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!


  1. Oh. I love the idea of adding skill checks to make for a more involved and detailed dungeon. This might be the idea that I was looking for to get back into The Dark Eye--if I can actually take advantage of the character creation weight both in the field AND in town... hm.

    Thanks for putting this out there!

    1. Funnily enough, I've already thought of how to use this for my DSA game. I also want to try using it for a totally social adventure -- politicking nobles at court or something.

      I hope it will turn out useful for you.