Friday, 31 October 2014


It's been a busy Halloween season. I haven't had any time for gaming, but I have managed to write my annual ghost story.

Here's the original.

Here's the English version.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Runequest solo - part XI, Dénouement

Scene 30

chaos 4

Setup: dénouement

In the days following the apprehension of the villain, Lachaidiga has known almost no rest. An endless parade of city officials has been to see her, and, she has no doubt, all the other participants in the strange affair. At length they seem satisfied, and begin to go away.

And then it is that one day she finds herself at home, alone, and quite bored. She thinks to go out into the city in search of some diversion, but the late summer storms have arrived, and the wind stirs up the dust in the streets, making going abroad seem decidedly less pleasant. She cannot call on her dear Nillath, for she is sequestered in the Temple of the Sun, performing the rites that celebrate, at this time of the year, the victory of the Sun over the monsters in the outer darkness, who nearly caused the death of the Earth and all its peoples. She cannot even go to see her friend Udzar-sippuk, for he too is leading the ceremonies of thanksgiving to mighty Anzakàr, who succoured the people in their flight from the forces of destruction. She is on the point of wishing Enzzal were home; even an argument with her brother would be better than this mournful solitude.

And then it is that one morning the house nomenclator comes to announce an arrival: Leudagar, the barbarian 'leader' of the band of Ylhooni chaos-fighters.

"You will show my friend in," says Lachaidiga, "with not a hint of the disdain you just now evinced. And send one of the kitchen staff round with some wine. It better be the good stuff. Or I'll know."

Lachaidiga cursorily checks her coiffure in the reflection of an obliging brass urn, then hastens to greet her visitor. She finds the barbarian in the parlour adjoining the garden, sprawled in one of couches by the fish pond. He brightens when he sees her appear. "Oh, ho! If it isn't the heroine of the hour," says Leudagar, his voice booming louder than the peals of thunder overhead.

"Hardly that," says Lachaidiga as she unceremoniously flops into a pile of cushions on the ground, "Why, now that it's all over, the prefect is treating me as if I'm partly to blame. He's just covering up for the fact that I had to do his job for him. But it's been no end of headaches having to tell six dozen officials all the same story. And I still don't even know who the villain even is! No one will tell me."

Leudagar's expression darkens. "He was one of us once. Until he betrayed us. If we'd known he was in the City, we'd not have left him alive to do this. Tell me, I must ask: what will they do with him now?"

"He'll be sent to the mines, I suspect."

"They should slay that foul wretch!"

"Don't worry. No one survives down there for very long."

"And what of the wand? It is an artifact of evil--"

"And it's being dealt with. Don't worry, it's already been handed over to the Hermetic sorcery college to have the enchantment broken. We don't let nasty magic like that float around the place, no matter what people think. It's not very nice."

The barbarian is about to object, but then roars with laughter. "Well I'd scarcely thought that sorcerers would be our allies in the Great Battle, but I see now we have the same opinion on chaos. Not very nice indeed! Ha, ha!"

Lachaidiga and Leudagar make short work of the good wine. A servant is summoned to fetch them another jug, and then another, and another. They spend a pleasant afternoon laughing and drinking, and Leudagar coaxes out the details of her battles against the ghoul and the traitor. Outside the wind howls, and lightning now and again splits the sky, lending a strangely dramatic air to her increasingly silly account.

Her brother Enzzal arrives home in the afternoon, and finds the boisterous pair in the parlour. He quickly hides his distaste at seeing Lachaidiga's barbarian visitor, but it is a look his sister reads very well.

"Sister!" says he, "I see you have a guest. What a charming sight the two of you make."

"And an important guest at that," responds Lachaidiga. "So I hope you don't mind, but we've gone through all the good wine in the cellar."

"Mind? Of course not, sister dear. Nothing can darken this fine day. I've just come back from a most profitable meeting with your intended, and the preparations are well in hand. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to personally extend an invitation to the good Leudagar, and all of his Ylhooni brethren, to join us next month at your wedding celebration."

Just then lightning flashes right over the garden and a peal of thunder booms, resounding through  the house. Lachaidiga jumps in fright. But was it the thunder that startled her so, or her brother's words; who can say?

