Saturday, 10 September 2016

Other Dust solo - Part VI : The Good Life

Scene 13

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: get Tansy home

NPC List: Tansy, Shelley, scavengers

Threads: the Quest, escape Eastbourne, see Tansy Home

"So," says Ewa as they are walking at a leisurely pace up an overgrown dual carriageway [the A22], littered with the stripped remains of burnt-out vehicles, "now that you're reunited -- and we're certain no one's still following us -- what are you planning on doing?"

"Gotta finish what we started," says Tansy. "We didn't set out into the wastes to go rambling, y'know."

"What were you doing, then?"

[the Alteration: she isn't going home until she completes her own mission.
Adventure Template: Privation - The water supply has become contaminated. Tech must be found to purify it.]

"Something's wrong with our water supply. I went out looking for something to purify it again. I thought maybe the coastal areas would be a good place to find water reclamation gear."

"Not bloody likely! If it's around, it'll either be in use or too big to move."


"What's the source of the contamination? Where are you getting your water?"

[Q: Does she know? 50/50: O3 C3 - No, but...
+Event: Close a thread - see Tansy Home - Deceive/Environment]

"I don't know. It comes from a well. Gilbert can tell you more."

"How far is it."

"A couple hours on foot."

"I could use more food before I move on, afterwards."

"It's a farm."

"Let's go then."

[I rolled a random enclave, and it all made sense the first time so no re-rolling was necessary. Since Ewa doesn't know about it, it had to be small and/or recently founded. Briefly--
Size: ~50 adults
Government: caste
Core: farm estate
Tech: TL1
Tags: podborn, educated

I made a Reaction Roll to see how the community receives Ewa, at +2 since she's coming with Tansy: 2+2=4, hostile]

Tansy's enclave is a very small farm on the grounds of a former manor house, which looks to have been ancient (if well-maintained) even before the bombs fell. The fields do not look healthy, even to Ewa's inexpert eye. Many are just dirt, and those that harbour plants seem to be mostly fellweed. The farm appears to have no livestock, and the farmers are forced to pull the ploughs themselves. Ewa looks at Tansy quizzically.

"I know what you're thinking," says Tansy, "but I refuse to yoke Shelley. He's a good guard dog, but no work horse!"

The farmers are all clad in identical, pastel green jumpsuits and matching slippers. Each is emblazoned with some Old Terran symbols, or maybe writing; Ewa can't tell the difference. One of the farmers stops ploughing when he sees them, and walks up to Tansy.

"Why have you brought this... mutant?"

"She helped me save Shelley. And she said she would help with the water."

"It's bad enough you keep that weird cow thing here."

"I've told you a million times, not all mutants are bad. You got the wrong first impression, is all. My old village was full of mutants, and--"

"And nothing. She can't stay. Get her gone before the Masters find out what you've done."

"Ewa, maybe you'd better go. Wait back by the road. I'll get you some food for your trouble. Sorry."

Ewa goes back to the road and sits in the shade of a tree, wondering if Tansy is actually coming back. She watches through her binoculars, and sees her soon come back out of the great old house and set off across the fields, Shelley following behind like a puppy. Ewa doesn't want to come too far out of the tree line in case it's some sort of trap, even though she's mostly certain Tansy can be trusted.

"Sorry," says Tansy when she has found Ewa in the shade, "when they came out of their pods it was kind of hard for them to adjust."

"So that's why they're all dressed the same!"

"Yeah. They're not so bad, really. Just terribly naïve.  Here, I've brought you some food." [d6=4 rations]

"If I happen across any purification equipment I'll send a message or something."

"Yeah, OK. Sorry. Bye, I guess."


[NB: the water isn't any more contaminated than the rest of the farm, which is tainted with low-level radioactivity (Deceive/Environment)]

Scene 14

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: into the wastes

NPC List: -

Threads: the Quest

Ewa sets out into the wastes. She doesn't have a definite plan other than 'get to the coast', and she's never been out this way before. She decides to travel northeast until she reaches the water.

[This is my first go at the Scarlet Heroes wilderness adventure solo tables. I've played through a dungeon and two urban SH adventures before, but neither of those has been written up to post (yet).

I have a very rough map, made by importing a screenshot from Google Maps into Hexographer and overlaying a blank hex map, which after a little jiggery-pokery I sized to fit the scale (6mi/10km hexes -- the hex height was set to 113). I exported the map as a PNG, and cropped it in Paint (which I am also using to annotate it). I may go back and make a nice map, I may not. I'm much more interested in the coast than the interior, but Ewa needs to get there first.

I'm using the SH wilderness tables mostly as written, though some of the Feature results will need to be altered to fit the setting, and I'll obviously be using the Other Dust encounter tables.

