Saturday, 25 June 2016

Into the Odd solo - Part X : « evomat virus acerbitatis suae »

The scientist's warnings go unheeded. The explorers are determined on having an interview with the mysterious count, and despite his protestations, they take his key to the sub-sub-basement, and descend into the Count's subterranean lair.

[Q: Are there any final obstacles? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1, Yes, and... (random picture=)

So it was time to read the detachment rules... That done, I created 2 detachments for each side, loyal soldiers vs. enraged servants; their attributes were rolled up on 3d6 in order, and they each got d6 hit points.

loyal soldiers A
str 9, dex 9, wil 14, hp 4
muskets d8

loyal soldiers B
str 7, dex 12, wil 11, hp 5
muskets d8

enraged servants A
str 14, dex 6, wil 12, hp 5
improvised weapons d6

enraged servants B
str 10, dex 8, wil 13, hp 5
improvised weapons d6

The servants need to hold off the soldiers for 3 rounds in order for the PCs' encounter with the Count to play out with no interruptions. I'm no wargamer, so I have no idea how to write up a mass battle in an interesting fashion. I tried reading a few pages of Caesar to use as a model, but there is no way I can approach his eloquence. Thus, this is going to be mostly game mechanics. Mea maxima culpa.

[round 1]
I rolled a d4 to see which of them counted as the leader of the more bellicose side; 1d4= Servants-B. They then had to make a Dex save to win the initiative; d20=2, the servants attack first. The battle starts with A vs A, B vs B. Since there are no 'to hit' rolls, I'll just record who takes what damage.

A soldiers take 1 damage to 3hp
B soldiers take 4 damage to 1hp

A servants take 4 damage to 1
B servants take 3 damage to 2hp

The soldiers discharge their muskets into the mob of enraged servants, who retaliate with a volley of hurled cutlery, garden implements, and the occasional objet d'art snatched in anger from a mantelpiece. Neither side inflicts many casualties on the other.

[Round 2]
A soldiers take 5 to 7str d20=1, no crit
B soldiers take 2 to 6str d20=5, no crit

A servants take 1 damage to 0hp
B servants take 6 damage to 6str d20=5, no crit

The mob surges forward as the soldiers are ordered to fix bayonets. Blood stains the floor as the two sides clash.

[Round 3]
A soldiers take 1 damage to 6 str d20=9, broken
B soldiers take 1 damage to 5 str d20=3, no crit. But as half the force has been broken, they must make WIL save to avoid a rout: d20=10, they stand

B servants take 8 damage to -2str; destroyed

One wing of the soldier's army has suffered terrible losses as the gardeners charged with their pruning hooks. The survivors beat a hasty retreat, throwing down their arms to run faster. But the victory is short lived; for the other soldiers are moved to acts of greater heroism by the disaster, and they cut through the enemy ranks with such ferocity that not a groom nor a parlour maid nor e'en a footman is left standing.

[Round 4]
A servants now need to check morale: d20=19, routed

The remaining servants cannot stand against such might. They flee every which way to safety.

~ meanwhile, in the cellar... ~

The explorers descend to the vaulted room deep below the castle where the Count is confined. The sight -- and smell -- that greets them makes them shudder with revulsion.

The Count has transmogrified into some sort of immense, grey-green fungus, covered in waving cilia and swollen pustules which leak a thin, yellowish fluid. He (it?) sits impassively upon a simple wooden bench, clad in a costly suit of lacquered steel armour, which is pitted and corroded in places.

Beside him sits his page, a tow-headed, angelic-faced lad, holding his lords helm with great reverence. He has no eyes, just empty sockets in his head, but is otherwise clean and healthy, in fact pristine. Everywhere else in the room is covered in slime and rot and residue, but the page is touched by none of it. The lad is completely silent, but the Count now and then gurgles something to himself.

"Please, my lord," says Aurélius tentatively, "we would have a word with you, my lord."

[I rolled a random Mythic scene to determine how meeting with count goes: PC negative - Refuse / Masses. The result made me instantly think 'masses of refuse', so...]

