Monday, 14 August 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 14: At home in the underworld

Back in the relative safety of their flat, our somewhat-subdued heroes are trying to drift into their usual routine. Lina is field-stripping and cleaning her blaster with uncommon rigour, Oosuu is sprawled on the sofa watching a holo-documentary on the life cycle of the Bantha and drinking the galaxy's cheapest beer, Zil and Wex are sharing a bottle of Ithorian brandy that Jather stole from the market. The thief himself is just returning from a sudden supply run. "I thought I told you two nerf herders that this was for cooking!" he says, snatching the bottle from Wex's hand.

"You did," says Wex peevishly, "but there's nothing else to drink."

"Oosuu said share beer," offers Oosuu over her shoulder.

"That swill's not potable," says Wex, "so I stand by my statement."

"Wex loss. More for Oosuu!"

"Fortunately," says the Devaronian as he places a bottle of bubbling green liquid on the table, "doctor Jather foresaw this little eventuality. Now, I'm going to bake us up something rich, so you lot can either start shelling these quozma nuts or get out of my kitchen. Anyways, what'd I miss when I was out?"

"We were considering our options," says Zil. "whether we stay put like we said, or keep running."

"And?"

"Morga's a clever Hutt. He understands the value of what we're offering, and that he can't afford not to deal if it's genuine. And I'm counting on my reputation to convince him it probably is."

"Is genuine. Oosuu already say."

"He'll check anyways," says Wex.

"It won't take much time to check, if I know good old Porubek," says Zil. "But Morga's probably going to wait a while to contact us, just to make us sweat."

"Think we're still safe here?" asks Jather.

"It's a good bet he knows where we live by now, or will soon," says Wex. "But what do we do about Lina?"

"I'm sitting right here, Wex!"

"You're just as much a fugitive from Ord Mantell as we are," says Zil. "Wex is trying in his own misguided way to keep you from having to deal with a Hutt. But you're safest if you stick with us, really."

"Thanks, Zil. I guess..."

"So we're resolved to all just sit here and wait," says Wex. "Anyone mind telling me how we're going to afford food and rent? We're skint."

"Oosuu get job, Oosuu suppose."

"Fixing blasters?"

"No tools! Oosuu wait tables. Again."

"I might be able to get us some quick money," says Jather. "But it's risky..."

[The PCs must wait 2d6=4 weeks for confirmation]

Despite everyone privately thinking it's a dreadful idea, Jather somehow convinces the rest that he can make them plenty of money at the local casino -- not so much that he attracts the attention of the local crime families or the Imperials they pay off to do business, but enough to pay the bills. Oosuu wishes him luck, but still marches out and gets herself a job waiting tables.

Zil doesn't want Jather to be left alone at the casinos. "Not that I don't trust you," she explains, "but if you win big you're going to be an easy target."

Jather readily agrees, but insists she has to look the part if she's coming along. It takes her two days to find a suitable evening gown that they can afford. When she steps out of her room in it for the first time, the others' jaws collectively drop at the sight of her strapless and sequinned splendour.

"Wow, Zil," says Wex, "you clean up good. Who'd of thunk it."

"That's a... very daring look," says Lina. "I could never pull it off. I wouldn't be brave enough. That skirt's slit halfway up to orbit!"

"Nice garter," observes Jather. "The red's a good contrast."

"I hope you lechers all realise," says Zil, "that I had Oosuu rig the garter to conceal my hold-out blaster. That's why I needed the skirt slit so high."

. . .

The casino that Jather has selected is a seamy and smoky affair, but with just the right veneer of class. It's full of the dregs of Phaeda's high society, second-rate gamblers fleeing their debts in the Core Systems, Imperial Navy officers who will never rate their own command, and all their associated arm-/tentacle-/pseudopod-candy (and most of this last on a per-hour basis). If Jather were a religious being, this would probably be the image of his heaven.

Zil does her best to be attentive and charming, all the while scanning the crowd for potential dangers, as Jather settles into a game of Sabaac.

[For simplicity, I used the Gambling tables in the catch-up section of Midkemia Press' Cities. Each week, Jather rolls 1d% + his 5D+2 Gambling skill; a mishap will result in a -10 total modifier.

For the first week, he bets 400 credits: 5D+2=35 (wild 6,6,4!)

But d%=33, for a result on the chart of "You break even, with no gain and no loss."]

Jather has an extraordinary run of bad luck. He doesn't lose any money, but try as he might he can't seem to make any. It's only his consummate skill that has kept him from losing more than he did. After three nights, he feels he must talk to Zil.

"I don't think this is working."

"Well, I didn't want to say anything," says Zil, "but I'm glad you noticed. What do we do now?"

"I can do this, I know I can. It's just... you're bad luck, Zil."

"What do you mean?"

"I just don't think you're working out, is all."

"Not working out? Come on! I can feel all their eyes on me when we walk in the place. I've gotten propositions from dozens of the men there. And dozens of women. And possibly that spherical thing with the wings, I'm not sure... It's not like I get off on the attention or anything. What more do you expect me to do?"

"Zil... you're a right stunner in that dress, but you scare people. Otherwise every single one of them would be falling at your feet. There's a fine line between femme fatale and off-world kick-murder squad -- and I think you've crossed it."

. . .

The next morning Zil and Jather start working on Oosuu to convince her to take Zil's place. Zil trusts her ability to spot danger a light year away, even if she's not particularly much use in a fight. But she admits that the Twi'lek would be far more decorative than either Lina or Wex.

Neither of them is prepared for her reticence, nor the vehemence of her initial refusal. Oosuu launches into a long, angry and mostly incoherent monologue, which may or may not be entirely in Basic, but of which the substance is "that all Zil think Twi'leks good for!!! (sic)"

Zil can't even reply before Oosuu has stormed out of the flat. A look of terror passes over Jather's face. Zil's not sure if he's more scared of having to go alone or with her. But then his expression brightens, as the gears in the Devaronian's brain turn over, and he runs out into the street after Oosuu.

Lina is trying to screw up her courage and volunteer, but deep down she knows what Zil will say if she does. She's almost found the guts to ask when Jather returns, grinning his crooked smile.

"She'll do it," he says. "I made her see reason."

"How?" asks Zil.

"I told her that we were counting on people to think all that about her, so they won't think that she's there to keep an eye out for trouble. And that if she were just a floozy, we wouldn't have asked her to do the job."

"Well, yeah, that's sort of the whole point."

"We know that, Zil, but she's upset that you didn't say it up front. So I told her you were sorry and you'd do her chores from now on to make up for it."

"You what? Fine. But who's going to go to the casino with her after I've killed you...?"

. . .

Oosuu insists on waiting for her first paycheck before buying, as she puts it, her disguise. Being that she is their only current source of income, no one puts up any argument. She tells Jather to buy a fresh pack of Sabaac cards and practice against Zil, Wex, and Lina whilst she's working; she'll have her money in 5 days.

The fated evening finally arrives. Oosuu steps out of her room to show the others her ensemble. They've become inured to the Twi'lek wandering nonchalantly about the flat in her underwear, and so are wholly unprepared for the deliberate presentation of her ample charms. She looks beamingly over her stunned companions, but there is a certain malicious cast to her smile.

"What think?" asks Oosuu. "Remember, Zil say look tawdry."

"Wh--what?" protests Zil, stumbling over her words. "I... I never..."

"Zil think it."

"No. I didn't... I mean... um... you..."

"Oosuu face up here, Zil."

. . .

Jather has soon declared Oosuu to be his good luck charm. The first night they're out, they come home 3000 credits richer, having set out with a mere 300. His winning streak continues, but he does his best to keep it to a modest level to avoid the wrong sort of attention. Solvent or not, Oosuu refuses to give up her job. She convinces Jather that he needs to take Zil out as backup sometimes, and also Lina, whose jealousy was beginning to turn into resentment. Jather is more than happy to oblige her, but he never seems to win as high when he's out with the other two. Wex, for his part, is happy to sit round the flat and be a parasite.

[Q: Anyone get in trouble during this time? 50/50 (4+): O1 C2 - No, and...]



Scene 12

Chaos
: Average (d10)

Setup: meeting Mr. Kuththuk (redux)

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

[Q: Is Morga willing to deal? Likely (3+): O3 C2 - Yes, and...

At the start of the scene, I made Language rolls for each PC to see if they know Huttese. Diff. = Moderate (12) for the three criminals: Z12, J20, W12, they all know it. Lina needed to roll a 15; 2D+2=10, she doesn't speak it.]

Four weeks pass by in a strange blur, and then one morning Zil receives a communiqué from Mr. Kuththuk, telling her that a meeting with the great Morga has been arranged. The evening sees them arrive at a closed art gallery. Zil enters the passcode they've been given and leads her friends inside, where the nattily-dressed Trandoshan is there to meet them.

He leads them towards the back of the gallery, pausing several times to admire a painting or comment upon a piece of sculpture.

"...and it's too bad none of you can see into the infra-red. The pigments in this piece really stand out! But I'm afraid we haven't convened to discuss the finer points of art. So let's get down to the business at hand, shall we?"

[Wex's bargain roll: 4D+1=18 vs. Mr. Kuththuk's 6D+2=20]

"We made our offer," says Wex. I'd say it's worth enough to secure a clean slate for all of us. What do you think?"

"My good Mr. Enstipo," says the Trandoshan, "whilst I agree it is a most tempting offer, I'm not in a position to make the final decision."

"Then what are we here for?"

"Why, Mr. Enstipo, I would have thought that obvious. You are here to present the merchandise for inspection, and then discuss terms of sale. The great Morga never buys something of this nature sight unseen. Call your associate and have the piece brought for inspection."

"Sorry, we're not letting you take it away."

"Oh, Mr. Enstipo, don't be foolish. It is not I, who will be receiving the piece. It is the great Morga himself!"

A thug at the back of the gallery presses a button, and a partition slides open to reveal the Hutt lounging in the back room on a sled-like throne.

"Wex, make call," says Oosuu gravely. "Oosuu talk."

"I hardly think--" says Zil.

"Not in way Zil. Oosuu fix."

Wex is already making the call as Oosuu walks forward, stops a distance away from the Hutt's and makes an elaborate, formal bow. She rises and addresses Morga in Huttese, and all trace of her accent vanishes.

"O most illustrious and esteemed Morga, as renowned amongst the pitiful stars of the rest of the galaxy as you are amongst the myriad brilliant suns of Hutt Space, we do most humbly, most reverently, and most gratefully thank you for this audience which you have bestowed upon us. It is our supreme hope that this list of disgraceful traitors which we shall place before you anon shall be a worthy gift for your eminence. Indeed, we thought of none other to whom we might offer such a token, for surely there is none other so astute and masterful. Whilst many would comprehend its value, none other could employ it so ingeniously, nor possess resources great enough to exploit it to the utmost. It is our deepest, most fervent wish that you look smilingly upon this our gift, and deem us worthy of your favour."

[Her Persuasion 4D+2=21 vs. Morga's Willpower 5D=13]

Lina soon arrives with the datapad, and hands it immediately over to Wex. Wex hands it to Oosuu, bows respectfully (he hopes) at the Hutt, and slinks back to the others. Oosuu enters the passcode, then kneels before the Hutt to present the device, raising it up with both hands over her bowed head.

[UNE--
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: helpful
friendly - celebration - treasure]

The slavering Hutt looks over the datapad gleefully. He motions with his stubby arm for Mr. Kuththuk to come take it from him.

