Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part X : Ghouls

Sandra and Ewa keep getting too far ahead of the two over-burdened farmers, and are constantly stopping and waiting for them to catch up. Sandra can barely contain her irritation, and even Ewa is showing signs of annoyance.

"This is getting really rather old," huffs Sandra as the two farmers lumber up to them.

"If you guys can't k--"

Ewa doesn't finish her reproach, but suddenly raises her rifle and points off inland, at the high grass. Sandra changes her grip on her monoblade and calls out, "Who's there?"

[the journey back will be handled by a Waylay (BOLD): 2d10=easy foes

% of way back? d%=35

1d6=4 ghouls (AC 6, Move 20, HD 2, Atk 2 claws at +2, 1d6+poison*, Skill +2, Save 14+, ML 9, special: -2 to all rolls in strong light)
   *A ghoul's poison is quick and nasty, soon turning the afflicted into a shivering mess. It can be fatal in 36 hours: Toxicity 8, Virulence 3, Interval 12 hours, With each failed save the sufferer gains first the Feverish, Shaking, then Delirious negative conditions, and dies if a fourth save is failed (see rulebook p.44).

Surprise: the party's Perception  vs. the ghouls' Stealth: 2d6-1=9 vs. 2d6+2-2=6, no surprise; encounter range = 30m]

The four crouched shapes are barely visible, but the moving grass gives them away. They begin to spread out as they advance toward those who have strayed into their hunting grounds. They stay low in the grass [soft cover, -2 to be hit] but as they get closer their shapes are unmistakable. "Ghouls!" gasps Nev.

The ghouls are feral, humanoid mutants who will eat any meat or carrion, but seem to take a special delight in hunting down humans. They have slimy, mottled green skin and are completely hairless. Their eyes are so small as to give the impression that they haven't any; their face is mostly given over to their grinning, fanged jaw. Ghouls are not thought to have intelligence, but do possess a predatory cunning.

[Round 1 : initiative E6 S7 ghouls 8,7,4,1, Mo 8, Nev 7]
Mo and Nev start backing up, more afraid of turning their backs on the ghouls than they are walking backwards towards the cliff. The ghouls all advance [20m] to within pouncing distance, keeping low in the grass. Ewa squeezes off a shot at one of the advancing monsters, and is pretty sure her aim was off -- that, or they don't feel pain [she did, in fact, miss].

[Round 2]
One of the ghouls leaps onto the path and straight at Ewa, and a second at Sandra. Sandra fends off its attack with her blade [they both miss], but Ewa is too slow in bringing her rifle about. A single claw leaves a bloody tear in the side of her neck, and she can feel the poison burning like acetone in the wound [1 damage puts her at 5hp]. The ghoul tries to grab her rifle, but she twists it in its grasp and fires, blowing a hole right through its torso. It falls back into the dirt, twitching [2HD damage kills it]. A second ghoul attacks [1-2 Ewa, 3-4 Sandra, 5 Mo 6 Nev] Ewa whilst she's distracted, raking claws down her arm [2 hits, 0 & 2 damage leaves her with 3hp]. The last ghoul pounces on Mo, and nearly disembowels the hapless mutant, who collapses in the long grass. [For suffering their first loss, the NPCs in the party must check Morale: 2d6=4, they fight on.]

[Round 3]
Sandra swings her monoblade in a fierce arc, decapitating her opponent. The ghoul's headless trunk falls back, spurting a fountain of greenish ichor [4HD damage kills it twice over]. Ewa turns her rifle on the remaining ghoul facing her, and fires a round into its chest [2HD damage], killing the monster. The last ghoul turns to leap at Sandra. It's already gory claws rake down her back, but do not take her out of the fight [2 hits for 1HD each puts her at 4HD].

[Round 4]
Ewa shoulders the rifle and readies her crowbar as Sandra and the ghoul feint back and forth. Sandra's blade draws a long, frothing cut across its torso [1 damage drops it to 1HD], whilst its claws barely break her skin [1 hit for 0 damage].

[Round 5]
Ewa swings her crowbar, but the ghoul hops backwards out of the way. Sandra rushes forward and skewers it, and it slide off the end of her sword, expiring messily.

[Both Ewa and Sandra need to make Physical saving throws against the ghouls' toxin: E 18, ok; S 9, fail.]

Ewa runs to the fallen Mo, and finding him not past all hope, slaps a stim patch on him. He jerks back to the land of the living, then he and Ewa set about binding their wounds [Ewa regains 2hp, Mo 1HD, but he fails his Physical save against the ghoul toxin]. Sandra merely crosses her arms and glares at Nev.

"Can we still make it there before dark," asks Nev, "or should we turn back?"

"Drop some of your gear and we'll make it," says Ewa.


"I'm not getting caught after dark with only five bullets left!"

[friendly NPC reaction=5, Bribeable]

"But this is all we own!"

"A bunch of weapons you didn't even use," growls Sandra.

"We're farmers, not warriors."

"OK, how's this for a deal?" says Ewa, "Drop the gear, and I won't tell you stole it. I'll even help retrieve it later."

[Q: Acceptable? 50/50 (4+): O4 C6 - yes]

Nev and Mo find some bushes off the path a ways to stash the bulk of their haul, then they all continue apace to the Coast Guardian Station. The Guardians usher them into a small and sterile meeting room, where the Commander soon joins them, eager to hear their report. After an hour's cross-examination (which seems to Ewa to last five times that long), the Commander finally makes a pronouncement: "We must find out where they are coming from, and put an end to this menace."

"I'd say you need to draw them out again," says Ewa. "Send a detachment to the lighthouse to wait, and have a lone tracker follow them to their lair. That's what I'd do, anyways."

"So good of you to volunteer!"

"Volun-- wait, I didn't mean... Shit. OK. But I really need some ammo off you lot this time...."

