Saturday, 24 August 2019

AFF solo - Part IV: The glint of gold and steel

The free city of Ângu, as its many epithets attest, is one of the wealthier merchant cities of the Trenaali coast: Sea-gilded Ângu, Ângu of the joyous markets, Ângu of the fair scales, the Caravanserai of the Heavens. But even the most obsequious of sobriquets cannot mask the sinister reputation of the thriving port.

As Ksandajja approaches the gate, it seems hardly different from any of the other wealthy cities she has seen on her travels, right down to the bored guards in tatty leather jerkins leaning on their spears. Ksandajja joins the queue behind some tired-looking camels.

When it is finally her turn to enter, the craggy-faced guardswoman looks her up and down.

"Sellsword, eh?" she asks.

Ksandajja nods, seeing no reason to disabuse her of this notion, and especially not to admit her practice of the sorcerous art.

"The entry toll is ten silvers for your sort."

Smiling sweetly, Ksandajja flips the guard a gold coin. The woman grimaces for a moment as she catches it; she'd obviously asked for silver so she could skim off the top.

Scene 4

Chaos: Out-of-Control (d8)

Setup: City adventure

NPC List: -

Threads: Quest, travel to Ulq

[Then it was time to break out Midkemia Press' Cities for a random urban encounter: d%=already occurring, d%=Public Execution]

Ksandajja's bout of complacency ends the moment she steps through the gate and emerges into the bustling square. A man has been stripped and lashed upside-down to two great pales by the ankles and wrists. A pair of executioners are at work upon him with a long-bladed, jagged saw. His screams stand in sharp contrast to the jollity of the onlookers.

Hardened warrior though she be, Ksandajja cannot but be moved, and indeed a little unnerved, by the spectacle. "Can this be another omen?" she asks herself, "Or just a reminder to be on my best behaviour." She examines her purse, counting but six golden coins therein. "I hope vagrancy isn't a crime here."

She spends a little money (5sp) for a visit to the public baths, hoping to look a little less of a vagrant. She spends a little more (1gp 8sp) for a bed in the common room of a cheap inn and food for the night.

[Q: Does she have a quiet night? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...
She recovers 2 Stamina for the Meal, and 4 more for a good night's sleep (back to her full 10).]

In the morning, Ksandajja takes stock of her situation. She can't afford food and supplies to continue her journey, nor does she expect that she could secure working passage aboard a ship (even without admitting what happened with her first sailing venture). She resigns herself to remaining for a time in Friendly-Dealing Ângu, and hopes she can find some way of improving her meagre circumstances.

[Time once again for the Midkemia Press' Cities Catch-up Tables. As usual, these fleshed out the city in a desultory fashion, and eventually led into an adventure. Rather than wasting all my NPC naming effort on people who will probably never come up again (once she leaves Ângu, it is doubtful she will ever return), I will narrate the passage of time cursorily until we get to the Adventure proper. Game mechanics for each week will follow in a separate paragraph.]

[Week 1]
The first week in the lively metropolis is relatively uneventful. She installs herself in a more modest inn to ease the strain on her dwindling purse. She frequents the markets and taverns looking for work, but finds nothing suitable. A local grandee (through the intermediary of a servant, of course) offers her a job as a storyteller, 'that you might divert and delight my lord with tales of your far-off homeland, O foreign one'. This she politely declines, inwardly distrustful of the grandee's leering countenance. Boredom threatens to overtake her, and another resident at the inn entices her to a game of knucklebones. She wins a modest sum -- 10sp -- but even then is faced with the prospect of having to relocate to a less expensive inn should her circumstances not improve.

[event: -
looking for work: +10% to Job Type roll since she is literate. d%=Plebeian type job found, d40=storyteller, no.
living at inn level 3 gp room&board for the week
gambling: risk 10sp, wins 10sp
(1gp 7sp total purse)]

[Week 2]
Perhaps Sindla [Goddess of Luck and Fate] is smiling upon her, for the next week sees a complete reversal. She hears a cry for help coming from a dark alleyway, and upon investigating finds an aristocrat being threatened by a trio of scruffy, knife-wielding bravos. The mere sight of Ksandajja's bared steel is enough to send them scurrying back into the shadows. The aristocrat immediately offers to hire her as a bodyguard, and at twice the going rate. He's a ridiculous, perfumed dandy, but Ksandajja can't find it in her heart (or purse!) to refuse.

