Friday, 2 July 2021

AFF solo - Part XII: Terrors of the Temple

The abomination which burst from beneath the earth was Ensevektu's mad, Balthus-Diresque attempt to swap round the heads of a reptilian Gretch and a six-armed simian Krell. His ungodly scheme was a gory disaster, and instead of a pair of intelligent servitors, he was left with a single, half-mad lizard-headed six-armed ape-thing.

The GRETCH-KRELL bellows as it lunges out of the broken ground, ready to rend the intruders in its masters domain with claw and fang.

[Setting up the battle--

For the Failed Sorcerous Experiment from the SS&SS adventure generator, I rolled on two random encounter tables in Out of the Pit and mixed the results. For stats, I went with the average of the listed values +1

medium claws, medium armour

Ilog has been calling his enemy a wizard all along, which would indicate a specific type of magician according to the rulebooks, as distinct from sorcerers, enchanters, conjurers, etc. These terms, however, are used as synonyms by all save a few scholars and the magical practitioners themselves; most beings neither know of nor care about the distinctions, not even as urbane a chap as our Ilog. So,

Q: What kind of magician is Ensevektu? (1d6): 1-2 sorcerer, 3-4 wizard, 5 chaos mage, 6 necromancer: 1, sorcerer

Ensevektu the Unseemly Adept
sorcery 3, swords 3
chain cuirass, sword

He'll cast random (sensible!) spells of (1d3) level 1, 2, or 4 each round as long as he can reasonably do so. I'll assume he has components for whatever is rolled.]

[Round 1]
The abomination lunges straight for Grebdal Themp and Ilog, who meet it with their combined might of arms. There is flurry of claws from the beast, but the practised fighters dodge every furious swipe. Ilog's morning star hits the creature on the crown of its head with an almighty crack, but its malformed skull deflects the blow [3-2=1 damage]. Grebdal Themp's blade opens a messy rent in its thick hide, spraying ichor over the frosty ground [4-1=3 damage, dropping it to 6 Stamina].
Meanwhile the magicians are working their several enchantments. Fhenteskeer has called on the Righteous Flame of Filash to act through his Priest [casts Bless on himself, +1 all rolls]. Ksandajja weaves a charm of protection about herself as proof against the adept's spells [cast MAG (costing 2 Stamina); avoids the effect of the next spell]. Ensevektu tries to ensnare [d4=] the priest in wisps of confusion [DIM], but in his haste skips one of the requisite gestures, and the magic des not come [2d6=9, failed his casting roll].

[Round 2]
As priest and sorceress pick their way across the rubble towards him, he attempts the spell again -- and to his supreme annoyance makes exactly the same mistake [2d6=9 again!].

The abomination has learnt the measure of its two foes, and as it fends off Ilog on one side, it rakes a claw across Grebdal Themp's torso to give him a matching wound, even through his leather jerkin. Flecks of his blood mingle with the ichor on the ground [4-1=3 damage, dropping him to 7 Stamina].

[Round 3]
The adept elects to use a simpler, less subtle incantation [casts HOT for 4 Stamina]. A ball of unearthly red fire erupts between Ksandajja and Fhenteskeer. The priest feels more shame than hurt as the very element of his god singes his side [1d6+1=2 damage leaves him with 5 Stamina]. Ksandajja's magic protects her; though the flames lick round her greedily they cannot touch her skin.
Ksandajja delivers a powerful stroke to Ensevektu's shoulder. His mail deflects the sword's bite, but the force is felt even through his armour and the padding beneath [4-1=3 damage, 5 Stamina remaining]. Fhenteskeer is too shaken from the ball of fire to make a credible attack [miss].

Ilog, Grebdal Themp, and the monster circle one another warily... [G & it both roll the same attack total, Ilog rolls below that]

[Round 4]
...then it rushes suddenly between them, shoving Ilog aside and tearing another chunk out of Grebdal Themp [Ilog rolled low again; it hit G for 3-0=3 damage, dropping him to 4 Stamina].