[friendly NPC react=8, Quick consent]

"Absolutely," smiles the Commander. "I can't have my scout disappearing before we've had our intel. And if you survive, I'll even let you keep the ammunition as a token of my esteem."

[Q: Will the Commander send additional troops? 50/50 (4+): O1 C3 - No, but... he requisitions more backup from the Castle
Q: Is there another NPC wanderer amongst them? 50/50: o6 C7 - yes. 1d2=catgirl
Q: Can/will Niamh heal Sandra's illness with her mutation? 50/50: O1 C8 - No.]

Ewa, Sandra, Nev, and Mo are given cots to sleep on in the mess hall; the coast Guardians are not used to entertaining visitors. An armed guard watches over them, to make sure they don't stray through the installation -- or eat all the stores. In the morning, Sandra and Mo have succumbed to the ghouls' toxin, and are sweating and shaking with fever. Ewa says a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Archangel Wojtyla for sparing her from this grisly fate.

Three more 'volunteers' arrive from castle, Niamh the catgirl and two locals in scrap plate armour. Niamh is saddened to see Sandra laid low by the poison, and doubly so since her powers of healing are ineffective against the toxin.

The little band are sent out almost immediately, with Ewa leading the way.

Scene 17

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: find ghouls' lair

NPC List: -

Threads: the Quest, mission

[The journey is once again handled by 1 encounter check (d6=4, no encounter), and 1 BOLD waylay: knowledge - occult - grim]

"So," says Ewa to one of the taciturn locals, practically yelling to be heard over the wind, "where's this 'entrance to hell' then?"

"Gimme them binoculars of yours when we get to the top of this hill. I'll show it you."

Ewa hands them over, and the young [d6=] man scans the cliffs ahead. "There!" he says, pointing. "That old brickwork structure. Gives me a fright just looking at it. Take a good look all you want, this is as close as we're getting."

Ewa peers at it for a time. It's a small, regular structure like the foundation of an old building, nothing more. She certainly doesn't shudder with superstitious dread like the local did when he first spied it. Ewa hands the binoculars to Niamh for a look. The catgirl shrugs.

"I really want to scout it out," says Ewa. "Maybe it's called the entrance to hell because the monsters live there. Please tell me I'm not the only one who's thought of that? Anyone else coming?"

The two locals shake their heads in furious refusal.

"Fine," says Ewa. "Be that way."

"I'd go too, but I think I'd best stay with these two," says Niamh. "Keep an eye on things back here."

Ewa clambers down the path, pausing often to look back. Somehow the catgirl watching through her binoculars makes her feel slightly less alone. For as much as she saw nothing untoward about the structure, the closer she get to it, the more she finds her mind straying back to the pictures of hell in that old book the vicar had, with the demonic mutants devouring the naked people and the atomic fires and giant skeleton floating above it all, and she wonders if she, too, is a miserable sinner, and hell is waiting to gobble her up, and she'll burn in the radioactive flames and be gnawed upon for an eternity until the horn section plays for the last judgement. Maybe, she muses, she shouldn't have been so shitty to Junemay after all.

She makes a quick circuit of the structure to reconnoitre, and instead of the jaws of a hideous dragon, finds merely a green sheet metal door at the bottom of a short concrete staircase. So probably not a hellmouth.

[She needs to roll Wisdom/Perception 8+ : 10-1,success]

The door is slightly ajar. Moreover, there is an obvious track over the dirty concrete, as if many people have been back and forth, and quite recently.

All is darkness beyond, though when Ewa's eyes adjust she sees light emanating from a door at the far end of the downward-sloping entrance corridor, a few dozen metres distant. Ewa props the outside door open with a stone for a little more light, and creeps inside a few paces.

[Q: What does she find? Trick / Technology :  a trap...

I rolled one from a random Mutant Future adventure map key (generated via

BUILDING TRAP: A bomb explodes that causes 1d10x2 damage to all of those close to the central spot of the area. They only take half damage if they save for energy attacks.

Wis/Perception 10+ to notice the IR "tripwire", 2d6-1=fail. She also fails her saving throw. 2d10= 1,4; 1hp damage only.]

Ewa has only gone a few metres down the long concrete corridor when she blunders through an infrared beam. Breaking the beam sets off an ancient plasma mine which has been affixed to the wall. The blast fills the corridor before her, but Ewa is fortunately spared the worst of it. The pressure knocks her back a few steps, and she steadies herself against the wall for a moment.

But then she snaps into a defensive stance, as her acute senses pick up an undercurrent of impending danger. Moments later she can hear claws clicking against the concrete floor, as [1d6=] three ghouls come scuttling out of the darkness towards her.

[Initiative: Ewa 5; ghouls 1,1,4]

Ewa fires a short burst from her combat rifle [13+1+2+6=hit; 4+2=6 damage, killed]. The bullets tear through the lead ghoul, but [Morale 2d6=7, fight] its companions continue right over the gore bespattered corpse.

The first one leaps right at Ewa, reaching out with a sinewy arm to drag its claws across her shin [one claw hits for 1d6=2, 1hp damage. She saves against the toxin]. The other ghoul cannot reach her in the narrow corridor.

[Round 2]
Ewa fires another burst as she retreats slowly towards the gleaming daylight. The lead ghoul drops. [4hd damage kills it. Morale 2d6=10, fail]. The other ghoul scurries back into the darkness.

Ewa runs 30 metres from the structure, then hurriedly bandages her wound. Luckily it isn't deep and, more luckily still, she doesn't feel the sting of poison. She goes back to rejoin the others, pausing often to cast a nervous glance back at the entrance to hell, even though her danger sense assures her no ghouls are following behind.

"They're in there," Ewa says. "They set a trap... they're smarter than they look."

"We should go back and report," says the local.

"Are you ok?" asks Niamh. "Your leg..."

"I'll live," says Ewa. "But our friend's right: we ought to go back and report."