"Rise, little Twi'lek," booms the Hutt. "You have certainly found me a worthy prize. As I am great, it pleases me to show mercy when mercy is merited. I accept your gift, and the slate is now clean. But that is just with me! Before I tell Chruigok that your group's capture is not a favour worth a Hutt's attention, there is a task I would have you do..."

. . .

The great weight of being hunted by a Hutt having been lifted, they are all laughing and joking as they make their way back across town towards their flat, but Oosuu is uncharacteristically sullen.

"Oosuu, what's up?" asks Zil.

"Oosuu have bad feeling about this."

"About what? We're in the clear. And we have our next job all lined up."

"Hutt job. Oosuu not like work Hutts. Oosuu finish job, Oosuu run."

"They're no worse than any of the other crime lords."

"Oosuu not agree. Zil do what want. Oosuu finish, then Oosuu out. Oosuu only got job to save necks."

"And pretty handily you did it!" exclaims Jather.

"Oosuu," says Zil, "I'm sorry I ever doubted you. That was quite some speech. I... I didn't know you were so fluent in Huttese."

"Oosuu from Hutt Space. Not speak much Basic there. Speak more Tespeen."

"Never heard of it."

"Tespeen pretty. Highly inflected."

"We could all just speak Huttese amongst ourselves if you prefer."

"Oosuu fine speak Basic."

"But if it's easier for you--"

"Oosuu speak Basic all time. Understand fine, understood fine."

"Yes, but, you were so eloquent, that--"

"Wex, why Zil so thick?"




--- --- --- ---

Thus ends the second adventure. It was much shorter than the first, so I set the base Character Point (XP) award at 6.

Lina had a bit of a lacklustre performance, so only gets 5. Wex did a few important things, so gets the base award. Oosuu, Jather, and Zil all had some stellar moments, so earn 7 each.

There will be (2d6=) 11 weeks between this and the next adventure, so there is plenty of time to improve/train skills.

Expenditures:
O 10 total; 3pts blaster to 3D+2; 2pts stamina 3D
W 11 total; 5pts streetwise 5D+1; 4 blaster 5D
Z 11 total; 4pts Sneak 4D+1; 3 starship gunnery 3D+2
L 11 total; 4pts Command 4D+2; 4 blaster 5D
J 10 total; 4pts Dodge 4D+2; 5pts Gambling 6D

to be continued...

Friday, 4 August 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 13: The criminal element

Jather is up at dawn the next morning gathering fresh produce from the market stalls as they open. His kitchen virtuosity dispels any bad feelings left over from his dereliction of duty the night before. Lina starts getting nervous as the afternoon wears on, afraid the infochant won't call back. Zil and Wex both have to keep reminding her that the junkie can't be expected to be an early riser.

Scene 9

Chaos:
Average (d10)

Setup: waiting for the man

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

She finally does call Zil, and tells her they should all meet up at a club tonight, and she'll introduce them to her guy.

[I rolled on the Musical Style table in Augmented Reality (p. 38) to determine what kind of club it was, and by extension, who can pass the dress code.
Anthemic NeoPunk = dresscode not in force]

The Separatist Alliance is a night club built in a converted droid foundry on the outskirts of the city. In truth, the foundry closed its doors well over a hundred years ago, and even then it never produced anything more dangerous than 3rd-class agbots, but the owners reckoned they were starting a dance hall and not a history lesson.

Our heroes arrive after nearly an hour of travel on three separate repulsor-buses, and join the queue to get in. Zil, Wex, and Jather have all brought hold-out blasters...

[Hide skills vs. bouncers' Search (3D)
W 3D=14 vs. 13
Z 3D=16 vs. 4
J 4D+2=11 vs. 10]

...but none of the bouncers patting them down find anything suspicious.

The dull thrumming they heard from the queue outside becomes a roar once they pass into the building. Spotlights flash and criss-cross in patterns. Beings from all over the galaxy mingle in a great and heaving mass. Some of them are milling about between the occasional tables and vinyl settees, some are dancing to the distorted and frenetic sounds of the opening band. Lina hates it, Oosuu wants to join the dancers, Jather finds it bewildering, whilst Wex and Zil are reminded of their misspent youth.

Wex, Lina, and Oosuu pretend not to know Zil and Jather, in order to discreetly keep watch for any hidden dangers. Oosuu insists she has the best vantage point from the dance floor, as she can look in 360 degrees without raising suspicions. She has run off and is pushing her way through the throng before anyone can raise an objection.

Wex notices Lina looking fidgety. "You don't like this place?" he asks.

"It reminds me of my little sister's holotape collection."

"C'mon, this song's a classic! Though there's not usually a Gamorrean on vocals..."

[Q: Anything up? 50/50 (4+): O1 C3 - No, but... plenty of shifty-looking beings about.]

Zil and Jather make a circuit of the club looking for the find infochant. They spot her turquoise coat from afar as a spotlight briefly plays over it. She's sitting hunched over the bar with a forgotten drink before her. It takes a moment for her to register Zil's hand waving in front of her face, but she snaps back to the present and she greets Zil and Jather with a friendly, if somewhat rictus-looking grin.

Zil makes an effort to be polite, but rushes quickly through the exchange of pleasantries. "Your guy here yet?" she says abruptly.

"He is," responds the infochant. "I'll make an introduction. But first, I believe there was the question of my fee...?"

"Afterwards. If this is a trap, I'm not paying."

"Why would it be a trap?"

"We're dealing with a Hutt's organisation."

"Oh. Right."

"I don't think she'd set us up," Jather says to Zil. Then turning to the infochant, "Did you even tell your friend who we were?"

"How could I? We've all been keeping our names out of it. I just said that you haven't been here long and you have a deal to make."

"Here," says Zil, "have 100 credits, then, to show I trust you. You can have the other 150 in a few minutes, as I don't think we'll be talking much today. Just setting up a further meeting."

"Ta. Follow me."

[Q: Where is the meeting? (1d6) 1-2 back room, 3-5 dark booth, 6 toilet; d6=3

first impressions: Furtive and on edge, unkempt, tattoos (Augmented reality p. 19).
He has 1d6-1=2 hangers on, bodyguard (d6=human, d6=f) and his (d6=)boyfriend

UNE--
NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: guarded
scheming - agenda - rewards]

The infochant leads them over to a large, dark booth in an alcove on the back wall where her dealer is waiting. "Hey Frag," she screams over the music, "these are the people I told you about."

'Frag' is a bit scruffy looking, wearing ragged spacers' leathers with the arms ripped off and dark sungoggles. He also seems a bit sketched. His boytoy sits beside him, immaculate and glittery, and is intently running a finger along the tattooed patterns covering Frag's arms. On his other side sits a muscle-bound woman in a bright yellow party dress. She has an ugly, oversized clutch bag on the table before her, big enough to conceal a Blastech DL-44, were one that sort of person.

Frag hands his boy a pile of credits and sends him to the bar. His bodyguard gets up and stands by table, motioning for Zil and Jather to have a seat.

"So, you want in with Morga the Hutt," says Frag, cracking his knuckles.

"Don't worry," says Zil, "we aren't looking to muscle in on your racket."

"What are you looking for?"

"We have a certain matter to discuss. And an item to offer as consideration for said matter."

"That tells me all of nothing!"

"We have unfinished business. If Morga gets wind of the offer, he'll know what we're on about."

"What's in it for me? I'm not exactly running a charity, here."

"We'll kick back a portion of the profits. Or you can take 500 credits and be done with it."

[opposed Bargain rolls, Zil's 3D vs. Frag's 2D +5 bonus: 10 vs. 14]

"500 credits? That's pathetic."

"For delivering a message? I'd say it's more than you're worth."

"Now you're pushing it..."

"Let me make myself absolutely clear. We have unfinished business with a Hutt, whose attention we first need to get. You know someone who knows someone who's got his ear, or thereabouts, so you're our messenger. The message can either be communicated by you telling them for us, or else be written in your blood on a wall somewhere for them to find. Personally, I'd take the 500 credits..."

[Zil's Intimidate (5D) vs. Frag's Willpower (2D +10 for upper hand): 22 vs. 18]

"Yeah, OK. 500 credits to make a few calls is a good deal, I guess. Where do I find you?"

"How bout I give you my comlink number and you call me?"

"Sure. Great."

"Make sure to mention the name Vudlor Taf. I'm sure we're not the only people with unfinished business."

"Fudlar Tav. Got it."

"Close enough. Keep in touch. Let me know how you get on."

[Q: Any problems that night? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - No, and...
Q: Does he get word through? Likely (3+): O6 C2 - Yes, and... 1d3=1 day later]


Scene 10

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: first contact

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad


Around sunset the next day, Zil's comlink flashes, and she answers.

"Yeah?"

An unmistakable Trandoshan's voice replies, "This is Mr. Kuththuk. With whom am I speaking?"

"This is Zil."

"Ah, Ms. Lhahon. This is a pleasant surprise! I presume Mr. Enstipo is with you, and his charming friend Ms. Oosuu."

"We're all here."

"Mr. Plazeed as well?"

"Of course. We're in this together."

"My, you certainly are! A somewhat surprising turn of events, but there you are. I take it this conversation is between us all."

"We're all listening," says Wex, as they all crowd round the kitchen table.

"Good," continues Mr. Kuththuk. "Then I will make this offer: hand over Ms. Lhahon to me and the gracious and grateful Morga the Hutt shall forgive the rest of you. A clean slate all round, and potentially some work for Ms. Oosuu, as previously discussed."

Zil goes tense with fear even as Wex shouts, "No deal! We've come this far together and we're not about to start backstabbing one another now."

"Oosuu agree!"

"Jather? Jather!"

"What do you take me for?!" says the offended Devaronian. "What Wex said. We're in this mess together."

"I see," says Mr. Kuththuk. "Your loyalty is to be commended, although that does still leave you in quite the predicament. But then you presumably had some sort of offer to make. I'm all auditory organs, as they say."

"Morga prizes loyalty," says Wex. "What if I told you we knew that not everyone in his employ was, in fact, loyal?"

"I would say that is an unfortunately common blight in our line of business. But you have a name? More than one, I would hope. And proof?"

"We've got a datapad with a list of imperial informants and spies in all the major operations on Ord Mantell...

[Q: Including Morga's? 50/50 (4+): O4 C8 - Yes]

...including yours."

"I see. And you're certain of its authenticity?"

"Oosuu crack security," says Oosuu. "Not fake."

"A slicer as well as a technician! Dear lady, there may very well be a job offer for you if we can put all this unpleasantness behind us. I will contact the great Morga and see how he wishes to proceed. Until tomorrow evening, then. Good night."


Scene 11

Chaos: Average (d10)

Setup: meeting Mr. Kuththuk

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

The meeting is arranged for the next evening in a public park [Scarlet Heroes random location=Splendid garden]. Lina reluctantly agrees to sit out the meeting as she has never before met their contact. They leave her in a nearby café and head into the park, where they find Mr. Kuththuk sitting on park bench in front of a bubbling fountain. There are no goons obviously lurking nearby, but there is lots of vegetation to conceal them.

"Ah, my friends," says the Trandoshan, "I'm so glad you could make it. I don't suppose you have the datapad on you? No, of course not. You're not amateurs, after all! Please, sit. The basin rim is cold, but I had my associates dry it off for you. I told them to go admire the scenery so we can talk like civilised beings." [UNE: friendly - comfort - power]

"Has Morga made a decision?" asks Zil.

