Saturday, 16 January 2016

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part IV: „Blut dürstete das breite Schwerdt / Blut trank der lange Spieß“

Scene 11

Out of control (d8)

Setup: kill the ogre

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 high priest sends a priestess named Caya, along with [1d4=] 3 others: [1d8 for each: 1-3 novice, 4-6 soldier, 7-8 priest] a novice called Dabbert [m], and a pair of soldiers. They are Answin [m], a would-be knight who fights with sword and shield, and a pious spearwoman named Birsel.

It is a miserable morning to travel, as the cold autumn rain falls on the open hills. But it lets off by the late afternoon. Travjane was hoping the company might make the journey more pleasant, but she hadn't counted on them all observing Boron's holy silence, and rebuffing her attempts at small talk. She soon gives up, and concentrates on retracing her steps [Tracking roll succeeds].

The forest leading to the ogre's lair has a decidedly sinister cast. The trees are twisted and bare, stripped of their leaves by the whistling winds. Finally, the travellers arrive at the ruined manse, and concoct a hasty plan. When it has all been decided, Caya looks sternly at Travjane. "Just to make sure we're clear on this," says the priestess, "I want you to repeat it back to me."

"It's like you don't trust me!" says the witch. "Oh, very well. I will sneak up to find the ogre, who we hope is still in his kitchen. I will lure it out and use my magic on it."

"I still don't understand what you're going to do with that old broom you borrowed from the cloister," interjects the priestess. "You'd better not be planning to flee."

"Nothing like that. You'll see. Now, when the ogre comes out into the open, you're going to use your mag-- I mean, your holy prayers to put it to sleep, or at least make it too tired to fight well. Then Birsel throws her javelin and she and Answin advance to fight toe-to-toe. And so will you once the prayer works its, um, its wonders."

"And where will you be?"

"Off a safe distance using my magic. And hopefully upwind!"

"Let's do this. And may may Boron guide our hands."

Travjane begins creeping up toward the ogre's kitchen. The soldiers follow her, and take up hiding spots further back (about 16 paces [16m] from the door). Caya finds a place not far from the soldiers. Dabbert stays with her, but is not expected to join the fight.

[Q: Is the ogre present? 50/50 (4+): O5 C6 - Yes
Q: What is the ogre doing when the party arrives? Work hard / Failure

Stealth vs. Perception again--
Travjane: 2/3/8 success QL2
Ogre: 12/7/16 (7 skill isn't enough) fail]

Travjane slinks right up to the open doorway, and chances a peek inside. The ogre is there, and oblivious to her presence, as his whole concentration is directed at his fruitless attempts to rekindle his cooking fire.

Travjane quietly props the old broom against the stone wall next to the entrance, then retreats back alongside the wall, as far as she dares. She gathers up her courage for a moment, then gives the signal, whistling through her fingers as loud as she is able.

[As usual, I've written up the first combat of the campaign in great detail.

Following are very abbreviated stat blocks for the combat. The full 5th ed. Ogre stats were published online as a teaser. The priestess is using the sample Borongeweihte(r) stats from the rulebook. The soldiers have STR 13 & CON 13, the Novice has Cunning 13 & Courage 14; all other stats at 11 if needed. PRO is Protection (RS, Rüstungsschutz); the soldiers wear linen armour (and have Used to Encumbrance I, so they ignore the commensurate weight penalty). The ogre just has a thick skin.

Morale will be checked whenever someone loses 1/4 of their Life Points. I'll roll a d8 (d4 for Dabbert) to see how many levels of Pain can accrue before an NPC flees: 1-2 I, 3-5 II, 6-7 III, 8 will never flee. According to their write-up, ogres are too dumb to flee.

