Tuesday, 25 February 2014

LotFP Solo - Part the Thirteenth: "Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres"

Scene 16

Chaos: 4

Setup: 5, Into dungeon

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12,  Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon, Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine, Reverend Father de Molleré, Brother Mundlo, Zuhal B'thallit

threads: find Neldir & the book
recover fallen thieves' bodies
remove zuhal's curse

day 45.

Once again the party descends into the dungeon. Lycinia is in the lead with a torch, Firdeth brings up the rear with her lantern. Aldira admits that she has only vague memories of her first foray underground, which her long illness seems to have obliterated [a convenient excuse to keep going with the totally random dungeon generation].

They descend the staircase to the entrance chamber [room 1] which is empty save for the general rubbish on the floor. Even the stirges they killed are gone now -- hopefully eaten and not risen from the dead.

They open the north door to find another room [room 9]. There are definite signs that a battle took place within; mouldering corpses lie strewn about, having been hacked at and beaten. They are mostly human though one (possibly two?) appear to have been dwarves. Aldira shudders. "This is where those festering zombies attacked us," she says.

Opening the sole door in the northern wall reveals another nearly-empty room [room 10]. An immense ornamental sarcophagus carved from black granite sits alone in the middle of the débris-strewn floor. It's lid lies beside it in two pieces, and has obviously been there for some time. Lycinia very carefully peers over the edge with her torch, sword poised to strike. But the sarcophagus' inhabitant has also been away for some time. Dust and scraps and filthy linen are all that remain within. Images of saints and holy creatures once adorned the sides, but these appear to have been deliberately defaced.

Going through the eastern door, the party follows the corridor a short distance until they see a set of stairs going down. They decide to finish their exploration of this level before venturing deeper, and return [to room 10] to try the other door.

The door reveal a north-south passage, which after only 30' doubles back on itself (135°). [a trap was indicated: Arrow trap, 1-3 arrows. This is also the where the X on the graph paper indicated the body of the Aldira's fallen comrade, Penelope (Ftr0, 91CP in purse). So...

Q: Is the body still there? 50/50: 15, Yes.
Q: Was she killed by the trap? 50/50: 34, Yes.
Q: Do PCs notice the arrows? Likely: 07, exceptional Yes. They also notice the holes in the wall from which they fire.]

"Poor Nell," mutters Aldira heavily, "when those things attacked she panicked and ran. We heard her screams echoing... and then stop."

"She's been lying there for... what, a month?" says Lycinia. "Aldira, you might not want to see this."

Aldira, Debinvarr, and Firdeth go back into the sarcophagus room. Miolla uses the rope and grappling hook to drag Penelope's body off the pressure plate, carefully so as not to set off the trap again. She and Théscine gingerly wrap it in the blanket they'd brought. They rejoin their friends, and proceed to drag the body back towards the exit.

Unfortunately the noise attracts attention. As they are about to ascend the stairs to the surface, six long, skink-like lizard things dart out of the darkness [skinklings]. The man-sized creatures have atrophied rear legs, and propel themselves forward with their powerful arms. Their slick, scaly hides are a dull green with light blue-tinged striations. They appear intelligent, and make a coordinated attack. One nearly bites Debinvarr's leg off [7 damage, reducing him to -2]; Aldira and Théscine suffer minor wounds as well. Then Aldira uses her magic to put four of them to sleep. The remaining two are cornered, and though they fight ferociously [Firdeth is hit for 3], they are soon vanquished.

On their return to the surface, Brother Mundlo uses his curative spells on Debinvarr and Firdeth. Lycinia and Miolla once again find themselves digging a grave. That evening Aldira's friend is laid to rest.

day 46.

The next day they return to the dungeon. The entrance chamber hasn't been disturbed; the bodies of the enormous skinks still lie where they fell. Going east into the next chamber [room 2], they try the door in the north wall; the space beyond is a mere closet, containing the splintered remains of old barrels. From the smell of it, there was some moderately nice wine stored within. The PCs find it disappointing that it's all long since been spilt, but refreshing to finally smell something in the dungeon that does not reek of corruption and decay.

The continue east to the room with the obelisk [room 8] where they first encountered the festering ones, intent on trying the heretofore unopened door in the northern wall. They don't even look into the corner where the obelisk stands on its dais, afraid to see if it has been uncovered.

Beyond the door is a short(ish) passageway ending in another door, which opens into a 40x40' room [room 11]. The walls are covered in decaying and mould-ridden plaster, that once bore al fresco murals depicting the lives of a saint or saints. A ruined wooden bench sits in the middle, where admirers once sat in quiet contemplation of the colourful images. Two doors are set into the north wall, flanking a small alcove. Another door leads to the west.

[room contents: treasure - 750sp contained in bags. Protected by: trapdoor.

Q: Do 1d6 PCs fall in? Likely: 99, Exceptional No + event. PC Positive Fight Illness - Debinvarr; he finds scroll of Cure Disease]

In the alcove are a few cloth bags. The torchlight reveals glint of silver; they're full of coins. As the party approaches, Debinvarr calls out to stop. He points to the discoloured stones on the floor, which are carved to resemble the rest of the paving stones but are in reality a large, single piece: the cover of a concealed trapdoor. Skirting the edge of it, he is able to reach the bags of coins and toss them over to his compatriots. Underneath them he finds a scroll case. He opens it to examine the parchment inside, but with all his magical training [casts Read Magic] he finds it is still indecipherable. He puts it in his pack, intending to see if Brother Mundlo can make any sense of it later.

Beyond the northern doors is a 30x30' square chamber with a giant spiral stair in the centre, leading down into a dusty room or landing. The PCs decide to leave this for later.

Leaving from the western door [in room 11] the party walks down a straight passageway, Lycina and Miolla in the lead as usual. Suddenly, they feel the floor slightly sink underneath their footsteps, and a dozen rusty spears dart out from the walls at them. Fortunately, neither are hit [+6att, roll 3,3], and the spears retract back into the walls. Scouting ahead a little reveals that the passage dead ends. They leap back over the pressure plate, and everyone goes back to the mural room [room 11].

After a few moments deliberation, they all agree that they are overwhelmed with curiosity at the grand staircase in the next room, and decide to proceed downwards.

There is a narrow, dusty landing at the bottom of the stairs. A corroded metal door leads south, its locking mechanism long-since rusted away to nothing.

The long, narrow room [room I; inset map] beyond is evidently a tomb. a double row of columns supports the ceiling. The floor is dusty, and arrayed with rude pottery and low clay bowls heaped with antique coins of copper and silver.

At the far end of the room is a dais. Two skeletal corpses are enthroned upon the dais in huge stone chairs, made to hold them upright. Dried flesh and hair still cling to the bones, and they are dressed in once-fine linen robes. Their gold jewellery sparkles in the flickering torchlight.

Layed out before them on the floor are four human skeletons. Each has been decapitated; the skulls have been deliberately placed atop the rib cages. A wickedly curved knife or small sword lies next to each. The whole scene gives off a decidedly pagan aura, as if the interment took place some time after the monastery fell into ruin.

As the party deliberate how best to remove all the coinage, the skeletons on the floor begin to stir. They slowly pick themselves up, put their skulls back atop their necks, and take up the sacrificial blades. Then the two skeletal bodies leap forward from their thrones, chattering gibbering, and shrieking.

[4 normal skeletons with long knives (treat as shortswords), 2 chattering bones. Despite their elevated chance of surprise, the PCs are not caught off guard, though the monsters do win the initiative.

round 1]
Miolla and Lycinia are closest to the chattering things, which come at them with claw-like fingers. One of them leaves a nasty gash on Lycinia's neck [4 damage, bringing her to 8hp]. She feels an odd power radiate from its fingers, but shrugs it off [her save vs. spells succeeds]. One of the skeleton attendants nearly splits Théscine's skull open with its curved blade [3 damage, leaving her at 1hp], whilst Aldira gets her rapier between two of her assailant's ribs, splintering most of the ribcage [6 damage, leaving it with 2hp], and Miolla lands a crushing blow on a chatterer's shoulder [9 damage, bringing it to 7], but no one drops out of the fight.

[round 2]
Miolla feels the claws of the babbling creature just pierce her armour [1 point of damage], and is unnerved for a moment by a strange feeling [makes her save]. Debinvarr parries poorly, and his opponent's blade contacts his shoulder [1 point of damage]. Firdeth does not parry at all, and the curved blade slices across her abdomen [5 damage, leaving her with only 2hp]. Miolla swings with all her might; her mace shatters ribs, and pushes through to pulverise vertebrae. The corpse falls to the ground like a rag doll and is silent and still. Lycinia only manages a glancing blow on the other babbler [5 damage, dropping it to 13]. Aldira finishes off her opponent with another deft swing of her rapier [6 damage]. The mysterious elven blade sings in Théscine's hand as it cleaves through the skeleton she faces, bringing it low [8 damage].

[round 3]
The gibbering corpse changes tactics, and slams its fists into Lycinia. Her chainmail absorbs most of the blow [1 damage, bringing her to 7], but the creature's aura causes her to come completely unhinged [failed saving throw; she suffer the effects of Confusion (as the spell) for 4 rounds]. Debinvarr suffers another wound [3 damage, 2hp left], but Firdeth, fighting defensively [Defensive Fighting: +2 AC bonus, -4 attack] turns aside every blow. Aldira turns to face Debinvarr's opponent, but only damages it slightly [2 damage, down to 5hp]. Lycinia raises her sword, laughs, and starts to wander off amongst the pottery. Miolla steps in to fight the babbling thing that so affected her friend, but it sidesteps her every swing.

[round 4]
The gibbering fiend lunges at Miolla as she is bringing her mace to bear, and claws rake down her thigh [2 damage, leaving her at 5hp]. Its unholy aura overcomes her mind, and she stands there, stock-still with her mace poised as if to strike, and begins babbling along with the creature. Lycinia briefly recovers her sanity, and charges at the creature that stole it (and Miolla's). She barely connects, though the force of the charge off-balances the thing somewhat [(roll 1+ str adj. 1)x2(charging)=4 damage; it has 9hp left]. Aldira and Debinvarr fight side-by-side; as one parries the skeleton's blade, the other slashes at its limbs. It is soon out of the fight [Aldira technically is the one who hits, doing 6 damage].