[event: befriend an aristocrat. offers job as bodyguard for double salary
salary: 3d8=13 x2= 26gp/week
save 30%: 7gp 3sp]

[Week 3]
Ksandajja is pulled into a whirlwind of luxury and dissipation. Even with her new patron spending egregious sums to dress his new companion in the finest silks and jewels, she still haemorrhages her own funds in a completely negligent fashion. She doesn't half mind, though she feels less like a bodyguard and more like a life-sized doll at times, despite the glittering array of scimitars she is given for her use (one for every day of the week, plus special ones for holidays). But the rose petal strewn dream comes to an abrupt end. Ksandajja finds she has committed some unforgivable faux pas -- one which she hardly understands -- when a troop of house soldiers divest her of her new jewels and turn her out into the street.

And yet fortune's wheel has not yet stayed its motion, for as she walks through the streets of Thousand-marted Ângu in a daze, she happens by a written notice tacked to the door-post of the temple of the very goddess whose plaything she feels herself to be. The notice advises any who might be able to read it to apply for a position as a public scribe at the guildhall. She marches there and obtains a position forthwith, though they caution her to buy a less elegant dress with her first salary, lest she ruin her fine garment with ink stains. They don't even ask about the incongruously rusty sword at her belt.

[event: -
savings roll, d%=05, lost job! (aristocrat now counts as offended)
d6x10=50% chance she can still look for new job this week: d%=48, yes
public scribe, 15gp/week
save 100%! +15gp]

[Weeks 4 & 5]
Unsurprisingly, the fate of a public scribe in Purse-filling Ângu is to copy and recopy contracts, deeds, and bills of sale. The work is uninspiring, but Ksandajja does befriend one of the other scribes, who is overly anxious to hear tales of her travels [UNE: mysterious-secrets-experience]. She buys some plain clothing for work, but, much to her chagrin, she can't quite save up enough to buy a proper sword. And then one morning as she arrives at the guildhall a junior clerk stops her at the door, and says her behaviour has been deemed most unbecoming. Not only is her employment at an end, but the balance of her salary forfeit as well. Her friend later tells her that the official whose scroll Ksandajja was to finish is most put out, and she'd do well to avoid the guildhall henceforth.

[Week 4
event: befriend fellow worker
savings roll: d%=02! lost job again, another breach of etiquette
can't find another this week
back to inn -11gp (12gp 10sp left)

Week 5
event: offend govt worker (whose scroll she didn't finish)
-11gp room/board
job search fails (biologist???)]

[Week 6]
With the loss of her job, and no new prospects, Ksandajja rapidly runs out of money and is forced to take to the streets. She beds down in a narrow alley for the night, making a nest out of clothing, sleeping with her sword near at hand. One morning she is awakened by a pair of strangers with kindly faces.

[She can't afford lodging, so I rolled on the Living with No Money table: d%=taken in by temple or strangers]

"Oh you poor dear," says the old woman. "To see one so young reduced to such circumstances!"

"What a tragedy," says the old man. "Price-gouging Ângu is no place to be a pauper."

"You should come with us," says the old woman. "Our order offers a safe haven for all who find themselves friendless and alone in this venal city."

[I rolled 1d30 to see what god (from the AFF rulebook) this pair serves. d30=Decay.
Ksandajja must Test her LUCK to realise these "kindly strangers" are up to no good: 2d6=9, just succeeded, so it will take her a bit until the realisation dawns upon her. There are a total of 1d3=2 cultists + 1 priest.]

The strange old couple cluck and coo over the 'poor dear lass' as they lead her through a maze of winding streets and back alleyways. They have lots to say about the wicked city of merchants, but are unusually reticent to say aught of their faith. By the time they have arrived at the shabby door of a dilapidated townhouse, the sour feeling in Ksandajja's stomach has changed from hunger to dread.

