Saturday, 24 October 2020

Silent Legions solo - Part 4: Into the underworld

Cat collapses into a seat to catch her breath. No one really pays her any mind; to be honest, it's not the worst she's looked on public transportation before. Once she's breathing normally again she looks up at the route map on the wall to plan her next move. She's currently headed [1d2=] east, so decides she might as well take it to the end of the line at Barking; it's high time she looked up an old friend.

[Scene 12

After the successful Escape, it seemed like time for a Respite scene.

Respite: d12= Some hostile action against the Enemy, either by a Friend or a random foe, distracts them from the PCs for a brief time.]

Amit Kamal is a small-time hustler with ties to several south Asian gangs operating out of east London. Cat has no idea where he's living these days, but she remembers all the places they used to go when they were hanging out, so she figures it's just a matter of hitting up every Bangladeshi-owned off licence in Barking before she runs into someone who will help her find him.

And sure enough, her plan works.

[8+ Cha/Culture-Criminal to track him down: 2d6+0=9, success

NPC Relationship: loved
Conversation Mood: sociable (= they go waaaaay back)]

* * *
Amit Kamal
male, Age 30
Class/Level: Socialite 1, XP:0
Background: gangster
Wealth: struggling
Str 13 Int 12 Wis 8 Dex 14 Con 10 Cha 14
AC 8, Att +1, HP 6
Combat/primitive 0, Culture/Criminal 1, Culture/Home 0, Language 0 (Bengali), Perception 0, Persuade 1, Stealth 0

* * *

The trail leads Cat to a restaurant. It isn't open yet, but she can see Amit and a couple of his mates inside sitting round a table and laughing at videos on their mobiles. She knocks on the window to get their attention. Amit jumps up from his seat and runs to unlock the front door. He throws it open, then stiffens, bows at the waist, and addresses Cat in his best RP accent. "Miss Morland! I see you've elected to spend the season in Town after all."

"Why, yes, my dear Mr. Tilney. Another season in Bath would be just too, too horrid."

They laugh and embrace as Amit's friends look on bewildered. He says a few words to them in Bengali, and then he and Cat step out into the street.

"Holy shit, Cat! I didn't know you were out yet."

"Yeah... I got into a halfway house and everything."

"I knew you could kick the habit, if anyone could. You should've let me know when you were getting released. I could've thrown you a welcome-home party."

"No one would've come, though. You do know you were the only person who ever visited."

"Shit. No, I didn't. I, uh, feel kinda bad now that it was just the once."

"Don't. It meant to world to me. Really."

Amit mumbles something, and the pause in the nascent conversation threatens to overwhelm them. Cat's not sure she can just beg a favour out of the blue, so wracks her brain to make small talk.

"What'cha been up to all this time?" she asks.

"Ah, you know: same-old."

"Yeah, I probably shouldn't be asking. How's the family."

"Mum's still mum, asking when I'm going to get married..."

"Ha. And you sister?"

"Still straight, Cat."

"Damn. A girl can hope."

"But how are you doing, anyways?"

"Honestly? Not great. I'm in trouble; these weirdoes are after me and I need protection. Think you can hook me up?"

"How do you mean?"

"A gun, obviously."

[He needs a 7+ Int/Culture-criminal roll to have a connection: 2d6+1=7]

"I know a guy, but it might take time."

"I ain't got a lot of that."

"My guy's not the most reliable, innit?" [UNE: prejudiced - doubt - retainers]

"How long?"

[1d6+1=6]"A  week maybe. No more."

"Shit. Got anywhere I can hide out maybe?"

[Q: Does he? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 - no, and...]

"I wish I could help, but I don't know anywhere to hide a, well, a white girl. You know how it is..."

"I can hide maybe three days... how about I meet you after three days. We'll grab lunch or something."

"I'll have my people call your people."

"This is serious mate."

"Sorry. OK, three days. Let me give you the number on the mobile I'm using at the mo. Oh, and the spare burner, too."

* * *

Amit soon has to rejoin his friends; they weren't just loitering, but Cat knows better than to press for details. She takes the tube all the way to Victoria to pick up the artefact, and keep it with her to conserve her meagre funds. She spends three nights at different homeless shelters, afraid to go home.

[The Respite will last 2d6=7 days (until 4 October)]

30 September

Three days later Cat meets Amit in a builders' café, between the breakfast and lunch rushes.

