Sunday, 30 November 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part IV, The witch-duel

Scene 4

chaos: 6

Setup: 1d10=5, Altered (see below)

Qes, assistant shaman
STR: 11
CON: 14
SIZ: 9
DEX: 4
INT: 10
POW: 11
CHA: 13

Action Points    2
Damage Modifier +0
Magic Points    11
Movement         6
Strike Rank      7

1D20  Location  AP/HP
01-03 Right leg 0/5
04-06 Left leg  0/5
07-09 Abdomen   0/6
10-12 Chest     0/7
13-15 Right arm 0/4
16-18 Left arm  0/4
19-20 Head      0/5

Skills: Athletics 75%, Binding 78%, Brawn 49%, Dance 42%, Devotion 49%, Disguise 72%, Endurance 45%, Evade 33%, Folk Magic 87%, Influence 48%, Locale 74%, Lore(Animal) 73%, Navigation 78%, Perception 46%, Sing 49%, Stealth 71%, Track 77%, Trance 71%, Unarmed 40%, Willpower 47%

Folk magic spells: Beastcall(Local Bird), Disruption, Find Life

Equipment: Bracelet - MP storage matrix (holds 6 Magic Points)

The ground around the mouth of the cave is littered with the bones of small animals. The air in the cave feels decidedly clammy after the scorching desert heat. Lachaidiga shudders as she feels a moist exhalation of damp earth wash over her. The cave smells strongly of soil, tinged with the sharp odour of a cooking fire. Dancing firelight spills onto the cave wall from around a bend.

The two girls sneak into the cave, mindful not to step on the detritus on the floor. As they creep round the corner, Lachaidiga beholds the cave's occupant. A horrible old hag sits before a cauldron, stirring the steaming brew and muttering to herself. Strange ragdoll fetishes hang here and there, and looming over the scene, as if looking down over it, is a great and terrible idol. At first Lachaidiga is struck with terror at the ominous collection of bones and skulls, but then a sudden realisation hits her: the idol is the triple-moon goddess of witchcraft, with whose blessing she herself was marked at birth!

[Two sets of opposed tests were rolled.

First, the girls' Stealth (L:44%, Q:71%) vs. the witch's Perception (53%):
L:17, Q:47, W:18 - the witch hears Lachaidiga's footsteps

Secondly, Lachaidiga's Insight (60%) vs. Qes' Deceit (35%)
04 crit vs. 63 failure - Lachaidiga realises she's being set up

N.B. To determine how the scene was Altered from "help the shaman destroy the evil spirits", I had asked the following Mythic question:
Q: Is Lachaidiga helping the wrong person? 50/50: 11, Exceptional Yes + Event: NPC Action - Ni'arouj - Stop / Weather (Ni'arouj will want to stay in the village for 1d6=5 days for fear of sandstorms.

Also, had this not been an Altered scene, I'd have used a different witch picture. Now, back to the story.]

"Now!" whispers Qes, "you can kill her before she has a chance to strike!"

Lachaidiga hesitates as the witch suddenly looks up. "Ah, my assistant finally returns," she says, "and with a guest, no less. Who might you be, dearie?"

"Assistant--?" says Lachaidiga.

"She's mad! She'll say anything to confuse you. Don't give in to her power. Strike now!"

"Lachaidiga weakly puts her hand on her sword, but does not draw. She feels the witch's eyes bore deeply into her own.

"Moon-daughter, I bid you welcome into the sanctuary of our goddess," says the witch. "Do not be fooled by the lies of this upstart into violating its sanctity."

Qes turns to flee but finds her feet rooted to the spot.

"Such a mess she's made, too," continues the witch. Stealing a powerful fetish and loosing the spirits within. Three soldiers dead... such a waste."

"What do you propose to do now?" asks Lachaidiga hesitantly, to which question she quickly appends the word "mistress".

The witch laughs in spite of herself. "I see the sorcerous college has left its mark on you as well. 'Mistress'! We don't follow the snakes' hierarchy out here, missy. But let me ask, what do you intend to do now? Are you going to kill me for this little brat to take my place, or did you have something else in mind?"

"No, of course not. Not kill you, I mean."

[Q: What does the witch want? Oppress / Investment - her apprentice (investment) to be taken to jail (~oppression)]

"You're a funny one, letting her get to you so. Vanquished you without her magic, I see.  Well, if you want to redeem yourself, why don't you take her to the village magistrates and have them lock her up. I'll be along in a day or so, but I need to sit here and mind the spirit traps. I've managed to recapture two of the rotters, but the third is proving a bit of a nuisance."

Lachaidiga finds a ball of heavy string and binds Qes' hands behind her back. The witch salutes the eerie idol and thanks the goddess for her protection. Lachaidiga is certain that the skull nods its assent. Qes stumbles a bit as she is loosed from the magic's power and can move again of her own accord -- but not very far, for Lachaidiga has a firm grip on her arm. She prods her prisoner in the small of her back with her sword, and orders her to start marching.

Outside, the early evening sun is still as ardent as it was at noon. Fortunately, the lake is still visible from the crest of the hill, so Lachaidiga need not worry about finding the village. After they trudged down the hill and through the rocks and sand of the plain for a quarter of an hour, Qes turns to her captor.

"Please, Lachaidiga, This is all a mistake. She's a horrible person. Horrible! Trying to turn us all to black magic. I had to try to stop her like that. There was no other way. And I really like you!"

"Don't make me hurt you."

[Qes had tried to pit her Influence (48%) vs. Lachaidiga's Willpower (79%).
80 vs. 61 - She did not weaken Lachaidiga's resolve at all.

Q: Will Qes make and escape attempt? Likely: 35, Yes.
She'll need to make a Brawn (49%) roll to slip her bonds: 47, success.]

As they make their way across the empty plain, Lachaidiga lets her mind wander. At first she starts to chastise herself for not minding the prisoner carefully, but then reasons that there is nowhere for the girl to run, and certainly nowhere to hide. Qes takes advantage of Lacahidiga's carelessness, and manages to slip her hands free of the poorly-tied cord. She runs forward a few steps, then turns to face her startled captor.

"I gave you a chance!" hisses Qes. "You'll never know what you gave up. And I... well, I can't begrudge the vultures a nice piece of flesh now and again!"

