Sunday, 31 January 2016

Das schwarze Auge solo - Part VII: „...lehrt mich der Feind, was ich soll“

Following her interview with the captain, Travjane makes straight for Darian's shop -- and is pleased to note that she could find it without too much bother. The tailor's sullen apprentice greets her, thinking she's a customer, and brings her in to see Darian. She quickly explains the morning's events, and asks if she might impose upon his hospitality whilst she is in his employ. He agrees, and bids his apprentice clean out the guest room above the shop. Travjane fetches her things from the inn at once, and by the time she returns the room is ready. She's pleased at the comfort of the tiny little garret, which is nicer and indeed bigger than her old room back in Hohendorf. She even likes the little window which looks out into an alleyway. A witch could get used to such lodgings!

Scene 14

Out of control (d8)

Setup: planning the caper

NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Keiler: knight & villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Captain of the guards at Weihenhorst

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, revenge against Captain

That night over dinner they begin to make their plans in earnest. Travjane first asks Darian to tell her everything he can about his rival, Kamillio. He has a lot to say on the subject, though she isn't sure how much is truth and how much is hyperbole. But she does manage to learn a few salient facts [numbered game notes to follow in separate paragraph].

For starters, Kamillio isn't his real name. But as the elegant clientèle he courts would never dream of wearing the fashions of a Perainepreis Kohlenbrenner from Kalmansfeld, he affects the persona of Kamillio of Vinsalt[1]. Even his friends know him as a complainer [2]; he's never happier than when he's got something to be bitter about. Many in the city say he's the best choice for racy eveningwear[3], but Darian insists he's no better nor worse than anyone else. He's said to be a weapon collector[4], but what he really collects, insists Darian, is other people's ideas[5].

[The notes:
1. Vinsalt is the capital of Horasreich, Praios-ward (south) of Mittelreich. Where Mittlereich is essentially medieval, Horasreich is more like renaissance Italy.

2. Personality: Grumpy, Content

Motivations via UNE were also treated as Rumours, using my 'ask an NPC' system (scroll down). The first Truth Die + bonus (for good reaction towards the PC) is listed by each.

3. accompany lust (2+1+?)
4. obtain military (3+1+?)
5. abduct dreams (6+1+?)

only the 3rd rumour seems likely.]

Travjane decides she needs to see this 'Kamillio of Vinsalt' for herself. And she will keep her connection with Darian a secret for as long as possible, lest he scent the conspiracy. Darian decides that the first thing they need to do is make Travjane a nice dress: nothing ostentatious, but firmly middle-class so she doesn't look out-of-place wandering around the merchant's quarter. He will do his best to refrain from including any of his signature flourishes in the cut, colour, or trim. And he delicately makes the suggestion that she try wearing shoes.

[A Clothworking roll is needed; Cunning/Dexterity/Dexterity (he has 12/13/13; skill 10): roll 9/18/13. 5 skill points left = QL2. Kamillio can resist this with a Perception roll to detect Darian's handiwork.]

[1d3=] Three days later, Travjane is walking through the merchant's quarter looking radiant in her new dress. It's very plain, as Darian had promised, but the cut and hue could not be more becoming. But then, as Darian pointed out many a time, it's probable that anything would look good on her. Should she ever lose her magic, she thinks, she could always fall back on being a dressmaker's dummy. [She's back to full AsP. Boring random encounters have been redacted.]

She walks about the square for a while, pretending to shop, and watching as people go n and out of Kamillio's boutique. After a while she gets impatient, and decides she must go in herself. She waits for another customer to go in before her, then makes her move. She decides not to show herself yet, so pauses in the doorway to use her magic.

[She's casting Harmlose Gestalt (Harmless Form: Cunning/Intuition/Charisma, skill 5). She rolls 2/7/7: success, QL2. It costs 8AsP to cast +4AsP/5minutes of duration, so she's already down to 22. The Mindergeister roll is a 20, so they leave her alone.

The spell works intuitively, and the witch has no control over the form she assumes. It does alter her voice. The illusion can be seen through; the viewer rolls their Perception skill against the casting roll. I now notice that Townspeople (with stats similar to Darian) only have a 2 Perception, so would need a critical success to beat Travjane's QL2.]

