Sunday, 19 May 2019

BRP solo - Part V: „Macht mir den Teufel nur nicht klein“

Lightning streaks the sky and Lycinia quickens her pace, hurrying up the lonely street away from the guildhall. She's soaked nearly through by the time she finds shelter from the downpour under an awning. She shares the refuge with a young crier. The lass looks at her fearfully for a moment, shifting her weight from one foot to the other as she makes up her mind to act, then timidly proffers a handbill. Lycinia scans the first few lines, then scowls and hands it back. "I have no desire to fight in a human war." [random encounter: baron recruiting mercenaries]

The rain, for all its vehemence, lasts but a few minutes, and Lycinia is soon on her way.

[Two more random encounters -- work gang repairing building & con artist who failed their Fast Talk (60%) roll -- were redacted. I almost passed over the encounter above, but it was a nice reminder of what else is going on in the setting.]

Scene 9

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: inspect the tomb

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Ildmarch's cemetery was originally built outside the city walls, but with the expansion of the New Town now sits within the outer ring. Despite being in one of the poorest quarters of the great city, only the wealthiest citizens can afford even a modest monument in this sprawling necropolis of marble and granite.

The rain has ceased to fall by the time Lycinia passes through the imposing stone arch and into the tomb-lined thoroughfare. The air is heavy with an earthy smell, which calls to the elf's mind memories of the ancient Hill King's barrow, whence came her magical sword. So too does she reflect on the strangeness of human burial customs, so much more like those of the dwarfen folk than those of her own. She pauses for a moment, uncertain where to start her search in this immense sepulchral labyrinth...

[Q: Is anyone about in the graveyard? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - no, but...]

...but then she espies a light in the warden's cottage, where a candle has been lit to banish the stormy day's gloom.

The warden has a jocular mien, at odds with the circumstances of [d6=]his daily labours, though it does darken somewhat when Lycinia tells him she seeks the tomb of a wizard. He courteously points out the route to the guild's section, but unconsciously makes a sign to ward off the evil eye as he does so.

The guild's plots are ringed round by a black iron fence. The enclosure is smaller than Lycinia had expected, but she supposes that most wizards prefer grand and terrible tombs of their own -- those that do not learn to cheat death. But here the monuments are no more grandiose than those of the mundane inmates of the cemetery -- and no less.

It is but a minute's work to find the resting place of Varaniira the Seeress.

[Spot Hidden (69%): 55, success.
Q: Is there something to find? 50/50: O4 C3 - yes, but...]

Lycinia immediately notes that the space before the door to the crypt seems much cleaner than those of its neighbours, less mossy and with no overgrowth of vines. She presses gingerly against the rusting door, and is less than surprised to find it swings open on oiled hinges. Within she sees an empty marble sarcophagus, its lid lying in pieces on the floor beside.

Lycinia goes back to talk to the warden, but decides to keep news of the spoliation to herself. For though marvellous Ildmarch may be used to the presence of its wizards, but they are not so well loved nor trusted, and the less enlightened would be sure to assume the Seeress broke out of the tomb herself, as a lich, vampire, or something even worse.

[Reaction (CHAx5%) roll = 09, special success
Q: Does he know anything? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 -  yes.]

The warden's cheerful demeanour has returned by the time Lycinia once again knocks upon his door. "Did you pay your respects to the great magicians of our fair burg? 'Tis not often they receive visitors."

"Do they not?" asks Lycinia.

"Them as is interred here don't seem to have many grieving friends in that there guild of theirs. But now you mention it, there were some folk lingering near the tomb a couple months ago. I chased them off. Nothing good never did come of normal folks hanging round the tombs of wizards." [UNE: knowing - report - knowledge]

"Did you know any of them?"

[Q: Did he? Unlikely (5+): O4 C4 - no, but... can describe one
+Event: Move toward a thread - esteem / Youth]

"Uncouth looking sort they were, at least most of them. But there was one, younger than all the rest, only it seemed he was in charge. Big mess o' curly hair and bright eyes, and this big ol' ugly windmill amulet."

