Saturday, 2 January 2016

Das schwarze Auge solo - part II: „Und als ich an die Grenze kam“

The Rabenkloster's entrance hall is a sombre and awe-inspiring edifice. Great columns support many-tiered, arched ceilings, and the upper galleries are all but lost in the stygian gloom. Precious little light filters in through small, widely-spaced windows.

As the two weary travellers step over the threshold with their pitiful burden, a pair of black-robed novices glide over to meet them.

Scene 4

Chaos: Normal (d10)

Setup: at Rabenkloster

NPC list: Widow Brinnske, villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage

Threads: mission

[Q: Are the travellers well received? Likely (3+): O4 C9 - Yes]

"Boron bless you," says one of the novices quietly.

"My companion has met her end upon the road at the hands of marauders," says Jalosch. "I would bring her body home to her people, but first I have come here, so you may do what must be done."

"Of course," answers the novice. "We shall do what we can that Boron shall be merciful to her soul. Bring her this way, and then we shall find you lodging for the night."

[Q: Are there any events overnight? Unlikely (5+): O5 C1 - yes, and...
Q: What? Violate / Allies]

Travjane finds the silence in the monastery oppressive, but the pilgrim's cell she is given is comfortable enough. She is just on the point of settling down to sleep when she hears many footsteps running outside her door -- a veritable commotion in this tomb-silent place. Travjane throws back the blanket and goes to peep out of her door.

Black-robed priests are hurrying past down the corridor. "What's the matter?" she says, "what's going on?" But the priests do not deign to respond. A soldier, halberd gripped tightly in her hand, is tromping down the corridor behind the priests. Travjane decides to follow after.

[She needs an Empathy roll (Cunning/Intuition/Charisma, Skill 5) to appraise the priests' mood towards her. She rolls 9/7/15; she needs 1 skill point to drop the 15 down to her Charisma, so has 4 skill points remaining: QL2]

The procession ends in a modest side-chapel. Tranjane sees Jalosch sitting dumbly on the floor, his hands above his head. he is flanked by a swordsman and one of the priests, holding a 'Raven's Beak' [warhammer]. Several small golden pieces of an altar service are arrayed on the ground before the dwarf, next to a leather sack.

The older priests maintain Boron's holy silence, but some of the younger ones are talking amongst themselves. One or two even point their fingers in her direction, and she is certain that she overhears the phrase 'running interferance'.

[She will need an Etiquette roll to get through this. She gets a +1 bonus for having made her Empathy roll above QL1 (it would have been -1 for a failure). Etiquette is rolled on Cunning/Intuition/Charisma; she has no rating in the skill, so had better roll well.

The dice come up 18/20/4... This is a good time to spend a Fate Point for a re-roll. She can choose to re-roll any or all of the dice, so she'll go with the first two. The re-roll gives 11 & 4, so her skill check is 11/4/4: success.]

Finally the high [1d6=] priest enters. All fall silent upon his arrival. "So we have a thief in our midst. Your punishment is prescribed, thief, but what of your companion? Has she any complicity in this nefarious act?"

"Please, good my lord," says Travjane, "I have known this dwarf for scarcely more than one Praios-course [= day*]. I found poor Gudelne slain in the road, and him nearly so. I suggested we take her here so that she be given the proper rites -- as I was taught is my duty."

[Q: what do they say in the end? via UNE
Conversation Mood: guarded
mysterious - whispers - the character]

"Very well," says the high priest, "I am convinced of your innocence in this affair. But we know about you. The priest of your village has said disturbing things. We know you're a witch. we have our eye on you. Perhaps the light of the Praios-Orb has blinded her; perhaps not. We will be watching you. Now good night, and pleasant dreams.

[*A day in Aventuria is generally called a Praios-course (Praioslauf). A year is a Gods-cycle (Götterlauf). The sun itself is the Praios-Orb (Praiosscheibe).

And since Boron is the god of dreams as well--
Q: Does Travjane have unusual dreams? Certain (2+): O4 C3 - Yes, but... just bizarre, obviously not prophetic]

Scene 5

Chaos: Normal (d10) - ups and downs are even

Setup: to Almweide

NPC list: Widow Brinnske, villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage

Threads: mission

In the morning, Travjane wakes with a start. "Such disturbing dreams," she thinks to herself, "but in  this place, how could they be otherwise?" She puts the thought aside, and gathers her things for the road. She accepts a meagre meal from the silent priests, then heads out into the hills -- making sure the priests see her leave, lest they think she is stealing anything.

It's a cool autumn day. Travjane relishes being left alone to go in her own fashion, without the repeated exhortations of her step-parents to put on her cloak... or shoes. Keeping the forest on her right, she need not fear losing her way. She arrives at the little village of Almweide late in the afternoon.

[The d30 adventure generator indicated a race against antagonists. Travjane should have reached Almweide in 2 days, but lost a day at the Cloister. So--
Q: Does trouble catch up? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes: (1d6) 1-2 been and gone, 3-4 arriving soon, 5-6 arriving in the morning; 6=morning]

It isn't hard to sniff out the village bakery. It's already closed for the day, but Travjane pounds on the door until she's let in by a suspicious and surly young lad. She explains that she has brought something for Ulmia, and the boy disappears without a word.