[round 5]
The chattering monstrosity flails wildly at Lycinia again, pummelling her chest hard enough to crack ribs [3 damage, leaving her with 4hp]. Lycinia and Miolla feel the mad rage well up inside, and turn on their tormentor. Lycinia's sword stroke slices through its side as Miolla's upward swing withthe mace sends its skull sailing across the room, silencing it for good. And Aldira is a skeleton killing machine! She turns to attack the skeleton fighting Firdeth, and cuts its spine in two with a single fluid stroke [6 damage]. Lifeless bones scatter at her feet.

[rounds 6&7]
All the undead have been destroyed, but for Miolla and Lycinia, the battle still rages. The two circle each other for a moment, then, wild-eyed and screaming, go in for the kill. The din of sword crashing against mace resounds throughout the tomb. Their companions look on helplessly, afraid to intervene between their two most formidable friends. Slowly Lycinia shakes off the madness, as she and Miolla stare each other down. Not long after, Miolla is once again herself.

-end combat-

Now that the danger has passed, the party goes back to loading the treasure into their packs and some extra sacks. Lycinia and Miolla loot the (fragmentary) bodies of the chattering things, which which glitter with gold and jewels.

Théscine is sorely injured, and decides she should drink one of the healing potions they bough on the road, in case they meet anything else on the trip back to the surface. The 'potion' turns out to be nothing more than coloured water -- as do the other four.

The party creeps back out of the dungeon and returns to their camp to look over the spoils. In total they have found:

950SP (200 from the tomb, 750 in bags from the mural room)
a gold fibula in the shape of a wild boar's head (400 sp)
a simple gold ring set with lapis lazuli studs (300 sp)
a wrought gold coronet with a knotwork pattern (200sp)
2 beaten gold medallions with filigree and floral-pattern designs, one crushed a bit flat by someone's mace, though I'm not naming any names here (value 700sp & 500sp)

Debinvarr gives the scroll he discovered to Brother Mundlo, who confirms that it contains a prayer against disease.


Post-session Notes:

1st edition DMG appendix A, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... except for Table V.F.: Chamber or Room contents. 1-12 on a d20 gets you an empty room. Mapping is fun and all, which is why I'm doing this with pencil and graph paper, but 60% of rooms being empty does not a good game make. Ever since I was a kid I've been rolling 1d12+8 on this table, and 10-14 is Monster Only. There are still some empty rooms, but they don't take over the map. And I try to find some way to make them interesting (vide supra). Except for 10x10 rooms, which usually end up as closets.

Treasure: I'm still using B/X treasure types, but generally dividing the number of coins by 10, and demoting coins from gold to silver, silver to copper, etc. to account for LotFP's silver standard. I should probably just make my own treasure tables, but for bigger hoards it's nice to use online generators.  Mithril & Mages has a convenient B/X & LL treasure generator, which is perfect for gems but the jewellery is a little un-inspiring. For instance, in the tomb, the treasure was generated thusly:

Treasure Type C (HC XX)
CP: 800
SP: 200
Jewelry: (5): Clasp-400 gp, Medallion-500 gp, Medallion-700 gp, Ring-300 gp, Coronet-200gp. Total Value: 2100 gp.

I'm having fun coming up with nice descriptions, but it's a little time consuming.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

LotFP Solo - Part the Twelfth: „Was sollen wir auf dieser Welt / Mit unsrer Lieb' und Treue.“

After matins, the novices must attend to their chores. Today, those sent to sweep the stones of the courtyard and polish the great brass torch in the hand of the statue of Saint Aerdwine are privy to a sight most strange. The Reverend Father leads a cortège into the Monastery, holding aloft an extinguished brass torch. Behind him follows a group of elves (and one human woman), armed and armoured, blood-spattered and dishevelled, and each bearing a handful of crumbling yellow bones. The lead elf, holding the skull, weeps profusely. Behind these are two priests, brass torches blazing, chanting the office for the dead.

They proceed through the courtyard and head down into the catacombs. Eril's bones are deposited in a niche in her family vault. Her tormented soul can finally know peace.

Scene 15

Chaos: 5

Setup: Travel back to the Ruined Monastery & make camp

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12,  Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon, Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine, Reverend Father de Molleré

threads: find Neldir & the book
recover fallen thieves' bodies

days 40-41.

After the obsequies are through, the PCs have an informal interview with the Reverend Father. They tell him of their immediate plans to return to the ruined monastery to retrieve and bury the bodies of Aldira's companions, and appeal to him for assistance.

Q: Does the Reverend Father have any demands of his own? Likely: 97, Exceptional No.
Q: Can PCs get an NPC cleric to come for healing / last rites? Unlikely: 17, Yes. (level 1d3; won't enter the dungeon; PCs must also tithe 15% of normal treasure, and hand over all religious items recovered for re-consecration)

The Reverend Father agrees to send a junior cleric with them, but says it will take at least a day to arrange. The PCs readily agree, especially as Miolla is still inconsolable and not fit to travel.

The party find themselves at a loose end. There are many places in the monastery they cannot go, as the holy aura is repellent to those of the faerie folk. Aldira, on the other hand, goes to watch the services, and meditate in the chapels; she hasn't really been in a church since she was a girl (er, except that one time to rob it...), but the whole ordeal with the vampire and the crown has left her a bit shaken. The elves spend most of their time down on the rocky beach. Firdeth and Debinvarr practise their fencing. Théscine wraps herself in a cloak and falls asleep. Miolla sits on a rock weeping. Lycina sits beside her, staring out at the tide.

day 42.

The next morning Lycinia announces to the Reverend Father their intention to set out for the ruined monastery as soon as they have loaded their gear onto their horses. He has an aide summon their assigned healer, and walks out to the courtyard to see them all off. Lycinia takes the opportunity to ask him what he knows of the ruined monastery.

[I've added a new section to my Rumours for Solo Adventurers thing, cleaned up the tables a little and added some notes. It's now a page on my blog rather than just a post.

The new section is called Asking an NPC, and since Lycinia just did...

Since the topic of the rumour is obvious (a combination of Background & Location Data), we skip straight to the bibliomancy:

"Tum virgam capit : hac animas ille evocat Orco / Pallentes, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit ; / Dat somnos adimitque, et lumina mmorte resignat ;"
Vergil, Aeneid IV.242-4
("Then he takes the wand, and with it summons pale souls from Hades, sends others to gloomy Tartarus; gives dreams or dispels them, and unseals the eyes of the dead")

Interpretation: There was a holy artifact, a wand having immense power over the living and the dead, contained within the monastery. It is said that this led to its downfall.

Magnitude: Since this is definitely about something bad, I'll use the plus/minus column: rolling 11 gives ±4 good fortune/ruin.

Truth: Because the Reverend Father's reaction roll towards the PCs was over 10, he will give them his opinion of this rumour that he is relating; this is simulated by rolling one of the two d6s used on the truth table now. Rolling a 5 means he thinks it's pretty likely true. I will mark a random X somewhere on the empty graph paper that is the lower level of the dungeon. When (if) the PCs reach that square, I'll roll the second d6, and the truth will be revealed!]

Just before beginning their journey from the monastery, the PCs meet the young monk assigned to go with them:

Brother Mundlo
cleric, 2nd level
ch 9 cn 10 dx 8 in 12 st 10 wi 14 hp 7 AC 11
holy symbol, holy water x2, staff, mule w/saddlebags

http://truculent.org/llchar/ for personality (truncated) and stats-
General Appearance: Ragged
Sanity: Normal
Disposition: Proud/haughty
Nature: Unforgiving
Honesty: Scrupulous
Energy: Normal
Piety: Martyr/zealot
Interests: None
the first child of a Townsman. He was a well liked child. He has brown eyes, straight black hair, and an average complexion.

The party travel by road northwards to Castle Tarm. It's a rather bland journey, though at one point [courtesy of the d30 companion] they encounter a nude man walking along the road, scourging himself. Brother Mundlo states that they should take no notice of this errant heretic, a request which the rest are all too pleased to accommodate. This is unfortunately followed by an extemporaneous sermon on the True Path of Light and Propriety in Faith. By the time they arrive at the Castle, Aldira has relapsed into a non-churchgoer, and the elves are quietly conversing amongst themselves (in Elvish, which Aldira understands but the cleric does not), whether or not they really need a healer along. He redeems himself somewhat in their eyes when they reach the castle. The presence of a holy man confers some respect onto the whole group [reaction roll 8]. Instead of being shunted away again by heavily armed soldiers, they are given shelter in the stables, and both they and their mounts are treated to a reasonable dinner.

day 43.

The day is dark and wet; though the rain never gets above a drizzle, it also never abates. On the road between Castle Tarm and the Church of St. Gelevaard...

[d30 Companion road encounter produces 6x 0-level humans, who are Hostile and intend to Bargain.
Q: What do they want? Extravagance/Illusions. They're mountebanks.
Q: Is the party taken in? Unlikely: 31, Yes.]

the PCs meet a pair of travelling "merchants" and their retinue. They have much to offer on their ox-drawn wagon. In the end, the PCs hand over 500sp worth of gems to purchase 5 (fake) healing potions.

That night they make camp in forest a few miles SE of the Church.

day 44.

It's slow going through the gloomy forest. Towards midday they encounter a lone magic-user wandering through the trees.

[Zuhal B'thallit, MU4, male
Q: What's he doing in the woods? release/failure
Q: Is he someone's captive? 50/50: 59, No.
Q: Did he make something bad? 50/50: 03, Exceptional Yes. rolling a random magic item results in a medallion of ESP 30'. So all within 30' have automatic ESP on the wearer; like all cursed items, it cannot be removed.
his reaction roll is 8]

Zuhal refuses to come within 30' of anyone. He and the elves conduct a rather strange, shouted  interview from a distance. He explains that he is a foreigner, who had come north from the continent in search of magical knowledge. His research, however, has gone awry, and now he must wander the forest alone. The PCs agree to come back to find him should they discover a way of parting cursed items from their victims. Zuhal thanks them for their solicitude, and goes his lonely way.

When they reach the ruined monastery, they set up another base camp, and prepare to explore the dungeons again on the following day.


Upkeep & notes:

XP: for slaying the demon, each PC earned (500/6)=83xp. For finishing off Eril's storyline, it seemed something was in order, so I doled out her XP value to each PC (250xp).