Lycinia suddenly feels that her enemy has been toying with her.

[I actually didn't generate his appearance until this point, but I went back to the encounter on the road (scene 6) and inserted it in narrative there; another win for my posting-schedule lagging behind my playing.

Since Lycinia has now collected 3 clues (Move Towards a Thread results), it's time for her to make a roll. None of the clues point in any particularly strong directions, so she gets a difficult Luck (60/2=30%) roll: 90, no idea.]

Scene 10

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: interview apothecaries

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela, youth with the windmill amulet

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Lycinia's research at the guildhall has convinced her that making enquiries at the apothecary shops which the wizards frequent is the best way of picking up the trail of her quarry, either Geredrom himself or the cherubic youth who seems to be his apprentice. One of the guild's ianitores had told her of the three established shops in the Old Town (and where to find them). In a moment of perfect candour, he also did tell of two New Town shopkeeps, non-specialists to be sure, but whose no-questions-asked policies were much in favour of certain wizards who wished to conceal the substance of their Great Works from the rest of the guild. It was customary to visit these last in disguise. Will the good Elfin Lady be requiring one?

The components required for the gruesome rituals of which Lycinia read are quite rarefied, so she decides to start with the Old Town apothecaries.

[Setup: I used the d30 Sandbox Companion's Settlement Suppliers by Size of Settlement tables to determine how many apothecaries were in Ildmarch. Its population is about ~12000, (the smaller end of the Large City range), but for apothecaries (I used the magic supplies line on the chart) it uses the next column over. Thus there are 1d4+1=5 apothecaries

This scene's narrative is, by necessity, heavily truncated. Visiting a bunch of NPCs who have nothing to say in furtherance of the plot is exactly the sort of thing that gets cut out of a detective show. I have decided to leave my raw notes (including rolling up the shops with the d30 Sandbox Companion, and lack of formatting) for anyone who is interested. Scroll down past the green section if you aren't.

enc rolls : travelling peddler tries to sell trained rats, ignore

rowdy sailors, luck roll succeeds, ignored

3 in old town, 2 in new (non-specialists, but no-questions-asked. guild members visit (oft in disguise) to keep others in the dark about their research)

Old town 1
Interior: dirty
Prices: 125%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: robust 29/15/5
keeper attitude & react: poker-faced ±0

react: d30+3(cha): generally accommodating; will sell to PCs if item is in stock; will barter

reaction 65% roll:28ok

Q: Seen youth with windmill amulet? Unknown d6=4; 50/50: O4 C5 - yes

[friendly - happiness - treasure]so excited with his purchases. a model customer

encounter:town watch patrol

Old town 2
Interior: modest
Prices: 150%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: robust 29/15/5
keeper attitude/react: persistent +6

d30+3+6=31 will sell to PCs if item is in stock, and at discount (TBD by DM);
if item is not in stock, will try to hunt it down for PCs and attempt
delivery it to them (at standard price for item, plus applicable
delivery/courier fees); will barter for in-stock items

Easy react79, ok

Q: Seen youth with windmill amulet? Unknown d6=4 50/50: O6 C7 - yes

[prejudiced - partiality - superiors] didn't like him. apprentices are always blowing themselves up. but he wouldn't say who his master was!

getting nowhere. to new town...

enc lost peasant

assassin pursued by guardsmen

New town 1
Interior: dark
Prices: 90%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: average 20/6/1
keeper attitude/react: stoic ±0

react d30+3=30, will sell to PCs if item is in stock, and at discount (TBD by DM);
if item is not in stock, will try to hunt it down for PCs and attempt
delivery it to them (at standard price for item, plus applicable
delivery/courier fees); will barter for in-stock items

easy react, ok

Q: Seen youth with windmill amulet? Unknown d6=3 likely: O4 C2 - yes, and...