"I-- I just realised I have a cousin in this city who can put me up," says Ksandajja unconvincingly. The man's grip tightens on her wrist as he realises the game is up. Ksandajja sees the door open slowly, and a leprous visage stares out into the street. She wrenches her hand away from the old man, and draws her sword. The old couple cackle horribly, and produce long curved knives which are crusted over with the blood of their last victims. The pair of wicked CULTISTS manoeuvre to cut off Ksandajja's escape.

first CULTIST      SKILL 5   STAMINA 4

Devotion 6 (MAGIC + Magic - Priest)

[Round 1]
Surrounded or not, the swordswoman has the upper hand over these vile fanatics [they get +1 attack for outnumbering her, but it's still her 8 vs. their 6]. The man feints, but Ksandajja was expecting the clumsy move, and her blade nearly takes his arm off at the shoulder [3 damage reduces him to 1 STA]. The old woman's foot gets caught in the hem of her robe, and she falls face-first into the dirt [fumble (rolled natural 2); lose next round].

[Round 2]
The leprous PRIEST gurgles out a Curse, calling upon the pestilential exhalations of his abhorrent god [casts Weakness]. An unnatural sickness wracks Ksandajja's body, and she breaks out in a cold sweat [-3 to Skill and damage rolls for 6 rounds]. She stabs weakly at the old man, but her arm feels so heavy and sluggish. It's all she can do to keep a grip on her sword. [8-3+2d6=11 vs. 5+2d6=11, no hits]. Fortunately, he's still chastened from the stroke she dealt him to make a credible attack of his own. Behind Ksandajja, the old woman is regaining her feet.

[Round 3]
The priest is content to watch his minions fight with their quarry. And what a show it is! Ksandajja parries a thrust of the woman's dagger, only to watch in horror as the blade snaps off against the crossguard. Ksandajja throws the useless pommel to the ground, cursing vehemently, though not loud enough to drown out the phlegmatic laughter emanating from within the house.
[She Fumbled, and will be off balance (-2 to all actions) next turn. Because the fumble is necessarily a roll of doubles, the rusty sword she picked up beneath the ruined tower finally breaks (I can't believe how many fights it lasted).]

[Round 4]
She tries to fight them off unarmed, and receives a matching pair of wounds for her efforts [both hit for 2 damage, dropping her to 4STA].

[Round 5]
Ksandajja knows she cannot best these cultists -- at least not today! She runs between them, [testing her LUCK: 2d6=8, success (current Luck decreases to 7)] evading their daggers, and flies off down the street.

"After her, you fools!" rasps the priest.

The cultists give chase. [1d6=3 rounds before she has a chance to lose them.] Ksandajja runs through an alley and into a main street. This being Ângu, it leads right into a market square, where merchants are already setting up their stalls for the day. Ksandajja feels the unnatural Weakness sloughing off as she races for the square. She finds the largest concentration of people, and uses them as cover until she can slink off down a side street [Skill 6 + Sneaking 1 (7-): 2d6=6, success].

Ksandajja spends the whole day moving from place to place, ever on the watch fro that horrible old couple. She is too afraid even to sleep that night [no STA regained]. The following day, she spends the last of her money on a meal to keep her strength up [+2STA].

[Week 7]
Ksandajja prowls round the city for the next few days. The run-in with the cult coupled with the loss of her sword has left her paranoid, and after a week her demeanour is scarcely less terrible than that of the knife-wielding cultists.

One night, as she is perched atop a gabled roof to observe the streets below, she hears a scraping sound beneath her. She watches as the shutters of the window below her seat open slowly and a black-clad figure climbs out onto the roof. The figure stifles a gasp as it finds a pair of staring eyes burning into its own.

The figure pulls aside its kerchief to reveal a smiling, pock-marked face. "Now 'ere's a surprise," says the man. "I didn't expect to find me escape route occupied. You're obviously not town militia, and you don't got the look of a hired guard, so just who are you? And just what are you doing sat atop Thammranaio's manse at this hour."

"I am a sorceress. And I keep my own counsel."

"A sorc-- I don't mean to pry, m'lady! Perhaps I should be off..."

"Stay, thief! For I would talk with you a while."

"I-- er, yes. Of course."

"You have connections in this city, do you not?"

"I knows a churl or two."

"I have been ambushed by an evil cult, and I would strike back at them, and root out their wickedness once and for all."