Per Scarlet heroes, a character can explore one hex per day. There is a 1-in-6 chance per day of an encounter, which may be either during the day or at night (even chances). There is also a chance for a Feature and an Event. These each start at 1-in-8, and increase by 1 for each day until the roll is made.

House Rule: Even when my PC is moving through previously explored areas, I still make the encounter & event checks once per day. And if they care to search more, there might even be a second feature -- 6 mile hexes are pretty spacious.

Also, she needs to make 2 skill checks each day. First, she needs an Intelligence/Navigation roll of 8+ in order to move in the right direction; failure indicates a 1d6 roll to determine the direction she travels (which may coincidentally be the right way). Each night she must make a Wisdom/Survival roll of 5+ to find suitable shelter (it's summer, but she doesn't have a  tent or even a proper bedroll). Failure will give her the negative condition Fatigued (-2 to hit, -1 saves & skills) for the next day. I won't be mentioning these rolls unless she fails them.

Part of the fun of post-apocalyptic gaming is watching your stores of food, ammo, and medicine slowly dwindle and wondering just how desperate things will get before you find more. However, I kept track of all this on scratch paper as it's much easier than doing it in my game notes .txt file.]

Day 1

[travel to hex 1]

The journey proceeds more slowly than she would have expected. She doesn't want to rush, as travelling the wastelands alone is usually considered a suicidal move. She must be ever alert for danger, and she doesn't want to miss anything interesting besides. If she's to unite this ancient land, she ought to at least have an inkling of what's in it.

She passes through weed-choked fields and hillsides, the occasional overgrown patch of forest, and crosses the crumbling, ancient roads of Old Terra. Small clusters of ruined buildings and destroyed vehicles dot the landscape, but none appear to offer any promise of good salvage.

That afternoon, as Ewa is refilling one of her canteens in a stream, she feels her skin tingle in that way it always does when enemies (or anyone, really) are near. She drops the canteen on the bank and snatches up her new combat rifle as a pair of twisted skewmen burst out of the long grass towards her.

[encounter: 2d4=2 savage Skewmen seek prey (AC 8, Move 15’, HD 1, Atk: +1/1d4 club, Skill +1, Save 15+, Morale 8)

No surprise, Ewa wins initiative.]

Ewa turns quickly round and fires a single shot from her combat rifle at the advancing mutants, but hits neither. And then they are suddenly upon her, striking out with rude clubs. One gives her a nasty knock across the shin [1 damage], the other hits her so weakly in the stomach she barely feels it [0 damage].

[round 2]
The skewmen's unfortunate physiology makes them low to the ground. Ewa fires another shot carefully, hitting one right between the shoulders. The other hesitates a moment to see its companion felled, but shouts a vile curse then feints toward Ewa [Morale roll, 2d6=6, it fights on. But it missed.]

[round 3]
The skewman is scuttling from side to side in a furious war dance. Ewa fires again, but the bullet just buries itself in the soil where moments before the creature had been. But it dares not get too close. [miss/miss]

[round 4]
When it thinks she is just about to fire, it dodges left then springs. But Ewa was waiting for such a manoeuvre, and she shoots it down in mid-leap.

The rest of her day passes without incident.

[The rolls for Feature and Event both came up naught, so the threshold of each increases to 2-in-8 for the next day.]

Day 2

[Ewa's Navigation roll failed; she moves [1d6=6] towards the northwest, to hex 2.

No encounters, no feature, no event. The thresholds go up to 3-in-8.]

Day 3

Navigation check fails again; she moves back to Start hex. But as she's coming from a different direction, she doesn't realise how near she is to Tansy's farming enclave.

Ewa has spent a day and a half unwittingly travelling in a circle. She has barely seen another living being beyond the occasional flying creature in the distance, and the omnipresent insect vermin that devour -- or are devoured by -- the local flora.

As the evening sun is lighting up the sky in a dazzling array of colours, beyond even the wildest palettes of an expressionist painter as its vespertine rays pass through the clouds of radioactive dust which blanket the globe.

[1d8=2, this hex contains a(nother) Feature!
Feature=dungeon type (thus, a Ruin)

Random ruin generation tables produce--
Origin: mandate base
Destruction: raiders
Inhabitants: exiles from nearby enclave

Exiles (enclave tag)
Cryo pods (ruin tag)

The dice made it really obvious what she's found.

Q: Is there activity outside? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - No, but... signs of recent activity
+Event: Introduce a new NPC - Betray / Dispute]

As Ewa sees her shadow stretching out before her over the hillside, she spots a glint of metal coming from the grass on the next hill over. She looks through her binoculars to see the entrance to an ancient installation peeking out of the summit. The trans-steel windows look out of a darkened interior, but there is a still-smoking fire pit on the ground before it.

Ewa makes her way up to it, as cautiously as she can on the grassy, but otherwise featureless hillside.

[Her Wisdom/Stealth (+0) vs. their Wisdom/Perception (modifier of 1d3-2= +0): 11 vs. 12, she's spotted.