1d4: 1 here often, 2 seen him around, 3 at tavern, 4 elsewhere; 2

Around where? d10=new town, mercantile =this neighbourhood

Q: Anywhere specific? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - yes, and...
Cities random business: spice merchant

enc watch patrol

spice merchant
Interior: cramped
Prices: 75%
Depth of stock & C/U/R: average 20/6/1
keeper attitude/react: considerate +1

react+4: generally accommodating; will sell to PCs if item is in stock; will barter]

The first two Old Town apothecaries remember the strange youth, and have little real information concerning him. Lycinia decides to forego the third, and heads straight into the New Town. The first of the New Town merchants gives her a more solid lead, one so obvious she feels foolish for not having considered it herself: the youth is known to frequent a nearby spice merchant.

The spice merchant is a pleasant middle-aged [d6=]woman, though she seems completely inured to the exotic perfumes permeating her little shop. When Lycinia inquires after the youth, her face becomes instantly grave. [Reaction (65%) roll 05, special success]

"Him!" she exclaims. "Yes... I know him. I do wish he'd stay away. There's something... unnatural about that one."

"Please, go on." [Persuade (23%) roll fails.]

"I daren't!"

"How often does he come here?" continues Lycinia. "I need to find him. I'm looking into his activities on behalf of the mage's guild."

[Q: Does mention of the guild loosen her tongue? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - yes, and...]

"He needs a lot of melegueta pepper, and keeps coming back to buy more. I can barely keep up with his demand. He's threatened that if I any sell to anyone else..." [insane - turmoil - equipment]

"How often does he come by? Is he due back soon?"

[Q: Is he? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - yes, and...]

"He'll be back tomorrow."

"Good! Let me come back early and wait for him here."

Scene 11

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: Altered (was: waiting)
Alteration: surprize / Corse

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela, youth with the windmill amulet

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

Lycinia returns to the shop early the next morning. It's dim inside, but a single candle still burns in a wall sconce. "Hello?" she calls. "Anybody here?"

[Q: Is anybody there? Unlikely (5+): O6 C6 - yes
+Event: Move toward a thread - observe / thing
Q: Who's here? (1d6): 1 corpse behind counter, 2 corpse rigged as 'trap', 3 animated corpse, 4 corpse + murderer, 5 corpse + youth, 6 animated corpse + youth; d6=4; d6=f: the murderess was generated with my Excel-based random thug generator]

She walks into the shop. Behind counter, see discovers the merchant's bleeding corpse.

The Murderess
STR 11  CON 13  SIZ 16  INT 10
POW  9  DEX 10  CHA  9
Dmg Mod +1D4    HP 15
Dodge 22%, Fast Talk 23%, Conceal 12%, Sleight 26%, Listen 43%, Spot Hidden 34%, Track 19%, Hide 10%, Move Quietly 16%

weapons: Dagger (54%/36%) 1D4+1+1D4
armour: hard leather helmet AP2

[Rolling the murderess' MQ (16%) vs. L's Listen (44%): 45 vs. 49...
Both failed, so the Murderess needs a Luck roll (45%) to avoid being heard:89, fail]

The floor creaks in the stockroom. "Who's there?" says Lycinia, drawing her sword. "I hear you!"

[Q: Is there a back door? Unlikely (5+): O1 C5 - no.

The murderess tries to Hide (10%): 18, failure.
Lycinia's Spot Hidden (69%):13, special success.]

There is some shuffling in the stockroom, and a shadow moves under the heavy curtain that serves as the stockroom door. Lycinia nudges the curtain aside, and sees a husky woman (nearly Brichtrethe's size) trying vainly to hide behind a wooden coffer.

[Round 1]
Lycinia tries to ensorcel the woman before she can attack, but the woman leaps at her with a dagger, and her need to parry the blow ruins her concentration. [Actually, she failed her roll to cast Sleep; -1MP for the attempt.]