"But I cannot do it alone, for where one cultist is visible, a dozen more lurk in lightless tunnels below."


"And I thought you knew of somewhere I could find some more adventurous sorts. The kind who will see this necessity as a chance to win untold treasures back from the very hands of darkness."

"I think I just might know a place you could look, full of those what likes to bust heads -- evil heads, of course."

"Of course."

"But I gots to warn you, nothing in coin-shaving Ângu is free."

"Of course it isn't... but that includes my silence, thief."

"Tell you what, m'lady: how bout's I give you a cut of my night's profits -- as a donation to your righteous cause, obviously -- and you forget you ever met me. And I'll throw in the names of a few taverns what you could visit for to find you some hired muscle."

[Week 7
event: befriends an underworld character
gives her 1d20x5=75gp
-22gp lv 3 inn room & board
-30gp new sword
23gp left

For her new friend's advice, Ksandajja gets a +1 to her City Lore roll to find a place to recruit mercenaries/hirelings/thugs. 6(skill)+2(Learned)+1=9; 2d6=5, success. She finds 1d3=3 others.

Rather than figuring out what to roll to see who she turns up, I just grabbed the other 3 PCs I made when I first bought the game. I had run them through the sample dungeon in the rulebook, so they all have a few xp and a little bit of treasure -- but not much of either. I like a game that leaves your PCs a bit skint!]

Next post: Ksandajja gathers her forces and strikes back at the vile cult!

Saturday, 3 August 2019

BRP solo - Part X: „Ein Drache scheint es von Gestalt“

A wave of warm, humid air washes over Lycinia as she opens the door. There is an overpowering smell of spices, but it cannot mask the underlying smells of sweat, excrement, and decay. She must steady herself for a few moments against the damp stone wall before she finds the resolve to continue [Stamina (CONx5=70%) roll fails]. Blinking the tears from her eyes, she passes the threshold.

An unnatural light flares up for a few moments in the room beyond [Room 20. - Special], illuminating the short entrance passage. It has died down again by the time Lycinia enters the square chamber, leaving only the feeble glow of a quartet of brass braziers near the corners of the room, and the flickering light of Lycinia's torch. It takes her vision another moment to adjust, then her eyes are met with the full horror of the scene.

In the centre of the room, an unnatural black beast sits on its haunches, looking like a skinned dragon, though very much alive. Its exposed muscles are the colour of obsidian, and all over droplets of runny fluid weep out of the raw meat. A sinister intelligence glares out of its grey-white eyes as it regards the fairy creature so recently come into its lair.

Concentric magic circles ring the beast. The innermost is of paint, and shows some artistry in the figures and arcane names inscribed within. The middle ring is a simple circle of plain salt. The  outermost was written in blood, dry now but bearing the mark of a careless footprint which broke it. Beside the footprint lies a corpse, or at least part of one. The head and right arm appear to have been dissolved by some sort of strong acid. The man wore simple white robes, now stained with blood and fat and toxins.

A table with tools of the art sits against a wall, and beside it a worm-eaten tome is held open on an ornamental stand of wrought iron. In the shadows at the back of the chamber lies the enormous and bloated corpse of a sow, chained to the wall by its foot.

Greater Demon               
STR (4D8)  7   Mov: 16
CON (4D8) 21   HP:  22
SIZ (5D8) 23   DB: +1D4
INT (4D8) 20   Armour: none
POW (4D8) 21
DEX (2D8)  8
APP (1D8)  6

Attacks: Claw 60% 1D8+db
         Spray Venom 50% POT=1D10, range 5m
Powers: Remember 110%, Soul Sight 5m, Empathy  

Forme : Dragon
(Ex : basilic, dragon)
Localisation Mêlée Missile PV
Queue         01–02  01     6
Patte post. d 03–04  02     8
Patte post. g 05–06  03     8
Arrière train 07–08 04–08   9
Poitrail      09–10 09–14   9
Aile droite   11–12  15     6
Aile gauche   13–14  16     6
Patte ant. d  15–16  17     8
Patte ant. g  17–18  18     8
Tête          19–20 19–20   8

The demon in the circle beckons. Lycinia takes a step forward, sword poised for attack.

