Monday, 12 April 2021

Mörk Borg solo - Part 5 : « Vous n'êtes qu'un orgueil menti par les ténèbres »

"I agree, we should leave," says Vesania, "but let the lich get a head start. We don't want to antagonize it any further."

They wait by the door. Wait, wait, wait... and as they wait, untold aeons pass. Whole galaxies of stars coalesce from whirling cosmic dust and die in cataclysms of fire, and still the explorers are sat by the cathedral door, waiting in lugubrious silence. Or maybe its only been, like, half a minute or so.

"Maybe we could make better use of our time and poke round the other side of the cathedral," offers Doctor Sêps. [DR 10 Presence d20+0=13, ok]

The others readily assent, and head for the nearest side chapel.

[Q: What's it like? Calmly / Abnormal
Q: What about it is abnormal? lay / society]


The chapel is nearly the mirror image of the one on the other side. The carvings do not depict exactly the same mix of saints and sinners, but this small detail is lost on the travellers who have merely dismissed them as too bulky to loot and too hard to sell. And besides, their attention is more suddenly arrested by the group of [1d6+1=] half a dozen peasants praying serenely before the idols, seemingly oblivious to the intrusion. [reaction=8, Indifferent]
"Who are you?" blurts out a surprised [d5=] Uth.

A middle-aged woman in mud-caked rags detaches herself from the rest. "We are farmers from Schlammau, come for our weekly devotions."

"But this cathedral hasn't been here a week."

"Oh, good King Fathmu must have built it summat quick. And it's nice to see some new interest in religion in the parish. Canon Horvik's sermons were getting a bit repetitive, I fear."

"Who're you talking to, mother?" says a bedraggled middle-aged man. "Och! will ye look at them. 's no need for carrying such an arsenal on a holy day." [hostile - submission - weapons]

"Come, father, mustn't be judgemental. Even the good King's soldiers need the comforts of religion."

"Aye, mother, that they do. That they do. Strangers, will ye light a candle and say a prayer with us?"

The explorers mumble excuses and back away...

[Q: Can they get out without a problem? 50/50 (4+): no, but...

The problem is Threateningly / Disgusting; d6=2 zombies

The PCs can roll their best Presence (+2) DR8 to avoid surprise: 4+2=6, failure]


...right into the path of two shambling corpses. They lunge at Uth and Vesania, who both manage to sidestep the plodding onslaught [19+0, 12+1 both defend].
[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
Törzug smacks the one that attacked Uth with her crowbar, but only tears off a bit of already-dangling flesh from its side [hit for d4=1 damage, but its dead flesh is worth -d2 armour, so 0 damage]. Uth crashes her own crowbar down on the zombies bald pate, and with a wet pop reduces its skull to a sickly porridge [critical hit; d4x2=8 damage, -d2=1; 7 damage destroys it].

Irtinj swings his great Bidenhänder at the other zombie, but the point just barely scrapes along its shoulders [2-1=1 damage, dropping it to 6hp]; at least he didn't hit his friends with the massive blade. Neither Doctor Sêps nor Vesania get close enough to score a hit, nor do the zombies clutching claws find their mark [miss, miss, defend].

[Round 2]
The zombie is surrounded now, though half the combatants fighting over the tops of pews mean few strikes land home, and those that do (Irtinj's & Törzug's) do little more than cosmetic damage to the stinking corpse [I 2-2=0, T 1-1=0 damage]. The thing makes a vicious lunge at Vesania with sapping, frothing jaws, and sinks its teeth into her upper arm [2 damage puts her 6hp].

[Round 3]
Irtinj gives it another love-tap with his Zweihänder, apparently [3-1=2 damage]. Törzug cannot reach it from her position [miss]. Doctor Sêps merely continues to be useless [miss].

Vesania changes her grip on her femur-club, and smashes it into the zombie's  forehead in an attempt to dislodge it from her arm. Her plan meets with mixed success, for, whilst she does knock it free and send it staggering back several steps, it comes away with a sizeable chunk of meat from her arm and shreds of last season's haute-couture still clenched in its gory maw. [She hit for 3-1, dropping it to 2hp. She also rolled a Fumble on her Defence, taking d2x2=4 damage, leaving her also with 2hp]

[Round 4]
The thing staggers right into Törzug's path, and she snaps its spine with a solid blow [4-1=3 damage, destroyed].

Despite loud affray, the screams, the curses, and crashing over of pews, the peasants are still happily praying in the side chapel. One or two look over at the commotion, but just smile beatifically and go immediately back to their devotions.

Doctor Sêps finally proves his worth by patching up Vesania's grisly wound with supplies from his medicine chest [healing d6=5, back to 7hp]. "There," he says triumphantly, "good as new!" But inwardly he wonders if she'll live another 48 hours, as there is no known cure should the wound become infected [She needs to roll a DR 8 Toughness test to avoid death in 2 days: 16+2=18, success].

"Perhaps," opines Irtinj, "it's time to leave now."

The others concur. They hurry down the centre aisle to the entrance and slip out through the heavy doors.

[Q: Is the donkey still there? unlikely (5+): O2 C1 - no, and... not a trace]

They note with some disappointment that Törzug's donkey has vanished without a trace -- and all their provisions in its pack along with it.

[Q: Any problems leaving? unknown d6=5: O2 C3 - no, but...]

They make straight for the crater wall, intent only on the climb out. It is only luck that Vesania hazards a look back at the cathedral, and sees the St Kurthurn's Wheel charging with unholy energy. Thus it is that she leaps out of the way just in time, as the ray of grey light vaporises the rock where she had been standing. [random target, d5=V. DR 16 Defence roll -  d20+1=16, ok]
The travellers find a less-marshy patch of ground on which to make "camp". The night is long, cold, and miserable, but at least free of encounters with fiends, roving bandits, or petulant undead sorcerers.

[They have no food, so no hit points are regained from rest. Irtinj had depleted all his Omens, so gains d2=1 for resting 6 hours.]

Day 4 - d20=18, no Misery - weather: Irritating drizzle

The weary travellers trudge back across the sodden plain. A steady drizzle ensures they are all completely soaked through, sniffly, and shivering at all times. Their stomachs rumble from lack of food, but they must stop occasionally to rest, licking water from leaves and grass, or drinking from the less murky puddles.

[d6=1, a random encounter. LC: Loudly / Defeated]

About midday (though you'd never know it to look at the grey, heavy sky) they come upon a [d6=] man clad in a full suit of ornate, but very functional, plate armour. He is sitting in the mud beside his shattered shield, dented helm, splintered lance, and bent sword, loudly bewailing his fate.

[reaction 2d6=5, Angered]

His head snaps round when he sees he is no longer alone on the plain.

"What are you peasants looking at?" shouts the knight, choking back his sobs. [hostile - resentment - the character]

"What a sad figure you are, sitting in the mud!" laughs Uth.

"If I still had my sword, I'd make you eat those words. Or rather my spear -- I'd not profane my sword on the likes of you." [hostile - combat - equipment]

Törzug isn't having it. She levels her crossbow and looses a bolt, which punches right through the mail protecting the knight's hip joint. He shrieks and passes out, falling back into the mud with a clanking squelch.

[d20=19, hit. d8=8 -d6=6, 2 damage; he has 2d8=2hp left, 0 hp=broken -- broken limb (left leg). can't act for d4=3 rounds then back with d4hp.]

Q: Does the knight have any valuables? Unlikely (5+): O3 C2 - no, but... (just a roll on the corpse plunder table.]

None of the others bat an eye. They continue past the knight on their dreary way. Irtinj pauses only briefly to snatch the knight's purse from his belt, which contains the princely sum of [d66=] 65 silver coins. They hear the knight come round as he begins to spew out his impotent rage against the glowering heavens. No one looks back.

Back at the henge temple, they find their friend the monk hunched over the body of one of the other coenobites, worrying his blood-drenched stomach. The monk looks up with dead eyes, intestines trailing from his mouth, then stands and rushes towards the arrivals to add them to the feast. He leaps into their midst, and is soon beaten down in the mud.

