Sunday, 15 November 2015
Dragon Warriors solo - Part VII: The comforts of religion
Ailbert means to stand watch the rest of the day and into the night, so that Ysmena may recover her magic and rescue Loys and Reynaud from death's door. But his own wounds have taken too great a toll on the young knight, and he drifts off as the sun is setting. Ysmena forces herself to remain vigilant, but she too is suffering from her wounds and the evening's chill.
Ysmena hears a rustling in the bushes nearby. She creeps over to investigate, her hand clutching the dagger at her belt. She sees no one through the dense foliage. She stands still to listen, but only sound is the wind blowing through the leaves, and her own heart pounding. But hark! footsteps are getting closer, slow and measured, but certainly human.
Then an imposing form in a dark, heavy cowl bursts into the clearing beside her. She wheels about, drawing her dagger in a flash. The form pauses for a moment, and Ysmena hisses, "Come no closer! I am armed, and with but a word I can summon my knightly protectors!"
A kindly voice comes from under the cowl. "Dear lady, you are injured, as are your poor protectors. This forest at night is not safe. Not safe 'tall"
[It's still scene 9, with a d10 chaos die. I asked Mythic:
Q: Do the PCs have a peaceful evening/night? 50/50 (4+): O1 C0, No.
So I rolled a random encounter (from the DW Bestiary charts), with the proviso that a weird result would instead be (1d6) either the Key NPC (1-3) or Goblins (4-6).
encounter time (1d12)=just after dusk
A roll of 07 was Peasants... they certainly wouldn't come near the ruins, so 1d6=3; the Key NPC (Hermit, from the d30 Sandbox Companion table).
What are the hermit's motivations? (via UNE)
-aid the world
Q: Is he of the Priest profession? Unlikely (5+): O2 C3 - No, but... other random profession: 1st level mystic]
"Who are you?" asks Ysmena, still interposing the dagger between herself and the stranger.
"I am called Brother Quintinus. I am a simple monk, come here to live in solitude and contemplation away from the worldliness of the city and the distractions of the cloister."
"Come, let us get the wounded to my tower. The night is full of dangers outside."
Brother Quintinus lives in the shell of an old tower across the field from the castle proper. He has constructed a lean-to inside as shelter from the elements, and has made a simple shrine on one wall and a fire pit in the centre. Loys and Reynaud are put under some blankets in the lean-to, and Ysmena and Ailbert join the good friar around his fire as he cooks them something from his meagre stores.
"Is this a holy place?" asks Ysmena.
"Oh, no," says Brother Quintinus, "just a place for my simple needs and solitude. But it's safe here. The little bogeys are afraid of me, I think,and won't come close. Sometimes they leave me little presents: a pigeon, some pretty stones, a pile of leaves. But they fear my prayers and the rude images of the True Religion I've put up."
Ysmena lets him lead the conversation, and is relieved that he doesn't seem interested in prying too deeply into their reasons for coming here. He does have a few questions for Ailbert about his panoply, and admits that as a child he wanted to be a knight himself and would watch the tourneys with great interest.
[UNE: conversation mood=friendly, neutral; topic: friendly-delight-weapons
Q: Can Ysmena subtly sound him out about his attitude to magic? Unlikely (5+): O5, C2 - Yes, and...]
"I fear for our two knights," says Ysmena deliberately. "Loys is in a terrible state. And Reynaud's condition is even more desperate. I fear for their recovery from such grievous wounds. It would... it would take a miracle to make them whole again. Or..."
Brother Quintinus looks thoughtful for a moment, then speaks. "M'lady, if you know of -- if you posses -- some extra-natural means of soothing their ills, 'twould be a great kindness -- nay, a blessing! -- and more salubrious for them by far than my simple chirurgy."
At midnight, Ysmena speaks a healing charm over each of her companions.
[Everyone gets 2hp back. Loys and Reynaud regained consciousness with 1 HP at some point, so she doesn't need to cure them from 0 or -2.
Q: Do any of the PCs admit to anything stupid? Unlikely (5+): O4 C8, No.]