[Rounds 2-3]
The woman presses her advantage, and Lycinia cannot work her magic [-1MP] under the furious assault, but neither can the woman best the elf's skill with a blade [hit,parry;hit,parry].

[round 4]
Lycinia abandons the peaceful approach, and lashes out with her sword, mangling the woman's arm. Her dagger falls from benumbed fingers at Lycinia's feet.

[L's attack roll was 06, special success, vs. a failed parry. 1D8+1=7 damage to the Right Arm. The murderess has a useless arm and only 8hp left.
Q: Does she surrender? Likely (3+): O6 C5 - Yes.]

"Please don't kill me!" pleads the woman, sinking to her knees.

"What have you done here?"

"A... a job. I needed the silver."

"Who hired you?"

[Q: Does she tell the truth? 50/50 (4+): O3 C7 - no.
d30 Key NPC = queen mother (normally I re-roll that result, but it seemed a perfectly sarcastic response]

"The queen mother."

Lycinia smacks her across face with the pommel of her sword. [1D3+2(as cestus)=3 damage] "Don't get smart with me!" [easy Persuade (23x2=46%): 22, success]

"Alright, alright! It was Boniface." [knowing - news - antagonist]

"Who's that? I mean, what does he look like?"


"Humour me."

"Uh, young guy. works for a wizard or something. Curly hair, pretty eyes. Always wears that ugly windmill necklace."

"I need to find him. Take me to see him and I'll forget I ever met you."

"Why would you?"

"Nothing else matters."

[Lycinia's Fast talk (13%)for the probable lie: 47, failure; murderess' Insight (6%), 11 failure, she has no idea what to make of that statement.

Q: Does she agree? 50/50 (4+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...

Q: When? d24=1am
Q: Where? new town, wealthy quarter; Cities random building=scholar's house]

"I'll take you. I'm supposed to meet him tonight to collect my fee."

"Fine," says Lycinia. "I'm going to bolt the door, and we're going to wait here until then. You'd best bandage that arm of yours. And if you don't mind, I think I'll be tying you to a chair..."

Scene 12

Chaos: Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: Altered (was: to the meeting)

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela, youth with the windmill amulet, murderess

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

As they head out into the nighttime streets, Lycinia warns her captive to keep her wounded arm concealed under her cloak; luckily it is a clear and frigid night, so it will hardly look suspicious.

[enc: merchant (& 1d6-2=0 retainers) tries to buy something from characters]

They've barely made it out of the New Town when a [d6=] man rushes at them from out of the shadows. "That sword! Just from the pommel I can tell it's a magnificent piece. What a tidy sum it would fetch on the collectors' market. I don't suppose you'd consider parting with it? I can pay handsomely. In gold, of course."

[Easy Persuade (23x2=46%) roll to chase him off; d%=13, success]

The way that Lycinia's hand flies to her weapon tell the merchant she isn't intending to draw it for display, and he scurries off into the night.

"He must've had a few too many, eh?" smirks the murderess, only to be disappointed that after nearly 15 hours together she's still not gotten the elf to respond to her with anything but cool disdain.

Before they have reach the scholar's house, Lycinia goes over the plan once more. "I will use my magic to become invisible. You go inside, pausing in the doorway to complain that your injury pains you -- making enough noise that it will mask my footsteps as I slip in beside you."

"Good plan, boss. What could possibly go wrong?"

[Casting Invisibility, taking an extra round for +INT to skill (46+16=62%): d%=56, success -4MP (based on her SIZ); Lycinia now has 6MP remaining

Q: Is the youth alone? Doubtful (6): O6 C2 - yes, and...
Q: Does he have any unusual senses or an active Perception spell? 50/50: O6 C3 - Yes, but... not any that will grant automatic success.

