Sunday, 30 June 2019

BRP solo - Part VII: „Neuer Feind auch erscheint, um wieder besiegt zu erliegen“

Lycinia sets off down the passage to the south [Area 7. - Stairs Up 1 then down 2 (total down 1), chamber at end (roll on TABLE V.)] A set of stairs lead up, and the passageway continues over the sewer channel. Rusting iron grates are set into the floor, and Lycinia can hear (and smell) the water running below. On the other side of the channel the stairs begin to descend, and drop to a deeper level than before. [I am still mapping the dungeon on the same page. This area won't join with rest (the area across the broken bridge) unless I roll stairs up.]

The passage ends in a 20x30' chamber [Room 8. - Monster & Skill Challenge & Treasure]. Ruined machinery occupies much of the room, and a more functional-looking mechanism is located by a solid iron door in the south wall. Lycinia is about to examine it when she catches sight of a black fish swimming lazily through the air [Spot Hidden succeeds, so she isn't surprised. It wins Initiative]

Lesser Demon               
STR (2D8)  9  Mov  3
CON (2D8)  8  HP   6
SIZ (1D8)  3  DB -1D4
INT (2D8)  8  Armour: none
POW (3D8) 13
DEX (4D8) 24
APP (2D8)  9

Attacks: Burn 80% 1D6+2
Powers: Dazzle 90%, 9 rounds

Ex : dauphin, requin           
Localisation   Mêl./Miss. PV
Queue           01–03      2
Arrière train   04–08      3
Poitrail        09–13      3
Nageoire droite   14       2
Nageoire gauche   15       2
Tête            16–20      2

[Dazzle makes sense for its first attack; should this fail there is a 50/50 chance of Dazzle or Burn each round thereafter, until its opponent is blinded.]

[Round 1]
The fish turns towards Lycinia, and emits a blinding flash from its tri-lobed eye. [Dazzle (90%) succeeds, she must roll POWx3 (36%) to resist: 07!] She closes her eyes for an instant, and avoids the worst of it, though the blotches in her vision are distracting enough that her sword merely swishes through the air above the creature.

[Round 2]
The demon-fish's eye flashes again, and releases a ray of scorching heat which strikes Lycinia in the midsection. She can feel her mail grow hot to the touch, and feels it scald her skin beneath where the ray touched her. [hit for 1D6+2=8 heat damage to abdomen; armour absorbs 7 (but the first round only); Luck roll to avoid catching on fire succeeds] Her tabard looks scorched, but does not ignite. She swings again at the creature, but it just evades her stroke [attack succeeds, but its Dodge (48%) is also a success, negating the hit].

[Round 3]
She tries to hit it on the backstroke, but the eyes flash again at that very second. She is dazzled by the brilliance, and the whole world becomes a glow of blotchy colour. [Initiative tied this round. She missed, and then failed her POWx3 roll. She will be blinded until round 12. She will need to make an Idea roll (INTx5=80%) each round in order to guess where her enemy is each round so she can attack, but even then the attack is Difficult. She cannot Dodge the ray.]

[Round 4]
She feels the heat ray burn into her sword arm [1d6+2=3 damage to right arm; she has 3hp left in the arm, 20hp total]. She can smell the padding beneath her mail smouldering [but Luck roll succeeds, so it doesn't catch fire]. She rushes forth to attack what she feels was the source of the blast, but her sword swings through empty space [she would have hit, but it dodged].

[Round 5]
Lycinia feels another blast of heat on one side of her face, like standing too close to a campfire. She lashes out in that direction, and feels her sword cleave right through something yielding. She hears two wet thuds against the stone floor, followed by a the creature's flopping death throes. [it missed & failed its Dodge. She hit for 1D8+1=7 to the hindquarters, reducing it to -1hp.]

Lycinia remains very still, listening to the thing slowing cease its thrashing, but, more importantly, for the sound of anything else that might be creeping up upon her. It takes a little more than a minute [7 rounds / 70 seconds] for her vision to clear, and then she is able to properly examine the room.

[Challenge: Read/Write Ancient Language (+20%) -or- Heavy Machine (normal)
Read/Write Ancient 47+20=67%: d%=41, success]

The large mass of machinery in the room is covered in dust and corrosion. She surmises it was some sort of mechanical pump, but its days of usefulness are long since past. In contrast, the smaller mechanism by the iron door is fully functional. It consists of a series of brass levers and pistons with no obvious markings. But on the wall above it someone has scratched instructions in the Ancient Tongue, so it is a simple matter for the learned elf to put the levers in the correct positions. When the last lever is in place, Lycinia hears the sounds of bolts being thrown within the iron door and wall, and the door swings slowly open.

Beyond is a smallish chamber [Room 9 - Monster only], with another nightmare guardian. The creature stand nearly as tall as Lycinia on eight spindly, sinewy legs, which radiate from a lumpy globe of flesh in the middle. The mass has no definite features, save for the twisting black horn jutting forth from it. The creature's skin is so thin as to be transparent, and veins pulse rhythmically beneath. It exudes a sharp odour of spoilt meat.

Greater Demon               
STR (4D8) 21  Mov: 15
CON (3D8) 11  HP:  10
SIZ (1D8)  8  DB: +1D4
INT (5D8) 18  Armour: none
POW (5D8) 21
DEX (6D8) 25
APP (1D8)  1
Attacks: Gore 30% 1D8+2, +db if charging
Powers: Lift, Confusion 30%

Araignée géante           
Ex : araignée géante           
Localisation   Mêlée Missile PV
Patte droite 1   01    01     2
Patte gauche 1   02    02     2
Patte droite 2   03    03     2
Patte gauche 2   04    04     2
Abdomen        05–08  05–11   4
Patte droite 3 09–10   12     2
Patte gauche 3 11–12   13     2
Patte droite 4 13–14   14     2
Patte gauche 4 15–16   15     2
Céphalothorax  17–20  16–20   4

[It easily wins the Initiative each round; the best Lycinia could have done is tie, and there was only a 1% chance of that (25+1d10 vs. 16+1d10)]

[Round 1]
It was alerted to her entrance by the sound of the mechanism, and scurries toward Lycinia almost before she has crossed the threshold. She easily avoids the thrusting horn [miss] but the staccato rhythm of its steps has an unnerving effect, and she finds herself unable to decide where to strike [the Confusion power reduces her chance to hit by 30%; 62-30=32%; d%=42, miss].

[Round 2]
It makes another clumsy thrust, which she sidesteps with ease [miss]. It in turn bounds suddenly out of reach [attack roll of 10 would have hit, but it has Dodge of 50%: d%=25, dodged].

[Round 3]
It leaps at her suddenly, putting all its weight behind the horn flying towards the elf's neck. Lycinia is just barely able to deflect it with her blade, but only a few inches. The horn scrapes against her armour, but the links of mail hold, and save her from any real harm. [It rolled 05, a Special success, but she rolled her parry, reducing the Special (Impaling!) down to a normal hit. 1d8+2+1d4=7 damage, nothing gets through (Chain has 7 AP)] The impact throws her off balance, and she takes a moment to steady herself [rolled  a miss].

[Rounds 4-5]
The beast jabs at her again, thinking her off balance, but it is she who catches it unawares. She smashes the horn out of her way with the crossguard and plunges the point of her blade into the centre mass in one fluid movement. [It rolled another Special success (08), but so did she (09), so she parried the attack. She then hit for d8+1=7 to the Abdomen, leaving it with 3hp]. The creature wobbles and drops to the floor, but still tries to assail the elf. Lycinia makes short work of the foul thing. [Fighting from the ground makes all attack and defence rolls Difficult, and makes it Easy to be attacked. Lycinia had a (62x2 -30=)94% chance to hit, and rolled a critical.]