Name    sx Ini LP PRO AT PA Dod Weapon
----    -- --- -- --- -- -- --- ------
Answin   m  10 29  2  10  7  5  sword (1d6+4) & shield
Birsel   f  10 29  2  10  5  5  spear (1d6+4), javelin (2d6+2)
Caya     f  13 25  -  12  6  6  raven's beak (1d6+4) & shield
Dabbert  m  11 25  -   6  3  5  short staff (1d6+1)
Travjane f  14 29  -  11  6  8  heavy dagger (1d6+2)
Ogre     m  13 60  2   9  7  6  club (2d6+7)

Travjane's whistle is effectively the surprise round, so it's time to roll initiative (1d6+Ini)

Initiative goes Travjane (20), Caya (16), Ogre (15), Birsel (14), Answin (13).

[Round 1]
Having given the signal, Travjane wastes no time but begins immediately to speak the words of a spell. "You've been a servant so long already: now do my will!" The broom begins to shudder against the wall.

Then the ogre runs forth and stops a few paces from the doorway. He is a tremendous monstrosity, standing twice as high as a man. His pale, nearly hairless flesh reeks of rancid fat, with which he has besmeared himself after the manner of his kind. There is perpetual hunger in his bestial eyes, and he hefts his huge club looking for the fools that would disturb him in his lair.

He has just sighted the soldiers moving into position in the brush when the broom behind him comes to life, flying up into the air behind him and rapping him solidly over the head with a loud crack. The ogre howls in rage and pain, and drops his club from the shock.

Birsel and Answin were up at the sound of the signal. Answin now moves forward cautiously, whilst Birsel hurls her javelin. Not only does the javelin strike the wall several paces to the ogre's right, but Birsel cries out in pain as she slips and pulls a muscle in her shoulder.

[Travjane cast Radau on the broom. It normally takes two actions, but she wanted to do it in one round, so takes a -1 penalty to cast. She has skill 4, and it requires Cunning/Dexterity/Strength to cast -- not her best attributes! She rolls 12/9/13, which would require skill 5 to succeed. This is a good time to spend a Fate point (leaving her with one unspent); she re-rolls the 12 & 13 to get a new spread of 4/9/1; the 4 skill points translate into QL 2 for the spell, which affects the animated broom's attack and initiative base (given below). She spends 4 AsP to get the spell off, and will spend 2 more AsP per round to maintain it. And she need to roll for her disadvantage: 1d20=6, no angry spirits torment her this round. She needs to make this roll every time she spends AsP, so that's going to be every round she maintains the spell.

The animated broom is unbreakable for the duration of the spell. It's stats are Ini 12,  Attack 12, Move 12, and it inflicts 1d6+3 damage.

When I first read the spell description, it immediately reminded me of the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, specifically Goethe's Zauberlehrling (German w/ English trans. here), from whence I took the magic words that Travjane spoke („Bist schon lange Knecht gewesen: / Nun erfülle meinen Willen!“). The spell can even attack the caster if you aren't careful!

It rolls (12+1d6=) 15 for its Initiative. It's tied with the ogre, but goes after him as he has a higher base Ini.

After Travjane, Caya was next, but hesitated this round to see what was going on. The ogre grabbed its club and ran out to look round, then the broom flew up to attack.

Attacks are rolled on 1d20, success being the Attack (AT) value or less. The broom rolled a natural 1 -- a critical. The critical requires a confirmation roll (second attack roll with same modifiers). It rolls a 19, which does not make it a proper critical, but still halves the opponent's Defence against it.

The ogre's Parry (PA) is thus 4 (7÷2=3.5 rounded up). The ogre, as if knowing I was trying to show how everything works in combat, obligingly rolled a 20 (Really! I am not making this up), potentially a Fumble. He needs a confirmation roll (defence used with same modifiers) to avoid, but rolls a 14. A roll on the fumble table produced Drop Weapon.

Damage from the attack (1d6+3=6) is rolled and reduced by the ogre's Protection value for his thick hide (2): the ogre suffers 4 damage, leaving him with 56 LP.

Birsel throws her javelin. Range is 16 paces (metres), which is Medium range (no modifiers). The ogre is a large target (+4) but was also moving (-2). The total +2 bonus makes her AT 12. The ogre may dodge, but at -5 (-2 for a thrown weapon, -3 for it being his second defence in the round). But Birsel rolled a natural 20 also, and a 16 on the confirmation. The fumble roll produces a pulled muscle, giving one level of Pain (-1 to rolls) for 3 rounds. I won't count this against morale on its own.

