Saturday, 3 August 2019

BRP solo - Part X: „Ein Drache scheint es von Gestalt“

A wave of warm, humid air washes over Lycinia as she opens the door. There is an overpowering smell of spices, but it cannot mask the underlying smells of sweat, excrement, and decay. She must steady herself for a few moments against the damp stone wall before she finds the resolve to continue [Stamina (CONx5=70%) roll fails]. Blinking the tears from her eyes, she passes the threshold.

An unnatural light flares up for a few moments in the room beyond [Room 20. - Special], illuminating the short entrance passage. It has died down again by the time Lycinia enters the square chamber, leaving only the feeble glow of a quartet of brass braziers near the corners of the room, and the flickering light of Lycinia's torch. It takes her vision another moment to adjust, then her eyes are met with the full horror of the scene.

In the centre of the room, an unnatural black beast sits on its haunches, looking like a skinned dragon, though very much alive. Its exposed muscles are the colour of obsidian, and all over droplets of runny fluid weep out of the raw meat. A sinister intelligence glares out of its grey-white eyes as it regards the fairy creature so recently come into its lair.

Concentric magic circles ring the beast. The innermost is of paint, and shows some artistry in the figures and arcane names inscribed within. The middle ring is a simple circle of plain salt. The  outermost was written in blood, dry now but bearing the mark of a careless footprint which broke it. Beside the footprint lies a corpse, or at least part of one. The head and right arm appear to have been dissolved by some sort of strong acid. The man wore simple white robes, now stained with blood and fat and toxins.

A table with tools of the art sits against a wall, and beside it a worm-eaten tome is held open on an ornamental stand of wrought iron. In the shadows at the back of the chamber lies the enormous and bloated corpse of a sow, chained to the wall by its foot.

Greater Demon               
STR (4D8)  7   Mov: 16
CON (4D8) 21   HP:  22
SIZ (5D8) 23   DB: +1D4
INT (4D8) 20   Armour: none
POW (4D8) 21
DEX (2D8)  8
APP (1D8)  6

Attacks: Claw 60% 1D8+db
         Spray Venom 50% POT=1D10, range 5m
Powers: Remember 110%, Soul Sight 5m, Empathy  

Forme : Dragon
(Ex : basilic, dragon)
Localisation Mêlée Missile PV
Queue         01–02  01     6
Patte post. d 03–04  02     8
Patte post. g 05–06  03     8
Arrière train 07–08 04–08   9
Poitrail      09–10 09–14   9
Aile droite   11–12  15     6
Aile gauche   13–14  16     6
Patte ant. d  15–16  17     8
Patte ant. g  17–18  18     8
Tête          19–20 19–20   8

The demon in the circle beckons. Lycinia takes a step forward, sword poised for attack.

"Stay your hand, fairy woman," says the demon in the Ancient Tongue. "I mean you no ill."

"Like you meant none to... whoever that was."

"The self-styled 'Walker on the Hidden Path'? He tried to bind me to his will, the fool! but you have done no such thing, and are, methinks, wiser than these human dabblers in the Art. Perhaps we can come to  mutually beneficial arrangement." [UNE: scheming - arrangement - friends]

"Such as?"

"There must be something I can do for you. If not now, in the future. Perhaps you are curious about the world about you. Or the heavens above. Or, indeed, the hells beneath. I could teach you... secrets. [mysterious - shadows - future action: can teach Blasphemous Lore (via Remember ability)]

"Name your price that I may consider it, unnatural spirit."

"Simply release me from the magic that holds me in this place, that I may be free." [throw / Cell]

"Let me think about this."

Lycinia lowers her sword, and steps forward casually. "So what you're saying, is that--"

But even before Lycinia can lunge forward with her sword, the demon has sensed her ruse [Empathy power]. It unhinges its jaw and spits forward a noxious yellow stream of acid, but the elf's warrior instincts take over and she ducks to one side as she leaps forward and buries her sword deep in the demon's flank. As she retracts the blade, blackish blood gushes forth from the wound, and the demon gurgles with pain.

[Basically, they both got a 'surprise' round on each other, since the range of the creature's acid is only 15', about the point she was going to charge from. It's not real surprise, so I didn't double anyone's attack chances. Lycinia's 'warrior instincts' were poetic licence; it just rolled a miss against her. She rolled a very real hit to the hindquarters for 1D8+1=7 damage, leaving it with 15hp (2 in the location).]