Before Lachaidiga can protest, Qes spits out an angry incantation and stabs furiously at the air before her. A wound opens up on the sorceress' arm as if rent by an invisible dagger.

[Qes cast Disruption (Folk Magic 87%), which is resisted by Lachaidiga's Endurance (28%)
Qes rolled a 58, success. Lachaidiga managed an 09, also a success, but since Qes rolled higher the spell still takes effect. Lachaidiga takes 1d3=2 damage to the (random it location, 1d20=13) Right Arm. Each casting, successful or not, will cost Qes 1 MP; she has 11 of her own and 6 stored in her bracelet.]

The momentary shock of the pain gives way to indignation, and the sorceress begins casting a spell of her own in return. As Lachaidiga pronounces the words of power, Qes gesticulates again, and a bloody cut is slashed across her stomach.

[Qes rolls 57 for another casting of Disruption, Lachaidiga fails to resist with a 23. She takes 3 points to the Abdomen.

For taking a Minor wound during spellcasting, Lachaidiga needs to make a Willpower (79%) check, or the difficulty of the casting roll will increase by one step (-1/3 skill level). Fortunately she rolls a 41 and is unhindered. She is, of course, once again casting Smother (Invocation 63%) which will be resisted by Qes' Endurance (45%); It takes her 2 AP and 2MP to cast (1MP for the base spell +1 for range (POW in metres).
Lachaidiga rolls 06, critical success vs. Qes' 20. Critical beats normal success, so the spell takes hold. Qes will suffer Fatigue beginning at the end of the following round.]

[round 2]
Lachaidiga gestures as wildly as her adversary, practically throwing the magic against her. The spell pulls all the air from the shaman's lungs and stops her throat. Qes chokes on the words of spell as she lashes out again and again, but her magic is still strong. Lachaidiga's thigh starts bleeding, and a second gash opens up across her stomach, criss-crossing the first.

[2 successful Folk magic rolls vs. 2 failed Endurance rolls. Lachaidiga takes 2 damage to the Left Leg, 3 more to the Abdomen, leaving her 1hp from a Serious wound in that location.

At the end of the round, Qes rolls a 68, failing her Endurance roll. She accrues 1d2=2 levels of Fatigue. She's now Tired, and all her skills are reduced by 1/3.]

[round 3]
"Please," implores Lachaidiga, "stop this madness! You're only making it worse for yourself!"

Qes is starting to falter under the weight of the baneful sorcery, but her only response is to keep flaying the sorceress with her own vicious curses. Lachaidiga winces as she suffers a slash on one shin, then the other.

[30 vs. 34, 20 vs. 12; even when Lachaidiga makes and Endurance test Qes always rolls higher. 2 more damage to the Left Leg (2 more hp until a Serious wound), 1 to the Right Leg.]

"Don't be a fool!" continues the sorceress. "My spell will destroy you even if you kill me!"

Lachaidiga is lying, of course. But whether Qes believes her or not, there is no escape without victory; she either kills the sorceress or faces the gallows. But the pain in her lungs is sapping her strength.

[She rolls a 16, making her Endurance roll, so only gets 1 more level of fatigue. She is now Wearied: all skills at half.]

[round 4]
Qes is moving clumsily now, but the hatred in her eyes is undiminished. She again lashes the air. A great rent opens in Lachaidiga's right arm, cutting down to the bone.

[Disruption 17 vs. 57. Lachaidiga takes 3 more damage to the Right Arm, reducing it to 0HP: a Serious wound. She will bear a permanent scar from the experience, and must pass an Endurance test (opposed by the attack roll) or the limb will be useless until healed. She fortunately rolls an 18, so can still use her sword arm.]

The agony causes her to scream like a Fury. Before she even realises what she is doing, she is charging full bore towards her opponent, sword already besmeared with her own blood. Qes stands her ground, and tries to throw another curse, but this one doesn't take. And then Lachaidiga barrels into her, running her through, burying the short sword up to its hilt in her stomach.

[Qes rolled a 57, failing to cast the spell (skill reduced to 44% from Fatigue).

A charge attack is at one difficulty level higher, so Lachaidiga's effective skill is 22%. Her attack roll is an unsurprising failure, so she expends a Luck point to re-roll.
An 09 results in a hit, with 1 special effect since it's uncontested. She chooses Impale (roll damage twice, use the better one). Her damage modifier goes up one step for the charge so rolling 1d6+1d2 results in 8 damage to the Abdomen, reducing the location to -2hp, a Serious wound. Qes falls but makes her Endurance roll (opposed by the attack roll, but her 12 beat the 09) so remains conscious.]

Lachaidiga loses her grip on the hilt of the sword, greasy with both their blood now, and it remains protruding from Qes' midsection as she is knocked down into the dirt. She thrashes about for a few moments, struggling to the last to vanquish the sorceress standing defiantly over her, until she herself is overcome and slips away into unconsciousness.

[--series of failed Folk Magic and Endurance rolls redacted--]

Lachaidiga flops down beside the bleeding girl, notes that she's still breathing, then decides to attend to her own wounds. Her own healing charms are enough to repair most of her injuries, but she has no spell strong enough to put her right arm to rights. Even with the bleeding staunched, she can still see exposed muscle and bone. She tears a strip from the hem of her gown -- another thing her magic is powerless to repair, she thinks -- and binds the wound as best she can before turning her attention to Qes.

At first she tries to retract the sword, but finds it won't budge, being lodged in a bone somehow [failed Brawn roll to retract impaled weapon]. Giving up, she says her healing charm over the wound with the sword still in it, hoping to keep her prisoner from losing too much more blood.

Lachaidiga finds the cord that she had used to bind Qes' hands, and this time uses it to bind the girl's feet together, pulling the cord as tight as she can until she's sure they'll turn blue. She then tears another long strip from her dress, and binds her hands in front, leaving some trailing to grab onto herself. Qes begins to stir, but a quick slap on the sword hilt sees her cry out sharply and faint away again.

"Right," says Lachaidiga to herself, "onwards to the village."

Taking hold of trailing fabric, she begins to drag her unconscious prisoner across the rocky plain. It's slow going, and awkward with her left hand, but she is determined that justice will be served, that Qes will pay dearly for her crimes and betrayal. She has to stop many times to catch her breath, and is more than usually alert to the possibility of another attack, but Qes never quite comes back to herself. And whenever Lachaidiga suspects that she is on the verge of coming to, a quick kick to the sword hilt puts her right back down. After the first few stops, she does not wake up again.