[Q: Do they make it back without incident? Likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes
Q: Is the mission at an end? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - No, but... just one more task.

But first...


So, at some point around scene 16, I realised I hadn't been doing anything about awarding XP. The Scarlet Heroes XP system is too deterministic for my tastes, but the Other Dust one doesn't quite jive with my playing style, either.  I'll be using it as a baseline in lieu of a better idea, since the combat & treasure model of most OSR games is an even worse fit for this campaign.

I am perfectly happy to give Ewa 1000xp for her adventure to Hastings (counting it a as single "session", even though it took two to play through). From her first meeting with Tansy & Shelly to her arrival at Dover -- essentially a wilderness adventure though punctuated by a couple enclave visits -- 1000xp seems a bit high.

She should probably have earned 2000xp total by the end of this scene... but I hadn't come to any real decisions about it yet. As I am writing this now, I've actually played 2 more scenes, which include some fairly momentous events. I should probably give her 2nd level retroactively between scenes 17 & 18; she hasn't had time to train any skills yet, and the extra hit points are a non-issue since (spoiler!) she doesn't die.

But it speaks well for the game that I played this far without even caring if my PC was advancing or not. If only I had gotten my notes typed up nicely before now...]

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part IX : To the Lighthouse

Scene 16

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: station mission

NPC List: Sandra, Niamh, Krish

Threads: the Quest, mission

The next day, Ewa and Sandra are let out and their equipment (minus food) is returned. A warband leads them on a 45 minute trek up dusty old roads to a flat, paved area with a ruined building, not far from the edge of the white chalk cliffs. Past the building is an ancient wooden fence. "This is where we leave you," states the war leader. "Go through the stile and follow the path along the cliff top until you get to the installation. You can't miss their tower."

Once Sandra and Ewa have passed through the gate-- "Close it behind you!" shouts the war leader, pointing to the corroded, ancient sign. "Can't you lot read?"

Once Sandra and Ewa have passed through the gate and closed it behind them, they set off down the path. The war party hastens back to the safety of their castle.

After about half an hour of muddy, overgrown paths, they spot the tower, a tall, metal structure with a revolving radar dish on top. As they draw nearer to it, they come upon a herd of horses grazing on the hillside.

A unit of guards comes down the hill towards them. They are all clad in light blue, Old Terran armoured jumpsuits [equal to Harmony Armour, AC4] emblazoned with an ancient device on the chest, and carry laser weapons. The in-built helmets and large, red goggles give them a uniformly anonymous look.

"Surrender your weapons and come with us."

Ewa and Sandra have no choice but to comply with the command, but Ewa can swear she sees Sandra roll her eyes at the pronouncement. They are led under heavy guard up the hill to the installation, which presents an awesome sight to the eyes of the two wastelanders; the tower ever turns, lights blink and flash, and machinery hums. They see no signs of damage to the small complex's structure, ancient or otherwise.

"What is this place?" asks Ewa.

"It is Her Majesty's Coast Guard Station. And we are the Coast Guardians. Now wait here whilst I fetch the Officer on Watch."

The guardian disappears into a door in the side of the complex. Ewa and Sandra both crane their necks to snatch a brief glimpse inside the structure to know what wonders it may contain, but all they can really see is an exceptionally clean corridor.

The Officer comes out, wearing a similar uniform distinguished only by a braided epaulette. He wastes no time in getting down to the briefing.

"There is an ancient lighthouse a ways down the cliff top. It is used as a guard tower for the small farming enclave nearby, as it overlooks their fields. They are a part of our protectorate here. We lost radio contact with them three days ago, so we need to send out a party to see if there is a real problem. There are bands of savage, cannibalistic mutants that live in the hills round here, and we've seen an increase in attacks lately. We fear that this may be part of the problem. Can either of you operate a radio?"

"I can probably figure it out," says Ewa. [Int/Postech skill total of +1]

"Good. Get it working if you can and make your report post haste. If not, come back in person. But don't travel after dark, whatever you do. And mind the perimeter fence around the lighthouse grounds. It should be electrified."

"I, uh, noticed you have a lot of gear," says Ewa. "I don't suppose you got any ammo I could have for my combat rifle?"

[SH, Friendly NPC reaction roll=6, Persuadable

Charisma/Persuasion (-1), need 7+: 7-1, failure.]

"Ammunition is in short supply, so we can't spare any. This is a reconnaissance mission, not a combat operation, so if you do your job right you won't need it. If the place is crawling with mutants, we don't expect you to go in -- just bring back an assessment of their numbers and situation."


"And this isn't a salvage mission. Don't stray, and don't go poking around anywhere you come across on the way. Avoid the old tunnels at Fan Bay... they lead straight down into hell."

"We'll do that, boss," says Sandra. "But you want to tell us why they sent us from the castle and didn't come themselves?"

"Because they're ruddy cowards, is why! Anyone at the castle who proves their mettle gets taken up here for training when the call comes. Only the select few have what it takes to keep this station running. We have a job to do here. It is our sacred duty." [scheming - negotiation - knowledge]

"What job is that?" asks Ewa.

"None as need concern you, outsider."

Their weapons are returned, and they are on their way.

[The journey is handled by 1 encounter check (d6=6, no encounter), and 1 BOLD waylay: party - misunderstanding - proficient]

The dirt path continues in a meandering fashion along the cliff top. There are occasional branches, but only one obvious direction of travel. The fierce wind makes progress slower than expected. Some of the bushes are bent double under its force; in fact, they appear to have grown that way.

"So," screams Sandra to be heard above the wind, "you're good with technology, I take it?" [the waylay]

"Not really," yells Ewa in reply. "I just learnt a bit about postech when I used to go scavenging."

"So you, like, couldn't help us out getting into an installation...?"

"A what?"

"An installation!"

"That really depends on what's keeping you out."

