Tuesday, 10 September 2019

AFF solo - Part VI: Into the catacombs

Passing between the grim guardians of chaos, Grebdal Themp leads his companions cautiously down the cramped and narrow tunnel. Old bones lie quietly mouldering in alcoves on either side of them, blanketed with cobwebs and the dust of ages. "These catacombs haven't been in use for many generations," observes Fhenteskeer, "not since the wood importers ad urn-merchants made cremation fashionable. So it goes in purse-emptying Ângu!"

"If all the mourners too are long-since departed, that means no one we meet down here will be up to any good!" says Orhhuta.

"Which is why you should all stop talking, lest they hear you," growls Grebdal Themp.

The passage leads into a tholos-shaped chamber, empty save for a life-sized marble statue of the three Graces in the centre [Room 3 - Feature: unusual statue]. Another narrow passageway leads out from the room.

[Q: Anything obvious about the statue? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No]

"This shouldn't be here," says Ksandajja.

"Let's just leave it alone and pass by," says Fhenteskeer.

As the companions all sidle along the curving wall of the chamber, alert for any dangers...

[The statue...(1d6)
1. is a normal statue
2. holds a clue
3. animates (combat)
4. animates (magic effect & combat)
5. animates (talks)
6. hides a secret]

...the three Charites begin to slowly move, untwining from one another. Their movements become a slow and sinuous dance. The onlookers stop, staring in rapt attention at the enchanting spectacle.

[They must each Test their LUCK or become paralysed: only Orhhuta fails her roll]

Then before their very eyes the statues begin to change and contort, long claws extending from dainty fingers, sweet lips parting to reveal mouths full of needle-sharp fangs. Having revealed their true forms, the ACHARITES rush at their prey with talons extended, toothy maws open wide in silent howls. Orhhuta is still fascinated by the magical dance, and stands dreamy-eyed and unknowing as her friends raise their arms to meet these awful foes.

Medium Armour, Small Claws

[Round 1]
Ksandajja is upon the her opponent before she's crossed half the distance from the centre of the chamber. The sorceress' sword strikes true but only glances off her milky-white marble shoulder [2 damage, -2 for armour: no effect]. Grebdal Themp fares better; he brings his sword down upon the beautiful-tressed head of his foe, and cracks her face nearly in twain [4 damage leaves her with 2 Stamina]. But Fhenteskeer raises his axe vainly as the creature is upon him and raking with terrible claws; he receives a long, bloody gash across the next from the darting-eyed monstrosity [3 damage puts him at 7 Stamina].

[Round 2]
Ksandajja strikes again; this time her aim is sure, and her blade chips off a goodly portion of the fair-cheeked monster's hip [3-1(Armour)=2 damage, dropping her to 4 Stamina]. Grebdal Themp's opponent is still reeling from the shock of his blade. She leaves herself open with a clumsy feint [fumble: expose weak spot to attack, no armour roll] and his sword smashes right into the crack it had already made and down, eradicating the eyes with their limb-loosening glance. The acharis falls at his feet, shattering into bits of jagged stone [2 damage destroys it]. Stepping on light feet, the third acharis forces Fhenteskeer back with her terrible assault. Even as he retreats, she tears a shred out of his leather jerkin --  and his skin beneath [3-1=2 damage, leaving him with 5 Stamina].

[Round 3]
Try as she might, the sweet-singing fiend cannot approach the sorceress but that a shining blade cracks lightning-swift across her white marble skin [3-0=3 damage, dropping her to 1 Stamina]. Grebdal Themp rushes to aid the beleaguered fire priest. He cannot connect with the fleet-footed acharis, but he distracts her enough that Fhenteskeer can make a credible attack, smashing his axe down hard against the sternum of that horror whom joys delight [3-0=3 damage, putting her at 3 Stamina].