[Lachaidiga's Healing spell actually did stop the bleeding, but I ruled that the dragging and general mistreatment would inflict another 1d6 damage. I rolled a 2, so it doesn't degrade to a Major wound.]

The villagers of Pahem are horrified at the bloody spectacle of Lachaidiga dragging Qes into the town square. The village elders rush out to see the cause of such commotion, flanked by soldiers for protection. Lachaidiga answers their bewildered questions, and recounts the meeting in the cave under the moon goddess' image. [Influence roll 12; they believe her.] Once during the questioning, Qes begins to come round and Lachaidiga kicks her again without thinking. The soldiers become tense, some even unsheathing their weapons, but none are brave enough to move against the gore-bespattered sorceress.

The elders are sorely grieved to hear of Qes' actions, and summon the magistrate, a young priest of Anzakàr sent -- some might say exiled -- to mind the small temple of Anzakàr in the village and serve as a sort of territorial governor for this minor colony.

"Lady sorceress," stammers the young priest, "I am saddened that your first visit to this fair village be tainted by such... such terrible events. I would like to extend my gratitude for apprehending this... this dangerous renegade despite to obvious peril of so doing. I shall see to it that your injuries are attended to and that you suffer as little further... discomfort from the affair. But, I am sorry to add -- and you understand the necessity of this I am sure, good lady -- that tomorrow we must conduct a formal hearing of this matter in the sight of the image of Anzakàr in his temple, that his Sacred and Benevolent Justice may guide us to a proper judgement."

"Of course," says Lachaidiga, "I shall happily give a formal deposition in the Sacred Hall. But for now, all I really want is my arm looked at, then a bath, and a clean dress. Oh, and I want my sword back!"

Friday, 28 November 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part III, The shaman

Scene 3

chaos: 5

Setup: (6=unaltered) I rolled a random wilderness event, and randomly picked the picture above.

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Pahshub & his mercenaries
3. whoever that is in the picture

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

[Mythic questions to flesh out the encounter--
Q: is everything as it seems? 50/50: 87, No.
Q: is there still danger? 50/50: 12, Yes.
Q: is it a trap? 50/50: 93, No.]

In the dusty plain, four bodies lie sprawled. Ni'arouj orders the caravan to stop some distance [3d6x10=130m] off. At first they all seem to be still, though it is hard to gauge through the wavering heat. But one of them still seems to be moving, and even sitting upright.

"Well," Ni'arouj asks Lachaidiga, "don't you think you should go see what that's about before we continue? In case there's any danger?"

"Oh, I suppose," says the sorceress. "Maybe you should send a pair of swordsmen with me, though. Just in case." [Influence (63%) roll: 71, failure.]

"What am I paying you for?"

Lachaidiga makes no reply, but dismounts from her camel with a sigh. She throws her travelling cloak -- with the concealed shortsword scabbard -- over her shoulder and walks up to the sorry scene. As she comes closer she sees a young girl weeping over the bodies of three men. One of the men is in a simple tunic, the other two are clad in even less, though a long cloak lies twisted around one of them. A spear and shield and a pair of war axes lie scattered in the dust amongst the fallen. The weapons, like the men's bodies, are wholly unbloodied, but the taut expressions on their faces and the twisted attitude of their corpses suggests they met anything but a peaceful end.

The girl wears the simple and inexpensive style of dress of the masses in Anzakàr. Her face is buried in her hands, but she looks up as Lachaidiga draws near. Her tear-bedewed cheeks are swollen and nose is bright red. A sob shakes her small frame as she tries to say something.

"What happened?" asks Lachaidiga gently.

"Stay away," the girl croaks in reply. "It's not safe."

"Why not? Who... what did this?"

"Evil spirits walk abroad. They killed these soldiers from our village."

"They were Elite Soldiers, weren't they?" asks Lachaidiga.

"Yes -- nor man nor monster could best them, but they were powerless against the spirits. They ripped their souls right out!"

"Let me help you."

"I don't see how you can!"

"I'm a sorceress."

"Oh... maybe you can help. But it will still be dangerous."

"I'm not afraid. Is the village safe?

"Not if we don't put a stop to this."

"What will happen?"

"The spirits will claim more souls -- and devour them."

"Do you know what needs to be done?"

"Of course. I'm a shaman from the village. I... I only wish I hadn't arrived here too late... We shall have to work quickly. Would you give me a few more moments with my brother here? Just to say goodbye."

Lachaidiga runs back to tell Ni'arouj that she is going to help the shaman clean up a small matter, and that she will meet up with the caravan again in the village. Also not to worry and to save a place for her at supper.

[Mythic questions &c which fleshed out the scene:
Q: What killed the men? (series of Unlikely questions until one comes up yes): The girl? no. Soldiers? no. Each other? no. Bandits? no ? Monsters 02; Exceptional yes. So I grabbed the first random picture out of my Monsters folder that wasn't wild animals.

Q: Did the girl survive because she is a shaman? 50/50: 22, Yes + Event: PC positive - Overindulge / Magic. The shaman will give her a Spirit Shield matrix (stone pendant)

Her reaction roll (using the chart in the back of Legend): 02, Extremely friendly & willing to impart info at no cost.]

When Lachaidiga returns, the girl is standing with her back to the bodies, looking deeper into the desert. "There," she points, "it is that way we must go."

"I'm ready."

The girl takes her by the hand and leads her by what seems a trail known only to her. Lachaidiga can't seem to follow their progress, nor can she determine the landmarks the girl is using. As they crest a stony hillock, the girl abruptly stops and turns to Lachaidiga.

"We're just about there," she says, taking the sorceress by the hands. "But there's something I must tell you. Something I should have already said... oh, it's too late now. But you must know."

"Just tell me. I won't be cross."

The girl takes a deep breath. "The spirits," says she, "are not all we face. They're merely the servitors of something much worse: an evil witch."

"Then it's a good thing I've brought my sword. I felled an undead creature with it once before. I doubt a witch will prove as resilient to its trusty blade. Don't worry; I will look after you."