They stay for a day with Brother Quintinus. He is content to let them rest whilst he wanders through the woods collecting food. They find him a most affable host, who likes nothing so much as chatting about the spiritual rewards of his simple life [UNE: friendly-comfort-rewards]. Everyone is eager to travel back to civilisation for supplies (Ysmena would like some armour), but the good friar won't see them head out on the road in such a pitiable state, so they stay for yet another full day, Ysmena applying her magic on two successive midnights.
On the following morning, then, the hermit packs them some provisions for the road and finally bids them Godspeed.
[Loys & Reynaud each have 7hp, Ysmena and Ailbert are back to full (9hp).]
Chaos: Out of control (d8) - raised since the expedition to the ruins nearly got everyone killed.
Setup: go to village to rest & resupply
chaos die=2, Altered = Will have to travel further for one or more things...
NPC list: Lady Melisenda, Earl of Avincester, the Secret Enemy, Benoist the brigand, Brother Quintinus, goblins
1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home
4. earl's mission
The uneventful walk up the road from the ruins to the nearby village takes barely an hour and a half.
Q: Is there an inn or public house with rooms available? Unlikely (5+): O2 C1 - No, and...]
The villagers of Fitston Parva look upon the weary and bloodied travellers with abject suspicion. None are willing to offer them shelter, not even at a price. One brave sort suggests they follow the road to the next village. There is a travellers' inn there.
Not wanting any trouble, they take the hint and continue down the road.
[Q: Does Loys and/or Reynaud have any idea of the relationship between the Earl and the lord of castle #7? Likely (3+): O4 C0, Yes.
4-5 grudging allies
12 abject hatred
They decide to bypass the castle; the lord there is neither friend nor enemy to the Earl, but they'd all rather not risk another noble's involvement in their quest. At the next village...
[Q: Inn or public house rooms available? Unlikely (5+): O2 C4 - No, but...]
...they once again are coolly received. The peasants of Fitston say there is a traveller's in at Mulford, down on the river, so perhaps they ought to go thither. Pausing only to slake their thirst at the town well, they march straightaways down the road out of the village.
The road leads out of the farmland and crosses through the hills. Between two particularly steep inclines, a tollgate blocks the road. A tall tower looks down upon it from high above on a flat-topped hills. Loys hands over 4 florins for the toll.
[Q: Any other problems? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...
Q: What? Persecute / New ideas]
As they are about to pass through, one of the officers addresses Loys. "Good sir knight! I know thou art most assuredly upon some great Quest, or in the service of some Earl or Duke, but if the problems of simple country folk be not too mean for thy notice, I would speak with thee of a matter most distressing."
"It is my duty as a knight to help all those in distress!" responds Loys. Ailbert tries to stand straight and proud as he can. Ysmena and Reynaud merely roll their eyes.
The soldier continues: "There is a heretic causing trouble for us, and especially for the good people of Mulford. Wouldst thou, O knight, put a stop to the perfidy of this churl? And with all haste, lest the flock of Mulford be led into darkness!"
"The very Fist of God shall guide my sword, as I put an end to the foul ravings of this noxious heretic! Come, my friends: Mulford awaits. We've the Lord's work to do!"
Loys leads his companions into Mulford. There is some sort of festival in full swing, and the town square if full of musicians, performers, and the drunken populace itself [d30 settlement events: popular, music].
They take rooms in a proper Inn: a private room for Loys, another for Ysmena, and a shared room for Reynaud and Ailbert (12F/night total, and another 12F (total) for food). The first night is spent in rest; they are all too tired to even take part in the festivities. Ysmena heals Loys and Reynaud some more [4HP each] in the morning.
[Q: Anything interesting happen? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7, Yes.
Q: What? Malice / Disruption
Q: Against the PCs? 50/50 (4+): O1 C2 - No, and...]
After breakfast, Ysmena goes to the market to buy a decent dress (2F), as hers is torn and covered in bloodstains. She wants to buy a gambeson (35% avail in village) too, but can't find one.
Loys goes in search of a priest who might have information on the heretic. From the steps of the church he witnesses a near-riot in the marketplace. Some bravos were attempting to shake down some of the poorer merchants for protection money. A band of the Baron's soldiers intervene, and beat the miscreants bloody, to the cheers of the crowd -- amongst which he is almost certain he makes out the face of Reynaud.