[Round 4]
Ksandajja, never faltering, presses her attack. In a hail of strokes, the slim-waisted abomination falls before the sorceress' might, and shatters to rubble against the cold stone ground [3-2=1 damage, destroyed]. Despite the dual effort of rogue and priest, the tender acharis once again slashes her claws down Fhenteskeer's jerkin, and again bloodies him through it [2-1=1 damage drops him to 5 Stamina; G missed].

[Round 5]
Now three stalwart fighters surround the last acharis. Without her sisters, she is no match for them, and Fhenteskeer's axe soon ends the Orchomenian devil.

The moment the final acharis crumbles to pieces, Orhhuta suddenly snaps back to her senses. "I just had the loveliest dream," she says, yawning. "but it seems I missed all the fun." Fhenteskeer mumbles something impolite as he binds his wounds [except really I forgot the first aid rule again]. The he rummages through his pack for some PROVISIONS to restore his flagging vigour. The sorceress is also feeling a bit peckish, and he gives her a bite to eat as well [both regain 2 STAMINA]. Orhhuta stands guard as Grebdal Themp slinks off down the passageway to scout ahead [he makes a successful Sneaking roll].

He hears a commotion before him, and douses his lantern, creeping forward to see what is going on. In a low-ceilinged, dusty chamber[Room 4 - encounter], he sees a group of squat, hairless, hobgoblin-faced SKORN locked in combat with a band of CULTISTS. He elects to leave them to it, and hastens back to tell his companions.

[encounter 1d6+1=3 Skorn

Q: What are the Skorn doing (via Age of Fable)? Fighting with creatures of different species

Rolling 3d6 again on the encounter table came up with Skorn again, so rather than re-rolling I decided that meant 1d6=4 Cultists.

Battle Results (1d6)
1-3 cultists win
4-5 skorn win
 6  draw

Losses (1d6)
1-3 moderate
4-5 low
 6  heavy

d6=3,5; each cultist loses 1d6-2 Stamina]

Grebdal Themp bids Fhenteskeer to cover the light of his lantern so that there is just enough to see by, and leads his companions down the corridor. They wait until the din of battle subsides, then rush forth into the scene of carnage. Three skorn lie dead in the dust, but the four cultists leering victoriously over them are all bloodied and battered themselves.


Lusting for more violence, they raise their arms and fly at the newcomers, but these fanatics are no match for seasoned warriors, and they all soon join the skorn in ignominious death. Only Grebdal Themp sustained any injuries in the battle, and that due to his own over-confidence.

[This may be Fighting Fantasy, but posting two dungeon crawls in close proximity has given me writing-about-combat fatigue. I'm going to try truncating or summarising the fights that aren't terribly interesting. Grebdal Themp's opponent rolled a Fumble (off-balance, -2 to physical actions next turn) then managed to score the only hit against the party on the subsequent round despite the penalty, but that alone wasn't worth writing out the whole combat.

Needless to say, I also forgot to have someone use First Aid again. But I did remember to ask the oracle:
Q: Do the cultists have treasure? unlikely O3 C4 - No, but... 2d6 SP each.]

To cope with the pain of his wound (or rather the embarrassment of receiving it), Grebdal Themp busies himself with rifling through the cultists' purses. He amasses the somewhat less than princely sum of 29 silver coins. No one minds when he puts them in his own purse.

[Since I made the map in advance, movement is random into unexplored areas. 1d2=]

Two exits lead from this room[4]; Grebdal Themp sneaks down the passage that curves to the south. Soon he comes to an arch-roofed colonnade[Room 5 - magic trap]. Where once was dirty rock and dusty floor, now he finds only polished, carved stone and clean-swept flagstones. The colonnade seems to stretch almost endlessly before him, and the whole begins to be suffused with a pale green light, though Grebdal Themp cannot discern its source.

[He must Test his LUCK (currently 10) to escape the trap: 2d6=2!]

He stops to look round, then realises suddenly his feet have not ceased their forward stride. With a great effort of will he turns about, and flies back into the relative safety of the bone-lined catacombs.