[Round 1]
Lycinia swings her blade in a high arc, crashing it down upon the thing's exposed sternum. There is a wet crack as it bites deep [7 damage to the forequarter: 8hp left]. The demon cranes its neck and spits down at her, but she nimbly avoids the stream. It doesn't even splash her boots as she darts out of reach. [Its attack roll hit, but her Dodge (63-25encumbrance penalty=38%) actually succeeded.]

[Round 2]
Lycinia pulls back for but a moment, then comes at it from the other side. It tries to fend off her sword, knocking it aside with its overlong claws, but with limited success. The stroke that would have laid open its stomach instead takes a small chunk out of its leg. [She it, it just failed its Parry (60%), rolling a 61. It took 3 damage to the R Front Leg, leaving the demon with 5hp.]

It spits another toxic stream over Lycinia's head, and its claws seem unable to catch the agile elf [miss,miss].

[Round 3]
But it has learnt from its earlier mistakes. The silvery sword flashes again through the air, and this time meets the claws head on, being deflected with a force that Lycinia feels travel up to the hilt. [she hit, it parried]

Another stream of acid goes right over her shoulder, close enough that she can smell its acrid stench [37=hit, but 19=dodged!]. The raking claw she turns aside effortlessly [59= normal hit; her second defence in a round is at -30%, (61-30=31%) but she rolled 03, special success!]

[Round 4]
The demon switches tactics, lowering its head to spit its venom up into the elf's face. This is the mistake Lycinia had been waiting for, and with a powerful backhand drives the length of her blade into the side of the thing's elongated head. It bites deep into the skull, and she cannot pull it free. The sword is nearly wrenched from her grasp as the demon falls dead at her feet. [She rolled 05, Special success vs. its 88, failed parry. 10 damage to the Head dropped it to -5hp. Damn, but the dice were really kind to her for that fight.]

Her sword comes unstuck in an instant as the demon-dragon begins to decompose at a fantastic rate. Within moments there is nothing left of the horror but a fine dust. "That will save me the trouble of cleaning my sword," says Lycinia, but the sight of the remaining horrors in the chamber makes the jest ring hollow in her ears.

She is drawn toward the table of magical implements. There is a scroll case with a papyrus inside. The briefest perusal or the roll confirms it is written over with spells on both sides, so Lycinia puts it into her pack for later. She also finds a silver pectoral set with precious stones, several of which have been prised out. But the remaining gems and metal still hold considerable value, and she stows them in her pouch. She isn't sure about any of the tinctures or spices, and resolves to simply ignore them. The book on the stand is practically begging for her attention.

[Treasure Factor 11+(1d4x10)=51. No coins, as that would be silly here.

-gemstone 234sp
-very good jewellery 583sp
-potion of (CF 1d36=) ethereality
-Magic-User spell scroll: Fly, Charm, Protection, Haste

Q: Is the Grimoire here? unknown d6=4 50/50: O5 C7 - yes.
Read Ancient Language (47%) succeeds.]

Lycinia casts her eyes over the open page, and is horrified at the words they contained. Her research in the great library had hinted at the unwholesome operations of certain vile practitioners of the black arts, but here she is confronted with a manual outlining each step of the blasphemous procedures. She leafs through a few pages, and each passage she alights upon only compounds her revulsion. If reading The Forgotten Reckoning of Bliss had earned her banishment from fair Feyalldra, this volume, so infinitely more vile, would have merited death. Even such a curious elf as she finds not the smallest desire to know the secrets set forth in these mildewed pages. She resolves to burn the thing, lest it ever tempt her. In fact, perhaps she ought to cleanse this whole room with fire.

[Q: Can she find enough here to get a good bonfire going? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - no, but... stuff nearby
+Event: (back to regular Mythic table, as the Mystery is solved)  Move toward a thread - open / life]

As Lycinia is considering how much combustible material is in the chamber, she hears a squelching behind her. She looks into the back of the room, and sees the dead sow begins to shudder and distend, as if something within is trying to get out. Her hand falls limply to the pommel of her sword, as she is transfixed with fear.

[She needed to roll POWx3 (36%) to be able to take the first action: d%=42, no.