Ensevektu knows that he'd be cut in twain before he could get another spell off, so draws his own blade. He proves a surprisingly competent swordsman, and not only fends off every advance from the fire priest's axe, but gives the astonished sorceress a deep cut down her thigh [3 damage puts her at 6 Stamina].

[Round 5]
Her riposte merely snags in his mail [2-2=0 damage] but gives Fhenteskeer just enough of an opening to smash him hard in the flank [3-0=3 damage, down to 2 Stamina].

The beast rears up to finish off the wounded Grebdal Themp, but he lurches forward and opens up its belly with a swift downward stroke, putting an end to the foul thing's existence [4-0 damage kills it].

[Rounds 6-7]
Grebdal Themp steadies himself against a toppled pillar as Ilog tries vainly to cross the debris choked chamber and join the fight against Ensevektu. The adept's defence against Ksandajja allows Fhenteskeer another opening, but his axe just clunks against stout mail.

Ksandajja thrusts her sword with all her might. She feels a but a momentary resistance, then the sharp point of her sword bursts a weak link in the riveted mail and slides all the way through the adept's chest, only stopping when it encounters the armour at his back [the damage roll and the armour roll were both a 6; 4-2=2 damage, dropping him to -1 Stamina]. The sorceress' eyes flash in triumph as his corpse slides off the end of her blade.

Ilog appears at her side, and turns the lifeless Ensevektu over with his booted foot. "I'd hoped to be the one to strike the killing blow," says the barbarian, "but I'll not quibble. My vengeance is satisfied."
The barbarian stands guard as other three pause to bind their wounds. [F & K both succeed at their healing rolls, recovering 2 Stamina (up to 7 & 8 respectively. G rolls a natural 2! +4 Stamina to 8].

Their blood staunched, the priest and sorceress cannot help but examine the icy sarcophagus in great detail, peering through its smooth, limpid surface with the utmost cupidity.

[examining sarcophagus (rolls at -1 for obscurity)--

F Religion Lore 6+2-1=7: 2d6=5, success
K Magic Lore 5+1-1=5: 2d6=7, fail
and her Second Sight 5+1=6: 2d6=4!

Q: What sort of godling is it? Joyfully / Lethal
1d6: 1-2 m, 3-4 f, 5 hermaphroditic, 6 other; 3 (rolled much earlier, obvs.)]
Fhenteskeer is almost at a loss for words. "I... I cannot believe it. The whispers! The legend! All true. This is -- dare I pronounce the name? -- Vidzqissu, She-whose-glance-brings-annihilation."

"Who?" asks Grebdal Themp, immediately regretting the question.

"A minor goddess -- or demoness -- who took such perverse delight in destruction that the Lords of the Pit themselves imprisoned her, lest she unmake the entire kosmos."

"Such power radiating from the ice," says Ksandajja. "I've never seen a binding such as this! I'd say that unless that madman knew something we don't, there was little chance  of him freeing her."

"I hate to seem like the stereotypical barbarian," says Ilog, "but ancient entombed demonesses make me nervous. Let's leave this chamber before she starts whispering at us through the confines of her prison."

"The rest of you don't hear her?" says Ksandajja. "Just a joke! Trying to lighten the mood... Come on, let's get out of here whilst there's still feeling in our extremities."

Her companions' faces lose their sudden expressions of shock, and Grebdal Themp even chuckles at her little jest. For it was just a jest, was it not? That sighing in her ear -- it must surely have been the wind. Yes, merely the wind.

T7 : treasury - crazed merc - random (Hopelessly / Beautiful)

They make a hasty exit into the courtyard and take the passageway leading away from the ruins' centre. The passage has been recently cleared of obstacles, and a confusion of footsteps in the dust show it to be frequently travelled. A little way down it comes to an opening in the wall.