Answin advances 8 paces this round. He can move 8 more paces and attack next round.]

[Round 2]
Travjane is afraid the brute will see her, so she creeps back further along the wall, as meekly and quietly as she can [Stealth roll 15/16/12 - just succeeds]. All the while she focusses her will on animating the old broom [2AsP].

Caya begins the solemn words of a prayer to Boron [casting time 2 rounds].

The ogre stoops to pick up his club, right as the broom makes a sideways swipe at his head, swishing right over him [broom missed, ogre didn't fumble his dodge].

Birsel advances, switching her spear now to both hands. Answin closes the rest of the distance, and takes a swing at the ogre. The ogre fends him off half-heartedly with his huge club. He'd rather this tasty man come in closer so he can be added to his larder all the sooner.

[Answin's sword is a Medium weapon, whilst the ogre's enormous club is Long, so he has -2 AT. He does not roll 8 or lower on 1d20, so misses. The ogre still rolls his parry just in case (fumbles and criticals would apply, and defence is declared before the attack roll -- or rolled at the same time when one is a solo player with lots of dice).]

[Round 3]
Travjane is still concentrating on her spell.

Caya finishes her orison to Boron, Ruler of the Night. A wave of fatigue washes over the ogre, slowing his movements.

[She used the Sleep liturgy. It works much like casting a spell (but uses Karma instead of Arcane/Astral Points. It requires Cunning/Intuition/Charisma; Caya has a skill of 6 in the prayer, and 14 in each of the required attributes. The difficulty is modified by the target's Mental Strength, which in this case is -1 (ogres are susceptible to magic), so her attributes effectively count as 15s. She rolls 17/7/17, which uses up 4 skill points, to succeed at QL1. The ogre receives one level of Stupour (Betäubung), lasting (3xQL=) 3 minutes.]

The ogre blinks with sudden torpidity, but forces himself to smash the puny swordsman before him. Answin deflects the enormous club with his shield, and though he staggers beneath the impact, he holds his ground.

[The ogre rolls a 2, hitting. Answin parries with his shield, rolling a 7 (success). However, the ogre has a Special Combat Ability: Mighty Blow (Mächtiger Schlag). A successful attack requires the target (man-sized or smaller) to make a Feat of Strength skill check at -1 to avoid being knocked to the ground. Answin rolled 2/4/9, so is OK. The soldiers both have skill (1d6=) 2.]

The ogre forgets about the enchanted broom for a moment (forgoing a Defence), but it seems to always swing just a little to late and whistle right by him [it missed by 1].

Birsel jabs with her spear, but does not connect [the spear is a long weapon, the same as the ogre's club, so no attack penalties, but a 17 attack roll misses. The ogre's parry failed but didn't fumble].

Answin fares better, slashing open a wound on the ogre's meaty thigh. [A roll of 8 just hits (AT 10 -2 for shorter weapon). The ogre's second parry fails. Damage is (1d6+4) 7 - 2 (armour) = 5. The ogre has 51LP left]

[Round 4]
Travjane keeps up pouring her astral strength into her spell. But so much magic has caught the attention of the sprites who plague her. She is suddenly surrounded by diaphanous, disembodied hands, which poke and prod at her, ruffling her hair and pinching her flesh.

[The 1d20 roll I have been making every round came up a 1, which is <= the number of AsP spent this round (2). The Annoying Minor Spirits (Lästige Mindergeister) manifest to torment her for 10 minutes, giving a -1 to all rolls. This time they manifest as little hands, because I found the above picture. They are different every time.]

Caya hefts her warhammer, and advances on the foe.

The ogre's next swing hits the rim of Answin's shield, forcing it down and slamming into the warrior's shoulder. He reels from the impact and topples over backwards, coughing blood.