But the monk fights on, and chews through Irtinj's boot, biting deep into his ankle before Törzug's final blow crushes his skull.

[It was a 3 round fight with SO MANY missed attacks. Irtinj is bitten for d2=2 damage. DR8 Toughness: 11+0=avoids sickness

Q: Do the monks have anything of value? Unlikely (5+): O1 C4 - no, but...
Q: How far from Schleswig are they? d10=5 days

The PCs' best Presence (+2) vs. DR10 to find enough unspoilt food: 10+2=12, ok]


The once-pious monks must have had a vow of poverty, for there is nothing worth stealing in the henge temple. The explorers do manage to find a significant quantity of unspoilt food, which, whilst all unappetising mushroom-slop, should suffice for the rest of the journey to Schleswig. They also help themselves to the monks' sleeping mats and threadbare blankets, which are almost proof against the night's cold and damp. Irtinj and Vesania help themselves to some vellum rolls, intending to peruse at their leisure.

They make camp well away from the henge, lest any more undead are on the prowl.

Day 5 - drizzle, no encounters, no Misery
Day 6 - idem


For the next two days they trudge over blighted, muddy fields. The drizzling rain never stops, and they don't see a single living creature -- nor, fortunately, an undead one.

Day 7 - no Misery

The next day the rain finally ceases, and the air becomes marginally warmer. Thunder booms as the grey clouds race overhead.

[d6=1, encounter. LC: Defiantly / Poor]

After a few leagues' travel they smell smoke on the breeze. They march on and soon come upon its source. A tiny village of a few dozen houses has been burnt to the ground, most likely by King Fathmu's soldiers. Not a soul stirs in the wreckage, and the travellers continue past unmolested.

[Q: Anyone still about? Unlikely (5+): O2 C7 - no]

Day 8 - dead quiet, no encounters, no Misery
Day 9 - no encounters, no Misery


The next day is eerily quiet. The travellers fear the noise of their clomping boots must be audible for miles through the stillness. But they journey alone through endless plains of mud and weeds as the world holds its breath.

On the 9th day their clothes are finally dry and free of the damp. And so with a peal of thunder the sky opens up in torrents as they finally come in sight of the imposing gates and slender spires of the sad-but-gaudy city.
finis.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Mörk Borg solo - Part 4 : « Ouvrez au fossoyeux / Qui claque à votre porte »

The iron stair twists upwards into the spire, and resounds with every incautious footstep, every insouciant clatter of arms against its rail. Törzug leads the way with her crossbow, though it be little help against the skeletal servants of the dread lich, whilst Irtinj brings up the rear, hoping he need not attempt to fight in these cramped quarters with his Zweihänder.

[Other than the very top, I had no opinions on what would be in the spire, so I couldn't fill out more Location Crafter lists. The randomised location crafting rules in Mythic Magazine 2 hadn't come out yet, so I had to improvise. So...

Each of the 1d4+1=3 levels will have the usual LC Location-Encounter-Object schema, with 2 Random elements and one Special, as determined by the following roll:

Special element is (d10): 1-4 location, 5-6 encounter, 7-10 object

And to help with the interpretation of encounters/tricks/traps/etc., I asked the Oracle--

Q: Has the lich been all the way to the top? 50/50 (4+): O7 C6 - yes. So, no locked doors or unattended magic items.]


Level 1

Location: Aggressively / Disagreeable
Encounter: Special, MULTI-ELEMENT: Judgementally / Watery, Violently / Watery
Object: Perfectly / Dark
At the top of the stair is a low stone archway, situated in the corner of a square chamber taking up the whole space of the tower. The air has a strong and bitter and smell which stings the eyes and burns the nose, but after a few moments to wipe their tears away, the explorers are free to examine the squat marble font in the middle of the chamber which forms its only furnishing. The font's basin is a smooth, one metre diameter depression filled to the brim with perfectly clear, still water. A fist sized black pearl is submerged in the centre.

[Rolling the party's best Presence to examine the pool DR12: d20+2=21, success]

The explorers crowd round the font, and stare covetously at the pearl, but not a one makes a move toward it. Finally, wiping away yet another effusion of tears from her eyes, Uth says, "I don't think that's just water."

There is murmured assent, then they file out into the archway in opposite corner from whence they entered, in which is another twisting staircase of iron.

[It was indeed not water, but some sort of acid or toxin. And there was some sort of water weird-esque monster in the pool which only attacks if disturbed. But the PCs surmised the lich would have taken the pearl if it hadn't been so dangerous, and decided to leave well enough alone.]

Level 2

Location:
Ruthlessly / Lonely
Encounter: Fearfully / Ancient
Object: special, EXIT HERE: Daintily / Hard
The next level of the spire is laid out as a bedchamber, and has the stale reek of a sickroom. Drooping wooden furnishings line the walls. White sheets have haphazardly been thrown across some of them, and he exposed surfaces are nearly as white from dust. The  sagging bed in one corner seems larger than it is due to the shrivelled and withered form of its inmate, whose sallow and wrinkled visage betrays no hint of gender, and in fact leaves the onlookers with some doubts as to the invalid's species.

[reaction=5, Angered]

A tremulous hand emerges from beneath the soiled bed linens and points feebly in the direction of the explorers.

"Go away!" croaks the invalid. "You aren't wanted here!"

"Please," says Doctor Sêps, "do not be alarmed. I am a Doctor of Physick. Let me find a tonic for your ills."

[DR14 Presence to calm the invalid: d20+0=13, fail]

The invalid sniffs derisively. "Your friend was nosing about, nearly killed us all. He said he couldn't die, but then he left! He's going to die and so will you. Now leave before you ruin it for us all." [UNE: hostile - death - enemy]

[To notice the Special Object, I rolled a DR18 Presence for all PCs: only V succeeds (with a natural 20!)]

As Doctor Sêps squabbles with the invalid, Vesania's attention is arrested by a faint noise coming from across the chamber. She follows the sound to a shrouded bit of furniture, and peeks curiously behind the sheet. Underneath is a free-standing mirror with an elegantly-carved frame of gilded hardwood. But the glass shews no reflection -- it is a portal to beyond.

The skeletal figure of a Death Angel hovers on the other side of the glass in an awful void, a vast emptiness and lightlessness beyond understanding. It pounds against the glass, the dull thuds of its bony fists just barely audible. It stops when it sees Vesania, exhales a frost onto the glass and begins tracing out a message with one osseous talon.
[DR8 Presence to read it: d20+2=11, success]

The message reads: LET ME THOUGH TO COLLECT THE OLD ONE'S SOUL, AND I SHALL REWARD YOU [scheming - means - power]

[Q: Is this an absolutely terrible idea? Unknown

Presence DR12 to guess if this is a terrible idea (roll d6 to know the odds); DR 16 to know for certain (roll odds and Oracle result before making a decision): d20+2=14

1d6=4 50/50 odds]


The invalid is shrieking now but Vesania can't hear. Maybe her friends are screaming too. Do they see beyond the pane as does she? No matter. She hefts the femur in her hand and smashes it into the mirror's surface. The shards of glass are sucked inwards as the pressure in the room drops suddenly.

The death angel grasps the edges of the mirror frame in its skeletal claws and pulls itself bodily into the chamber. It pauses to unfurl its majestic, rotten wings, filling the space as it looms over the terrified mortals cowering in the sudden cold.

[Q: So, was this an absolutely terrible idea? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - no, and... there will be a reward as promised.

Reward (1d8): 1 sacred scroll, 2 unclean scroll, 3-4 misc. power, 5-6 extra omen per day, 7-8 extra life; d8=8]


"My sincerest gratitude," rasps the Death Angel, "for aiding me to capture this fugitive who has so long escaped the fate that must come to all mortals. There be none but that in the end comes into our eternal embrace, yet for this great service to us I grant you a single reprieve."

So saying, it snatches the invalid bodily from the bed and returns through the mirror, disappearing into the terrible void.

[Vesania can avoid death once, waking after 10 rounds with d4hp (as the Gutterborn Scum power, a but single use only, 100% successful, and with no cost against Power uses per day).]