Bent nearly double trying to catch his breath, he manages to rasp out, "that way is cursed!" Seeing the panic in his eyes, his comrades elect not to question the assessment. Once he has recovered, he wordlessly leads them down the other passage. They pass by an even narrower side-passage, and continue forward until they arrive at the next chamber [Room 6 - encounter].

The stench of decay is stronger here. Part of the ceiling at the back of the rectangular chamber has fallen in, leaving a mass of stone, dirt, and the tangles of roots from some garden above. Half-buried forms begin to stir in the rubble, as six humanoid corpses in various states of decay step forth from their dank hidey-holes. They pick up a variety of old swords, and then these hideous ZOMBIES shamble menacingly towards the living.


"They're slow," says Grebdal Themp. "We can easily outrun them."

"No!" shouts Fhenteskeer. "I am sworn to destroy such unnatural fiends!" He raises his axe towards the heavens, and utters a prayer to Filash in his capacity as Kindler of Funeral Pyres [casts Smite Undead, which lets him make 2 damage rolls per hit].

[Round 1]
Both Fhenteskeer and Ksandajja are beset by two of the plodding horrors, leaving one each for their companions. Fhenteskeer is seized by a holy fury and leaps into the fray. His axe splits the first zombie neatly in twain with a single stroke. The halves fall, smouldering from the Fire God's hatred of the unnatural creature [hits for 3+3=6 damage, destroyed]. The second zombies sword is smashed aside as an afterthought [missed].

Ksandajja clashes swords with the first thing to face her, and parries every thrust of its pitted blade [combat totals equal, no hits]. But the second slips in under the distracted sorceress' guard, and slashes its scimitar across her flank [3 damage puts her at 5 Stamina]. Grebdal Themp does no better, and is nearly disembowelled by the sweep of a rusting cutlass [4 damage leave him with 4 Stamina]. With the pommel of her sword, mighty Orhhuta smashes flat the ribcage of the zombie faces her, but not even her powerfully muscled arm can compare with the Fire God's wrath, and the beast does not fall [3 damage dropped it to 3 Stamina].

[Round 2]
Urged on by his sacred task, Fhenteskeer slams through into his remaining opponent. His axe removes its arm at the shoulder, and ruins much of its decomposing torso. It yet clings to unlife, though by the barest margin [3+2 damage, 1 Stamina left].

Ksandajja fights with more caution, and manages to fend off one attacker whilst delivering a punishing blow to the one who caused her injury [3 damage reduces it to 3 Stamina]. Grebdal Themp grits his teeth and springs at his assailant, offering up a silent prayer to Telak, Lord of Battle. Be it Telak who guides his hand or the lucky blessing of Sindla, none can say, but his flashing blade sends his enemy's fleshless head sailing off into the gloom [natural 12, Critical; 3x2=6 damage, destroyed]. Orhhuta fights with calm and purpose, and the mangled limbs of the zombie soon lie at her feet [3 damage destroys it].

[Round 3]
The battle is all but won. Fhenteskeer leaves another smoking corpse in a heap, and Ksandajja carves her attacker to pieces. The final zombie is caught between the blades of cunning Grebdal Themp and indomitable Orhhuta, and it falls in two twitching halves onto the grimy floor.

The air in the zombies' chamber is particularly noxious, so no one tarries after the battle. They rush  back down the corridor to the side passage before stopping to catch their breath, wipe the filth from their arms, and bind their wounds [except I forgot this last part again...]. The side passage is excessively narrow in the beginning, and broken old bones litter the ground, though it is also evident that the way is a well-travelled. It soon leads to an intersection, though neither branch appears more or less travelled than the other, so Grebdal Themp leads them to the right on a whim. He has cause to regret it ere long, as it opens out into a rough-hewn circular chamber [Room 7 - encounter], where a scene of the most gruesome awfulness greets the hardy band.