[The ogre's attack is (9 -1 for Stupour) 8; he rolls a 4, hitting. Answin's parry roll is 18, failure. He takes (2d6+7=17, -2 for armour=) 15 damage, dropping him to 14 Life Points. He gains 2 levels of pain for losing 50% of his LP. He also fails his Feat of Strength roll, so falls prone.]

The ogre does not have long to savour his own battle-prowess. The broom raps him soundly once more on his thick skull. [attack hit, ogre was ignoring it in favour of the fighters. 8-2=6 damage, dropping the ogre to 45LP. This is a 25% loss, so he gets a level of Pain too (thus, a -2 total penalty from Pain and Stupour)]

Birsel jabs forward again with her spear, but again does not connect [missed].

Answin lets go sword and shield and tries to crawl to safety. But he rises just a bit too much, and the ogre backhands him with his awful club, shattering his skull.

[Answin's morale roll was 1d8=3 (Pain II), so tried to flee. Flight from mêlée requires a Body Control skill check: a roll of 20/19/3 fails, giving the ogre a free attack (Passierschlag) at -4, which allows no defence (and can't roll a critical nor a fumble). The ogre's attack is at -6 after his condition penalties are taken into account, but he rolls a 2, hitting. Answin's dodge fails. 16-2(armour)=14 damage. Answin drops to 0LP, dead.]

[round 5]
Despite the spectral hands belabouring her, Travjane maintains her spell [they aren't enough to break concentration, and she can stop rolling every round as only one set of Mindergeister can annoy her at a time].

Caya swings her warhammer under the ogre's guard, opening a wound across its belly.  [AT -2 for shorter weapon, but still hits. Parry (-2 for conditions) fails. 6-2=4 damage, dropping the ogre to 41 LP.]

The Ogre swings at Birsel, but only hits the ground where she had been standing [miss].

The broom hits the ogre solidly in the shoulder blade [9-2=7 damage, leaving the ogre at 32 LP].

Birsel has moved right in bravely, and sticks her spear in the ogre's flank. The wound is not deep, but the ogre howls. But Birsel herself feels much better. [4 damage drops the ogre to 30 LP. A 50% loss of LP entails +1 level of Pain. The ogre now has -3 to all actions (Pain II + Stupour I).  Birsel's own Pain from her Fumble fades this round.]

[round 6]
Travjane pretends not to notice the little spirits, and maintains her spell.

Caya just can't seem to find an opening [rolls a 19, miss].

The ogre strikes back at Birsel. She tries to knock away the club with her spear, but the blow is so powerful that it is as if she had not tried at all. The club slams into her side, knocking her onto her back and breaking several ribs. [Attack hit, Parry failed. 18-2=16 damage, dropping her to 13 LP and bringing 2 levels of Pain. Feat of strength roll fails, so she falls prone.]

The broom swishes over the ogre's head once more.

Birsel is no coward. Without even trying to regain her feet, she swings her spear at the ogre from the ground. The awkward swing does not even come close, however. [Her morale roll was d8=7, so she'll fight until she's lost 75% of her Life Points (Pain III). However, with -4 for attacking from prone, and -2 for pain, it is unsurprising that she didn't score a hit.]

[Round 7]
Travjane is still concentrating on her spell, and beginning to hope the ogre can be slain before she runs out of magic.

Caya steps in to take Birsel's place, and swings her hammer in a forceful arc. The ogre attempts to bat it aside, but misjudges. The flat of the hammer cracks against the ogre's hand, snapping tendons and bone. [Attack hit, parry failed. 7 damage leaves it with 25LP.]

The unchivalrous ogre is still intent on Birsel. It goes for her again with his club, but this time she has a better grip on the spear, and blocks the swing a few finger-breadths from her face. [The attack roll succeeded, but so did her parry. She's already knocked down, so there's no further effect.]

The broom again attacks the space the ogre has just vacated.

Birsel cannot fight effectively from the ground, so when the ogre pulls back his club for another swing, she scrambles to her feet. [She needed to make a Body Control roll to stand. A roll of 2/8/6 succeeded, even with her -2 penalty from Pain.]