After a few moments of stunned silence, wherein Vesania's companions choke back any reproofs they may have had for her rash behaviour, the explorers head up the next staircase.

Level 3

Location:
Offensively / Lovely
Encounter: Cautiously / Empty
Object: special, REMOVE ELEMENT (=none)
The room above is filled floor-to-ceiling with twisted iron sculptures, abstract but somehow obscenely suggestive. It is difficult to move between them without tripping over jutting bars or getting clothes caught on sharp and pointed ends, but somehow the explorers thread their careful way through the room to the stairwell in the opposite corner and ascend to the space at the very top.

[It was a DR8 Agility test to get through without incident, and weirdly all the PCs made the roll]

Top floor : the Consciousness Organ

Suspended from the apex of the spire, a net made of chains cradles an elephant-sized mass of raw red flesh. It shivers all over at random intervals, causing the chain net to rattle and droplets of viscous brown fluid to drip down. The droplets are caught in an iron funnel and sucked down the central hole by unseen bellows below. Iron pipes run from below the funnel up to the ceiling, where the fluid is dripped from nozzles back onto the flesh.

[It's reaction roll 2d6=7, neutral]

The flesh shivers in a staccato, prolonged way. The explorers hear its words in their minds.

Are you the new priests?

"No, uh, travellers," says Doctor Sêps.

"We're pilgrims!" offers Irtinj.

[DR12 Presence to lie convincingly: d20-1=13, success]

The other one is not to be trusted. If you seek the blessing of the Divine Ekphysis you will discover his plans and reveal them to me. [inquisitive - command - antagonist]

"Why, er, what makes you certain he cannot be trusted?" asks the Doctor.

He is clad in death and unwholesome feelings.

"He says you are come to destroy our world."

I am here to aid life by destroying the enemies of Hope. [aid / life]

[DR6 Presence not to be swayed by the thing: all PCs succeed]

The explorers back away slowly, then scurry towards the steps.

[Q: Does it let them go? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - yes, but...]

Doctor Sêps is slowest off the mark, and sees his comrades disappearing don the staircase ahead of him. He fells an unearthly force pulling at him, seizing him from within. A quantity of blood is pulled through his veins and bursts out the skin on his back, where it is strained through his clothing and armour then splashes out and up onto the flesh. He doesn't look back, but by the time he reaches the bottom step he feel weak and unsteady.

[He'd rolled the lowest Agility test to escape: T15 U4 I18 S3 V20. He took d8=1 damage and suffers and -1 Toughness from anaemia until at least 1 good meal & sleep.]

The trip back through the sculpture room is easier this time [DR6 now they've done it, all succeed]. When they come back to the sickroom, they find that the temperature has dropped to an uncomfortable level, and frost crystals are glinting on all the dusty furnishings.
"We can't leave this mirror-portal here like this," says Irtinj. "I'm going to destroy it. Who'll help me?"

"Not I, certainly," says Vesania.

Törzug and Uth heft the mirror sideways onto the floor so Irtinj can bring his Zweihänder down upon the frame in a powerful overhead swing.

[DR6 Strength : 3+0=fail]

The sword crashes down onto the wood, chipping it a bit but otherwise ricocheting off harmlessly.

[Q: Any backlash? Likely (3+): O1 C7 - no. He can try again.]

"It's more solid than I expected," he mutters, and raises his blade for another stroke. He brings the sword down again with a terrific crash, and bits of shattered blade skitter across the stone floor [rolled a 1].

"Let's take this as a hint, shall we?" says Vesania, as Uth and Törzug put the mirror face down on the floor.

"So what now?" asks Uth. "I don't trust that... that thing."

"But who do you trust?" asks Törzug. "That undead thing?"

"It didn't try to harm us," says Vesania. "Or hinder us in any way."

"I wouldn't trust it either!" says Irtinj.

"And the Fraternity of the Sun? What about them?" asks Törzug.

"Now that you mention it, they did rather over-sell the prospect of riches."

"I'm starting to feel a bit had," says Vesania.

"What if we just left?" asks Uth. "Get away from this place and pretend we never saw it. Safer to not get involved."

[Since they're new PCs, I'm not entirely sure what they want, so I made a quick d10 table to let the dice decide.

The options are Run away (R), side with Lich (L), stay and look for Treasure (T), and stay and look for Clues to what's going on (C).

    R    L    T    C
T  1-2  3-4  5-7  8-0
U  1-7   8    9    0
I  1-3   4   5-9   0
D  1-3  4-5   6   7-0
V   1   2-5  6-7  8-0
]


The debate goes in circles for a little while, then they decide to put it to a vote. Törzug and Uth would rather leave, Irtinj and Vesania think it best to talk to the lich (but for very different reasons!), and Doctor Sêps just wants to know what's going on in this place. Uth and Vesania, representing the opposing camps, do their best to sway him [+2 Presence for  both, so best roll of d20], and in the end he thinks getting out now, whilst they still have all their limbs, is decidedly the safer course of action.

They begin to descend towards the cathedral entrance.

[Q: Any random encounters on the way down? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - yes
Awkwardly / Disgusting -  zombie

Reaction=8, indifferent]


They meet a solitary shambling corpse on the balcony, but it stands aside to let them pass.

"I think the lich told its servants not to attack us," says Vesania.

"I still don't think we should throw in with it," says Uth, "no matter how much it reminds you of your new pal."

[Q: Does the lich find them? unknown d6=6: O6 C2 - yes, and...
reaction 2d6=5, Angered]


They make it all the way back to the vestibule without encountering anything else, living or dead. But as they come out before the grand entrance, they find the lich standing before them, arms crossed in an attitude of supreme peevishness.

"You were just going to slink out? How disappointing."

"We're, um, we're in over our heads here," says Uth.

"You spoke with it, didn't you?"

"We did!" ventures Vesania. "It said you were 'clad in death and unwholesome feelings' and were here to 'destroy the enemies of Hope'."

"Do you want to know what it told me?" [knowing - telling - knowledge]

"Please."

"It said it was here to raise an army of the dead [employ / Ghost] with which to conquer the world. It offered me a generalship."

"Oh. That's odd," says Vesania.

"You didn't accept?" asks Irtinj cautiously.

"I think it told me what I wanted to hear. That is, what it assumed I wanted to hear."

"Hmm," begins Vesania. "Us too, I think. It charged us with finding out your plans if we wanted its blessing."

"My plans are to leave this place and not return unless I find a good reason for so doing. [scheming - arrangement - experience] Tell it if you want. I don't recommend it."

"Where will you go?"

"I've nothing against you, but this doesn't make us friends. Should our paths someday cross again, I could hardly promise you'd survive the encounter." [prejudiced - view - future action]

"I see. Let us detain you no further."

[Q: Does the lich leave immediately? Certain (2+): O5 C4 - yes, but...]

The lich turns to go, but pauses in the doorway and looks back. "Perhaps we will have use for each other again someday. Stranger things have happened. Daily, it seems... but for now, adieu." [scheming - plan - power]
 
"You see," says Uth, once the lich is trudging towards the crater rim, "even the undead think there's something wrong with this place."


next post: 'just one more room'

Monday, 22 March 2021

Mörk Borg solo - Part 3 : « Comme les meurtriers et comme les infâmes »

Having looted the body of their fallen comrade, they find that one of the cells is actually a short passageway leading to...

T6 : mechanism room - special - none
special: This is bad : none (nothing can live in here long)


...a cramped room filled with all manner of rusting iron machines. No one can immediately fathom the purpose of the mechanisms, and as they move in to examine them both Irtinj and Doctor Sêps take a sudden turn. The others also begin to feel some sort of unpleasant emanation from the corroded metal, and they make a hasty exit before they too succumb.

[The broken mechanism is leaking radiation/contagion. Everyone needed a DR12 Toughness check to avoid taking d3 damage and becoming Infected; Irtinj and the Doctor failed their rolls.]

T7 : chapter house - none - statue

They retreat back through the chapterhouse [as the dice would have it] and out to the passageway, which they follow into...