"He's certainly considering it. But we'll need more to go on than just your word, I'm afraid."

"I can offer you the list of Porubek's people who were named. He gave me the datapad to deliver, so he must know what's on it. See how the people on this list are doing, or if anyone's seen them lately..."

"I quite understand. Transmit the list to me, and I'll have it looked into. This could take some time."

"Of course."

"You won't leave Phaeda...?"

"No. Not until this is settled."

"I must say, I'm surprised you came here of all places. An excellent hiding spot, I must confess; we'd never have found you here had you not contacted us first. Why, it's the happiest of coincidences I was anywhere near Phaeda when I got the call. Well, I'll be in touch at the first opportunity. Enjoy your stay here, if you can."

Friday, 28 July 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 12: Keeping it classy

The next evening a more subdued band sets out into the city streets, steering well clear of the site of the massacre as they head across town to the cluster of spacers' bars by docking bays. There are a lot more bars than they had expected, so Zil suggests they split up to cover more ground; she and Jather will work up the left side of the street, Oosuu, Wex, and Lina can take the right.

Scene 5

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: on the trail of Void Vexxon

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, Void Vexxon the smuggler

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad, find smuggler

[A Streetwise roll is needed to find an Infochant. The base difficulty is 10, increased by +10 for never having been here before (Jather) or +5 for having been but not having any contacts (Wex).

Rolls are--
Jather 4D+2=24, success
Wex 5D=12, failure]

Fairly early in the night, Jather gets a good lead from one of the bartenders, who indicates one of the patrons sitting alone at the end of the bar. The human woman wears a long turquoise coat of faux aklay-leather. She can't be more than 25, but the ravages of severe spice dependency have left her looking much older. Zil can smell the addiction coming off her as she leans in to get her attention. Despite her haggard appearance, she greets the strangers with a smile of genuine friendliness.

"The bartender said you're the girl to talk to if we need to find somebody," says Zil.

"My reputation precedes me! Who you looking for?"

"A smuggler who calls himself Void Vexxon. You know him?"

"Oh, sure. I mean, not socially or nothing. And I haven't seen him round for a while. Sorry."

"No big deal. There's half a million smugglers on this planet. Can't keep track of them all. But maybe you can help us with another matter. My associate and I need to open up the lines of communication between us and Morga the Hutt. Know anyone in his organisation?"

"I, uh, I might on occasion buy party favours off a guy..."

"Here's 50 credits. What will it take to get introduced to your guy?"

"He's kinda paranoid..."

"It's worth 250 credits more if you can get us a meeting." [Bargain: Zil's 3D=11 vs. the infochant's 3D=5]

The girl's eyes light up. "Come back the day after tomorrow. I'll have an answer for you then."

[Setup rolls were --

Augmented Reality Fixers&Facemen:
-Struggles with a debilitating narcotic dependency
-Electronics Handler
-Deep turquoise leather coat, friendly

human? 50/50=Yes, d6=f

Q: Does she know Void Vexxon? Doubtful (6): O6 C3 - Yes, but... not seen in a while
Q: Any clues to his whereabouts? 50/50 (4+): O1 C8 - No.
Q: Does she know someone in Morga's organisation? Likely (3+): O5 C1 - Yes, and... her dealer d6=m
Q: Will she actually get the meeting set up? 50/50 (4+): O4 C2 - Yes, and...]


Scene 6

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: still looking for leads on Void Vexxon

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, Void Vexxon the smuggler, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad, find smuggler

[Streetwise rolls, difficulty 20/15 as in scene 5

Jather 4D+2=12 fail
Wex 5D=17, success]

The next night finds our heroes continuing their trawl through the spacers' bars by the port. This time it is Wex who gets a lead. His soundings of the demi-monde lead him eventually to the table of Madame Jozka la Louche, a noted brothel-keeper. The corpulent, aging Ishi Tib has a penchant for expensively-tailored suits and cheap costume jewellery. A gilded perfume aspirator full of sea water sits on the table next to her drink, and she spritzes her skin with it every five minutes as a nervous tic. She's drinking something syrupy with an umbrella in, and flags down the droid waiter for another whenever she reaches the half-way point.

Wex sends Oosuu over to make the first contact, trusting in the Twi'lek's harmless manner and general air of desperation to get the world-weary madame to listen.

[Setup via Augmented Reality--
-Disgusted by the work she does, she drinks to block it out
-Madam
-Fat, confident, well-mannered, Mao suits
Ishi Tib

Q: Does she know Vexxon? 50/50 (4+): O4 C6 - Yes.

Oosuu must roll her Persuasion against Madame Jozka's Willpower to get her to talk. 4D+2=19 vs. 3D+2=15]

Wex watches Oosuu with interest, Lina looks on with barely-suppressed antipathy; why does Wex always drag her to places like this? After a few words are exchanged, Oosuu turns round in her seat and waves at Wex to get his attention. He takes a step towards her, but stops short as Oosuu points significantly at the madame's drink. He stops by the bar and pays for another two to be sent over.

"Yes, I know Void Vexxon," sighs the Madame in reply to Wex's question. "I wouldn't normally divulge the names of the clientèle, but there is some business one could do without. He frequents the saltwater bath house where I run my business."

"So, has he been there lately?"

[Q: Has he? Likely (3+): O5 C2 - yes, and... ought to be there now
Very Difficult (25) persuasion roll to get her help: 14, wild=1, complication]

"He's had credits to throw around, so yes. He's probably there now, come to think of it."

"Perfect. Maybe you could get us inside so we could--"

"Absolutely not! I can't have you going in there and causing a scene. My people might get hurt. They have it hard enough..."

"Not go inside," interjects Oosuu quickly. "Wait in street, follow Void when leaves. Not worry, Oosuu not cause scene."


Scene 7

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: staking out the bath house

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, Void Vexxon the smuggler, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad, find smuggler

Oosuu and Jather stake out the bathhouse, loitering at opposite ends of the street. Everyone else waits nearby, whiling away the time at an all-night eatery in the consumption of questionably nutritious food and excessive amounts of caf.

Oosuu and Jather mingle with the crowds, doing their best to fit in and remain inconspicuous. Still, they have a long time to wait. It's nearly three hours before Void Vexxon emerges from the brothel. Jather has long since fallen asleep on an obliging bench, but fortunately Void heads down the street in Oosuu's direction.

She spots him strutting off homeward, and begins her leisurely pursuit. She tries to call the others on her comlink, but there is no answer. She tries Jather, also to no avail. She assumes they're all having too much fun to answer their comlinks.

She is, of course, completely wrong. Zil and Wex have gotten into a blistering row about who's in charge of their outfit. Lina gets tired of listening to their vitriolic back-and-forth, and barks at them like naughty soldiers [she made a Difficult (20) Command roll]. Wex is surprised to hear her seemingly take Zil's side over hers, but when Zil is about to speak again Lina cuts her off abruptly. Both of them go quiet and sulky. Lina does her best to maintain her composure, but she is secretly terrified that Zil might knife her in her sleep.

[This scene started with more dice than narrative:

First, Oosuu & Jather need Moderate (12) Hide rolls to avoid encounters.
Skill for both is 4D+2; rolls of 15 & 18 both succeed.

They have to wait 1d6= 3 hours for Void to come out, requiring Easy (10) Stamina rolls to not give up: Jather 2D=6, failure; Oosuu 2D+2=9, failure.

A failed Stamina roll can always be re-tried with a Willpower roll at +5 Difficulty:
Oosuu 4D+1=18 success; Jather 3D+2=12, failure

Q: Which way does Void go? 1-3 goes J's way, 4-6 O's: 4!
Q: Does he have points in Search? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No.

Oosuu's Sneak 4D+2 vs. Void's Perception 3D: 11 vs. 9, she's not detected.

Q: Is he heading home? Likely (3+): O6 C5 - Yes
O calls rest to follow
Q: Any obstacles? Certain (2+): O5 C2 - Yes and... one BOLD Waylay for Oosuu, one for rest of PCs

rest PCs first: Party - Power Play - legendary
Solution: the authority
Q: Do they miss the call? 50/50 (4+): O6 C7 - Yes.]

Oosuu's Waylay: Factional - army - corrupt (stormtroopers)
solution: avoidance (both Oosuu and Void needed Stealth vs. Perception rolls to avoid the Imperials, and Oosuu needed an additional Search vs. Perception roll not to lose her quarry. She had a -1D to both rolls, but against her best attribute it wasn't a problem.]


Some Imperial petty officers are leading a patrol of stormtroopers through the spacers' quarter looking to shake down the populace for petty bribes. Both Void Vexxon and Oosuu instinctively melt into the middle of the crowd to avoid the authorities' attention. Oosuu doesn't let the smuggler out of her sight, and he never notices her following him. He cuts suddenly into a dark alleyway. Oosuu has been following at quite a distance; she almost has to run to keep from losing him.

[Q: Can she catch up before he leaves alley? 50/50 (4+): O1 C5 - No.
Q: Does he end up in an empty street? Unlikely (5+): O6 C8 - Yes.
One last Sneak vs. PCN as she comes right up behind: 13 vs. 9, she has Surprise]

He's out the other side of the alleyway before she can catch up, but the street beyond looks deserted. Oosuu pads quickly up behind the oblivious smuggler, and presses her blaster (set to stun) between his shoulders.

"Not scream, not run. Go alley now or shot."

"What?" gasps the startled smuggler. "Speak Basic!"

"Alley now. Not kidding. Bounty dead or alive. No witnesses. Choose fast."

[Her Intimidate (2D+1, +5 for gun) vs. his Willpower (2D+1): 17 vs. 14 (wild dice both came up 6)]

"Okay, okay!" says Void, raising his hands. "Don't shoot. I'm going, I'm going."

Oosuu grabs his coat and follows. Once in the shadows of the alleyway, she shoves him face first against wall. "Bounty have blaster?"

[Q: Does he? Certain (6): O4 C5 - Yes
Q: Does he try anything stupid? Unlikely (5+): O4 C8 - No]

Void nods affirmatively. Oosuu presses her gun into the back of his neck. "Pull out slow, drop on ground," she says.

He removes the blaster from under his coat very carefully, and lets it fall from his fingers. Oosuu stamps a foot on the clattering weapon to keep it from getting away from her.

"Look," says Void pleadingly, "whoever you are, we can sort this. No need for violence. I can pay you whatever you're looking at for my capture -- not all at once mind -- but I got a big score lined up. I'll split it with you! You could even help out, get yourself a full share. I need resourceful people on my side." [UNE: scheming - agenda - future action]

"Shut mouth. Oos-- um... quiet now. Not want hear lies. Calling backup now. No moving."

Oosuu punctuates her words by pressing the barrel of her blaster harder into his neck. She fishes out her comlink with her free hand, and tries the others again.

[Q: Does she get through? 50/50 (4+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...]

"Sorry we missed you before," comes Lina's voice through the comlink. "The children were bickering."

"Have bounty gunpoint," says Oosuu. "Waiting in alley now. You come. Fast. Hey bounty, where alley?"

"What?" says the irritated bounty.

"Friends come now, pick up. Give directions."

"Are you serious?"

"Not lie. Twi'lek know if lie. Is easy. Twi'lek so subtle."