[Round 8]
"This had really better be over soon," thinks the witch distractedly as she pours more magic into the spell.

Caya makes the mistake of breathing through her nose. The stench of the ogre is so overpowering that she swoons, and drops her warhammer at her feet [she rolled 20, then 13: Fumble].

The ogre laughs at the sight in spite of himself, and almost forgets what he is doing [rolls 17, missing by a wide margin].

Then the broom whacks him right on the nose. With a loud snap, blood sprays over the priestess. The ogre howls in rage and hurt [6 damage drops him to 19 LP, and Pain 3 (-4 total penalties)].

Birsel takes advantage of the distraction to jab her spear between the brute's ribs. [-2 AT from pain, but a roll of 3 hits; its parry fails. 6 damage sinks the ogre to 13 LP, and deals it another level of Pain, bringing its total penalty to -4].

[Round 9]
Travjane is thoroughly bored, and by now a trifle disgusted at the sight of the sweaty, bleeding ogre. Yet she keeps up her spell.

Caya retrieves her weapon from the ground, seeing that the ogre is still intent on finishing Birsel. It swings and misses. The broom cracks the ogre over the head again [6 damage drops it to 7 LP].

Birsel goes in for the kill. She bounds forward, stabbing her spear into the ogre's midsection so far it tears a hole out his back. The light leaves the ogre's eyes and it collapses in a stinking heap.

[Birsel rolled a 1, then a 2, confirming the Critical. The ogre's parry (at -4 and halved) fails. Birsel rolls maximum damage, which is then doubled for the critical hit: (10x2)-2=18 damage, bringing it to -11LP, dead. Of course, it would only have taken 2 points of damage to end the fight; most living creatures fall unconscious at 5LP.]

[Round 10]
Seeing the ogre fall, Travjane lets go her spell. The broom falls to the ground beside the hulking corpse. [Had it beaten her initiative, it would have attacked the next closest target before she could dismiss it.]

Birsel takes a moment to free her spear, then goes to collapse against a tree to catch her breath. Caya makes sure the ogre is really dead, then looks to poor Answin. She says a prayer to Boron to speed the warrior upon his way for the final journey to the home of the Inevitable.

Travjane goes to collect the old broom, but finding it besmeared with blood and ogre-filth, thinks better of it. She goes instead to check on Birsel.

"What's up with you?" asks the soldier, "Shouldn't those ghost hands have been attacking the ogre?" She starts to laugh, then winces from the pain of her injuries.

"I was going to offer to heal your wounds," snaps the witch, "but if you'd prefer to criticise my magic I can just save it for someone else."

"No, miss! I mean no disrespect..."

"Well, I'm going to wait until they fade, if it's all the same to you."

About 10 minutes later, the spirit hands fade back into the ether. Travjane pronounces the words of the healing charm, but stumbles over them in her embarrassment. She keeps going and begins the spell anew, hoping the soldier hadn't noticed her mistake. Birsel, for her part, has been trying to maintain her composure. She's unsure of this stranger and her witchcraft, and can't shake the feeling that she's going to be cursed or turned into a frog instead of healed.

[Balsam Salabunde requires Cunning/Intuition/Dexterity; Travjane has skill 6. Her first roll of 13/16/16 fails, so she's out 1/3 the AsP she would have used (Guild Mages lose 1/2). Had Birsel not been insulting, Travjane might have gotten a bonus for her mood suiting the spell (i.e. compassion for a healing spell) of +1 or +2, which is another perk of witchcraft -- and which would have made the roll a success. But instead she had to try again. This time her roll succeeded, restoring 6LP to Birsel, after about 2 minutes of incantations and 5 minutes of slow regeneration. Travjane has now spent 28 AsP. She's got 6 left.]

"There," says Travjane. "You should start to feel better soon."

"Just in time for the boss-lady to ask me to start moving corpses. She's got that look in her eye."

"I think," announces Travjane loud enough that Caya can hear her, "that I had better leave the... the tending of the dead to the experts. I shall search the rest of the ruins, to make sure there are no nasty surprises waiting. And maybe get a fire built. It'll be dark soon."