I was sort of expecting another quest (er, thread in Mythic parlance) to come out of the false crown revelation, and was surprised by the No result. But when I thought about it rationally, it is an internal church matter: hardly the sort of thing you'd ask a random group of essentially Basic Set characters to look into. But I added NPCs to the characters list just in case their paths are fated to cross again.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

LotFP Solo- Part the Eleventh: "Unfit for earth, undoom'd for heaven"

For what seemed like the hundreth time since riding forth from Wandlesbourne, Théscine examined the parchment scroll given to them by the vampire, her fingers idly tracing the pattern of Eril's family crest in the wax seal. "If she wants our help," she asked, "why won't she let us see what's written inside?"

"It's nothing personal," replied Aldira, "Without the seal, the Reverend Father might not believe it was from her."

"But what's inside?" Théscine asked. "It seems all rather long for just a request to meet him."

"I daresay it contains a confession," opined Firdeth. "She instructed us to give it to the Reverend Father in person, and let no others see it. What else could it possibly say?"

"How about, 'Please execute the bearers of this scroll'," said Lycinia.

"Hmphf!" objected Miolla. "Eril's our friend and would never-- what's that thing?!"

Scene 13

Chaos: 5

Setup: 4, modified - (was Travel to Monastery of the Blue Stones to deliver Eril's message)

Interrupt: NPC action - summoned demon

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon, Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon

threads: find Neldir & the book
help Vampire
recover fallen thieves' bodies

day 39.

In the morning, Eril gives the PCs a scroll sealed with wax bearing the imprint of her signet ring. On the outside of the roll is written "Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine - Monastery of the Blue Stones". The monastery is but half a day's ride along the coast.

But first, supplies are in order. [Using the d30 Companion makes shopping less sure but more fun. To summarise:
Miolla and Théscine visit the city armour smith, both hoping to buy chainmail; only 1 suit is available, which Miolla buys for 125sp. Théscine agrees that she is more of a front line fighter, and so better deserves it.
Aldira and Firdeth find the alchemist's shop. Sadly, no potions are available. They stock up on normal provisions (iron rations, torches, lamp oil, oilskin cloaks), spending about 75sp.
Lycinia and Debinvarr go looking for horses. In the end, they visit all 3 sellers in the city, in order to buy 6 riding horses with 2 saddlebags each. The total cost comes to 843sp; they trade 860sp worth of gems and jewellery.]

They leave the city about midday, riding along the pebble beach towards the monastery. They are about five miles from their destination, when Miolla spots something glowing faintly in the distance, being carried back and fort by the tide. They approach cautiously. It seems the strange glowing object is caught in a mass of seaweed. No, not seaweed; something large and stringy and and oily-black that seems to pulse and shiver and write in the current. Then it leaps from the water to attack.

[The demon was Summoned by Neldir back in scene 4. It has finally caught up with the party. I didn't so much roll for his spellcasting as I did make sure the random creature produced was one that would allow him a Great Success on the Domination roll, allowing it to perform an extended service, i.e. track whomever the elven Elders sent to find him.

The demon: HD 6, HP 28, AC 18, Move 120', ML 10, Attacks 2, Damage 1-6 (glowing stinger), 1-6 (smoking pseudopods)
-ESP (always on)
-Globe of Invulnerability (always on)
-(+6 AC)

There is no chance of surprise on either side; combat begins.

round 1.]
As the thing rushes out of the surf, Firdeth and Aldira's horses bolt. [I made a morale check for each horse at the sight of the supernatural horror. Only two of them failed. It will take 1d6 rounds for Firdeth and Aldira to re-join the fight. And since riding horses are not good to fight from...]
The rest of the elves dismount to face the beast in mêlée. The demon attacks Miolla twice. She manages to fend off the stinger, but receives a nasty blow [for 4 damage, leaving her at half HP] from one of the flailing, semi-material pseudopods.

[round 2.]
But as the thing got so close to her, Miolla is able to strike back at it. Her mace makes a satisfying crunch as it hits the creatures torso [7 damage]. Théscine slashes it furiously with the shining elven blade. Ichor sprays the ground from a deep wound [8 damage; it is down to 13hp]. The thing ignores Théscine entirely, pressing its attack on Miolla. This time the stinger finds its mark, leaving a hole in Miolla's new chainmail, and in Miolla (3 damage; she has 1hp remaining]. Aldira returns, having lept from her horse and run back at full speed. She shouts for her companions to get back from the demon.

[round 3.]
The elves all make a fighting withdrawal. Aldira speaks words of power, and a mass of webs appears around the demon -- though all the webbing within ten feet of it shrivels and falls away to nothing. Unimpeded, it strikes at Théscine. The smoky tentacles slam her aside [4 damage, reducing her to 0hp] and she falls to the ground.

[round 4.]
Debinvarr sees and opening, and lunges with his rapier, sticking the demon in the side [4 damage, reducing it to 9hp]. But he has overextended himself, and is unable to defend against its stinger, which whips round to catch him between the shoulderblades [6 damage, bringing him to -1hp]. He falls half beneath it. Firdeth runs back, and as she passes Aldira, begins to grow to half again her current size, the recipient of Aldira's spell.

[round 5.]
Lycinia adopts a defensive posture; she neither hits nor is hit in return.
Firdeth is not as lucky, stung [for 6 damage, down to 1hp] badly in the stomach.

[round 6. I forgot how to roll anything higher than a 9 on a d20...]

[round 7.]
Lycinia forgoes defence and presses her attack. The wild swing barely scraps along the demon's oozing hide [2 damage]. Miolla, who has been hanging back due to her injuries, fears the battle may be lost. She raises her mace above her head and charges the thing, screaming a half-incoherent oath. She brings her weapon solidly down upon the centre of the beast [rolls 19+3, hitting for (8x2=)16 damage, bringing it to -9hp]. The demon dissolves in a cloud of oily smoke and the acrid scent of acetone.

Scene 14

Chaos: 6

Setup: 4, Travel to Monastery of the Blue Stones with message

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12,  Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon

threads: find Neldir & the book
help Vampire
recover fallen thieves' bodies

After the battle, the somewhat-shaken PCs put their injured friends back on their horses and ride to the Monastery.

The Monastery of the Blue stones is an enormous religious complex, housing a community of at least 300 monks, nuns, priestesses, priests, and knights. It's political clout rivals that of Wandlebourne Cathedral, in whose parish it ostensibly sits. The blue stones from which the monastery takes its name are slate paving stones, remnants of the tiny church which stood on this spot over 800 years ago. It was on these very stones that the conquering warlord Aerdwine (later King, and finally Saint Aerdwine) first felt the blessing of the God of Light, and ordered his soldiers to break off their raid on the little church, and embrace its glorious faith. His Holy Crown is the greatest relic which the Monastery possesses.

When the party reach the monastery, they are met by a rude and quite officious cleric who tries to shoo them away, saying that there are no services until the morrow [initial reaction was 4, Unfriendly]. Aldira explains in no uncertain terms that her friends require healing, for which service they are prepared to offer a fine gold brooch (350sp) to the Monastery's treasury. The cleric grudgingly concedes her point, and they are brought in to an anteroom where they are visited by the healers.

Aldira takes the cleric aside and requests and audience with the Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine, as they have a message to deliver to him -- and him alone. He refuses out of hand until she shows him the scroll. His eyes go wide when he sees the seal upon it, and he scurries off to find the Reverend Father forthwith.

The party are ushered into the none-too-modest office of the Reverend Father. Rich tapestries line the walls, telling stories from the life of Saint Aerdwine, whose kingly Crown is always woven with strands of real gold. The Reverend Father is a robust man: middle-aged, grey at the temples, but possessed of a strength and vigour the equal of his imposing and austere character. He is clad in simple monk's robes, but the rings glittering on his fingers speak of a background of wealth and privilege [Reaction roll = 12! Helpful].

Aldira hands him the scroll. He examines it for a moment, breaks the seal, then peruses its contents. Abruptly he tosses it down onto his desk amongst the bejewelled codices and silver writing set. He looks up at Aldira and addresses her directly. "Tell me, my child, do you know this region well?"

Aldira can barely suppress a curtsy as she responds, "I grew up in Alder's Well, your Grace."

"Your Grace!" laughs the Reverend Father, "I'm not bishop yet, my child. But I take it, then, that you recognise this seal, and know what it means."

"I do, your G-- I do."

"Then perhaps you can explain to me why my sister has requested that I meet with her, and why she requests that all of you be present at the meeting, and why the rest of this scroll seems to be one long confession..."


day 40.

In the cold hours before dawn, a procession makes its way north from the monastery; The Reverend Father is in the lead in full ceremonial attire, followed by two junior clerics. Behind them travels the young wizard, Aldira, and five elves. All bear the great, flaming brass torches, symbolic of the Light God himself. They proceed a mile up the road, and at length see a figure ahead in the darkness, sitting upon a worn milestone.

"I got your message," says the Reverend Father sternly, "Now, dear sister, I took a solemn oath that if ever I saw you again, I would destroy you as befits the... the thing you are. What means this?"

"I have something you must see, dear brother," says Eril as she rises from the stone, "something that changes everything. something that proves even you can be wrong!"

"And that is?"

"Behold your precious Crown!" exclaims Eril as she produces it from a cloth bag and sets it boldly atop her head.

"BLASPHEMER!" thunders the Reverend Father, "Unholy monster! How dare you defile-- defile... how can you even touch it?"

"Your Crown," says Eril taking it off and tossing it into her brother's hands. "is a fake."

"I don't understand! Where's the real one?"

"Why not ask du Molleré? He took it on its journey."


"He'd been parading this round for weeks. Can you honestly say he wouldn't have noticed the forgery, even during the daily monstrance?"

"Why are you telling me this? What do you hope to gain? Is this your revenge?"

"My poor, dear brother," says Eril, putting her hand on his shoulder, "you forget I was always the pious one in the family. But tradition must be upheld: the eldest inherits the duchy, the middle child enters the army, the youngest takes holy vows. Otherwise you would rule, Gyves would be the soldier, and I the priestess. I want to uphold the faith. I want to see justice done. And I want to be returned to the fold."

"But your excommunication... your undeath..."

"You swore before the altar of the Light God most high, that you would destroy me should we ever cross paths again. Brother, I want you to be true to your word. But you must absolve me of all my sins, and baptise me again into the faith, and swear that my bones shall rest in the family vault beneath the monastery, lest I be damned for all time!"

The reverend father looks at her, bewildered. Several times he begins to stammer a reply, then abruptly lapses into silence once more. Eril grows increasingly impatient.

"Dawn is nearly breaking!" she exclaims. "If we're to do this, it must be done at the proper time, in the proper way, as the Light God's luminescence once again pushes back the darkness. Brother! You know this is right!"