The footpath winds ever along the top of the cliff. Ewa and Sandra are careful not to get to close to the cliff edge. One good gust could send them over and into the rocky sea. After a while, the white tower of the lighthouse can be seen in the distance. Ewa and Sandra pause to look at it through Ewa's binoculars, but there is no movement, and nothing to see.

"I don't like it..." mumbles Sandra.

"If it looks bad, we can go back," says Ewa. "They said so."

[Q: Any obvious exterior signs? 50/50: O5 C3 - Yes, but...
Wisdom/Perception roll (7+): 3-1, fail]

"You see anything?"

"No. You?"

"Nothing -- and that's what worries me."

"We'll keep our eyes open then," says Ewa, "and make sure we don't miss anything."

They continue on their way, weapons held ready. They hear nothing but the roaring wind, and see no one in hills and waving fields of grass. Save for the lighthouse visible in the distance, they could be all alone in the world. At one point Ewa feels something crunch beneath her foot, but assumes it's just a branch; had she bothered to look, she would have seen that she'd just trod upon a human jawbone, with shreds of meat still attached [the failed Perception roll from above].

The perimeter fence encloses a wide area round the old lighthouse. Ewa and Sandra leave the path and clamber through the high grass to approach it. Sandra seems inordinately concerned that something is lurking in the clumps of large shrubbery situated here and there in the fields, but Ewa tells her she's just being paranoid; if there were danger about she'd know.

[Q: Is the fence still electrified? 50/50: O4 C8 - Yes.
Ewa needs to roll 8+ on Int/Postech to defeat the fence: 11+2=success]

Ewa plucks a long, green stalk and tests the electric fence. "It's still live," she says.

"Better be careful how we get in," says Sandra.

Ewa ignores the repeated admonition and starts rummaging through her gear for some tools and wires, and less than a minute later has rendered a section of the fence inoperative. Sandra looks on as she works, but doesn't let herself trust in Ewa's handiwork until Ewa has climbed the fence and leapt over onto the other side. Sandra follows quickly after.

[Q: Are there survivors inside? Unlikely (5+): O5 C6 - Yes. 1d6=3 survivors
stats as Enclave Dweller, each 50/50 M/F, 20% mutant as usual.
Q: Are the party spotted by a lookout? Unknown d6=3+: O1 C1 - No, and... the lookout is either dead or unconscious: needs to make a save or die of wounds/toxins... d20=failure.
+Event: NPC action - Procrastinate / Travel]

They walk once round the building, but see nothing out of the ordinary, save that the structure seems to have been well-maintained: a true rarity. There are a few shutters missing, and the ground floor windows have all been boarded up from within, but there is nothing unusual about either of these findings. Ewa tries the front door carefully, but it doesn't budge. She shrugs, then knocks loudly. "Hey! Anyone in there? We were send by the coast guardians to check up on you! Hello?"

[Reaction roll (SH NPC Stranger): 2d6=6, Qualified refusal]

"Who are you?" comes a hesitant voice through the door.

"We're travellers... conscripted to come check things out."

"How do I you're not raiders?"

"The coast guardian officer sent us. Said you've not contacted them on radio."

[new reaction roll=11, Helpful consent]

"OK. Guess you aren't raiders then if you know the radio's out. Go over to the tower. We'll lower a rope and you can climb up. Take too long to unbarricade the door."

The promised rope is thrown from the first floor window, and our heroines climb inside. They are greeted by a pair of men: a null-strain human of English descent and a mutant with mauve skin and a tree-trunk like head.

"It's just us who's left," says the human. "Matty up in the lookout tower didn't make it."

The mutant just looks dejectedly at the floor.

"Who're you, then?" continues the human.

"I'm Ewa. This is Sandra. We're not from round here."

"I'm Nev. Me purple friend's called Mo."

"What happened here?" says Sandra nervously.

"Our farm enclave nearby was overrun by ghouls. Usually only attack stragglers at night, but this time 'twas a whole wave of them. Fought our way here but they got in. We hid up the tower. In the morning, they were gone. Took all the bodies too. Place was well smashed up. Got the fence back online, but the radio's had it. Seen a few ghouls walking by day, checking us out maybe. But we boarded it up and they haven't broken back in. Been too afraid to go for help..."

"How many farmers were there?" asks Ewa.

"Not many. Maybe 50. Just enough to work the fields and send food to the Coast Guardians -- both here at the lighthouse and at their main facility. Sometimes they let us borrow their horses, and--"

"Ok. Great," says Sandra. "Will you come back with us?"

"To their base?"

"Yeah.  They'll want to hear your report."

"Sure we will. But we need to collect our things first." [the Event from above]


Nev and Mo clamber down the steps to the main building. Ewa sits back against a wall and closes her eyes, hoping to catch a little rest. Sandra looks out the window, scanning the countryside with a pair of binoculars.

About 45 minutes later, they hear heavy, plodding footsteps coming up the stairs. Nev and Mo appear half a minute later, panting and sweating beneath the heaps of gear each has collected. Ewa can barely suppress a laugh.

"Ummmm..." begins Sandra.

"We should still have time to get back," says Nev.

"With all that stuff? You're having a laugh! You can come back for it when this is settled. You'll slow us down."

The ensuing argument lasts almost 20 minutes. Ewa closes her eyes again and does her best to ignore it. In the end, Sandra cajoles them into leaving half their load behind -- though they can still barely walk at a normal pace [3/4 movement rate]. Ewa climbs halfway up the lighthouse and looks out the window, scanning the countryside with her binoculars. She can see no creatures moving about, though the wind blowing the long grass makes signs of movement rather more difficult to detect than she'd like.

Arms at the ready, they set out across the cliffs.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part VIII : Dover

Day 12

Ewa follows the road further, walking on the hills beside it. In the distance ahead, she espies a great, ancient castle. She peers at it through her binoculars, and sees people moving along the battlements. But beyond the castle to the south she sees an expanse of open water: the sea! the sea!