Other than the creature, and a few scattered bones, there is nothing else in the room. Two passages lead out; Lycinia takes the one to the south. It turns a corner and leads her in to a 15' square chamber [Room 10 - Skill Challenge only], bare save for an iron-shod wooden door in the centre of the far wall.

[Challenge: Fine Manipulation (+20%) separate from Folklore (normal)]

Lycinia tries the door, and finds it locked. Her attention is momentarily captured by a bas-relief carved into the wood. "Of all things, why would someone carve a rooster into this door?" thinks the elf. "Humans are strange." [Her Folklore (08%) roll failed. She didn't correctly identify the cockatrice (rolled on the d30 Sandbox Companion's Expanded Heraldry Charges/Sigils table)]

The door's lock is clunky, and big enough that Lycinia can pick at the mechanism with the point of her dagger, but she cannot seem to throw the tumblers into place. After a few clumsy attempts, she opts for a more direct approach, and puts her shoulder into it.

[Using a makeshift tool made the roll Difficult:(17/2=8 +20=28%); she failed the roll. To break it down, she pits her STR against its effective SIZ on the Resistance Table. SIZ 6 +12 (recessed lock) =18 vs. STR 13; 25% to break: d%=05.]

She throws herself against the door, and it bursts open at once, splinters of wood flying. She rights herself hastily and grips her sword prepared to do battle with anyone -- or thing -- who may be in the room beyond, but as the dust settles she finds it unoccupied.

The rectangular room [Room 11. - Skill Challenge & Treasure] has a low, vaulted ceiling. The centre of the floor is recessed about a foot down, and the ledge round it is covered in debris. But behind a rotting piece of timber something glitters, and Lycinia braves the acrid scent in the air to investigate.

[Challenge: Evaluate  (difficult) separate from CON (normal)

Evaluate: (TF 1d4=40)
semi-precious stone 1sp
ring 60sp
gem 133sp
costume jewellery 26sp
gem 309sp

CON: roll Stamina (CONx5%) each turn or bad air inflicts 1d4 damage]

She finds a threadbare cloth sack that has split open, spilling out its bounty of copper and silver coins. Amongst the coins are some tarnished rings and a few polished stones. [Evaluate (22%) roll fails, so she doesn't notice the valuable gems; Stamina (70%) also fails]. As she pokes through the pile, her vision begins to blur and her throat starts to burn [1d4=4 damage drops her to 16hp]. She grabs the rings and hurries out of the room, not daring to breathe again until shutting the door firmly behind her.

[She needed a Luck (60%) roll to get the good ring: 22, success. She grabbed the ring worth 60sp & all the  costume jewellery (26sp in total (I rolled 1d30, with 26-30 being the maximum of 26)).]

Lycinia backtracks to the room where she defeated the eight-legged demon [Room 9], and heads down the long narrow passage to the east. It goes for what seems an eternity (~50') before ending in a set of uneven flagstone steps leading up [back up to the level of the first part of the dungeon]. At the top of the steps is a mildewy landing [Room 12 - Skill Challenge only] from which passages lead to the north and east.

[Challenge: Read/Write Ancient Language (normal) interlinked with Dodge (normal)
'Interlinked' means that a single roll is made against both skills, with the lower of the two capping the higher. Lycinia's R/W Ancient is 47%, her current dodge is 66-25(armour & encumbrance)=41%]

Lycinia's torch reveals a gleam on the lintel above the [1d2=] eastern passage. Golden letters have been inlaid into the stone, spelling out the legend PÆNITENS PRÆTERIBIT. "How odd," thinks the elf, as she proceeds slowly past the threshold. "That reminds me of something... yes, in Wandlebourne, that silly play that Emmeline took me to see. Oh, poor, poor Emmeline! But that scene was important. How did that go? 'The penitent man will pass'. That's it! The penitent man [d%=24, success] kneels!"

And so too does our heroine -- and not a moment too soon, for a razor sharp blade whizzes out from the wall at chest height, swishing through the air right above her bowed head.

next post: the dungeon continues

Sunday, 23 June 2019

BRP solo - Part VI: "For those offensive creatures shun / The inquisition of the sun!"

Lycinia moves purposefully through the nighttime streets. She slows her pace only once, when she spots a patrol of the city watch, lest the jingling of her mail give them cause to inquire what a lone elf is doing abroad at this hour on such a miserably cold and damp night, and dressed rather for the battlefield than a nighttime stroll.

But she reaches her destination without any trouble. The old theatre has stood deserted for some time, as the peeling paint on the exterior suggests. But a very new lock has been fitted in the main door. Lycinia tries key after key on the ring she found in the murdered scholar's house, and is finally rewarded with a sharp click, and the doors swing open. The lobby is in shadow, but from beneath the double doors leading into the stalls, some flickers of light are visible. It is enough for the elf's keen vision to ascertain that no otherworldly horror is lurking in the vestibule as a guardian. The interior has weathered the years far better than the outside, and shews some signs of recent habitation; dust lays thick upon the counter where tickets are sold, save for a cleanish square where a box recently been moved, and about half the floor has been recently swept by the tramping of feet, forming a path between the sets of doors and to the staircases on either end. Lycinia pauses to listen, but all is stillness. She draws her sword and pistol, and moves as quietly as she might up a flight of stairs to the balcony.

The balcony door is open, but a heavy velvet curtain, almost white with dust, bars the way. Lycinia parts the curtain with her sword and peers through into the empty theatre beyond. The young elf has never seen such a sight; for no natural amphitheatre is this, but a wooden box. Two chandeliers hang low above the boards, shining with lit tapers. Wall sconces are affixed to support beams, further illumining the scene. The rows of benches form a sort of abstracted labyrinth in the pit before the raised stage. The back of the stage has been painted in imitation of a palace, and the ceiling is a counterfeit sky. So strange it is to the elf that she pauses a long while to marvel at it all, and only slowly begins to feel a sense of dread; for the candles cannot have been lit very long ago, and she may not be here alone.

But as she creeps through the theatre, she finds not another soul. She descends to the stalls and searches the stage itself. Opening wide the doors of the fictitious palace causes a cloud of dust to billow forth. She sputters and coughs and closes them forthwith, for no one can have passed this way. But how can this place be empty? Her consternation at finding it so wholly deserted is suddenly dispelled when she notices the outline of a trap-door cleverly hidden in the midst of the stage. The chandeliers' shine reveals the space beneath. The stout wooden ladder, upon which players once used to rise as white-shrouded ghosts from the pretended netherworld, is now the anchor for a long length of rope, which hangs down into a hole that has been smashed into the floor below the stage. The jagged wooden edges round it resemble the fangs of a gaping maw, ready to devour any mortal foolish enough to descend into the abyss which waits hungrily below. But the fairy woman is no mortal, and stares down into the blackness with more curiosity than dread.

Scene 13

Out of Control (1d8)

Setup: dungeon

NPCs: Orezuthía the Arcane, Geredrom, importer, Terenbela

Threads: find & stop Geredrom the wizard

[Dungeon set-up & notes:

Lycinia got a good night's sleep between scenes, so is going in with full MP. She also donned her armour: stiff leather trews (2AP to both legs) and chain hauberk & sleeves (7AP chest, abdomen, arms). She should probably invest in a helmet or some sort of Protection spell, but that is for another day.