"Stay your hand, fairy woman," says the demon in the Ancient Tongue. "I mean you no ill."

"Like you meant none to... whoever that was."

"The self-styled 'Walker on the Hidden Path'? He tried to bind me to his will, the fool! but you have done no such thing, and are, methinks, wiser than these human dabblers in the Art. Perhaps we can come to  mutually beneficial arrangement." [UNE: scheming - arrangement - friends]

"Such as?"

"There must be something I can do for you. If not now, in the future. Perhaps you are curious about the world about you. Or the heavens above. Or, indeed, the hells beneath. I could teach you... secrets. [mysterious - shadows - future action: can teach Blasphemous Lore (via Remember ability)]

"Name your price that I may consider it, unnatural spirit."

"Simply release me from the magic that holds me in this place, that I may be free." [throw / Cell]

"Let me think about this."

Lycinia lowers her sword, and steps forward casually. "So what you're saying, is that--"

But even before Lycinia can lunge forward with her sword, the demon has sensed her ruse [Empathy power]. It unhinges its jaw and spits forward a noxious yellow stream of acid, but the elf's warrior instincts take over and she ducks to one side as she leaps forward and buries her sword deep in the demon's flank. As she retracts the blade, blackish blood gushes forth from the wound, and the demon gurgles with pain.

[Basically, they both got a 'surprise' round on each other, since the range of the creature's acid is only 15', about the point she was going to charge from. It's not real surprise, so I didn't double anyone's attack chances. Lycinia's 'warrior instincts' were poetic licence; it just rolled a miss against her. She rolled a very real hit to the hindquarters for 1D8+1=7 damage, leaving it with 15hp (2 in the location).]

[Round 1]
Lycinia swings her blade in a high arc, crashing it down upon the thing's exposed sternum. There is a wet crack as it bites deep [7 damage to the forequarter: 8hp left]. The demon cranes its neck and spits down at her, but she nimbly avoids the stream. It doesn't even splash her boots as she darts out of reach. [Its attack roll hit, but her Dodge (63-25encumbrance penalty=38%) actually succeeded.]

[Round 2]
Lycinia pulls back for but a moment, then comes at it from the other side. It tries to fend off her sword, knocking it aside with its overlong claws, but with limited success. The stroke that would have laid open its stomach instead takes a small chunk out of its leg. [She it, it just failed its Parry (60%), rolling a 61. It took 3 damage to the R Front Leg, leaving the demon with 5hp.]

It spits another toxic stream over Lycinia's head, and its claws seem unable to catch the agile elf [miss,miss].

[Round 3]
But it has learnt from its earlier mistakes. The silvery sword flashes again through the air, and this time meets the claws head on, being deflected with a force that Lycinia feels travel up to the hilt. [she hit, it parried]

Another stream of acid goes right over her shoulder, close enough that she can smell its acrid stench [37=hit, but 19=dodged!]. The raking claw she turns aside effortlessly [59= normal hit; her second defence in a round is at -30%, (61-30=31%) but she rolled 03, special success!]

[Round 4]
The demon switches tactics, lowering its head to spit its venom up into the elf's face. This is the mistake Lycinia had been waiting for, and with a powerful backhand drives the length of her blade into the side of the thing's elongated head. It bites deep into the skull, and she cannot pull it free. The sword is nearly wrenched from her grasp as the demon falls dead at her feet. [She rolled 05, Special success vs. its 88, failed parry. 10 damage to the Head dropped it to -5hp. Damn, but the dice were really kind to her for that fight.]

Her sword comes unstuck in an instant as the demon-dragon begins to decompose at a fantastic rate. Within moments there is nothing left of the horror but a fine dust. "That will save me the trouble of cleaning my sword," says Lycinia, but the sight of the remaining horrors in the chamber makes the jest ring hollow in her ears.

She is drawn toward the table of magical implements. There is a scroll case with a papyrus inside. The briefest perusal or the roll confirms it is written over with spells on both sides, so Lycinia puts it into her pack for later. She also finds a silver pectoral set with precious stones, several of which have been prised out. But the remaining gems and metal still hold considerable value, and she stows them in her pouch. She isn't sure about any of the tinctures or spices, and resolves to simply ignore them. The book on the stand is practically begging for her attention.