[Rolling her Con (4D+2) vs. his Alien Species (3D+1): 15 vs. 10, sounds believable
Q: Does he try to lie anyway? 50/50 (4+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...

his Con (4D) vs. her Perception (4D+2): 12 vs. 19]

Oosuu holds the comlink so Void can speak into it.  He starts to tell Lina roughly where they are and how to get there, but Oosuu cuts him off sharply.
"Why you lie? That way stormtrooper checkpoint. Pass 10 minutes ago. Next lie Twi'lek shoot!"

[Q: Is he sufficiently chastened? Likely (3+): O5 C8 - Yes.
Q: Any problems before others arrive? Likely (3+): O1 C5 - No.]

Void Vexxon hasn't survived this long without learning when to stop pushing his luck. He tells Lina which side streets to take to avoid the Imperial checkpoints, and is visibly relieved when Oosuu shuts off the comlink.

"Bounty sit. Face wall! Twi'lek sit. Friends come soon."

"Can we talk to pass the time?"

"Twi'lek prefer not."


Scene 8

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: bring the bounty in for a reward

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, Void Vexxon the smuggler, infochant

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad, find smuggler

Oosuu hasn't long to wait before Zil, Wex, and Lina arrive. Any lingering animosity has been stowed so they can get on with the night's work. Wex suggests they repair to Void Vexxon's place. Zil tells Oosuu to put her gun away, but cautions Void to walk ahead of them very slowly to lead the way, for he'll be riddled with blaster bolts if he even thinks about escape. [Intimidation 5D=29! no problems out of him.]

As she follows Void Vexxon into his flat, Zil can't help but exclaim, "Hey, Oosuu, I think you guys went to the same decorator!"

"Wex, why Zil such bitch?"

"Give her a break, Zil," says Wex. "At least her walls weren't covered in naked Twi'lek dancing girl holos."

"I kinda don't think she needed any," says Zil.

"Unlike a certain person I know when we first got together," adds Lina.

"Everyone shut up so I can call Lt. Nomu," says Wex.

[Q: Will Lt. Nomu come to the flat? 50/50 (4+): O4 C1 - yes, and... immediately.
Q: Is there a problem with the bounty? likely (3+): O3 C1 - Yes, and...

1d6:
1. no reward
2. everyone arrested
3. tries to escape
4. rescue attempt
5. other bounty hunter(s)
6. roll twice


Also, Void tries to Con the PCs to let him go: 4D=17 vs. W6, Z17 fail]

Wex makes the call, and Lt Nomu says he will come to meet them right now. Lina is looking increasingly more uncomfortable by the minute, so Zil suggests she and Oosuu go look for Jather, since he hasn't been answering his comlink. Once the scary Twi'lek has left, Void Vexxon tries to appeal to his remaining captors.

"The Empire is using you! You can't trust any deal you make with them! You'll both be arrested with me. This is going to go down very badly, just you--"

"Shut up or I'll make you glad to be interrogated by the Empire," growls Zil.

Void Vexxon takes the hint.

Lt. Nomu soon arrives with a squad of stormtroopers, some of whom are carrying high-powered scanning gear.

"Thank you for finding my brother's hiding place," says the Lieutenant. "We'll soon know where he's stashed his illicit merchandise on this miserable little planet. Then he won't dare tell mum I've been demoted for conduct unbecoming and stationed on... Phaeda."

"That's the blackmail?" asks Wex incredulously.

"Well, no one on this world would care about any corrupt deals an officer makes. Speaking of which, I can't get you the money after all. But I erased every record of you arriving on the planet, so no one can pin the stolen ship on you, provided you keep a low profile for the rest of your stay. If I were you, I wouldn't stay here long though... Sorry, that sounded like a threat. I don't mean it that way -- this place just wears you down."

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 11: Welcome to Phaeda

The Kappa-class shuttle sets down in docking bay 49 on the edge of Phaeda's spaceport. The bay looks very much the same as any other on a minor Outer Rim planet, a dingy open-topped dome made of poorly maintained plasticrete. The shuttle's ramp opens, and Wex leads his crew down into the open air. After the stale atmosphere in the shuttle, Phaeda's air is mostly a disappointment; there's not enough industry on this planet for it to be truly polluted, nor enough regulation for it to be truly fresh. The sky is brown and hazy in the late afternoon sun.

Scene 1

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: Chaos die = 4, Interrupt (was: arrive at Phaeda)
Interrupt: Close a thread - ditch ship - Usurp / Military

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy

Threads: ditch ship, make contacts, sell datapad

[This adventure follows right on from the previous one, but to make things easier to track, I started over with Scene 1. The Chaos level remains at Madness (d6), as the world is still against our heroes. The NPC list has been completely cleaned out. The 4 NPCs in the party have all graduated to PC status now. The rest of the NPCs were local to Ord Mantell. I'm keeping Morga the Hutt (i.e. his operation) on the list and adding an enemy (TBD) to deal with random Events.]

A young Imperial lieutenant in a rumpled uniform walks into the docking bay, followed by a squad of stormtroopers. He takes a good look at the ship and her crew before addressing them. "Do you have a licence to fly that ship, citizens?"

"We're the owners," says Wex.

"That's a military vessel. You all look like civilians."

"We bought it surplus," offers Jather. "Needed a cargo vessel, and in the outer rim that means it's got to be armed." [Jather's Con (6D -1D for wounded): 5D=20, sounds legit.]

"Is there a problem, officer?" asks Zil.

"Civilians shouldn't be in possession of military grade ships -- even surplus. I'm afraid we're going to have to impound it until you have all the proper licences. And pay all the fees. If not, we'll be confiscating it for the Imperial garrison's use. Can never have too many troop transports, even older models such as this."

[Wex needs a Moderate (15) Law roll: 4D=17, definitely sounds fishy.
He'll try a Moderate (14) Con roll to sound breezy: 3D=18 (Wild 6+1)]

"We were thinking of getting rid of it, actually," says Wex. "This particular vessel makes it too hard to be taken serious as a shipping concern, as it turns out. Perhaps we could save you -- and us, naturally -- all the  annoying forms to fill in and let the Empire buy it off us. It's an old ship, so I wouldn't expect much. Just a few thousand credits."

"So little? What's wrong with it?"

"Paint's a bit scuffed, but other than that it's a solid ship. You won't find anything out of order. It's just... well, there's no cargo lifters. We're tired of having to carry all the freight up the ramp. Unlike your stormtroopers, the cargo won't walk itself inside!"

"Buying a ship in such an... informal arrangement isn't quite how the Imperial Army likes to operate..."

"We'd rather you had it than anyone else. And if you can help us seal this deal, we'd feel honour-bound to give you a nice finder's fee. Say 40%."

[Q: Is this even possible? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but...
Wex's Bargain 4D+1 vs. the Officer's 2D, +5 for weirdness: 16 vs. 15]

"I'm afraid I won't be able to allocate more than 2000 credits from our budget."

"Fine by me. What do you say, crew?"

"That low price, Captain," says Oosuu, putting her hands on her hips. The rest don't feign protest at all. Wex turns back round to address the officer.

"Sorry," he says, "Twi'leks are rubbish at maths. Just ignore her. We'll take it."

They shake on the deal.

[Q: Can the money be gotten quickly? Unlikely (5+): O1 C1 - No, and... 2D6=7 days]

"I'll be in touch when the money is ready."

"Of course, Lieutenant...?"

"Nomu."

"Pleasure doing business with you, Lt. Nomu. Here's my comlink codes."


Scene 2

Chaos:
Madness (d6)

Setup: set up housekeeping

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad (I removed 'ditch ship' even though the thread is not quite played out. If the money doesn't show, they won't be getting it back anyway.)

"The first thing we need," says Zil. "is a base of operations."

"And some supplies," adds Wex.

"Oosuu hungry again," says Oosuu.

"I almost hate to ask," says Jather, "but how are we going to pay for any of this. My credit balance is a bit... underwhelming."

"How underwhelming?" asks Zil.

"550 credits."

"You're better off than me; I've only got 135. All those bribes on Ord Mantell really added up fast."

"Oosuu have 50."

"I got 600," says Wex.

"Lucky for you lot, I just got paid," says Lina. "I was on my way to the bank when Wex called."

All eyes turn to her expectantly. "How much?" asks Wex.

"2000 credits."

"Is that all?"

"Is that all? It's my salary! Most of our money comes from mission bonuses. Besides, it's more than you lot all put together."

"Hey, now, don't get your panties in a bunch. We're all in this together. I'm sure this is all just a temporary state of affairs, and we'll be flush soon. But until then..."

Everyone agrees to swallow their pride and chip in where they can. But even so, Wex manages to get Lina to pay for more even than her fair share, and she can't ever seem to ever tell him no. Zil is disgusted by it, but bites her tongue as she's desperate. Oosuu is very disappointed in Wex, and resolves to take him aside later for a lecture. Jather is either oblivious or apathetic.

[As a simulationist gamer, I did keep careful track of every last credit spent on the PCs' character sheets. It's not terribly exciting, so I won't summarise it in Traveller-style accounting segments, but I will note the expenditures. I went by the price lists in the original (1987, 1st ed.) Star Wars Sourcebook.]

They spend the first night in a miserable spaceport hostel [-50 credits]. The next day is spent finding a flat; the one they get is cramped, but survivable [500cr/month, paid in advance]. Everyone needs some changes of clothes -- nothing flashy, and certainly not haute couture, but the expense adds up fast [75cr x2 sets each x5characters = cr750]. Lina is already down to 700 credits!

Oosuu convinces Wex to stock their larder. He buys 100 credits worth of cheap food [about a week's worth] and raw ingredients. Jather throws 100 credits at a supply of cheap liquor.

Lina sets down a rota of household chores [needing a Moderate (15) Command roll: 4D+1=23, success]. She also drafts a semi-comical list of 'flatmate regulations', and with stunning success; even Oosuu begins putting dirty laundry where it belongs. Jather offers to be the official cook in exchange for not having to clean. They've all witnessed what he can do with meagre materials, and readily agree.

[Q: Any events the first week? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No.]

They take a few days to get their bearings and find a decent local [-100 credits] where the beer isn't too watery. Jather spends most of the time in bed until his wound heals [Natural healing takes 3 days, and requires a Strength roll (against a table): 2D=10, fully healed].


Scene 3

Chaos: Madness (d6)

Setup: meet Lt. Nomu about money
d6=4, Altered

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad

Alteration?
1 doesn't have money yet
2 has less than promised
3 can't get money
4 won't get money
5 needs favour
6 arrests PCs

Near the end of the first week, Lt. Nomu calls Wex. "Hey, Wex," he says, "we should meet up. I know a great place that does pan-Trianni cuisine. Live music, too; it's really great. Bring your friends, I'll reserve a table for tonight."

[Q: Does he sound suspicious? Unlikely (5+): O6 C4 - No, but...
Moderate (15) Perception roll to detect the edge in his voice: 3D=7, fail]

"It'll probably be just me," says Wex. "Not sure where everyone else is off to. Probably the holo-plex again."

"Their loss. See you at 20:00 Imperial Standard Time." »click«

"You think it's a setup?" asks Zil the moment Wex turns off his comlink.

"No. Sounded pretty legit, honestly. I think your paranoia's just starting to rub off on me."

Oosuu decides she will shadow him and watch the restaurant from a bar nearby, just in case. Zil says she will call at an appointed time -- if he doesn't answer they'll know it's a set up.