Travjane walks in bravely. Inside Kamillio is animatedly (and a bit oleaginously) discussing fabric with velvet-clad fop. One of his subordinates is showing a pair of elegant gloves to a woman who's almost as beautiful as Travjane, and judging by her attire, most likely a Rahja-priestess as well.

One of the other shop assistants scurries over to greet her as she arrives. "The Twelve bless you," he says. Travjane returns the greeting, and is somewhat surprised by the nasal, disdainful voice that comes out of her. She waves the lad off imperiously, and surveys the shop. When she catches sight of herself in a mirrors, she sees the visage of a grande dame of Weihenhorst society staring back at her. Only in this place would that be the most harmless shape!

[Travjane needs to make an Empathy roll at -3 to learn anything really useful here from her cursory inspection (Cunning/Intuition/Charisma, skill 5). She rolls 4/2/7 - success, QL2. I ruled that means she will be able to roll for Truth of 2 rumours/motivations, randomly determined to be the first two.

accompany lust: 2+1+ 3 = 6 - mostly false
obtain military: 3+1+5 = 9 - mostly true]

From what she can see, reports of scandalously revealing evening wear are grossly overstated. Even the Rahja-priestess is in looking at something warm and sensible. But the wall of the shop are certainly decorated with an impressive array of exotic weapons: a tuzakmesser sword, a norbardic Molokdeschnaja axe, a thorwal 'orknose' axe, and a dwarven maul, to name but a few.

Travjane decides she's seen enough, and decides to make a hasty exit lest the Mindergeister catch up with her and ruin her disguise. She looks round once more, turns her nose up at it all, and marches haughtily back out into the street.

[Q: Can she slip out easily? (unsure: 1d6=4) 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and... well before needing to put more magic into spell.]

She slips down a narrow alley as the magic fades.

Once back at Darian's shop, Travjane relates her little espionage mission, and makes a proposition. "What I need to do now," says she, "is to find a way to get together with Kamillio socially. With enough people around to be distracting, but where I can get near him. And I need a fancy dagger. Do you think this could be arranged?"

[Q: Can Darian help with this plan? Unlikely (5+): O4 C1 - No, and...]

"Sorry, m'dear, but I haven't a clue where he goes to be social. Nor who could stand his company for so long as to issue an invitation."

"I need more plotting and less editorialising from you. Do you know anyone whom we could ask?"

[Q: Would anyone (sc. who is available to ask) know? 50/50 (4+): O5 C5 - Yes: d30 NPC=carpetmaker
+Event: Move toward a thread - revenge on Captain - Dispute / Intrigues]

"In fact a rather close associate of mine: one who has a vested interest in this undertaking, in fact. He's been trying to stay in the background, but... I suppose he's our best chance at this."

Darian takes Travjane to meet his friend, Linnert the carpetmaker. As they are crossing the quarter, they pass a group of workers outside a cobbler's shop, arguing with the proprietor.

"We would come to work," Travjane overhears one say, "but our families have been threatened."

"Damn the Captain and his threats!" shouts the cobbler and his frightened workers. "I'll never pay that scoundrel a single Kreuzer!"

[The Event above went perfectly with the random encounter (PCs see merchant standing outside shop arguing with workers), so I combined them. Otherwise such an encounter would have gone unrecorded.

At this point in the game, the carpetmaker didn't seem as important as he later became. A few die rolls and interpretations slowly turned him into Darian's ally/co-conspirator. And when it hit me that he could also make use of a magic needle, it all came together. So the narrative has benefited once again from the game being played to a point well beyond where I'm typing up posts.]

Travjane goes silent for a few moments as the realisation of what she has just witnessed sinks in. "Is the guard captain really dirty?" she asks Darian.

"Oh, absolutely!" replies the Tailor.

"Hmmmm...." she thinks to herself.

And then they have arrived at the carpetmaker's shop. Linnert is a large, rather uncouth fellow who wheezes a bit when he speaks. He sighs as he sees Darian enter the shop. "I thought we agreed not to meet once you found us 'the asset'."

"The Twelve bless you too," says Darian, undaunted. "We've had a change of plan."

"Come in back then."

Linnert takes them into a cramped, windowless storeroom. "Maybe we should have met you at home," muses Darian, as he attempts to get comfortable atop a sagging wooden crate.