Lachaidiga's second adventure begins here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Runequest solo - part X, Closing the net

scene 29

chaos 5

Setup: back to the tavern

1. the ghoul's handler
2. Ay-Meddush, the merchant
3. Huollof, the caravan leader
4. chieftain Ulevaard and the barbarian delegation
5. prefect (PC's enemy)
6. Maruthus, the nosey neighbour
7. Izzeri-zatah, the high priestess of Ziburrun, the knowledge god
8. Alkinu, the suitor
9. Enzzal, Lachaidiga's eldest brother
10. the mason - a witness
11. Nillath, priestess of the Sun

1. solve murder
2. stop wedding

Lachaidiga and Udzar-sippuk sit quietly in the gloomy colonnade for a quarter of an hour until they can finally breathe normally again [i.e. recover the level of Fatigue]. Lachaidiga then complains to her companion of the wounds she suffered in battle. The priest summons the healing powers of the great god Anzakàr, and as he holds his hands outstretched over his friend, her wounds miraculously begin to close. The sorceress meanwhile chants a minor charm of her own, so that the bloodstains disappear from her gown. Sadly, she does not yet know the spell of mending. Perhaps when this is over, she shall have to call round to her former master at the Sorcerers' College. For the serpent-folk, she reasons, never have tears in their robes.

[Udzar-sippuk only has a Folk Magic score of 38%. It took him 6 goes and 5 magic Points to manage to heal Lachaidiga's wounds. Fortunately the Heal spell will heal any location to full with a single application, provided it is only suffering Minor Wounds (has 1 or more HP left).

Lachaidiga  (Folk Magic 31%) had about the same luck, taking three attempts and 3MP to manage to successfully cast Cleanse.

Q: Is there anywhere to stash the body of the ghoul? 50/50: 35, Yes. Lachaidiga makes a Conceal roll (32%): 84, failure - it will be found automatically if searched for.]

"Help me move this thing," says Lachaidiga, as she takes the corpse by the hand. She grimaces with revulsion at the feel of its flaking skin. Udzar-sippuk stoically takes its other hand, and the pair drag it out of sight behind the great stone sphinx. "This will have to do. I don't want anyone to know what we've done here. Not yet at least. I can't trust the prefect's men to keep quiet -- and that would spoil everything. But I have a plan!"

Lachaidiga picks the ghoul's cloak up from the ground, and holds it out towards Udzar-sippuk. He looks down at it wide-eyed, but accepts it from her hands nonetheless. "Anzakàr protect me!" says the priest, "Somehow I knew this was going end up with me in that thing's cloak."

"So sorry, my dear. I'd wear it myself, but you're much closer to his size than am I."

"Sorry? O my darling sorceress, you're a terrible liar."

The pair make their way back across the City, down to the lower level. They wisely avoid Gods' Street and the Processional Way, so pass very few others on their way through the night-time roads and alleyways.

Their destination, that nameless square, is still quite lively, as persons of all stripes go about their various nocturnal affairs.

"Just as well I took the cloak," observes Udzar-sippuk. "If I were seen in this place, there would be talk."

He pulls the heavy cowl over his head, and marches slowly over to the spot that Lachaidiga indicates to him where she first saw the ghoul and its mysterious master. She herself disappears into her own cloak, and conceals herself across the square, to watch from the shadows.

[Q: Does this actually work? 50/50: 13, Yes.

Udzar-sippuk needs to make a Deceit (42%) roll vs. the villain's Perception (49%) in order to pass for the ghoul. The rolls are 82 vs. 76, both failures. The villain doesn't notice for now.

Lachaidiga must roll her Stealth (41%) vs. the villain's Perception to remain unnoticed. Rolls of 40 and 34 respectively both succeed; Lachaidiga wins as she rolled the larger number.

Now it is time to reveal the (randomly selected earlier) identity of the enemy.]

A well-groomed man in the armour of an infantry officer in Anzakàr's army appears in the doorway of the tavern. He looks round for a moment, then briskly crosses the square right over to Udzar-sippuk. From beneath his cloak he produces a bone wand. Waving it at Udzar-sippuk, he orders him to follow. Udzar-sippuk does his best imitation of the ghoul's gliding walk, though the soldier scarcely looks back at him.