[Then the GM hat had to go on...

There are several adventure locations in Dover, and a lot more up the coast. I have vague ideas about what some of them will be like, and for others I have no opinion whatsoever. I'm not fleshing any of them out until Ewa comes directly into contact with them, and even then, only so far as is required for the current adventure. Partly this keeps things mysterious for me as a player, and partly it just means that set-up time is kept to a minimum and I get to actually play more.

Dover has the following areas: Dover Castle (enclave), Fortress Redoubt (rival enclave), the Port (mysteriously functional), and the cliffs, which contain the Coast Guard Station, Fan Bay Deep Shelter, and the South Foreland Lighthouse. Beyond that there are fields, wilderness, and the ruins of most of the city (a necropolis, as far as the encounter tables are concerned).

At this point it was necessary to figure out the Castle enclave. The random enclave generation tables gave me the following:

Size: small (1d4+1=) ~400 adult inhabitants
Government: tyranny
TL: 2
Tags: expert artisans, secret masters

The castle should be able to support a much larger population (it's huge and in good repair, plus has WWII tunnels). But rather than re-rolling to get a better amount, I decided this would mean that they have recently suffered some terrible disaster.

I had given her (above) a Wisdom/Perception check at 6+ to notice signs of habitation; 9=success

Q: Can she just walk straight into town unseen? Unlikely (5+): O4 C5 - No.
Q: Has she been spotted? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 - No, and...
+Event: Move toward a thread - Inform / News = get a rumour from random people encountered]

Ewa continues cautiously along the road. In the distance she spots some tall, wooden guard towers flanking it. She disappears back into the weeds and scraggly forest, and decides to try getting closer undetected. She goes up and around through the hills, and pauses often to survey the area with her binoculars. She's not entirely certain that the watchtowers are even manned.

She continues her roundabout approach, and before long discovers another group of travellers lying in the tall grass at the crest of a hill, peering out at the terrain below.

[They are (random encounter): 1d6+2=3 wanderers

Q: The same three as before (day 9)? Unlikely (5+): O1 C8 - No

Reaction roll, 2d6=9]

Two of the travellers are null-strain humans, a man and a woman, both in the prime of life. The third is a mutant, some sort of cat-woman with orange and black fur. All three are laden with equipment, a generous mix of recovered artefacts and post-collapse manufactured items. The cat woman turns to face Ewa, revealing her strange, metallic eyes. "Who's this, then?" she says, and the other two look over their shoulders.

"Get your head down, girl," says the human woman brusquely. "You don't want them to see you."

Ewa crouches low in the grass. "Uh, hi. I'm Ewa. I take it you're not from round here?"

"Hi, Ewa," says the woman. "I'm Sandra. This is Krish, and our feline friend is Niamh. And we most definitely aren't from round here."

Conversation Mood: sociable
inquisitive - suspicion - community]

"We came to see if the rumours were true," says Niamh the catwoman. "It's a working port alright. But why? What's it used for? And who owns it?"

"Let's get a closer look, then," says Ewa.

"That's a bad idea," says Krish.

"No, with these," says Ewa, holding up her binoculars. "I've got an extra set somewhere. They're a bit knackered but they'll do."

Ewa hands over the good pair of binoculars and rummages through her pack for the spare ones she found. They take turns, and get a thorough look at port. There are many heavy trucks arranged in rows awaiting loading on one of the docked ferries, but whatever cargo they contain is locked safely within their trailers. More are off to the sides in various states of repair, with open bonnets, missing doors and wheels, and occasional signs of damage or decay. At least some of the buildings seem to have power, but it can be hard to judge in daytime. Robot sentinels are posted throughout. Only once are humans seen; a small group of people in stained coveralls are led away from one of the less-damaged wrecks and into a building by a pair of armed and armoured robots.

"I don't know what's going on down there," says Sandra, "but it gives me the creeps."

"Everything gives you the creeps," says Niamh.

"And that's why I'm still alive."

"So now what?" asks Krish.

"So, Ewa," says Sandra, "you wanna stick with us? Maybe we can help each other out. Share any spoils, that sort of thing." [UNE: friendly - aid - the character]

"And food!" adds Niamh.

"Uh, yeah, OK," says Ewa. "But maybe we should find somewhere safe to camp out for now. There's too much weirdness here."

[Ewa had made her Mental save against paranoia, so was free to agree with them. So, to flesh them out a bit--

I treated them as Wanderers off the encounter charts (random classes, level 1d4+2). Sandra is a 4th level Survivor. Both Krish and Niamh are 2nd level Scroungers.

I rolled on the NPC charts for group as a whole, so--
Big Problems for the NPC(s): Owes a powerful person a favour they can’t afford
Current Greatest Desire: Safety for themselves or an imperilled friend

Q: Are they forthcoming about their problems? 50/50 (4+): O4 C2 - Yes, and...

Who do they owe? Battered ex-adventurer
Why? Release / Animals: they let [d6=]his livestock get loose
What do they owe? 1d6x100= 300 rations
Where is he based? hex north of 9

Q: Do they make it out of town without incident? Likely (3+): O2 C2 - no, and...
+Event: PC negative - Usurp / Travel]

The four make their way back through the grassy hills towards the road out of the city. As they go, Ewa's new companions become quite talkative, explaining that they come from an inland enclave to the north, but that they accidentally crossed one of the prominent citizens by an accident that involved the loss of some of his herd animals, and they aren't allowed back until they can bring in enough salvage to compensate for the loss. Ewa responds by telling them of her Quest, and her adventures in the wilderness since leaving Eastbourne.

So engrossing is the tale that none of them notice the figures moving in the grass around them until they are completely surrounded by a war party with an assortment of well-made [TL2] firearms.

"Welcome to Dover, strangers. You had best hand over your weapons and come quietly. We don't want to hurt anybody. But you're trespassing on forbidden ground."