[Encounter: 1d6=2 cultists
Q: What are they doing? (AoF) Washing]

A simple slab of weathered granite with a convex top sits near the centre of the chamber. A human sacrifice is affixed to the rude altar, held in place by a copper band about the neck. His stomach has been opened from groin to sternum, his mouth gapes in a silent scream, and his dead eyes stare, frozen in their last moments of terror. A pair of CULTISTS stand beside, their robes cast to the ground, anointing each other with the blood of the victim.

The cultists do not notice the armed strangers until they are nearly upon them, and then it is too late. In an instant their blood is mingled with that of their victim, as their souls fall shrieking into the Pit to join their demonic Lord.

[PCs had surprise: +6 attack, +2 damage rolls; the fight lasted a single round]

There is but one way on from here, and they are all eager to take it, but they wait just long enough that Fhenteskeer can say an orison over the poor victim on the altar.

The passage leading out shews more signs of recent passage. It leads to another intersection [area 8 -  other feature + magical trap] where one of the few walls not harbouring the bones of the deceased has been decorated with a black-and-white mosaic of the wicked god, Decay. Waves of the blackest sort of magic emanate from the mosaic as its aura of terror seizes the hearts of the interlopers in Decay's unholy house...

[The PCs must all Test their LUCK to avoid the effects. All succeed!]

...but after the nauseating spectacle they have just witnesses, not even the very countenance of the Prince of Carrion can move them to flight. Each passes by the mosaic wordlessly as they continue through the catacombs.

next post: deeper into the vile cult's lair!

Sunday, 1 September 2019

AFF solo - Part V: Against the Cult of Chaos

The unseemly and insalubrious taverns recommended by Ksandajja's rooftop "associate" are in the lowest of the low quarters, seemingly another world from the colourful bazaars and painted storefronts of the rest of Ângu of the pearl-lined streets. The first few locales she visits make her glad of the new sword of well-tempered steel at her side, as she wends her way through the throng of syphilitic sailors, beady-eyed cut-throats, sallow-skinned lotus fiends, worn-out catamites, thieves, scoundrels, usurers, and miscellaneous riff-raff she's too appalled to catalogue. More than once does she espy a ruined countenance she takes to be the leprous cult-priest.

She's about to give up, when at last chances upon a hardy trio, obviously not denizens of this squalor. She asks to join them, and they eagerly listen to her tale of adventure, as if they know from the start of the request which is to come.


Social Class: Mercenary (0)  Age: 24
Talents: Light Sleeper
Special Skills: Common Speech 4, City Lore 1, World Lore 1, Religion Lore 1, Ride 1, Strength 2, Swords 2, Hunting 2, Polearms 1, Dodge 1, Swim 1, Climb 1, Awareness 1, Sneaking 1
GP: 20
Provisions: 2
Equipment: sword, lantern, oil, luck potion, backpack

The first of the three is Orhhuta, a statuesque woman of the steppes. She is a mercenary by trade. Her muscles ripple beneath her light tunic as she raises her cup in a toast to their new friend.


Social Class: Priest (6)  Age: 28
Talents: Silver Tongue
Special Skills: Common Speech 4, City Lore 1, World Lore 1, Religion Lore 2, Climb 1, Magic-Priestly 2, Leadership 2, Elemental Speech 1, Etiquette 1, Axes 1, Awareness 1, Armour 2, Sneaking 1
Spells: Flame, Smite vs. Undead, Bless, Heal
GP: 10
Provisions: 2
Equipment: hand axe, leather armour, lantern, oil, anti-poison potion, backpack

To her right sits Fhenteskeer. He is a priest of the fire god, a fact underscored by his wild, darting eyes and the flaming red hair atop his head (obviously made so by lots of henna). His movements are as animated and constant as the sacred flames he reveres, but so too does he have a warm heart.

Grebdal Themp
MAGIC 2  Magic Points: 8

Social Class: Criminal (0)  Age: 20
Talents: Robust
Special Skills: Common Speech 4, City Lore 2, World Lore 1, Religion Lore 1, Jump 1, Magic - Minor 2, Sneaking 2, Awareness 2, Armour 1, Swords 1, Evaluate 1, Trap knowledge 1, Con 1
Cantrips: Enhance, Hear, Sober, Secrete, Instil, Honesty
GP: 5
Provisions: 2
Equipment: sword, leather armour, lantern, oil, luck potion, backpack

On the warrior's left is a softly-spoken young man who keeps looking over his shoulder as if he expects enemies to appear at any moment. Ksandajja is certain he must be in the same line of work as her rooftop benefactor.