Ulmia is a stocky, grey-haired woman of indeterminate age. "So, you're young Travjane! We finally meet. How is old mother Brinnske? And how was your journey? You must tell me everything!"

Personality: Safe, Guarded
1. shepherd charity
2. review friends
3. acquire industry

NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: helpful
prejudiced - assessment - last scene]

Ulmia takes Travjane back to a table by the hearth, where she serves her herbal tea, a light stew, and an endless parade of cakes and confections. She has a knack for keeping the young witch talking, and answering her questions in great detail, but seldom revealing her own opinions. The sole exception to this being at the end of Travjane's narrative of the events at the Cloister, when she says sympathetically, "I never did like them ravens."

[Q: Problem overnight? Doubtful (6): O1 C1, No, and... village having a quiet week. +Event: Delay / Travel - PC positive : antagonists still a day behind]

Scene 6

Chaos: Normal (d10)

Setup: homeward bound

NPC list: Widow Brinnske, villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage

Threads: mission

Travjane wakes to the smell of baking bread. As much as she'd like to linger here, she is anxious to return home; not that she wants to be back in Hohendorf, but the sooner she returns the less reproach will accompany her homecoming.

Ulmia gives her a carved ivory box to bring to the Widow Brennske as a thank-you for the loan of the manuscript. She fills a small basket with cakes and sweet-meats for Travjane's journey, then sees her off at the door. Travjane sneaks back into the village to buy some dried sausage and cheese from an obliging farmer (2 days rations for 3s), lest she die of malnutrition or a stomach-ache in the wilderness. She then makes for home.

When the village is out of sight behind her, she sits down in the long grass to examine the box, for curiosity has been gnawing at her since she first laid eyes on it. It doesn't rattle when she shakes it, but she is certain something must be inside. She studies the intricate carvings for a clue, but finds none. There is an inscription in a band around the lid, but she cannot read it, nor even say for sure what script it is in. The brass catch is closed but somewhat loose, and she she is sure she could easily unlatch it, but should she? What if this is some sort of test, or the box is trapped or cursed... or worse. But, she reasons, she wasn't told not to open it, so she can see no reason why she should delay any longer. She slips open the catch, and pushes the lid back...

[Technically, Travjane could have made a Willpower skill roll to overcome her Curiosity disadvantage, but where's the fun in that? So I will need to ask Mythic--

Q: Can the box be opened? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - No, and... it would require great magic to get inside.]

...but it doesn't budge. She pushes, and pulls and twists, but nothing she can do will open the box. She can't even get the point of her dagger under the lid. "I should have known," she says to herself. She puts the box back in her sack, and continues on her way.

The day's trip is uneventful. She makes camp in the forest that night, and has a peaceful, dreamless sleep. In the morning she makes her way through the woods and back to the road.

[No encounters were rolled the first day, and she made her Survival roll to find a good campsite. In the morning it was time to ask--

Q: Does trouble catch up? Unlikely (5+): O4 C4 - No, but... they have gotten to Ulmia. I will add -1 Reputation for Almweide, as the populace will be nervous to see her again after this; I will decide Ulmia's fate when Travjane is next in Almweide.

+EVENT: Remote event - Create / Enemies : Where? d30=8, Mage's Tower (also noted for later)

1d30 indicated no road encounter, but I did roll a general random encounter. Since I started playing without deciding on which encounter tables to use, I thought I would try using the Waylay charts in BOLD for them. So--
Waylay Noun: hard foes - villain
Waylay modifier: hesitant

This encounter made perfect sense when I rolled it; I'll explain everything at the end of the post. For now, you just to know that there are 1d6=4 soldiers. And--

Q: Does Travjane recognise them? Doubtful (6): O4 C2 - No, and...]

It takes Travjane almost half the day to cut through the forest to the road and head up it into the hills. The sky is threatening rain, and very little daylight filters through to the forest floor. Suddenly Travjane hears the sound of horses approaching from up the road. She stands aside to let the riders pass, and is surprised to see them stop before her. There are five of them, armoured knights mounted on destriers.

"Hold!" cries the lead knight. Travjane can't even tell if it is a man or a woman beneath all that armour, nor by the rough voice sounding from out the steel helmet.

"The Twelve bless you," offers Travjane weakly.

The knight does not respond, but shots to two of the others. "You two: search her!"

The knights dismount and draw their swords. One takes hold of Travjane's arm, the cold steel gauntlet biting into her skin. The other snatches away her sack, and dumps the contents onto the dirt at her feet. The knight takes the ivory box, and presents it to the leader.

Travjane watches the lead knight carefully, looking for any clue that will make sense of this encounter.

[Perception (skill 2; Cunning/Intuition/Intuition) roll at -2 is needed to notice anything useful. Rolls 4/4/1, success!]