She's carrying 14.4 ENC worth of gear (9.6 for armour, 4.8 for weapons & misc equipment). This qualifies as a Moderate Load (ENC between 1xSTR & 1.5xSTR). At this encumbrance level, a Stamina (CONx5%) roll is needed during Typical Exertion (e.g. jogging 100m) to avoid accruing Fatigue levels, but there is no penalty to Movement rate. Her skills are affected based on ENC in the following ways:
-10% spell casting penalty from armour (20% for chain, halved for being elf)
-20% physical skills from armour (static, by heaviest armour type)
-25% dodge penalty (armour penalty above + non-armour normal encumbrance (1%/ENC))

Let's see how this goes... Fatigue Points are seeming a lot less complicated after figuring out this mess.

As I mentioned at the start of the BRP adventure, the entrance to the dungeon came from an especially inspiring result I got when I was playing with donjon's Weird Location generator: "A dilapidated theatre. A frayed rope descends through a hole smashed through the floor."

I've been talking a lot about getting beyond door-monster-treasure dungeons in solo play, and this dungeon was the first test of my latest idea about that, being the Skill Challenge generator I made using Excel; the default skill list in the example file was the one I made specifically with this dungeon in mind (also, I need to come up with a better name for it, as I understand there is a Skill Challenge mechanic in 4th ed. D&D, which isn't what I was attempting to emulate)).

The version I used for this dungeon always returns 2 challenges. Having played it through with that, I decided to make one that yields 1-3 challenges.

Link to Original (2 challenges)
Link to Improved (1-3 chllenges)

Both links are to Dropbox. The first tab of the spreadsheet is instructions on how to use it and, more importantly, customise it for your own adventures.

Some day I will run a dungeon without combat, but it isn't going to be this one, as I spent far too long making a random demon generator based on the rules in the Advanced Sorcery supplement for Magic World.

To generate the dungeon, I went back to the AD&D DMG's Appendix A. I redid the room contents table thus:

Die   Contents
1-4   Empty
5-7   Monster only
8-9   Monster & Treasure*
10-11 Monster & Skill Challenge
12-13 Monster & Skill Challenge & Treasure**
14-16 Skill Challenge only
17-19 Skill Challenge & Treasure***
20    Special, or contains stairway up 1 level (1-5),
      up 2 levels (7-8), down 1 level (9-14), down 2 levels (15-19),
      or down 3 levels — 2 flights of stairs and a slanting passageway (20).

* as TF
** Monster TF + 1d4x10
*** TF 1d4x10

Treasure is going to be using the Treasure Factor (TF) rules straight out of 2nd ed. Runequest (these are next on my list to modify, but they're perfectly serviceable as-is).

The map uses 5'(1.5m) squares. I left the size of rooms & chambers as rolled, but halved corridor lengths (and widths!) to keep things reasonable.

Enough notes. Into the dungeon!]

Lycinia lights a torch and throws it down the hole. It falls onto a stone floor [1d6+1=] 60' below. She begins her descent down the rope, and finds the room beneath the theatre to be an immense open space, 20' square with a high and vaulted ceiling. About 15 feet down she notices that the rope is old and badly frayed, and is starting to strain under her weight.

[Q: Will the rope hold? 50/50 (4+): O4 C3 - Yes, but... not for long!
Climb (51-20(encumbrance)=31%) roll to get down before rope breaks: 29!]

She climbs down as fast as she can. The rope finally snaps and drops her the last few feet to the floor, but she comes to no harm.

The room [Room 1 - empty] is empty, save for the pile of old rope. Three exits open up into dark passages to the north, south and west.

Lycinia retrieves her torch and sets off down the south passage. It turns left after about 15', and Lycinia hears rushing water ahead. The passage ends in the beginnings of a stone bridge which once spanned the rushing underground channel [Area 2 - side passage, special]. The river is actually a part of Ildmarch's sewers; the smell makes Lycinia's nose wrinkle, but the recent heavy rains have taken much of the foulness away. Only the very beginnings of the bridge remain, and the elf is wary of standing too near the edge lest it crumbles beneath her. Her torchlight reveals the same crumbling foundations on the other side of the torrent, 20' distant.

She returns to the first chamber, and tries the west passage [Area 3. Trick/Trap]. She stops short as she catches sight of a tripwire in the doorway. Looking carefully, she sees the wire running off into the darkness, threaded through tiny iron rings set into the corner where the wall meets the floor. A secondary tripwire spans the corridor about 15' down, and the whole connects to a heavy crossbow fixed to a tall stool with weighted bottom, the whole painted a dull black, placed about 30' down the corridor. Lycinia cuts the tripwire in the middle, but leaves the rest alone to (hopefully) mask her presence.

[The die rolls were:
Geredrom (or his crony) has the Traps skill at (1d6+2)x10=50% : d%=27, trap has normal effect.
Lycinia's Spot Hidden (69/2=35% as not actively searching): d%=15, spots tripwire]

The corridor runs another 30', ending in a vast chamber [Room 4. Monster & Skill Challenge & Treasure]. Her torch can scarcely reveal the whole space. It appears to be mostly empty, free even of debris and dust. Four stone statues occupy the corners of the chamber, but before Lycinia has a chance to examine one, something leaps out of the shadows at her. She's barely registered the movement behind her when something hard thuds into the shoulder of her sword arm, scraping ineffectually against her coat of mail. [Heat sight, it saw her coming up the corridor. Striking from ambush (easy: 30x2=60%): d%=30 normal hit on Right Arm doing 1d8=4, does not penetrate mail (7 AP).]

Lycinia wheels about to see her assailant, a lumbering human-sized monstrosity, half dragon, half-insect. It scurries about sometimes on all fours, sometimes erect, and its whiplike tail is tipped with a curved stinger.

Greater Demon               
STR (4D8) 15   Mov 20
CON (2D8)  7   HP  10
SIZ (5D8) 13   DB +1D4
INT (3D8) 14   Armour: 4-point exoskeleton
POW (4D8) 12
DEX (2D8)  9
APP (2D8)  8
Attacks: Stinger 30% 1D8 plus venom (POT = CON)       
Powers: Portage, Explode 1D8, Heat Sight       

Forme: Viverne           
(Ex : viverne)
Localisation Mêlée Missile PV
Jambe droite 01–03 01–02   4
Jambe gauche 04–06 03–04   4
Abdomen      07–08 05–07   4
Poitrine     09–11 08–13   4
Queue          12    14    4
Bras droit   13–14 15–16   3
Bras gauche  15–16 17–18   3
Tête         17–20 19–20   4

[Round 1]
Despite its speed [Mov 20!], it moves without grace [Dex 9], and Lycinia soon has the advantage [easily wins Initiative]. She strikes out at its midsection, her sword crunching against the chitinous hide, and her blade comes back covered in viscous yellow ichor [7-4=3 damage to the abdomen, leaving it with 7hp (and 1 in the location)]. The creature shudders in pain, but silently, as it has no mouth from which to cry out. It stabs at Lycinia with its stinger, but she bats it aside casually [parries the hit].

[Rounds 2-3]
They both feint at each other, dancing round and gauging the best time to make a real attack [miss, miss]. It leaves itself open, and Lycinia crashes her sword down upon the crown of its head [2-4=0 damage] only to have it rebound ineffectually off the hard exoskeleton. But at least the shock spoils its aim [stinger missed].