Something is clawing its way out, but what? (1d8):
1 the seeress reborn, and perfectly fine
2 the seeress reborn, but with a demon's soul
3 the seeress reborn as a horrible mutant
4 the seeress reborn as Geredrom
5 a mindless revenant
6 a lich
7 an icky thing (stats as lesser demon)
8 a very icky thing (stats as greater demon)


Icky Thing               
STR (2D8)  3   Mov: 3
CON (2D8)  6   HP:  5
SIZ (1D8)  4   DB: -1D4
INT (4D8) 16   Armour: none
POW (3D8) 18 
DEX (6D8) 31 
APP (1D8)  1 
Attacks: Claw 60% 1D8+db
Powers: See Sound, Emote, Howl  

Forme : Brontosaure  
(Ex : brontosaure, stégosaure)
Localisation  Loc.   PV
Queue         01–02   2
Patte post. d 03–04   2
Patte post. g 05–06   2
Arrière train 07–10   2
Poitrail      11–14   2
Patte ant. d  15–16   2
Patte ant. g  17–18   2
Tête          19–20   2

A rent opens in the sow's rotten flesh, and an abomination slithers forth. The thing is tiny, and resembles a badly decaying human corpse, albeit with a long, distended neck and torso, and atrophied limbs. A long, serpentine tail is the last part of the thing to slough forth from the cadaver.

It looks up from the floor at Lycinia with its wizened skull face, and begins to taunt her -- in her own voice! "I have the book! I have the book! It's mine! All mine! All for me! Look what wonders I will be able to perform! No wizard shall ever again be my equal!" [UNE: knowing - report - treasure; it used the Emote power, combined with Howl power's effect (breaks all concentration for spellcasting)]

The thing creeps towards Lycinia as it speaks, and is nearly upon her before the elf is able to suppress her fear and revulsion enough to draw her blade. It swipes at her with a bony claw, but the filthy nails only scrape across the sword as she parries. She takes a step back and holds her sword aloft a moment, before plunging it with both hands straight down into the malformed creature's back. There is a momentary resistance as it severs the spinal column, then the blow is stopped as the tip bites into the stone floor. The creature shrieks and contorts for a moment, then collapses.

[Round 1:
it hit, she parried.
she hit, it failed to dodge (62%). 9 damage dropped it to -4hp]

Lycinia caves in the grinning skull head, just to convince herself the abomination is dead. Then she runs from the room and slams the door behind her before she succumbs to the urge to throw up.

She leaves the hexagonal chamber by the northern door. The corridor beyond comes almost immediately to a 4-way intersection. She can hear rushing water down the western branch, and follows it down to the broken bridge [Area 2]. She goes back and tries the northern passage, which leads her into a rectangular chamber [Room 21. - Skill Challenge only], empty save for white marble statue of Health personified in the human idiom [d30 Sandbox Companion heraldry table, d7, d30=snake/serpent]. Lycinia wonders at the image for half a moment, but her attention is drawn by a series of seemingly-innocent scratches on the statue's base.

[Challenge: Read/Write Elvish (normal) reveals STR (normal)

The R/W Elvish didn't fit thematically with my sudden vision of the statue based on the d30 result, so I ruled that a Spot Hidden roll was required to notice the scratches: 09 succeeds.
R/W Elvish (64%): 05, special success.]

Looking closer, Lycinia is delighted to see that the scratches are ever-so-cleverly disguised cursive elvish letters. They're hard to make out, but ere long she has teased the meaning out of them: "Thilanallir, the goods are concealed under the statue. -Neluya." So she's not the first of the fair folk to have traversed these sewers. Nor indeed the shiftiest. The statue is a head taller than Lycinia -- and she's tall for an elf -- but [Effort (STRx5=65%): 61, success] she puts her back into it, and at last shifts the statue enough to slide a hand into the cavity beneath.

[Q: What's in the hole below? d30=flask

Using my potion label rules (link):
Q: Labelled? 3-in-6: d6=2
a single arcane sigil
she must make either a difficult Idea roll or normal Spell Lore roll to decipher the mark: Spell Lore (47%): 38, success

Q: What does it mean? d30 Adventure Generator Tables II, AG9: THEME

She feels round, and her hand soon closes over something cold and metal. She has found a stoppered brass flask, upon which a single arcane sigil has been rudely scratched: the fabled Rune of Shadow. Lycinia is not sure what to make of her discovery, but she stows it carefully in her pack for later.