The Count-thing rises as if to address his guests. But instead he spews forth a mass of stinking green filth over them, a filled with bits of bone and rot. The explorers scatter, trying in vain to avoid the spray.

the fungoid count
str 16 dex 14 wil 13, 9 hp, armour 1, fists d8
all within combat range must make dex save each round or suffer from caustic slime (roll 1d8)

  d8 you have/are...
  1  slipped - lose next action
  2  fallen - must make a dex save to get up
  3  blinded - next d3 attacks are Impaired
  4  injured - hit by a hard chunk for d6 damage
  5  burnt - suffer 1d4 damage from chemical burns
             for the next 1d3 rounds
  6  infected - str save to avoid contagion
  7  stained - you'll want to buy new clothes;
               it will never wash out
  8  roll twice, treating an 8 as no result

the eyeless page
str 9, dex 15, wil 12, 2 hp
death ray eyes d8, immune to the slime

[Round 0 - PCs are surprised]
No one avoids being spattered by the filth entirely, but Fridoline and Gregor [failed Dex saves] get the worst of it. Gregor slips, his arms windmilling in an attempt to maintain his balance. Poor Fridoline slip and falls right on her bum.

[Round 1]
Disgusted though they may be, they are yet unfazed by the grotesque display; the explorers leap to the attack [Aurélius makes a Dex save d20=2: PCs win initiative]. But there is still slime everywhere, being squirted round the room as if a pipe had burst. Wanda is drenched in the stuff [stained], and Severin 's skin starts to redden and burn at its touch [burnt; 2 damage drops him to 12 str, no crit. It will last 2 more rounds. Fridoline also failed her save, but got another Fallen result, so there is no additional effect].

Aurélius fires his pistol at the Count, but the ball is deflected by his heavy breastplate [damage 1-1=0]. Randeep discharges her musket, hitting the Count squarely in the 'head'. Gore and foetor are splattered behind as the ball shots straight through, but the Count seems to hardly notice [8-1=7; 2 hp left]. Fridoline does not try to get up, but fires her pistol from the ground, grazing the page's impassive cheek [her attack is Impaired; 1d4=2 damage to 0hp]. Gregor steadies himself [lost action], but Wanda and Severin draw their swords and charge.

Wanda deals the page a terrible wound across his torso [5 damage puts him at 4 STR; save=2, no crit]. The lad does not cry out, nor even flinch, but instead just calmly fixes his gaze upon her. Crimson rays shoot out from his empty eye sockets, and sear into Wanda, body and soul -- but she does not falter [1 damage put her at 0hp]. Severin delivers a glancing blow to the Count [3-1=2, to 0hp]. The Count responds by smashing his face with an iron fist [3 damage drops him to 9str; no crit].

[Round 2]
Yet more sludge issues forth from the Count. Fridoline coughs and sputters as she gets some in her mouth [infected; str save fails] and Wanda slips and falls over. Severin gets some in his eyes [blinded], and his patch of reddened skin starts to blister [2 more damage from the Burnt result reduces him to 7str; fails crit save]. The pain is too great, and he faints.

Randeep draws a pistol and fires. The ball pierces the breastplate, spattering more goo [5-1=4 damage dropping the Count to 12str; no crit]. Aurélius springs forward with his sword, which hits the Count's armoured shoulder with a clang [1-1=0]. Fridoline struggles to her feet [dex save=2, ok] whilst Wanda, still on the ground, slashes at the page's legs. He topples face first into the muck, and is still [impaired attack, 1d4=3 damage, leaving him with 1 str; he fails the STR save against critical damage.]

The Count deals Aurélius an clumsy blow, which he shrugs off bravely [3 damage reduces him to 2hp].

[Round 3]
Randeep accidentally inhales some of the horrible slime [infected, but STR save=4, resisted]. Fridoline loses her footing again and topples over. Wanda gets some in her face [blinded - 2 attacks impaired. Severin is unconscious, so automatically failed his DEX save. He luckily gets a Blinded result, which has no effect. The last round of burning does 1 damage, leaving him with 6 STR].

Randeep drops her pistol and runs at the Count raising her musket over her head like a club. She bashes him across the 'face' with a great squelch [4-1=3, to 9 STR, no crit]. Aurélius stabs again with his sword, causing an eruption of chunky fluids from the wound [5-1=4 damage, dropping him to 5 STR; again he saves against critical damage]. Fridoline throws her hatchet, but it merely bounces off his steel tassets [Impaired; 1-1=0].

The Count swings at Aurélius again. One fist misses entirely, the other forces him back a pace as it smashes against his sternum [2 damage puts him at 0hp].

[round 4]
Despite the continuous fountain of filth being produced by the Count, none of the explorers seem unduly affected, or perhaps they are so far coated that it is hard to receive any more [all conscious PCs made their DEX saves; Severin failed his automatically, and becomes Infected (failing too his STR save].

Randeep smashes the musket down on the Count, but his armour absorbs the blow [1-1=0]. But it distracts him enough that Aurélius lunges right at his tumescent head, skewering it with his sword. The Count collapses on the floor, pulsating irregularly [3-1=2 to 3str, crit].