"I'm so glad you're coming with me. I was frightened to confront her alone. I'm sure we're going to be such good friends if we live through this. I'm Qes. It's short for Qelath-ganès, but only my parents ever call me that."

"Pleased to meet you, Qes. I'm Lachaidiga. I'm sure we shall be very close when this is through."

The girl smiles sheepishly, then reaches inside her tunic. She produces a delicate, hook-shaped grey stone tied on the end of a cord. She removes it from round her neck and presses it into Lachaidiga's hand. "This is my good luck charm," she says solemnly. "I want you to have it. It will protect your dear soul."

Lachaidiga opens her hand to examine the trinket. She fancies that the stone is almost a living thing, pulsing with life-energy. "Here," says Qes, "let me put it on you." She takes the cord and ties it round Lachaidga's neck, then takes her hand and silently leads her down the hill to the mouth of a cave. "When malevolent spirits are near, press it over your heart. Like this."

[The stone is a Spirit Shield matrix. It requires 1 magic point and a successful Folk Magic roll to activate.]

Lachaidiga blushes. "I feel safer already"

"Come on then," says Qes, "in we go."

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part II, Caravan to Hasharu

The morning after the mercenaries' departure, Lachaidiga at first fancies the mood in the camp to be somewhat nervous, but once they are once again underway, she begins to realise that it is she who is worried. The nomad's songs are no less fervent, their jokes no less ribald than they have been before. Ni'arouj is still cold and distant, but that has always been her way toward the sorceress. Lachaidiga's fears slowly subside; not, in fact, because she feels any more ready for the unimagined or perhaps unimaginable horrors lurking in the wastes, but rather the monotony of the journey through the plains of sand and rock begins to make her feel quite dull. From time to time she jerks awake out of a half-dreaming state, ever fearful of drifting off completely and falling from her mount. She tries in vain to speak with Ni'arouj. The nomad woman responds by becoming more than unusually taciturn, and brushes off all Lachaidiga's petty questions and feeble attempts at conversation. Lachaidiga soon gives up, fearful that she'll provoke the woman to anger and be left behind in the desert. "Perhaps she really does despise me," she reasons, "for exposing her caravan to such danger."

Lachaidiga slows the pace of her camel slightly and falls back in with the rest, and seeks other sorts of diversions. She studies the terrain about her, tries to see it as the caravan mistress must. She starts to find that it isn't all the same, though it be much less varied than the splendid wards of her beloved Anzakàr. And there is so little relief from the omni-present sun. But despite her painful sunburn, she finds for once she cannot fault the daytime orb, for it brings her thoughts ever back to her sweet Nillath whom she had to leave behind in Anzakàr, lovely Nillath who would glory in the radiance of the desert, dear Nillath who would tease her mercilessly for her pink and peeling face. "One day," she thinks, "when this is all behind me, when Enzzal realises I was right to run as I did, perhaps I will have to take Nillath out here to see this beautiful desert. Although if Enzzal's rage doesn't subside... she'll just have to come visit me in Hasharu. But whichever of the two the fates decree, I hope there can be horses for travel instead of these smelly camels!"

[Hexcrawl time...

Each hex = 5km
Random encounters will be determined by grabbing a random picture from one of three folders according to the die roll; check 2/day, 1/night on 1d10

1-7 no encounter
 8 ruins & places (or no encounter if not moving)
 9 monsters
 0 wilderness events

I thought I remembered camel stats in some edition of Runequest, but I couldn't find them (not even in Call of Cthulhu). So I did some looking online. Baggage camels typically travel at human walking speed, with the handlers walking beside, so the caravan will travel an average of 6 hexes/day. Hill hexes will halve the movement rate. Camels need to be watered once every three days in the summer, so I'll take that into consideration should anything go wrong. It's late summer now.

Each day, Ni'arouj needs to make a Navigation (80%) roll to lead the caravan to the next stopping place on the route. Hills increase the difficulty to Hard (skill x2/3). Travelling along the coast of the lake grants an automatic success.

Scenes will change in response to encounters & events.

As of scene 1, the caravan has spent three days travelling. The first day they left Anzakàr and travelled down mountain roads to the first camp. The second day traversed rocky desert to a frontier fortress, and the third continued through rocky desert to an oasis amongst the dunes. Here the mercenaries turned back.

So scene 2 begins on the 4th day. Before resolving that, however, I decided it might not be a bad idea to see where things stand between our heroine and her employer as outlined above, so--

Q: Does Ni'arouj actually despise Lachaidiga? 50/50: 78, No.
Insight (60%) check to realise Ni'arouj just likes to ride in silence: 82, failure. Lachaidiga just thinks she hates her.]

Scene 2

chaos: 6

Setup: (9=unaltered) caravan continues to Hasharu

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Pahshub & his mercenaries

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

The caravan travels the whole day through the rocky desert without so much as spotting a bird flying overhead. Towards evening the air becomes a bit sweeter and less parching, as a cool wind sweeps into the desert from over the lake. Their destination is an Anzakàrite fort near the shore. "At least I won't have to worry about desert creatures or brigands tonight," thinks the relieved sorceress.

[Q: Are there any problems at the fort? Unlikely: 47, Yes.
Q: What's going on? Inform/Tactics]

Ni'arouj trots ahead on her camel to greet the guardsmen on the wall above the gate. She comes back to address the caravan as the portcullis is being raised. "Good news everyone," she says, "we can sleep within the walls tonight and stable the camels inside too. Most of the soldiers are away fighting bandits. I dare say those left guarding the fort are lonely, and just want some company."

[In case it might affect things, I decided to see which way the army went. Going clockwise on the points of a compass starting with North, 1d8=6: South West.
Q: What are they fighting? (rolling each as Unlikely odds until a yes comes up) Monsters? No; Bandits? Yes.]

Lachaidiga is at first reticent to be seen by the soldiers, lest she be recognised. But as she does not know any of them, and there are so few, she decides the promise of a decent conversation is worth the risk. The ranking officer can tell by Lachaidiga's speech and bearing that she is one of the nobility, and offers to let her dine at her table, an invitation which the sorceress is happy to accept. The soldiers have been stationed here a long while, and are eager for news of the City. Lachaidiga is very obliging, and decides to take the opportunity to sound them for information on her own predicament. She relates the story of her flight from the wedding as if it were just the latest gossip, and casually inquires whether any such fugitives have passed through the fort lately. She is relieved to hear that they know nothing of such events, and joins in at the general laughter at such improper behaviour.

