No one who is abroad at this hour wants to be stopped by a watch patrol, be they innocent or otherwise.
When they reach the Captain's the soldiers break down the door and rush inside, but the Captain is not there.
[Q: Anyone at home? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - yes]
They find only the Captain's frightened cook cowering in [d6=] her room off the kitchen.
"Where is he? Where's the captain?" shouts Travjane.
[Intimidate (Courage/Intuition/Charisma skill 3) +2 bonus: 6/15/5 success
Q: Does she know? 50/50 (4+): O2 C4 - no, but...]
"Don't hurt me! I don't know anything! He warned me about the likes of you, and said he was going somewhere safe, where his friends won't turn on him." [UNE: prejudiced - dislike - allies]
"He knew we'd be coming!" says the Ratsherr, "The guard tower, quickly!"
[Q: encounter on way? Unlikely (5+): O3 C1 - no, and...
Q: How many soldiers with captain? 2d6=7]
The Captain's office is in a stout stone tower which flanks the main gate to the city. The tower's door is locked, barred from within. The soldiers bang on door. "Let us in!" shouts Ratsherr. "I demand entry!"
"On whose authority?"
"The council's. Now unbar this gate!"
[Q: Does the captain show himself? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...
Because they lost time going to his house, it's nearly midnight. So there will only be 1d10=7 bits of dialogue before rolling for the Curse (see mechanics above)]
The Captain opens the shutter of a first floor window, and looks down scornfully upon the little band below.
"Well, well," says the Captain, "if it isn't the little witch. Somehow I knew you were too stupid to leave my lovely city." [prejudiced - doubt - previous scene]
"Didn't your mother ever tell you that you should speak politely with witches?" says Travjane. "Or do you want to be cursed? I can oblige, if that's what you're after."
"It is late; even Mada [the Moon] will soon be asleep. Go back home. This noise your rabble are making is going to wake the whole city." [insane - chaos - contacts]
"Let us come in, then, so we can have a friendly chat."
"Go away! And take your toadies with you."
"My patience is at an end."
[Q: How does the Captain react? Beautifully / Defeated]
The Captain tries to spit back a retort, but chokes on his words. He tries again with renewed hatred, but his tongue does not move, nor his lips form words. His hands fly to his face, and find his mouth hanging open like the village idiot's. He remembers his dream of the previous night with sudden and horrible clarity. Travjane begins to laugh; the hideous sound of sheer malice seems to swirl round her and up into the night air like smoke. Her soldiers cower and exchange furtive glances. Even the mage takes an unconscious step away.
The Captain disappears from the window. Moments later the door is unbarred, and he comes out into the street, his head bowed in silent surrender. A soldier claps manacles round his wrists, and he is led off to the gaol.
[Thus, Travjane wins her city adventure. VP: 10-3=7, Complete Victory.
1d20=19 >14AsP for the curse, no additional heat is incurred.
1d10=9 > 3 Heat, so she is not booted from the city
Chaos decreases to Average (d10)]
Chaos: Average (d10)
Setup: dénouement of the city adventure
NPC list: NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Kleiber: knight & villain, villain henchmen, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Linnert the carpetmaker, the cobbler, Uli the cadet
Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, explore ruins
[Q: Can Travjane be admitted to talk to Captain before his trial? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes.]
The Captain is slumped in a corner of his cell in the gaol beneath the Ratskeller. He's barely acknowledged a soul since regaining use of his tongue. A few mumbled words of assent to the charges levied against him, an admission that the copy of the love letter was made from the genuine article, and a tacit and taciturn acceptance that he shall be face a terrible punishment for his misdeeds. He hasn't even given a thought to the rats stealing the meagre crusts left for him by the gaoler. He has merely sat on the damp stone floor the whole time, motionless, apathetic to the numbing of his extremities, feeling nothing save his own misery, half cursing Rahja for abandoning her most ardent disciple to this cruel fate, half praying for her forgiveness.
But he still has the senses of an old soldier. And into his awareness comes the sound of movement, out of step with the constant drip drip drip from the vaulted ceiling. The footsteps which approach are unfamiliar, not the clicking and scraping of the gaoler's hobnail boots nor the soft rustling of the Ratsherr's silky shoes, but the soft pad of bare feet. He looks up, and sees a cloaked woman drawing near, carrying a small parcel wrapped in torn rags. His heart is already sinking as she throws back her hood.