[Amit needs a 10+ Int/Culture-criminal roll to have come through already: 2d6+1=6]

"Sorry, Cat, no luck yet. It's coming, but not early."

"Damn. Can you at least get me a knife?"

"There's real cheap ones at the Tesco in the housewares aisle."

"I mean a real one, matey. One I can fight with."

[6+ Int/Culture-criminal: 2d6+1=9]

"No problem."

"Ta. Can I ask another favour?"

"Do I ever say no?"

"Ha! No. Maybe you should sometimes. But this is easy, I just need an honest, unfiltered opinion: do I still look too sketchy for polite society?"

"Got a job interview or summat?"

"No. I need to renew my library card."

[Scene 13

Investigation scene: Obtaining the clue is trivially easy, but parsing it or identifying the importance of an object requires visiting a Place, where further information is under guard of one or more challenges]

1 October

Cat decides she should probably to go back to halfway house for appearance's sake. Besides, she needs to pick up some post as proof of address. The staff member on duty eyes her with abject suspicion as she launches into her excuse.

"I, er, met someone. Been spending a lot of time together. No, it's not serious. Not ready for that kind of commitment, either of us."

[8+ Cha/Persuade to avoid trouble: 2d6=10]

"Just call and let us know next time, m'kay?"

Cat tries to sleep there that night, and has bad dreams.

2 October

Cat puts on her one set of nice clothes and heads down to the British Library, getting there even before they've opened the doors. Luckily the little coffee stand is serving, as she needs some fuel for her visit.

Getting her card renewed is far easier than she expected [4+ Int/Persuade, success] and within 90 minutes she is collecting a stack of books in the 2nd floor Humanities Reading Room.

[Int/Research 10+: 2d6+1-1(unskilled)=10, success

Random Location (1d9) = Epping forest
Place (d4) = Ill-litten unnatural cavern

research takes 1d8-1=1 day]

Cat isn't expecting to find an Owners Workshop Manual for the artefact or anything, but she is certain that such an unusual and unsettling item must have left some record of its existence. She starts with Roman Britain, and follows vague and winding threads which finally lead her to a tantalising clue buried in veiled references in a footnote of a Medieval Latin chronicle, telling of a secret place where (she hopes) answers may be found.

3 October

Cat awakens to find a text from Amit: "We should do lunch."

[Q: Complications? 50/50 (4+): O4 C5 - Yes
Q: What? Interestingly / Ancient]

They grab lunch at a chippy near West Ham underground station, and take it to the mostly deserted park nearby to eat on an obliging bench. When they're finished, Amit hands over a canvas bag. Cat looks inside; her eyes go wide as pulls out a vintage (1860s) Webley .450 percussion revolver.

"What the actual fuck? Your mate rob a museum or summat?"

"I didn't ask. Best I can do on short notice. And... with limited capital."

"It's only got 4 bullets in."

"Yeah. He said not to leave a live round under the hammer. Bump it too hard and it'll go off, innit?"


"You don't like?"

"Can't afford to be picky."

"Speaking of afford..."

"Put it on my tab, won't you?" [6+ Cha/Persuade 2d6+0=6]

[Q: Is he in debt over this? Likely (3+): O5 C6 - yes]

"Look, Cat, I gotta ask, just what kind of trouble are you in? I seen you in a bad way before, but never like this. That one time at Durga's gaff when Tiny had a piece you freaked out and made him put it way up in the kitchen cabinet. Why you want one all of a sudden?"

"Trust me, you don't want any part of this. You'll sleep better not knowing."

"So dramatic!"

"I'm being straight with you."

"There's first time for everything."

"Not joking, matey. People have already been murdered."


"Yeah. This girl I knew from rehab. My shrink. A priest."

"Fuuuuck. What are you messed up in?"

"Something really, really weird."

"Weirder than that time--?" [knowing - report - fame]


"I didn't finish."

"You didn't need to. Whatever you were going to say, this is weirder. And worse."

"Fuckin 'ell, just spill it. How the fuck long have we been mates, for you to hold out on me like this?" [hostile - rage - knowledge]

"Fine. Shit. Just... just don't end up hating me."

Cat rummages round at the bottom of her backpack and produces a small bundle which she hands to Amit. He unwraps the flimsy grey cloth -- one of Mike's old band shirts, now so faded that the logo is just a few stubbornly clinging shreds of white -- and finds the sinister artefact inside.