They hand over their arms and go quietly. The war party takes them down a twisty old road and up into the castle through the sheepoid pasture and inside the walls via one of the back gates.

They see fewer people within than one would expect to occupy such a great and fortified structure. Even the guards seem stretched thin along the battlements. A sombre pall seems cast over the settlement.

The prisoners are marched into the castle proper and down into the dungeons, where they are put in a holding cell. Eventually a null-strain human official come to see them, with guards in tow. [1d6=] He is bald, and wears strange electronic goggles. His spotless white Old Terran lab coat gleams in stark contrast to his grubby woollen trousers and worn leather shoes. The guards close him in the cell with the prisoners, and he addresses them cordially.

"Normally we just relieve trespassers of their equipment and send them packing, or shoot them if there's trouble. But today is a special day, so we're going to make an exception. The CG station is requesting supernumerary manpower -- and that always means trouble. We can't spare anyone, so we're going to send two of you. The other two stay here as hostages. You could cut and run... but I don't think I need to sully this friendly chat with the rest of that sentence. It's not a long walk from here to there. We'll hear about it if you don't show -- they've got a radio and so do we."

"What if the two you send get killed?" asks Sandra.

"I'd rather like to think that they won't. Maybe you should choose the two least likely to die."

"Um, sir," says Niamh, pointing her claw at Ewa, "we just met her today..."

"That's between you and her. Why don't you talk it over amongst yourselves whilst you enjoy the bounty of our stores. It's stew night. I can't say much for the colour -- or the smell, come to think of it -- but it tastes a treat!"

The official is let out, and a guard brings in plates of stew and bread, a decent amount of water, and a half of beer each.

"So who goes and who stays?" asks Niamh.

[roll for each: 1-2 wants go 3-4 wants stay 5-6 undecided: 4,2,2]

"Well if this is how they treat their prisoners," says Krish, "I volunteer to be a hostage."

"I wanna go," says Sandra.

"Me too," says Niamh. "What about her?"

"I want to go," says Ewa. "I got all the way here from Eastbourne by myself. I don't want to get stuck here when I'm so close to the coast. Besides, I can't really taste the food anyway..."

"Yeah, but... can we trust you?" asks Sandra. "I mean, why wouldn't you just run, since you want to see the coast?"

"Because it would be wrong. Because you wanted to help me when we just met and I can use friends like that out here. Because if I didn't just abandon a bunch of clueless podborn to their fate, I'm not going to abandon you lot."

[Scarlet Heroes reaction table (Friendly NPC) roll at -1 penalty for circumstances: 10-1=9, Pleased Consent]

"You're a bit weird," says Sandra with a sigh, "but you seem genuine. Fine. But who gets to go with her?"

"You believe her?" asks Niamh.

"Call it a gut feeling."

Niamh and Sandra play rock-paper-scissors to decide; [1d2=] Sandra gets to go.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Other Dust solo - Part VII : Back into the Wastelands

The heat of summer always makes me dig out my post apacalyptic games. So, after a long gap, it's time for more of Ewa's adventures in Other Dust. The game picks up as Ewa bids goodby to Tansy, Shelley, and the podborn mutants, and heads east from their enclave in hex 2.

(The campaign began here. The last post was here.)


Scene 15

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: back into the wastes

Threads: the Quest

[Back to the SH Wilderness Adventure tables. I reset the die thresholds for Events and Features since she stayed so long with the mutants.]

Day 1

[back to hex 1, no encounters/features/events]

Day 2

[travel to hex 3.
Feature = ethnic enclave

Random enclave--
Size: average, ~400adults
Government: technocratic
Core: small town (Robertsbridge)
TL 1
Tags: secret masters, trade hub
Complication: rival enclave seeks their ruin]

Ewa travels north east for a day. She finds a small hollow in a grove to sleep in, and the night is so warm she doesn't even need the blankets the friendly mutants sent her off with. The next day she heads off again, this time without travelling back in a circle. By early afternoon she comes upon a town with signs of life.

The town was obviously bigger before the collapse. Now a tall brick perimeter wall has been erected around the new town. An old sign from the times before is hung above the gate, but Ewa can't quite sound out the name upon it.

A pair of guards in metal armour watch over the gate. They lower their poleaxes to for a barrier as Ewa walks up to them. [Reaction=5]

"Who are you, stranger?"

"Just a traveller passing through," says Ewa.

"Uh-huh. Where from?"

"The south coast." [Wis/Perception 8+ to detect leading questions: 8-1=7...]

"South coast is pretty big," sneers the guard.

"I used to live in Eastbourne. You know it? No, can't blame you. Then I left, and I ended up staying with some podborn mutants, helping them get on their feet a little. But now I'm back travelling."

"Yeah, alright. You got summat to trade?"

"I might do. I could use some supplies."

"You can enter. But be on good behaviour! No fighting in the streets. We got a peaceful town here."

Ewa wanders round the town to have a look at the market, which is mostly an agglomeration of stalls in the village square.

[She's not planning on having a full blown Scarlet Heroes Urban Adventure, so I just grabbed the Midkemia press Cities book for random encounters; post-apocalyptic towns are close enough to fantasy ones that it works ok.

Town encounter result: d4=1 beggar/thief/urchin bumps into and tries to rob the character
d6=f, d10=null strain human, 2d4x5=~30years old

random possession=water ration

The thief's Dex/Profession:thief vs. Ewa's Wis/Perception: 3+1 vs. 10-1.]

Ewa is having trouble finding both someone with ammunition to trade and someone who might have a use for power cells. She gets distracted looking at a food stall, when she feels a sudden shiver go up her spine. She looks quickly round to see a woman trying to take the canteen off the back of her pack.

"Oi! let go of that!"