"You! Come to gloat, have we?"
"I brought you some food," says Travjane.
"I was hoping we could talk."
"Hoping? Why don't you just use your curses to force me." [UNE: prejudiced - reputation - current scene]
"Ask yourself: do you really want to put ideas like that in my head right now?"
[Intimidate (COU/INT/CHA skill 3): 10/6/14 - success, QL1
Willpower (15/13/12 skill 4) -1 penalty for situation (so attributes are effectively 14/12/11): 13/16/12 - failure, 1 skill point short]
"I concede your point," grumbles the Captain. "So, what were you hoping we could talk about?"
"Sir Decius Kleiber."
"Not the sort one goes casually asking questions about." [mysterious - shadows - antagonist]
"Oh, but I wasn't at first! Not specifically. I'd not heard the name until the owner of the Emporium Mirorum said it to me. I assume he said it to you too, and that's why you summoned me for our little chat. Does that mean he's crooked too? No matter -- I want to know why you warned me off Kleiber."
"He's an important figure both at the Academy and in the wider barony. Also, he doesn't appreciate anyone interfering with his affairs. And he is, shall we say, intemperate in his response to such meddling. Or perceived meddling." [hostile - destruction - antagonist]
"Wait -- you were trying to protect me?"
"Hardly, my dear girl! I was trying to protect Weihenhorst. And myself, of course. I didn't want a visit from Sir Decius asking why I would allow a mere peasant girl to tarnish his reputation on my watch."
"Well, he's no longer your problem. But he's still mine."
"And just what do you intend to do about him?" [inquisitive - interest - enemy]
"I haven't decided yet. But it will be more terrible than anything I've ever thought of before."
"Don't take that condescending tone with me! Do you realise that you are now in chains because you were unkind to me once, and tried to threaten me?"
"Just for that?"
"Just for that."
"And Kleiber robbed you--"
"He murdered someone dear to me."
"I-- I see. Suddenly the prospect of being scourged, branded, and expelled from the city does not seem so bad."
"Precisely. But as to your expulsion, I urge you to get as far from here as you might, and above all, to have nothing to do whatsoever with Kleiber. I've kept a trinket or two of yours that I came across in my investigations. I can use them to send curses to you wherever you may be. And if I think you're moving against me, well..."
[Intimidate (COU/INT/CHA skill 3): 6/9/10 success]
"I swear by Travia, Guardian of Vows [Schützerin der Schwüre] as well as your namesake, that I shall never knowingly provoke you again."
"Good. Then take this food. I promise it isn't poisoned."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Travjane earns 8AP for the Scarlet Heroes city adventure.
When I marked them down on her character sheet, I realised I hadn't yet awarded any AP for her (disastrous) expedition to the ruins, including the bandit encounters and the interlude with the kobold. So for scenes 25-30, she earns 8 more AP (scene 24 was an Interrupt that only involved NPCs). Back in Scene 23, I noted that she had 10AP to spend, and used them to increase some skills, but I totally forgot to award any AP for the adventures she'd had in the city itself (scenes 12-22). I am awarding 5 AP for that period.
So she's earned a total of 31AP up to this point, and only spent 10.
Time to spend AP then! She'll be increasing one skill and some magic, all things she's been using.
Intimidate +2, cost 4 AP
Radau (Fighting Stick) +3, cost 6 AP
Paralyze Tongue +3, cost 6 AP
Witch's Bile +1, cost 2 AP
*Spray, cost 2 AP
* a Spell Enhancement from Aventurische Magie I, which requires a level of 8 in the spell. Spray gives a -2 penalty to defence rolls against the spell.
Travjane now has 1 AP left unspent. Her updated character sheet is here.
She's got at least a fortnight of downtime (1d20+14 days) before her adventure picks up again, so she has time for the skill increases above. I was a bit surprised that she didn't get booted from the city (due to Heat) at the conclusion of her urban adventure. But there's still most of a sandbox to explore, and revenge to pursue, so the next post will pick up her adventures as she sets out from the city.