Friday, 8 January 2016

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part III: „Einst da ich bittre Tränen vergoß...“

Travjane spends several days in a haze of misery. She goes about her tasks at the inn mechanically, rarely if ever acknowledging the presence of anyone about her. Now and then she bursts into inarticulate spasms of rage. Her step-parents give her wide berth, fearful of her witch's wrath.

Late one night she is sitting in the kitchen, long after everyone else at the inn has gone to bed, as the realisation of her circumstances finally pierces through the clouds of sorrow. She stands up, casts off her apron, and marches off to her room to collect her things. She throws all she can carry into her travelling sack, and returns to the kitchen, where she steals some food for the road and a torch, and slips out the back door.

Scene 8

Out of control (d8)

Setup: back to Ulmia for answers

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

Threads: revenge, the ivory box

[Stealth (Courage/Intuition/Agility, skill 5) roll to get out un-noticed; +2 bonus since everyone is asleep: 2/8/9 - no one even stirs.

She steals 1d4+1= 2 days rations]

No one is awake in the village to see her go. She hurries down the forest path as quickly as she is able in the pre-dawn darkness. She does not dare light her torch until she is certain that no one in the village would be able to see it.

After a few Meilen, she hears a rustling in the bushes off the side of the path, which she had almost mistaken for the torch crackling. Suddenly...

[a random encounter was indicated. Via BOLD's waylays, I got: natural / the wild, sudden]

... a  wild boar charges out into the road before her. It eyes her angrily, and looks as if it will charge.

[Initiative: Travjane has 14+(1d6=)3 vs. the boar's 11+1.]

Travjane murmurs a few soothing nonsense words, and stretches out a friendly hand towards the vicious beast.

[She casts Meekness (Sanftmut)
She has a rating of 4 in the spell, which uses Courage/Intuition/Charisma. She needs to cast it quickly, so takes a -1 penalty to reduce it to 1 action casting time. The spell is further modified by the Mental Strength of the target. The boar has MS -2, so she actually gets a +2 bonus for that. The total bonus is thus +1.
She rolls 4/4/2. It will last for (QS2 x3)=6 Minuten.
It cost 4AsP, so 1d20=9, >4, so no Lastige Mindergeister to trouble her.]

The boar becomes docile at once, and trots up to give her a friendly nuzzle. She pats it on its bristly head and sends it on its happy way.

The rest of her day is uneventful. She doesn't quite make it as far as the Rabenkloster, but she finds a decent enough campsite in the woods nearby. It's a cold night on the hard ground, but it doesn't bother her at all.

[Survival roll to find a campsite succeeded. The nighttime temperature sank almost to freezing, but the combination of sleeping bag and Cold Resistance means no ill effects.

It was a peaceful night with no encounters. She regenerated 1d6=2 AsP.

I also gave her an easy (+3) Orienteering check to set out in the right direction the next day, which she made handily.]

In the morning she sets out over the hills. She gives the cloister a wide berth, she doesn't want to use up whatever patience the raven priests feel towards her. She makes good enough time on her journey, and see not a soul stirring along her route. But a few Meilen before Almweide, she spots something unsettling.

[random encounter (again via BOLD): easy foes - bandits; 1d6=3 of them. It seemed a straightforward encounter, until I rolled for the Modifer and got 'haunting' and the solution came up 'scarce-used ability']

Three bloodied corpses lie in a heap amongst the remains of shattered weapons and sundered bits of armour. Travjane draws near cautiously, but by the livid complexions and the stench of decay she can tell that none of them yet live.

She sees movement out of the corner of her eye. She draws her dagger as she wheels to face it -- but nothing is there. Then she hears footsteps behind her. Turning about, she sees no one there. She starts at a clash of arms, but once more the sound comes from the empty air. Then a terrible, diaphanous form rises straight out of the ground before her, moaning and shrieking. It bleeds from many wounds, and wears armour similar to one of the corpses on the ground. Two more phantoms coalesce beside it, brandishing spectral arms.

"DOOOOOooooOOOOooOOOOOMMMM!" wails the first phantom, and the others soon echo its plaintive groan."

"Oh, you poor dears!" says Travjane.

The ghosts cease their moaning. "You're not afraid?"

"No. Should I be?"

"We're the restless shades of the dead."

"And I'm a witch. Also, it's still daylight. Isn't it past your bedtime?"

"Yeah, I guess. It's all a bit confusing, to be honest."

"How did you... how did you come to be haunting this spot?"

[Q: Were they killed by Travjane's enemies? 50/50 (4+): O3 C5 - No.]

"We're... I mean, we were bandits. There were eight of us, and we got to arguing about dividing of the spoils, and... it got pretty heated."

Another of the ghosts cuts in. "You're a witch, you say. Maybe you can help us."

"I might be able to help. But there's a Boron-temple not far from here at all. The priests will certainly be able to put you to rest."

[Q: Do they assent? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - Yes, but...]