[rolls for the above:

Q: Has any news reached fort about Lachaidiga? Very Unlikely: 44, No + Event:  Remote event (1-2 in Anzakàr, 3-4 on caravan route, 5-6 at Hasharu) =4, route. 10 travel days left so 1d10=4; the caravan will discover the after effects of the Event at stop #8, an oasis, when they get there.

Lachaidiga needed to roll an Influence (63%) check to get information out of the soldiers, and a Deceit (59%) check to pretend the gossip wasn't about her. Rolls of 07 and 48 both succeeded.]

Lachaidiga sleeps soundly that night. In truth, she has been sleeping quite well since joining the caravan, but this is the first night she has fallen asleep feeling relaxed and reassured rather than collapsing from exhaustion.

The next day sees easier travel. Travelling along the lake shore is so much nicer than trudging through the rocky wasteland. There are waterfowl to observe, plants, and even some fish are caught by some of the more enterprising nomads for lunch. High spirits and an easy route results in a trip of record speed. By mid-afternoon the lakeshore village of Pahem is in sight.

But the sharp-eyed caravan mistress spots something amiss out on the plain, and decides to send the sorceress to investigate.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part I, "Rather the desert take me..."

Gallamah, youngest daughter of the great general, was reclining serenely on her divan as a somewhat flustered Lachaidiga entered her incense-perfumed chamber. She surveyed the harried sorceress with her soft, heavy-lidded eyes, which seemed always to be half-dreaming. "Come," said she, with a majestic wave of her hand, "sit by me and tell me whatever is the matter, my dear."

Lachaidiga slumped heavily into the plush cushions beside her friend. She breathed deeply of the spicy, scented air and let it out in a great sigh. "I... I am in need of advice," she began. "I had a plan all worked out to... avoid a certain awful entanglement..."

"Yes, my dear, I received the invitation yesterday."

"But now I'm afraid. It's a dangerous plan -- oh, but worth it to be rid of that dolt! I won't back down. I just wanted to know... what to expect."

"Are you after my advice as a friend, or as a prophetess?"

"Well... both, if I may be honest. But especially the second."

The prophetess laughed sweetly. "O moon-daughter, you know that yours is the future I cannot see. Turmoil surrounds you and confusion follows ever in your wake. You bear the great mark of a mysterious goddess in your strange and changing eyes. Perhaps it is to her you should be turning for wisdom. Some there are who would look into your eyes to know the phase of the moon. They must chase you down, and get you to sit still. I don't say this as a reproach, but that's quite a feat, my dear friend. Such an effort, when they could just as easily look up."

"You've reached a new level of cryptic."

"I'm a prophetess; it's in my nature. If you wanted a straight answer, you should have asked your brother Enzzal."

"I could do without his opinions!"

"Say what you will about him, but he never lies to you. And nor shall I. You are decided on a course of action; I say stick to it bravely. Your courage has ever been an asset. Do not waver. And come to me freely with your troubles. I may not be able to advise you as a seer, but I shall always be here as your friend."

"But I shall not be here! To escape the wedding, I must leave Anzakàr entirely."

"I see. Little wonder at your distress. Have you ever been outside the City before?"

"Yes... no. No farther than the militia training field. And of course the harbour, but that doesn't really count, either."

"Whither shall you go?"

"Anywhere. Through the desert. Somewhere I can't be found."

"There are many dangers and nameless terrors lurking in the desert. Even the greatest caravan masters cannot avoid them all."

"I'd rather the desert take me than that useless fool Alkinu!"

"And so it shall if you proceed rashly."

"No, don't worry. I'm not running out into the wastes. I've... or rather Master Hhsasv has made arrangements for me to travel, and given me a message to deliver to another sorcerer in Hasharu. Oh, I shouldn't have said! You won't tell, will you? Please, say you won't tell."

"You were never fated to be bound to Alkinu; I need no gift of prophecy to see that. You may rely on my discretion, my dear. I will not tell a soul."

. . .   . . .   . . .

[It is time to chronicle Lachaidiga's next adventure. I'm using the exact same toolbox as her first one: Runequest 6, Mythic with Mythic Variations, Cities, and random pictures.

I will be presenting things a bit out of order, however. At the close of her last adventure, she had approximately 5 weeks before her wedding day. I had used Mythic with the Personal theme tables from Mythic variations to play out the entire time as she went around the city plotting her escape. I had originally intended to present it all under the somewhat joking title 'Escape from Anzakàr', but... honestly it would be a little too boring. Nothing truly spectacular happened, and no one came close to discovering her plans; the Chaos factor even sunk all the way to 1!

I'd briefly thought of just summarising the whole thing, or even scrapping it all and starting over, but there are a few scenes worth keeping. These will be related at the appropriate junctures, whenever they may be. I'll set them off from the current adventure in some obvious way when they come up (and use the past tense to write them). The above proöemium is in fact scene 8 of 9. Other scenes, like the thrilling trip to the market with neither encounters nor incidents (scene 7, chaos 3) can be safely forgotten.

For playing through all of that, Lachaidiga will earn the minimum (2) experience rolls, and since she ends up outside the City when she receives them, she is ineligible for her +1 bonus roll for high Charisma.

The new adventure will start off again with scene 1. As it's entirely open ended at the moment and has no overriding theme, I'm going to use the standard mythic chart. To make things more interesting, I'm going to use the rule from the Action theme where all doubles rolled on the Fate Chart result in a random event. And for sanity's sake I'll start off again on Scene 1. So,]

Scene 1

chaos: 5

Setup: something interesting happens to the caravan (1-2 encounter, 3-4 environmental hazard, 5-6 internal dispute): 6=dispute
1d10=3 days into the ~2 week journey

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. (dissenting party)

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage (task given by her Ophidian master from the sorcery college in Escape scene 3; more on this later)
3. don't get caught and dragged home

As the caravan plods through the desert, Lachaidiga fidgets uncomfortably atop her camel. Ni'arouj, the caravan mistress, bids her second to lead the train and slows her pace to ride near the sorceress. The shrewd nomad can barely repress a smile as she looks at the miserable city-dweller.

"Why so glum, sorceress," asks Ni'arouj.