"Very well," he says, "I concede. But do you have the fortitude to go through with the ceremony?"

"Friend elves," says Eril, "may I please impose upon your kind natures for one last service? I need you to hold me against the boundary stone, facing the rising sun, whilst my brother and his attendants perform the holy rites. You must promise that no matter what I do, no matter how I threaten, or curse, or beg, or plead, not to let go. And when it is done he must drive this stake through my heart, destroying this unclean vessel that my soul might know peace."

Eril sits on the ground facing east, her back against the weather-worn milestone. Lycinia and Miolla, being the strongest of the elves, each take one of her arms, and hold them back against the stone. The others collect around them mournfully, ready to step in should their strength falter. Miolla kisses Eril on the cheek. "You were the nicest human I know," she says.

The first rays of sunlight begin to peek over the horizon. "Let us begin," says the priest. He begins to intone the sacred words of forgiveness, of the cleansing of sins, and of acceptance into the bosom of the Light God's holy congregation. Eril's face becomes bestial at the sound of the prayers, she begins to writhe and spit, screaming foul curses and dark imprecations.

"Hold her head steady!" shouts the Reverend Father. Théscine and Firtdeth grab Eril by the hair, forcing her head back as her demon eyes glare out at them. The attendant priests approach with trembling hands bearing clear glass phials of holy water. They raise the phials to the light of the dawn. "As the Light God banisheth the darkness of night from the world," chants the Reverend Father, "so may this baptism banish the darkness of sin from thy eyes."

The attendant pour the blessed water over the vampires eyes, which begin to boil and smoke from contact with the holy liquid. The vampire lets out a soul-shattering howl. Lycina and Miolla's muscles are strained taut against the furious struggles of the raving vampire. Aldira and Debinvarr add their strength to the affray, trying to pin the vampire's kicking legs down with their weight. Some of the holy water splashes Firdeth's hand, each drop of the sacred liquid burning her fairy skin like acid. But she holds fast, as do they all.

Into the midst of this comes the Reverend Father boldly, hammer and stake at the ready. He positions the stake as best he is able, and with a final whispered prayer, he strikes. A gush of black blood sprays forth from the wound. The vampire emits a last, piercing screech, and then goes limp.

Eril lies against the stone, her features momentarily at peace. Then the years rush to catch up, to overtake her. She begins to wither and fall away, until nothing but a pile of crumbling bones remains on the dewy grass in the morning sunlight.

Monday, 17 February 2014

LotFP Solo - Part the Tenth: „Die Nacht ist feucht und stürmisch, / Der Himmel sternenleer“

"When we reach Cheapington," says Aldira, stepping in a puddle nearly up to her knee, "I'm buying a new set of clothes. And burning these."

"Can you burn mud?" asks Debinvarr.

"I'll be glad to get rid of this Crown," interjects Théscine. "False or not, I don't feel safe carrying it."

"Those dwarven mercenaries didn't scare me," says Firdeth, "I'm sure we needn't worry about them."

"You do remember," replies Théscine, "that we're bringing this crown to a vampire?"

Scene 12

Chaos: 6

Setup: unmodified - Travel to Cheapington (intending) to find Eril and buy new horses

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon, Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
recover fallen thieves' bodies

days 34-36.

The party set out from Castle Vyljusz towards Cheapington, both avoiding the elven forest (as it is not time for their return) and giving the Church a wide berth. The journey through the forests is uneventful; they encounter nothing but harmless wildlife. Even fording the river goes without a hitch, once they find a place to cross. On day 36 there is a driving rainstorm; they cover very few miles that day [movement halved], and spend a miserable night all huddled together in a single tent for warmth.

day 37.

The rain finally abates. They make it to Cheapington by the evening. Strangely, they meet with no one on the road into the town.

[Reception in Cheapington? reaction roll 5, Unfriendly.

Q: Is this related to Eril? 50/50: 78, No.
Q: Is it realted to the Crown, then? 50/50: 82, No.
Q: OK, Mythic, what is it about then? Separate Illness - the 'plague' that the townsfolk thought Eril was causing had nothing to do with her. They ran her out of town for nothing. A fever is still rampant.
Q: Is the inn quarantined? 50/50: 72, No.
Q: Does Eril still have a thrall there? 50/50: 31, Yes.]

The PCs spend a night at the Lamb and Trefoil. There are very few guests, and no one talks to anyone outside their group for fear of contagion.

day 38.

Eril's thrall meets the PCs in morning. He tells them that his Mistress has fled to Wandlebourne, a small yet prosperous mercantile city on the bay.

[Q: Does Eril have a private residence there? Likely: 00, Exceptional No.]

She once owned a townhouse there, but it has recently been burnt to the ground. She is staying at the Anchor (try the eel pies, says the thrall). The PCs don't want to risk buying diseased horses, but decide that if they travel all day [forced march] they can make Wandlebourne by nightfall.

The day is cold and overcast, but the threatening clouds do not loose the rain. For the last few miles of the journey, the plains slope downward towards the sea. At dusk, the city is finally in sight, and what a sight it presents. The glow of lamps lighting the broad cobblestone streets illuminates the city spires against the dark, still waters of the bay. Fires burn brightly in the watchtowers atop the walls, miniatures of the lighthouse beacon in the harbour.

Aldira volunteers to speak to the guards at the gate, as the elves seem unsure of human etiquette. She pays them the entrance toll, and a few extra coppers to loosen their tongues. The PCs get good directions to the inn and an admonition to hurry, or they'll arrive to late for eel pies.

"Elves!" exclaims the innkeeper as the party marches through the door. "You must be Eril's friends. I expected more of you... but your rooms are paid for. Here's the key. Eril has the adjoining suite."

Eril has paid for the most expensive rooms in the inn. The door between her rooms and the elves' has been left ajar, so she might know immediately of their arrival. They have barely begun to set down their travelling things when she bursts into the room. Her grey hair is tied back with a scrap of cloth, the sleeves of her simple tunic are rolled up past her elbows, though the front of it, like her hands, is bespattered with black ink. Her eyes glint red in the candle light. "The false Crown," she says abruptly, "you have it?"

Firdeth removes the artifact from her pack, and holds it out towards the vampire, who snatches it violently from her hand. The normally unflappable elf's eyes go wide with a sudden fear.

"You must excuse me," says Eril, "I've not eaten in three days. And now I feel the end of this nightmare is near -- so very near! Yet I feel afraid lest it be prolonged another day... but you have done as I asked, and I must uphold my side of the bargain.

"When I was in Cheapington, I met the elf, Neldir. He saw me at once for what I am, and approached me with a proposition most foul. He wished to barter for some of my blood to use in his experiments with the black arts. I refused, of course, and bade him abandon his reckless path. He scoffed, and said that my refusal meant little to him. There was report of a vampire plaguing the village of Casterby. He would acquire what he needed there.

"I understand if you wish to set out for Casterby at once. But if you can spare me just a few more days, you could help release me from this... this mockery of an existence!"

"We don't know if Neldir is still in Casterby," says Lycinia, "or that he ever even went there at all."

Miolla takes Eril's large hands in her own, trying not to flinch at the sepulchral chill. Her pixyish face peers up at the vampire towering over her, as she says in a soft voice, "what my dear Lycinia means, sweet lady, is that we are in no hurry to reach Casterby, and we wish to help you in your troubles."

Eril tries feebly to smile. Her terrible fangs and receding gums only produce the effect of rictus, and a shudder passes through the room. But Miolla fancies, just for a moment, that she can see a tear forming in the vampire's blood-hued eye.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

LotFP solo - Part the Ninth: „Meine güldenen Dukaten, / Sagt, wo seid ihr hingeraten?“

Scene 11

Chaos: 7

Setup: Modified - Altered (rolled a 3. Was: travel back to Castle Vyljusz to trade for the Crown)

Altered scene: Q: Is Siorighan away from home? Unlikely: 61, No. She has visitors (to be determined randomly when PCs arrive)

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon, Tibalt's friend Barnot

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
pay thieves' debt to get crown
recover fallen thieves' bodies

day 20.

Oighonlaer's grave is dug, and he is burned in it to keep him from rising as undead. Tibalt and Barnot depart, heading back to the forest shrine. One of the horses is given to them as gift. The elves head north with Aldira for half a day's uneventful journey.

day 21.

[afternoon random encounter comes up as a Mule.

Q: Does it belong to someone? 50/50: 11, Exceptional Yes. +Event: PC positive (Théscine) - Bestow/Weapons
Q: Are the mule's owners still around? Somewhat Likely: 05, Exceptional Yes. A whole NPC party: 3 dwarves, 2 fighters, 2 specialists, 1 magic-user. Reaction roll = 10.]

The party spots a lone mule atop a hill, laden with equipment and bags of loot. As they approach it, they begin to her the sounds of an argument coming from nearby. As they crest he hill they, see a group of eight humans and dwarves, so wrapped up in their debate that they have failed to notice their mule wandering off. The elves are nearly upon them before they realise they have company.

One of the dwarves grabs a longsword in an ornate gilded scabbard and breaks off from the group. "Elves!" he shouts excitedly as he runs forward, right up to Théscine. He presses the sword into her hands. "There! We're done with it!" he thunders. "Finally rid of that damnable elf-blade!"

Seeing the elves' and Aldira's shocked expressions, he begins to explain: "Oh, there's not a thing wrong with it. It isn't cursed nor anything, else we'd never've seen the end of it. But it won't fight for dwarf nor human!"

He snatches the gleaming sword from its sheath, and gives it to Aldira. "Here, lassie," he says, removing his helmet, "take a swing right at me head. Go on now, nothing to fear."

Aldira looks to her companions for reassurance, but they mostly look confused and shrug their shoulders. She hesitantly lifts the sword, and takes a half-hearted swing at the waiting dwarf. The sword wrenches itself from her hand and sticks itself into the ground several feet away. "See!" exclaims the dwarf.

The two groups of adventurers pause their respective journeys, and eat some trail rations together whilst exchanging rumours and gossip. The dwarves and their friends are travelling south, returning from an expedition against some brigands that have been plaguing the area. Most of the treasure loaded on their mule is to be returned to the good people of Ander's Well, but the rest they will be allowed to keep as a bonus. The sword obviously doesn't belong to anyone there, and Kreltner (one of the fighters) nearly got killed trying to use it in battle.