Aurélius stabs him over and over until all motion ceases. They all pause to catch their breath, and take turns searching the room for anything of interest.

[Short rest to regain hit points; d6=5, no encounter

Q: Are there any valuable items here? Unlikely (5+): O4 C5 - No
Q: Can the PCs escape the castle easily? (uncertain: 1d6=4) 50/50 (4+): O3 C5 - No.]

Wanda discovers the entrance to a secret tunnel, which stretches off as far as the eye can see. The explorers are debating the merit of seeing where it leads when the decision is made for them. Sounds of fighting issue from the stairwell to the laboratory, and they can hear the barked commands of an officer rallying their troops and preparing to send them down to fight alongside their lord.

Severin kindles a lantern and closes the shutter so it emits only a narrow beam of light, hopefully enough to navigate the tunnel by without giving away their position to any pursuing soldiers. Randeep's hand does appear to still be putting out an unnerving glow.

The brickwork tunnel is just big enough for a person to stand erect. The ground is merely packed earth, and in places is mired in stagnant water. It goes in very nearly a straight line, and has no branches or offshoots. After about half a mile, it becomes evident that the soldiers are in danger of catching up. Their shouts and the barking of war dogs echo down the tunnel after the explorers, as their torches come nearer and nearer.

"We'll never outrun them," says Randeep. "I've got to collapse the tunnel. Go on ahead. I'll be with you presently."

So saying, she lights the fuse of her bomb, and heads back toward the soldiers. She hurls it with all her might just as it's about to explode...

[She needs a DEX save to pull this off safely; d20=16, she's caught in blast. d12=12 (of course!); This removes all 6 hp, and drops her to 5 str; but she at least saves against critical damage].

... and explode it does, soon after leaving her hand. She had thought to collapse the roof, and collapse the roof she does, but the force of the blast throws her back 10' through the air. She comes down hard on the ground, but surprisingly nothing is broken. At least the soldiers won't get through any time soon. She limps off in triumph to find her friends.

~ ~ ~

[At some point I realised I was being entirely too stingy with treasure, so I made the blessing of Sabazios a permanent (if dangerous) arcanum.]

The Hand of Sabazios
The hand's possessor (only a human hand may become the Hand of Sabazios, but it needn't be attached to work) can call upon its power to summon a Consuming Blight Vortex : the vortex moves rapidly through a 50' diameter area, causing 1d12 STR damage to 1d6 living targets, ignoring armour. The invoker must be in this area, but need not be at the centre. A Willpower save is required in order to choose the targets. The hand's appearance does not change, but it phosphoresces in darkness -- even through any normal covering (glove, gauntlet, etc.). It does not emit enough light to read by.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Into the Odd solo - Part IX : Rescue !

Leaving the dusty chapel, the chambermaid once again leads the explorers through the maze-like corridors of the ancient castle. Aurélius is more content to follow now than lead, after the horrors into which they have blundered. Randeep still seems in a bit of a daze after her experience -- that dream or vision -- and her hand feels decidedly alien to her, but she says nothing. Fridoline feels her bruised or broken ribs complain with every breath, but at least, says her vanity, it won't scar.

[The PCs had managed a short rest in the chapel for Fridoline to recover her hit points. It was a successful encounter, so the 50/50 odds improve to likely when I asked--

Q: Can they get to the housekeeper without more problems? Likely (3+): O5 C7 - Yes.]

Finally the chambermaid stops in front of a door. "This is her lair!" she explains. The chambermaid tries the door, but it proves to be locked. "I haven't a key to her chamber."

"See if you can draw her out," suggests Randeep."

The chamber maid raps soundly upon the solid, wooden door. "Ma'am! Ma'am, come quickly! Ol' Hubert's been at the brandy again."

[The housekeeper gets a WIL save to see through the chambermaid's ruse, so she'll need some stats. As she's a main villain, I rolled her attributes using 4d6-drop-the-lowest, and gave her 2d6 hit points. Her choice of armament was dictated by the picture I found (see below).

the housekeeper
str 16, dex 8, wil 16, 6 hp
hammer (d6)

She rolled a 3 for her save. This is going to be a fight, so Aurélius as the party leader needs to make a DEX save to win the initiative; he does.]

The housekeeper throws wide the door, and stands silhouetted in the door frame, her hammer at the ready. The maid shrieks in fright, but the explorers stand ready, weapons in hand, and rush for their wicked foe.