The priestess waves her off dismissively.

Travjane makes a thorough investigation of the ruins. Fortunately, the ogre seems to live alone, and keep no pets. There is very little to see but toppled stone walls. The ogre's kitchen and sleeping quarters occupy the only section that still supports a roof.

[Q: Anything worth finding? Unlikely (5+): O6 C5 - Yes.
1d12: 1-2 item, 3-4 location feature, 5-6 entrance to lower level, 7-8 clue, 9-10 herbs growing wild, 11-12 roll twice on 1d10
1d12= item; d30=necklace]

Travjane does find a silver chain necklace lying neglected in the dirt. It's heavier than she likes to wear, so she puts it in her pouch for later, unsure of whether or not she should mention it to the priestess. She makes a fire, but it is soon extinguished as a heavy storm moves in. The weary band huddles close for warmth under a hastily-constructed and very leaky lean-to in the corner of one of the better preserved walls. There is no question of sheltering in the ogre's lair, as the stench is too foul for even the stoic priestess to bear.

[Q: Quiet night? Likely (3+): O5 C3 - yes, but... stormy
Q: Decent resting place? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - No, but...
Survival check to make decent-enough shelter with materials on hand: 9/11/18, fail

Regeneration rolls are all halved:
Travjane gets back 2AsP, 2LeP
Birsel gets 1LP
Caya gets 3 KaP]

The next morning the rain finally lets up a little, but never quite stops. Travjane bids her companions good-bye, and promises to return to the cloister straightaway. She walks most of the day over the muddy hills, and by the time she finally lays eyes on the cloister, fears she's so dirty as to be mistaken for the ogre herself.

The novices let her in straightaway and put her before the fire to dry. The high priest comes for her news, and listens attentively as she relates the story of the battle and the enormity of the task facing Caya and Dabbert -- the ogre's larder was found to contain many more bodies than just the murdered bandits. The high priest says he will send a larger detachment of priests on the morrow, and thanks Travjane once again for her selfless piety. She is given sumptuous quarters -- the kind reserved for the likes of the Baron of Greifenberg -- and told she may stay until the weather clears.

[for her selfless service, she gets +1 reputation at the Rabenkloster.
Excellent lodgings are good for regeneration rolls of 1d6+1. She stays 1d3=2 days, getting back 13AsP.]


  1. A more complex system than I would play for myself, but fun to read anyway.

    -- Jeff

    1. Glad you're liking it. I think the complexity is just about right for me, at least (or perhaps, especially) with a single character. I have run a party of 4 solitaire before. There was a lot of paper shuffling.

  2. Phew... for a while there I didn't think they'd be able to knock off that ogre.

    I'm was wondering if I might have treated Travjane's broom trick as a distraction for the ogre rather than "just" a floating billy club. What gave me that thought was those sprites bedeviling Travjane and inflicting a -1 to her rolls.

    So while Ogre McNasty is in combat with both "Sword & Shield" and "Spear Maiden", the broom is flitting about trying to rap his skull and shoulders. Might that be a distraction to someone trying to defend against two attackers? Of course this would all depend on whether the rules let you impose meaningful distractions.

    Thanks again for this thrilling test drive!

    1. The trick to ogres is that they don't have very good attack rolls. As long as you can keep from being hit, you can whittle them down eventually. But when you do get hit...

      Radau creates a simple combattant. Along with being supernaturally unbreakable, it can also damage creatures who are only hit by magic weapons. But it specifically states that it cannot use any combat manoeuvres. It can be parried/dodged, or you can even attempt to catch hold of it. The distraction comes in the form of choosing to defend or not. Had the ogre used Defence against it, he would have had less of a chance (-3) of defending against the living opponents who were (by his reckoning) a worse threat.

      I did actually roll to see who the ogre attacked, and gave him a chance of defending against or even going after the broom itself, which he never did. These rolls got deleted from the narrative as it was already a bit of an information-dump.

      I'm glad you're enjoying the vicarious test drive.