[Round 4]
Lycinia renews her assault, only to have her sword slapped out of her hand by the sinewy stinger [99 fumble! weapon dropped, can recover in 1d2=2rounds]. It clatters against the hard stone floor and skids for fifteen feet. The stinger whistles by her ear, but she had seen it coming and sidestepped the thrust [stinger missed, dodge not fumbled].

[Round 5]
Lycinia ignores her lost blade, and begins to chant the words of a spell, but her concentration is momentarily broken and the magic dissipates [casting Magic Missile at level 2 (2 missiles), 31-10(armour penalty)=21%: d%=71, fail. -1 Magic Point]. The stinger darts out at her and slams into the stone floor between her feel. The monster pulls it back and contorts in pain, looking for a moment like it might turn tail and run [attack roll=00, fumble; lose next attack]

[Round 6-7]
Lycinia begins her spell again as the creature pulls back a few steps, still shocked by the pain in its stinger. She pronounces the words slowly, makes the arcane gestures carefully [21+16=37% for the extra round's casting]. The creature holds the stinger high above its head and is preparing to spring at the elf when the magic bursts from her fingertips in a shower of green sparks, covering the things chest and one of its arms. The magic burns through it and it falls dead and smoking to the ground [2 'missiles', 1d4+1 damage each (ignores armour), 5+5=killed. -6MP for the spell leaves Lycinia with 5MP.]

Lycinia retrieves her sword and runs it through the creature's neck to be sure it will not rise again. Then she turns her attention to the statues, examining each in turn. They do not appear to be statues of ancient kings, either very old or executed in a deliberately archaising style. Their weather-beaten surface shows they were not originally here. The two statues in the northern part of the chamber are uninteresting, and the one in the south-eastern corner has collapsed into rubble, but as Lycinia draws near to the last statue she feels a wave of unnatural dread wash over her.

[Challenge: POW (-20%) obstructs Fine Manip. (normal)
Lycinia needs to roll POWx5% with a -20 penalty in order to approach(40%): d%=15, success]

She resists the enchantment, forcing herself to step ever closer, and the fear melts away. The statue holds a sceptre in one hand, and using it as a lever the statue's wrist can be rotated through a full circle. Lycinia experiments with it for a while, turning it this way and that, feeling the resistance of the turn vary with different positions, but in the end the secret of this mundane contraption eludes her [Fine Manipulation (17%) fails; she does not discover the catch which reveals the hidden treasure]. She gives up, and leaves by the southeast corridor, which runs only a few paces [15'] into the next chamber.

This rectangular chamber [Room 5 - Skill Challenge only] has another impossibly high ceiling, only dimly visible in the torchlight. A small door is set into the top of northwest corner, 35' up. Six rungs of an iron ladder remain below it, the rest having been removed or corroded away.

[Challenge: Throw (-20%) separate from Evaluate (normal)

Throw: -20% to hit the rungs with a grappling hook

Evaluate: rolling on the dungeon dressing tables in the LL AEC: object either looks a lot more valuable than it is or appears worthless, depending on result.
Q: Contents still there? 50/50 (4+): O3 C2 - no, and... all evaporated, barely leaving residue]

Along the eastern wall are sturdy wooden tables and half-collapsed shelves, full of jars, beakers, balances, and other tools of the Ars Alchymica, all of which lie beneath ages worth of dust and cobwebs. Lycinia covers her nose and mouth with her tabard so as not to inhale the dust, and glances over the instruments; none of it looks particularly worth taking, [Evaluate (22%): d%=88, she doesn't notice there are some finely-cut glass jars (worth 2d6x10sp each) under all the dust & cobwebs] so she moves on, leaving by a passage to the south.

After about 15 feet she finds a door set into the wall, with a side passage opposite. Ahead she can make out a staircase at the limit of her torchlight.

Lycinia presses her ear to the door, but hears no sound beyond [Listen (44%) 22, ok (but nothing to hear)]. She pushes the door open, and finds it swings silently and easily, as if the hinges had been recently oiled. The room beyond [Room 6. Monster & Skill Challenge] is small and in total darkness, a fact which seems not to bother its sole inhabitant. An immense creature sits flopped in a half barrel; rolls of doughy pock-marked white flesh protrude over the sides. Its head is almost hidden between its swollen shoulders, but extends on a short wiry neck to examine its visitor with sunken, heavy-lidded eyes. The thing's expression is both serene and terrifying, as comical as it is sinister.

Lesser Demon               
STR (1D8)  2   Mov  7
CON (4D8) 18   HP  18
SIZ (3D8) 17   DB  +0
INT (5D8) 22   Armour: none
POW (3D8)  9
DEX (3D8) 18
APP (1D8)  7
Attacks: none
Powers: Exhale, Acid Blood 30%, Suture 7pts.

Forme: Tortue           
(Ex : tortue terrestre)
Localisation    Mêlée Missile PV
Queue             01    01    5
Nageoire post. d 02–03  02    6
Nageoire post. g 04–05  03    6
Arrière train    06–09 04–10  7
Corps            10–13 11–17  7
Nageoire ant. d  14–15  18    6
Nageoire ant. g  16–17  19    6
Tête             18–20  20    6

[It has no attacks nor offensive powers, so it has to talk.
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: helpful
mysterious - whispers - treasure]

It greets Lycinia in the Ancient Tongue. "Greetings"

"Uh, greetings," responds the surprised elf. "Who are you?"

"I am a friend."


"Indeed. I can heal your wounds." [Suture power - 7pts can reattach a limb.]

"I haven't any."

"I can tell you where to find treasure."

"I don't want any."

"But look at this scroll," it says, reaching behind itself to produce an old roll of vellum [Exhale power creates the illusion]. "There are more in the place where I found this."

"Do tell," says the elf, unable to feign further disinterest [Fast Talk (13%) roll failed].

"First you must do something for me. I do not like to descend from my throne."

"What do you want me to do?"

"There is a wizard who holds me here on this plane. Kill him, then I shall reveal to you the location of the treasure. Should you yet live..." [mysterious - uncertainty - enemy]

"I shall think on this," says Lycinia, backing towards the doorway.

"Come back if you are injured! I can help you, my dear friend!"

"I will," lies the elf as she shuts the door.

[She never got as far as the Challenge in the room--
Challenge: Scribe Magic (-10%) interlinked with Repair Stone (normal)
Magical sigils are inscribed upon the rear wall, but the stone has come away in places; it is useless unless restored.]

next post: more dungeon!

Saturday, 15 June 2019

AFF solo - Part III: The flames of doom

Lisk's eyes seem to shine golden in the torchlight. "There must be something down here to make it worth our while," he says.

"Let's just be careful," says Ksandajja. If truth be told, she's also more than a bit curious to see what treasures this forlorn place might hold, and the exercise of the battle has lifted the sluggishness from her limbs.

[The Weakness effect from the magical trap has dissipated.

Since Lisk was really beat up (2 STAMINA left), I had asked the Oracle-
Q: Does Lisk want to press on? Doubtful (6): O6 C5 - Yes]

Finding nothing of value in the room, they continue on. The only other door leads out into a long narrow corridor, which is illumined by a flickering green glow. The corridor stretches out for 10m before them, and in the midst of a three-way intersection ["Room" 4 : Fire Trap] there is a flaming green orb hovering by the ceiling. As they watch, it writhes and contorts, extruding and absorbing flaming tendrils in no discernible pattern.