"Are you sure they will? Even for us?"

"Even for you. It's one of their most sacred tenets, seeing that the dead rest. And getting rid of the undead, which you might be now. I think, technically. I have something I must do first, but then I'll go right back to the cloister to fetch them."

"No! Go now! You can't leave us like this!"

"I must. I have an important mission. A nice old woman's life may be in danger. But I will come back this way tomorrow to fetch the ravens. I promise!"

"Fine. If you must. But you were right about it being past our bedtime. So sing us to sleep and you may pass. But keep your promise!"

"I will."

[Singing (Cunning/Charisma/Constitution, skill 2) roll 9/9/9 succeeds, QL1]

Under der linden an der heide,
dâ unser zweier bette was,
dâ mugt ir vinden
schône beide gebrochen bluomen unde gras.
vor dem walde in einem tal -
schöne sanc die nachtigal...

By the time her sweet song is finished, the phantoms have sunk back into the earth. She continues her way towards Almweide.

Scene 9

Out of control (d8)

Setup: Answers in Almweide

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

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, help the ghosts

[Q: Is anything going on in Almweide? 50/50 (4+): O1 C5, No.
Q: Is Ulmia OK? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8, Yes]

Travjane doesn't even knock, but bursts into the bakery. She is relieved to see Ulmia puttering about the closed shop.

Conversation Mood: sociable
prejudiced - doubt - fame]

"You?" says Ulmia in surprise, "What are you doing back here?"

"I have terrible news."

"Some soldiers arrived after you left. I think you've been doing things you oughtn't -- publicly, at any rate. You need to learn to keep your head down and your nose clean!"

"I try! But now it's all too late. Auntie Brinnske's dead. Murdered!"

Travjane is startled at the ease with which the words left her lips. But she pauses for a moment and they settle in, and she nearly falls over. She lurches over to the table and collapses into one of the chairs. Ulmia is made of sterner stuff, and her face betrays only a hint of the shock that she feels.

"I didn't think..." she mutters, then stops. She pats Travjane on the head, and excuses herself to the kitchen to find something restorative. She comes back with a bottle of schnapps and a plate of teacakes. Travjane takes what is offered, and the stiff drink burning its way down her throat brings her back to the present.

[Q: What does Ulmia want? Activity / Peace]

"Look, girl," says Ulmia firmly, "after your visit I got a less-than-pleasant visit from a group of hired swords, looking for the selfsame old box that I gave you to take away. They were upset they'd missed you, and turned the place over to see you weren't secretly still here. I don't know what you witches get up to and I don't want to know, and I especially don't want to get involved in something that has gangs of armed killers showing up again on my doorstep."

[Fast Talk roll to get some help/advice
skill 2, Courage/Intuition/Charisma: roll 7/11/2, QL1

UNE: mysterious - misdirection - equipment]

"Please, I don't know what to do or where to go. And you're the only one I know who isn't pleased to see her dead. I saw her murderers. A group of knights stopped me on the road home. They knew who I was. They took the box!"

"Knights? Are you sure?"

"Yes! With horses and armour and lances and everything. And great helms -- so I couldn't see their faces. But the lead knight had a fancy pin on their cloak, a bejewelled peacock."

"The peacock is the symbol of Rahja--" [the love goddess]

"These were no Servants of Passion!" [Diener der Leidenschaft, the priestly title]

"Well, it is also Aves' symbol," says Ulmia thoughtfully [demigod, patron saint of adventurers and travellers]. "These were tools of some greater power, not the ones in charge."

"No matter; shall they answer for their crime! But if you think these wanderers are fled, then how am I to proceed?"

"You're asking me?"

"What about the box? They took it... what was in it?"

"Nothing. It was a puzzle, that's all."

"Have you ever opened it?"

[1d6: 1-2 yes, 3-4 no, 5 tried but couldn't, 6 never tried; d6=4]


"And you have no idea who would want it?"

[1d6: 1-2 no, 3-4 maybe 5-6 no idea; d6=4]


[d30=merchant, obscurities
Where? 1d4: 1 Greifenberg 2 Weihenhorst 3 travelling 4 somewhere strange]

"There's a merchant in Weihenhorst who sells all manner of curiosities. [1d6=] He might buy such an item. Runs a shop called the Emporium Mirorum. Might even be a wizard himself, I hear."

"I'll go to Weihenhorst tomorrow. Can I stay here tonight? I promise I won't keep coming back."

"Oh, all right. I'll pack up some pastries for your trip, too."

Scene 10

Out of control (d8)

Setup: chaos 1d8=3, Interrupt (was: travel back to Rabenkloster)
Interrupt: Move away from a thread - revenge - Return / The spiritual

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

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, help the ghosts

The next morning Travjane sets out early. She is a bit concerned at the amount of cakes she has been given for such a short trip. Luckily she happens upon a flock of obliging birds, to whom she can feed a good portion.