[Round 1]
Fridoline hasn't time to bring the musket to bear, as her two fellow explorers are already leaping through the doorway as the dreaded housekeeper recoils from their onslaught. Randeep's sword flashes out [4 damage drops the housekeeper to 2hp], but the housekeeper catches the blade on the steely haft of her hammer, just inches from her face. The distraction is all Aurélius needs; he lunges and skewers the housekeeper's side. He swiftly withdraws the bloody sword, expecting his injured quarry to collapse at his feet [3 damage drops her to 15str]. But she stands firm [STR save succeeds, and she also passes her Morale check]. The housekeeper's surprising riposte lands upon Aurélius shoulder with a resounding thwump [6 damage puts him at 12 STR; he saves against the critical damage] but does not put him out of the fight.

[Round 2]
But not much fight remains. Randeep slashes right across the housekeeper's face. the wound is more bloody than serious, but the shock is enough to drop the vile domestic to the floor, senseless [3 damage leaves her with 9 STR, failed crit. save].

The chambermaid runs into the room, emboldened by her tormentor's  helpless state. She raises her own sword to finish her.

"No!" cries Randeep. "We need her alive!"
 [WIL save = 13, success]

The chastened chambermaid lowers her sword. Behind her, Fridoline quickly lowers the musket, thankful she'd not had to fire; but she could not have allowed the girl's revenge to
steal their prize.

The explorers bind the housekeeper's hands and take her keys. She keeps a flagon of water on her bedside table. The chambermaid is allowed the honour of throwing the water in her face to rouse her for questioning. She is uncoöperative in the extreme, but her captors do manage to goad at least some information out of her.

[what does she say? UNE: hostile - death - allies]

"You ignorant fools may not have realised it," say the housekeeper, spitting with fury, "but that wasn't really the Count at dinner! Soon you will have divined what is really afoot here in the castle, so I shall dissemble no more. Little good it will do you to know -- one of your companions is about to become the main course at our true liege's table! Ha ha ha!"

"We must save them!" cries Aurélius. "Take us to the dining room, quickly!"

"Not the dining room," says the chambermaid, "the kitchen! Follow me!"

Aurélius runs after her, followed by Randeep. Fridoline follows behind, shoving the housekeeper ahead at gunpoint. "Don't try anything foolish," warns Fridoline, "for I need little pretext to pull this trigger!"

[Q: Can the PCs arrive in time to save (1d3=)Wanda? 50/50 (4+): O5 C5 - Yes
+Event: NPC negative - Truce / Allies (see below)

The maid leads them quickly through the back passages to the kitchen, where a terrible sight awaits them. An enormous, fiendish man stands over some sort of grinding, bladed cauldron. He hold the unconscious Wanda above his head, and is preparing to throw her in.

"Unhand her you monster!" cries Aurélius.

The giant fiend turns at the unexpected voice, and sees the explorers in the doorway. A slow understanding creeps over his face, then, with a mighty roar, he throws Wanda straight at them.

[Based on the image, his STR was automatically 18. His other attributes are the normal 3d6, and he gets 2d6hp.

the fiend
str 18, dex 12, wil 4, 4 hp
various kitchen implements d6

The PCs all need to make a DEX save; failure results in 1d4 damage (this is most certainly an impaired attack) and being knocked down. Wanda also takes 1d4 for this rough treatment unless everyone dodges, in which case she bounces off the door frame for 1d8.]

The unconscious Wanda plows into the centre of the explorers' band, but most of them instinctively step out of the way. Randeep, unfortunately, hesitates, and finds herself thrown to the ground beneath her senseless friend [Randeep takes 4 damage (2hp left). Wanda takes 2 damage leaving her at 5 STR].

[Round 1 - PCs lose initiative]
The Fiend has a cleaver within reach, which he throws at Aurélius, who ducks just before the whirling chopper splits his skull [5 damage drops him to 0hp]. Fridoline turns her musket on the Fiend and fires. He barely winces as the ball tears through his shoulder [4 damage drops the brute to 0hp]. Aurélius charges forward, and opens a bloody gash across his midsection, which the fiend regards with little more than a sneer [5 damage puts him at 13 STR].

[Round 2]
The fiend takes up a rolling pin from his table, and bashes Aurélius over the head. He drops instantly [4 damage leaves him with 9 STR, failed his crit save]. The housekeeper's hands are still bound behind her back, but her rage is unchecked. She takes advantage of Fridoline's divided attention, and headbutts her in the side [unarmed attack; 1d4=2 damage, putting Fridoline at 0hp.] Fridoline is more surprised than hurt. She wastes no time in turning her musket on the housekeeper like a club, forcing her back with a resounding blow to the sternum [6 damage puts her at 0hp -- being roused for questioning necessarily counted as a short rest]. Randeep has regained her feet, and she steps over the limp body of her comrade to lay into the Fiend with her blade. Even he is at pains to ignore a punctured lung, and he collapses over the unconscious Aurélius [4 damage dropped him to 9 STR, failed crit save].