[Another Deceit vs. Perception test. Udzar-sippuk 23, success; Villain 58, failure.]

Q: Where to now? random picture

Lachaidga needs to make another Stealth roll vs. the soldier's Perception. 10 vs. 41; both successes again, but this time the villain's roll is higher, so he will notice her.]

The soldier leads his 'ghoul' out of the poor quarter, and begins ascending one of the grand staircases between levels of the city. The moon shines bright overhead, illumining the steep passage. The soldier chances a glace back over his shoulder, and sees Lachaidiga following at a distance. He peers at her a moment, studying her cloak, recognition coming slowly over his face.

"You! You're supposed to be dead! My ghoul..."

Udzar-sippuk throws off the heavy, perfumed cloak. "We have you now, miscreant!"

[Q: Will he stand and fight? 50/50: 02, Exceptional yes. To the bitter end.]

The Villain
STR: 17
CON: 12
SIZ: 14
DEX: 9
INT: 18
POW: 11
CHA: 5

Action Points 3
Damage Modifier +1d4
Magic Points 11
Movement 6
Strike Rank 13 (-3 for armour)

1D20  Location  AP/HP
01-03 Right leg  0/6
04-06 Left leg   0/6
07-09 Abdomen    5/7
10-12 Chest      5/8
13-15 Right arm  0/5
16-18 Left arm   0/5
19-20 Head       0/6

Skills: Athletics 66%, Brawn 61%, Endurance 74%, Evade 18%, Folk Magic 46%, Locale 66%, Perception 49%, Stealth 47%, Survival 56%, Unarmed 56%, Willpower 52%, Insight 53%

Folk magic spells: Disruption, Mindspeech

Combat Style: Militia 66%
carries a shortsword, 1d6+DB

The combat begins!


Everyone rolls SR+1d10:
Lachaidiga 13+5=18
Udzar-sippuk 13+5=18
Villain 13-3+8=18

Everyone will act simultaneously.]

[round 1]
Udzar-sippuk attempts to catch the villain and hold him fast, but the man fends off his assault [both miss in unarmed combat]. Lachaidiga raises her hands above her head and begins weaving a potent spell [she needs the full round to cast]. Udzar-sippuk comes at the man again [missing his attack roll], and makes the mistake of crouching low to avoid his fists. He kicks Udzar-sippuk in the face, breaking his nose and sending him careening backwards down the steps [rolling a critical attack gave him 2 special effects, Choose location (head) and trip. Udzar-sippuk fumbled his Evade roll to avoid the trip. He takes (1d3+1d4=)4 damage from the kick and another (1d6=)4 damage to a random location -- head again! -- from the fall. His head is reduced to -3HP, a serious wound].

Udzar-sippuk's head cracks against the hard stone. He fights to stay conscious, and just barely manages to arrest his fall [He needs to roll Endurance (20%)to remain conscious with a Serious head wound: 15, success. He uses his last action point to attempt to stop his fall; fortunately he manages to just make his Athletics (20%) roll].

The villain draws his sword [using his last AP] as Lachaidiga finishes the words of her spell. [Invocation (62%) vs. his Endurance (74%): 41 vs. 95, the spell takes effect]. The magic forces the air from the man's lungs, and he begins to choke.

[round 2]
Undaunted, the villain advances down the steps at Lachaidiga [the Smother spell causes him to gain a level of Fatigue this round]. She responds by drawing her own blade. Udzar-sippuk weakly tries to grab the man's ankle as he strides past, but to no avail. Lachaidiga prepares to defend herself, trusting in her magic to make short work of the soldier.

The villain makes a wild swing at her, nearly toppling down the stairs with the downward force of his swing [failed attack vs. her successful parry; she chooses the Overextend Opponent special effect, so he cannot attack on his next turn].

[round 3]

Lack of air is hampering the soldier's ability to fight, but he steadies himself, then comes at the sorceress again and again [a failed Endurance roll gives him 2 more levels of Fatigue. He and Lachaidiga both use up an AP in hesitating]. Despite gasping for the air that will not fill his lungs, his sword powers past Lachaidiga's defence and stabs just under her ribs [5 damage to the chest leaves her with 3 in that location], but fortunately does not bite too deep.