[He must make a saving throw vs. Magic: d20=6, fail - unworthy]

He turns it over and over in his hands, feeling a bit queasy at the touch of the spongy metal.

"What is this ting?"

"Some sort of... some sort of magical device. I don't know what it does, not yet, but I need to find out. And find out why it's apparently worth killing for..."

"Shit. Here, take it back. I feel all creepy holding it."

"Yeah.... so, fancy a walk in the woods?"

"Sure, I guess. Where?"

"To find a secret cave in Epping forest."

"Like, Dick Turpin's hideout? I think that's a myth, Cat."

"No, this is something else. Something far older..."

* * *

[This next part should have been a new scene, but as I was using a hybrid structure rather than just Mythic I forgot to not it. The scenes mostly ended up just being for my own reference when I compiled a 1-page master reference sheet; I had to plot out the adventure on paper to keep track of all the events, NPCs, items, crimes, cults &c &c.]

Amit stops off at his flat (technically, his mate's flat where he's couch surfing) to pick up a cricket bat and a duffel bag to conceal it in, then they head for the tube. They spend most of the journey from Mile End out to Epping poring over the Ordnance Survey map that Cat annotated from her library notes.
They finally arrive at their destination -- the stop one before the end of the line. When they step onto the platform, they are struck by an all-too-surreal sight.

"You see 'em too, right?" asks Cat.


"Never thought I'd be face to face with a herd of horses when I got off the Central Line..."

Leaving the station, they walk up the road for about a kilometre to the edge of Epping Forest, then do their best to follow Cat's map; based as it is on an ancient account of finding the cave, they can't even trust the rivers to be in the same place. But perhaps something unseen is pulling Cat closer to itself, for within the hour they have walked a more-or-less straight path into the fairy glade, the sole place from which the cave may be approached so that it appear to mortal eyes.

[9+ Wis/Survival roll to find cave: Cat 2d6+1(wis)-1(unskilled)=12!

I had no opinions whatsoever about what was inside the 'Ill-litten unnatural cavern' (from the Location tag), so I made some rolls on the Kelipah charts--

Size: (1d3=) Substantial. The Kelipah is as large as a small town, with
multiple interesting features in it.

…is warped this way: Is a slow poison
The Flora is…: Produces strange music
The Fauna is…: Piscine or crablike

And to provide action for the scene--

1d6=3 challenges (SL pp. 126-9; each of the 4 classes has 2 tables, so...)
3d8= scholar (upper), tough (upper), investigator (lower)
3d20= 11, 18, 15
 scholar: A prehuman relic that actually serves as a kind of “book”.
 tough: Cult lieutenant operating with henchmen here.
 investigator: It’s been buried, with the nearby earth disturbed.]

The path before them is not the path they just walked down, nor is the terrain at all familiar. Cat fishes the antique revolver out of her bag, and Amit readies his cricket bat. Then by the light of the torch on Amit's mobile, they step tentatively into the yawning blackness of the cave.

[Q: Are the cultists far from the entrance? Unlikely (5+): O1 C8 - no.

7+ Wis/Perception to hear them in cave: 2d6+1=8

There are 1d4+1=2 cultists]

As they creep along the main tunnel, they pass many cramped side passages leading off in all directions. As they pas a larger one, Cat fancies she hears voices. They stop still and strain to listen, but cannot make out any words.

"Put out the light and follow me," says Cat.

[Stealth at -2 (creeping through the dark) vs. Perception: 2d6+0-2=7 vs. 2d6+0=6]

They move slowly up the passageway by touch. Fortunately, a light shining from a chamber up ahead soon appears, and as they crouch by the mouth of the passage they overhear [d6=m,f] a man and a woman talking.

"We'll not get anywhere with this unless we get Elgin down here," says the woman. [UNE: friendly - aid - skills]

"You're sure he will be able to read these signs?

"Who else could?"

"Won't he want the maxilla for himself?" [scheming - agenda - treasure]

"We can take care of him once we have what we need. But without him, we've nothing to go on."

Cat turns back to Amit. "Follow my lead," she whispers, then slinks forward into the chamber. There is no one besides the two whose voices she'd heard. The cultists are both about Cat's age, though she doesn't recognise either of them -- as absurd as the Circle of the Shadow Chalice was back when Cat used to hang with them, even then none of the members were trendy hipsters.

[Stealth 2d6+0-1(not much cover) vs. Perception 8+0, fail]

"What was that?" say the cultists as Cat steps out into the light, right where they are looking.