Though she can see no one in the dark interior of the installation's entrance, a voice calls out to her. "Hey! Hey there! You're one of us!"

"Hello?" calls Ewa. "One of you? What do you mean?"

"A mutant."

"Well, obviously. You seem surprised."

"I'm coming out now. Please, don't shoot."

Ewa shoulders her rifle as the mutant comes out of the installation. [1d6=] He has greyish skin, and seems to be more fungus than human, like a walking, bespectacled mushroom. He is wearing tattered green coveralls and no shoes, and carries no weapon.

[Easy (5+) Intelligence/Perception check: 2d6+0=7]

Ewa recognises the colour and patterns of the coveralls. "Are you from the farm?" she asks. "I thought they didn't like mutants."

"They don't. We... we woke up like this, and they refused to take us with them to the manor. We've tried to eke out a living here, but we have few weapons and there is a band of outlaws who seem to take especial delight in tormenting us. We can usually make it inside and lock them out, but they've learnt how to get past the front door now. It's only a matter of time before they can get the emergency stairwell open. I wish we could be at the manor with the others."

"They're not doing so well. Their water is contaminated and they don't know what to do about it."

"Serves them right, turning us out like that. I'm sure Doctor Cartman could determine the cause of the problem."

"At least you have a medic," says Ewa.

"A medic? Ha ha! No, you misunderstand. Jeanette -- Doctor Cartman, has a Ph.D. in microbiology. She used to lecture at Imperial... this doesn't mean anything to you, does it?"


[Q: what do they want? Adjourn / Legal matters]

"What we need to know," says the mutant, "is where we can appeal for justice. We have as much right to the manor as do they, and we'd like to bring the case before a judge for settlement. Amaya's a solicitor, so she can represent us. Where is the nearest Crown Court?"

"You're kidding," says Ewa. "Oh... you're not? Look, all that's the past. Every enclave makes its own laws. Even the raiders, I hear, have some sort of laws. Or at least inviolate customs, else they couldn't function together."

"Oh. Oh, dear me. This isn't good. This isn't good at all. We're on our own, then?"

"That's the way of things."

"I don't suppose you'd stay on to help us understand this... this brave new world?"

"I can't. I'm trying to get east, to the coast."

[SH Friendly NPC reaction: 2d6=8, Quick consent]

"I see. But the night is coming. At least stay here tonight, and tell us of this world."

[Mental save to overcome Paranoia succeeds]

"I'll try. But it'll cost you a meal."

"A meal... I-- oh, of course! That's the first lesson, isn't it?"

"You catch on quick. I think you'll be ok after all."

The fungus man, Professor Thaddeus Oberlinde-Sharma, leads Ewa into the ruined installation to meet the rest of the podborn mutant community. Ewa really intends to leave in the morning, but she is so moved by the pitiful and helpless state of the mutants that she ends up staying a fortnight, helping them shore up their defences and learn to hunt and forage better, and telling them of all the myriad horrors and dangers of the new world.

[Q: Does anything untoward during her stay? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and... the exiles are eager to listen and learn.]

She also confides in them about her Sacred Quest. Though fully half of the mutants were members of the Old Terran intelligentsia, none of them can find it in their hearts to tell her she must be chasing after a half-remembered story or myth.

One of them does take pity on her, and teaches her the rudiments of writing the alphabet, and even gives her a child's phonics book with which to practice [to justify spending skill points on Literacy when she reaches 2nd level].

[Q: Any events during her stay? Certain (2+): O2 C7 - Yes - 1 event:
PC negative - Ambush / Weapons]

One day. When Ewa and Prof Thaddeus are out hunting, they are ambushed by raiders. The four raiders are mad and desperate, and fight to the death. The professor is visibly shaken for hours after the event, but Ewa is all smiles, and especially pleased that she can present their swords, spears, and breechloading rifle (with 13 bullets!) to the community for its defence.

[Boring combat redacted. Over 6 rounds, the raiders hit Ewa once for 1 point of damage. Thaddeus wasn't injured at all.

I also rolled 14d6 to check for random encounters at the enclave. Weirdly, I only rolled a single 1.

Encounter: 1d8=2 tribals from nearest enclave
Q: Is it Tansy and Shelley? 50/50 (4+): O6 C8 - Yes]

On the tenth day, Tansy and Shelley arrive at the installation. They've left the manor for good, as the Masters had begun to get vicious. The mutants are more than happy to have the pair live with them, and Ewa is glad that someone born into this world is going to be there to see the community through; she had feared her conscience wouldn't allow her to leave for months.

Four days later, Ewa says it's time for her to depart. She, the mutants, Tansy, and, in his own, strange way Shelley, say their fond farewells. Ewa is given a bundle of food and some blankets before she goes, and told she will always be welcome back.

Ewa's adventures continue here.