Monday, 27 April 2015

und dann...

A few weekends ago, being in the mood for some old-fashioned dungeon crawling, I had a marathon session. My newly constituted LotFP party, led by Manfred and Lycinia, sailed out to the island in the middle of lake Ild, on a mission bound for the ruins. The journey there was interesting, and the dungeon itself was a blast, but when it finally came time to write it all up for posting I just lost interest. The problem, once again, is that most of what the PCs' interactions with the world fell into one of two categories: hitting things in order to kill them, and making saving throws in order not to die. Fun to play, but I fear it will be a bit too repetitive to relate. I'm going to put it to one side for now. I will certainly come back to it at some point, because I always do; after 30 years B/X & AD&D still live on my shelf for a reason. And they were headed somewhere interesting at the bottom of the dungeon. I may truncate the narrative when I come back to it, I may not. But I didn't quite finish the dungeon yet so there's no good stopping point.

And in any case, I've been thinking about dungeon exploration and wanting to try a less-fighty approach. I made several false starts and gave up a few times. I thought about picking up with Runequest again, as there is some hex-crawling and underground exploration coming with that adventure, but I was having an impossible time setting the first scene. And it's not quite the dungeon-delving I had in mind.

Since the Time Was Not Yet Right, I put it aside, too, and played through some T&T solos as a palate-cleansing exercise, and followed that with some older MRQ ones. I don't want to write those up, though, as it would amount to a pile of spoilers for anyone who would want to play through themselves, and also substantially cut down on the replay value for me!

I was casting about for something indefinable, to which I could not rightly put a name -- nor can I yet. It has something to do with simulationism and interesting magic systems. The latter because I always play wizards, the former for a host of reasons.

Even when there are dragons flying in the sky in defiance of all known physical laws, I still want a degree of verisimilitude in the world and the characters actions therein. I'm sure I've mentioned my aversion to the cinematic in RPGs before. For the most part, I want something different out of an RPG than I do out of a novel or a film (my RQ adventure certainly goes against this, but that was a happy accident that took on a life of its own). I like my PCs to just have their lives, going from situation to situation without a need for an overarching plot which needs to develop according to any certain structure. Plots occur, and resolutions are sought, but in an organic way. Keep on the Borderlands is one of my favourite modules ever -- but it would make a shite film.

As a corollary, being a solo gamer, I find that interaction skills/rules are way more important than they are in a tabletop game. As a normal player, the DM can adjudicate my PC's attempts at schmoozing/threatening/lying etc. As a soloist, the rules need to be the DM. On the other hand, I don't need story-game type rules for adjudicating my PC's emotional life. After a few sessions I know how any of my characters will feel about any situation which crops up, and will play them accordingly. Since I know their Weltanschauung, I just need the rules to be die Welt.

But enough with the digressions.

The end result of all this is that I decided that I ought to try something that would be a little more varied than than D&D-esque dungeon crawling. Really what it boils down to is skills; the more a PC can do, the less repetitive the challenges should be. I've been cogitating over how to do this for a while.

The first step was to decide on a damn game already, a process which proved more agonising that it rightly should. I wanted something heavily simulationist. RQ6 has great magic rules, but the combat is just a bit too fiddly for my taste. And I've got a good thing going with it besides. I thought about older versions of RQ, or even just making a BRP variant of my own, but that sounded like too much work. In the end I settled on Magic World. It's familiar enough that I know the system, so won't spend all my time looking things up, but the magic is new to me so the spells will seem fresh. I'm going to try it as written, but I may switch to hit locations instead of the total HP / major wound system depending on how it goes. I will definitely be using the ship rules at some point, as I really love maritime adventures; the ship disaster tables alone may be worth the price of the game.

So, for the next little while, I'm going to be trying this new experiment. I'm not sure where it's headed, or for how long, but I only ever follow my inspiration with this stuff anyways. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

horror adventures with Mythic

I had been planning on doing a post to analyse the results of my Mythic-driven horror adventure when it was finished. MoonSylver asked about doing solo horror in the Lone Wolf Roleplaying community, and my answer there formed the basis of this post.

For my toolbox, I used the horror theme rules from Mythic Variations combined with some of the tables in the adventure generator section of the d30 Sandbox Companion (primarily Phenomena, Artifact/Relic, and Key NPC). The modified Event Focus table works brilliantly, but the chaos rules seem better on paper than in practice.

The chaos factor never falling starts to make the oracle feel a bit useless, since almost anything you ask comes back as a Yes. I hit Chaos 9 by scene 12, and the adventure lasted to scene 48! I found myself grossly inflating the unlikelihood of the questions just to make it worth using the oracle at all. This is actually a problem I have with Mythic in general; the higher the chaos factor, the more asking questions starts to feel like cheating.

The high Chaos factor also meant almost every scene was modified from the initial setup. The Altered scenes were far too frequent, but this was my fault for forgetting the change to the scene setup rule that determines which modified scene to use (1-3 Altered, 4+ under the chaos factor is Interrupt, rather than even/odd for Interrupt/Altered). The reasoning behind the change is solid, but practically every scene being modified did start to bog things down a little.

Whenever Mythic gave me a Horror event, I just rolled on the d30 Phenomena table and applied the results to the indicated N/PC in a gruesome fashion (the Random Characteristics table at the back of the Labyrinth Lord AEC would have worked well for this too; perhaps next time). Physical clues (necklace, scarab, mask, grimoire) came from the d30 Artifact/Relic table, and Key NPC introduced new NPCs as needed. These all worked perfectly, though if I'd been going for a less outlandish sort of horror, I would probably have limited the number of different Phenomena (perhaps by rolling a d6 or d8 every time a new one was indicated, and not adding new ones to the list once this die result was lower than the number that had already come up).

But that was just the easy & mechanical part. Here's how I actually made a horror adventure:

The seed of the adventure was something I'd always wanted to try, but never managed to play before. The basic premise was simple: PCs get snowed in to an old manor/castle, which is the ancestral home of at least one of them; the unseasonable weather was brought on by an evil cult who are using it to trap everyone there for their own fell purpose. The sort of horror story I was after works best with a limited number of people, so I made a few rolls on the d30 Noble Household Officers and Misc. Castle Jobs tables to populate the place and decided everyone else had fled.

I didn't worry about motivations or monsters or anything at this stage, just set the scene and let things fall out according to the oracle and random tables. The old Marquess languishing on his sickbed shut up in his tower was the only non-random element I added, though I had no idea that the cult were ultimately responsible, nor what they were even doing to him; that all came out in the course of play. He could just have easily been revealed to be a werewolf; maybe that would mean the cultists were werewolves. Or maybe it would have been the Dark Family Secret, and only a secondary horror to the main plot.