[Alteration 1d6=5, he just needs a favour.
Oosuu's Stealth 4D+2 vs. his Perception 2D: 14 vs. 6, she isn't noticed

Thanks to a mention in the Lone Wolf community, I discovered the Augmented Reality PDF, which is a collection of random tables for cyberpunk gaming. Mutatis mutandis, it's been a godsend for this adventure.

To determine the nature of Lt. Nomu's favour, I used the Mr. Johnson Job Generator #1: People (there was a 50/50 chance for people/things). I rolled: Needs to... find... smuggler. Cyberpunk takes little effort to convert to Star Wars.

Q: Will Lt. Nomu use leverage to get Wex to agree to the job? Likely (3+): O2 C3 - No, but...
Q: Does he offer an explanation? 50/50 (4+): O5 C6 - Yes.]

Wex has only been out as far as the Corporate Sector once, but as he steps into the restaurant he is immediately struck by just how non-Trianni it all seems. None of the patrons are Trianni, to say nothing of the staff, and the band is playing a decidedly Mid-Rim blend of synth-wail and Bothan skrive. The hostess who takes him to Lt. Nomu's table is wearing a ridiculous get-up that is probably supposed to be a Ranger uniform.

Lt. Nomu is sitting at his table alone, nervously playing with the silverware. He forgets any sort of pleasantries, and gets right down to business. "Look, I, uh, need a favour and I don't know who else to ask..."

"Ask away," says Wex.

"Here's the thing: I'm being blackmailed by a smuggler calling himself Void Vexxon. The reason isn't important, I just need it to stop. Now, I know your ship's stolen--"

"Really?"

"You offered to sell it to me for 2000 credits. How could I not know?"

"Oh. Um. That was not my finest moment."

"Look, I don't really care. The ship will be impounded one way or another. But if you help me out I can make sure the records are falsified. I'll even give you the full 2000 credits if I can get it. But I need you to bring Vexxon to me. Quietly."

"Dead or alive?"

[1d6: 1-2 dead, 3-4 alive, 5-6 doesn't care]

"Alive! What do you take me for?"

"Sorry, it's just the usual thing you ask in these sorts of favours. And most of my crew aren't assassins... Zil'd do it though, no question."

"That's... reassuring. I hope it won't come to that."

"Me too."

"Excellent. I'll get to work on losing some datafiles. I guess you can consider that your advance for the job."

"I've had weirder. Pleasure doing business with you."


Scene 4

Chaos:
Out of Control (d8)

Setup: d8=3, Interrupt (was: on the trail)
Interrupt: Ambiguous event - Cruelty / The innocent

NPC list: Morga the Hutt, a mysterious enemy, Lt. Nomu the crooked Imperial, Void Vexxon the smuggler

Threads: make contacts, sell datapad, find smuggler

Wex staggers home late that night, and passes out before he can explain the favour they need to do for the good Lieutenant.

The next morning, Jather cooks up his justifiably famous 'Dr. Jather's Hangover Special', which does put Wex to rights. He explains what they need to do, and shows them the holo-picture of Void Vexxon the lieutenant gave him, along with a list of hangouts and possible contacts. Vexxon isn't the sort of character one runs into in daylight hours, so they make a vague plan and wait until evening to head out on his trail.

They finally set out into the city at sunset. The streets are lively with a mixture of beings going home from work or just opening up their taverns and stalls for the evening crowds. As the day's shadows lengthen, streetlamps are coming on, competing with the flashing neon signs to light the market squares and byways.

They are all in good spirits, being both relieved to be out of the flat and elated to be actively doing something for a change. Oosuu is excitedly babbling at Jather about all the colourful things she sees in the market stalls, Wex and Lina are actually laughing over old times, and even Zil has dropped her characteristic aloofness and is just enjoying being out with her mates.

But the crowd abruptly thins out, and several beings push their way through as they hurry towards a side street. Zil stops her friends short, and they all go as quiet as the rest of the crowd who have stopped to look. In front of one of the stalls in the now-empty street, a family of [2d6=] six Grans has just been accosted by a unit of stormtroopers. It seems that the stormtroopers overheard [d6=] the father saying something unkind about the imperial occupation of their world, and stopped to give him a citation and an impromptu civics lesson. The Gran continues to speak his mind, and his wife joins in the argument before the terrified eyes of their children. Then bolts of crimson light flash out, and in the next instant there are six smoking bodies on the pavement. A stormtrooper turns and orders the onlookers to disperse; he does not need to repeat his admonition.

"Oosuu need drink," says Oosuu flatly.

"Let's start a tab," says Jather. "I'm good for it."

"I vote we start working tomorrow," says Zil.

One hundred credits later, they've almost forgotten what they witnessed.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Too many games...

I seem to be bouncing from game to game lately, and starting new ones without continuing current campaigns. I hope to have something turned from raw notes into a polished, postable entry soon, but in the interim here's a summary of what I've been up to...



Wanting to play some old (2nd ed.) Runequest, I went and bought the PDF of Snake Pipe Hollow off Drivethru. I don't like playing modules from the screen, so I printed it out, half-sized to save paper and also see more text all at once. It's also convenient to mark off hit points from the enemies and treasures looted right on the page. Since I didn't need a computer for the module, I went completely analog and took all the session notes on paper too, which is always freeing, but doesn't help with posting later.





Sometimes it's fun to just roll up a bunch of classic Traveller characters using just the basic character generation rules (little black books, Traveller book, etc.) and send them off into a random subsector to seek their fortunes. I'd also been wanting to try out Zozer's new Solo rules for Traveller Cepheus Engine. And I found an inexpensive copy of the original German rulebook to play with.




I also seem to have re-started my solitaire Call of Cthulhu LARP...

Monday, 29 May 2017

Revised House Rules for LotFP Magic in the Early Modern Period


Libellus de magia veridica
~ or ~
Alternate Rules for LotFP Magic

The study of magic as both art and science is the subject of countless treatises, both laudable and infamous. Wildly varying opinions on its use and origin -- whether it be truly Inspired of God or all a great Enticement of the Divell -- have caused both saints (Albertus Magnus) and sinners (Iohannes Faustus) alike to be viewed as great magicians.

For our purposes, O Viator, the distinction is of little importance. All magic has some commonalities, and it is the approach to its practice which needs must concern us.

The pious Cleric, then, must be contrasted with the profane Magic-User, for they both command the same forces. The cleric's path is that of Natural Magic, whereas the magic-user seeks to subvert the natural order by force of will. Both, in the end, call upon spirits and the occult forces in nature to work their spells, whether Thaumaturgical or Theurgical.


I like the distinction between clerics and magic-users, but I also want the magic in the game to seem more like actual early modern magic than just D&D. To wit, I've devised a few house rules. The intent was to make only minor adjustments so as to leave as much of the rulebook intact as possible. I've still erred on the side of more game-like than realistic, else transcribing spells would be measured in turns and casting in days.

These rules are intended to supplant the magic rules found on pp.75-83 of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess Rules & Magic book. The spell lists and descriptions are unchanged, save only that Read Magic is no longer used. The class descriptions and progression tables for Clerics and Magic-Users (on pp.11&13) are also unchanged.

My aim is twofold. Firstly, I want make PCs' magic use seem more in line with real-world ideas of learned magic in the early modern period. Secondly, by so doing, I want to increase the weirdness of magic from other sources, as the effects and their workings will fail to conform to the established understanding of the magical arts.

Thus, the rules in this booklet are meant to apply to PCs and NPCs using spells from the main rulebook. Magic discovered in mysterious tomes from other worlds can and should function differently.


The Basics


There are two kinds of spellcaster, and two kinds of spells. Clerics are practitioners of divinely-inspired, natural magic, which is said to work in accordance with the Creator's divine plan. Magic-users practice a different sort of learned magic, and may call upon other ancient deities and demons to impose their will on the cosmos. The actual differences between one type of magic and another are quite vague, and may rest more on the opinions of the practitioners -- or their accusers -- than on the true nature of the world itself.

For gaming purposes, the distinction is simple. Clerics and Magic-users are adept at casting the spells on their respective lists. Clerical spells are performed through prayer, and Magic-user spells through various incantations and gestures. Spells of either sort must be "memorised" before being cast, and disappear from the caster's memory upon casting. The number and level of spells which may be memorised at any one time is given on the class charts.

However, unlike most OSR games, clerics and magic-users may learn and cast spells off each other's lists, but in this case the spells will count as being one level higher. Thus, a cleric may learn and prepare Magic Missile as a second level spell from her spellbook, and a magic-user may learn and prepare Cure Light wounds as a second level spell from hers. Note that clerics never receive 8th and 9th level spell slots, so will never be able to memorise 7th-9th level magic-user spells. Clerics casting lots of magic-user spells -- or even just higher level cleric ones -- will most certainly run afoul of the Church authorities.

First level cleric spells constitute something of a special case for clerics (only; Magic-users use them as 2nd level spells in all respects).

Spellbooks


The complex formulae of magic require careful study and understanding in order to work. The human mind can retain only so much of this information, and much of it disappears from the memory as the magic is released. Spellcasters must keep a record of all this information, along with lists of correspondences and qualities, astrological notes to determine the influence of heavenly bodies and the propitious times for the working of Operations of the Art, philosophical discourses on the nature of the soul, &c. &c. These writings, tables, and images may be set down in any number of ways, from being scratched on potsherds, to being recorded on rolls of papyrus, or written with ornate calligraphy on dyed vellum and bound into bejewelled codices covered in human skin. Whatever the form these compendia take, for rules purposes they will be known simply as spellbooks.

Spellbooks are written in natural languages, though the writing may be hidden or obscured by various means: steganography, substitute alphabets, codes, enchantments, or simple bad handwriting. Read Magic is thus no longer needed (and stricken from the spell list), but Comprehend Languages may be required.

A spellbook is not itself magical, but many a wizard will protect a spellbook from theft with curses, sigils, and other sorts of magical defences.

Magic-users require that all their spells be written down in their spellbook(s). Clerics require that all their spells of 2nd level or higher be in a spellbook as well.

There is no set limit to the number of spells contained in any given spellbook. A PC's personal travelling spellbook could be a modestly-sized volume containing all the spells she knows set down in meticulously cramped handwriting. But a more famous grimoire found as treasure in monastery ruins, though it be a thick and weighty tome, may only contain a handful of actual spells repeating each one in several different ways. Learning a spell from such a book is a matter of picking the form of the incantation that works for you.

Beginning spells


A beginning Magic-User's spellbook contains three random first level magic-user spells (an elf's would contain just one, though these rules assume an historical setting without demi-humans).

Clerics do not need a spellbook for their first level spells. They begin with access to the whole first level cleric spell list (on p. 85 of Rules & Magic). They do, however need to acquire a spellbook before they can learn any second or higher level spells.

Preparing spells

A spellcaster must have six hours uninterrupted rest before preparing ("memorising") spells. Spells remain in memory until cast. The class spell charts show the maximum number of spells that can be memorized at each level. The memorisation process takes a number of hours equal to the highest level spell slot being prepared. Spells may only be prepared once every 24 hours; the human mind is unable to handle any more.

Reversible spells (marked with an * in the spell lists) are effectively two different spells, which must be learnt and prepared individually.

A magic-user prepares all spells by studying her spellbook, and clerics prepare all second and higher level spells in the same way; the spellcaster must be able to sit in reasonable comfort and study her spellbook without interruption.