They part ways in due course, though the PCs manage to pick up some information about Ander's Well before they go:

Type: Background -  Group
Magnitude: minor
Biibliomancy: Omnibus una quies operum, labor omnibus unus:
(Vergil, Georgics IV, 184)

To all at once a rest from toils, a single labour for all

Interpretation: Ander's Well is a tightly-knit community

day 22.

There's a sighting of a Tuatara lizard in the forest at night; otherwise the day was uneventful.

day 23.

The elves are making their way through through the forest when a griffon swoops out of the sky and lands in front of them. "Hello friends," says the magnificent beast in perfect elvish, "what brings you to this part of the forest?"

The griffin makes polite conversation for a minute or two, but it's obvious that something is on his mind. "I couldn't help noticing," he says, trying to appear casual, "that you aren't riding the horses you have with you. Now, I'm sure I don't have to tell you how we griffons feel about horses! I would very much like to negotiate a trade. You're practically at your destination; you should reach there by the next nightfall. So it shouldn't be an inconvenience for you to part with them. I happen to have come across a treasure map. The treasure is in some sort of underground complex, so the map is of no use to me. I'm sure the treasure is worth more than a pair of old horses. So we'll both come out of this ahead. What do you say, friend elves?"

After very little deliberation they accept the griffon's offer, and the elated beast soars off to his lair to fetch the map. The party removes the saddlebags from the horses and redistributes some of their other loot in preparation for the hike to the castle. The griffon soon returns, and makes sure the elves are satisfied with the map before accepting the horses' reins. "If you're ever back this way again," he says in parting, "I'd love to do business with you again. I have some valuable antique coins in my hoard. And I'll pay you better than market rates!" He leads the horses off into the forest, humming a happy tune to himself.

The party only manage two more miles of travel that day, but their strange dealings with the griffon have lightened their spirits considerably.

That night there is a sound of wild beasts in the trees, outside the circle of firelight. Malicious seeming eyes flash in the darkness.

[random encounter, (1d4=) 3 dire wolves

But the party is within 3 hexes of Castle Vyljusz. They picked up a rumour from the soldiers there in Part III (which I added to the post well after the fact when I realised I had left out the Upkeep section. Oops.)

Rumour Type: location - region
Bibliomancy: ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae / ubera nec magnos metuent armenta leones; (Vergil: Ecloga IV, 21-2)
(the she goats will return home, udders distended with milk / and the herd will not fear the great lions)
Interpretation: there are no dangerous wild beasts in the region around the castle. I will check for the truth of this rumour should a random encounter be indicated within 3 hexes of the Castle.

So it's time to check for the Truth of the rumour (tableXXX): the roll is 11: completely true.]

The "dire wolves" turn out to be a deer and two fauns, who scamper off into the night.

day 24.

True to the griffon's word, the party arrives at the castle just before the evening. They meet one of Siorighan's  apprentices coming out, heading south on some sort of errand. She tell them to be careful; Siorighan has guests, a group of dwarven mercenaries out looking for a certain religious artifact.

Siorighan may be a bit money-minded, but she observes the forms of hospitality assiduously. The elves are received warmly into the castle by her Major-domo, given rooms with warm fires and invited down to dine at their leisure in the great hall. There are three dwarves present. The two lieutenants are all but silent, and display the characteristic dwarven reserve. Their leader, Gwilda Stoutspear, is a fidgety and very plain-speaking woman of action. She is surprisingly affable towards the elves when she learns they are all of noble stock, and asks endless questions about their lineage. Aldira, however, she treats as beneath contempt when she discovers that her family are simple coopers. Gwilda says little about her mission to recover the Crown. She assumes that a group of elves -- noble ones especially -- could have nothing to do with such villainy. Siorighan treats the dwarves with a cool and detached courtesy, which they return in kind. Gwilda sees Siorighan as a social inferior, though one dangerous to anger.


Later that night the Major-Domo visits Aldira, Lycina, and Miolla in their apartments. "I take it you've returned with the payment?" he asks directly.

"These two jewels," says Aldira, handing them over, "and all this silver."

"These should be worth at least 1500 silver pieces," replies the Major-Domo. "How much do you have in coin?"

"Two thousand silver coins exactly," says Lycinia, "Want to count it?"

"No," he replies, "but Her Ladyship has said I must."

Having ascertained that there are in fact 2000sp in the bags, he hands over the false crown. Aldira collapses into an overstuffed armchair, relieved but visibly trembling. Miolla goes to comfort her. Lycinia puts the crown on Aldira's head, and makes a show of scrutinising her for a moment. "I don't think it goes with your tunic," she says. "Hey, cheer up. You're free now. Time to see to your own plans."

"I... I don't really have any. I didn't really think I'd get this far. I don't suppose elves have any need of the services of a neophyte wizard?"

"In point of fact," replies Lycinia, "I think we do."


The elves and their new wizard companion remain in Castle Vyljusz for ten days to recover from their illnesses and attempt some magical research in the castle library. The autumn rains lend a gloomy atmosphere to their stay. When the weather clears up, they decide it's time to set out for Cheapington. They haven't quite uncovered any great secrets of magical lore, but they feel they have outstayed their welcome, and would rather not learn about he effects of powerful magic directly from an offended host.


Game notes, magical research, healing, &c. &c.

Healing: Firdeth is the worst off; she needs 6 days to recover all lost CON. Since the party is staying for 10, everyone makes a full recovery.

XP: Lycinia & Miolla gain 2445xp each for the treasure they acquired on their own, which is enough  for them both to attain 2nd level. Miolla gains 4hp, Lycinia (rolls 5 +1 Con bonus) gains 6. They each get to research one spell for free.

Research: Everyone has up to 10 days to do some research. Lycinia transcribes Sleep (can only take 1 day due to her INT bonus) from Aldira's spellbook. into her own. She also attempts to research Charm Person (as her free levelling up spell), but fails; she needed 12 days. Miolla takes 4 days to transcribe Sleep (she only would have needed three, but didn't want to take any chances since she has an INT penalty). Théscine and Aldira also attempt some spell research when they are fully recovered, but haven't the time to reap any benefit from it. Their failed experiments eat up 375sp worth of materials.

The PCs pay Siorighan 100sp to identify the potion of Invisibility they found in the dungeon.

Visitors: The dwarven mercenaries (8xD1, 1xD3) left the day after the PCs arrived. I rolled a 6 for Siorighan's reaction towards the dwarves, and a 10 for her reaction to the party, so she definitely wasn't going to sell them out. Using the d30 Companion I generated their leader:

Gwilda Stoutspear
Lawful Female dwarf 3rd lvl
plate, warhammer, shield
motivation: pursuit
inspiration: visions, symbolic - childhood
fidgety, prejudiced (classist)
parents were pillars of their community

I also used Mythic to figure out how things would go at the castle:

Q: After the dwarves after the crown thieves? 50/50: 12, Exceptional Yes.
Q: Do dwarves figure out what's going on with the elves? Somewhat Likely: 98, Exceptional no. They will leave next day without a second thought.
Q: Will Siorighan let PCs stay to recuperate? 50/50: 01, Exceptional Yes. For a bit longer, in fact.
Q: Will Aldira stay with PCs? Likely: 10, Exceptional Yes. She'll even help them find Neldir. The elves still intend to help her recover her friends' bodies from the dungeon, but everyone agrees the crown needs to be gotten rid of first.

Sword: The sword defied all attempts to identify it. I'm going to wait for Mythic to fill in the details through random events and the like.

Griffon: If the encounter with the dwarf and his friends who gave Théscine the sword was a bit lighthearted, the encounter with the griffin was downright whimsical. I like grim fantasy, but that should never preclude such an encounter. If anything, it will only throw the horrific elements into higher contrast. Warhammer has a great setting and all, but I get the feeling that no one there ever smiles about anything ever. Everything is always horrible, to the point that I wonder if anyone really notices it.

Anyway, I rolled the encounter completely at random. The griffon passed his morale check so as not to attack the horses immediately (per the Expert rulebook). His reaction roll was 9, Talkative. I rolled a single personality trait from the d30 Companion and got Relaxed.

I decided he would most likely be after the horses, so I generated a random hoard for his lair to determine what he would have to bargain with:

Treasure Type E (HC XVIII)
EP: 2000
Gems (3): Star Rose Quartz-100 sp, Obsidian-10 sp, Citrine-250sp. Total Value: 360 sp.
Jewelry: (3): Anklet-20 sp, Bracelet-300 sp, Idol-50sp. Total Value: 370 sp.
Magic: Ring of Invisibility, Scroll: Treasure Map (Value 5d6x1000 sp), Scroll: Ward against Elementals, Scroll: Treasure Map (Value 1d6 gems, 2d10 jewelry)

I've added the griffon to the Mythic characters list, because he's easily my favourite random NPC ever and it will be fun to see if he turns up again.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

LotFP solo - Part the Eighth: "Through the sick day in which we wake to weep"

Scene 10

Chaos: 6

Setup: Modified - Interrupt (rolled a 2. Was: rest until help arrives)

Interrupt: Violate / Status Quo - newly dead dig way to freedom after (1d3=)2 days

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon, Tibalt's friend Barnot

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
pay thieves' debt to get crown
healing/cure for disease
recover fallen thieves' bodies

day 14.

Firdeth and Oigonlaer watch over the others quietly. There are no encounters, so their wounds heal nicely.

Aldira and Debinvarr each lose 1 CON to the disease, Yrene and Théscine lose 3 each. Debinvarr and Théscine lie comatose in a tent, but the other two can at least come out to sit by the fire. Aldira spends her time chatting with the elves. Yrene mostly drifts in and out of sleep.

day 15.

The day passes uneventfully as before. But that evening Benyithelnol, Caerindíl, and Fr. Biölning claw their way out of their graves. They are rotten and horrible as the things that brought them low. Seeing the light of the campfire, they trudge through the ruins to attack their former friends. "By the Gods!" gasps Aldira as she sees them approach.

[neither party is surprised. round 1.] Firdeth and Oighonlaer grab their weapons and spring into action. Unfortunately neither hurt their opponents, buried as they were in their armour. Aldira struggles to her feet and shouts for everyone to get back away from the fire.

The three Festering Ones attack the three heroes. Only Firdeth is hit for [for 2, dropping her to 3hp].