My biggest piece of advice is that, in a horror adventure, there are Things Man was not Meant to Know. And by man, I mean the PCs. Don't worry about the meaning of the clues that you find until you have enough of them that the answer seems obvious. If the clues are piling up and seeming less and less connected, don't be afraid to make some of them red herrings or limit the number of different kinds of evidence (like my suggestion for limiting types of horror results above). Some of them, though, may always remain a mystery. You can put your GM hat on later if you need to figure out for their significance yourself, but your PC may not ever be privy to this information. For example, all the 'suicides' were found with little trinkets. The PCs guessed that these somehow let the cultists will them to suicide or control their actions (especially after the necklace incident), but they never figured out that they formed a mystical link to channel evil magical energy [for Horror events] generally or that the psychic energy of the anguished deaths was feeding the Thing From Beyond at the centre of the cult -- things I decided later on out of a need for internal consistency in my game world. I could have made all the items scarabs, if I'd thought about it; the fact that two scarabs were found one after another was a mere coincidence: the kind that only happens 1 time in 30, to be sure.

My best advice for running a solo horror game would be to start with a vague concept, take it slowly, and let the tables build the mystery and horror a bit at a time. Don't try to figure out what's going on until it's too late for your PC. And don't let it tell you what the monster is until you're practically having to roll for initiative. Even the prefatory remarks in Mythic Variations say that the horror theme works best with a gamemaster, but I honestly don't think it's harder than any other kind of adventure that goes beyond hack-and-slash. I'll certainly be doing it again.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Seventh: „Es stand in alten Zeiten ein Schloss, so hoch und hehr“

day 70

At dawn the next morning the Light God, through, of course, his humble servants, namely Frère Ambrosius and the village priest, erases the wounds of both the brave elf and the noble Manfred, that by their example Evil shall always be shown to have no power in the face of Virtue [i.e. some Cure Light Wounds spells are cast].

Manfred, his sister, and Lycinia are anxious to be underway. The confessor is resigned to the necessity of following them in order to see the evil cult vanquished.

[Q: Can he convince the village cleric to come too? No Way: 72, Yes.]

            CH CN DX IN ST WI HP AC
Fr. Gulz C2  9 12  8 12 13 15  6 11 spear, holy symbol

Not only does the priest assent to come, but he also suggests a detour (the Altered scene) to get soldiers from Huntsman's Gate. All agree, and set out at once.

"I'm certain," says Lycinia as they walk through the forest, "we can get some reinforcements at the fort. I have met Commander Leofstan, and did him a great favour once." [back in parts 17 & 18]

Lady Margiste laughs at the remark in spite of herself. Lycinia's face flushes red. "What's so funny about what I said?" she demands. Lady Margiste's only answer is a barely-suppressed chortle.

"Need I remind the good lady," interjects Manfred, "that Huntsman's Gate falls withing the March of Limenne. I'm therefore their liege lord!"

It takes a day's travel to reach Huntsman's Gate by foot. The trip is uneventful; short of typical wildlife they encounter no one. It is already dark by the time they reach the fortress.

[Q: Is there time for a quick audience with the commander? Very Likely: 52, Yes.
Q: Will Manfred be given troops? Very Likely: 96, Yes... but only 2d6 of them as it was a crap roll; 2d6=2.
Q: Is armour available for Lady M? 50/50: 45, Yes. 1-3 leather 4-6 chain; 4!
Q: Horses? 50/50: 75, Yes. Leofstan reluctantly provides some.]

day 71

As they ride away from the fort the next morning, Manfred is still fuming over his reception by his subjects. "I can't believe the state of this place! Troubles in the North... the siege of Castle Uldmere... I know there's a strain on resources right now, but this is absurd. Untenable! If I hadn't better things to do, I'd see that Leofstan's head on a plate! Filthy peasants!"

It takes about 6 hours in the saddle to travel down the road to Finnsover, then back over the bridge towards Château Télème. The closer they get to the castle, the darker the sky becomes, and the air more like winter.

f0 m 14  8 13  7 10  9  3  8 16 leather&shield, lt xbow, sword
f0 f  9 11 10 14 14  7  4  9 15 leather&shield, lt xbow, sword

scene 48
setup: altered (was: the final confrontation with the cult)

The unclean Thing has swollen to gigantic proportions. It now hangs halfway down the outside of the shattered tower, and has grown down inside the castle, so that the structure of the rear wing has been compromised. The eerie moans emanating from the nameless abomination have increased in pitch and frequency, filling the air with a cacophony of otherworldly clamour.

[Q: What's up with the cult? Ruin / Disruption - Only 1d6=1 cultist left alive; there Were 1d10+1=8 of them]

It is dark in the courtyard and hard to see. The remains of the bonfire smoulder. No one is about. Lycinia and Manfred reluctantly light torches against the darkness, afraid it will give away their position, but unable to proceed otherwise.

Attracted by the light, the last remaining cultist runs towards the party from [1d6=6, f] her hiding place in the servants' chapel.

[Q: What does she want? Attract / Liberty
Q: Is she horrifically injured? 50/50: 83, Yes.]

She is covered in blood, and her mangled right arm is in a makeshift sling. "Please save me," she begs. "The high priestess turned on us -- turned on us all! "

[Q: Is Manfred inclined to listen? No way: 77, No. +Event: Ambiguous Event - Transform / Legal matters - (this will come up later)]

Manfred's only response is with his rapier. He spurs his horse forward as the woman's body still twitches in the reddening snow.

"Dear sister," says Manfred at last, as they all stand gazing upon the crumbling château, "we've nearly reached the end. But the danger may be too great. I'd feel better if you didn't come into the castle... to do what must be done. If something should happen to me, you're the last of our line. I can't risk that something may happen to you. Indeed, I can't ask any of the rest of you to come with me. But, Margiste, dear sister, I beg you to remain outside in safety."

"I understand," says Lady Margiste. "And though I burn with the desire to avenge our family -- and sweet Emmeline! -- I find myself unable to countenance the thought of what you shall find within. I shall remain outside, dear brother, in safety -- or as near to safety as may be found in this accursèd place -- and pray for you."

"I shall not be kept away," says Lycinia defiantly. "I shall see vengeance done for Emmeline. My sword will strike for us both, Margiste."

The confessor and the two soldiers elect to stay with Lady Margiste to see that she is safe [all the NPCs needed to make a morale check in order to venture inside the castle; Manfred was the only one to succeed].