"I just thought," replies Lachaidiga, "that my first time out of Anzakàr would be more momentous, is all. Instead there's just sand and rock and heat and sun. I don't know what's worse: my face going all red from the sun, or my arse from the saddle. It feels like we've been travelling forever, even though I know we haven't. How long since we set out?"

"Three days. And probably eleven more to go before we reach Hasharu."

"Three days... today was to have been my wedding day. You know, suddenly I rather love the desert."

"I shall remind you of that," says Ni'arouj, "when you start complaining again tomorrow."

. . .   . . .   . . .

That evening finds Lachaidiga sitting by a campfire with some of the caravan mistress' subordinates, absently poking the ashes with a stick and listening to the incomprehensible babble of nomad speech around her. A hand on her shoulder shocks her back to her senses.

"Come, sorceress," says Ni'arouj. "It's time to earn your keep."

"What's going on?" asks Lachaidiga as she stands and dusts off her robes.

[Q: What is the nature of the dispute? Usurp / Opulence + random picture (below) to find principal disputant]

"The mercenaries are grumbling about their pay. Just follow my lead."

At the other side of the camp, groups of armed and sometimes armoured warriors sit around their own fires. Lachaidiga recognises some of them as belonging to Ni'arouj's clan -- and therefore beholden to her in some sort of feudal/familial sense which Lachaidiga, as an outsider, cannot understand -- but there are a score of foreign mercenaries hired on as well to protect the richer-than-normal caravan. The mercenary captain, a gruff veteran by the name of Pahshub, stands silhouetted before one of the large fires, haranguing his troops with bitter invective.

"...they say they need us to protect them from bandits. Look at our paltry wages! I think we all know who the real bandits are!" cries Pahshub. His words are met by a chorus of muttering approbation.

"That's enough out of you, Pahshub," says Ni'arouj sternly. "You've done nothing but grouse since we left the harbour. I kept your company on retainer whilst I conducted my business in Anzakàr, and we've had no trouble the whole time. You share my food, you share my water. Your wages are more than generous. Let us end this foolish talk before things get out of hand."

"Afraid to negotiate without your new pet sorceress?" says Pahshub.

"Hardly," replies Ni'arouj, "but if this is going to get ugly, I want it ended. Quickly and definitively. Understand?"

"Please," implores Lachaidiga, "can't we all play nicely together? I'm tired and sore and I just want to go to sleep, which I can't do whilst you're arguing. Don't make me use my spell. It isn't pretty -- for the survivors!" This last she snarls out in the Ophidian tongue; whether or not they understand it, the sound of the serpentfolk's language is often more than enough to frighten the superstitious and ignorant.

[So do the threats of a petulant sorceress carry any weight? She's definitely bluffing; even though she could affect up to 6 opponents with a single casting of Smother, there's no way she could survive a 1 vs. 20 fight. But they don't know that. So, she'll need to make a roll against Deceit (59%) for them to believe she's that powerful, and then if that succeeds, a roll against Influence (63%) for them to fear her wrath. These rolls will be resisted by Pahshub's Insight (43%) and Willpower (60%) respectively.
Deceit: 59 vs. 34; both succeed but her roll is higher, so she wins the test.
Influence roll: 62 vs. 66; success vs. failure.]

Pahshub looks angrily at Lachaidiga as if he's about to say something, but never does. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, which seem an eternity for his quaking soldiers, he turns and stalks off.

"Anzakàr be praised," sighs Lachaidiga. "I just had this dress cleaned..."

Ni'arouj conducts Lachaidiga back across the camp to her waiting tent. "You certainly put Pahshub in his place," says the caravan mistress as she is about to take her leave, "but try not to overdo it next time."

. . .   . . .   . . .

[Q: Is that the end of it? Unlikely: 97, Exceptional No.
Q: What do the mercenaries do? Return / Military]

The next morning, one of the nomad lieutenants bursts into Lachaidiga's tent and shakes her roughly awake. She rubs the sleep from her eyes, takes the sword from beneath her pillow, and hurriedly exits the tent in her night-dress, oblivious to the shocked expression of the caravaneer.

Outside, the camp is in commotion. Ni'arouj and Pahshub are shouting, both so consumed with rage that they've switched to their mother tongues, of which neither rightly understands the other. Their intent, however, could not be more plain. Behind Pahshub, the mercenaries are packing up their gear.

[Lachaidiga will try to intervene. She'll need to make a Difficult Influence roll (63% x2/3 = 42% adjusted skill level) to even be heard: she rolls 23, a success.]

Lachaidiga interposes herself between the two and makes herself heard. The furious pair lapse into silence as the sorceress bellows out some equally inarticulate imprecation.

"Would anyone like to tell me what's going on?" asks Lachaidiga calmly.

"The mercenaries have elected to turn back, and return to the city." says Ni'arouj.

"You've got your witch to protect you," spits Pahshub, "so you won't need us any longer." So saying, he turns and marches off. His soldiers fall in behind him.

"You're making a mistake," calls Lachaidiga after him, but a half-hearted rude gesture over his shoulder is his only response. Ni'arouj crosses her arms and watches them go in silence.

[Lachaidiga failed a Difficult Influence roll to change Pahshub's mind (which would have been resisted by his Willpower in any case).

Q: Once back in Anzakàr, will the mercs tell anyone that they know where Lachaidiga went? 50/50: 51, No, but just barely -- they're probably too far down the social ladder to hear about her scandalous flight. Pahshub would leap at the chance to get back at her, if he only knew.]

As the last ranks of the mercenary company are receding in to the distance, the caravan mistress turns to address Lachaidiga. "Well, I hope you know what you're doing," she says. "You are now our only defence against the monsters and marauders of the wastes."

"But..." protests the sorceress.

"We had a deal: your magic in exchange for passage... and my discretion as to your whereabouts. You share my food, you share my water. We have a deal, and you're going to stick to it, little miss!"

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Traveller - Star Trader (adventure, part 1 of ?)

Here is the beginning (all I've played so far, in fact) of a classic Traveller merchant campaign using Star Trader. It's set in the same subsector as my other solo game, and is esentially the captain's log.