[round 2.] The elves beat a hasty retreat, bravely interposing themselves between Aldira and the shambling corpses. Aldira summons all her strength to cast a spell. A mass of sticky webs appears out of nowhere, growing between the advancing undead and halting their approach. The webs grow to encompass the campfire, and are instantly set alight. Two of the corpses are consumed in flames,  [webs burn for 2 rounds, causing 1d6 damage / round. 2 destroyed, the last is down to 3hp] but the thing that was Caerindíl stumbles forth as the last of the webs burn away.

[round 3(observed).] Oigholaer steps forward to attack with his spear, but again fails to injure the thing. It bashes him with two smouldering fists [6 damage, bringing him to -1hp]. He falls before the onslaught.

[round 4.] Firdeth charges at it, slashing wildly with her rapier, eventually bringing down the horrid undead creature.

After tending to Oighonlaer's wounds as best they can, Aldira and Firdeth drag the remains away from camp, where Firdeth digs a shallow trench whilst Aldira collects kindling. They use the rest of the lamp oil to burn the bodies lest they rise again.

That night, both Firdeth and Oighonlaer show the first signs of disease. [Everyone loses one or two points of CON from failed saves. Aldira is very fortunate; she lost one point during the day before the fight, but made both her evening and nighttime saves despite the -2 penalty for interrupted rest].

day 16.

The day passes slowly. The disease continues to ravage the whole camp. Firdeth has succumbed the least, so far, and tries to keep the fire going and cook their meals.

In the mid-afternoon, the sound of horses arriving at full gallop rouses Firdeth from her grim thoughts. She clutches her rapier and looks over the ruined wall to investigate. What a sight to behold! Her friends have returned, and with help. They have been riding the horses hard since dawn; one of the horses dies from exhaustion.

Barnot wastes no time in assessing the sick. Yrene is found to have died some time that morning; Lycinia and Miolla take her body away to be burned. Théscine and Aldira are the next worst off. Barnot blesses them both [even though Bless doesn't work on elves or other magical creatures] and tries to banish the infection from them. Aldira recovers, but the Hunting God does not smile upon Théscine.

day 17.

Today Barnot's prayers cure Théscine, but fail to cure Debinvarr.

day 18.

Barnot attempts to cure Debinvarr and Oighonlaer, both unsuccessfully.

Lycinia and Miolla complain of boredom. Barnot suggests they go hunting in the nearby forest. Lycinia borrows Debinvarr's longbow, and the two set off. [They get 3 meals worth of food (rabbit) for their efforts, and also incur a random encounter: 16 bandits (0-level humans) + their leader, a 1st level Specialist.

Q: Do bandits attack? 50/50: 08, Exceptional Yes.]

The bandits approach through the trees. They are spread out into three groups. They are clad in leathers, and armed with a mix of shortbows and light crossbows. Their leader (a woman distinguished by her fine armour and obvious authority) calls out to the elves to drop their weapons and surrender their valuables, or face the consequences.

[round 1. No surprise, PCs win initiative.] Lycinia and Miolla look at each other for a moment, then smile knowingly. Each then casts a Sleep spell at one of the groups of bandits. [Lycina gets 14HD, Miolla 7HD] The leader and her four lieutenants fall deeply asleep, as do seven out of a group of eight others. The third group (of 4) raise their bows and fire; Lycinia and Miolla are each hit by a single arrow, but the wounds are only minor (1 damage each). The bandit left standing in the middle group starts slapping one of his comrades awake.

[round 2.] Lycinia nocks and arrow and lets it fly. The bandit who just woke his fellow is hit in the throat [5 damage, down to -3] and falls over, mortally wounded. Miolla fires at the bandit who is just awakening, wounding him severely but not enough to take him out of the fight [5 damage, 1hp left]. Another volley of arrows comes towards the elves, hitting the ground and trees around them [attack rolls 1,3, 1, 12].

[round 3.] Miolla puts a second arrow into the sleepy bandit's chest, killing him outright [6 damage puts him at -5hp]. Lycinia fires on an uncertain target [rolled a 2]. Another volley of arrows sails hopelessly past the two elves.

[round 4.] The attack rolls on both sides were so bad this round that they have been stricken from the record.

[round 5.] Having had enough of the exchange of arrows, Lycinia and Miolla advance to close combat range, trying to use the trees for cover. Lycinia is unlucky; an arrow finds a weak spot in her chainmail, giving her a nasty wound just beneath her collarbone [4 damage; she has 1hp left].

[round 6.] The bandits scramble to draw shortswords and hand axes as the two elves rush at them, swinging. Lycinia runs one through with her sword [9 damage, dropping her to to -5hp] as Miolla crushes another's skull with her mace [7 damage, leaving him at -4hp]. Both die instantly. The other two [morale check fails] throw down their weapons and surrender.

Lycinia gestures at one of the bandits with her gore-covered sword. "Make it worth our while to let you live," she says.

[Q: Do they reveal where their treasure is? Likely: 30, Yes.]

As the two remaining bandits flee for their lives, the elves walk over to the slumbering bandit leader. She has a grubby sack filled with loot. Lycinia begins killing the sleepers where they lie, until she notices Miolla's pained expression. "Oh, Lycinia, do you think everyone would do the same to us?"

"I do, dear Miolla," she responds. "But I hate to see you upset. We'll leave the rest. But we shall cut their bowstrings and scatter their swords through the wood!"

Lycinia ruins the bows whilst Miolla starts to scatter the swords; she can throw them awfully far. After about five minutes they begin to fear the sleep magic will wear off, and head out of the forest with their treasure. They arrive back at camp injured and bloody, but beaming, flushed with the success of their venture.

bag of loot:
    Ivory comb (60sp)
    Gold tiara (100sp)
    fine Silver necklace (200sp)
    Silver necklace set with single peridot pendant (200sp)
    Silver armlet (20sp)
    ornate Silver ring set with gems (150sp)
    Wrought gold brooch (350sp)
    clunky gold necklace (100sp)
    beaten gold pendant (100sp)
    ruby earrings (900sp)
    snakeskin belt with platinm buckle (500sp)
    Wrought silver and gold ring (60sp)
    ermine stole (150sp)
    4 coinpurses (totalling 8gp, 46sp, 28cp)

day 19.

Debinvarr is cured, Oighonlaer is not.
Barnot cures Miolla & Lycinia's combat wounds, but lectures them on responsibility at the same time. There's pouting.

day 20.

Firdeth is cured. Oighonlaer dies.



The disease has taken its toll on the CON scores of the afflicted, though some have had time to recuperate a little (a full day's rest restores 1 point). Their current/max scores are:
Aldira 10/13
Théscine 7/9
Debinvarr 9/13
Firdeth 9/15

I tracked the whole course of the disease and associated hit point loss from lowered constitution scores, but I have redacted it from the narrative. If anyone is enough of a game mechanics junkie to want to see the disease rules in action, I kept the notes.


Firdeth, Oighonlaer, and Aldira each get 50xpfor the fight with the Festering Ones

Lycinia, Miolla, and Tibalt get 58xp each for the fight on the road (MU3, F3, F2)

Lycinia and Miolla get 92xp each for the fight with the bandits. They will get xp for the bandit's treasure (excluding coins) and the mass of recovered silver pieces* from the dungeon when they get them back to civilisation.

But they did bring a sizable haul from the dungeon expeditions back to civilisation (Finsover) already, totalling 3112sp. There were 6 party members at the time for XP purposes, so 3112/6=518xp each.

They spent about 485sp on room&board, horses, iron rations, and a pair of tents. They now have more than enough to pay off Siorghan (with the Topaz (1000 sp), Alexandrite (500 sp), and 2000sp in coin.

*N.B. There were, of course, 6 characters in the fight that cleared the room where the 2000sp lay, but as Lycinia and Miolla went back for them alone, and also set out nearly alone (Tibalt being essentially a professional torch-carrier and amateur xp sponge) to bring healing back to the party, they seem to deserve the extra XP.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

LotFP solo - Part the Seventh: „Wohl auf, Kameraden, aufs Pferd, aufs Pferd!“

"They're not looking so good," says Miolla to her companion in the elven tongue. "What can we do?"

"We need a healer," says Lycinia, "I think we'll have to go back to Cheapington to find one. If we travel light, and bring the gems, we can get some horses there and maybe be back before they're all -- before any of them die."

"You don't think we'll make it in time," states Miolla sternly. "Please don't lie to me."

"No, I don't think we will; Cheapington is far, and the humans there are troublesome. But still, gentle Miolla, we will try."

The young Tibalt gets up from the cooking fire and sheepishly approaches the two elven women. "Did I hear you say Cheapington? You're not leaving us, are you?"

"What do you take us for?" snaps Lycinia. "But look around you: we need a healer. Miolla and I are going to Cheapington to find one. Unless you'd rather we asked the good priests of St. Gelevaard's..."

"No! I mean... well, I grew up round here. There's a shrine to the Hunting God but two days march from this place. I grew up with one of the priests!"

Scene 9

Chaos: 7

Setup: Modified - Interrupt (rolled a 6. Was: Miolla & Lycinia will take portable treasure & try to bring back clerics/healing from Cheapington)

Interrupt: Expose / Friendship - Tibalt has a friend at shrine to southeast who can help

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon, Tibalt's friend

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
track down thieves
pay thieves' debt to get crown
find cure for disease
recover fallen thieves' bodies
get healing


Last 24 hours disease rolls & healing (including over night):

Aldira: -3CN, to 8; +1hp day of rest, -3hp lowered CON, +1 sleep: HP now at 4/10
Yrene: -1CN, to 5; +1hp day of rest, -3hp lowered CON: HP now at 3/10
Tibalt: +1hp day of rest, +1hp sleep, fully healed (3hp)
Firdeth: +1 hp day of rest, HP 3/7
Oigonlaer: +1hp day of rest, +1hp sleep, HP 4/5
Debinvarr*: -1CN, to 12; HP now -1/4
Théscine*: makes save; HP -2/4
Lycinia: heals 1hp for sleep, back to full HP

*One nighttime poison save for the progress of the disease. Beginning the morning of day 14 they will be on the same saving throw schedule as the NPCs.

There were fortunately no nighttime encounters.

day 14.

Following Tibalt's welcome revelation, Lycinia and Miolla amend their plan. They will travel south to the village of Finsover, (hopefully) buy horses, then ride to the shrine to fetch a healer. They each study the Sleep spell out of Aldira's spellbook and set off straightaway. They bring all the gems & jewellery, a bit of coin, and their weapons. Tibalt accompanies them. He is as terrified of their fey nature as he is overwhelmed by their fey beauty. Miolla doesn't even notice, Lycinia finds him trying in the extreme.