"We'll have to dodge our way past it," says Lisk. "I can almost taste the treasure that lies beyond! Come now, on the count of three: one...two...three!"

But those were the last words he would ever utter. For as the three sprint past the orb, it lashes out with a fiery tendril which wraps round Lisk's head. In an instant his whole body is wreathed in green flame. His companions look back, and see his corpse burning with unnatural intensity.

"What baleful sorcery," says Valganadd.

"What an awful fate," replies Ksandajja.

[The PCs had to Test their LUCK to get past. Lisk had a current Luck of 10, so there was an excellent chance (~92%) of him getting through, but in his hubris he rolled an 11... 1d6 damage killed him outright. Ksandajja and Valganadd both succeeded, but each Test reduces the current score by 1; their Luck scores now both stand at 6.]

At the end of the corridor is another heavy wooden door, warped and swollen from the damp. As Ksandajja tries to open it, it doesn't respond at all to careful pressure, but a swift kick sunders its rusty hinges and it falls forward into the watch commander's former quarters [Room 5].

The bed is a sagging lump of foulness boxed in by decaying timbers, and the wall-hangings are black with mildew. Most of the floor is covered in an inch of befouled water. An iron strongbox sits against one wall, completely red with rust but still intact.

Ksandajja takes a cautious step into the room, and stops suddenly short, as a gruesome form steps into the light: a gleaming white skeletal figure, wrapped in a translucent shroud, and wielding a glittering steel sword.


[Round 1]
Valganadd begins to cast a spell, slowly and surely again, in hopes of getting it out before his hiccups spoil it. Ksandajja meets the phantom's steel with her own. There is a loud clash as their blades meet, but then her swift riposte connects with the fiend's bony neck -- and passes right through! The DEATH WRAITH has no physical form, but its blade is very real [she rolled 8(skill) + 11 vs. its 9 + 6, a hit; but it is immune to mundane weapons].

[Round 2]
"If you're going to do something," says Ksandajja parrying the wraith's blade, "you'd better do it quickly!" [she's fighting defensively, which adds +2 skill but inflicts no damage if she wins the round (which she did 8+9+2 vs. 9+7)]

[Rounds 3-4]
Valganadd chokes on the final syllable of his spell, and his empty gesture towards the enemy produces nothing.

"It's no good," he shouts. "We ›hic‹ we must retreat!"

Ksandajja backs up steadily toward the door, all the while keeping the wraith's sword at bay [wins another round of defensive combat]. Then she whirls about and dashes through the open doorway. The wraith's final swing draws a long red line across her flank, but the wound isn't terribly deep [she's hit for 2 damage, leaving her with 5 Stamina].

Even more fortunately, the wraith does not give chase. Wizard and sorceress pause in the long corridor, and regard for a moment the smouldering remains of their former companion, and the evilly pulsing orb of green fire above.

[Now that they've seen the trap, the PCs have the option to Test either Skill or Luck. Valganadd has only a 4 Skill, so opts for Luck (currently 6). 2d6=5, success. 5 Luck left.]

"Quickly now," says Valganadd, and sprints past it. The tendrils lash out again, though none come near the old man.

[Ksandajja has 6 in each currently, so goes for Skill, but fails her roll.]

Ksandajja runs and ducks under the tendril sweeping through the corridor. It touches her lightly on the shoulder, charring and blistering the skin, but she is at least not set alight [1d6=1 damage; she's down to 4 Stamina].

They both agree that it's too dangerous to explore further. They retrace their steps, and get back up to the shell of the tower without incident. They huddle under last remaining bit of the upper wooden floor to avoid the wind and wet.

[Q: Does anything happen that night? Unlikely (5+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...
1d2=Valganadd's watch (again!)
Valganadd's Awareness roll = 11, fail (again!!)]

They are able to break up one of the old wooden weapon racks from the quartermaster's room and get a small fire going. Valganadd offers to take first watch, and Ksandajja is too tired to protest. She is soon asleep on the cold ground.

But the old wizard is a poor guard, staring into the meagre fire and mumbling to himself under his breath. Thus it is that he does not hear heavy footsteps plodding up the staircase, nor does he notice the intruder until a steel blade crashes down on his back, gashing it open and spraying blood everywhere [+2 on the damage roll for the ambush; 4 damage drops V to 6 Stamina]. His cry rouses the sorceress, and in the weak firelight they behold the charred corpse of Lisk, who has returned as a REVENANT to seek revenge on his former comrades.


[Round 1]
Valganadd looses a barrage of arcane energy at his former companion [successfully casting Force Bolt (at -2 to cast for being attacked in mêlée); 1d6=1 damage], but the already blackened corpse shrugs it off. Its eyes burning with hate, it stabs again at Valganadd, nearly puncturing a lung [3 damage puts him at 3 Stamina]. Ksandajja slashes down at the undead horror opening a rent from sternum to groin. Steaming innards slough out onto the ground, smelling of shit and over-cooked meat. But still the revenant fights on [3 damage left it with 2 Stamina].

[Round 2]
Valganadd recoils at the smell, and the bile rising in his throat chokes off the words to his spell; the magic does not come forth [technically, the -2 for being in mêlée made him fail the roll]. The shambling corpse wades through its own innards to bring its sword down on Valganadd's bald pate. The wizard collapses [3 damage puts him at exactly 0 Stamina]. Ksandajja curses herself for hesitating. Moments later her sword flashes in a high arc, and the revenant's head flies off to land in a puddle. The body wavers a moment, lurches a final step towards her, then crumples to the damp earth.

She rushes to Valganadd's side, and tears a strip of cloth from his robes to staunch his bleeding head. But when the blood stops flowing, she can find no more heartbeat [First Aid special skill: skill 6, +2 for Learned, but 2d6=9, failure]. She lets out a scream which echoes up through the ruined tower. "Taunt me all you like, Foul Gods of Chaos! I fear not your dark designs!"

Though Ksandajja may feel unafraid of spiritual machinations, she cannot but think that monsters of a more physical sort may still be lurking beneath he tower, waiting for a chance to strike. So she creeps away from tower out into the driving rain. She murmurs the words of a minor spell, and the dweomer keeps the rain from quite touching her skin, and warms her inwardly against the night's damp and chill [she casts the Weather Protection cantrip]. She finds a hollow under a jagged boulder for a shelter, and somehow manages to get some sleep. [For the miserable conditions (even with her magic) she only recovers 2 Stamina for a night's sleep. But she also loses 2 Stamina for lack of food, so there is no net change.]

Scene 3

increase to Out-of-Control (d8)

Setup: d8=3, Interrupt (was: to the city)
Interrupt: (random picture: vulture with sword) an Omen

NPC List: -

Threads: Quest, travel to Ulq

The rain has finally stopped by morning, and the sun shines brightly through a break in the clouds. Ksandajja crawls out from beneath the stone, stretches to work out the soreness of the night, and feels the warm sun on her face, along with a good deal of caked dirt from sleeping in the mud. She finds water pooled atop a rock to slake her thirst, and a reasonably non-muddy puddle in which to have a cursory wash, then she sets off to the south again, keeping the sea in sight as a guide.

About mid-day, she sees something in the sky. It draws nearer, and her vision resolves a strange sight: a vulture is soaring on the breeze, a costly sword in a bejewelled scabbard gripped in its talons. The vulture flies over the astonished sorceress, circles once, then glides off out over the sea.