Day 01
Piemal/Foreven (2533 B792369-9  Lo Ni)

Arriving in port, we got news that Foreven Fast Freight LLC went bust. After all cargo is offloaded, the bank gave me two options. A) the ship is to be returned to their nearest major affiliate branch (on Zoe) immediately or B) I could exercise my statutory rights and have the remaining mortgage transferred to me, retaining possession of the ship as a free trader.

I only had Cr40000 to my name. I knew Orneev and Diula were solvent, so we sat down in the starport bar and talked things out. He could match my KCr40, Diula only had half that, but between us it's enough starting capital. We split it 6 ways: Diula gets 1 share for her KCr20, me and Orneev both get 2 shares for KCr40. As captain I get one extra since the ship is legally mine. We told Auoth and the doc, they agreed to stay on at their current salaries.

Day 03
Picked up 2 mid & 4 low passengers for Estoner. There were a bunch a mercenary cruisers refuelling in the port, causing all sorts of havoc. Luckily the Port authority didn't feel like pushing me out of the refuelling queue even though the corporate priority payment went away, so I think we'll get out without a problem. [Star Trader port event 46]

Bought 6t crystals @ Cr16000/ton (+1% fee for splitting the lot, we couldn't afford all 20t) on spec for Cr96960.

Found a 40t and a 15t shipment at standard rate to fill the hold.

-96960 crystals
+55000 freight
+20000 passengers
-35500 fuel, life support & berthing fee
Cr42450 remaining ship's fund

Day 05
Met some locals in a downport club. Bunch of suits worrying about their firm's import/export accounts. No matter what they tried to talk about it always came back to the office. Boring, but useful. It sounds like their biggest competitors have secured the rights to a major new hydrocarbon field. If I hadn't already secured a cargo, I'd be looking them up. Maybe next time. [from Star Trader's world encounter #51; DM +1 to find a dealer on next visit].

Day 06
Left port at 13.103 local time. Encountered a 2000dt Frontier Transport bound insystem on route to the jump point. The captain wanted to know if I had any good info about business on Piemal. I told him to look up those guys I met in the club. They could use the business, and no way I'm letting someone else know about the real tip.

[day 09
jn jumpspace

Star trader jump event 64 One of the stewards is: (6) under pressure from a passenger.
Q: How? Oppress / Home - Passenger has Soc A, 2 higher than Orneev's. He is from Orneev's homeworld (Haarui), and a social superior, and looks down on those below him.
Captain Liljingiv takes over the steward role as she also has Steward-2, and doesn't want her first voyage as a free trader to be marred by petty snobbery. She needs 8+ to pull it off; rolls 6+2=8, success. She doesn't even record the incident in the ship's log so everyone can forget it.]

Day 14
Arrive Estoner/Foreven (2532 E338569-6  Ni)
Uneventful trip from jump point to "port", a flat rocky plain near the warehouses.

Passengers successfully unloaded, the doc successfully revived the low passengers himself as there's no facility onworld. Cargo unloading will take a few days.

Day 17
Found a buyer for the crystals. Got KCr240!

[selling cargo, rolled 2d6 on the actual value table with Orneev's broker-3 as a positive DM. Roll 10+3=200% of base price (Cr20000/ton)]

Bought a full hold worth of wood? or some plant-fibre equivalent @ Cr900/ton. They'll need low tech stuff like this on Lime.

Found 3 High, 1 Mid, 4 low passengers. Aid workers and missionaries all. at least they shouldn't be any trouble.

ship's fund Cr42450

 +240000 from spec sale
  -55449 61t wood
  +42000 passengers
  -25500 fuel (unrefined), life support & berthing fee
Cr243501 new ship's fund

[world event 44 Learn a political secret on planet. PC can make 1d6x10000 credits from this, but will need to roll 8+, with a DM of +Streetwise to get away with it. Failure risks arrest or deportation.
This sounds like the sort of thing Diula would end up involved in. She has streetwise-1; she rolls 10+1, succeeding. She is now Cr10000 richer, but has made an enemy on Estoner.

Q: What is the secret about: Truce / A burden. There is growing resentment towards the planetary governor from Zoe. Some factions in local government are considering secession, but the revolution is in its infancy. Diula hears this from a drunken junior diplomat who's speaking out of turn. She taps him for Cr10000 not to tell her (wholly fictional) journalist friend who works for the Foreven SPQR (Subsector P Quarterly Review).

Needless to say she doesn't mention any of this to her shipmates.]

Day 21
Uneventful journey to jump point.

Day 28
Arrive at Lime/Foreven (2632 X6758AA-1)

As expected, it was a quiet trip. Very little system traffic.

Day 38
The planet's a mess. 20 years since the war and they still have almost no infrastructure. Put down near one of the larger settlements at the behest of one of the passengers. No one had any better ideas.

As expected, made a tidy profit from the wood. Found some people able to resupply our life support for hard currency at the normal rates, Imperial credits are more welcome here than most places in the subsector.

Got a full hold of steel - mostly scrap - @ Cr450/ton.

Getting things loaded&unloaded here is painfully slow, there's so little heavy machinery to go round. Got stuck 4 extra days on the ground. "Port Authority" even charged the usual Cr100/day (hard currency only) extended berthing fees. Normally I'd feel ripped off, but they really need the cash here. Also, no fuel is available, so we had to use the scoops and get it from a lake. I'm always nervous about using unrefined fuel. Fingers crossed.

5 high passengers and 4 low bound for Bleugh. I'm sure they want steel there.

Cr 243501 ship's fund

 +244000 sell wood
  +54000 passengers
  -27450 steel 61dt on spec.
  -20400 life support
    -500 berthing fees (Std. +4days)

Cr493151 new ship's fund.

This looks good, but I'm late paying the mortgage. I hadn't realised that no interstellar bank has reopened a branch on Lime.

Day 39
Uneventful trip to the jump point. But the jump engines sputtered and died when we tried to make the jump. Now we're floating dead in space to conserve power. We have enough fuel to go back planetside if necessary, but if so, we may be stuck here indefinitely...

[To fix the jump drive temporarily require a 10+ with positive DMs equal to the skill levels of the engineers working on them. Both Duila and Aouth have engineer-1. A new roll can be made once per day.

They roll 7+2=9 the first day. On the second day they roll a 6.