[Round 3]
As Fridoline is raising the heavy musket for another attack, the housekeeper rushes forth and head butts her in the stomach. Fridoline is forces back into the wall, and she hits her head with an awful crack. She sinks listlessly to the floor, her breath escaping from her lips in a kind of sigh. She lies senseless beside her weapon, her raven tresses cascading across the kitchen tiles [1 damage dropped her to 7 STR, and she failed her save; she may not be the best fighter in the party, but at least she's got style]. But there is yet work to be done! Randeep turns and swings her sword at the housekeeper's exposed back. What could have severed her spine instead draws a red line across her bound arms. Still, the shock is enough to send her crashing down to the floor [1 damage drops her to 8 STR, failed save].

The chambermaid had been watching the struggle, from the corridor, half-peering round the door frame for fear of being attacked. Seeing the enemy vanquished, she bursts into the kitchen. "Oh, miss, you've won! How happy I am that you've carried the day! Not once, but twice have you defeated our accursed tormentor, and now her enforcer too lies dead at your feet!"

"Not dead yet," says Randeep. "I need you to guard the pair of them whilst I attend to my friends. If they move, their value as prisoners is officially at an end!"

"You needn't fret, miss. Now that they are undone, there are others who will be emboldened to aid our cause." The chambermaid crosses to the wall with the bell-pulls, and rings for all the below-stairs servants. One by one they arrive, and prove the chambermaid right [this is the Event from above]. They form up into a determined band, and arm themselves with carving knives, fireplace pokers, brass candlesticks, rolling pins, meat tenderisers, &c &c [all d6 weapons]. The Fiend is deemed useless as a prisoner, and deposited into the macerator that both human and poetic justice be served.

Once the explorers have been brought round, the angry servants march with them en masse to the gaol.

[Q: Any impediments? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and...]

The gaolers are unwilling to stand up to the mob, and soon the explorers have both their companions and their equipment back -- all except for Fridoline's red-oil stave [this is the Event: Introduce a new NPC - Take / Technology from part VII]. Fridoline is not about to let this slight go unanswered. The frightened gaoler tells her that all arcana are sent to the lab for analysis. The angry mob is all too happy to show the explorers to the laboratory; there is some hope they will smash up the place.

Down, down, down a long spiral staircase the explorers descend in to the castle's hidden dungeons, carved out of the very bedrock upon which the pile sits. At the very bottom of the stair is a reinforced iron door; it's locked, of course, but the housekeeper's keyring soon sees it opened.

[Q: Is the scientist alone? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - Yes, and... unarmed]

The laboratory is filled with strange apparatus that defy description. Myriad noxious chemical smells wash over our heroes as the door is opened, and the sounds of bubbling, boiling beakers and and electrical marvels assail their ears. At his workbench in the midst of all this stands the Scientist, who is all but oblivious until he finds himself surrounded by the armed band.

"Who are you? How did you get in here, past all the guards? Why are all those servants standing at the bottom of the steps?"

"We are former prisoners of the housekeeper," says Randeep, "but she no longer holds any sway in the castle. We have rescued ourselves, and put a stop to the horrors in the kitchens. Now we have come hither to retrieve the last item that was stolen from us -- the stave you're looking at right there!"

[She needs a WIL save to get him talking; 1d20=8, success

NPC Relationship: distrustful
Conversation Mood: cautious
knowing - telling - treasure]

"I take it then you know that the Count is indisposed."

"Indeed. And despite his 'presence' at dinner. We were charged with the recovery of a certain item by the so-called Count."

"Ah, yes! You would have been. The Brank is the only known item powerful enough to heal the Count. This useless trinket can do nothing."

"Hey!," snaps Fridoline, offended.

"What is wrong with him?" continues Randeep.

"It's a... delicate matter."

"Tell us. Or we won't help." [WIL save=12, success]

"The Count has been afflicted by some strange ailment. He's no longer himself, and we have to keep him locked up in the cells beneath the lab. He's become a sort of invalid. We must grind up meat into paste to feed him. he won't touch anything else."

"Why me?" asks Wanda. "I'm not meat!"

"When we run out of livestock, we are forced to use prisoners."

"Doesn't that make him a cannibal?"

"Technically, no: he's not human right now..."