[round 4]

The man can barely see as the faintness showers his vision with snow, but he staggers forward with one last desperate attempt. His sword flies well wide of the mark, clanging off the side of the stone passageway.

[The Smother spell causes him another level of Fatigue. Also, both he and Lachaidiga must make Endurance rolls in round 4 to avoid Fatigue from the stress of combat. She makes hers, but the villain fails. He is now considered Debilitated; all skill rolls are Herculean difficulty (1/10 skill level), movement is reduced to half, and Action Points are reduced by 2].

[rounds 5-6]

He comes at her again, even more unsteadily. The slow, clumsy sword thrusts are easily side-stepped. The sword falls from his near-lifeless fingers. He makes a final attack, unaware he has dropped the weapon, then sinks to his knees, and collapses sideways on the stair. [In round 5 he rolls a 00, fumbling his Endurance roll. This gives him 1d3=2 more fatigue levels, putting him at Semi-conscious. Round 6 sees him go Comatose.]

Lachaidiga prods the unconscious man with her sword; he does not react. She rolls him over to study his face in the moonlight. The magic has run its course and he has begun breathing normally again.

Tearing some shreds from the villain's cloak, she trusses him up hand and foot as Udzar-sippuk crawls down to join her.

"Are you alright?" she asks the priest.

"I shall live to fight another day," he says, trying to staunch his bleeding nose with the hem of his tunic. "Though I'd prefer to avoid the fighting part in the future."

"My wardrobe and I concur," responds Lachaidiga, though secretly beaming from the excitement. "Take his sword and watch over him. I'll be back with the prefect's men."

And so saying, Lachaidiga rushes off into the night to find the city watch.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Runequest solo - part IX, Ambush!

scene 28

chaos 6

Setup: ambush the assassin

1. (the murderer or murderers)
2. Ay-Meddush, the merchant
3. Huollof, the caravan leader
4. chieftain Ulevaard and the barbarian delegation
5. prefect (PC's enemy)
6. Maruthus, the nosey neighbour
7. Izzeri-zatah, the high priestess of Ziburrun, the knowledge god
8. Alkinu, the suitor
9. Enzzal, Lachaidiga's eldest brother
10. the mason - a witness
11. Nillath, priestess of the Sun

1. solve murder
2. stop wedding

[Prolegomena: Twenty-eight scenes have gone by, but at last it's time for a combat encounter. I don't count the spell reflection debacle of scene 18; despite being measured in rounds, none of the combat rules actually ended up getting used. As is my wont, I will first  write out just the narrative of the fight, and at the end of the post I will provide the entire roll-by-roll account for those who are interested in Runequest 6 combat (after the jump cut).

Also, the outcome of this scene suggested one of the pictures in my PC file, so I used it. To make it fit better, I had to make very minor additions to this scene (the lamp) and the scenes preceding it (the headdress). I changed nothing that had any bearing on the encounter (Lachaidiga could have used her Darksense spell), but I want the picture to match; torches are not the easiest thing to photoshop in, and I hate it when pictures don't reflect things as they happen in the book! Luckily I've always got many more scenes played than written up.]

Lachaidiga and Udzar-sippuk arrive at one of the many public colonnades. The merchants have all packed up their stalls long before, leaving only the occasional odds and ends behind. Lachaidga espies a discarded oil lamp amongst the detritus, and lights it with her companion's torch.

"This is the place," she announces to Udzar-sippuk. "My... my beau said he'd meet me here, in the back by the statue of that strange god. Thank you for understanding, and for not telling my brother."

"Well, I... yes, I understand your feelings for this young gentleman. But I urge you yet again to break it off before you damage the good name of your family, my lady. You've your impending nuptials to consider. As a priest, I certainly cannot condone adultery!"

"O! how weak I have been. You are of course right. I promise, this shall be the last night I spend in wickedness. But do go now, lest you frighten him off."

"May Anzakàr lead you back to righteousness!" And so saying, Udzar-sippuk strides hastily back out into the street. He looks about for the cloaked figure, and seeing him not, takes up a position behind one of large columns. [Udzar-sippuk's Stealth (26%) v. its Perception (46%): U 33, it 76; both fail. He isn't detected, but he would be automatically if it looked for him.]

