Saturday, 22 October 2016

House Rules for LotFP Magic in the Early Modern Period

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.

First level cleric spells can function as written, and are "memorised" through prayer as in the book. For second level spells and higher, clerics will need a spellbook exactly as do magic-users.

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 (strike from the spell list), but Comprehend Languages may be.

Furthermore, clerics and magic-users may learn spells off each other's lists, but the spells will count as being one level higher. Thus, a cleric may learn and prepare Magic Missile as a second level spell from their spellbook, and a magic-user may learn and prepare Cure Light wounds as a second level spell from theirs (n.b. as a second level spell, it must be memorised through study, not prayer). The rules for spell casting can remain as is (though see Ritual Magic below), with the spell list from which the spell is taken determining the procedure. Thus, the Encumbrance restrictions for casting spells on the Magic-User list apply to Clerics casting them as well.

Clerics start with access to their whole first level list, but gain second level and higher spells exactly as do magic-users. Spells gained for "free" when gaining a character level must be rolled on one's own class list.

Clerics casting lots of magic-user spells -- or even just higher level cleric ones -- will most certainly run afoul of the Church authorities.

Note that these rules 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.

Now, as to individual rules changes (page references to the Rules & Magic book)...

Beginning Spells (p.79)
Read Magic is no longer needed, so a beginning Magic-User's spellbook just contains three random first level spells (an elf's would contain just one).

Preparing Spells Each Day (p.79)
~as written~

Spell Scrolls (p.80)
Scrolls are written in natural languages, so magic-users use the cleric rules. Additionally, magic-users and clerics can now use each other's scrolls interchangeably. Like a spellbook, the language of a scroll may be disguised with obscure alphabets or written in code, requiring a bit of decipherment (or a Comprehend Languages spell) to use.

The spell scroll is a D&D convention rather than a real-world one. The Greek magical papyri may look like the classical D&D scroll, but they are in fact spellbooks. In a campaign grounded more in the real world than a fantasy one, scrolls may not appear, or be very rare items. In their stead, I have created rules for Talismans.

An instance of the Divination spell (PGM II 141-175, LotFP Rules and Magic p.101)

Talismans ~new~
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). Use the rules for creating Spell Scrolls for time and cost. A parchment talisman requires the use of a library, others will require a laboratory. A non-spellcaster may use a talisman, 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.

Curse tablets may be made in the same way. The magic (specifically, the Bestow Curse spell) is released when the subject of the curse passes through a certain area wherein the tablet lies buried. Alternately, if a part of the 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).

Writing a scroll (p.80)
~as written~

Transcribing Spells (p.80)
...from a Scroll to a Spellbook
This is not really possible, as only the end process will be visible, and much of the theory behind it will not be recorded. A spell scroll (or parchment talisman) will reduce the total research time to learn a new spell by Spell Level x 1d6 Days. This process uses up the magic of the scroll.

...from Spellbook to Spellbook
As written, provided the magic-user can read the language of the spellbook (Read Magic is no longer needed).

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, rendering a spell useless by the PC spellcaster. Check for each spell the first time it is cast.

Researching a Spell (p.80)
~as written~

Creating a Potion (p.81)
As written, though the magic-user will not necessarily need the help of a cleric.

Creating a Staff or Wand (p.81)
~as written~

Ritual casting ~new~
A spell may be cast as a ritual. Use the costs and times for Writing a Scroll as indicated in the rule book, but treat the spell as being one level lower (thus, a Magic-User casting a 3rd level cleric spell as a ritual treats it as a 3rd level spell).

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.

Time of Magical Activities (p.82)
Transcription and 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.

Rolling for time taken: Intelligence modifiers are now applied to the die rolls BEFORE multiplying by spell levels, but all operations other than creating a staff or wand have a minimum of 1 day per spell level. Supplies must be purchased in advance (at the indicated costs). Running out will cause the operation to be interrupted. If more supplies are purchased than are needed, the excess can be used for the next research or enchanting procedure, but will only count as 1d100% of their purchased value  due to the differing requirements of each individual operation. Transcription from one book to another does not require a library, but neither can it be aided by the services of a hired scholar (all other rules for libraries, laboratories, and retainers are unchanged).

Option: Change the cost of transcription from book to book (only) to copper pieces. Even coloured ink isn't that expensive.