[She must Test her Skill (Religion Lore) to interpret: Skill 6+1(special skill)+2(Learned); 2d6=11, failure]

"That must be an omen," thinks Ksandajja, "but whatever can the sight of that dira avis portend?"

She watches the vulture disappear in the distance, then resumes her march. The hills become steeper, the valleys between them more overgrown, but the city is soon visible in the distance. She squints her eyes, and fancies she can see the great side gate and the mercantile road leading inland from it. Her pace quickens.

But as she descends from another bare hillock down into the patch of vivid green vegetation [1d6=1, random wilderness encounter], she is suddenly met by another creature. It has the body of a great cat, with sleek fur, a nervously twitching tail, and sharp claws, but above the forequarters is the torso of a man, with deep brown skin and the mien of a hunter, and armed with a painted wooden shield and a bronze tipped lance. The FELINAUR eyes the intruder with suspicion, studying her with piercing eyes.

[A Felinaur's Reaction is listed as Neutral in Out of the Pit. Ksandajja may Test her SKILL to parley: 2d6=7, failure.]

"Please, good sir," says the sorceress, "I mean you no harm. I was shipwrecked, and now must walk to the city. I haven't had any food since yesterday. Would you perchance have any to trade?"

The felinaur does not lower his lance. His tail thrashes more angrily, and he unconsciously paws at the ground. "Be on your way, HUMAN. We have learnt not to trust your kind." [UNE: prejudiced-difference-parents]

Ksandajja walks on towards the city.

to be continued...
(click here)

Monday, 10 June 2019

AFF solo - Part II: The abandoned tower

Travelling by night through a strange land with no equipment would be suicidal, so they decide to make camp on the beach. Ksandajja finds enough dry drift wood to make a fire in the lee of a stony hillock. Valganadd is charged with kindling the flames. Lisk collects some edible seaweed for their repast; it is unpleasant but sustaining.

[Q: Anything useful wash ashore? Doubtful (6): O5 C3 - No, but... might be able to  search when waves subside & tide goes out

Fishing, Hunting, or Sea Lore (at -1) to forage: Lisk 2d6=5 < (7-1=) 6 skill, success.
Unmodified Sea Lore to find dry driftwood for a fire: Ksandajja (6 SKILL) 2d6=6, success.

Q: Night encounter? 1-2 on d6: Yes. Out of the Pit has a handy sea shore encounter table.

It occurs as (1d3=) Valganadd is on guard. He needs to make an Awareness test to avoid being Surprised; Skill 4 + Awareness 1 = 5, +2 for the ambusher's movement cancels the -2 for bad light, but 2d6=9, failure.]

That night, as Valganadd keeps vigil, a squamous green SEA TROLL emerges from the surf. The ravenous monster sees the wretched trio round the campfire, and squelches up through the darkness to snatch up a tender morsel.

2 attacks

But as it fantasises about the taste of raw, delectable human, it loses sight of its surroundings. As it makes to spring upon the hapless wizard, its foot gets caught beneath a rotten board from an old shipwreck, and the troll flops onto the ground with an almighty thud.[It rolled a natural 2 on its attack, a Fumble; it will need a full round to stand].

Valganadd wheels round at the noise, and seeing the horrid troll before him unleashes a blast of magical force into it [Force Bolt, for 1d6=3 damage]. He blasts it a second time [4 damage], then the troll loses its nerve and runs back into the sea.

[Q: Does the troll retreat? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes.]

Ksandajja and Lisk awaken groggily. "What was all that noise?" asks Lisk.

* * *

In the morning, the weary travellers scan the horizon. "How far are we from Ângu?" asks Lisk.

"I do not know," replies Ksandajja. "But if we head south we're sure to reach it. Eventually."

"Are you certain?"

"If we keep the sea on our right, we surely can't get lost."

[Q: Is the nearest city far? 50/50 (4+): O3 C1 - No, and... less than a day's march.

1d6=no encounter

Q: Is the weather good? 50/50 (4+): O2 C2 no, and...
+Event: (random picture) find ruined tower]

After choking down a few scant mouthfuls of seaweed that Lisk has provided for their repast, they set off to the south. The coast is jagged and rocky, and they soon must leave the beach to make their way over scrubland and round rocky hills.

"I wish we could find some water," says Ksandajja.

Half an hour later, she's almost sorry she'd said it, for the winds blow fierce and the heavens open up, so that the travellers struggle to advance against the driving rain. But blind luck is with them, as they soon stumble across the ruins of a stone watchtower that should provide some shelter from the torrent.

[1d3-1= 0 floors remain. Tower is inhabited by 3d6=IMITATOR]

The tower itself provides but little refuge; the wooden floors and roof have long since rotted away, leaving only the stone shell. The ground inside is already a maze of puddles, but a narrow stone staircase leads down into the earth.

"This way," says Lisk. "We'll be safe down here."

Lisk leads the way down the slick stone steps. At the bottom is a short, low passage ending in a stout wooden door, which has been spared the ravages of time and tempest. Lisk grasps the iron ring, and his hand is stuck fast. The door's surface begins to flow, extruding a long tendril topped with a clenched fist. This is no door, but an IMITATOR! Before anyone has a chance to react, the great fist pummels the hapless rogue. There is a sharp crack as it smashes into his sternum, breaking several ribs.


[I'd rolled 1d3 to see who went first. The Imitator rolled a natural 12, a critical hit. Criticals do double damage and reduce the target's Skill by 1 (which requires a week's rest to heal). Lisk takes 6 damage, reducing him to 6 Stamina and 6 Skill.]

[Round 1]
Valganadd unleashes a blast of raw magical energy into the creature [Force Bolt for 6 damage, reducing it to 2 stamina]. Lisk attempts to fight back with his dagger [at -2 for being stuck], but takes another solid punch [3 damage leaves him with to 3 Stamina]. Ksandajja feels useless, as there is no room in the narrow corridor for her to join the fight.

[Round 2]
But it is all over in a moment, as another mystical blast from Valganadd ends the horrid creature.

Lisk is free to scrape the sticky monster off his hands at leisure.

Scene 2

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: explore dungeon

NPC List: Lisk the rogue, Valganadd the wizard

Threads: Quest, travel to Ulq

[Advanced Fighting Fantasy comes with a very simple dungeon generator. It's perfectly adequate for giving a GM the outline of a dungeon to develop, but as a solo tool it is a bit sparse, roughly on par with the Moldvay Basic D&D dungeon stocking rules. As this was my first go with it, I adhered to it pretty closely in order to give it a good test run.

It suggests that a typical dungeon level should have 1d6+6 rooms, but that seemed a little excessive for the storerooms beneath a watchtower. I went with 1d6+3=5 rooms. For each room, a d6 is thrown onto a piece of paper, and read as a d3 for number of entrances/exits. Corridors are then drawn in linking the rooms, to produce a rough schema.]

behold, the elegant map!

Beyond the false door lies an old store room [room 1 - room numbers on the sketch map are circled, the numbers in the rooms were the d3 results for number of exits]. Barely any light filters down from outside, but with careful searching the travellers are able to find a tinderbox and candles on the old quartermaster's desk. By candlelight they are able to conduct  proper search.

[Q: Is there anything useful here? 50/50 (4+): O5 C7 - Yes.]

An old weapon rack contains some rusting but still serviceable swords [will break if doubles rolled in combat (hit or miss)]. Ksandajja and Lisk help themselves to these. Valganadd finds the haft of a spear to answer for a staff. They help themselves to a couple torches out of a barrel and, propelled by curiosity, set off down the rude tunnel deeper inside.