Clerics prepare their first level spells through prayer alone. Whether these spells come directly from the cleric's God or an intermediary, a demon, an otherworldly entity, or simply the cleric's fervent belief in the efficaciousness of their orisons is left to the referee to decide. Though the cleric does not need a spellbook to prepare these spells, many do eventually copy them into their spellbooks as a devotion, and re-read those passages when preparing spells for the day.

A spell may be prepared in any slot of its level or higher.

Casting Spells


Casting a spell requires concentration, gesticulation, and either chanting or speaking words of power. A character who is bound, gagged, Silenced, or similarly hindered cannot cast spells. Unless otherwise noted in the spell's description, a spell cannot be cast secretly or disguised as another activity.

Cleric spells are rather less intricate to perform that Magic-user spells. The caster must hold a holy symbol of the appropriate religion (her own, one hopes, but the less devout seem still able to work magic), and cannot be more than Heavily Encumbered.

Magic-user spells require more intricate gestures. Both hands must be free, though the caster may have a staff, wand, or specially consecrated knife or sword in one hand. The caster may not be more than Lightly Encumbered.


Ritual casting


A spell may also be cast as a ritual. This allows a spellcaster to use a spell which she has learnt, but cannot yet prepare. A certain amount of expensive materials will be required, and the casting time will be measured in days, with the spell taking effect only at the end. Many spells are unsuitable for ritual casting (e.g. Hold Monster), but common sense should suffice to make these determinations. See Time of Magical Activities below for details of time and expense.

Option: Ritual magic may even be attempted by non-spellcasters, though it is much less certain. They treat all spells as two levels higher, and have an effective caster level of half their actual level (round all fractions down, minimum level equivalent of one). They must also make a saving throw versus magic or the ritual simply fails and all preparations are wasted. The referee may decide to apply other penalties to a failed ritual; an accidental Summon spell is traditional.

Learning New Spells from Experience


Spellcasters are assumed to be constantly studying and experimenting with the principles of the Art. To reflect this, when a magic-user attains a new level of experience, she is entitled to add a single magic-user spell of any level she can prepare to her spellbook. The player may choose the level of the spell, but the specific spell is chosen by a die roll; re-roll if the character already knows the spell. The research of this spell is assumed to have been spread out over the time it took the character to gain the new level. If for some reason the character has had no free time during this period, the referee may allow the new spell to have been learnt in a flash of insight. Clerics follow the same procedure for their spells beginning at the 4th level of experience.


Learning New Spells from a Book


If a spell caster finds a spell written down in a language she can read, she may make a saving throw versus magic to see if she understands it well enough to prepare and cast (or cast as a ritual). The character's Intelligence modifier is applied to the saving throw for magic-user spells, and the wisdom modifier is used for cleric spells.

If she is reliant on a magical effect (e.g. Comprehend Languages) to read the spell, the effect must have a duration of at least 1 hour per spell level; this will also be required to prepare the spell if it is understood. A scholar can be hired to translate the spell if needed; see *Transcribing spells from spellbook to spellbook below*.

If the character has already learnt a version of the spell from a different source, or if they are being taught by one who already knows the spell and is able to prepare it there is an additional +5 modifier to the saving throw.

If a book being used is merely a copy of another spellbook, including any famous grimoire, there is a 10% chance for each spell (check individually) to have an error or idiosyncrasy of the transcriber which renders the spell useless without further research to correct the fault. The referee should make this roll (as well as the caster's saving throw) in secret, as the character can never be certain if it is the formula that is at fault or her own skill.

If saving throw succeeds, the character understands the spell, and may prepare and cast it from that book (and/or cast it as a ritual) without difficulty for ever after. The player should keep careful track of which spells her character has learnt in each spellbook she possesses.

Should the saving throw fail, the character must research the spell as described below.


Researching New Spells


A caster may add a spell to her spellbook through intensive research. Any spell on her class spell list in the Rules and Magic book may be researched, even if the caster is not of a sufficient level to prepare it. The caster may research a spell on the other class' list, but must be of sufficient level to prepare the spell (e.g. a Cleric may not research Charm Person until she reaches 4th level, as it must be memorised in a second level slot).

A character may research a totally new spell of the player's devising or a spell from another source than the main rulebook with the referee's permission.

If the character is doing research from scratch, a library of at least 1000sp / spell level is required.

If the character possesses a talisman, potion, or other magical item containing the spell, a laboratory (or library in the case of parchment talismans) of at least 750sp / spell level must be used for research, though this will use up the item's magic in the process.

If the character possesses a book with a faulty copy of the spell, she will need to work in a library of at least 500sp / spell level to correct the error, and the research time will be significantly lessened.

If the character is trying to understand a good copy of a spell that she has found, the library required need only be worth 250sp / spell level and the research time will be much reduced.

Researching a spell assumes the magician is copying the spell into her spellbook, and no additional time or expense for transcription need be levied against her. Each interruptions adds 1 day per spell level to the time required, unless the character is working from a potion or talisman, in which case the interruption spoils the research and the magic of the item dissipates.


Transcribing spells from spellbook to spellbook


Transcribing spells is a relatively straightforward procedure, requiring little more than time, ink, and a quiet place to work. Any spell to which a character has access (and can read) may be transcribed, but the spell will still need to be learnt as described above.

Alternately, you can hire a scholar to do the transcription for you. Roll time normally with no INT modifiers, and add the cost to the normal rate for a scholar shown on the retainers table. There is a 10% chance that an error or an idiosyncrasy of the transcriber will creep in (in addition to that noted above), rendering a spell useless by the PC spellcaster. Check for each spell the first time it is cast. If the scholar is translating a spell, double the time taken and increase the chance of error to 20%.


Talismans and Curses


A Talisman, usually a scrap of parchment or small charm, may be enchanted with a one-use spell that affects the item's user (only). A parchment talisman requires the use of a library, others will require a laboratory.

Attempting to activate a talisman requires full concentration for one round; no movement or other actions are permitted. The user must be wearing or carrying the talisman, and be able to speak freely. Alternately, a spellcaster may affix the talisman to a willing ally, in which case the conditions above apply to her, and the ally must remain motionless and silent. A non-spellcaster may use a talisman herself, but must make a saving throw vs. magic in order to "cast" the spell. If the save is failed, the magic simply does not activate, and a new attempt may be made on the next round.

The talisman's magic functions at the level of the spellcaster activating it, or half the level (round down, minimum of 1) of a non-spellcaster.

Multiple instances of the same spell may be put on a single talisman. There is no practical limit to this save time and expense. A discharged talisman may be re-enchanted, but there are no time or cost savings.

Curse tablets are a special form of talisman, and may be made in the same way. The magic (specifically, the Bestow Curse spell; the referee may allow other spells such as Hold Monster or Polymorph Other) is released when the subject of the curse passes through a certain area wherein the tablet lies buried, or handles an item bearing the curse. These curses may be made to affect either a single named individual, or else to affect the first person crossing the cursed threshold; this determination must be made at the time the curse is wrought.

Alternately, if a part of the named victim (hair, nail clippings, blood, etc.) is affixed to a poppet or wax figure, the curse can be sent over a small distance (e.g. within the same city).

An item may be also cursed. The curse may affect a named individual, the first person to handle the object, or anyone stealing the object. Book curses against thieves or the merely curious are popular amongst magic-users. Multiple curses of the same type may be added to an object, but only one will affect any given target (e.g. a book curse against theft may be enchanted thrice, affecting three successive thieves).

Curses always function at the level of the caster who made them.


Creating a potion


The essence of a spell may be distilled down in to liquid form so that, when consumed, the drinker gains the benefit (or detriment) of that spell. The person brewing the potion must be able to prepare and cast the spell in question. The magic operates at the caster level of the potion's maker.


Libraries and Laboratories


Spellcasters need libraries and laboratories to assist them in their work. These are rated by cost. For every 500sp a library is worth, 100 square feet are required to house it. A laboratory occupies 100 square feet for every 1000sp of value. These are not transportable without massive effort. Library and laboratory supplies can only be purchased in large cities. Those discovered as treasure and somehow transported only add 1d100% of their value to the looter's own, due to duplication and/or differences in approach.

Each time a laboratory is used, a save versus magic is required. If successful, the laboratory uses supplies which reduce its value by 1d20x100sp. A failed saving throw wastes 2d20x100sp. On a natural roll of 1, there is an explosion which destroys 5d20x100sp worth of the laboratory, and inflicts 1d10 damage on all present (save versus Breath Weapon for half damage).

Scholars and Alchemists


A scholar may be hired to assist with spell research in a Library, and an alchemist may be hired to help with work in a Laboratory; see the Retainers chapter of the Rules & Magic book (pp. 47-51). A scholar may also be hired to transcribe spells, in which case a library is not needed (though living space is still a requirement).

Creating holy water


As protestants reject holy water along with other popish trappings, the blessing of holy water is only available to Catholics. A special rite must be performed on a Sunday, either in the church proper or in the sacristy.

For game purposes, assume that the rite takes 2 hours, and at the end a single small vial of may be filled with some of the water and a Bless spell be cast over it, turning just that quantity into the holy water as described in the rulebook. The rest of the water in the vessel only has the game effects of holy water whilst it remains in the church.

Time and cost of Magical Activities


Magic is a time-consuming pursuit, and often an expensive one. One cannot rush the workings of the Art, nor indeed the more mundane aspects of research and experimentation.

Supplies must be purchased in advance at the indicated costs. The player may peruse the time & cost table before deciding how much her character will purchase, but the purchase must be made before dice are rolled to determine the actual time needed. Running out of supplies during an operation will cause it to be interrupted. If more supplies are purchased than are needed, the excess can be used for the next magical procedure, but will only count as 1d100% of their purchased value due to the differing requirements of each individual operation; this roll may be made before other supplies are purchased.

Transcription and non-laboratory Research need not be completed all at once; however, each interruption adds 1 day per spell level to the time remaining. All other operations fail if interrupted. There is a 10% chance that a failed operation results in a curse, to be determined by the referee.

The time required for an operation is determined by a die roll, multiplied by spell level. The die roll is reduced by the character's Intelligence modifier for magic-user spells or Wisdom modifier for clerical magics. This modifier is applied before multiplication, but the total die roll may never be reduced below 1. Most operations have a library or laboratory listed as a requirement. Should this requirement not be met, the total time required for the operation is doubled.

Activity           Time Required             Cost      Lab/Lib.   Interruption
--------           -------------             ----      --------   ------------
Preparing spells   6hrs +1 hour x highest SL              -       fails
Ritual casting     2d6 days x SL             40sp/day     -       fails
Research
  from scratch     3d6 days x SL             30sp/day  1000sp/SL  allowed
  from item        2d6 days x SL             25sp/day   750sp/SL  fails
  from faulty copy 1d6 days x SL             20sp/day   500sp/SL  allowed
  from good copy   1d4 days x SL             20sp/day   250sp/SL  allowed
Transcription      1d10 hours x SL            1sp/SL      -       allowed
Creating
  a talisman       2d6 days x SL             50sp/day  1000sp/SL  fails
  a potion         1d6 days x SL             50sp/day  1000sp/SL  fails
  holy water       2 hours                      5sp      -        fails


Thursday, 18 May 2017

LotFP solo hex & dungeon crawl : Part VIII


3 April, A.D. 1601

The next morning, as expected, by dint of Heavenly Miracles, or else by the occult powers hidden in nature (placed there by, it should be noted, the very hand of the Creator Himself), Margarita's prayers snatch the good Fredrik from the jaws of death [Cure Light Wounds restores him to full hit points]. But the whole of the day still must be given over to resting before they can make another attempt at the catacombs. 