Travelling light, and a making forced march, they reach the village by nightfall. They met no one traelling across the grassy plains.

Finsover is a village of about 65 souls, mostly simple fisherfolk. It would hardly be considered a settlement at all if it weren't for its position at the end of the road, connecting the land and river traffic at the kingdom's edge.

The PCs get rooms for the night in the village inn, such as it is. [check for rumour] Lycinia finds a thin book discarded on a shelf in the common room.

[rumour type: library data, topic: event, magnitude: minor
Bibliomancy: At Venus Ascanio placidam per membra quietem / irrigat, et fotum gremio dea tollit in altos / Idaliae lucos (Vergil, Aeneid I, 691-3)
(But Venus poured a gentle sleep over Ascanius' body and bore him warm against her breast up to a high Idalian grove)]

The book relates the legend of a king's son stolen away by the gods. A local festival is held to commemorate the event, attracting the faithful and curious from miles around. The king and queen themselves preside. The festival will be next held in [1d100] 24 days [day 38].

Day 15.

In the morning they see about buying some horses. [Using the d30 Companion produced the following: Are horses available for sale? Need to roll 5 or less: 4, yes (phew! saves me having to find rules for horse thievin'). Merchandise is Average quality and sells for 90% of listed value. The interior of the shop (& stables) is Modest, the horse trader's attitude is Sober; -2 on d30 reaction table. The reaction roll is (10-2=)8: apathetic toward PCs; will let them shop; unlikely to help; may refuse sale to PCs based on their behaviour/attitude; will not barter.] There are four riding horses available. Lycinia wants to buy them all, each with tack&harness, a pair of saddlebags, and 2 days feed (they can graze at the ruins, but just in case...). She offers a handful of gems as payment.

[Q: Does/can the trader appraise the gems fairly? 50/50: 45, Yes.] Lycinia hands over 400sp worth of gems and calls it a fair trade. Tibalt has been sent to buy more preserved rations to bring back to the ruins. As he returns from his errand, Lycinia and Miolla are already saddled up and ready to go.

The road between Finsover and the shrine makes it less than half a day's ride. About midday, as the horses ride over the crest of a small hill, the PCs see a group of three people -- a woman in travelling clothes armed with a rapier, and two men in chainmail with axes and heavy crossbows -- standing in the middle of the road engaged in a heated argument. They seem completely oblivious to the rider's approach [they are surprised] until Tibalt calls out for them to move aside.

They abruptly stop arguing, and one of the men approaches, saying, "Well, what have we here? Looks like our transportation troubles are solved after all! Why don't you all get down from those horses so no one gets hurt?" At this, the two men both raise their crossbows menacingly. Miolla defiantly calls out an imprecation in elvish, which they show no sign of understanding. But they perfectly comprehend her intentions as she raises her mace.

[NPCs win initiative] The woman makes a magical gesture, and speaks words of power; the air around her shimmers slightly [she casts Shield]. The two men fire their crossbows. A bolt sails right past Miolla's head, but the other one hits Tibalt squarely in the shoulder [2 damage, reducing him to 1hp] and he cries out in pain. Lycinia points towards the enemies and speaks a charm of her own; the three sink to the ground in a deep slumber [Sleep spell, affecting 9HD]. She then dismounts, and calmly dispatches the sleeping trio with her sword as Miolla and Tibalt look on, wide-eyed. "They'd have done the same," says Lycinia bluntly.

[Q: Does the MU have her spellbook? 50/50: 77, No. +Event: activity/weather (Ambiguous event)] Lycinia examines the woman for a moment, but is disappointed to find that she wasn't carrying any scrolls or a spellbook. A cursory glance at the other two reveals nothing of interest, so she gets back on her horse and they continue their journey. Just then the skies open up, drenching the party in a downpour that lasts until they arrive at the forest shrine.

The shrine itself is a simple affair, two concentric circles of low stones arranged around a venerable oak in the old way. nearby stands a thatched-roof cottage and a well, modern additions for the use of the priests who tend the shrine and minister to the faithful (hunters from the nearby villages and some of the soldiers from the fort).

Q: Is Tibalt's friend there currently? Somewhat Likely: 24, Yes.
Q: Do they keep curative scrolls stockpiled? Very Unlikely: 75, No.
Q: Can the PCs convince him to come with them? 50/50: 04, Exceptional Yes. -- he'll go free of charge.

Tibalt's friend is a large, well-groomed man who wears simple woodsman's garb. His name is Barnot. Despite being the head priest [6th level cleric] at the shrine, he claims no religious title; the Hunting God eschews such fripperies. He's only a year older than Tibalt, but his full, bushy beard and deep voice make him seem much older and wiser. He is surprisingly meek for a man of his stature, and he greets the elves with great humility. He ushers everyone into his cabin out of the rain, attends to Tibalt's injuries, then goes out to tend the horses.

That evening, Barnot listens to his guests' tale in front of a crackling fire, and serves them a hearty pheasant stew. The next morning, the four of them saddle up the horses in the cold autumnal dawn, and set off back to the ruins with all speed...

Friday, 7 February 2014

thoughts on character

I've noticed that characterisation in my two campaigns has been very different, and that it has had a profound effect on the way I write up the game notes, beyond what would be expected for the genre differences between hard sci-fi and dark fantasy.

The Traveller game, focussed as it is on one character, presents nearly everything from her point of view. The LotFP game, on the other hand, is currently an ensemble piece, and few of the characters have really had an opportunity to shine. It's not helped by the fact that they're all first level and the same class. There's a bit less to differentiate them than most first-level parties. In hindsight, I should have at least started each of them off with a second spell, but I'm playing with as few house rules as possible since... well, since I'd rather play than tinker and the game pretty much works for me as written. Plus I already gave them a pile of healing potions.

With so many characters to keep track of, they all seem to lose out a little. It's hard to keep all of them in the action and give them something to say. I could write out long conversations involving the entire party, but my goal is to simulate a terrifying and fantastical adventure, not a BBC costume drama (though if anyone ever writes GURPS Jane Austen, I'm totally buying it).

Lieutenant ( Sergeant) Gytovo had almost the same set-up as the elves: tiny bit of notes for his origin, a stat block, and two random personality traits. Yet he has managed to blossom into a full person. One can hardly say the same about Debinvarr. He's apparently humorous and eager, but he has yet to demonstrate either trait. I can't recall the personality traits on Lt. Gytovo's character sheet off hand, but it's hardly important. Put him in a situation and I'll know how he'll feel about it.

There's a stock bit of advice given to writers which is Show, don't tell. It's a lot harder to pull of with eight characters in the spotlight than it is only one or two. I suppose a combination of PC attrition and level-gain will make it possible to have a smaller party and develop bigger personalities, but until they hit at least 3rd or 4th level less than six in the dungeon seems suicidal; either that or they need more typical D&D amounts of magic items, but that's not a route I want to go down. I like the lower-magic setting just fine.

Once they get the Crown and trade it for the vampire's information, they are totally going to consume all excess treasure in spell research. Being elves, they operate with a different regard to time. If they track down Neldir and return within a year it will still seem like they just left yesterday, so a few weeks downtime will be trivial. Different spells should help differentiate their abilities in the short term. In the longer term, it's likely that some of the elves (the boring ones or the ones who suffer irreparable damage) may decide to give up adventuring after their quest is finished, opening up slots for different sorts of characters in the party. Maybe I'll just have two or three main characters and let the rest be NPCs or hirelings.


So, what do I have so far?

At some point I decided that, from linguistic evidence, Firdeth must be of a different stock than the others. All the male elves' names end in a liquid consonant, the females' in a vowel, except for Firdeth. Since the nobility of the forest would mostly be High Elves, I decided that this made Firdeth a wood elf. Théscine's name ends in a vowel, but it's silent. So she's still a high elf, but her family is originally from the Continent, from which they migrated / fled / were exiled long ago.

If I could draw, it would help. But I don't really want to use random people's art for my character portraits. Besides, I do have some definite ideas about how some of them look, and so finding something suitable would be hard anyways. I can see at least some of them clearly in my mind's eye.

Firdeth and Debinvarr look rather similar. They're about the same build, though she's the stronger of the two. They also sport the same close-cropped hairstyle. You might think they were siblings, if you didn't know better. They also both fight with rapiers -- not the renaissance-looking kind, but a more bronze-age style, like these.

Firdeth has auburn hair and walnut-coloured skin. The rest of the elves are very pale.

Théscine has dead white skin and masses of black curls. She is scarcely over 4 1/2' tall. She has one blue eye, one green: some say this comes with the gift of prophecy.

Miolla's golden curls are even more voluminous than Théscine's locks. She has freckles from too much sun. She has violet eyes, the face of a pixie and the body of an athlete, all sinewy and muscled.

Lycinia's flaxen hair is very fine; she wears it long, to the middle of her back. She's the tallest of the elves, standing about 5'5". Her eyes are vividly green. She's nearly as pale as Théscine.

Oighonlaer's got a more-or-less Prince Valiant thing going on.


Caerindíl was a would-be hero, and Benyithelnol was kind of a jerk, but as they were killed by zombies this is all academic.

Miolla is a bit simple. She's sweet and friendly, but also the most dangerous fighter. She means well, though is easliy led. She also doesn't understand humans, though this has yet to cause any problems.

Lycinia is the brains of the operation, and the most driven. She wants to know the deepest secrets of magic. She means to mean well, but may be slightly amoral.

Oighonlaer thinks he's in charge, though not everyone would agree. He speaks Common in a very affected fashion. He thinks he understands humans, but probably doesn't.

Firdeth is the most soldierly, Théscine the most proud, Debinvarr the most swashbuckle-y, but none of them have really had a chance to say much yet, so are all a bit hazy.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

LotFP solo -Part the Sixth: „Irrend an der Hölle Toren, / Ach, wie bald bin ich verloren!“

Scene 8

Chaos: 6

Setup: Unaltered - Into the dungeon again

characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Eril the Vampire, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, thieves, Siorighan MU12, summoned demon

threads: find Neldir & the book
get item for Vampire
track down thieves
pay thieves' debt to get crown
find cure for disease
recover fallen thieves' bodies


Last 24 hours disease rolls:
Aldira (fails 2 saves; -2CN, to 11)
Yrene (fails all three saves; -3CN, to 6)

Before going to sleep the party meted out the healing potion and the rest of the salve. That night they all heal one additional hit point, except Firdeth and Oighonlaer who are under half.