Lachaidiga puts the lamp on a ledge and sits down by the colossal stone sphinx. She pretends to be bored and anxious, waiting for her tryst. After a minute of absolute silence passes by, she becomes actually bored and anxious, and begins singing to herself [Sing 31%: 42, failure], a bit out-of-tune, to pass the time.

[Her Perception vs. its Stealth: 08, success v. 83, failure.
Q: Does it attack now? Likely: 03, Exceptional Yes.]

She soon becomes aware of a form creeping slowly towards her in the darkness ahead. She stands up from her perch, and draws her short sword out from under her cloak. Not wishing to be tripped up by the heavy fabric, she lets the cloak slide from her shoulders to the ground. A similar sound answers her movement in the darkness ahead, and then the terrible form of her pursuer steps naked into the lamp light.

It is a man, or what once was a man, a livid and gruesome corpse-thing with hideous bony claws protruding from the dessicated flesh of its fingers, and a lipless rictus grin around its gore-stained mouth. Uneven bandages, soaked in some sort of sickly-sweet perfume, are wrapped round the thing to disguise the scent of decay. Its empty eye sockets glower at the young sorceress, who raises a trembling sword-arm. The ghoul pads ever closer, claws outstretched.

[round 1]
Lachaidiga thinks back to her training with the militia. Waiting until the horrid walking corpse is nearly upon her, she lunges out with her shortsword, shrieking out an incoherent battle-cry. It seems surprised by her action, and assumes an almost defencive posture, trying to swat the sword away with its talons. It succeeds only in pushing the blade downward, away from its middle but straight into its calf. It barely reacts, feeling no pain in its corpse-limbs, but as Lachaidiga withdraws the blade she twists it, and the motion is enough to unbalance the creature. It falls at her feet.

The ghoul grabs at Lachaidiga, trying to catch her dress and pull her down to the ground as well. She fends it off with her sword, looking for an opening, but her every small advance is met with a furious swipe of its terrible claws.

[round 2]
Lachaidiga doesn't want the ghoul to catch her feet, but as she hangs back her sword strokes come far short of their target. The ghoul takes the opportunity to scurry backwards and rise again to its feet.

It wastes no time, but lunges for her immediately. The sight of its gory claws fills her vision, and time seems to slow as they come straight at her eyes. Then some long-buried warrior instinct takes over and she twists out of the way as it lurches past, pawing wildly at the empty air.

Her attempt at a riposte is sadly lacking in finesse. The ghoul nearly swats the sword from her hand as she swings clumsily.

[round 3]
Udzar-sippuk arrives at a dead run. He tries to smash the ghoul with his torch, but to no avail.

Lachaidiga and the ghoul begin circling one another, each hoping the other will leave themselves open. Udzar-sippuk moves to follow, but the ghoul seems hardly to notice him, concentrating all its unholy anger on its quarry. Lachaidiga whispers a short prayer to her household gods to keep her from harm.

The ghoul hesitates for a moment, perhaps expecting the sorceress to have produced a more fearsome spell. Udzar-sippuk seizes the chance. He rushes forward and strikes the fiend right across its face with the flaming torch. It recoils, hissing with rage.

[round 4]
Udzar-sippuk follows through from his mighty swing, but the torch just barely grazes the thing's knee.

Lachaidiga swings fiercely at the creature. It raises an arm to ward off the blow. A long strip of flesh is sliced cleanly off to hang limply from the bone, but the thing registers no pain.

Her sword out of the way, the ghoul steps in and grabs at her with its other hand. The claws sink deep into her flesh and grip her tightly by the collarbone. She cries out in pain and surprise, but keeps her wits about her. Gritting her teeth, she pulls back and away from the beast, wincing as the claws are ripped free. Blood gushes out over her lovely gown, and she cannot help but think that whatever magician is controlling this hideous assassin will pay dearly for the affront to her wardrobe.

[round 5]
Udzar-sippuk uses the flaming torch to force the creature back from his friend. It snarls as the flames singe its scraggly hair. It seems to only notice the attacks that hit its head, as if some vestige of human awareness yet resides within.