4 April, A.D. 1601

Once more they descend...

[Turn 1]

They make their cautious way -- unimpeded, fortunately -- back to the second of the large vaults filled with sarcophagi [Area 11], whence they proceed east down a passage where the remains of painted frescoes cling precariously to crumbling brickwork.

[Turn 2]

The passage branches into a 4-way intersection, and Artuš feels most inclined to lead the party south. They soon come out into a small chapel [Area 13: Special - inscription (2nd clue)] with a carved stone altar and four large statues representing figures from the Old Testament. Moses is readily identifiable from the tablets he carries, as is Job from his sores. The other two are less obvious, but each statue is inscribed at the base, and Margarita reads out the names in turn: MOYSES, LAMECH, IOSVE, IOB.

"Lamech is a strange choice," opines the nun.

"Hardly," says Lalie, "if you've divined the clue."

"What clue?"

A decaying carpet is laid out over the middle of the chapel. Lalie scrapes aside mouldy fabric to reveal another black marble plaque set into the floor. "Here it is: 'Si quis dinumeret hos prophetas IV, clavem minorem inveniat.' If someone should count out these four prophets, he would find the lesser key. Shall I tell you all, or do you want to guess?"

"You knew the answer before you found the clue, didn't you, mon coeur?" groans Éliane.

"Of course!"

Lalie waits excitedly for someone to make a guess, but is greeted only by silence. She is sorely disappointed, though cannot help but tell the answer to the others.

[If you don't wish to disappoint Lalie, O reader, you can work out the puzzle here for yourself.]

Éliane suggests that they should continue exploring before Lalie decides to launch into a full-blown lecture on her epigraphical investigatory techniques, and meets the wizard's mock scorn with playful disinterest.

[Turn 3]

They return to the intersection and head north, coming to a 15' square chamber [Area 14: trap & treasure]. The walls are but bare stone, and save for a pair of holy water receptacles flanking the doorway leading out to the north, there are no furnishings. One of the receptacles is just an empty ring of stone, but the other still contains a brass bowl hanging within. And inside the bowl is a liquid -- no holy water this, but an effervescent green liquid, bubbling, frothing, and giving off just a bit of phosphorescence.

Lalie once again calls upon the spirits [casts Unseen Servant], ordering them to take a steel flask from her pack and carefully decant the contents of the bowl into it. The spirits assiduously perform their appointed task, and once they have sealed the flask of liquid return it gently to the sorceress' pack and do the ties up again. The rest of her companions merely look on at this wonder, still amazed by the sight [the liquid is a random potion; the floor subsidence trap was avoided as no one went to stand in front of the receptacle].

[Turn 4]

The passageway goes north for about 50' [Area 15 - trap: bad air]. At one point there is a fissure in the floor, where some sort of noxious gas is leaking up from the bowels of the earth. The explorers pass by it quickly as they can, but some feel a bit weak and dizzy after passing through, though the chamber to which they come allows no chance of rest.

[bad air: save vs. poison or 1d4 damage
Artuš takes 4 damage to 6hp; Beate 1 to 4hp; Éliane 4 to 9hp; Werner 2 to 3hp.]

The passage empties out into a large pilgrimage shrine, where the faithful once congregated to ask the healing and intercession of St. Uraias of Erfurt [Area 16 - Monster & Treasure - leads to Special: Saint's Tomb]. The ceiling is high and vaulted, supported by ornate columns. Three of the walls are carved in bas-reliefs depicting the legend of the saint. The fourth wall, opposite the entrance, contains the low, sealed door to the Saint's burial chamber, flanked by statuary (Ecclesia et Synagoga) and with an inscription in the stone above.


Another black marble plaque is set into the midst of the floor, and Lalie excitedly runs up to see it. The others crowd round, anxiously awaiting her pronouncement on the third clue. But before she has a chance to speak, a nightmare from the very Pit, which has taken up residence in this once-holy place, drops from the ceiling amongst them.

[blind grasper (AC: 15, HD 5, Move: 150', 1d4 attacks, Dmg: 1d6, ML: 10)]

The thing seems to be mostly a collection of a dozen disparate arms, semi-human but grotesquely distended, protruding at all angles from a flabby mound of flesh. The demon has no head nor eyes, but a rasping breath issues from a drooling, lamprey-like mouth in its middle.

[Surprise round]
Everyone recoils in horror as the thing lashes out furiously in all directions [1d4=2 attacks this round]. A bony hand grabs Beate round the neck, shaking her furiously [4 damage leaves her with 1hp]. Artuš feels claws rake down his front, but they fortunately do not penetrate his mail.

[Round 1]
It continues shaking Beate. She goes completely limp, and her rapier slides from her fingers and clatters over the floor [6 damage dropped her to -5hp]. Artuš is pushed back further by the raking claws, but they make no headway against his armour. Margarita loses a sleeve to a grasping hand, and runs to hide behind a column. Werner stabs deep into the centre of the horror with his halberd [6 damage], but in so doing misjudges the elasticity of its limbs. A single claw opens a gash across his face [1 damage puts him at 2hp]. Fredrik swings his sword like one possessed, and lops off two arms in the process [6 more damage drops it to 8hp].

[Round 2]
They've seen it can be hurt. The explorers move in for the kill, and it is hacked to bits in short order.

Artuš kneels down by Beate, and checks her wrist for a pulse, though he can plainly see her neck is broken. Father Fredrik comes up behind him and puts a comforting hand on his shoulder. "She is beyond the help of my prayers -- miserable sinner that I am -- but take cheer! For we stand before the tomb of St. Uraias, and his most wond'rous healing cup. And when by our hands -- and the Grace of God -- the tomb is ope'd, I do not doubt but that there be a miracle within for this good Christian soldier, fallen in battle with the forces of the Serpent!"

Meanwhile Éliane has been trying to convince Sister Margarita to see to Werner's injuries, but the pious warrior waves her away, considering it an offence to the Saint in his vault, tantamount indeed to sacrilege.

Artuš and Fredrik arrange Beate in a more dignified pose whilst Werner uses his polearm to remove the nightmare corpse from the marble plaque. As he drags it into a corner, he stumbles over the body of an earlier visitant to the tomb.

The withered, skeletal corpse is clad in a chain byrnie which has rusted into a solid mass over the course of centuries. A broken and corroded sword lies nearby in two pieces, a pitted great helm beside.

The others (save Lalie, who has already gone from the inscription in the floor to examine the statues flanking the tomb's door) crowd round to see.

"How long d'you suppose the poor soul's been lying there?" asks Éliane.

"From the looks of his armour," says Fredrik, "I'd say three, maybe four hundred years."

"He'll not be needing this bauble, then," says Artuš, prising a gem [worth 2d6x100=300sp] from the pommel of the knight's sword with the point of his dagger.

"Look at this door," calls Lalie. "It's a solid piece of stone!"

Éliane comes over to her side and examines the door, which appears to have been carved in relief from the living rock. "What did the plaque say?" she asks.

"It says, 'Sicut Ecclesia synagogam vicit, tolle e maiore minorem ut clavem ultimam attingas'. That is, 'As the Church conquered the Synagogue, take away the lesser key from the greater, to find the final key'. I thought the statues would be important, but now I'm not so sure."

"I'm sure I don't know what that means," replies Éliane, "but see here: The stones which bear the inscription on the lintel are loose. In fact, I think they're meant to be depressed."

"What does it say?" asks Fredrik.

DEI GLORIA
HIC MAGNVS
HOMO ET EXCELSVS
VIXIT

"This great and noble man lived for the glory of God," translates Margarita.

"A noble sentiment," replies the priest, "but it hardly sounds like another clue."

"It isn't," says Lalie. "but it hides the key. Now, if I push these stones in like so..."

There is a faint shimmer round the doorframe, and then the stone door descends silently into the floor. Beyond is a narrow, brick-lined vault, dominated by a plain stone slab in the centre [Area 17] upon which rests the body of Saint Uraias of Erfurt.

[So what is the saint, really? (1d8)

he really is...
1. a horrible mutant
2. an alien from another dimension
3. an undead monster
4. an undead wizard
5. a demon
6. a disease spirit
7. a pagan knight
8. a time traveller from the future

1d8=4; Level=1d6+4=7

he addresses the party in (1d6): 1 Greek, 2-3 Latin, 4-5 Old German, 5 other ancient language, 6 Telepathy

1d6=3

reaction: 2d6=4, hostile]

The body is a withered corpse, which looks as if it had been dead a fortnight. The skin is stretched taught over the bones, and the mouth hangs open in a noiseless howl. A damp foetor issues forth from the opened tomb, causing the explorers to recoil from the doorway.

"That ungodly smell," says Fredrik. "How is this possible?"

"He's not a skeleton after all these hundreds of years," says Werner. "Is... is this a miracle?"

"The odour of corruption accompanies no miracle," says Margarita, "but rather a sign of the Devil."

The body on the slab sits abruptly upright. The sudden compression of the thorax forces air out from the corpse's chest cavity with an awful wail. It slides forward off the slab and stands, or rather floats, erect. Its feet hang limply downward, toes just scraping the floor. It drifts out towards the explorers, several of whom unconsciously retreat a pace or two. The head of the hovering body lolls at a pronounced angle, and though the mouth does not move, a voice booms forth: "Cur quiescentiam meam obturbavistis?" ["Why have you disturbed my rest?"]

Father Fredrik responds by chanting some Latin of his own by rote -- the 90th psalm [Greek numbering] -- by rote, and produces a phial of holy water with which to exorcise this unholy monster.


"Saint" Uraias of Erfurt (AC: 15, Lv 7, HP: 21 Move: 120', 1 attack, Dmg: 1d8, ML: 12, Special: spells, half damage from mundane weapons)
Spells memorised-
1 faerie fire, unseen servant, darkness
2 forget, ray of enfeeblement, invisibility
3 howl of the moon, hold person
4 wall of ice

[Round 1 - Wizard has initiative]
A staccato series of alien syllables, unpronounceable by any human tongue, thunders forth from the Saint. The temperature in the chapel drops abruptly as the southern wall becomes coated in a thick sheet of ice, sealing the explorers in with the floating horror [casts Wall of Ice].

Fredrik asperses the false saint with the phial of holy water, chanting all the while. The droplets of blessèd liquid are like acid to the unholy creature, whose pallid skin burns and blisters wherever they touch [6 damage put it at 15hp]. Éliane takes aim and discharges her pistol. The ball liquefies one white, staring eye and erupts out the back of the skull with a splatter of goo, but it hardly seems to mind [6/2=3 damage, putting it at 12hp].

Artuš and Werner move in cautiously with weapons drawn [miss,miss], Lalie sheathes her sword to prepare a spell, and Margarita merely hides behind a column [she alone failed her ML check].

[Round 2]
The floating wizard weaves another spell, a curse which robs the ensorcelled of all will. Artuš and Éliane freeze in place, as if rooted to the spot; only their eyes shew that they are still conscious, darting wildly in panic and terror [hold person affects 1d3+1=3 targets (A,F,É); only Fredrik made his saving throw; the Hold lasts until round 16].

Fredrik also feels the vile talons of witchcraft clutch at this very soul. He stumbles for a moment over the words of the psalm, but begins again defiantly. His sword falls far short of the fiend however; a reversal that would make a lesser man question his faith [miss].