[Treasure Factor 11+(1d4x10)=51. No coins, as that would be silly here.

-gemstone 234sp
-very good jewellery 583sp
-potion of (CF 1d36=) ethereality
-Magic-User spell scroll: Fly, Charm, Protection, Haste

Q: Is the Grimoire here? unknown d6=4 50/50: O5 C7 - yes.
Read Ancient Language (47%) succeeds.]

Lycinia casts her eyes over the open page, and is horrified at the words they contained. Her research in the great library had hinted at the unwholesome operations of certain vile practitioners of the black arts, but here she is confronted with a manual outlining each step of the blasphemous procedures. She leafs through a few pages, and each passage she alights upon only compounds her revulsion. If reading The Forgotten Reckoning of Bliss had earned her banishment from fair Feyalldra, this volume, so infinitely more vile, would have merited death. Even such a curious elf as she finds not the smallest desire to know the secrets set forth in these mildewed pages. She resolves to burn the thing, lest it ever tempt her. In fact, perhaps she ought to cleanse this whole room with fire.

[Q: Can she find enough here to get a good bonfire going? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - no, but... stuff nearby
+Event: (back to regular Mythic table, as the Mystery is solved)  Move toward a thread - open / life]

As Lycinia is considering how much combustible material is in the chamber, she hears a squelching behind her. She looks into the back of the room, and sees the dead sow begins to shudder and distend, as if something within is trying to get out. Her hand falls limply to the pommel of her sword, as she is transfixed with fear.

[She needed to roll POWx3 (36%) to be able to take the first action: d%=42, no.

Something is clawing its way out, but what? (1d8):
1 the seeress reborn, and perfectly fine
2 the seeress reborn, but with a demon's soul
3 the seeress reborn as a horrible mutant
4 the seeress reborn as Geredrom
5 a mindless revenant
6 a lich
7 an icky thing (stats as lesser demon)
8 a very icky thing (stats as greater demon)


Icky Thing               
STR (2D8)  3   Mov: 3
CON (2D8)  6   HP:  5
SIZ (1D8)  4   DB: -1D4
INT (4D8) 16   Armour: none
POW (3D8) 18 
DEX (6D8) 31 
APP (1D8)  1 
Attacks: Claw 60% 1D8+db
Powers: See Sound, Emote, Howl  

Forme : Brontosaure  
(Ex : brontosaure, stégosaure)
Localisation  Loc.   PV
Queue         01–02   2
Patte post. d 03–04   2
Patte post. g 05–06   2
Arrière train 07–10   2
Poitrail      11–14   2
Patte ant. d  15–16   2
Patte ant. g  17–18   2
Tête          19–20   2

A rent opens in the sow's rotten flesh, and an abomination slithers forth. The thing is tiny, and resembles a badly decaying human corpse, albeit with a long, distended neck and torso, and atrophied limbs. A long, serpentine tail is the last part of the thing to slough forth from the cadaver.

It looks up from the floor at Lycinia with its wizened skull face, and begins to taunt her -- in her own voice! "I have the book! I have the book! It's mine! All mine! All for me! Look what wonders I will be able to perform! No wizard shall ever again be my equal!" [UNE: knowing - report - treasure; it used the Emote power, combined with Howl power's effect (breaks all concentration for spellcasting)]

The thing creeps towards Lycinia as it speaks, and is nearly upon her before the elf is able to suppress her fear and revulsion enough to draw her blade. It swipes at her with a bony claw, but the filthy nails only scrape across the sword as she parries. She takes a step back and holds her sword aloft a moment, before plunging it with both hands straight down into the malformed creature's back. There is a momentary resistance as it severs the spinal column, then the blow is stopped as the tip bites into the stone floor. The creature shrieks and contorts for a moment, then collapses.

[Round 1:
it hit, she parried.
she hit, it failed to dodge (62%). 9 damage dropped it to -4hp]

Lycinia caves in the grinning skull head, just to convince herself the abomination is dead. Then she runs from the room and slams the door behind her before she succumbs to the urge to throw up.