[Q: Are they armed? certain (2+): O2 C4 - yes, but... knives only]

"Hands up!" says Cat. [5+ Cha/persuade roll succeeds] "Amit, see if they're packing."

"Sure thing. But you should really cock the gun first..."

"Shit. Sorry."

[Q: Do the cultists try anything stupid? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - yes, but... not immediately
Cha/Persuade 8+ to interrogate: 2d6+1+1, success]

"So, I advise you two to start talking," says Amit as he removes their knives, "lest my associate decides to go all Get Carter or summat."

"We... we're just out hiking in the woods--"

"Bollocks. You can't find this cave unless you know how to look. Try again. Who's this 'Elgin'? What signs is he s'posed to read?"

"He's a scholar of sorts. We need him to decipher the markings on the stone. over there, in the middle of the cavern."

Amit goes over to examine the object, a football sized stone roughly incised with markings the likes of which he's never seen before. "Gee, Cat, looks like your gat's not the only museum piece in here. This thing looks proper ancient. What's it for?"

"Without a translation of the carvings, we don't know. That's why we need to bring in a specialist."

"Fair enough. But you think it's got something to do with a certain toothy artefact, innit?"

"It, um, I guess. Maybe. It was supposed to have been made here. So they say."

"So where do we find this Elgin character?" asks Cat.

"Either of you two got his number?"

They nod.

"Good. Hand over your phones. And unlock them for us. Ta."

The [d2=] woman hands over her mobile without a word. The man however tries a feint, and swings at Amit with clenched fist. He earns a cricket bat to the face for his efforts. He crumples at Amit's feet, and his companion rushes to his side.

[his surprise attack missed. Amit won initiative, hit for 1d4=4 damage dropping the cultist to -2hp]

"Oh my god oh my god oh my god... he's not breathing. You killed him!"

[1d20=14 Madness for killing another human being for the first time]

"Come on," says Cat, "we should get out of here. Grab her torch and let's leave. Earth to Amit! Come on, mate!"

"Yeah... uh... what about her?"

"She can find her own way out. I just don't want to be followed."

[Q: Does she try to follow? 50/50 (4+): O3 C7 - no]

It's a short walk back out of the cave, now that they are using a light. Cat is sort of sure that a person could crawl their way out in the darkness... but after what the cult did to Mike and Dr. Sonia, she doesn't much care.

They walk back to the glade, then out into the forest as they remember it. They head straight back towards the road, and as soon as Cat can find a signal, she looks through the woman's contact for an Elgin and makes a call.

[Q: Does he answer? unknown 1d6=6 doubtful. O6 C1 - yes, and...

So, just who is Elgin Radcliffe?
1d6=m; random name probably from Byakhee

SL random Actor generation--
Age: Aged or mature in their position.
Profession: Businessman, clerk, banker, or other white-collar job.
Memorable Quirks: Facial tattoos, piercings, or other aggressive body mods
Social Standing: An outcast, either from profession or personal qualities.
Relation to Situation: The person responsible for hiding it or investigating it
The Problem That Drives Them: Someone involved has dire blackmail on them.

I made a Reaction roll, though it applies to the cultist he thinks is ringing him up: 2d6=4, hostile]

The other end only rigs twice before it is answered by a man with a gruff voice and a thick northern accent.

"Dammit, what now?"

"Uh, I borrowed this phone," says Cat. "You don't know me... but if you recently agreed to meet someone from the Circle, I beg you to reconsider. They are planning to use your knowledge for their own ends, and then... well, you know."

"I'm listening." [react=7, neutral]
"Let's meet. I have something to show you -- the thing they're after. Maybe we can get to the bottom of this together. I'm tired of running." [6+ Cha/Persuade roll: 2d6+0=10, success]

"Yeah. Sure. OK. Where?"

"Uh... somewhere public. But not too dressy, maybe."

"Ha ha, not an issue. How about the Big Red on Holloway. Know it?"

"Sounds good."

"Get there early and get a booth. I'll ring from the bus stop to let you know I'm almost there."

next post: allies and assassins


  1. While I was not familiar with your first reference and had to look it up, I did suspect it was from that particular author’s body of work. In fact, I was unfamiliar with either of the cultural references in this chapter.

    Good stories. Solo RPG tutorial. History and culture lessons. Is there anything your Blog doesn’t offer? :D

    1. Is there anything your Blog doesn’t offer?

      A timely posting schedule!