[She needs a Tracking roll (Courage/Intuition/Agility, skill 2) to retrace her steps to the ghosts. She gets a +1 bonus as it's her very own trail. She rolls 11/1/1, which is really a waste of a Critical Success.]

She finds her way back to the ghosts with remarkable ease, but the scene that greets her there gives her a fright. The bodies are all missing. Only the broken weapons and fragments of armour remain on the bloodied ground.

[Q: Are the ghosts able to say what happened? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 - No, and...
+Event: NPC action - Family - Inquire / Disruption (noted for later)]

She calls out to the ghosts, who rise out of the ground, but seem less distinct somehow, and in answer to her questions can do no more than howl piteously. She looks about and sees the grass flattened as if the bodies were dragged off. She decides to follow the trail.

[Tracking roll: 9/8/12, success
direction 1d6=6 (counting the top hex side as 1)
1d3=2 hexes]

The track is easy to follow. It leads Firunsward for about a Meile, and continues through the forest [the compass points are also named for gods. Firun is the god of winter, cold and hunting. His direction is north].

The trail leads to a forest clearing, in which [d30=] a crumbling mansion house is slowly being  claimed by the forest. The main wing of the mansion is still mostly intact, and Travjane creeps forward to peer within.

[Opposed skill rolls--
Travjane's Stealth (Courage/Intuition/Agility, skill 5)
NPC Perception (Cunning/Intuition/Intuition (Attribute:6/10/10), skill 7)

Travjane rolls 13/14/20; she spends a Fate point to re-roll the 20, giving her 13/14/11; 5 skill points left = QL2.
The NPC rolls 6/8/15; 2 skill points left = QL1.

Travjane wins the test.]

The noxious smell coming from the yawning entryway makes Travjane doubly cautious, but nothing can prepare her for the horrible sight which awaits her. An enormous ogre is reaching beneath the rotten floorboards into his larder, where he has heaped the mouldering corpses of both men and beasts. Behind him seethes a great cooking pot, where he renders his meals into an awful slop.

Travjane needs no more than a glimpse of the frightful scene. She ducks behind the stone wall for a moment to collect herself and combat the churning in her stomach, then slips quietly away. Now, she thinks, she must swiftly to the Rabenkloster. This desecration will not sit lightly with them.

But as the Praios-orb is slipping out of sight beneath the horizon, she has still a ways to go. She decides to push on.

[She's about 6 movement points short, so she will need a Self Control (Courage/Courage/Constitution, skill 3) check to push on: 15/12/10, success. But she loses 1d6=  3 LP for the exertion.

doorman's reaction when she arrives (UNE)--
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: withdrawn
insane - confusion - enemy]

She trudges on relentlessly through the night until at last she reaches the cloister. The doorman opens to her, and she tries breathlessly to explain the predicament.

"You again?" he replies, "What are you doing here in the middle of the night? Slow down! Ogre? what ogre? Talk sense, girl!"

She is ushered inside and given lodgings. The doorman swears he will bring her petition before the high priest in the morning. But for now she must rest in Boron's arms.

[Regeneration rolls: she regains 2 LeP and all her spent AsP.

Q: Does her story get the attention of someone important? Likely (3+): O3 C1 - Yes, and...]

Travjane is surprised to be awakened late the next morning by no less a personage than the high priest himself. He explains to her that he found her report most disturbing, and will be sending a priest and some others along to deal with the ogre.

"Will you take them to this place?" concludes the high priest.

"I will help them put down that fell beast!" replies Travjane.


  1. Interesting developments.

    -- Jeff

    1. The completely arbitrary decision to make the cloister devoted to the death god has provided an unexpected amout of game-time. After I put it there, I was sure that Travjane would give it as wide a berth as possible out of semi-superstitious dread!

  2. Loved the scene with the boar, oddly enough. So much of what we see about magic in RPGs is MAGIC!!!, big flashy spells doing big flashy things. The entire hedge magician/wise woman end of the spectrum is rarely seen because, quite frankly, it isn't exciting enough. To my mind, it's the commonplace, day-to-day activities that bring a setting to life, kind of like how David Eddings in his various series usually mentioned his adventuring characters making camp, gathering wood, and cooking. It's why I've been intrigued by this RPG ever since I first read about it.

    Magic should change and/or effect the societies using it on a basic level, but we rarely see that. For example, there were several threads at SJGames many years ago about how simple, easily cast spells should revolutionize agriculture and how such an effect should be part of a setting's background or "scenery". As background, you shouldn't focus on it naturally, but it should afford you a chance to present "We're Not In Kansas" moments for your players.

    Thanks again for rule set's "test drive". I'm enjoying it on many levels!

    1. Witches' magic is mostly very subtle. I've read of witch players keeping a fake chracter sheet on the table and not letting the other players know they're actually playing a witch, and disguising their spellcasting as mundane activities (with the GM's complicity). That said, even the other magic-using character types don't have tons of high special-effects budget, sound- & light-show type spells.

      Glad you're enjoying the test drive.