"I'm not used to entertaining in my workshop," replies Linnert.

"I live above mine so I can always receive my guests."

"I thought it was because you can't trust your apprentice."

"At least mine can read!"

"Perhaps we should get down to business. Don't mind us, good lady, we've been friends for far too long. I see by your expression that Darian forgot to warn you how we are."

"I..." begins Travjane.

"No matter. I am Linnert; welcome to my humble shop. And you are...?"

"Travjane. But you can keep calling me the Asset if it makes you happy."

"I hardly think that necessary, good lady. Now what can I do for you?"

"We need to arrange for me to surreptitiously meet with Kamillio. Darian thought you might know how this can happen."

[UNE: knowing - discourse - allies
Q: Allies? d30=illusionist (I interpreted this as Gaukler(juggler); I really need to make a game-specific revision of the d30 Key NPC table like I did for Dragon Warriors)]

Linnert thinks for a moment. "He does like to go watch his friends, the players. What're they called again...? Oh, yes! the Mini-sänger. They're funny enough, I hear, if you like that sort of thing."

"It might be too hard to get close in a crowd. Do they celebrate after the performance? And does he go with them?"

[Q: Does Linnert know? Unlikely (5+): O6 C4 - Yes, but...]

"Of course they do! They're players, after all. They drink at the Rose & Sceptre. But I don't know if Kamillio goes with."

"It looks like we're off to see the show."

[The next performance will be (1d8-1=) 3 days hence.]

Scene 15

Out of control (d8)

Setup: see the cobbler

NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Keiler: knight & villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Captain of the guards at Weihenhorst, Linnert the carpetmaker, the cobbler

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, revenge against Captain

Travjane leaves Darian to find her a suitably flashy dagger (she couldn't afford even a simple one at this point without selleing some jewellery) and goes off to see the cobbler. His shop is open, but seems empty inside. She finds the cobbler at his workbench, surrounded by enough work for four men, and nearly in tears. His head snaps up when he sees the witch enter. "Can I help you, madam?"

[no encounter on the way there.

NPC Relationship: peaceful
Conversation Mood: forthcoming
friendly - comfort - recent scene]

"I saw you talking to your workers earlier," says Travjane. "I understand you have problems with the town watch. Specifically, the captain."

"Yes. He's making me pay protection money... well, it's blackmail really. You too? it's nice to know I'm not alone."

"No, not really. Well, sort of. Allegations that could be used against me, and that sort of thing. I want to get back at him, and expose him for the miscreant that he is!"

"I will help if you are going to do this. I can't face him alone." [UNE: knowing - telling - future action]

"Do you know when he will return? Or does he prefer to surprise you with his visits?"

[Q: Does he know? 50/50 (4+): O5 C4 - Yes, but...
in 1d6-1 days=]

"Tomorrow. But he doesn't come in person. He prefers to send his lackeys."

"I want to be here anyway, to see how it goes; we can't rush this. I guess I'll be looking for a second pair of shoes..."

Scene 16

Out of control (d8)

Setup: hang about in cobbler's shop to witness the shakedown

NPC list: villagers, family, Ulmia the confectioner, Decius Keiler: knight & villain, villain henchmen, Jalosch the dwarf, wandering mage, Darian the tailor, Kamillio the rival tailor, Captain of the guards at Weihenhorst, Linnert the carpetmaker, the cobbler

Threads: revenge, the ivory box, get the needle, revenge against Captain

Travjane returns to the cobbler's shop early the next morning, intent on finding some way of turning the poor man's distress against their mutual enemy. But it's a long and tiresome wait in the empty shop, and the cobbler is not much of a conversationalist.

[Q: Anything happen whilst waiting? unlikely (5+): O1 C1 - No, and... Travjane gets a bit bored.
+Event: Ambiguous event - Arrive / Military (there are Academy cadets in town)

Travjane need a Willpower check to stick it out: 20/15/15 is a failure. She spends a fate point to re-roll: 5/7/6, success.

The captain sends 1d6= 1 hench(d6=)woman]

After what seems an eternity, someone finally comes to the door of the shop. Travjane jumps up to hide in the back room.

[Stealth vs. Perception rolls; both Travjane and the henchwoman fail, so vcitory goes to the passive skill user.]