[Q: Do they get away with something? Unlikely (5+): O3 C4 - No, but... they struggle

Str vs. Str. The thief has 3d6=14 str also; contest rolls are 8 vs. 7]

Caught out or not, the woman does not intend to let go. Ewa just barely prises her fingers off the canteen. "Try that again and you'll be spitting teeth," she growls.

[reaction roll - Unfriendly NPC: 2d6=10, Qualified consent]

The thief backs away slowly, then runs off into the crowd.

[Q: Does the commotion draw any attention? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - yes.

NPC Relationship: hostile
insane - confusion - the character]

An angry man comes out from behind his stall. "Damn thieves, always trying to get things that don't belong to 'em. They're the real threat to this town, if you ask me. Are you hurt? No, didn't think so. Maybe if you weren't walking round like a whole damn shop yerself these things wouldn't happen. I don't know who's worse, you lot with your salvage or them damn thieves or them damn raiders. At least the raiders is honest! And how do I know you aren't the criminal here, with your guns and your blue face... Why, when I was younger..."

Ewa backs away slowly, then runs off into the crowd.

[Q: Can find someone willing to trade for a power cell? Unlikely (5+): O3 C7 - No

One more Cities encounter: local character. This one is suppose to be defined by the GM, as all towns are different. I decided to roll randomly amongst the enclave Tags to see who it is--
50/50 for either Tag: trade hub
50/50 for Friend or Enemy: Friend
1d4 to determine which of the 4 options: Naive tribal

NPC Relationship: peaceful
Conversation Mood: forthcoming
prejudiced - bias - equipment]

Ewa finds a long street lined with stalls that leads out of the square. Perhaps, she thinks, she'll have better luck there. As she's looking, she hears a voice call out behind her.

"Wow, you certainly got a lot of fancy kit!"

Ewa tenses, and then turns slowly about. She is disheartened to find that her interlocutor is exactly as she'd feared: young, wide-eyed, a bit scruffy, and wearing leathers that had obviously been made for someone with a sturdier build.

"Hardly," she says.

"For this town you do. Where'd you get that rifle?"

"This one? Found it. But it's nearly empty. Know anyone who sells ammo round here?"

[Q: Does he? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - No, and...]

"That sort of thing isn't generally for sale. We're a peaceful town. There's even raiders what just come here to trade for food and supplies."

"Huh," observes Ewa.

"So you're like a great heroine of the wastes, then?" [prejudiced - assessment - the character]

"Hardly! Whatever gave you that idea?"

"You look the part."

"I look like I slept in dirt. Cuz I did. So if there isn't any ammo stall in this village, maybe there's at least a bathhouse. And a launderer."

The young man's enthusiasm for the Magnificent Heroine of the Deadly Wilderness shows no signs of abating, though her mood towards him becomes ever more curt. He does at least lead her to a lodging house where she is able to trade three flasks of lamp oil for food, a bed, and a bath. She needs to wash her clothes herself, but can dry them by the fireplace for free.

[Q: Uneventful rest of stay? Likely (3+): O4 C4 - Yes, but... can't ditch friendly tribal
+Event: PC negative - Befriend / Weapons]

Try as she might, she can't seem to ditch her would be Squire -- for she must certainly be a Knight. He could be ever so useful, especially if they found a mount. And he can fight -- he's made his own spear!

Ewa finally gives up on the silent treatment, and tells him he needs to stay in his enclave, and that she can't be stuck with a liability. To illustrate the outside world is too dangerous for him, she tells story of the  skewmen ambush, and Assia's betrayal, and ends her speech with a  graphic recounting of the  killer robots and their corpse pile.

[SH Reaction roll to get him to agree to stay home - Friendly NPC  (but -2 penalty: he really wants to go)= Pleased consent]

When Ewa is finished with her tale, she sits back and looks at him pointedly for a moment. "Well?"

"Maybe home sounds nice after all."

Day 3

[travel to hex 4

event: deadfall falls for 1d6= 1hp damage, to 7hp. I rule that this is damage beyond the 2hp you can heal after being injured, otherwise this would be a non-event.]

The next day Ewa sets out from the trading village. She makes good progress at first through the overgrown countryside and forests, but gets caught in a deadfall she was clambering over instead of going round. And this after all her lectures on the dangers of the wilderness!

Day 4

[travel to hex 5

encounter: 2d4=4 Wolfman hunters on the prowl (AC 6, Move 20’, HD 1, Atk: +1/1d6 spear, Skill +1, Save 15+, Morale 8)

reaction=4, hostile]

The next day she proceeds more cautiously. Around mid-day she starts to feel she's being watched, and unlimbers her combat rifle. Moments later, four wolfman mutants appear behind her, and throw their crude spears as she is wheeling about. She takes a minor scrape on the arm [only one hits for 1hp damage] and then fires off a quick burst at the one she hopes is the leader.

[She needs to roll 7+ on Wisdom/Perception to pick the right one: 2d6-1=7, success; her attack hits for 2HD damage]

The creature yelps once then collapses. The other three hesitate for a moment, then turn tail and lope off into the forest.

[Morale 7 (8-1 for losing their leader): 2d6=8 failure]

"Pack mentality," thinks Ewa, as she binds the cut on her arm [regaining the lost hit point]. "But still, they aren't just dumb brutes."

Ewa does her best to disguise her trail for the rest of the day, walking through as many streams as she can come across [wisdom/Survival check of 9+ is required: 8+1=success, so I won't need to consult the Oracle to see if they were following or not].

That night she sleeps with sodden feet, but for all that she sleeps soundly.

Day 5

[travel to hex 6]

The next day is just another slow journey overland. She skirts the edge of a necropolis [Ashford], even though her scavenger's instincts tell her there must still be treasure cached within.

Day 6

[travel to hex 7

1d8= a Feature

Feature: ruin-fortress
Reason built: Stronghold
Past event: Massacre of locals

Current state: Partially buried
Contents: trove type c1 Minor Hidden Treasure

The Treasure Types don't match up between Scarlet Heroes and Other Dust, so I went with G14 Ruin, Single Building (3d6 Random Loot, 1d4 Random Loot+10, 20% chance of Random Loot+20, 1d6 TL4 Parts).]