She leaves the hexagonal chamber by the northern door. The corridor beyond comes almost immediately to a 4-way intersection. She can hear rushing water down the western branch, and follows it down to the broken bridge [Area 2]. She goes back and tries the northern passage, which leads her into a rectangular chamber [Room 21. - Skill Challenge only], empty save for white marble statue of Health personified in the human idiom [d30 Sandbox Companion heraldry table, d7, d30=snake/serpent]. Lycinia wonders at the image for half a moment, but her attention is drawn by a series of seemingly-innocent scratches on the statue's base.

[Challenge: Read/Write Elvish (normal) reveals STR (normal)

The R/W Elvish didn't fit thematically with my sudden vision of the statue based on the d30 result, so I ruled that a Spot Hidden roll was required to notice the scratches: 09 succeeds.
R/W Elvish (64%): 05, special success.]

Looking closer, Lycinia is delighted to see that the scratches are ever-so-cleverly disguised cursive elvish letters. They're hard to make out, but ere long she has teased the meaning out of them: "Thilanallir, the goods are concealed under the statue. -Neluya." So she's not the first of the fair folk to have traversed these sewers. Nor indeed the shiftiest. The statue is a head taller than Lycinia -- and she's tall for an elf -- but [Effort (STRx5=65%): 61, success] she puts her back into it, and at last shifts the statue enough to slide a hand into the cavity beneath.

[Q: What's in the hole below? d30=flask

Using my potion label rules (link):
Q: Labelled? 3-in-6: d6=2
a single arcane sigil
she must make either a difficult Idea roll or normal Spell Lore roll to decipher the mark: Spell Lore (47%): 38, success

Q: What does it mean? d30 Adventure Generator Tables II, AG9: THEME

She feels round, and her hand soon closes over something cold and metal. She has found a stoppered brass flask, upon which a single arcane sigil has been rudely scratched: the fabled Rune of Shadow. Lycinia is not sure what to make of her discovery, but she stows it carefully in her pack for later.

She returns to the junction, and takes the final branch east to find a door, which leads to another chamber [Room 22], with the same dimensions as the last.

[As this was the final room in this area, I decided to forego the usual Room Contents table and use the Oracle

Q: Is this, in fact, Geredrom's supply room? Likely (3+): O6 C2 - yes, and... he sometimes slept here as well.
Q: Does it contain a rope & grappling hook Unlikely (5+): O5 C7 - yes]

This was obviously used by the late Geredrom as a supply room. Wooden crates, some filled with straw, have been converted to tables, and a cot piled high with bedding rests against a wall. There is a wide variety of mundane items, amongst which Lycinia is overjoyed to find a goodly length of new rope and a large grappling hook. There is a cache of preserved rations, a small barrel of clean water and a few bottles of moderately good wine, but more interesting to the elf are the spare lanterns and oil. She begins packing the crates with the oil and anything else she thinks will burn, and begins dragging the lot back to the ritual chamber.

[Q: Any wandering monsters attracted by the noise? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - no, and... she's pretty much cleared the dungeon]

Once she's gotten everything moved, she is suddenly faced with the enormity of the task which she must still perform. She takes a long pull off one of the bottles of wine for some 'dwarven courage', then sets about the gruesome work. She wraps the little abomination in bedding and douses it all over with lamp oil before putting it into one of the straw-filled crates. She saves a little oil for the (partial) corpse of Geredrom, and sprinkles a bit on the sow's carcass for good measure. Then she pushes everything together to make a gruesome bonfire. The chamber door she props open with the iron stand, to make sure the fire gets plenty of air. Then she stands as far away as she can and throws a lit torch on it to start the fire.

Lycinia watches the conflagration build to make sure her work will be complete. But even as the flames rise, she knows that there is one thing left to do. The book, that damnable grimoire which the mad, foolish Geredrom used to create this horror, yet lies on the iron stand. What other secrets might it contain? Who can say what magics she could learn from such a hoary tome. If any magician could put the unfathomable secrets lurking in those mould-dampened leaves to a proper use, it is she!