She returns to the junction, and takes the final branch east to find a door, which leads to another chamber [Room 22], with the same dimensions as the last.

[As this was the final room in this area, I decided to forego the usual Room Contents table and use the Oracle

Q: Is this, in fact, Geredrom's supply room? Likely (3+): O6 C2 - yes, and... he sometimes slept here as well.
Q: Does it contain a rope & grappling hook Unlikely (5+): O5 C7 - yes]

This was obviously used by the late Geredrom as a supply room. Wooden crates, some filled with straw, have been converted to tables, and a cot piled high with bedding rests against a wall. There is a wide variety of mundane items, amongst which Lycinia is overjoyed to find a goodly length of new rope and a large grappling hook. There is a cache of preserved rations, a small barrel of clean water and a few bottles of moderately good wine, but more interesting to the elf are the spare lanterns and oil. She begins packing the crates with the oil and anything else she thinks will burn, and begins dragging the lot back to the ritual chamber.

[Q: Any wandering monsters attracted by the noise? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - no, and... she's pretty much cleared the dungeon]

Once she's gotten everything moved, she is suddenly faced with the enormity of the task which she must still perform. She takes a long pull off one of the bottles of wine for some 'dwarven courage', then sets about the gruesome work. She wraps the little abomination in bedding and douses it all over with lamp oil before putting it into one of the straw-filled crates. She saves a little oil for the (partial) corpse of Geredrom, and sprinkles a bit on the sow's carcass for good measure. Then she pushes everything together to make a gruesome bonfire. The chamber door she props open with the iron stand, to make sure the fire gets plenty of air. Then she stands as far away as she can and throws a lit torch on it to start the fire.

Lycinia watches the conflagration build to make sure her work will be complete. But even as the flames rise, she knows that there is one thing left to do. The book, that damnable grimoire which the mad, foolish Geredrom used to create this horror, yet lies on the iron stand. What other secrets might it contain? Who can say what magics she could learn from such a hoary tome. If any magician could put the unfathomable secrets lurking in those mould-dampened leaves to a proper use, it is she!

Such thoughts she knows she must banish from her mind. She takes the book gingerly from the stand, but then an overwhelming hesitation seizes her. [Lycinia needs to roll POWx5 (60%) to the temptations of this artefact of evil...] She looks again at the book in her hands, turning it over and over, then leafing through a few pages, tracing her finger over one of the circles. The delightful scent of old parchment reaches her nostrils, momentarily overshadowing the rancid smell of the smoky pyre. She grips the book tightly, [...d%=46, success] then hurls it with all her strength into the heart of the blaze. Perhaps she could read such an evil book and remain spiritually untainted, perhaps not. But she knows one thing with abject certainly: she could never face Théscine's disappointment.

Only when she is finally certain the book has been consumed by the flames does she begin to retrace her steps and climb back up the long shaft into the dilapidated theatre. She doesn't even bother to close the door after her as she stumbles exhausted into the street. Breathing deeply of the fresh dawn air acts as a sudden tonic on her wearied bones, and she strides through the streets of Ildmarch with renewed vigour. She garners not a few strange looks from the few citizens just beginning their workdays, though none are so brave as to approach the bloodied and battered fairy woman, and some even whisper a prayer to their various human gods that she pass them by in peace. For her part, she is scarcely aware of them at all, flushed with the success of her endeavours and the satisfaction at having averted a great, if mysterious, evil. And it couldn't have gone better for her; though she would not have scrupled to slaughter such a wicked magician as Geredrom, she hadn't actually had to -- no assassin she! But what a marvellous tale she will have to tell her patron. She is certain Orezuthía will be pleased.


--- --- ---

Post Mortem

That was a good test of my Skill Challenge generator. It worked exactly as I hoped it would, though after getting halfway through I had already started modifying it so it would produce 1-3 challenges rather than always having them come in pairs.

Links: the one I used for this adventure
the updated version

When she was about to leave the dungeon, I had, of course, asked--
Q: Does she get back to guild without incident? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - yes
+Event:  Remote event - strive / castle (wars between nobles heating up, random castle (1dX=YYY) is besieged. I'll copy that into my campaign notes file for later (said file is an appalling mess, but it contains every global Event and all the stats and especially the 'flavour text' for each city/town/fortress and NPC, cut-and-paste in sections for easy reference -- I really need that after 60+ posts of adventures).