At the end of the corridor, the travellers enter the tower's food store [Room 2]. Rows of wooden shelves stretch floor to ceiling, upon which are heaped the end products of decades' worth of decay: mummified sides of beef, barrels of vinegar, sacks of sludge, and round fungal colonies which were once wheels of cheese. The pungent odour is beyond description, though not entirely unpleasant.

[Rolling for an encounter reveals there are 6 FLESH GRUBS here. The PCs must Test their LUCK to avoid them; only Valganadd makes the roll.]

They hasten across the room to the far exit, but as they do, horrible glistening worms begin falling from the shelves, and they must run to avoid being covered in the things. Valganadd emerges into the corridor unscathed, but his companions each find three of the awful vermin have latched onto their flesh by their greedy sucking maws. Gobbets of skin come away as they pull of the slimy creatures and stamp them underfoot [detaching each grub inflicts a point of damage]. Valganadd is able to staunch the bleeding and bind Lisk's wounds, but his ministrations on Ksandajja are less successful, and her bandages are soon wet and sticky with blood seeping through.

[Valganadd used his Healing special skill to restore 2 Stamina to Lisk; he failed his roll for Ksandajja.

Since I generated the map in advance, the PCs will move randomly when faced with a choice of directions.]

Continuing forward, they come to a T-junction, and go down the left-hand fork which ends in an iron door [Room 3]. Ksandajja pushes it open with her foot. She doesn't feel the magical energies surrounding it until too late, and with a flash of sickly green light she feels a heaviness seize her limbs. [She failed a Second Sight (special magical skill) roll to detect the enchantment/trap and was blasted with random spell: Weakness (-1 Skill for the next fight).]

Undaunted, she leads her companions into the room, which is dominated by sagging (and empty) bookshelves and a collapsed table in the centre. Ksandajja is about to examine the ragged parchment on the table when a pair of animated SKELETONS step forth out of the gloom.

[armed with (1d6): 1 axe, 2 mace, 3 sword, 4 shortsword, 5 spear, 6 polearm: 2d6=sword, spear]

Skeletons only take a single point of damage from edged weapons

[Rounds 1-3]
Valganadd tries to call upon arcane forces [Force Bolt] to destroy one of the horrors clacking across the stone floor. But in his haste he trips over the syllables of the words of mystic might, and begins to hiccup uncontrollably as the untamed power courses through him [he rolled a natural 12 on his casting roll, a critical failure. This required a roll on the Oops table for spell fumbles, resulting in hiccups lasting 1d6=3 hours, for a -4 penalty on all spellcasting]. Valganadd begins the spell anew, this time letting the energy build up within him slowly as his companions do battle.

Ksandajja faces off with the first skeleton, which wields a corroded battleaxe. Despite the Curse of Fatigue, she maintains the upper hand, though it barely seems hampered by the chips of bone she strikes off with her sword [hits thrice for 3 total damage, dropping it to 2 Stamina].

Lisk's opponent wields a rusty, iron-tipped spear. Twice he slides in under its guard, his  sword no more effective than Ksandajja's. But the undead fiend is a cannier fighter than he anticipates, and he is skewered. He collapses from shock, bleeding profusely over the dusty stone floor [he hit twice for 2 damage, then the skeleton hit, reducing him to 0 Stamina exactly].

[Rounds 4-6]
Valganadd feels the magic build to a crescendo, and intones again the mystic syllables [+4 for 2 extra rounds of casting cancels the -4 penalty so he has his usual 9 (Magic 7 + 2 wizardry special skill), but 2d6=10]. But at the last moment, a hiccup shakes his frame, and the blast of energy comes as but a tiny wisp of smoke.

Ksandajja now faces two undead foes [and each gets +1 to Skill for attack for superior numbers], but as the spear-wielder stumbles forward over the fallen Lisk, its loses its balance, dropping its weapon at Ksandajja's feet [it fumbled 2 rounds in a row]. She does not waste her advantage, striking swiftly and surely at the other, which soon falls to the ground in a clatter of bones with an axe betwixt.

[Round 7-9]
Valganadd watches calmly as Ksandajja makes short work of the other skeleton.

As she catches her breath (or --less charitably-- once it's entirely safe), Valganadd looks to his fallen companion. Lisk yet lives, and with a minimum of ministrations is brought round [First Aid check succeeded, bringing him back up to 2 Stamina].

"Dare we ›hic‹ continue to explore?" asks Valganadd.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

AFF solo - Part I: Terror at sea

"I tire of this voyage," thought Ksandajja as she stumbled wearily out of her cramped cabin and made her unsteady way down the narrow gloomy corridor, doing her best to sway in time with the pitch and roll of the ship. "The sailors are a loutish rabble, and my fellow travellers a boorish city-dweller who fancies himself a charming rogue and a wizard who thinks advancing age has somehow rendered him wise. The captain has forgotten to rouse me for mealtime. And -- phaugh! -- someone's spilt oil all over this ladder."

But when she climbed up to the deck, and her eyes adjusted to the bright, overcast day, a vision of horror met her eyes. The crew had all been reduced to white skeletons, clad in tatters and glistening with a sheen of running fat. The only two souls left alive were Valganadd, the old wizard, and the young rakehell, Lisk, who were huddled together on the deck. The wizard gave a flask to the rogue who greedily drained the healing elixir within. Ksandajja watched as the magic coursed through him, growing back the flesh of his ruined arm.

"You're alive!" exclaimed the rogue. "You may be the only one left. Look what happened to the crew. What almost happened to me! Something touched my arm down in the darkness of the hold, and the flesh ran off it like hot wax. What was that thing? What can we do?"

"We kill it," said Ksandajja, drawing her sword. "You were fortunate it didn't grab your arm any tighter. This carnage is the work of a FLESH MELTER."

Scene 1

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: random picture (above)

NPC List: whoever those two in the picture are

Threads: some Quest or other

[I prefer to start posts with narrative rather than game mechanics. My notes are much less elegant. Here's how I arrived at the above:

To set up the first scene, I opened up my folder of unsorted pictures and did a random slideshow until I got one that fit the game and seemed to have something going on. The caption under it originally said something about kissing a holy relic to dispel the evil phantoms, which is a pretty poor start to an adventure. So it was better to make a random table to play off of:

Q: What caused this? (1d6): 1-2 monster, 3-4 disease, 5 curse, 6 phenomenon

But before I rolled for the cause, I had Ksandajja Test her SKILL to see if she could divine what happened. Her SKILL is 6, and she gets a +2 bonus for knowledge skill use from Learned talent, so she must roll 8 or less on 2d6 in order to succeed: 2d6=5, success. 1d6=monster.]

"What are you doing now?" asks Lisk with feigned bravado. "Why do you just stand there? Not afraid, are you?"

"I shall let it come to me. Better to fight up here on the deck then down below where there's no room to manoeuvre."

Ksandajja takes position by the hatch whilst the other two hang back out of harm's way. She hears movement coming from below, but to her disappointment, it is the hatch all the way at the other end of the ship which is thrown open. The beast has flopped up onto the deck before she can make her way across to it.

The flesh melter has the general form of an octopus crowned by a head which is neither swine nor dog nor reptile, but an unholy amalgamation of the three. Its slavering jaws snap and drool, and the hole body glistens with a greasy sheen, every pore exuding the toxin that reduces flesh to tallow. It is smaller than Ksandajja had anticipated for a creature of such fearsome repute, but she fears it no less than it deserves.