T8 : mechanism room - none - incense

...a second mechanism room, though this one is evidently in good repair. The machinery is clean, rust-free, and the air even smells nice. They approach with caution and, feeling no ill effects, puzzle over the device.

[DR16 Presence to figure it out -- only Uth makes her roll.

Q: What does it do? listen / horror]


"Ah!" exclaims Uth. "Suddenly it's so obvious. You just close these valves here, here, and here, then set these two sliders like so, and finally--"

The others are all too late to stop Uth from pulling the great iron lever. As she does, the machine whirs to life and a thunderous, screeching cacophony is heard to emanate from the direction of the cathedral's high altar. Uth slams the lever back into place to stop the noise.

[Q: Does anyone/thing come running? Likely (3+): O1 C5 - no]

Uth and her irritated companions watch the doorways with weapons at the ready until it seems certain that no one is coming to investigate.

T9 : vestry - d6 skeletons - statue

[Q: Ambush? Likely (3+): O6 C3 - yes, but... the party can test their best Presence at DR12 to avoid : d20+2=9, fail.

d6=5 skeletons, armed with knives (d4)]


A small, very plain wooden door leads from the mechanism room into a long and spacious vestry. A smallish wooden idol of a saint, executed in frankly poor taste, sits in an alcove on the far wall. Robes and raiment of all sorts, exquisitely if gaudily brocaded, hang from pegs on both sides of the room, smelling of dust, stale incense, and not a little mildew.

The explorers doubt there is much here of actual resale value, and as none of them are looking to update their wardrobes, they pass through the room after a cursory examination. Thus it is that they fail to notice the five animated skeletons hiding behind the vestments like naughty schoolboys, minus the giggling. The blood-drenched monsters rush forth from their concealment and fall upon the hapless explorers with wicked steel knives.
Both Uth and Doctor Sêps are stabbed in the back, but the blades are fortunately turned aside by their armour. Irtinj takes a nasty slash across his torso, and sinks senselessly to the ground. Vesania reacts in just enough time to parry the knife with her name on it [Defence roll 11+1 just succeeds]. Törzug throws a clumsy punch as she dodges her assailant's blade, though just as ineffectually.

[3 damage put Irtinj at 0hp exactly, so he needs to roll on the Broken table. He'll be unconscious for d4=1 round, and then awaken with d4 hp.

Törzug's defence roll was a natural 20, so she got to make a free attack -- but missed.]


[Round 1 - skeletons have the initiative]
Törzug takes a deep cut across her upper arm [2 damage, down to 2hp] as she takes the crowbar from her belt. Uth has her crowbar already in hand, and fends off her attacker, though her counter-attack is ineffectual.

Doctor Sêps faces two of the fiends. One merely scrapes its blade across his mail [2-2=0 damage]. The other makes a severe error of judgement, and gets its jaw smashed off by the good Doctor's staff [a natural 20 on his Defence roll: riposte hits for 3 damage], which then whirls about for a follow-up crack to the ribs [his actual attack also hit for 1 damage, leaving it with 2hp]. Vesania and her foe both feint, retreat, and feint again [defend, miss].

[Round 2]
Uth is hit a third time, and for a third time her armour turns aside the blow. She's almost mirthful as she belabours the frustrated undead with her crowbar [4 damage drops it to 3hp]. Doctor Sêps whirls his staff like a seasoned warrior, knocking back the knives of both his foes, then knocking off one of their heads [defend 2x, hits the injured for 4 damage, destroying it].

Neither Törzug, Vesania, or the skeletons they face do anything of note. Irtinj comes round, and climbs to his feet.
[Round 3]
Törzug gets knocked in the face by the pommel of a dagger [1 damage puts her at 1hp] and staggers back, but not before dealing a glancing blow to her attacker. Irtinj steps in and severs its head [5 more damage destroys it]. Uth and her skeleton size each other up for a moment [defend, miss] as Vesania crushes the ribcage of the thing facing her [she defends, hits for 4 damage], but it fights on. Doctor Sêps sweeps low with his staff, smashing through both legs at the knee. The skeleton falls to the ground and shatters [nat. 20: d4x2=8 damage, destroyed].

[Round 4]
[The remaining skeletons must check morale (ML8) 2d6=3, they fight on.]

Vesania presses her advantage, and her opponent soon lies in pieces at her feet. Törzug hangs back, as Uth and her skeleton poke at each other weakly. Irtinj's sword flashes behind them and Uth is nearly hit by the blade as it slices through the skeleton before her, ending the battle [d10=10 damage!].

After such a furious fight, the explorers need a few minutes to recuperate. Törzug is pleased to find her wounds were mostly superficial [resting heals d4=4, she's back up to 5hp (of 7)]. Doctor Sêps gives Irtinj a healing elixir which restores him to full health [d6=6, back to full 4hp, and his Infection is gone]. He uses a nostrum from his medicine chest on his own injuries [back to full 8hp, Infection cured].

T10 : altar (U) - random - statue
random: Coolly / Smelly


The door at the back of the vestry leads, unsurprisingly, to the altar. [d4=1] A dead monk is sprawled on altar, with ash-grey, drooping flesh and exuding the stench of rotten insides.

The wrought iron statue is larger than life, and is unutterably blasphemous in shape, depicting as it does a two-headed wyvern. Despite its size, the whole is [Mechanically / Small] formed of a myriad of intricate moving parts. Uth conjectures the bellows-like mouths must be the source of the sound from the machinery she'd activated.

As they are staring at it in rapt fascination, the monk's corpse come to life and crawls over to [d5=] Doctor Sêps, intent on taking a bite out of his leg -- though it merely succeeds in getting a mouthful of cloth and mail. The Doctor shunts it away with his staff and Irtinj severs its spine with a quick thrust of his sword.

And it is then they notice a glimmer of metal at the monk's belt; the monk has [Corpse Plundering table, d66] a Black Kergüs Dagger [2d4 damage] hanging by a cord.

Everyone's eyes go wide at the evil-looking treasure. They all want it so very badly, but aren't yet convinced that fighting all the others to the death is a particularly wise course of action. So they leave it in the hands of the Fates; they place the dagger on the floor, stand round it in a circle and give it a good spin. It comes to rest pointing at [d5=] Uth, who greedily snatches it up from the floor to admire her reflection in the cruel night-black blade.
T11 : complete - none - special

Behind the altar, at the very end of the choir, a low archway reveals a cramped spiral staircase leading up.

[As I mentioned before upper level is a separate LC Region, with its own tables (typed up again in a comment at the end), so the turn count also starts over.]
T0 : stairs - none - none

The stairs climb halfway to the grand vaulted ceiling...

T1 : balcony - none - none

...and empty onto a 5' wide balcony which extend most of the way round the perimeter of the cathedral. A low iron railing stands between the explorers and the dizzying fall to the floor far below. Above, shadows play amongst the arches of the high ceilings, and unearthly whispers can be heard [from the MB dungeon tables]. The explorers advance cautiously...

T2 : balcony - none - random
random: Miserably / Creepy


...and find the way blocked by a dead priest, whose expression is a frozen mask of horror. Irtinj beheads the corpse just to be safe. They step over the inert form...

T3 : balcony - none - random
random: Dimly / Interesting


...and continue along the balcony to find three large spools of iron chains. Each spool is furnished with lock and a crank by which the chain may be let out, lowering ornate glass chandeliers to the floor below to be lit. They continue slowly...
T4 : balcony - none - none

...along the balcony...

T5 : narrow walkway - d3 skeletons - ropes

...which narrows to but half its previous width. Stout ropes for some of the smaller chandeliers are here affixed directly to the railing. A single bloody skeleton bars the path, silently threatening with a rusty short sword.

[d6=party wins initiative]

Törzug, in the lead, thinks her crossbow a poor tool for this job, so decide to put her shoulder into it; she rushes bodily at the skeleton and tries to hurl it over the side.

[I let the skeleton attack, but her Defence roll succeeded. Throwing it over the side will require a DR 12 Strength test to accomplish, but if that fails she'll need to make a DR14 Agility test to retain her balance. d20+1=11 failure; she spends an Omen to reroll: d20+1=18]

The thing raises its sword in a feeble defence, then is propelled over the side of the rail by Törzug's charge. It falls through space for a few pregnant seconds, then shatters audibly against the marble floor.