When Ksandajja reaches the end of her narrative, she puts it to them that she requires their help to destroy the evil cult. The sorceress persuades them with promises of destroying evil (Fhenteskeer) and winning gold (Orhhuta & Grebdal Themp) though, truth be told, the jittery priest does seem to have an unseemly interest in gold, and the hulking mercenary would happily destroy evil gratis.

Scene 5

Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=Interrupt (was: dungeon)
Interrupt: Ambiguous Event - Increase / Balance (festival of Neutral god)

NPC List: cultists, underworld contact, angry aristocrat, angry government worker, scribe friend

Threads: destroy cult

Eager to begin their task (and as funds are dwindling, recover some spoils), Ksandajja's little band set out the very next morning. But as they move through the city streets, they find them choked by an ever increasing crowds of people, for this day is the Festival of [1d7=] Pangara, God of the Wind. The carnival atmosphere seems to have brought most of the folk of the city out-of-doors, and semi-solemn processions of priests and lay worshippers snake haphazardly (so it seems) through narrow streets and broad thoroughfares.

[Q: Can the PCs use the festival as cover to case the cult house? 50/50 (4+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...]

The little band is swept along in the train of a procession, but as fortune would have it, it progresses right past the cult house and to the nearby market square, though the general revelry still clogs the whole of the street.

[Q: Does the house look occupied? Unlikely (5+): O6 C5 - Yes]

"There goes... a... daylight visit," says a dejected Ksandajja, shooing away a trio of dancers.

"We'll... have to risk... more cultists being there!" says Orhhuta, dodging between a quartet of mummers.

"And under cover of darkness, up to something evil," says Fhenteskeer, who is just a little too sketchy looking for the townsfolk to approach, even on the high holy days.

Scene 6

Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=Altered (was: dungeon)
Alteration: Open / Military (=cult warriors guarding house)

NPC List: cultists, underworld contact, angry aristocrat, angry government worker

Threads: destroy cult

The festival eventually dies down, and by an hour after sunset all the revellers who have not wandered home have removed to the taverns and bawdy houses of costly-incensed Ângu. The streets are thus empty as a grim little company moves through the streets, their hearts burning with the desire to do battle against wickedness (Fhenteskeer's most of all).

They stop short of their goal so Grebdal Themp and Ksandajja can slink up to the house through the shadows to reconnoitre. [Rather than figure out the opposition in advance (for resisted tests), I had each make a simple Sneaking roll. G & K need 9-/7- respectively; their rolls are 9&5, success.

Q: How many rooms has the house? d6+2=6 (2 storeys)
Q: Is the upstairs dark? 50/50 (4+): O5 C6 - Yes]

The house is a modest affair, like most in the quarter. The windows all stand open to allow the air to circulate on this sultry night. The ground floor is dimly lit, and there are a few people visible in the common room. [1d3=] Three CULTISTS in long robes sit around a rude table. One is reading a cheaply-bound codex, the other two are playing cards. Behind them stand [1d3=] two muscle-bound CULT GUARDS of indeterminate gender, wearing dark cowls, grotesquely stitched-together jerkins of rawhide, and curving scimitars suspended from black sashes. The upper storey is in complete darkness.

"I'll see whom I can flush out," says Ksandajja, as she puts in the pair of nose plugs she carries in her pouch. "Tell the others to be ready to move." Grebdal Themp isn't sure what she intends, but he's not the sort to second-guess a magician. He pads back to his fellows as Ksandajja creeps up closer to the house, making sure none within can see her. She whispers the words of an ancient incantation, using her sorceress' will to open a small rent in the fabric of this world, and allow some of the noxious air of the very Pit to leak through into the house.