The three circle warily, again looking for an opening.

[round 6]
Udzar-sippuk is out of breath, and beginning to tire. His attacks show ever decreasing force, but Lachaidiga feels a rush of pain and excitement. She lashes out once more, her blade biting deep into the fiend's bony neck. As she wrenches the blade free, the ghoul grabs at her again, this time catching her side and digging its claws in deep into her flesh as is takes hold of the fabric of her gown. The ghoul tries to pull her closer, and its fangs snap just a hair's breadth from her cheek. She struggles to loosen its grip but it has her fast.

[round 7]
The ghoul keeps snapping at the sorceress who is beginning to flag despite her terror and excitement. The ghoul continues to tug at her clothing, pulling her ever closer to its filthy, snapping maw. With a final effort born of desperation, she lets it pull her towards itself, and as the horrible head descends to bite at her white arm, she thrusts her sword with the other. The blade smashes through its jaw and nearly sunders head from spine. The creature goes limp at once, and falls forward into the sorceress. She withdraws her sword, then pushes it away from her. It falls back and crashes to the ground, a lifeless mass of withered and stinking carrion.

Udzar-sippuk lets the sputtering torch fall from his weak fingers. He steadies himself against a column whilst Lachaidiga nearly collapses against the great statue.

"And to believe..." she gasps, "that I used to... complain about... having to go out for the"

Her companion's only response is a weak smile. The pair sit for some time in the darkness, slowly recovering their breath. At length, Udzar-sippuk rises, and takes the oil lamp closer to examine the terrible form on the ground.

"What is this thing?" asks the priest. "Who could control such a fell creature?"

"Let's find out!" says the sorceress.

once more, with die rolls...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Runequest solo - part VIII, A meeting with the enemy

scene 26

chaos 6

Setup: snoop around the tavern

1. (the murderer or murderers)
2. Ay-Meddush, the merchant
3. Huollof, the caravan leader
4. chieftain Ulevaard and the barbarian delegation
5. prefect (PC's enemy)
6. Maruthus, the nosey neighbour
7. Izzeri-zatah, the high priestess of Ziburrun, the knowledge god
8. Alkinu, the suitor
9. Enzzal, Lachaidiga's eldest brother
10. the mason - a witness
11. Nillath, priestess of the Sun

1. solve murder
2. stop wedding

There are some parts of every great city, even mighty Anzakàr, where a high-born lady should never be seen to set foot. It is just one of these places to which our heroine has made her solitary way through the night-time streets, wrapped in her heavy cloak for warmth as much as for disguise.

The low place which she seeks, a nameless tavern in a nameless square, is even seedier in person that the barbarians' descriptions of the despicable place. Now, it is not the poverty of the neighbourhood that offends her sensibilities, for she is aware of the inequalities to be found in the City. Nor is it the roughness of the surroundings; she had to dodge a street brawl between two women of easy virtue [random encounter from Cities] to get here. It is not even the manifold vices practised openly in the tavern. For is it not whispered throughout polite society that she herself was once caught in the Vice-Admiral's conservatory with-- but she must now concentrate on the dangerous business at hand. If only the smell of this place, that rank admixture of cheap wine, rotten food, and desperation, did not turn her stomach so.

[Easy Endurance (42%) roll to keep from being sick: 26, success. Streetwise (36%) to avoid a major problem: 36, success (barely). Formidable Insight (29%) to notice a clue in anyone's behaviour: 75, failure.]

Lachaidiga summons all of her resolve and strides confidently into the tavern. Most of the patrons are too gone, or too busy engaged in turpitudinous activities, to take any notice. But some do notice, and she feels the cold weight of their regard. "They can all tell I don't belong here," thinks Lachaidiga. "I'll have to use that to my advantage."

She strides purposefully up to the barman, and places a pile of coins before him on the counter to get his attention. "Barkeep, I am looking for a business associate of mine, a barbarian by the name of Herleif. He came in here to meet a third party a night or two ago for some negotiations. Tell me, do you remember him? No? Perhaps a few more silvers will help you to reflect."

The barman slips the coins into his purse, as he explains that he might have seen the guy but he didn't really think anything of it and he didn't stay too long and is she going to order a drink or what?