T6 : balcony - none - window

The balcony widens again, and a tiny window is set into the wall...

[Q: Anything interesting to see outside? Unlikely (5+): O3 C2 - no, and...]

... but smoke and the glow from the crater obscures any view it might have afforded.

T7 : platform - none - ropes

Beyond is a platform in the corner of the structure, where many more chandelier ropes are tied round the rails, and a pair of chain spools are attached as well.

T8 : ring under cupola - none - window

At the end of the platform, the balcony continues, running its way round a cupola, whose vaulted ceiling is awash with religious imagery painted in the tawdriest of styles. Another window peers out into the haze.

T9 : complete - none - none

[I decided by GM fiat that the Nechrubel-worshipping lich (from the Who or what dwells here now? dungeon generation table) would be at the end of the 2nd level if not previously encountered, accompanied by d6 skeleton guards. The way the dungeon played out and the UNE conversation topics I rolled up made it clear that, rather than dwelling here, the lich was simply another explorer.]

At the far end of the ring is an opening, inside which narrow iron latticework steps lead up into the spire. Törzug stops short and holds up a hand to silence her comrades. "Listen! Footsteps on the stairs."

They back up a few paces, weapons at the ready. The sound of the plodding footsteps reverberating on the iron stairs reaches a crescendo, then a putrid corpse clad in tattered and rotten finery steps out onto the balcony, and a bloody sword-bearing skeleton right after.
The air round the ambulatory corpse fairly crackles with unholy energies, and its hollow eyes glower with sparks of cold light. The shreds of its robes, necklaces of copper and carnelian, and tarnished silver rings it wears are all caked with grave mould. There can be no question that the explorers are in the presence of a lich.

[Reaction=7, Indifferent
UNE: inquisitive - suspicion - rewards]


"Who are you?" it whispers through maggoty lips.

"We could ask you the same," says Doctor Sêps.

"You have an air of desperation about you. Is that what brought you to this place?"

"The Fraternity of the Sun tasked us with cleansing the evil from this benighted place."

"Surely not they?" it laughs. "They're naught but [Loudly / Damaged] a bunch of shouty madmen, worshipping a god that has plainly turned its back on the world. They must have offered you a fortune to come here." [prejudiced - discrimination - superiors]

"Well, er, no, not exactly..."

"What then? Do tell."

"They... they said there'd be treasure."

"Everything here is cold wrought iron, and broken down machines."

"We'd, er, noticed," says Uth.

"Why are you here?" interjects Vesania.

"The world must end. I thought perhaps the thing in this cathedral might hurry it along." [prejudiced - dislike - campaign]

"We shan't let that happen!" shrieks Irtinj.

[reaction=10]

The lich laughs out loud at the outburst. "Far be it from me to get in your way."

It stands aside with a curt bow and a sweeping gesture towards the stairwell. The explorers look at each other in consternation for a few moments, then wordlessly tramp up the stairs.


next post: staring into the abyss

Monday, 15 March 2021

Mörk Borg solo - Part 2: « Qui rêve en haut, jauni par le vitrail livide »

The cathedral that fell from the heavens sits smouldering in its crater, leaning at an oblique angle. It shines with a sickly light through the gloom, burning its image into the vision of all who behold it. The land ringing the crater is blackened and wasted for almost half a league, burnt away by the fiery descent.

[Day 3 - d20=12, no Misery - weather unchanged (Lifeless grey)]

The travellers break for lunch at the edge of the devastation. Mivls Törzug (with bow and crossbow) scout ahead to peer timidly over the crater's rim.

[DR 14 Presence tests to notice anything: M 2+1=fail, T 15+1=success
Q: Is anyone/thing about? Unlikely (5+): O5 C4 - yes, but... not dangerous]


Up close, the Cathedral shews itself to be a subtle parody of the Cathedral of the Two-headed Basilisks in Galgenbeck. Every line the wrong length, every angle a mockery, every arch and buttress a two-fingered salute raised against the Basilisk's sacred geometry.

Nothing stirs in the crater. Törzug can just make out the form of a diseased-looking horse tied up outside the cathedral's entrance. "There's someone else here," she sighs when she's gone back to inform the others. "We might have to fight for our plunder."

They advance as a unit to the rim of the crater, then stare down into the pit reticently. They feel the great round St Kurthurn's Wheel watching them like a malevolent eye. "Well, one of us has to go first," says Vesania and begins skittering down to the bottom, kicking up clouds of dust and ash. The rest are chastened by her bravura, and follow her down. Törzug is the last one in, dragging her recalcitrant donkey behind her.

[DR6 Agility to descend safely (or 1d6 dmg): all PCs make their rolls

Q: Does anything happen on the way down? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - yes, and... strike / punishment]


The St Kurthurn's Wheel begins to glow with ever-increasing intensity, and then lashes out through the dust and steam with a beam of grey light. [at d6=M; she gets a standard (DR12) Defence roll. 1d20+1=11, failure. Damage is d10=7; she'll spend an Omen to reduce it by -d6=5; 2 damage drops her to 3hp.] The blasts the soil right out from under Mivls' feet, and she takes a nasty tumble the rest of the way to the bottom.

The others look up at the Wheel in shock, and run straight inside as it begins charging again.

[Q: Does the horse do anything? 50/50 (4+): O3 C4 - no, but... it doesn't look right.]

Törzug is appalled by the noisome, leprous-seeming horse, and decides to tie her donkey up inside the entrance to the edifice. For once, the donkey does not resist her.

[To flesh out the dungeon, I had rolled on the One of the many bedevilled dungeons tables in the back of the MB rulebook:

What is it Called? Plague Temple
Status: still active
Imminent danger: A lethal mechanism is about to activate
Who or what dwells here now? Nechrubel-worshipping lich with a skeletal court
Distinctive feature: High ceilings, whispers in the upper dark

I mostly kept to the results, though some got slightly different interpretations as things developed.

To run the dungeon crawl, I turned to the Location Crafter. The LC results for each Turn (beginning on turn 0 to make it easier to track Progress Points) will be abbreviated as
T# : Location - Encounter - Object
. The ground floor, upper level, and spire are separate Regions (in LC parlance) so have separate lists. The ground floor is as follows--

I'll also type it out and put it in the comments to save having to scroll past it.]


 

T0 : expected - none - none

[Q: What do they glimpse up the aisle? Offensively / Scary]

The vast, vaulted interior of the Cathedral continues the wrongness of the exterior. No matter which way the travellers look, they are confronted by blasphemous images and iconography, everything a parody of the True Faith of Basilisks. The air is thick and bituminous, and not a single living creature can be seen in the dusty twilight. Sounds echo and are lost into the space above. Constant creaks and groans are heard faintly above all else -- but are they the sounds of the structure settling into its new foundations, or something else?

Uth considers lighting her lantern, but thinks better of it. There's just enough ambient light coming in through the grotesquely coloured stained glass to be able to read the inscriptions on the vestibule walls -- mostly the names of heretical and proscribed 'saints' -- and a lantern would seem more of a beacon announcing their presence to enemies than an aid for exploration.

T1 : vestibule - d3 skeletons - expected

Waking straight up the central aisle also seems like begging to be ambushed, so the travellers go through a smaller arched doorway on their immediate left into a small vestibule. Broken bits of wooden furniture litter the floor, through the midst of which a path has recently been cleared, as the scrapes and footprints in the dust attest.

As the travellers are idly poking through the bits of wood looking for brass fixtures to pocket, a pair of blood-soaked, impossibly silent skeletons slink into the room, attacking from the shadows. One reaches for Uth just as she is bending forward to examine the obscene figure on a carved arm rest. Its gory claws swish through empty space where her head had been just a moment prior. The second lunges for Irtinj but stumbles over a broken seat back, alerting him and giving him ample time to retreat out of reach.