Well away from the necropolis, Ewa stumbles up on a ruined fortress of some sort. It seems to have been built before the collapse, but shows signs of more recent construction -- and more recent devastation. Most of it seems to have been buried or washed away by a flood, but there is one building still standing.

Divesting herself of her pack, Ewa is able to squeeze inside and dig through the loose soil. Amongst some bones and shreds of ballistic cloth, she finds a small treasure trove:

laser pistol (lightly damaged -1hit/dmg)
TL2 binoculars (worn)
climbing kit (worn)
power cell B (shoddy)
TL4 electronic components x5

She can't carry (or even identify) it all, but she takes the laser, binoculars, and power cell, brushes off as much dirt as she can from them, and stows them in her pack.

That night she eats the last of her rations.

Day 7

Ewa decides to spend the day foraging for sustenance before moving onwards. She collects a decent amount of probably edible food. She doesn't immediately die from eating it, so it must be fine.

[A Wisdom/Survival roll of 8+ yields 1d3+survival skill level worth of rations. Spending 8 hours allows a +1 on the roll. Her Weak Smell mutation gives her a -2. Characters who are "less fussy" are allowed two rolls, but all rations found are Dirty, and eating them gives you Toxin Points. Ewa isn't fussy (though she ought to be; her mutation doesn't help with resisting toxins form eating contaminants on purpose, as I had thought).

Her total modifier is +0 (+1 (skill), +1 (time), -2 (mutation)); she makes both rolls and finds a total of (2d3+2=) 4 dirty rations.

Eating 1 ration that day gives her 1 toxin point. As she's neither hungry nor thirsty at the end of day, she gets a Physical save  to remove one toxin point, but she fails the roll.]

Day 8

[travel to hex 8

Event: weather - Get lost; next movement is random]

The next day there is a sudden cold snap, and a dense fog moves in. Ewa eats more of her tainted food. She thinks it tastes ok, insofar as she can taste much of anything, but that heartburn can't be a good sign...

[+1 toxin point; failed Physical save, so 2 toxin points total]

Day 9

She's not sure which way she's going in the fog, but hopes it's generally the right way.

[random movement is due North]

She soon comes across an ancient road [the A2] in excellent condition, and follows it for a way. It's certainly easier going than tromping through overgrowth, but she can't seem to shake a bad feeling about it; someone or something must be maintaining the road for it to be in such a good state.

[Feature: ruined village

Great Past Event: Outside conquest
Current State:  Surface is in ruins
Contents: roll 2 encounters

Traders seek to reach their hidden stash: AC 5, Move 20’, HD 3, Atk: +3/1d8 Revolver, Skill +2, Save 14+, Morale 9

3 wanderers with PC classes of level 1d4+1 are plundering this wreckage.

Reaction roll between the two groups: 7, neutral]

After a while the road passes through the remains of a village. The surface buildings have been flattened by fire, and possibly worse. Ewa decides to have a look round; it's not such a big place, and might afford decent shelter for the night.

Before long she comes upon a trio of armed and armoured human(oid)s wearing heavy coats, facemasks, and goggles, making a careful sweep of the area. They turn towards her as she approaches them, and she finds herself at gunpoint. "You better keep moving, matey! This is our rubble, innit. Wouldn't want an accident to happen to yous." [Reaction=5, hostile; UNE: insane - accident - the character]

Ewa keeps her hands where they can see them and backs away. She ducks round the first corner she can in the ruined street, and thus it is she happens upon a second group. The five of them -- two mutants and three null-strain humans -- are much less threatening than the others.

"There's some dangerous sorts picking over the rubble," says the lead trader. "They already threatened us if we got in their way. We just want to recover some of our things and get back to civilisation. But we daren't whilst they're still here, lest they try to overpower us and take it themselves. You're more than welcome to stay with us. It'll be safer."

[Reaction=11; UNE: prejudiced - difference - antagonist]

But... Ewa's Mental save against paranoia: 1d20=1...]

The five of them look so innocent: soft faces, tattered travelling garments, only a few visible weapons. It is certainly a trap. No one is that harmless-looking unless they are trying to sucker you into their ambush. Why is the one-eyed mutant staring at Ewa like that? Could she be a psychic? Oh shit, she must know Ewa is on to them!

"I really need to be getting home soon," says Ewa, backing away again. "I strayed too far from my enclave, and I absolutely must get back before dark."

[Wisdom/Survival check 9+ to find safe (and hidden) bivouac in the ruins: 3+1, failure. Normal night-time survival check: 10, success.]

Ewa gets out of the ruined village as quickly and as quietly as she can. She makes a cursory search for a place to hole up for the night, but nothing looks remotely secure. She finds a copse of trees a little way out of the village, and clambers into a hedge to sleep.

[+1 toxin for dirty rations, another failed save puts her at 3 toxin points; she won't get sick until she hits 10.]

Day 10

Ewa decides to spend more time foraging as she has just enough food to last the day. She crosses the road and looks on the opposite side, well away from the ruins. She finds a moderate amount of food, but has eaten half of it by the time night falls.

[8 hours foraging for the +1 to her roll, but she rolled a 12 anyways. 1d3+1=2 clean rations, of which she eats one. She fails her Physical save, so doesn't lose any toxin points.]

Day 11

Ewa follows the road south east [to hex 9]. She still feels suspicious of its good condition, and takes care not to get too close to it. She almost loses sight of it once or twice, but manages not to stray too far.

That night she finishes the last of the tainted food, and, after another night of acid reflux and strange dreams, resolves to be more careful in the future.

[last of the dirty rations; +1 toxin point, but she finally made a Physical save, so still only has 3 toxin points total.]