Peering inside they see a storeroom of sorts in an enclosed chamber; Ilog recognises some of the containers from his first expedition. The storeroom is guarded by a [d6=] woman in a chain byrnie with her back to the entrance. She is standing before a statue of beautiful [d6=]youth, mumbling sweet nothings to it interspersed with cruel imprecations, alternately playful and scornful that her affections are not returned. Beside her on a stone shelf is a small chest, in which the glint of gold can be seen.
The woman seems entirely oblivious to the intruders. Grebdal Themp slinks into the room, delicately takes the chest from the shelf, and pads back out again [Sneaking roll 2d6=3, success]. The guard is none the wiser, having eyes only for her beloved. By the doorway, Grebdal Themp helps himself to a sack as an afterthought.

The explorers retreat a safe distance with the spoils. The little chest holds a quantity of gold coins and jewellery, but Grebdal Themp seems intent on closing it. "I'd feel better if we counted it when we're well away here." The others nod assent.

Grebdal Themp is about to dump the contents of the sack on the ground when Ilog stops him. "These are trail rations from the expedition." They divide up the [2d6=8] provisions, stow the chest in the sack, and head once again down the passage.

[Q: Any problems getting out? unlikely (5+): O4 C3 - no, but... one more turn before exit]

T8 : lab - random - scrolls

At the end of the passage is an open chamber with a smooth stone floor, in which a makeshift laboratory has been set up. On a slab in the centre lies an unwholesome corpse, with the body of a humanoid lizard and an ape's head. Fortunately the cold has kept it from decomposing, but the shrivelled thing still provokes a wave of nausea in the onlookers. And thus it is that they do not see the [random element= Bravely / Small] tiny WINGED GREMLIN flit out from behind a pillar and throw a glass vial in their direction.

The vial sails right over their heads and shatters in the passageway behind them, releasing a cloud of greasy red smoke, but the explorers have rushed through the doorway in an instant, out of danger. The gremlin hisses in annoyance and flits round their heads, swiping down at them with needle-like claws. Then a second later it is a wet smear on the ball of Ilog's morningstar.

[The PCs had to each Test their LUCK to avoid the poison gas, and all succeeded. Ilog hit the Gremlin for 4 damage in a single stroke, killing it.

Q: Do the scrolls contain the secret to sunder the prison? 50/50 (4+): O1 C2 - no, and... are worthless

The PCs find 1d6=5 herbs/potions as loot (1-2 potion, 3-6 herb): 1,2,4,5,4 - 2 potions, 3 herbs.]

The explorers make a cursory examination of the laboratory, finding a pair of elixirs and some dried herbs which might have some value. There is a pile of scrolls which Ksandajja peruses eagerly, but is both disappointed and disgusted to find they are evidently Ensevektu's notes on the physiology of the gretch and the krell.
Ilog wants to burn this abominable room, and Fhenteskeer is elated at the proposition. Ksandajja offers up the horrible scrolls as kindling, and after they have all clambered out a small window into the jungle, the priest invokes his blazing god Filash; the blaze quickly consumes the mad sorcerer's unspeakable works.

[Q: Do they have a quiet night? 50/50: O5 C5 - yes
+Event: NPC action (Ilog) - Propose / Goals]

They make camp a good distance from the temple complex. The jungle heat is almost a comfort after the frigid terror of the place.

Before the daylight fades, they set about examination of their plunder. The little chest is found to contain 90 gold coins, and various bits of silver and copper jewellery which Grebdal Themp estimates to be worth about half that [45gp]. There is also a mirror backed with gold and a glowing pink crystal, for both of which Ksandajja voices an immediate desire as they are tools of her Art.

None of them are versed in Herb Lore, so the value of the dried herbs is unknown to them.

The elixirs are handed over to the sorceress that she may scrutinise them with her expert eye. The first is a clear glass phial in which a roiling green vapour is seen. "I've no idea what this does," admits the sorceress. "Someone has oh-so-helpfully written 'green gas' on the label, but..."