Some rolls--
Lycinia's Move Quietly (41-4=)37%: 76, fail
Boniface's Listen 29%: 83, fail
his Sense (10 + 1d6x10=)40%: 50, also fail]

The murderess raps a staccato rhythm on the door, and the curly-haired youth opens the door to admit her. "Thank the Gods of Hell and the Night!" exclaims the murderess as she pauses just inside the threshold. "I was afraid I couldn't get the knock right with me left hand, and I'd be stuck out here in the cold all night! Look what that cow did to me fighting arm!"

[Q: Does Boniface say anything first? 50/50 (4+): O2 C3 - No, but...]

Lycinia has meanwhile crept invisibly in behind her, sword in hand. Boniface, unaware of her presence, shuts the door firmly. An awkward silence falls over the room.

"So, uh, if you just give me my money, I s'pose I'll be off, then."

[Q: How does he kill her? d30 Phenomena (ridiculous result=weapon): strange weather]

Boniface holds out a purse of silver with one hand. As the murderess reaches for it, he stabs her in gut with a short sword. [hits abdomen, d6+1=7dmg, leaving her unconscious & bleeding with 1hp] She topples to the floor, her lifeblood forming a dark pool where she lies.

[His base stats were also a product of my Thug generator:

STR:  8  CON:  7  SIZ:  9  INT: 13
POW: 13  DEX: 14  APP: 10
HP: 8  DM: +0
Combat: Shortsword 49%/31%, Dodge 47%
Skills: Fast Talk 30%, Insight 42%, Hide 57%, Move Quietly 57%, Listen 29%, Search 33%, Sense 40%

Lycinia is going to attempt to hit his sword arm; attacking from invisibility is Easy (x2), which cancels the Difficult (÷2) for the Called Shot. She rolls 03, Critical success. Damage is capped at 4 points (2x arm HP), which puts Boniface at 4hp.

Q: Can he suffer blood loss? unknown d6=6, doubtful: O1 C6 - no.]

Boniface stands over the dying woman, seeming to revel in his deed. Lycinia pads closer and lashes out, bringing her enchanted blade down in a high arc upon his sword arm. It neatly bisects his limb halfway to the elbow, but no blood flows from the wound. The whole of the stump shews rotten gangrenous flesh beset by writhing worms, and the smell of decomposition wafting from it causes the suddenly visible elf to retch.

L 18+5
B 14+10
He attacks with (1d8): 1-3 spell, 4-6 demon power, 7-8 other (un)natural weapon: 5
Vomit Acid (40%, 1D8, range 4m)]

The angelic-faced youth laughs for a moment, a mellifluous sound at odds with the aura of corruption he exudes. Then he tilts back his head and a stream of yellowish bile issues from his throat. [Attack 40%: d%=30 hit, L's dodge (63-4=)59%: 34, success]

Lycinia's warrior instinct takes over, and she deftly side-steps the toxic stream, which eats through the overstuffed armchair behind her. She takes a swing at the demonic youth, but he just as nimbly avoids her blade. [sword would have hit, but dodged]

[Round 2]
Boniface spews another acid stream, but Lycinia has already moved aside [miss]. She buries her sword nearly up to the hilt in his chest, where his heart should be [4 damage reduces him to 0hp]. His mocking grimace vanishes as he topples to the floor. His body starts to froth and boil, quickly losing all cohesion as it melts into a noisome oily mass.

Lycinia's eyes burn from the stench, but knows she must search the house.

[Time to roll for Clue #4 (from last scene): she gets a Normal skill roll; Spot Hidden (69%) seems appropriate: 66, success.]

There is a desk piled with papers, upon which she finds a deed to an old theatre, recently purchased in the scholar's name. With it she finds old plans of New Town streets with sewer entrances marked, and the same markings on a more recent plan, showing the new arrangement of streets laid out after a fire ravaged the quarter. She also finds a ring of old, tarnished keys, one of which, she hopes, will unlock the theatre [Spot Hidden: 36, success].