Meanwhile Lalie has been pronouncing the dread wasting curse. The wizard's dead flesh is burnt and blasted by her magic, but with less effect than she had hoped [her magic missile does 3 damage].

Werner skewers it with his halberd, snapping ribs as he give the haft a mighty turn, but it still hangs there impassively [5/2=3 damage, putting it at 6hp].

[Round 3]
The wizard's disembodied voice drops to a low moan, which rises in pitch and intensity into a wolf-like howl. The howl suddenly changes -- it is no longer the undead wizard, but Father Fredrik himself who is ululating like a wild beast. The priest throws down his sword and starts tearing at his clothing like a madman [he failed his saving throw vs. Howl of the Moon].

Lalie draws her rapier [-2 attack], but the slash she delivers across the wizard's  torso seems an annoyance at best. Werner's jab at its stomach fares little better [miss,miss].

[Round 4]
The corpse draws in a terrible whistling and grating breath. Werner feels as if the strength has been literally sucked out of him, and he staggers forward with a clumsy swing of his halberd, which is suddenly a great weight in his shaking hands [failed save against Ray of Enfeeblement reduces his Strength & rolled damage by 1/3; he misses his attack].

Fredrik has doffed his mail coat, and is busy wriggling out of his gambeson.

Lalie lays into the corpse-wizard, taking her rapier in both hands. Blow after blow carves deep rents in its livid flesh [8/2=4 damage leaves it with 2hp].

[Round 5]
And then it suddenly vanishes [casts Invisibility]. Lalie and Werner's weapons strike only empty air. They wheel about, looking to see where it has gone, but it is nowhere to be seen.

Fredrik is naked, and frothing at the mouth, but neither Lalie nor Werner account him a threat -- until it is too late!

[Round 6]
Fredrik pounces on Werner, and tears out his throat with his teeth. A fountain of blood spurts up as Werner falls lifeless to the floor. The gory-mouthed priest turns toward Lalie with savage murder in his eyes, and makes ready to spring. Lalie gazes just as fiercely back, and lunges with her rapier. She buries the blade up to the hilt in his chest, killing the poor deranged priest instantly. She applies her boot to the body and kicks it down off her blade.

[Howl of the Moon gives the subject an unarmed attack for 1d6+2 damage. 6 points dropped Werner to -4hp, dead. Lalie hit Fredrik for 7 damage, putting him also at -4hp, dead.]

"Reveni muricide!" shouts Lalie at the empty air. "Ensis etiam sitit!" ["Come back you coward! My blade is still thirsty."]

[Round 7]
The wizard is suddenly behind her, and she can hear it pronouncing a curse to steal the light from her eyes, but the magic just washes over her [Darkness; she saves].

"Ἢ βάσκαινε ἢ βάσκε!" laughs Lalie, defiantly. ["Either cast a spell (baskaine) or go away (baske)"]

But perhaps she should be concentrating more on mêlée than repartie; for waving her rapier about in a clumsy, amateurish fashion does her no credit [miss].

[Round 8]
The corpse flies forward with alarming speed, clawed hands outstretched; it aims to tear her apart. She is suddenly quiet and sensible, and not only does her blade remove the fingertips that come too close, but the point finds its way up into the gaping mouth and through the neck. The top vertebra separates from the head with a pop, and then Lalie's sword becomes suddenly heavy. She almost drops it as the corpse wizard crashes to the floor before her [4/2=2 damage, dropping it to 0hp].

She wastes no time, but sets to hacking the head completely off the neck, then kicking it away for good measure.

Margarita emerges meekly from behind the column. "Is it over? Did you stop it?"

"Fous-moi la paix, connasse," snaps Lalie.

Margarita doesn't speak French [Language roll, 1d6=6], but somehow Lalie's rejoinder could not be more clear. She tries to tend to the fallen priest whilst Lalie paces angrily.

Soon after, Artuš and Éliane find they can move again. They examine the wall of ice covering the exit, and Lalie sadly notes she knows of no counter-spell to free them. Artuš kindles a torch and tries applying it to the ice, but to no great effect. He begins hacking away at it with Werner's halberd, similarly in vain. 

Éliane scolds Lalie gently about paying more attention to word-play than sword-play, but Lalie becomes defensive, and the two fall to bickering loudly. Artuš is also ignorant of the French tongue, but again, the substance of their words transcends language. As it shows no sign of soon abating, Artuš decides to step in.

"My good ladies, please! Did you come here to fight like an old married couple, or did you come here to loot this ancient tomb?"

"Let's never quarrel again, dearest," says Éliane.

"At least not until we've seen the treasure, my sweet," replies Lalie.

[I used Scarlet Heroes as a basis for the trove, but reduced the coins by 90%, as it didn't seem like an ancient wizard would be imprisoned/interred with a pile of cash:
C7 Small Sinister Tomb 1d6 x 500 gp, 1d6 Precious Furniture, 1d6 Costly Gems, 1d6 Costly Jewelry, 1d4 Lesser and 25% for one Greater Magic Item]


A shelf is set into the wall of the little tomb, and upon it, treasure does indeed sparkle. The three explorers gather round it, greed and wonder inuring them to the smell of rank decay. Lalie's eyes are immediately arrested by a stack of loose parchment leaves, covered in scribbled writing, and some brittle papyrus rolls, bearing writing in the same messy hand. Artuš is more interested in a trio of stoppered glass vials. One is plain glass, the second has been marked in blue paint with an upsilon (ϒ), the third has a parchment label on which is inscribed the word 'bibe' ['drink' in Latin]. Éliane is marvelling at a pair of fine bead necklaces, one of gold-capped cornelian, the other of gold-capped amethyst [300sp & 400sp]


A plain clay bowl contains a pile of old silver coins [100sp], which hide a green garnet [150sp] amongst them. The promised miraculous cup of St. Uraias of Erfurt is either missing or never existed; neither Artuš, Lalie, nor Éliane care, and Margarita is so overwrought by the horrors she has witnessed that she doesn't even remember they were looking for it.

Éliane is pestering Lalie to give her the mirror she carries in her pack. She aims to try on these lovely jewels and decide which looks best against her skin. Artuš helpfully has volunteered to hold both mirror and lantern.

Lalie is too engrossed in the papers to put up any resistance, or caution her friend about trying on strange jewellery from a wizard's tomb. She surrenders her pack and goes out into the other room, rudely snatches the torch from the cowering Margarita, and starts cutting open the twice-dead wizard's stomach. It's a foul and noisome business, so she uses the fallen priest's sword to do it. But after a few minutes of prodding the corpse's liquefying innards, she finally finds her prize: an oblong, grey stone with pink tumescent protuberances which bear an uncanny likeness to the folds of a human brain.

[The rock must be swallowed, which requires the swallower to make a saving throw against Death or suffer 1 point of damage as it goes down. If a natural 1 is rolled, a second death save is required to avoid choking to death; 1d6 damage is suffered even if this succeeds. The rock will pass through the user's system naturally after 1d3+1 days (uncomfortable, but no hit point damage), at which time it must be cleansed and suffumigated with incense (costing 1d20+20sp) for 1 entire week before it may be used again. Whilst it is inside the user, their mind-effecting spells require two successful saving throws to resist.

N.B. I used the tables in Seclusium of Orphone to generate the magic item. The form of the thing (a small rock) was suggested by the fact that I rolled 'eaten' on the Activation table. The brain-like appearance was suggested by the mind-effecting spells result, which reminded me of this cool rock I found in an empty lot when I was a kid.]

The ice wall lasts for two more hours, by which time Éliane and Artuš have worked out the fairest way to divide all the treasure whilst Lalie sat absorbed in the wizard's writings. She is a bit disappointed that no grimoire was a part of the haul, but she is content with the rest.

[Q: Any problems getting out of dungeon? likely (3+): O2 C1 - No, and... quiet night
Q: Ghoul visit again? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - Yes.
+Event: Horror - NPC - lose / desires
Q: Ghoul keep its part of the bargain? Likely (3+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...]

The explorers return to the surface, dragging Werner's body behind them. He is given a decent enough burial. Artuš tries to tell Margarita that they will return for Fredrik's body, but she barely hears his words, to the extent that he doesn't even finish the lie. The nun has changed her mind about leaving, and now wants to join an enclosed order. That evening she prays loudly by the overgrown altar until she passes out from exhaustion.

That night, as Lalie keeps watch by the campfire (next to the dozing Éliane), the ghoul reappears. It lopes over to sit by the fire, clasping its clawed hands expectantly.

"It is done, friend ghoul," says Lalie. "I'm sorry about the mess, but he put up quite the fight."

"I see," it replies. "I'd best get to it then, before the others find the unguarded feast."

"Of course."

"Perhaps our paths will cross again. I won't forget this great service you've done for me."

The ghoul makes to rise, but Lalie calls after him, "Wait! I never got your name."

"I was once known as Fortunatus. It's as good a name as any."

"I'm Lalie -- vel Laelia, si mavis -- and this sleeping angel here is Éliane."

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance, mesdames. Au revoir."

"Au revoir. Et bon appétit !"


Dénouement

The next morning they break camp. They make a hard march back to Rötenzell to re-supply, as all their food rotted away during the night [which seemed very mysterious, but was just Scarlet Heroes wilderness event]. Margarita wants to return to her convent and the others are perfectly happy to take her there, as it's on the road to Jena. They leave her at the cloister with her share of the treasure -- though for their troubles they give her a short share (1/5 instead of 1/4). Once free of their burden, Artuš, Lalie, and Éliane head towards the city. On the road, they fall to talking.

"So," says Éliane, "just what are we going to do in Jena?"

"I don't really care," says Lalie. "Mostly I just want to buy clean clothes."

"Will you be travelling on, then?" asks Artuš.

"Oh, certainly," responds Lalie.

"If you want to travel with us, we could definitely use your sword," says Éliane. "In fact, we'd even be open to suggestions on where to go next."

"Well," says Artuš, "I haven't been home in a long time. It might be nice to head that way."

"Just where are you from, anyway?" asks Éliane.

"Hořice."

"What?" says Éliane

"Is that even a word?" asks Lalie.

"Hořice -- Horschitz. In Bohemia."

"Never heard of it," says Éliane.

"Me either," says Lalie. "But I've always wanted to see Prague."


- - -    - - -   - - -


And so the adventure draws to its conclusion. Éliane, Lalie, and Artuš will show up in at some point in my Rudolfine Prague campaign as replacement PCs -- three slots have already opened up, but I am expecting more casualties -- but for now we must bid them au revoir / vale / na schledanou.

Fortunatus the ghoul will certainly be a recurring NPC. Eating the Saint shall have given him magic-user levels.

XP:
- Each survivor earns 229xp from combat.
- 3722sp worth of treasure recovered = 930xp each
- Lalie & Éliane earn 25 each extra for negotiating with the ghoul

Totals: Artuš earns 1159xp, Lalie & Éliane earn 1184xp

Artuš advances to 2nd level: (3+2con)= +5hp
Lalie advances to 3rd level: (3-1con)= +2hp, Continual Light (will be) added to her spellbook

They will split the remaining treasure 3 ways, and I'll deduct a hefty sum for travelling (in style). Éliane has had a 5000sp gem hidden in the toe of her boot since she and Lalie left England. Perhaps they will buy a townhouse with it when they reach Prague.