[Ksandajja is casting NIF (~stinking cloud). She spends two extra rounds on the casting, giving her a +4 bonus; 5(magic)+2(skill)+4=11; 2d6=6, an easy success. The spell costs 1 stamina: all within the cloud suffer -2 attack penalties from the smell for 7 rounds (=MAGIC + Sorcery special skill)

Q: Does the smell force cultists outside? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 Yes, but...
+Event: Remote Event - Activity / Military (noted)]

The three cultists at the table bolt when they catch the first whiff of the hellish fumes. The guards seem to droop a bit, but the fanatics will not leave their assigned posts. They draw their scimitars in anticipation.

Leather cuirass, sword

[Round 2]
Ksandajja bursts in through the open door and attacks the nearest guard, whose armour proves surprisingly resilient beneath her sword. Still, she has bloodied the silent hulk, who does not even cry out at the offence [she hits for 4-1(armour)=3 damage, leaving the guard with 4 Stamina].

[Round 3]
The second guard manoeuvres round the table so Ksandajja is surrounded. The swordswoman fights like a demon of the Pit herself as the noxious fumes swirl about her, but these practiced killers are intent on spilling blood, and she receives a long gash down the back of her shoulder.

[Ksandajja rolls an 11 for the round, attacking the 1st guard still.
g1 has a total of {7(skill)-2(NIF)+1(extra attacker)+2d6=} 14, hitting her for 3 damage, dropping her to 6 STA.
g2 has a bad roll, totalling 9, a miss. (she only gets one declared attack, so inflicts no damage despite her higher total).]

[Round 4]
Orhhuta and Grebdal Themp charge in through the open door. The smell sends them reeling, but they fight as best they are able -- at least they distract the second guard at Ksandajja's back. The sorceress does not waste the opportunity; she strikes out with the truest of aims, and her sword plunges into the guard's neck above the thick hide armour. She leaps aside so the corpse does not hit her as it falls.

[Ksandajja rolled a Critical Hit (natural 2, doubles damage); 6 damage (-0 for armour roll) kills the guard outright.
Orhhuta and Grebdal Themp are also at -2 in the fumes. O rolls 11 vs. the 2nd guard's 11: no hits.
Grebdal Themp rolls a 9, miss.]

Fhenteskeer has elected to stay outside as a rear guard, in case the other cultists return.

[Rounds 5-6]
The guard is surrounded [+2 to be hit for 2 extra opponents], but fights to the bitter end. Orhhuta receives a bloody cut across her arm [3 damage puts her at 13 Stamina], but the guard soon lies dead on the floor, brought low by a massive stroke of the warrior's blade.

The victors go outside into the relatively fresh city air until the stench subsides, then return to search the house...

[Awareness rolls at -2: f fail, g fail, o fail, k ok
Q: Is there anything of value in house? Unlikely (5+): O1 C6 - No.]

...but there is nothing of especial value within: there is no strongbox nor cache of jewels, the cult weapons are corroded, and the codex on the table is but a common pornographic chapbook.

[Religion lore rolls at -2 for the PCs to have any idea about the cult. Fhenteskeer can substitute MAGIC in place of SKILL as this is a Knowledge Special Skill: 6+2(Religion)-2=6; 2d6=8, no idea.
Ksandajja rolls 2d6=2, Special Success; she'll get +2 on relevant Knowledge skill checks in the dungeon.]

As the others search in vain for lucre, Ksandajja pokes at one of the dead guards with her sword. Drawing the heavy cowl aside reveals a gangrenous, sexless visage. Fatted worms writhe and creep about beneath the diseased flesh, now and again bursting through as they feast upon the rot. Ksandajja nearly swoons, and must catch herself on the table lest her legs buckle beneath her.

"You magic up that appalling smell, but the sight of a dead body makes you faint?" quips Grebdal Themp. "And here I thought you were a hardened warrior like our dear Orhhuta." He nudges the body with his foot for emphasis, causing a tumescent worm to fall out upon his boot, still munching upon a bit of green-black flesh.

