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--
- Mörk Borg (and eventually Feretory for extra rules)
- Mythic GME with my MCSV for the oracle
- the Location Crafter
- UNE for NPC conversations
- d30 Sandbox Companion for all sorts
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.]
STR+1 AGL+0 PRE+1 TOU+3
Hit Points: 7
Weapons: crossbow +11 bolts (d8), crowbar (d4)
Backpack: metal file & lockpicks
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.
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
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.
STR+0 AGL+1 PRE+1 TOU-3
Hit Points: 5
Weapons: bow + 11 arrows (d6), crowbar (d4)
Sack: medicine chest (5 uses)
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.
STR+0 AGL+1 PRE+2 TOU+2
Hit Points: 8
Weapons: femur (d4)
Backpack: grappling hook, bomb (d10)
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)
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].
STR+0 AGL+0 PRE-1 TOU+0
Hit Points: 4
Weapons: Zweihänder (d10)
Carried: magnesium strip, 15' heavy chain
He was once conscripted into the Shadow King's army with Törzug. At least, he thinks it was her...
Chaos: Average (d10)
Setup: random - Ambiguous event - persuade / means
NPC List: -
[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.]
"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, 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.
[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.
Chaos: Average (d10)
Setup: travel to the crater
NPC List: Frater Wemut, dirt farmers
Threads: investigate the cathedral, find the way to Schleswig
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]
"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.
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].
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].
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.
next post: the crater