I'm not terribly enamoured of the Encumbrance system I was using, and I think the next adventure will be switching to Fatigue Points like in RQIII. To keep the D&D/CF feel, I'll halve the penalty to spellcasting for elves.

I think the Heroic Hit Points rule (called Total HP in the BGB) is great for single character adventures, but I'm a bit worried about it making full parties a bit too tough. Admittedly, a decent Impale or Critical can still kill a 22hp character outright, so this might not be as big an issue as I fear it to be. I'm 5 scenes into the next adventure at the time of this writing, and there hasn't been a combat yet, so it's still all conjecture.

Speaking of the next adventure, Lycinia didn't have enough time before it to do any magical research, so the mysterious flask with the shadow rune and the inscription from atop the column are still unknown quantities -- I won't figure out what they do until it becomes necessary.

XP, er... I mean Improvement Rolls

I counted the town and dungeon as one single adventure to keep her from getting too far ahead of the rest of the PCs. But she still gets a shitload of improvement rolls from all this.

She also 'exercised her POWer' (used it on the resistance table against a superior number) so it might go up: (21-12=9)x5=45% to improve: d%=14, success +1D3-1=1. Her POW increases to 13; her Magic Points and Luck roll also go up, but no skills category bonuses are affected.

Per RQIII, I am using Skill Category Bonuses as the Bonus to all experience rolls. I'm not bothering with 'class skills', so all improvements are 1d6 percentiles. Rather than recording all the dice rolling, I will just summarise:

Persuade +6 to 29%
Climb -
Dodge +3 to 66%
MQ +6 to 47%
Blasphemous Lore +3 to 16%
R/W Elvish +5 to 69%
R/W Ancient -
Physik -
Spell Lore +2 to 49%
Insight +4 to 48%
Library Use +2 to 36%
Listen +6 to 50%
Spot Hidden +3 to 72%

Sword attack +2 to 64%
Sword Parry +5 to 66%
Pistol +6 to 43%

Spells (half INT for exp. bonus)
Comprehend Languages +2 to 38%
Invisibility -
Magic Missile +1 to 32%
Sleep +4 to 55%


  1. Another good adventure and thanks for the additional tools and tables mentioned during the past several posts. While I might never use them, I like to add them to my solo arsenal just in case.

    I’m glad Ly has made it out of the dungeons and look forward to her being back into the world. While there were some interesting moments, and running a dungeon crawl can certainly be interesting for the player, with only one PC it can become tedious for the reader: discovery-challenge-solution, discovery-challenge-solution. Having other party members and people to interact with adds conversation and events that add interest to the story.

    If I might offer one suggestion, when you have long stretches that don’t directly advance the plot try to work some references to the quest or goal in the narrative. (i.e. “Lycinia opened the door with anticipation, hoping to find the wizard on the other side. Unfortunately, the room was empty and no trace of Geredrom or his grimoire could be seen.”) This can be very helpful, especially since this portion of the story has taken six weeks in real time to tell. I had to ask myself, “Why is she in this dungeon?” before going back several posts to refresh my memory.

    1. You can never have too many tools saved up. Sometimes I have stuff sitting in my file for years before I suddenly find a use for it.

      The serialised format does present some unusual challenges. The dungeon format certainly doesn't help, as you say. I think you've uncovered the reason that all my single-PC-against-the-world games turn into small party affairs after the first few encounters!

  2. Another fascinating session in a fascinating campaign and a great wrap up too. Thanks you for sharing it with us.

    I've been putzing around with a few solo campaigns, due in large part to your great examples here. I have noticed that the characters in my sessions tend to believe that discretion is the better part of valor. Ly seems to press on where PCs controlled by me would "fall back" and "regroup". Then again, Ly is tough enough, talented enough, and bloody minded enough to succeed!

    Thanks again for sharing your campaign with us. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    1. Thanks! I am glad I can provide inspiration.

      Lycinia is certainly bloody-minded. She's not above retreat, but does get carried away with things. And because I was using the Heroic Hit Points option, she's got 2 more HP as a BRP character than she did as a 4th level elf! I fear that may have contributed to her (or rather, her player's) feelings of invincibility.