Grebdal Themp runs into the street and is violently sick.

"I've met with these fiends before," says Ksandajja. "The Order of the Devouring Worm: a sect devoted to the vile god Decay." 

"We shall burn out their infection with purifying flame!" says Fhenteskeer.

"I've found a set of stairs in this closet," says Orhhuta, "certainly leading down to the cult's lair. Once Grebdal Themp is done reviewing the contents of his dinner, I say we attack."

Fhenteskeer tends to the wounds of his companions whilst they wait for Grebdal Themp to recover. At length he returns, looking fit if still somewhat pale. He the fire-priest each illumine a lantern, and one by one they descend into the darkness.

[I am so used to OSR games that I constantly forget about making first aid rolls after combat. I put it in the narrative, because an injured person certainly wouldn't forget, but they recover 0 STAMINA as it's way too late to ret-con.

Marching order is G* K F* O.

The dungeon was run with the generator in the AFF rulebook, and I mixed in some tables from Age of Fable to make things more interesting. It's a great collection of random stuff, but a bit unwieldy to scroll through during a game. Next time I'll cut-and-paste a few that I am likely to use into a separate document.]

Grebdal Themp leads the way, his sharp eyes [Awareness 2] sweeping the steps, walls, and ceiling for the trap he is sure must protect the entrance. His companions follow a fair distance behind.

[Skill 7 + Awareness = 9; 2d6=9, success

Q: So, is there actually a trap? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and... blade trap, -1 to disarm
Q: Is there a guard? Likely (3+): O6 C4 - Yes, but... asleep]

Light shines weakly up from the bottom of the steps. Through the arched doorway a cramped guardroom [Room 1] of dressed stone is visible, in which the guard -- a CULTIST in dirty robes -- has fallen asleep at [d6=] his post. He snores quietly in his  rickety wooden chair, and his spear is propped against the wall beside him. A single candle burns on low stand by the entrance.

Grebdal Themp is about to creep into the room when he notices slender threads, fine as spider silk, criss-crossing the doorway. He sheathes his sword as quietly as he might, then draws his dagger with equal stealth. He sets about delicately cutting the strands, fearful that the slightest pressure will spring the trap.

[Skill 7 + Trap Knowledge 1, -1 difficulty = 7: 2d6=5, success]

He cuts the threads one by one, scarcely daring to breathe, but in the end he has removed them all, rendering the trap inert. It is then but a trifle to tiptoe across the room and dispatch the sleeping cultist [Sneaking roll succeeds, auto-kill assumed]. As his companions file into the room, he scouts ahead down the narrow, rough-hewn passage.

[He makes a successful Awareness roll, noticing d6=2 skeletons standing in alcoves]

He is soon back with a report. "There's another small chamber ahead. There are bones propped up in two alcoves flanking the only way out. Strange, monstrous bones. And I do not suppose they rest there in natural fashion."

Gripping their weapons, they follow Grebdal Themp to the chamber [Room 2], where they behold an awesome sight. For there, standing in the alcoves on either side of the exit, are the SKELETONS of the legendary APE-DOG and DOG-APE who once guarded Balthus Dire's infamous Citadel!


[Ksandajja can roll Ancient Lore (Skill 6  + 2 Learned)=8; 2d6=3, success]

As the bony creatures step down from their alcoves and clack menacingly towards the astonished intruders, memories race through Ksandajja's mind. She blurts out "I am here to treat Kylltrog!" and the skeletal guardians suddenly stop, then return to their stations and are still.

"I... I don't believe it," says Orhhuta.

"What...? How...?" sputters Grebdal Themp.

"What necromancy is this?" asks Fhenteskeer.

The sorceress heaves a long sight. "I see none of you are up on your classics. I thought everyone on Titan learnt their letters reading the Lay of the Citadel of Chaos. You know, the epic in which YOU are the hero..."

Next post: Into the catacombs!