"It's settled, then," says Manfred. "Lycinia, do you have the flask?"

"I do. Do you wish to carry it?"

"No. It is a wizardly thing. It may require your... finesse."

"Take this," interjects the confessor. "All the heinous items of that benighted cult are collected in this sack: the scarabs, the mask, the blasphemous grimoire of that traitor, Franval. Let the flames consume them also!"

"And the necklace," adds Lycinia, rummaging in the pouch at her belt. "I'd almost forgot."

"The necklace!" cries Lady Margiste. "Oh, Emmeline!"

"Weep not, dear sister," says Manfred. "until we have finished with this dreadful business."

And so saying, Manfred walks purposefully towards the shattered entryway to his ancestral home. Lycinia follows after, sword in hand. "The Light God protect you!" calls Lady Margiste behind them, but they can scarcely hear her over the rumblings of the ancient stones, vibrating with the might of the unholy Thing growing through them.

Manfred walks into the half-collapsed foyer, and makes his way cautiously up the remaining staircase, heading for the tower -- his father's tower -- at the back. Lycinia follows him in silence. Now and then the whole castle quakes, and stone and bits of masonry are shaken from the walls and ceiling. [Save vs. paralyzation or take 1d10 damage; both save] Fortunately, both Manfred and Lycinia dodge the worst of the falling débris.

As they round the corner into the last long corridor, a horrific sight stops them in their tracks. The unholy Thing has grown from the tower and into the long hallway. It pulses and throbs, threatening to burst the walls asunder. Before it lies a pile of bodies -- the remains of the cultists -- covered in blood and some still with knives protruding from their wounds. The pustulent Thing extends tentacles of corruption towards them, consuming all the flesh it touches, absorbing it to swell even larger.

Only the leader of the blasphemous cult yet lives, standing before the pile of her slaughtered brethren, a wicked dagger at her belt staining her linen robes with dripping gore. She is human, or once was; her skin has taken on a decidedly unearthly sheen, and has a dark green mottled tint which reflect the nameless horror she now venerates.

She turns to look down the hall at the approach of the interlopers. Her face is hidden by --or has it become?-- an impassive silver mask, resembling the one found earlier amongst the stable-girl's effects.

Even at the opposite end of the hall, the sight of the tumescent monstrosity feeding upon its former servitors is enough to stop our stalwart heroes in their tracks, as they must steel themselves to approach for this last, desperate battle.

Cult Leader
5th level Magic-User, (formerly) human female
CH 13 CN 10 DX 10 IN 14 ST 11 WI 16
AC 15  HP 15
Special: (random Summon trait) AC+1d4=3
1 charm person, magic missile, sleep
2 continual darkness, mirror image
3 gust of wind

[The encounter range starts at (3d6x10=) 90'. I rolled that the PCs were Surprised; thus the hesitation described above. The cult leader will use the surprise round to cast Magic Missile (1-2 at Manfred, 3-4 at Lycinia, 5-6 at both; 1)]

The cult leader rasps out syllables of eldritch power, and gestures wildly. Cascading waves of blackness emanate from her fingertips and wash over Manfred, clouding his thoughts, eating at his soul [11 damage drops him to 19hp].

[round 1 initiative rolls are tied, so actions take place in descending DEX order.]
Lycinia moves forward [move 40'], sword in hand, as the cultist begins chanting another incantation. Manfred rushes up after Lycinia, raises his crossbow and fires. The bolt hits the cultist in the shoulder, causing blackish blood to ooze forth [rolled a natural 20 so didn't have to look up moving-whilst-firing rules; 6 damage puts her at 9hp].

A great wind comes up in the corridor, forcing Manfred and Lycinia to stand firm against it [the MU's Gust of Wind spell. Lycinia plants her feet firmly and speaks a spell of her own, shouting over the gale. Manfred merely tosses aside his crossbow, which flies down the corridor behind him, and draws his rapier. The cult leader has been working on another charm of her own. Manfred feels claws digging at his psyche, trying to subvert his will, but his resolve, indeed, his mighty rage is too great to succumb to the wicked enchantment [saved vs. Charm Person].

[round 3]
As the unnatural wind subsides, Lycinia suddenly disappears, hidden by her own magic [Invisibility]. She advances once again [40'], drawing her pistol as she moves. Manfred's eyes are growing heavy, and his limbs seem unable to respond. A sweet lullaby fills his senses, a melody none but he can hear. He sinks to the floor in heavy slumber [the cult leader's sleep spell easily overcomes his 4 hit dice on 2d8].

[round 4]
Lycinia approaches to within a few paces of the cult leader, who is beginning the words to yet another spell. She raises her pistol and fires, winking back into view with the violence of the deed. The shot barely grazes the woman's hand [2 damage puts her at 7hp] but the shock spoils her concentration on the spell.

[round 5]
Lycinia closes to attack. Her sword crashes down on the woman's shoulder, snapping her collarbone [5 damage puts her at 2hp]. Undaunted, she draws the sacrificial dagger from her belt and lunges forward. The razor-sharp edge just manages to find a weak spot in Lycinia's armour [(19+1-2= AC18]. The wound is bloody but superficial [1 damage].

[round 6]
The elf backpedals gracefully, and with a single swift motion whirls her blade into the woman's face, cracking the silvery mask in twain [3 damage puts her at -1hp]. She falls back, a mass of corruption flowing forth from beneath her sundered silver visage.

Lycinia stands over the twitching body, and says firmly, "this is for Emmeline", as she drives the tip of her sword into the woman's heart, twisting it until the body lies perfectly still.

Lycinia wakes Manfred. The two approach the pulsating horror filling the end of the corridor as close as they dare. Manfred puts the sack of cult objects on the floor, as Lycinia retrieves the brass flask from her pouch. Manfred looks at her expectantly.

"I've no idea what will happen," she says, divining his question, "but I think we'd best be prepared to run. I'll count three. One...two...thr--"

AS her fingers apply just a little bit of pressure on the stopper, the flask bursts open, emitting an enormous gout of roaring flame. Lycinia drops the flask in pain and surprise, and she and Manfred flee down the corridor. Both are singed by the intense heat and hungry flames [2d6 damage each,as if passing through a wall of fire: 8 & 8].

The furious elemental unleashes its rage on everything surrounding it: the wall-hanging, the furnishings, even the very stones of the castle seem to catch fire. As the elemental comes in contact with the unclean horror, it shrieks and howls, poisoned by the very evil of the beast it consumes.