A tall, broad-shouldered woman enters the shop. She's wearing a non-descript townswoman's dress, but the battle axe she carries marks her as no simple peasant. She spots Travjane rushing out of the room and yells after her. "You! Get out of here! I need to have a private word with this gentleman."

Travjane does as she is bid, and runs out of the shop, not even daring to look the captain's enforcer in the face. The woman shuts the door behind her, and Travjane pads quickly back and presses her ear to it.

[Perception roll 10/13/3, success]

"We'd hoped," says the enforcer, "this little demonstration would make our message clear. We have no interst in seeing you ruined, just getting our due. Reconsider: it's the word of the Law versus the word of a cobbler caught [Cruelty / Rumour] spreading rumours to discredit his enemies. We'd hate for that to come to light. 'Twould make the whole quarter look bad. Get us our money by [2d6=7] this time next week or we go public with your letters." [knowing - report - power]

Travjane rushes back out into street and disappears into the crowd before the enforcer comes out.
[Q: Is there an altercation? 50/50 (4+): O3 C7]

The woman either doesn't see her or doesn't care, and walks away down the street. Travjane rushes back into the cobblers shop once she's out of sight.

"Wait a minute!" shouts the witch, "Who's the bigger blackmailer here? What did you do? Are you trying to set me up?"

[UNE again--
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: helpful
inquisitive - skepticism - experience]

"N-no!" stammers the cobbler. "I understand a woman who knows the ways of the world, such as you, would naturally look askance at such a conversation. I admit I'm not an innocent in this affair, but my misdeeds were of a personal nature, not for something so shabby as money. Or power."

"Who did you spread rumours about? And why?"

[d30=fighter. 1d8: 1-2 mercenary, 3-4 soldier, 5-6 warrior, 7-8 knight: 1; d6=m]

"Lirobal Ladrón. He's a mercenary from Brabak who's settled here in Weihenhorst. We were competing for the romantic attentions of [d30=peasant, d6=f] Noiona the milk-maid. She lives without the walls, but is a rare beauty, I assure you."


[BOLD waylay: haven-hamlet-stale; avoidance]

"I sent her parents a series of letters, which I knew one of their neighbours could at least read to them, blackening Lirobal's reputation, saying he had the most fearful intentions. Now she no longer brings the milk to market, and won't leave her little farmstead. Someone got wind of the letters, and the guards have confiscated a fair few of them..."

"I need time to think things through. You're not as useful to me as I'd hoped, since you're actually guilty. I'll be back when I have a plan -- if I have a plan -- but it might need someone important to catch them shaking you down for the money. So you'd best get it raised somehow. And if you write any letters about me to anyone I will curse you to the end of yor days. Understand?"

[Intimidate (Courage/Intuition/Charisma, skill 3) roll, +1 bonus for appearing to be a witch: 14/3/12, success QL1.]



  1. And so the "plan" begins to stir in Travjane's mind . . . but I will have to wait a bit to find out what finally jells, eh?

    -- Jeff

    1. She's made a very good plan in which nothing could possibly go wrong.

  2. I'm still agog at how richly detailed this "little" adventure has become. You started with a simple peasant girl and trainee witch in a little village only to uncover political corruption in one of the region's major cities in 8 short sessions. It's magical - no pun intended!

    Thanks again so very much for sharing this with us. You've shown me just how rich solo RPG play can be.

    1. Nicely put, Bill. Very well said (well, written really).

      -- Jeff

    2. Despite the vague starting-plot to kick things off, I genuinely had no idea where the campaign was going to go. All I really did was set up the sandbox so that lots could potentially be going on; there's a 400 page rulebook full of subsystems to play with, so most eventualities are covered.

      I spent more years than I would care to count playing solo campaigns that were very mechanistic and adventure/encounter-based. I tried to do what I am doing here, but with limited results. Most of the interesting personal scenes didn't happen in games, but were just little scraps of conversations and stories I would write down whilst waiting for a bus or on a break at work; I have old PCs whose entire internal life was detailed across a collection of envelopes, coffee-shop napkins, and the backs of club flyers. But most of their actual deeds were never recorded, and soon forgotten.

      Mythic was a revelation, as it brought both halves -- the inner and outer life of the character -- together. And it especially made the NPCs more alive, which gives the PCs more to react to and interact with, which in turn makes the PCs more like real people.