[I gave them DR14 Defence checks to avoid the ambush, and both succeeded. Due to the debris and cramped quarters, the other PCs won't be able to join the fight until (d6=) round 5. d6=4, the party win the initiative]

[Round 1]
Uth raises her warhammer, and swings ineffectually at the skeleton, but if she cannot land a hit, at least she gives it no opening to counter-attack. Irtinj's Zweihänder describes a great flashing arc, forcing his opponent to make a similar retreat. [both miss, both make their Defence rolls]

[Round 2]
Please see round 1 for details.

[Round 3]
Irtinj opts for an overhead swing and a brave dash forward. The heavy blade smashes down on the skeleton's shoulder, shearing through the ribcage with a quick series of wet crunches [d10=7damage, destroyed]. The thing falls in two uneven halves to the floor and is still. Uth merely continues her martial dance with the other [miss, defend].

[Round 4]
With one down comes more space to manoeuvre. Uth crushes the grinning skull with the flat head of her warhammer at the same instant as Irtinj's sword bisects the spine. [d6=6 + d10=9 damage. Either hit was sufficient to destroy it]

Irtinj and Uth catch their breath whilst shooting daggers at the others for not helping, and are roundly ignored until they stop sulking.

T2 : expected - none - locked door

The skeletons came from the only passage leading out of the vestibule. It is empty, save for a stout wooden door at the end. The door proves to be locked; fortunately Törzug has the presence of mind to always keep a set of lockpicks on her person.

[DR16 Agility test to open the lock: d20+0=18, success]

She kneels before the door to work. Moments later there is a sharp click and the door swings inward to reveal...

T3 : side chapel - random - none
Random : Mechanically / Exotic


...a small side chapel, empty of furnishings save the marble altar on the long side wall and the carvings of saints and sinners in low relief. Two bizarre wrought iron beings or automata are here, looking like the insides of several clocks but somehow alive [Mechanically / Exotic]. They seem to be cleaning or perhaps grinding down the shrine with jerky movements of their various appendages. They are wholly apathetic to the presence of intruders in the chapel [reaction: 2d6=8, indifferent] so the travellers pass them right by, ducking through the narrow archway into...

T4 : side chapel - none - special
Special: d100=multi-element: fresco, incense


...an adjoining side chapel, somewhat larger than the first. Incense burns in an enormous (i.e. too heavy to loot) wrought iron censer suspended from the ceiling on a chain, filling the room with a pungent haze. It smells [Threateningly / Graceful] very expensive but mildly poisonous.

The walls are covered in al fresco paintings, flaking and faded with age, which narrate some important story or myth -- but what it means is far too obscure to readily piece together. Unless...

[DR14 Presence to interpret: all PCs fail their rolls. Vesania spends an Omen for a re-roll: d20+2=19]

Vesania has a flash of insight that, in keeping with the perversity of this place, the scenes are to be read back-to-front. In so doing she is able to narrate the following tale.
[The narrative is made up of 3x BOLD Waylays.

1. hard foes - monster; illuminating
solution= faction intervention]


"See, it starts here, with this glowing monstrosity. It slaughters everyone in its path and ravaging their cities. But an order of priests appear one day, and slay the monster with their magic.

[2. physical - labour; hallowed
solution= personal resources]


"The populace of the final remaining city are grateful to the priests, and build this cathedral with the rubble of their very houses.

[3. haven - hermit; haunting
solution= the authority]


"Then the priests cut out the heart-brain of the monster, and install it at the top of the spire, so that it becomes the genius loci of the cathedral," concludes Vesania.

"And for the good of our world, we'd ought to kill it," says Mivls.

"And take its stuff," adds Uth.

T5 : chapter house - random - statue
random=Dangerously / Macabre


They press onwards, leaving through another passage. A flimsy door in the wall catches their attention. Opening it reveals an extraordinarily Spartan charterhouse. The long rectangular central room contains only a sagging communal table lined with rotting benches. A hearth occupies the whole of the short wall near the entrance, and a [Very / Creepy] very creepy statue of an angel looms on the opposite side. The monastics' cells are but rudely hewn cubicles along the length of the outside wall.

As the intruders are debating whether or not to sift through the filthy, dried straw in the cells for treasure, a nightmare creature steps out of the furthest cell to meet them. The undead brute was once an ogre. Its skin has been peeled away, leaving it a mass of sinew and meat, now greyish and reeking with incipient putrefaction. The hands and forearms bones have been removed, and the distended muscles braided into whips and studded with rusty iron spikes.

[Stats as a Berzerker. d6=3, it wins the initiative. attacks 2 random PCs.]

The shock of its sudden appearance give it the advantage. It strides into the midst of the searchers and swings its spiky, meaty appendages in a whorl. Törzug is still backpedalling to raise her crossbow when the metal scraps tear through her shoulder, leaving three jagged but parallel rents [Defence roll 6+0, failure. She takes d8=3 damage, dropping her to 4hp].

Its other arm slaps Mivls on the crown of her head. The downstroke catches in her skin, removing her scalp and most of her face in a single shred of flesh. She expires quietly burbling at its feet. [Her Defence roll was a natural 1, fumble (double damage): d8x2=8, down to -5hp, dead]

Törzug looses a bolt from her crossbow moments later. It plunges into the beast's thigh with a squelch, but the thing barely registers the hit [Missile combat is a Presence test: 19+1 hits; d8=4 damage. Its insensate flesh counts as light armour, reducing damage by -d2=2; 2 damage leaves it with 11hp].

Irtinj steps in and swings his Zweihänder, barely nicking its stomach with the tip [14+0 hits, d10=3 -d2=2, 1 damage]. Vesania knocks it in sternum with the human femur she wields as a weapon [17+0 hits d4=3 - d2=2, 1 damage puts it at 9hp]. Uth's warhammer doesn't connect at all [8+1, miss].

[Round 2]
The ogre écorché flails about at all who draw near. Both Irtinj and Uth are hit. Irtinj feels iron shards bite through his neck, which to his elation fail to open any major arteries -- the Fates have surely smiled down upon him this day [he's hit for d8=6 damage, and elects to spend an Omen to reduce it by -d6=3. 3 damage puts him at 1hp]. Uth is hit squarely in the chest. The scale hauberk she wears may keep the rusty iron from slicing into her flesh, but the frock she wears over it for a bit of colour is positively ruined. Ruined, I say! [d8=3 - d4=4, no damage]

So incensed is she that she swings in a furious though ill-timed arc, smashing her warhammer into the paving stones with such force that the head snaps off and skitters across the floor [natural 1=fumbled attack; weapon breaks]. Irtinj's sudden brush with mortality has rather energised him for the better; his heavy blade bites deep into the ogre's shoulder, shearing off a gobbet of spoilt meat [d10=5 - d2=2; 3 damage]. Vesania smashes ribs apart with her femur [d4=3 - d2=1, 2 damage]. Doctor Sêps has been quietly slinking round behind the furious beast. Now he finds himself in position, and jabs the metal-tipped butt of his quarterstaff straight into the ogre's spine with a loud crunch [d4=4 - d2=2, 2 damage drops it to 2hp].

[Round 3]
The myriad cuts and jabs are slowing the noxious horror. It lunges and sweeps its arms at its assailants, but they are always just out of reach [attacks Irtinj & Vesania, who roll 17+0 and 11+1 respectively; both defend].

Irtinj has overextended, and cannot quite bring his sword to bear [miss], Uth is fuming and weaponless, and Vesania's strike is deflected off its solid hip bone [d4=1 -d2 =0 damage]. But the courageous Doctor, still behind, slams his staff into the base of its skull, caving it in with a wet pop [d4=4 -d2=1, 3 damage drops it to -1hp]. The ogre topples over and is still.

The battle ended, the victors take time to bid their injuries and wipe the stinking gore from their arms. [Törzug and Irtinj were both injured, so first must test Toughness DR8 to avoid contracting an Infection; T 7+3, I 16+0: both succeed. Thus, for binding their wounds, each recovers d4 hp: T +3 to full 7hp, I +2 to 3hp].