Such thoughts she knows she must banish from her mind. She takes the book gingerly from the stand, but then an overwhelming hesitation seizes her. [Lycinia needs to roll POWx5 (60%) to the temptations of this artefact of evil...] She looks again at the book in her hands, turning it over and over, then leafing through a few pages, tracing her finger over one of the circles. The delightful scent of old parchment reaches her nostrils, momentarily overshadowing the rancid smell of the smoky pyre. She grips the book tightly, [...d%=46, success] then hurls it with all her strength into the heart of the blaze. Perhaps she could read such an evil book and remain spiritually untainted, perhaps not. But she knows one thing with abject certainly: she could never face Théscine's disappointment.

Only when she is finally certain the book has been consumed by the flames does she begin to retrace her steps and climb back up the long shaft into the dilapidated theatre. She doesn't even bother to close the door after her as she stumbles exhausted into the street. Breathing deeply of the fresh dawn air acts as a sudden tonic on her wearied bones, and she strides through the streets of Ildmarch with renewed vigour. She garners not a few strange looks from the few citizens just beginning their workdays, though none are so brave as to approach the bloodied and battered fairy woman, and some even whisper a prayer to their various human gods that she pass them by in peace. For her part, she is scarcely aware of them at all, flushed with the success of her endeavours and the satisfaction at having averted a great, if mysterious, evil. And it couldn't have gone better for her; though she would not have scrupled to slaughter such a wicked magician as Geredrom, she hadn't actually had to -- no assassin she! But what a marvellous tale she will have to tell her patron. She is certain Orezuthía will be pleased.


--- --- ---

Post Mortem

That was a good test of my Skill Challenge generator. It worked exactly as I hoped it would, though after getting halfway through I had already started modifying it so it would produce 1-3 challenges rather than always having them come in pairs.

Links: the one I used for this adventure
the updated version

When she was about to leave the dungeon, I had, of course, asked--
Q: Does she get back to guild without incident? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - yes
+Event:  Remote event - strive / castle (wars between nobles heating up, random castle (1dX=YYY) is besieged. I'll copy that into my campaign notes file for later (said file is an appalling mess, but it contains every global Event and all the stats and especially the 'flavour text' for each city/town/fortress and NPC, cut-and-paste in sections for easy reference -- I really need that after 60+ posts of adventures).

I'm not terribly enamoured of the Encumbrance system I was using, and I think the next adventure will be switching to Fatigue Points like in RQIII. To keep the D&D/CF feel, I'll halve the penalty to spellcasting for elves.

I think the Heroic Hit Points rule (called Total HP in the BGB) is great for single character adventures, but I'm a bit worried about it making full parties a bit too tough. Admittedly, a decent Impale or Critical can still kill a 22hp character outright, so this might not be as big an issue as I fear it to be. I'm 5 scenes into the next adventure at the time of this writing, and there hasn't been a combat yet, so it's still all conjecture.

Speaking of the next adventure, Lycinia didn't have enough time before it to do any magical research, so the mysterious flask with the shadow rune and the inscription from atop the column are still unknown quantities -- I won't figure out what they do until it becomes necessary.

XP, er... I mean Improvement Rolls

I counted the town and dungeon as one single adventure to keep her from getting too far ahead of the rest of the PCs. But she still gets a shitload of improvement rolls from all this.

She also 'exercised her POWer' (used it on the resistance table against a superior number) so it might go up: (21-12=9)x5=45% to improve: d%=14, success +1D3-1=1. Her POW increases to 13; her Magic Points and Luck roll also go up, but no skills category bonuses are affected.

Per RQIII, I am using Skill Category Bonuses as the Bonus to all experience rolls. I'm not bothering with 'class skills', so all improvements are 1d6 percentiles. Rather than recording all the dice rolling, I will just summarise:

Persuade +6 to 29%
Climb -
Dodge +3 to 66%
MQ +6 to 47%
Blasphemous Lore +3 to 16%
R/W Elvish +5 to 69%
R/W Ancient -
Physik -
Spell Lore +2 to 49%
Insight +4 to 48%
Library Use +2 to 36%
Listen +6 to 50%
Spot Hidden +3 to 72%

Sword attack +2 to 64%
Sword Parry +5 to 66%
Pistol +6 to 43%

Spells (half INT for exp. bonus)
Comprehend Languages +2 to 38%
Invisibility -
Magic Missile +1 to 32%
Sleep +4 to 55%