Lycinia and Manfred soon burst out in to the courtyard to join an anxious Lady Margiste and her guardians. She is overjoyed to see them both returning whole. But her joy is soon commuted to sadness, as the fires spread throughout the entire castle, consuming it in an inferno of crackling flames.

The grotesque Thing in the tower throbs and pulses with greater urgency as the flames spread up and along it. It withers and chars under the relentless heat, finally emitting a single, shrill note which fills the heavens with sound before falling silent forever. Then the shattered tower collapses, spilling the flaming corruption into the side courtyard, where it forms a foetid, flaming pool.

Manfred puts his arm round his sister, and they, along with their companions in this sad affair, watch as their ancestral home burns through the night until naught but embers remain in the blackened shell.

Epilogue : Wandlebourne

They next morning the exhausted band make their way to Brightpool, where Manfred dismisses the soldiers. Following a swift journey across the bay, our heroes arrive at the home of Terentius Holzfäller to deliver the sad news of his daughter's fate. The wealthy lawyer is, of course, devastated by the news, but listens impassively to all Emmeline's friends have to say concerning her heroic and selfless actions in furtherance of their struggle against a great evil. Terentius has rooms made up for his guests to which they retire, exhausted from their adventures. Only Manfred stays up, requesting a private meeting.

In the morning, the substance of their meeting is revealed. Manfred intends to abdicate in favour of his sister, making her Marchioness of Limenne. He shall go out into the world to find a fortune, that they may someday rebuild the Château Télème and restore their family's prominence in the Kingdom. As Margiste is still only 17, Terentius will become her legal guardian and manage her affairs until she comes of age. Frère Ambrosius will remain with her as confessor.

Later that day, Manfred asks Lycinia if he might have a word. "It's going to take a few weeks to settle everything," he says, "and then I'm... free. Or something to that effect. I hardly know if it be a blessing or a curse, or both."

"Today is not the day to ask me," responds Lycinia.

"No, I suppose not. But you're the only one who could possibly see my predicament: a conversation for another time, however. I should like to enquire what you'll do next."

"Find somewhere else to go, I expect."

"Terentius would never turn you out into the street. He's said you shall always be welcome here, and he means it. Trust me on this."

"Perhaps. But I can't see staying long in Wandlebourne. In the short term I just want some time with my books and my magic; it's wonderful for regaining one's clarity of mind."

"You should stay here then. We'll all be busy in the courts, setting everything down  on parchment and making it all legal and binding. I own it will take the better part of a month. And then..."

"And then?"

"And then it's away from Wandlebourne. Off northward, perhaps. In search of adventure, fortune, and glory, though not necessarily in that order. And I thought perhaps... well, I was wondering if you'd come with me. Think of it: a life of adventure, danger, treasure... your sword and mine, fighting side-by-side. What do you say?"

"Of course!" says Lycinia.


...and thus another adventure draws to a close.

Manfred's decision to abdicate was the Ambiguous Event (Transform / Legal matters) rolled in scene 48. I had already decided that he might stay on as a PC, so this just made a better case for it.

To set him up, the LotFP rules for starting characters over 1st level are a perfect fit. Manfred is the type of person who would always be carrying a small pouch full of gems and gold for bribes. His 'starting' wealth is 180+(9d6x10) SP. A fairly abysmal roll nets him 350sp; I assume he left the balance with his sister. He's also got a rapier and a crossbow. He and Lycinia took so much damage during the adventure that I think they will both be buying new armour. His starting XP total will be 10% less than Lycinia's: 9722xp.

And speaking of XP, the entire adventure produced 0sp worth of treasure. Since treasure is assumed to provide the bulk of XP in LotFP, I am arbitrarily tripling the combat awards. Manfred came in late and missed a couple encounters, so he gets fewer but as he started at 4th level I'm not really bothered. Lycinia gets a total of 2748xp, whilst Manfred earns 1662.

Lycinia finally advances to 4th level. I rolled a 5 for new HPs; +1 for CON puts her up to 22hp total. She also gets to learn a random spell for free, but still must take the time to research it. The random spell turns out to be Wizard Lock, requiring [(3d6x2)-2=] 22 days.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Sixth: „Nur der Irrthum ist das Leben / Und das Wissen ist der Tod“

scene 44
setup: casting speak with dead on head of wizard (in the abandoned church)

Frère Ambrosius gives last rights to Orst whilst Gerdie and Emmeline are busy lighting candles. Lycinia finds a still-serviceable chair and deposits the wizard's rotten head atop it. She waits until the cleric has finished his obsequies and Manfred has mostly stopped sobbing to address the assembly.

"We were expecting a spellbook, but there wasn't one," she says.

"Just that flask," answers Gerdie.

"Right. This scroll," says Lycinia, holding up the reddish-purple parchment she took from the defeated cultists, "has a spell should allow us to get the information we need from our wizard friend over there. But depending on how long hes been dead, we'll only get one question, or two if we're lucky."

"Well according to the date on the grave marker," says Manfred, snapping suddenly out of his misery, "he's only been in the ground a year."

"Splendid!" says Lycinia, "But we should decide our questions in advance. We only have two."

"If I may interject," says the confessor heavily, "I am rather uncomfortable at the thought of this necromantic ritual. Though I allow it is necessary, I feel I cannot fully condone it. Might I at least request that it not be performed within this sacred edifice?"

Lycinia brings the chair with the skull on it outside and sets it down on a level bit of the path. The others gather round her and watch as she chants the strange rhythmical syllables of the invocation written on the old parchment [casts Speak with Dead. She can ask 2 questions since Zarhusvosstek has been dead less than one year. He does get to save vs. spells, but fails (rolling a 5!)].

Lycinia lowers the now nearly-blank scroll. For a few moments it seems as if the magic had failed to work. Then a grating voice issues forth from the maggoty skull. "Who dares call me back from the eternal Void?"

"It is I who shall ask the questions," states Lycinia firmly. "The cult which plagues the house of the Marquess of Limenne has summoned a frightful creature from beyond. What is this thing?"

"It is a mindless horror of filth and putrescence. They draw their power from its corruption, and mistake this for enlightenment. It is a slow poison! It will consume them all from within! They worship it as a god. Yet this monstrous foulness is no more a god than you or I! [UNE: insane-turmoil-power]"

"So how do we kill it?"

"Burn it with cleansing flames! The brazen flask within my tomb contains a creature of raw elemental fire; a trap for would be thieves! Unstopper it beneath the beast, and run before one or the other devour you. [UNE: insane-chaos-weapons]"

And so saying, the skull falls silent forever.

scene 45
setup: back to town for healing (two unaltered scenes in a row!)