"Perhaps we'd best get rid of this second one," offers Grebdal Themp. "Its label reads 'rabies'."

"No, let me see that," says the sorceress, excitedly snatching the ruddy elixir from he companion. "It's not 'ra-bies'," she says, enunciating each syllable. "It's written in ancient Allansian: 'ra-bi-es', meaning 'fury'. It's a berserker's draught."
[Many dice were rolled for the treasure.

The contents of the chest were determined using the AFF treasure table, rolling at +3:
jewellery worth 50gp
sorcery component: gold backed mirror

Grebdal Themp made a successful Evaluate roll on the jewellery.

The pink crystal is the Energy Crystal reward from the SS&SS adventure generator. It is a one use item providing up to 4 STA/MP for a single spell; it shatters when used.

The potion labels were determined with my Drink Me system:

Two potions were found together (+1) and were the property of a wizard (+1) so there was a 3-in-6 chance for each to be labelled. d6=1,2 : both labelled

Two random potions: green gas & potion of rage

The 1st was written in the Common language. The second was written in a scholarly language, ancient Allansian (here played by Latin). I gave Ksandajja an Ancient Allansian roll at +2 to make the connection, which she easily passed (needing 11-).

The potions, whilst not technically carried by an NPC, were found in his lab (as opposed to in a random treasure hoard), so the labels will be truthful on a 1-5 on 1d8.

Ksandajja used her Magic Lore to attempt to identify the potions (needing 6-): 2d6=9,3. She's not sure about the gas, but knows the potion of rage is the definite article.

I'd recently bought the Titan Herbal, but none of my PCs have had a chance to pick up Herb Lore, and all missed their rolls (-4 for lack of skill) to identify the random plants: jheera, sandalwood, & canefruit.]

Other than the mirror and crystal which go to the sorceress ("I relinquish all claim to the rest of the treasure," says she), their plunder is secured in the chest to be apportioned once they've gotten somewhere safely out of the jungle.

"Speaking of getting out of the jungle..." begins Ilog cautiously.

"You had something in mind?" says Fhenteskeer.

"There is a sage in the city of Drammub who oft employs me. I shall see if he has any work for me. And mayhaps spend some of that treasure in the city. If you've nothing more pressing, perhaps you'd care to accompany me. What say you all?"

"I just so happen to be going towards the desert," says Ksandajja, "so I shall certainly accompany you."

[I rolled Ilog's proposition using the SS&SS adventure generator as a springboard. The Supporting Character result was Sage, which seemed best as the actual 'quest-giver' (normally I roll for NPC gender, but I have a great picture I've been saving up for a sage, so...). The sage will reveal most the rest of the results. The only other result which has immediate bearing is Location: Raider-Inhabited Desert. Not that Ilog knows exactly where they're going, but it did cause me to add a city to my map (Drammub) on the edge of the desert for the sage to reside in.

Ksandajja's path was always going to be through the desert, but what of the other two?

Q: Do G&F like the idea? 50/50 (4+): O4 C4 - yes, but... need convincing
+Event: Move toward a thread - Develop / A project (helping I will assist in her quest more than just geographically)

Ilog needs a Leadership (7+1) test to convince others to come: 2d6=7, success.]

Grebdal Themp looks quizzically at Fhenteskeer, whose face shews some displeasure at the notion.

"Of course," says the barbarian firmly, "I also intend to take my tale of that accursed temple and its imprisoned demon to him. He'll know if there be any danger, or if we can let the matter slip quietly back into oblivion. I should never be able to rest if I thought such evil could be unleashed upon the world."

"In that case," says Fhenteskeer, "we are honour-bound to join you."

[With food & rest, everyone regains 6 STAMINA. And they get back 1 point of LUCK since they vanquished evil -- everyone is back to full Stamina, but not Luck.]

After a blessedly restful night and a breakfast of purloined PROVISIONS, they strike camp and prepare to head deeper into the jungle.
next post: safe haven or deathtrap?

No comments:

Post a Comment