The knights' shields bear no devices, their helms are undistinguished, and they wear plain tabards over their mail. But the leader does have a fibula in the shape of a peacock pinning their travelling cloak closed.

[Q: How does this end?
UNE- Conversation Mood: withdrawn]
knowing - report - current scene

The lead knight puts the box in a satchel, and addresses Travjane. "Go back to your village,  and your simple life. Let us never cross paths again, let us never again find you doing such shameful errands. Any you undertake now are on your head, and yours alone. Now off with you!"

Travjane can do aught but watch the knights ride off down the road. When they are well away, and she no longer even fancies she hears the hoof beats against the track, she gathers up her possessions and hurries on homeward, all the while turning over in her head the strange warning the knight had given her.

Scene 7

Chaos: Out of control (d8)

Setup: village

NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, villain, villain henchmen, wandering mage

Threads: mission

When Travjane has reached Hohendorf, she smells smoke heavy in the air. There is little movement in the village centre, just a small child who runs off towards the inn upon seeing her. She sees the inn's door open, and her step-parents come out -- but slowly, and looking uncharacteristically concerned.

"Oh, my child, my poor dear child," says her step-mother. Her step-father opens his mouth to speak, but finds no words.

"What is it?" asks Travjane, "Why is everything so quiet? Why aren't you yelling at me?"

"I don't--" begins her step-mother, "How can we tell you...?"

"What? What could possibly...?"

Travjane's voice trails off when the understanding hits her. She drops her travelling sack and breaks off at a dead run into the forest towards Widow Brinnske's cottage. She finds it has burnt to ashes; nothing remains but the old stone hearth. The ground still smoulders, and the heat and smoke are too great to sift thorough the ashes. Travjane knows she will find nothing within. She sits and weeps until her tears come no more, and then just sits.

[UNE for parents-
NPC Relationship: friendly (!)
Conversation Mood: helpful
scheming - intent - skills]

Her step-parents come after dark, bearing torches to light their way. Her step-mother takes the girls arm, and begins to lead her home. Travjane has no strength to resist. She is only dimly aware of her step-mother's babbling monologue. "We know this must be an awful shock. An awful shock. Oh, whatever can we do for you, child? Perhaps in the morning you can help me make some nice applecake. Staying busy will keep your mind off things..."

- - - - - - - - -


From the beginning (well, when I rolled up the adventure seed) I knew there were two groups of hench-villains. The one she was racing went to Ulmia to get the box, and thence tried to head Travjane off after she got it away. The dice kept them from actually showing up in play. The other group went to Hohendorf to eliminate the Widow Brinnske. I hadn't intended Travjane to meet them at all, but when it seemed to be indicated by random table results it made for a better climax.

For now, her first adventure is at an end. For completing it, her Fate Points reset to their maximum (3), and -- though won't be able to spend them yet -- she earns 5 Adventure Points.

The point of the sandbox game is to range all over the map and figure out how to get the things the PC needs/wants therefrom. One of the most important things for a witch is learning new spells & curses. Having an easily available teacher with a free home base, even if they require services in exchange, is anathema to the set up. Thus, I knew what the end of Travjane's adventure was going to be before I even started. And it will lead easily to the next adventure.

But that is for the next post to reveal.


  1. Well that was unexpected. A peacock emblem, eh? I suppose that she will follow that clue . . . or maybe not. Wait and see, I guess.

    -- Jeff

    1. It was necessary. The very surprising thing was her step-parent's reaction. I made a spreadsheet that randomly generates UNE conversations. The NPC Relationship field is a drop-down field, but it also has a Random option, which I used to see if perhaps they might show compassion just this once -- which they did!

      Travjane will certanly be following up the clue. Along with Curiosity, she also has Vengeful, and in this case I will also forego any Willpower roll to avoid activating it.

  2. Delightfully mysterious and a nice "test drive" of the rules too! I can't wait to see how it all plays out. Why were the dwarves attacked and why were they traveling? Who is ordering the death of witches and why? What is in the box and why did the older witches rely on a young untried girl to carry it rather than flying back and forth on their brooms?

    About Travjane's step-parents' "odd" reaction, you could spin it as their initial response to their relief that Travjane is alive. Brinnske was found murdered and her cottage burned to the ground by a heavily armed group of unknown knights while the step-parents didn't know Travjane's whereabouts. Was she killed at Brinnske's cottage too and her body "lost" in the ruin? Or was she taken away by the knights? When the young witch shows up not only unharmed but also unaware of what has occurred, their relief that she's still alive and unhurt should color their attitude towards her for a day or two.

    It's only later that they'll be pissed she ran off without telling them and was tramping around the country for a few days.

    1. It was a more eventful start than I had anticipated, but I managed to set up tons of potential avenues of adventure without even trying.

      Widow Brinnske may or may not have known something was afoot, or even what she was to get in return for the manuscript. Ulmia isn't actually a witch. How they know each other is yet another unanswered question.

      I'm not sure her step-parents have the wherewithal to do much more than be secretly relieved that the witch can no longer be a bad infulence on Travjane. But then, she isn't going to give them very long to think about it.