The party spends the night in the church. In the morning the cleric performs some curative magic. They walk back to Threeder's Mill, where they receive more healing from the waiting priest. They decide to rest up there.

scene 46
setup: Interrupt (was: head back for final confrontation) NPC Negative - Gerdie - Trust / Enemies

day 69

At eventide the party are relaxing in the inn's common room. Manfred and Lycinia are keeping Lady Margiste and Emmeline (respectively) under close wraps. Frère Ambrosius is nearby, but mostly lost in quiet contemplation of the missal he salvaged from the ruined church. Gerdie, on the other hand, takes great delight in carousing with the locals. In contrast to her more distrustful companions, she is happily engaged in drinking and dancing with all and sundry. Thus it is that Gerdie accepts a drink from the wrong bloke...

[Somebody slips something in her beer. She will need to Save vs. (1-3 poison, 4-6 magic; 4) magic or suffer the full effects of the horror. She rolls a 1 for her save; the d30 Phenomena table comes up with: Transformation. I rolled her up as a random monster using her level (3) as the base hit dice.]

Suddenly Gerdie starts to cough and choke. She drops her half-empty mug on the floor, spilling beer everywhere. The music and laughter stop as one of the farmers rushes to her aid, thumping her on the back. She doubles over in pain, and then a terrible change starts to come over her. She begins to swell, her limbs and torso thickening, her skin turning purple and distended. Her clothes shred as she bloats to thrice her normal size. She throws her head back in pain, and then a long and sinewy column erupts out of her mouth toward the ceiling; it seems to be made of an implausible number of vertebrae, and the tip bristles with bony spines. The rest of her head collapses in a rubbery mass. One of her eyes shrivels, the other falls out on a long red nerve, and begins to loll round on its stalk of its own accord.

The Gerdie-Thing
Int: unintelligent
Movement: 60'
HD: 6+1 (31hp)
AC: 14
Attacks: 1 thrasher, gaze
Damage: 1-10, special
Notes: each attack is against a (probably) separate random target each round.
Gaze attack stuns 1-8rds (save v. paralyzation or suffer -4 to hit, -4 AC, -4 saving throws, movement reduced to 1/3 (Stun effect as per D&D Rules Cyclopedia))

[Surprise round + Round 0]
The spiny bone thrasher whirls about angrily, smashing the life out of the nearest patron at the bar, who falls to the ground as his bones -- and the wooden stool upon which he sat -- are splintered [10 damage dropped the 0-level human to -8hp]. There is a general panic as most everyone begins to flee the building. Even Lady Margiste and Frère Ambrosius rush out in the general tumult [failed Morale], leaving only three of their companions to face the unearthly monster.

Moments later the room is nearly deserted. A single peasant is still running for the door, having been caught by the dreadful gaze of the wandering, beady eye. Lycinia, Manfred, and Emmeline stand firm, swords drawn, as the Gerdie-thing plods forth furiously to meet them.

Unarmoured stats:
          CH CN DX IN ST WI ML AC HP
Lycinia   11 14 16 16 15  9 -- 14 16 sword
Manfred    5 17  8 12 12 10  8 11 30 rapier
Emmeline  16 11  8 14  8  9  7 11  4 rapier

[round 1 - it wins initiative]
The Gerdie-thing's spiky protuberance overextends as the beast shambles forward. It catches Lycinia by surprise, but only tears a bit of flesh out of her shoulder [3 damage puts her at 13hp]. Emmeline is caught in the gaze of the horrible eye, but she looks away just in time [saves vs. paralyzation]; though as she does so, she loses her opportunity to strike back [missed]. Manfred has to duck very low to avoid the whirling spines, and nearly falls on his face [also missed]. Lycinia lashes out with her silvery sword; the blade strikes true, and perforates the thing's distended hide. A gritty, yellow gelatin-like substance oozes forth from the wound [6 damage puts it at 25hp].

[round 2]
Lycinia parries the bony spines [it misses], but the force of the impact nearly wrenches the sword from her hand, and half twists her round as she fights to keep a grip on it. She staggers several feet to recover her equilibrium [she missed]. The roving eye glares at Manfred, but he is unshakable in his resolve [saves] and lops off the lower half of the Gerdie-thing's swollen arm. More of the sandy goo plops out of the stump into a quivering mass on the floor [7 damage drops it to 18hp]. Emmeline lunges forward like a champion fencer, skewering the beast through the midsection [7 damage leaves it with 11hp].

[round 3]
But as Emmeline retracts her rapier, the spiny appendage swings at her in greater fury. The spikes crash down upon the crown of her head, and come away covered in blood and hair. She falls back over a chair, bloody fluid oozing from the top of her shattered skull [9 damage drops her to -5hp]. Manfred is shocked by the death of one he's known so long, and his feeble riposte is knocked away by the flailing appendage [miss]. Lycinia scarcely notices what has transpired; for she has met the gaze of the sickly eye, and her whole perception vibrates and shudders as if under the spell of powerful drugs [failed save, Stunned for 3 rounds]. She swings her sword weakly, the air dragging against her like water. The blade barely comes within three paces of her adversary [missed even without the -4 to hit penalty].

[round 4]
The bony spines swing right for Manfred's face. At the last second he brings up his sword, and the thrasher ricochet off the basket hilt [miss]. Fortunately blocking his face also saved him from the staring eye [makes his save], though he cannot muster a decent attack [missed]. Lycinia is still reeling, and swings in a wide arc nowhere near the beast. But as she stumbles trying to recover from the swing, she slashes across its shoulder in a lucky backhand stroke, causing a nasty seeping wound [rolled a natural 20; 5 damage lowers it to 6hp].

[round 5]
As Lycinia staggers backwards, the spiky appendage whistles through the air before her, ripping just a tiny hole in her tunic [roll 3+6=9 vs. ac 14-4=10 just missed]. The eye yet glowers at Manfred, who avoids its gaze [saves again]. Neither he nor the confused elf can get anywhere close to the flailing beast [both miss].

[round 6]
Manfred is forced back as the spines leave many bloody punctures in his abdomen [9 damage leaves him with 21hp]. As he winces, he sees the eye, the terrible eye, which forces all other thoughts and sensations from his mind, so that only the eye remains [failed save, stunned 1 round]. He forgets to raises his sword against the creature, for who can think of battle when there is the eye [missed]. Lycinia feels her vision clear and her limbs become her own once more. She stabs cruelly at the Gerdie-thing, and opens a deep and dripping wound in its centre [5 damage drops it to 1hp].