But the victory was not without cost. They gather round, and gaze down mournfully upon the bleeding, faceless corpse of Mivls. Doctor Sêps removes his cap in respect, and Törzug makes a reverent gesture over her fallen comrade.

"Does anyone wish to say any words?" asks the Doctor.

"Dibs on her bow," says Uth.
La morte di Mivls (after Gentileschi)



next post: more death and stuff

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Mörk Borg solo - Part 1: « Dans un Styx bourbeux et plombé / Où nul œil du Ciel ne pénètre »

Six figures trudge along a muddy track which cuts through the weed-choked Wästland plains. The air is damp and heavy, the sky the colour of the skin on the pale and bloated corpse the travellers passed one league back.

Yesterday they had been travelling with a caravan. But the caravan had vanished in the night, abandoning them in the wilderness. Now they slog onwards, bound together by necessity more than friendship, though not all are strangers.

[For my first foray into Mörk Borg, I decided to go totally random. The germ of the first adventure was rolled on the Even More Reasons to Risk One's Life tables at the back of the rulebook--

Where do you wander? In the poor Wästland countryside
Who (or what) contacts you? Monk who was bitten at night
Adventure spark: Movement in a black star’s crater

Other than their names, my six PCs were also completely random. They are by-the-book characters without classes, but with rolls on the optional Terrible Traits, Broken Bodies, Bad Habits, and Troubling Tales tables.

I also wanted to establish random character connections. Normally, I'd just use the tables in Zozer Games' Solo, but Mörk Borg's setting is so unremittingly grim that I felt I needed something stronger, so I made my own d66 table to use.

My toolbox for the campaign is--

The character sheets below are somewhat truncated to omit (currently) extraneous information. Classless characters all get 1d2 Omens to spend on re-rolls, which replenish after 6 hours rest. None of them started with any scrolls, so the (1d4+Presence) uses per day of Powers are similarly omitted. I didn't list food or water in the equipment, though everyone has some to start. The attributes are STRength, AGiLity, PREsence, and TOUghness. Armour is only noted for those who wear any; it provides damage reduction, and may increase the Difficulty Rating of Agility and Defence tests. The rest should be obvious.

Right, let's get on with it.]

Leading the band (in marching order, not moral authority) is a nihilistic woman who calls herself Törzug. That isn't her actual name, but the name of the woman whose identity she'd stolen. And who would know the difference, these days? for beneath the gilded mask she wears half her face has rotted away. Glimpsing the decayed skin peeking out from beneath the mask, no one really wants to get any closer to her -- though her state of constant aggravation and penchant for laughing at her own jokes may also be to blame. She drags a mangy donkey behind her.

Törzug
STR+1 AGL+0 PRE+1 TOU+3
Hit Points: 7
Weapons: crossbow +11 bolts (d8), crowbar (d4)
Backpack: metal file & lockpicks
Silver: 60


Behind her is Uth, whom she's only known a short while -- ever since that night in the in the cemetery outside Galgenbeck when they coincidentally tried to rob the same grave.

Uth is a lanky, frail-seeming lass [1 hp!] with wild hair. The ill-repaired scale byrnie she wears was certainly made for someone of greater stature. She has a tendency to lose items and forget facts, but can be quite shrewd when she isn't feeling too lazy to bother. Despite her frailty, there's a healthy pink glow to her cheeks -- matched by the less healthy red glow of her nose, which bespeaks her love of tipple. She's fun though.


Uth

STR+0 AGL+0 PRE+2 TOU-1
Hit Points: 1
Weapons: warhammer (d6)
Armour: Scale (med. -d4, +2DR AGL)
Backpack: lantern + oil for 8 hours, toolbox
Silver: 100


Today, however, she often glances behind herself, partly fearful that the golem tracking her will appear, and partly fearful of the next woman in the rank, Mivls, to whom she'd sold a lame mule.

Mivls is a shrivelled crone, wrapped head-to-to in a greying habit. Her sore-caked hands grip her bow and arrow; she worries too much to ever put them aside, for the golem seeks her as well. Mivls is deceitful, and an insecure shit-stirrer.


Mivls

STR+0 AGL+1 PRE+1 TOU-3
Hit Points: 5
Weapons: bow + 11 arrows (d6), crowbar (d4)
Sack: medicine chest (5 uses)
Silver: 90


So she looks behind herself too, both for signs of trouble, and to study the woman behind her, Vesania, whom the severed head of a poet once told her she was fated to meet from birth.

Vesania limps along, having lost three toes on her right foot. Her forearms are latticed with scars, as she never uses a blade without first testing it upon herself. None of the wounds are fresh, for the last knife she'd owned was left between the ribs of one who'd incurred her wroth. She now fights with a femur plucked from the inmate of a gibbet. She is nihilistic, vindictive, and given to strange dreams. Once she dreamt of a  temple in the bowels of the earth, and ever since has understood the songs of worms and insects.


Vesania

STR+0 AGL+1 PRE+2 TOU+2
Hit Points: 8
Weapons: femur (d4)
Backpack: grappling hook, bomb (d10)
Silver: 40


Behind her comes Dr. Sêps -- but how? She is certain she'd murdered him that night in Galgenbeck.

The suspicious-seeming man in the scholar's cap is Doctor Sêps, a chirurgeon late of Galgenbeck. His sleep is plagued by the nightmares of others, so he must always keep himself at a remove from the rest a-nights. He did try to tell them why he must sleep so far from the fire, but he never can get to the point. His bags are fully stocked with medicine, despite his wastefulness. If only he could find a remedy for the cataract spreading in eyes.


Doctor Sêps

STR+1 AGL+1 PRE+0 TOU+0
Hit Points: 8
Weapons: staff (d4)
Armour: Mail (med. -d4, +2DR AGL)
Sack: life elixir (d6+cure infection), medicine chest (4 uses)
Silver: 90


He has been very solicitous about the health of the young man behind him, Irtinj. Such finery he wears, and the good doctor covets it for himself.

Irtinj can never return to his family estate in Alliáns, having been banished and disowned for unspecified deeds. He's been wandering for months, falling in with one bad lot after the next. He once blacked out in a lotus den in Galgenbeck and came to three days later, covered in blasphemous tattoos. He is shrewd and egocentric, but sometimes whistles when trying to hide [when the d20 comes up 5,7,9,11,13].


Irtinj

STR+0 AGL+0 PRE-1 TOU+0
Hit Points: 4
Weapons: Zweihänder (d10)
Carried: magnesium strip, 15' heavy chain  
Silver: 50


He was once conscripted into the Shadow King's army with Törzug. At least, he thinks it was her...







Scene 1

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: random -  Ambiguous event - persuade / means

NPC List: -

Threads: -

[To start the adventure proper, I rolled a random scene, which indicated a jump directly to the Who (or what) contacts you? result I'd rolled above.

Mörk Borg has a nice d12 weather table, which I roll on for each day (Day 1: Lifeless grey), and every morning I need to check to see if a Misery befalls the world. Miseries are the calamitous events which portend the destruction of the world; the seventh ends the campaign. I chose to use a d20 for the checks, so there is a 1-in-20 chance per day of a Misery occurring. This makes the end of the world about 6 game-months off.

But for today, d20=7, no Misery.]

As the travellers pause at a crossroads to argue over which route leads to Schleswig, they spot a figure in the distance. Weapons at the ready, they watch the figure approach. It soon resolves into the shape of a ragged monk, hand outstretched in what must be a sign of benediction or greeting.

"Left you out here to die, has [d6=]he?" says the monk. "That caravan is always a few travellers lighter when the food starts to run out. [UNE:knowing - report - last scene] But maybe we can help one another. My name is Frater Wemut, and my order can give you food and point the way to Schleswig. If you could look into a small matter for us, that is..."

The travellers cannot but agree.

[d30 Sandbox companion cult tables--
name: Fraternity of the Sun
immediate goal: conversion, everyone
strange cult practices: sleep on bed of rocks

Their temple is (d30) a henge earth bank w/ inner ditch + stones

Q: Do they get to the henge without incident? 50/50 (4+): O1 C9 - no.
Q: Why not? Attach / Dispute

d6=5 peasants accost (1-3 monk, 4 party 5 single PC, 6 everyone) the PCs. Reaction roll is 2d6=11 (helpful) so the encounter shouldn't turn violent.]