By morning, Firdeth (2/7hp) and Oigonlaer (2/5hp) remain seriously injured, Benyithelnol and Théscine are lightly wounded (both at 3/4hp), and the rest have made full recoveries.

Fortunately there were no encounters during the night.

Party combat XP for the trip & dungeon (no treasure xp until the treasure is brought back to civilisation): 685/8=85
(lion 100, brigands 60, stirges 175, #6 75, #11s 50, #8s 75, #3s 150)

Elves with no decent spells are just poor fighters. Lycinia decided to try convincing Aldira they should be allowed to study her spellbook.

Q: Can they convince her to agree? Unlikely: 48, Yes. Everyone casts Read Magic before bed so they can use it (in turns) in the morning.]

day 13.

It is decided that Firdeth and Oighonlaer (with Tibalt, Aldira, and Yrene) will spend day at rest (healing 1 hp each), whilst the other 6 PCs return to the dungeon.

They spend five hours preparing spells out of Aldira's book.

The book contains:
1. Read Magic
1. Faerie Fire
1. Feather Fall
1. Unseen Servant
1. Sleep
1. Enlarge
2. Web

Benyithelnol prepares Faerie Fire, Debinvarr prepare Unseen Servant, Théscine studies Enlarge, and both Lycinia and Miolla memorise Sleep. Caerindíl prepares Read Magic out of his own spellbook in the hopes that they will uncover a scroll.

All preparations having been made, they descend into dungeon in the early afternoon. From the entrance hall [room 1] they once again head to the west, and continue down the western corridor out of [room 2] the tentacle thing's lair. They head south from the 4-way intersection and enter a chamber [room 7] which is strewn with more débris and offal, but devoid of anything truly interesting.

Proceeding west down the corridor out of the chamber nearly results in disaster. [Trick/trap: Secret Door -- unless located (elf locates 5 in 20), Pit, 10’ deep, 3 in 6 to fall in.] Lycinia, in the lead with a torch takes a step and feels the floor fall away beneath her. She totters on the edge for a moment, but manages to stagger back from it without falling in. The pit is 10' deep and 10' across: inconvenient enough to cross that the elves decide to turn round and try another path. They return to the intersection, and follow another corridor.

They open a door and come into a large, square room [room 8, contents: Special], which appears empty at first, lacking even the general muck they've become accustomed to trodding over. Lycinia has walked to the middle of the room before her torch finally illuminates the far corner. Her eyes grow wide with what is revealed. A squat stone obelisk sits atop a low dais. Surrounding its base is a glittering pile of silver coins, with a few precious stones mixed in as well.

The party inches forward cautiously, wary of potential traps and guardians. Lycinia notices some sort of runic inscription on the obelisk. She raises her torch and peers at it closely. Then the world seems to buzz. Waves of force emanate from the runic Symbol, overwhelming all in the room with ineffable agonies, as if their very souls are being shredded by the claws of some nameless fiend. The peals of a gong reverberate throughout the room - is it really a sound, or is it just their nerves screaming? Lycinia's vision blurs as she falls to her knees. Théscine begins to weep. Benyithelnol is sick. The others stop still in their tracks, wincing, gritting their teeth, praying silently for release [Symbol of Pain: Each creature within 60' suffers wracking pains that impose a –4 penalty on attack rolls and –2 to Dexterity. These effects last for 2d10 Turns.]

Then Debinvarr is screaming-- no, he's shouting, shouting out a warning. The door is quietly swinging closed, as hidden panels in the wall fall open. Eight hideous undead emerge, foul and festering corpses [Festering Ones] dripping with corruption. They plod forward, arms outstretched and grasping. The elves summon all their resolve to do battle with the foul undead.

[round 1. fortunately there was no surprise, and Festering ones, like zombies always lose initiative. The effects of the Symbol of Pain have worsened almost everyone's AC, and for the -4 to hit I increased the monsters' AC to 17 to simplify things.] Théscine casts Enlarge upon herself as the things approach. Miolla swings her heavy mace in a wide arc, knocking the head of one of the advancing horrors clean off. Benyithelnol finds the strength to connect his mace with another, but his lighter weapon and lesser strength do not produce quite the same result as his companion. Théscine tries to bring her sword down on the head of one of the things, but steps in too close to be raked by its filthy claws [5 damage reduces her to -2hp. Note to purists: she did not actually get an attack roll this round as she already acted in casting a spell. But I prefer interesting descriptions to cold enumerations of game mechanics]. She collapses from the shock.

[round 2.] The confused mêlée swirls in the centre of the room, made even more confusing by the wildly flashing light of the lantern swinging in Benyithelnol's hand, and Lycinia's fallen torch rolling on the flagstones. Miolla and Debinvarr both manage to strike one of their opponents, and though oozing flesh is torn and rotten bone splintered, neither falls. Benyithelnol staggers back as a gooey fist pummels his chest [1 damage, leaving him with 2hp]. Caerindíl fares far worse; one of them lunges forward and fastens its teeth in his neck [6 damage, reducing him to 1hp].

[round 3.] Caerindíl skewers his opponent with his spear, and manages to push it back away from him. Luck briefly seems to smile down upon the noble elves for a moment; all of their weapons strike true. Debinvarr's and Benyithelnol's foes are destroyed, so the sides are now even (5 against 5).

[round 4.] O Fortuna, thou art fickle! The elves fare poorly in attacking, scoring only a pair of hits, and neither telling. Debinvarr gasps as two filthy hands crash down on his shoulders. He falls motionless to the floor [5 damage, 0hp left]. Caerindíl's opponent knocks his spear aside, and rakes gangrenous claws down his face and neck. The life pours out of him, he falls and is still [6 damage takes him to -5hp, dead].

[round 5.] Debinvarr's attacker turns to face Miolla, who caves in its chest with her mace. Benyithelnol rushes in to avenge Caerindíl, but he is grabbed by gangrenous claws which tear and rip and rend [6 damage, dropping him to -4hp, dead]. The mace falls from his now slack fingers. He sinks to the ground and is no more.

[rounds 6-9.] Only Miolla and Lycinia are still standing, facing four of the putrefying undead. They stand back-to-back, sword and mace swinging wildly at the ever-advancing foes. Fighting through the pain still permeating their very beings, they cleave through bone and flesh and foulness. Each of them drop two of the gruesome monsters. Finally they turn, short of breath, scarcely able to stand, yet grinning up at one another as they realise the battle is won.

"Good fight," gasps Miolla, "you can always have my back! Those things... never even touched me. You?"

"No..." replies Lycinia, "not a one... or... oh..."

Her eyes go wide as she notices the blood running down her arm [she took a single point of damage in round 7]. She stares dumbly at it until she feels Miolla's hand on hers. "The others," she says, "we have to see to the others."

They examine their fallen comrades. Their joy at finding Debinvarr and Théscine still living is tempered by their sorrow for Benyithelnol and Caerindíl. They join hands and whisper a sweet elven prayer, then turn their minds to the task of getting out of the dungeon with the living, the dead, and the treasure.

Splashing Debinvarr's face with water from one of the waterskins revives him enough to hobble about with some support. Théscine remains comatose. When she returns to normal size, Miolla (the strongest of all the elves) carefully lifts her onto her shoulder whilst Debinvarr leans on Lycinia as they retreat slowly towards the exit.

Once outside they collapse in the grass. They make their way back to the camp, and tell their anxious comrades about the events of the day. After a couple hours the lingering effects of the awful Symbol wear off. Lycinia and Miolla decide to make a hasty trip back down into the dungeon to recover their friends bodies and the treasure.

They sneak back to the room by a sliver of lantern light. Once there they make doubly sure that none of the corpses are yet moving, then with exceeding caution approach the obelisk. They throw a cloak over it, lest they unwittingly see the accursed Symbol and suffer its baneful magic anew. They then scoop all the coins, gems, a small glass phial, and a leather scroll case into a pair of sacks, before dragging them and their friends bodies out towards the exit (Miolla carrying the lantern gingerly in her teeth).

The sound of their passage attracts attention [I made a wandering monster check for each room & corridor traversed; only one encounter was indicated]. Five strange blue beasts [#9s] are crawling towards them, blocking the passage. The things are about 8' long, slender and snake-like, but possessed of two powerful arms which they use to help pull themselves forward. The arms end in 7-fingered hands, whose long claws scrape against the stone floor. The seem to have no actual head, just a long proboscis ending in a sharp, bony point.

[Neither party is surprised, PCs win the initiative] Upon seeing the things rushing to attack, Lycinia lets go of the sack she'd been dragging, gestures for them and speaks a single word. All five of the beasts sink peacefully to the ground in an enchanted slumber [Sleep spell: I rolled 10HD for its effect]. Lycinia and Miolla put down their remaining burdens carefully, walk forward and put the sleeping creatures to the sword. "They'd have done the same," says Miolla regretfully.

The pair succeed in dragging the bodies and all the treasure back to the surface without further incident. They bury their friends in a nearby copse so their spirits can find solace in the forest.


Upkeep & Aftermath:

The three who were injured by the festering ones need to save vs. poison to avoid contracting the rotting disease; Théscine and Debinvarr fail, Lycinia succeeds. The incubation time is only 4 hours, so they show signs of illness before their friends are interred.

The six who survived the dungeon this day each receive XP. The total is 600: 400 for the fight with the festering ones and 200 for the death of 2 party members (thanks to Bluebear Jeff  for the idea). Each survivor thus earns 150xp for combat.

Miolla and Lycinia each earn 25 additional XP for their return to the dungeon.

XP for treasure has to wait until the party bring it back to civilisation. But the treasure itself is pretty good for a change:


Gems (14): Carnelian-100 sp, Topaz-1000 sp, Alexandrite-500 sp, Tiger Eye Agate-10 sp, Hematite-50 sp, Azurite-50 sp, Chrysoberyl-500 sp, Hematite-25 sp, Star Rose Quartz-75 sp, Rock Crystal-75 sp, Onyx-75 sp, Eye Agate-50 sp, Eye Agate-10 sp, Banded Agate-50sp. [Total Value: 2570 sp.]

potion (unlabelled)

Magic-User Scroll
-Spider Climb
-Howl of the Moon
-Magic Mouth
-Magic Aura

[The next post discusses characterisation in this adventure; the adventure continues in teh post immediately following]