Q: Do any of the passengers get angry about the delay? Somewhat Likely: 09, Exceptional Yes.
Captain needs to roll 10+ to defuse the situation, +DM equal to liason skill. Roll 5+1, fails.]
Q: What do the passengers do? Change / Plans]

Day 41
The passengers are up in arms. Had to take them back to the planet and refund their money. And pay another Cr100 landing fee. Diula and Aouth swear they almost have the jump drive back online.

Day 42
Since we're stuck here I went in search of more passengers. Found 5 new high passengers to replace the ones leaving. They don't mind if we leave a day late. I guess they're just happy to be going somewhere else. Can't say as I blame them.

Good news all round when I got back to the ship. We have jump drives again.

Day 43
Finally enter jump.

Day 45
Mostly boring trip. I'm a bit worried about what happens when we get to Bleugh. Practically owe the bank two payments now, plus repairs on top of that. I'll tell the low passengers the voyage through jump space took an uncommonly long time. Even if they don't believe me, I doubt they can afford to sue.

And that strange vilani passenger seems to keep having chills and fevers. The doc says he's checked her out thoroughly and its probably just space sickness and he's on top of things. He better be right. If she's brought plague onboard...

[jump event 52 Crewman has an affair with a passenger.]

Day 49
Finally arrive at Bleugh/Foreven (2831 C533A95-7 Hi Na Po)

Quiet trip to the downport.

Day 51
Everything unloaded without a hitch.

Good news: We made 300% profit on the steel. Bad news: it was the least lucrative speculation to date. [poor worlds give a +3DM on the value table to determine sale price of steel. roll 9 + broker 3 +3DM = 400% (Cr2000/ton) selling price].

Really bad news: the parts needed to fix the jump drives properly are going to cost MCr10. Not sure how long we can limp from system to system until we raise the cash.

ship's fund Cr493051

 +122000 sale of steel
 -275729 mortgage
   -8600 crew salaries
    -100 berthing

Cr330622 remaining fund

Day 52
There's a mysterious ship in the port that no one is allowed anywhere near. Rumours abound, but it's probably just an imperial dignitary. But whilst everyone and their zkrog is out trying to get a peek at it, I'm heading out in search of a cargo that will make us some money.

Managed 10tons of mechanical parts @ Cr35000/ton.

Ample choice of freight consignments. 45t @ normal rates

Took on 5 middle + 4 low passengers. Having Aouth try ocean refuelling again before we leave because we can't really afford fuel. Hopefully none of the passengers will ask why the ship's all wet when they see it.

ship's fund Cr330622

-350000 spec. cargo
 +45000 freight
 +45000 passengers
 -20400 life support
Cr10222 new ship's fund

Day 55
Jump engine failed again.

Day 56
These passengers are a much more sanguine lot. No complaints drifting away from Bleugh. Made it into jumpspace at 23:06 ship's time.

Day 57
Jump field misaligned in jumpspace. Needed emergency repairs. Could have been fatal. Wish I could hire a better engineer...

Day 63
Arrived at Fpozz/Foreven (2933 D000320-9 As Lo)

Quiet trip insystem. Almost no radio chatter. I forgot just how few people actually live here.

Day 65
Everything unloaded. Mechanical parts sold for MCr1.19. Quickly paid off the mortgage to put out that potential fire.

+1190000 sale of spec. cargo
    -100 berthing
 -275729 mortgage
   -8600 crew salaries (also late, but came due in jumpspace)

Cr905571 remaining ship's fund

Day 66
Called a crew meeting to determine what to do. We've less than a tenth of what we need to fix the jump drives and I don't know how we can legally raise the capital fast enough to avoid destroying the drives or the whole ship if we keep pushing them. I don't think anyone other than Diula would consent to piracy (I didn't say, but everyone is already thinking it). So as I see it the options are:
1. Stay on and try to ride out the storm
2. Look for higher-paid, less-legal cargo
3. Try to get a short-term loan for the parts - our track record is solid so far
4. Back out now and cut losses
5. Go back to Imperial space and then leave the ship
6. Sell the ship and split town

So I put it to everyone. The doc strangely liked the idea of illegal cargo. Aouth said we should make a trip across the Imperial border, but then he was done. My lovely Orneev figured that we could probably get away with unloading the ship on some other sucker and be gone before they knew what happened. Diula said she wants out now with her share, Cr150928.5 exactly.

I said we should all sleep on it and everyone agreed on that at least.

Day 67
Asked Orneev to move in with me last night. Said we could really use the extra revenue form a 6th passenger stateroom. He called me a true romantic and laughed. Then said yes. And that he intends to see this crisis out, was just kidding about selling the ship and running off. Maybe I'll get to keep the ship after all. Gods I hope I'm not making a mistake. Or two.


Later: reconvened to decide what to do. Orneev and I presented a united front. The doc is willing to stay, but really thinks we should be looking for 'special' cargo. Diula said she'll stay after all, and seconds the doc's idea. Aouth said he'll fly us across the border into the Imperium but then he's getting off. I told him to get the fuck off my ship. If he wants out he can pay for passage to the Imperium and I'll fly the ship my damn self.

[The original decisions were just rolled on a d6. For sleeping on it, each NPC was determined to be willing to change their mind on the roll of 4+ on a d6. I rolled twice for Orneev and took the more amenable result since he is so close to the Captain. Luckily she retained her boyfriend/broker-3. Though which side of him she prefers...? Diula's change of heart was determined by rolling 1d3 to decide which of the other votes she sided with.

I rolled a reaction for Auoth to see how he reacted to being let go and got a 10, so he'll leave without a scene. Luckily he didn't ever realise that the captain consistently spelt his name wrong, which would have been worth at least a -2DM on the reaction table.

That I admit is my mistake; if I'm going to make up space-names it would really be a good idea to remember how to actually spell them. But when I noticed it, it seemed to make a good personality quirk for the captain, so I didn't go back and correct it. I also decided that the captain is much less conscientious than I about good English (er... Galanglic) grammar. I've deliberately written in some very colloquial usage and even replaced all her semi-colons with commas.

So, that's the beginning of a merchant adventure. I've left the date vague for now in case they do cross paths with my other Traveller campaign. They are in the same subsector at the moment, and unless they get that ship repaired they won't be going far. But they are just the sort of reprobates that might get press-ganged by Naval Intelligence for a dangerous mission.]

(Adventure continues here.)