[Q: Does her blatant display attract any attention? 50/50: 29, Yes.

I've used the Runequest Enemy generator to populate the tavern (using 'Loud Lilina's bar on a rough night'). Randomly selecting a stat block off the PDF I saved results in Storm Bull Initiate 1 on page 3, which I will interpret as an initiate of the as-yet-unnamed Storm God. The picture was drawn at random from my NPC portraits folder; it makes him a barbarian.
The man is 1d6=5 sheets to the wind.
Using UNE for his conversational opening nets: hostile - resentment - last action]

A barbarian abruptly stands up from his stool at a nearby table and totters over to Lachaidiga. "Hey, lady!" he slurs, "Wha's th' big idea comin over here an' meddlin' in our affairs all the times? The more you poke your sorcellous nose into things, th' more of our good folks gets killed."

"I'm trying to help!" she cries, "Why else would I be here, in this sort of place? I'm looking for the murderer, and a solid lead has led me here!"

[Q: Is she overheard? 50/50: 06, exceptional Yes. By the villain (I had to go get a portrait and a stat block at this point, but in the narrative I'll reveal the villain's identity piecemeal as the PCs learn it).

In order for the villain to realise she's making a scene on purpose, he'll need to roll his Insight (53%) vs her Deceit (55%): Villain 76 failure, Lachaidiga 26 success; he doesn't realise he's the one being set up.]

The barman hastily interjects. "Now, Vald, that's no way to talk to a fine lady, and especially not a fine lady sorceress. You go sit back down before I have you thrown out. Again. Now, my lady, I think it might be best if you didn't stay round here much longer. It's... it's not the sort of place for you."

"Yes, I can see that plainly. I shall leave, but if you, or any of these... persons here have any more information, please see that it gets to me at the city prefect's office."

And so saying, she marches disdainfully out into the street.

[Q: Is she followed immediately? 50/50
: 19, Yes.

Her Perception vs. the villain's Stealth (47%): L 33, Villain 10; both rolls succeed but as she rolled higher she is aware of his movements.]

She crosses the busy square and stops under a low, stone bridge across from the inn. She makes a pretence of struggling to put on her headdress in order to hazard a few glances over her shoulder. She sees a soldier, whom she recognises from the common room, talking to a tall person wrapped up in a long cloak with a heavy cowl. The soldier motions towards her, and the mysterious figure glides off in her direction, long cloak billowing behind.

"Now we're getting somewhere," thinks Lachaidiga as she proceeds apace down the dark, narrow alleyway.

scene 27

chaos 5

Setup: 2=Interrupt (was: lead pursuer into the Ylhooni's ambush)
Interrupt: PC Negative - Failure / Expectations

1. (the murderer or murderers)
2. Ay-Meddush, the merchant
3. Huollof, the caravan leader
4. chieftain Ulevaard and the barbarian delegation
5. prefect (PC's enemy)
6. Maruthus, the nosey neighbour
7. Izzeri-zatah, the high priestess of Ziburrun, the knowledge god
8. Alkinu, the suitor
9. Enzzal, Lachaidiga's eldest brother
10. the mason - a witness
11. Nillath, priestess of the Sun

1. solve murder
2. stop wedding

As Lachaidiga hurries through the narrow side-streets of the city, her mysterious pursuer seldom lags far behind. She is careful not to stray too far from the main streets with their steady flow of night-time traffic, lest she open herself to an attack. She is also careful not to get too far ahead. Several times she stops, pretending to adjust a sandal or her cloak whilst to afford the cloaked figure time to catch up or wind its way through a passing crowd.

[rolling her Perception (48%) vs. the pursuer's Stealth (51%): L 21, P 56; she keeps them in sight, so no surprises.]

The pursuit continues. Lachaidiga is confident she can lead the cloaked figure right into the ambush that the Ylhooni chaos-fighters have prepared. Only a few more streets, and then she will reach the stairway between levels where they are waiting with their heavy iron swords.

There is commotion in the cross-street ahead. Many people are bearing torches down the main thoroughfare. Lachaidiga is certain she will have to rearrange her headdress yet again when she crosses over the street to give her pursuer time to get by; she does not relish the thought of being caught on the same side of the crowd.