[round 7]
It strikes back in anger at the elf who hurt it, but only bloodies her knee [2 damage puts her at 11hp]. The eye holds Manfred's rapt attention [fails another save, stunned 8 rounds]. The eye is his master. The eye is his god. The eye is his soul... "NO!" shouts Manfred, as he suddenly remembers himself. He lunges, lunges straight for the thrice-damned eye, and buries his rapier up to the hilt in the body of the creature. The thrashing spine jerks once and flops over. The rest of the corpse starts to deflate, collapsing into a gruesome pile of flesh, leaking a viscous jelly.

Lycinia runs to the fallen Emmeline, kneels beside her, takes her in her arms and tries to rock her gently awake. She whispers some soft words of elvish in the dead girl's ear, earnestly repeating her entreaty several times until she can no longer deny poor Emmeline's decease.

Lycinia's screams can be heard even outside.

Scene 47
setup: Altered (was: head back for final confrontation)

Manfred storms out of the inn, gory sword still in hand. The crowd of villagers looks expectantly to him for information, but he ignores them in favour of addressing his sister. "See if you can reason with her," he says. "I tried to get near, but she went for her sword and hissed at me."

Lady Margiste timidly goes inside, already steeling herself against the scene she knows she shall see. She walks slowly and deliberately through the upturned furniture and broken crockery. Lycinia starts when she sees her, but Lady Margiste meets her gaze. As the elf's expression softens, the girl loses all resolve, and she collapses to her knees in tears. She crawls over through the muck, and the two of them tearfully cradle the dead Emmeline.

Outside, Manfred is mustering the villagers to action. He orders two funeral pyres built, one for Emmeline and the slain villager, another for the thing-that-was-Gerdie. As they were all slain by unnatural evil, there must be no chance of any remaining -- or returning. He also organises a work detail to pull up part of the inn's floor; everything polluted by the foulness shall be burnt. The confessor and the village priest will watch over him and the elf tonight, lest their wounds develop into something unholy.

Manfred waits as long as he can stand it, then goes back into the inn to confront the two in mourning. He is pleased to find them calmly and rationally discussing the revenge they shall take on the cultists.

[Q: Did the poisoner slip away unnoticed? Unlikely: 66, Yes +Event - NPC Negative - cook - Cruelty / Weapons]

As the villagers hurry about their tasks, the body of the cook is found, run through with spears, and propped up between buildings. Her body is added to the pyre.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Fifth: „Die Toten stehn auf, die Mitternacht ruft, / Sie tanzen im luftigen Schwarme“

It is a cold and misty day as Manfred leads his companions out of the village to the old cemetery. They fan out amongst the graves, checking the newer-looking ones for the wizard's name. Finally Orst finds it written in fanciful lettering on one of the large monuments. Everyone takes a turn at digging, save to confessor who is too old and frail. The soil is much harder and rockier than they expected, and the light is fading as they finally have unearthed the coffin.

The lid opens with a groan, and the stench of decay wafts out of the grave. "I can't look," says Emmeline.

The wizard's body is in an advanced stage of decomposition; the blackened and worm-ridden flesh is falling away from the bones, and the shroud which was once wrapped tightly about it has become a mass of stringy sludge. Even brave Lycinia and stalwart Manfred recoil at the sight.

And then with a nauseating squelch, the cadaver begins to move, animated to some sinister purpose.

The Undead Thing
AC: 15, MV: 90', HD 8, HP 40, #Att: 1, Dmg: 1-6+paralysis (as Ghast), Special: destroyed by running water, control 16hd of zombies

I let it automatically surprise the PCs, but between getting up and summoning its zombie minions, the fight realistically starts on round 1. It wins the initiative, the zombies go last.

Each zombie will rise in 1d3 rounds. I took 8d6 and rolled them on the table (as d3s) to determine their relative locations and number of rounds to rise. I got the following pattern:

  2        3
  1           2




The open grave and the PCs are roughly in the centre. I made a map (with Hexographer)  which is based on the actual churchyard in the photos at the beginning and end of this post (somewhere in the very very very rural part of Yorkshire). I had assumed there would be a lot more running around between gravestones with zombies in pursuit, but it didn't quite work out that way. I've learnt my lesson: no more fancy maps until after the fight is done. Anyways, here it is:]

[Zombies are 1,2,3 depending on the round they activate. 0-level humans are lowercase, as I broke the cardinal rule of having all different initials for the party members (thus Manfred & margiste). X is the bad guy.]

[round 1]
Lycinia and Manfred scramble out of the hole as the corpse-wizard rises silently into the air, floating right above ground level over the yawning grave. It swipes a clawed hand at [1-3 L, 4-6 M] Manfred's back. He takes only a scratch from the filthy nails [3 damage puts him at 21hp] but the chill of death suffuses his very bones, and he falls senseless to the ground [failed save vs. Paralyzation]. The confessor edges away from the edge of the grave -- and from the elf -- whilst gripping the holy relic of St. Lisaveta tightly; he knows its power will keep nothing away if they are too close when he begins his prayers. His companions retrieve their weapons, but are hesitant to assault the risen corpse. Around them come the sound of dirt and rocks being shoved aside with more-than-natural speed. Some others of the churchyard dead are rising, bidden by the foul dweomer of their master [first round zombies (z1s) are up].

[round 2]
The corpse-wizard grabs Lycinia's arm. The unearthly chill coming from the thing's claws saps her strength [4 damage drops her to 12hp], but she keep her head and does not succumb to the shock [makes her save. Elves aren't immune]. She cries out, but strikes back with skill, sending decaying flesh and ribs flying with a crunch [9 damage puts it at 31hp], and forcing it to relinquish its hold. Gerdie joins her, but keeps a respectful distance; the tip of her sword barely scratches the awful thing [1 damage put it at 30hp]. Orst does his best to step around Gerdie to get to the unconscious Manfred, and also his sword. Frère Ambrosius begins his devout prayers, holding the relic overhead like a beacon of hope -- one to which Emmeline and Lady Margiste flee in all haste. A pair of zombies [z1s], freed from their sepulchres, shamble forward called by the will of their master. Three more [z2s] are struggling free of the ground.

[round 3]
Faced with two foes, the corpse-wizard feints toward Lycinia. Its ruse pays off, and Gerdie is unprepared for the putrid, bony hand which grabs her face. She goes pale, and falls to the ground, unable to move, staring in wild-eyed shock [6 damage drops her to 14hp; she fails her save and is paralysed]. Lycinia lands another solid blow [5 damage leaves it with 25hp]. Orst does his best to lift Manfred, whose chain armour makes him rather heavy. The zombies [z1&z2s] continue their plodding approach, as three more [z3s] emerge from the ground. One of them reaches Lycina, but its rancid hands fail to grab her. Another lunges towards Emmeline, who bats its clutching fingers away with her sword [-3 to hit from the protection from evil and -2 from parrying did the trick].