[Q: Is the scholar's corpse present? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - yes, but... not all of it
Q: Is there any treasure? Unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - yes, and...
Boniface is TF6: jar of 250 coppers, purse with 12sp & 2gp, windmill amulet worth 658sp]

The rest of the house produces little of interest. The scholar's library is extensive, but his focus on plants and animals in the natural world has left little to excite one dedicated to supernatural studies. The scholar himself -- or rather, what is left of him -- has been reduced to a dried cadaver, laying in jumbled pieces atop his bed.

Lycinia had hoped that the unnatural, spiritual substance of the demon-youth would have disappeared into the aether by the time her search was concluded, but this unholy fiend seems firmly rooted in the physical realm. She feels the amulet could be important however, so fishes it out of the gelatinous decomposition with a fork and washes it thoroughly with wine.

She wraps the amulet in a cloth, and puts it in a pouch with the city plans, deed of sale, and the ring of keys, then slinks invisibly away and back to the guild.

[Thus concludes the investigation portion of the adventure. I think if I do this again I will hand out clues whenever they seem to fall naturally, rather than waiting for Mythic to produce Move Towards a Thread results from the Oracle. Those would make good extra, unexpected clues, though, and keep the investigation from drifting steadily and inexorably towards the most obvious conclusion. Also, mysteries work better with a small, known group of NPCs, so maybe I should have just used the Horror theme like I usually do. It worked for Call of Cthulhu...]

Next post: into the dungeon! (Click here)


  1. I'm really happy this series is back, although I am mystified that you are able to solo these more weighty games. I really loved the start of my Dark Eye campaign, but the sheer logistics of handling a five-page character sheet and enemies with almost equally detailed stat requirements was too much for me.

    How much paperwork do you have out when you play?

    1. I prefer heavier rules games, so I guess I've just sort of learnt to adapt. When I was young I routinely used to solo 6-PC parties in Call of Cthulhu and Runequest; there was a lot of paper shuffling, though.

      I usually minimise paperwork by printing things small. My Dark Eye PCs are all printed out landscape with 2 sheets side-by-side, so a full PC fits on 2 sides of A4; I scribble the spells in on the bottom of the page rather than printing a 5th page. Most of the NPCs just used the 1-colum stat blocks in the rulebook and almanach, but I very seldom needed to look too deeply at them. (Also, I later found a DSA character sheet online that had been distilled down to 2 pages, but I don't know if they did an English version).

      As to BRP, Lycinia has her own character sheet at the moment, and an important NPC might get one as well, but the other 5 party members got printed out on a single piece of paper in 3 columns: stats block, hit location figure, and combat/equipment. It's inelegant, but functional--

      NPCs generally only get stats I think they will use, unless I have a generator or generic stat blocks to use. And these only get printed if I think they'll stick around; othewise I put them in a .txt file so I can have them on screen.

      I have a 3x3 blank NPC record that I made, based off one I saw for RQ3. So if my entire party of 7 gets in a fight with 9 monsters, that's 4 sheets of paper, plus maybe a scrap to note initiative order.

      I also like to write down all the Spot Hidden and Listen scores for the whole party in one place, as those are the most common skills that will all need to be checked at once. Depending on the adventure, Hide, Move Quietly, and/or Dodge might join them.

    2. You're an old pro ;-)

      Have you done much or any group role-playing--either the traditional way or with an oracle? I've considered giving one of these heavier games more of a chance by playing it one-on-one with my wife or friend, with them being the PC and me the GM. It alleviates the burden of the stat-heaviest character, at least. I haven't actually played with Mythic and another player, though.

    3. I've been at this since 1981, so I may have learnt a thing or two :)

      I've done a lot of traditional group gaming, though my last group folded some years ago. I was DM by default for a very long time, so I suppose that has helped my ability to run large parties solo.

      Heavy-rules games are definitely easier in a group/duo for the very reason you state. Though when first started playing Runequest (with 3rd ed) it was just me and my friend, so I ran my 2 PCs and he, as the DM, ran his own 2 PCs in a supporting role. I think we settled on a party of 4 as that's the number of character sheets he could afford to photocopy.