[Combat is broadly similar to the Fighting fantasy gamebooks, but there are a few enhancements such as variable weapon damage, armour, situational modifiers, criticals, fumbles, and special manoeuvres.

For the slippery deck, I ruled that fumbles would take place if the dice came up 2, 3, or 4 (instead of just 2). In retrospect, the rough sea should also have been worth a -1 penalty to actions, but for a straight fight, the -1s cancel out so the effect is the same.

Since the monster is something I just made up, I gave it Skill of 1d6+3, and 2d6 Stamina.]


[round 1]
Ksandajja and the Flesh Melter face off as the ship rolls beneath them. She makes a few tentative swings with her sword, and the monster responds with a few half-hearted swipes at her face, but neither come close to a hit.

[Combat is simultaneous. Each combatant rolls 2d6 + SKILL + weapon special skill, and the higher roll hits.
Ksandajja: 2d6=7 +8 (skill 6 + 2 swords spec. skill) =15
Flesh Melter: 2d6=6 +9 (skill) =15
When the totals are equal, no hits are scored]

[Round 2]
The elastic thing has a longer reach than she'd expected, and Ksandajja nearly gets slapped across the face by its suckered tentacle, but she ducks under it at the last instant and draws her sword across its blubbery midsection, opening a deep and gory rent.

[Ksandajja rolls 8+8=16 vs. its 9+6=15, hitting. Each weapon has a little chart with 7 boxes, against which a d6 is rolled. Modifiers can bring the roll to 7+ (the last box) or down to a minimum of 1 (the first).

Published adventures often use a shorthand form, which for a sword is 2,3,3,3,3,4,5 (i.e. a roll of 1 does 2 damage, rolling 2-5 inflicts 3 damage, a 6 does 4 damage, and 7+ inflicts 5.

Ksandajja has no damage modifier, so hits it for (1d6=4) 3 damage, leaving it with 2 STAMINA.]

[Round 3]
The flesh melter lets out an ear-piercing wail as it feels the bite of sharp steel. Its eyes narrow in an almost human expression of rage, and it makes a desperate lunge at the meal which was so foolish as to hurt it. Ksandajja responds with calm and forethought, and the swift arc of her blade splits the hapless creature's skull nearly in twain. It flops dead at her feet on the greasy deck.

[She rolls a total of 17 vs. its 16, hitting for 3 more damage. NPCs can usually be considered dead at 0 STAMINA, so the Flesh Melter is vanquished.

It never hit, so I didn't have to work out how much damage it does. For flesh melting, it should probably inflict damage equal to Very Large Bite/Claw (despite its size), but armour rolls (only; not shields or dodges) receive +1 against it as less flesh is exposed to be melted.]

"Not bad," says Lisk. "Not bad at all. Where'd you learn to use a sword like that? The Great Arena of Port Skull?"

"Do you mean to insult me? Everyone knows the gladiatorial schools of Port Skull teach inferior swordsmanship than those of Zthaan."

"I-- No! I meant merely--"

"It was a joke... no matter. Fetch some ropes. I want to drag this thing overboard. Before it starts to smell."

Once the oozing carcass has been pitched over the side, Ksandajja turns to her companions. "We seem to be adrift. I don't suppose either of you knows anything about sailing?"

[Q: Does either NPC have Sea Lore special skill? Unlikely (5+): O2 C3 - no, but...they are willing to get stuck in.]

The old man looks briefly as if he is about to speak, but then does not. The young rogue seems unduly interested in examining his own boots.

"Right, then," says the daughter of the desert, "I shall be our captain."

[Five minutes into my single-PC-against-the-world campaign, and already there's a party of three. So I quickly threw together 2 more starting characters.

Valganadd the Effulgent
MAGIC 7  Magic Points 19
Talent: Attuned (able to identify magic items by touch)
Special Skills: Language - Ancient Allansian 2, Underground Lore 2, World lore 2, Magic-Wizardry 2, Staff 1, Magic Lore 1, Craft 1, Etiquette 1, Awareness 1
Spells: Thunder (1), Flash (1), Weakness (1), Breathe (2), Force Bolt (2), Levitate (2)

Talent: Swashbuckler (dodging reduces damage when hit)
Special Skills: City Lore 3, Sword 2, Con 2, Sneaking 1, Dodge 1, Brawl 1, Bow 1, Evaluate 1, Bargain 1

Ksandajja must test her SKILL to pilot the ship safely to port. She doesn't have the Sea Lore special skill, but her Learned talent gives her a +2, for an effective Skill of 6+2=8. But rather fittingly, she rolls a natural 12: disaster!]

Ksandajja takes the rudder, and barks out commands to the other two, who attempt to wrestle with the sail. They manage to catch the wind, and soon the ship is once again speeding along the coast towards their original destination, the port city of Ulq.

The clouds grow ever darker, and the wind increases in strength. Soon the rain begins to fall, hammering the deck of the little ship. It is all Ksandajja can do to keep the boat sailing in the direction of the city. She grips the rudder with all her might, forcing the boat to travel parallel to the coast. But so intent is she on maintaining the heading that she doesn't notice the rocks ahead, protruding just above the choppy surface of the frothing waters.

The sound of the hull splintering beneath them is louder even than the roar of the gale. The three travellers are thrown to the deck...

[To avoid injury they must each Test their LUCK (rolling 2d6 less than or equal to their current Luck score). Lisk has 12 Luck, so cannot fail (no crits or fumbles for Luck rolls), the other two need to roll 9 or less.

All three succeed, so suffer no damage.

Every time Luck is tested, it is reduced by one, so eventually a PC's Luck will run out. Luck is (usually) replenished at the end of an adventure, but Luck potions and fortunate events can also restore Luck points. It occurs to me as I am typing these words that random PC Positive events (via Mythic) would be a good way of deciding when to restore Luck without having to resort to GM-mode. This probably means I should stop re-rolling them for once.]

...but other than a few bruises are unhurt. Not so the little ship, which is even now falling into a pile of shattered timber beneath them. The three survivors scramble over what's left of the deck and hurl themselves overboard. Ksandajja and Lisk swim towards the shore, somehow fighting their way safely past the rocks through the churning waves. Valganadd lets himself sink down to the seabed, having invoked the Fourfold Power of the Endless Void, allowing him to breathe without drawing breath. He trudges along the sandy bottom, moving slowly but resolutely against the current. The other two had just about given him up for drowned by the time he walks out of the surf.

[None of our heroes have the Swim special skill, so Ksandajja and Lisk needed unmodified Skill tests to swim to shore.

Valganadd cast the Breathe spell before jumping overboard. To do this, he needed to roll under (or equal to) the total of his Magic (7) + Wizardry special skill (2): 2d6=6, success. The spell cost 2 Magic Points (leaving him with 17). I ruled he could make Swim rolls (against his Skill of 4) until he either succeeded or rolled a natural 12.

They all made the rolls they needed (Valganadd after 4 tries), so no one was swept out to sea.]

The three of them stand on the beach, taking stock of their situation. Valganadd has nothing but the sodden clothes he wears. Lisk has his dagger, which he dashingly carried in his teeth. Ksandajja has only the purse at her belt, containing seven gold coins and a set of nose plugs (necessary for one of her spells).

"Night will soon be upon us," says Ksandajja.