[round 4]
Lycinia feels the chill of a bony hand on her back, but her armour keeps it far away from her flesh [a miss] as she turns to deal with the shambling cadaver behind her. A mighty cut bisects it at the waist [6 damage drops it to 0hp], and it collapses in a heap of oddly jutting bones and decay. Two more move in to take its place [but miss their attacks]. Orst drags the unconscious Manfred over to the cleric, and drops him at his feet. "Do something! Heal him!" he shouts. But Frère Ambrosius does not stop his prayers over the relic, as he is seized with fear by the walking dead about to surround him and his companions. Lady Margiste and Emmeline go on the offencive; together they reduce their foe to a torn and shredded carcass [1 & 7 damage respectively drops it to -2hp]. But more are approaching, so many more... [2 attack Emmeline, one goes for Lady M, all missing].

[round 5]
Lycinia switches to a more defencive footing [-4 to hit, +2AC]. And yet she cannot keep the corpse-wizard's chill touch nor the swollen and meaty fist of one of its servitors away [2 + 1 damage leaves her with 9hp]. Her own attack finds no opening [miss]. Orst is still screaming at the frightened confessor to attend to Manfred, but as he does so he draws his sword to join the girls in their battle. Only Lady Margiste seems to hurt one of her dreadful foes [4 damage drops it to 6hp], but at least none of their decaying claws rend the livings' flesh [zombies all miss].

[round 6]
Lycinia whirls out of reach of the floating horror [it missed by a lot] and brings her sword down hard on the shoulder of one of the corpses. The blade shears through its frail ribcage and cracks its pelvis in half [9 damage takes it to -1hp]. Its compatriot stumbles over the broken form as it grabs for the elf [miss]. Orst is still screaming for the cleric to do something, looking back over his shoulder enough that he fights not at all well [miss], and his opponent manages to get in past his guard [2 damage leaves him with 4hp]. Frère Ambrosius finally snaps out of his shock, and begs the Light God to restore Manfred's sense, that he may go forth to once again smite these abominations. The Light God finds his entreaty pleasing, and Manfred stirs, climbing to his feet and picking up his sword [Cure Light Wounds removed his paralysis]. Lady Margiste and Emmeline are still beset with horrific walking corpses, but holding their own [they miss, the zombies miss].

[rounds 7&8]
The corpse-wizard rakes Lycinia with its claws when she is distracted by the zombie attempting to pummel her [5 damage drops her to 4hp; she makes her save]. Doing her best to defend herself [+2 AC, -4 to hit], she eventually drops the zombie, and turns her attention back to the wizard-thing, fending off its claws with her magical blade. Manfred is now fighting alongside his companions. The zombies' advance is relentless, and they prove hard to put down. One overpowers Orst [8 damage drops him to -4hp], snapping his neck, and another nearly breaks Lady Margiste's jaw [4 damage leaves her with 2hp], but not her resolve -- nor that of her friends [ML roll succeeds].

[rounds 9-10]
Lady Margiste and her brother fight well together; each of them destroys one of the shambling cadavers with their swords. Manfred looks over to see Lycinia fighting desperately against the floating wizard-thing. He rushes to her aid forthwith, and she falls back to catch her breath [still fighting defensively] whilst he takes the lead. Emmeline manages to fell her undead opponent, leaving her and Lady Margiste to face the last of the ambulatory cadavers together.

[rounds 11-13]
Manfred, graceless brute that he is, presents a much less mobile target than did the elf. The corpse wizard strikes him again and again with its terrible claws [5+4+6 damage drops him to 6hp]. The third hit causes him to seize up in terror, and he falls with a shriek, unable to move, his eyes darting round in horror. But his rapier has already removed one of its dangling legs [7 damage] and Lycinia manages to land yet another punishing blow [8 damage leaves it at 10hp]. Meanwhile Emmeline and Lady Margiste have been stabbing at their foe, keeping it away but doing it little real injury.

[round 14]
Lycinia is desperate, and puts her faith in her armour to protect her. She assaults the corpse-wizard with renewed fury, and shatters its pelvis [4 damage leaves it with 6hp]. Its clutching claws cannot touch her. Lady Margiste impales her opponent on her rapier, driving it in up to the hilt. "Ha ha!" she calls out in triumph, but prematurely. The blade having pierced nothing but rotten flesh, the zombie was not hindered at all [she missed by 1]. A bony fist crashes down upon her shoulder, and she falls at its feet [2 damage drops her to 0hp].

[rounds 15 & 16]
Emmeline yelps as her friend is struck down, but lets no worries distract her from her vengeance. In a single fluid motion her rapier darts across its neck, sending its head sailing several yards through the air [7 damage drops it to 0hp]. The corpse-wizard makes a final grab for Lycinia, grabbing her throat in its twisted claw [3 damage puts her at 1hp]. It pulls her close -- too close for her to swing at it properly. Its eyes glow with the immanence of victory, and then suddenly wink out as Lycinia smashes in its torso with the ornate hilt of her sword, sending decaying ribs flying. It loosens its grip and tumbles back into its grave in a heap [8 damage drops it to -2hp].

An exhausted Lycinia flops down on the dirt next to Manfred, and idly begins trying to slap him awake. Emmeline tosses her sword aside and kneels over Lady Margiste. "She's still alive!" she exclaims, tears of joy coursing down her grimy cheeks. Lady Margiste does her best to smile up at her friend, but swoons from the pain. Frère Ambrosius emerges trembling from behind a tombstone. "It's over?" he asks.

Manfred and Gerdie soon come back to themselves, but for poor Orst, alas, it is too late. Manfred takes him inside the old church and refuses to speak to anyone, even his sister. Gerdie jumps into the grave, and searches the coffin, moving bones and foetor aside with the tip of her sword.

[The only answer from the Contact Outer sphere spell that turned out to be false was Q2, so it is not Zarhusvosstek's spellbook that they need. In fact, his spellbook isn't even here.

Q: Is the item they need in the grave? Unlikely: 63, Yes.]

"There's no books or scrolls or nothin' like that even in here," says Gerdie. "Just this weird brass flask."

"Grab it," calls Lycinia. "And grab his head."

"What? No. You come get it if you want. That's foul."

Lycinia sighs and lowers herself painfully into the grave as Gerdie clambers out. She takes up the shovel and uses it to cut the head off from the trunk, then deposits it in the disturbed earth beside. She climbs out, picks the head up in the shovel and follows her companions into the abandoned church.