As they follow Frater Wemut down the muddy road, they come upon a filth-caked band of peasants vainly tilling the blighted soil. They look up dully from their labours, but upon seeing the monk they become agitated. The leader of the band, a dried-up crone of but 29 winters, addresses the travellers.

"What are you doing with him? There's summat not right about them monks. Get you away form him, it'll be your death else." [UNE: prejudiced - dislike - friends]

Uth steps forward and tries to reason with her. "We are but weary travellers making our way to Schleswig. This kind soul has offered us succour on our journey."

"You're the suckers, if you believe anything what he says," says the peasant.

[Time to let the dice decide how this turns out.

Tests are at the heart of the Mörk Borg rules. A Test is made by rolling 1d20+the relevant Attribute against a Difficulty Rating (DR) of 6-18, with 12 being average.

To talk down the peasants, Uth must test her Presence (of +2) vs. DR14 (difficult): d20+2=12, failure.]


Uth tries to reason with the woman, but is cut off every time she opens her mouth. The peasant implores her at every to have nothing to do with the monk, and Uth soon loses interest in the conversation refusing to hear another word. The peasant stands aside to let them pass; only the farmers' laughter follows them down the road.
The temple, when they reach it, is a disappointment. No warm hearth, no wine cellar, not even a roof -- just stone circles in concentric rings and a ditch round them all. And the whole order comprises but [d20=3] three monastics.

The travellers are treated to a meagre peat fire, sour beer, and some sort of whitish paste that claims to be stew and/or porridge; the cook has conveniently taken a vow of silence when asked about ingredients.

As they choke down the splendid repast, Frater Wemut makes his case.

"A star fell from the heavens, and spat fire over the land. When the fire died down, a smoking crater was left. In its midst sits a cathedral of no known religion. Ten good monks of our order went forth to investigate -- none returned. We hired some mercenaries to go after them. Only one came back, and [d6=] she was mortally wounded. She told a disjointed tale of great riches and terrible horrors. Will you investigate and put an end to this evil?"

"what sort of riches...?" asks Mivls.


Scene 2

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: travel to the crater

NPC List: Frater Wemut, dirt farmers

Threads: investigate the cathedral, find the way to Schleswig

[Day 2
weather: d12=Cloudburst
Misery: d20=5, none

The crater is 1d4-1=1 day's travel away.

Q: Do the monks provide food for trip? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - yes, and...]


The next morning, the travellers are awakened by a peal of thunder and a sudden driving rain. Father Wemut explains the crater is a day's march distant, and provides them with enough food to get there and back plus an extra day for exploration. They give him their thanks for the food, groaning (mostly) inwardly when it turns out to be dried cakes of the whitish stew-matter.

[Encounter checks (1-in-6, morning, afternoon, & night): 4,2,1]

The travellers plod off in the direction indicate. They see no one all day, not even wildlife, as they slog through the dreary plains. Somehow they find a sufficient quantity of dry-enough wood to get a smoky campfire going [best Presence (+2) vs. DR16, d20+2=18, success] before they make camp for the night.

But something stirs in the darkness outside the weak circle of firelight. Hungry eyes glitter needfully in the black night, and form a twisted plan in their black hearts.

[Q: What is the encounter? (Location Crafter): Aggressively / Lean =subsistence cannibals

# encountered: d6+1=2. Stats are as Bent (MB p.59)

Q: Who is on watch? d6=Mivls & Doctor Sêps (lucky for him, since he usually sleeps at a distance from the rest!)

Testing the best Presence of the two to notice the ambush (DR12): Mivls d20+1=20, success]


Mivls and Doctor Sêps are sitting with their backs to the fire, making occasional strained attempts at conversation ("Shit weather we're having." "Can't believe what King Fathmu gets up to." "Ever kill a guy from Alliáns?" vel sim.)" when Mivls abruptly shushes him. He strains to see and to hear, and detects footsteps squelching closer though the mud.

"Hey," he calls out. "Who are you?"

[This is the first combat, so as usual I'll explain the mechanics in more detail than normal.

Initiative is handled by a single roll. d6=4, the party goes first]


Two feral looking youths come into the flickering light, clad in gore-stained tatters and wielding equally gore-stained knives... and forks. They drool in anticipation and make to pounce as Mivls nocks an arrow and looses it.

[Hitting with a missile weapon requires a DR12 test of Presence. Mivls rolls d20+1=12, hitting for d6=5damage. The cannibal has no armour, so damage isn't reduced. The cannibal now has 2hp remaining.]

The arrow sticks in her opponent's chest, but he seems not to mind.

Doctor Sêps raises the alarm, trying to rouse his sleeping companions by running round the fire and shouting [forfeiting his attack]. He raises his quarterstaff defensively as the second cannibal lunges at him.

[Monsters don't get attack rolls. Instead, the PC defends against each attack with a DR12 Agility test. The doctor rolls d20+1=15, so the attack misses]

The cannibal cannot get close enough to sink his blade in to the good doctor's succulent flesh.

Mivls does not fare as well [rolling d20+1=9], and she finds the first cannibal's fork protruding from her thigh [d4=3 damage, leaving her with 2hp].

[The Bent have a special ability; the PC with the highest Presence (M, +1) must make a DR14 test at the start of the fight or random PC gets backstabbed: d20+1=17, avoided. (this is here, out of sequence, because I almost forgot it!)]

The cannibal tries to sidle behind Doctor Sêps whilst Mivls is cursing with pain, but she doesn't give him room to safely manoeuvre.

[Round 2]
Mivls drops her bow and snatches her crowbar up from the ground.

[sleeping PCs need a DR12 Presence test to awaken and join the fight: only Törzug and Uth succeed.]

Törzug rolls over and takes up her crossbow. Her eyes are too bleary to aim properly and the bolt whizzes off into the night [miss]. Uth struggles out of her bedroll, warhammer at the ready, but her lurching swing goes rather wide of the mark [melee attacks are DR12 Strength tests; d20+0=9, miss].

Doctor Sêps smashes the iron-tipped butt of his staff into the forehead of his foe with a satisfying crack; the youth collapses in a heap.

[The doctor rolled a natural 20, a critical hit (double damage). d4x2=8, killed.

As half the enemy force is now hors de combat, the remaining cannibal needs to make a morale check (the usual 2d6 roll-under ML). Bent have ML8: 2d6=7, he keeps fighting.]


The wounded youth slashes furiously at Mivls, but she wards off his gruesome knife with her crowbar [DR12 Agility: d20+1=18, defended].

[Round 3]
Törzug is looking for her own crowbar as her three companions advance on the cannibal, but the surprisingly nimble youth evade their weapons [miss, miss, miss]. But at least his knife comes no closer to any of them [Mivls roll d20+1=14, defended].

[Round 4]
The cannibal presses his luck, and feints a Uth. She's not buying it, and swings hard with her warhammer, burying the point in the cannibal's neck. His blood sprays over her as he falls [DR12 STR: d20+0=14, hit. d6=3 damage, putting him at -1hp, dead].

The youths' only treasure is their cutlery. Mivls and Uth each take a knife, which, once disinfected in the fire and whetted clean, should make serviceable fighting daggers.

[For catching her breath and having a little water after the fight, Mivls can recovers  d4 hp. d3=4, all 3 lost are recovered.

For being stabbed by the filthy fork, she needs to test Toughness at DR10 to avoid becoming Infected. d20-3=14, success.]


As Mivls pulls the fork from her thigh and tosses it angrily away, Doctor Sêps shakes Irtinj and Vesania awake and begins berating them for sleeping through the ambush. For their penance, they must take watch the rest of the night.

The others lie down in their bedrolls to sleep. Mivls has a terrific nightmare, dreaming of being caught by the cannibals, flayed alive, and stewed in their pot. Poor Doctor Sêps, who'd grudgingly moved his bedroll closer to the others for safety, shares her nightmare and wakes up screaming.


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