But as she steps out in to the street she sees an immense throng surging towards her, waving torches, beating drums, rattling sistra. An ecstatic dancer takes her suddenly by the hand and begins to whirl her round. She is caught up in the procession and has no choice but to go wherever it take her.

[Q: Can she get to safety? 50/50: 37, Yes.
Where? random picture above (which turned out to be Gods' Street, so disengaging from the procession is actually impossible as that's where they were heading).]

The procession makes its frenetic way up to Gods' Street, where it stops before the blood-stained altar before the temple of Haanveshth, the triple-headed god of fertility and abundance.

Lachaidiga is finally able to break away from the crowd as they gather to watch the victims being led forth, and hear the chant of the priest.

The rest of the street is populated with small groups of priests and the faithful wandering this way and that; for Gods' Street is never quite deserted by the pious folk of Anzakàr. Lachaidiga stops for a moment and looks back to see that a familiar cloaked figure is still following her. She doesn't think that she can make her way to the appointed place in such a way as to avoid being caught [she failed her Locale (37%) roll to come up with a route], so instead she decides she'll look for succour here.

Her first thought is of her gentle Nillath, so she hastens up the street to the great Temple of the Sun. As she climbs the great marble stair leading up to the awesome golden doors of the temple, she finds her way blocked by a pair of white-robed acolytes, young girls barely in their 15th year, who are busy tending the sacred flame burning atop the Shrine of the Dawn.

"Greetings of the eternal Sun be upon you," says one of the two girls, somewhat hesitantly.

"I need to see Nillath," says Lachaidiga, "the priestess. Is she about? Please, if so, take me to her."

The two young girls look at each other for a moment. One of them leans over and whispers something in her companion's ear. The other girl nods, and takes a step forward. "Nillath is busy," she says.

"But this is urgent. Tell her the lady Lachaidiga needs to see her."

"We have orders never to admit you into the temple. You have not been welcome here ever since... the Incident. Please, lady, go away. I don't want to have to summon the guards."

Lachaidiga pouts, but says nothing. She descends the stair back into the street, and practically runs to the next great temple, that of Anzakàr, patron god of the City which bears his name.

[Q: Is Udzar-sippuk at the temple? Very Unlikely: 08, Yes.]

She receives a much more pleasant welcome, and is delighted at the news that Udzar-sippuk is there, though he is at present performing his sacred duties. She is invited to partake in the ritual, that the strength of Anzakàr be hers to calm her evident distress, a proposition to which she readily assents. The hymn to Anzakàr, Refuge without Peer, has been a favourite of hers since her god-father taught it to her as she sat on his knee.

The ceremony lasts [1d4-1=] two hours, after which time she pushes her way to the front of the ritual chamber to greet her friend.

"Udzar-sippuk! I must speak with you. It's about the murders!"

"Lachaidiga?" says he. "What's going on? You look a state."

"Oh, my dear holy man, how you do flatter a girl!"

Lachaidiga explains everything that has transpired since Alkinu barged in on them investigating the jeweller's shop: her capture, her deal with the prefect, her plan with the Ylhooni.

"...they've probably given up by now and gone home. Which I should do as well, but I'm afraid the murderer is still out there waiting for me."

"Or they may be watching your house," ventures Udzar-sippuk. Perhaps you should come back to mine."

"I was hoping you'd say that. Are you armed?"

[Q: Is he armed? Very Unlikely: 71, No.]

"I'm not a priest of War. We don't carry weapons in this temple."

"Well, I've got my sword at least."

Udzar-sippuk takes a torch to light their way, and the pair walk out into the night.

[Q: Is Lachaidiga still being followed? 50/50: 09, Exceptional Yes.
Her Perception (48%) is rolled again vs. the pursuer's Stealth: L 01 (critical success!), P 10 (normal success); Lachaidiga wins the contest.]

As they stroll arm-in-arm out of Gods' Street, Lachaidiga glances round and notices that her pursuer has not given up the chase.

"Don't look now," she says to Udzar-sippuk, "but my new friend is right behind us. There is going to be a lot of empty streets between us and your home at this late hour. But don't worry. I've an idea."