Friday, 3 April 2015

LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Fourth: „Triffst du nur das Zauberwort“

scene 42
setup: Interrupt (was: flee to Brightpool)
Interrupt: NPC action - confessor - Postpone / Emotions

As the party is about to depart, Frère Ambrosius stops them. "No," says he, "we cannot leave. Look at that-- that abomination. We must stop it. Look! Look at it. Can any of you honestly say that our work here is finished."

Chastised by the words of the priest, everyone forces themselves to look toward the thing protruding from the tower. It pulses and shivers, writhes and contracts. Below the tower is a heap of dead horses. The cultists had killed everything in the stables, and heaped up the bodies before the unclean thing. Now and then it extends a long, sinewy appendage, and absorbs one of the corpses through it into itself, swelling bigger with the meal.

"How can we even stop such a vile thing?" asks Manfred. "We don't even know what it is."

"I might have a way to find out," says Lycinia.

Everyone follows the elf back into the servants' chapel. Orst stops up the hole in the wall with some furniture whilst the rest watch Lycinia with burgeoning curiosity as she opens her scroll case and produces yet another old parchment, this time one that's been dyed a reddish-purple and is covered in cramped writing and esoteric figures.

"I got this off one of the cult wizards," explains Lycinia. "There's a sort of divinatory spell on it which should tell us what we need to know."

"Wait," ventures the confessor, "I'm not so certain that we should be using any of their tainted sorcery for our purpose."

"You're the one who said we can't leave yet," snaps the elf. "I'd say it's too late to back out now."

The old priest grumbles, but nods his approval.

"Now," continues Lycinia, "this is not an evil spell, but it is a dangerous one. When one seeks wisdom from the outer spheres, there's no telling whose -- or what's -- attention may be drawn in the process. So I think we'd better take some precautions..."

Lycinia is tied to a chair, in case some outside entity possess her during the course of the spell. One hand is left free so that she may work the magic, but there is a loop of cord around her wrist, ready to be pulled taught when she is finished. Gerdie holds the cord, somewhat nervously.

Lycinia speaks the words of the invocation [Contact Outer Sphere], traces patterns in the air with her graceful fingers. Her voice deepens as she pronounces the final syllables, and her eyes roll back in her head as the trance comes over her. Gerdie pulls tight on the cord, and fastens it down securely, whilst Emmeline whisks away the scroll from her lap.

Lycinia's consciousness extends out over countless leagues of space to the farther reaches of the firmament, past unimaginable vistas of other worlds dancing around other suns, at last making contact with the star Fomalhaut. The chapel becomes colder, and those within feel as if standing under the night sky, though they see only the room if they look up. They feel a breeze on their faces, but there is no wind. The sound of chimes tinkles at the edge of their perception. A white light illuminates the elf's face as she begins to ask her questions across the boundary of eternity.

"Do we possess the means to kill the thing growing out of the tower?" asks Lycinia in a dreamy, far-away voice.

"No," comes the answer, echoing through the chapel.

"What must we have to kill it?"


"Where do we find it?"


"In whose grave?"


Lycinia dares no further, and lets the spell end. Her conscious mind snaps back to her body in a flash. One moment she was floating in the aether, bathed in the white radiance of the cosmic behemoth, the next she is bound to a chair in a dim chapel, her hands and feet going numb from the cords. She feels faint, and her head pitches forward, hiding her face behind a cascade of flaxen hair.

"Lycinia?" says Emmeline, "Lycinia, I need to know that you're... you're still yourself. Like you said. So, tell me: what was I wearing when we went to the Baron Nodier's ball?"

"The light green velvet gown that makes you look like a strumpet."

Emmeline flushes crimson. "It's true, I was in green velvet; but I just don't think you understand our human fashions!"

"Oh, no, dear Emmeline," sighs Lady Margiste, "I'd say she understands them all too well!"

"We can save discussions of Emmeline's sartorial failings for later," interjects Manfred. "For now, can someone tell me who or what this 'Zartsoffek' is?"

"It's Zarhusvosstek, my lord," says Durcet. "A wizard. Your father had dealings with him some years ago, when he sat on the council of Threeder's Mill."

"That's at least a days walk from here," says Manfred, "so we'd better get going."

[Notes from the above: The caster of Contact Outer Sphere may ask as many questions as they dare, but there is a chance with each question that they will be possessed by some entity from beyond. Fomalhaut only has a 20% possession chance, and Lycinia rolled well. There is, however, only a 65% chance of a question being answered truthfully. For each answer I rolled on one of the appropriate adventure design tables in the d30 Sandbox Companion. I'll roll for truth when the PCs get that far.

Q1: Do we possess the means to kill it? No.
Q2: What do we need? spellbook
Q3: Where is it? Cemetery.
Q4: Whose grave? Zarhusvosstek.

Q: Does the name mean anything to someone? No way: 42, Yes. - Secretary has had to deal with him 1d8=7 years ago (he's been dead 1d6= 1 year, unless question 3 turns out to be false).]

scene 43
setup: Altered (was: escape to Threeder's Mill)
Altered: Change / Environment

day 66

As the party puts some distance between themselves and Château Télème, the snow dwindles and temperature rises. Looking back, they see the dark clouds hanging over the castle, as if the unholy miasma is concentrated just there.

The uneventful walk to Threeder's Mill takes a day, as the snow gives way to muddy ground. The village lies within the March of Limenne, and the village elders make every effort to welcome their new liege and his companions. The villagers jump to fulfil every request. Soon, news of Manfred's accession, rumours of death and disaster, and sightings of a wondrous elf in the new Marquess' train are the talk of the whole village. So great is the excitement that no one even thinks to ask why their new lord requested a pair of shovels...

day 67

Between Frère Ambrosius and the village healer [2nd level Cleric], everyone's wounds are healed the next morning. Manfred, in a rare moment of compassion and understanding, says to his companions that since the past weeks have been such a strain, anyone who wishes may absent themselves from the unpleasant business upon which they are soon to embark.

[Morale/Loyalty checks were made for everyone. Emmeline and Lady Margiste got a +2 for being with Lycinia and Manfred respectively, Gerdie got a +1 since Lady Margiste passed. Everyone but two made the rolls.]

The cook says she is too old for this sort of excitement, and Durcet admits his usefulness is limited. Manfred gives each of them a gold coin, and wishes them a good life.

[Sometimes I just keep playing away and forget to change Mythic scenes; this was one of those times. But it's a good breaking point before the next post, so...]