Once inside the peaceful emptiness of the grand church, Loys finds a tonsured priest. [Looks roll to get info on heretic: 7+8=barely a success]
"Holy father," says Loys, "I have heard tell of a heretic in this village, spreading poison amongst the faithful. I have pledged my sword to rooting out and destroying this evil."
"That is... laudable, my child," says the priest. "But perhaps we should temper our righteous anger with mercy, and seek to return this sad woman to the bosom of the True Faith. Rather than murdering a wayward nun in cold blood."
"I... uh... yes. I see. What is this heretical nun doing to cause such a stir?"
[Q: What is heretic's deal? I found a list of major real-world heresies, and adapted it for a 1d10 roll:
"This benighted soul is preaching that the Saviour is a fusion of both human and divine, rather than being wholly human AND wholly divine, as all those pure of faith know to be true."
"I understand," lies Loys. "This heretic, is she in the town? Preaching in the square perhaps?"
[Location (1d6) 1-2 church, 3 inn, 4 hills, 5 moor, 6 swamp
5 = moor]
"No. We've chased her from the village. She lives alone on the moor, though there are many unfortunates who do seek her out there. They consider her a living saint. Saint Richolda, they call her."
"I would very much like a word with this heretic."
"Take care, my child, lest her evil words infect your reason. Or stir you to even greater sins of violence!"
Chaos: Out of control (d8)
Setup: find heretic
chaos die=4, Interrupt: Vengeance / Lies - NPC action - Earl
[noted for later]
Chaos: Out of control (d8)
Setup: find heretic
chaos die=2, Altered (Debase / Expectations)
NPC list: Lady Melisenda, Earl of Avincester, the Secret Enemy, Benoist the brigand, Brother Quintinus, goblins, heretic
1. get a horse
2. find out situation
3. head home
4. earl's mission
5. deal with heretic
The next day they set out into the moors to find the heretic. Loys is certain of his purpose. Reynaud is sure it's a bad idea, but know he can say nothing. Ailbert is somewhat worried about what they might find, but does his best to emulate Loys' brave resolution. Ysmena doesn't really care, but likes walking on the moors; it reminds her of her childhood.
[Tracking roll to get there directly 1d20=19, no...
Encounter check: 9 Lazars
Q: Going to see the heretic? Likely (3+): O6 C6, Yes + Event: NPC Action - Earl - Travel / Goals (Earl will not be home when PCs get back, travels take him to 1d30 on an errand. Noted for later)]
Despite doing his best to follow the priest's directions, Loys cannot find the way to the heretic's dwelling. Then in the distance, a small group of travellers is spotted. Loys approaches them cautiously, aware that they are outnumbered, if still more than a match for simple peasants.
But as he draws near, the leader of the group raises a hand in warning, and others begin to ring bells. "Lepers!" exclaims Reynaud.
Loys halts a safe distance away, and shouts, "Whither go ye, unclean ones!"
"Oh good knight, we do but travel to the abode of the wise woman of the moor. It is said she doth posses the touch of a Saint, and can make this affliction fly from our bodies as a show of God's infinite mercies."
Loys and his company follow the lepers at a safe distance, and are soon in the camp of the so-called saint. There is a rude hut made of branches and roofed with rushes, and a a scattering of tents, all around a central altar made of piled stones. About a dozen miserable people are lying about the altar on the ground. They are all ravaged by diseases most horrific. Some are praying, some merely staring up into the sky, and others look to have already died. The scent of carrion is on the breeze, causing our heroes to choke.
A bedraggled woman crawls out of the hut, roused by the lepers' bells. When she sees the trio of knights behind them, she calls out to them.
"Get ye back! Back! Let none come here save those already doomed! I have no holy power! I am afflicted with the mark of my heresy. Leaves us here to our penance -- and death!"
Loys and company do not need to be told a second time. They make for Mulford with all possible haste. Loys brings word to the priest that the heretic has been struck down by God Himself, and now consorts only with flies and lepers -- and shall soon entertain the worms.