Libraries and Laboratories (p.83)
As written, but note that Clerics will need these now as well.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

LotFP solo - Horror adventure : epilogue

When Lalie and Éliane finally wake up the next morning, the sun is streaming in the window of their room at the village inn. Éliane sits up, stretches and yawns heartily. Lalie is still half-hiding under the covers in her bed across the room. Éliane moves to the small window and peers out. "How long did we sleep?" she asks.

"Dunno," says Lalie. "Can't be past ten. We asked the landlady to wake us."

"I think she forgot. The sun's way too high for it to still be morning."

"After what we've been through, I wouldn't be surprised if she did try to wake us and we just slept through it."

Éliane just yawns again in reply, and rubs the sleep from her eyes. After a few moments she throws on a cloak over her shift. "Well I'm going to make her bring us breakfast anyways," she says.

She unbolts the door and pushes it ajar then recoils, wrinkling her nose. "Ugh! it smells like someone's been picking wildflowers..."

[You know that part of the horror movie where it looks like everything is over, but the monster shows up that one more time...? It's harder to do in a blog, but I like to play with formats--

surprise rolls: PCs 5, it 1]

Suddenly, Éliane slams the door and throws the bolt.

"What? What's wrong?" asks Lalie, sitting bolt upright.

Éliane snatches the pistols from the night table. "It's followed us here. That... that thing!"

Lalie grabs a pistol and her sword belt, strapping it haphazardly over her night shift. "Do you think it saw you?"

The door rattles as a heavy form smashes against it.

"I'd say it did."

Lalie and Éliane back onto their beds away from the door. Lalie puts her pistols down in easy reach, and prepares to use her magic.

The thing smashes against the door once, twice, and on the third go the door bursts open as the bolt is ripped free from the frame.

[Round 1 - initiative: PCs 6, it 3]
Lalie speaks a quick incantation as the thing bursts into the room. Greenish flames leap from her fingertips and play over the beast, eating away at its gruesome hide [casts magic missile for 2d4=7 damage; it's down to 11hp]. Éliane discharges a pistol even as it leaps at her. The ball rips into its shoulder, and putrid brown ooze sprays from the wound [3 damage puts it at 8hp]. It contorts in pain and its jaws snap shut well short of Éliane [rolled a 5, missed].

[Round 2]
Éliane fires her second pistol right between its shoulders. It whimpers once and loses all the strength in its limbs, flopping down senseless on the floor [8 damage puts it a 0hp]. Lalie draws her rapier and leaps down atop it, piercing its torso and ramming the point of her blade into the floorboards beneath it [4 damage kills it].

She wipes the steaming gore from her sword on the blankets. Éliane is already reloading her pistols. Both dress in haste and run out of the room, gagging from the overpowering smell of honeysuckle radiating from the slain abomination.

All the other inhabitants of the inn have either been slaughtered or fled, but there are still horses in the stable. Our heroines help themselves to a fine pair, and ride hard for Amiens.

~ fin ~

Friday, 14 October 2016

LotFP solo - Horror adventure : part III

Scene 7

Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=4, Interrupt (was: follow ghost to get their equipment back)
Interrupt:  PC negative - doubt / Friend (see below)

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord & lady of manor, servants

Threads: get equipment back, escape

Lalie and Éliane creep down a ladder into the blackness of a bare and dusty attic. When their eyes adjust to the their new surroundings, they find that their spectral guide is nowhere in sight. The pair slink forward to see a door at the foot of another stair opening, seemingly of its own accord. They follow down the steps, and out into a dark landing.

"Which way do we go?" whispers Éliane. "Now I really can't see."

As if in response, a door at end of the landing slowly opens.

[Q: Is there light beyond? 50/50 (4+): O6 C4 - Yes, but...]

A faint light comes from the room beyond. Lalie and Éliane make their way towards the feeble luminescence, moving as quietly as possible, though the floorboards creak and groan beneath their feet.

[1d6=1, PCs surprised]

A shout comes from behind: "Get them!"

They turn instinctively at the sound, to see a man wearing a costly, brocaded doublet scuttling along the ceiling behind them on all fours.

[1d6=] Four servants are in the dimly lit room ahead. They all grab knives and rush onto the landing.

"You're surrounded!" says the man as he scurries down onto the floor. "Put down your weapons if you want to live!"

There seems no choice for our heroines but to comply.

[The man in the brocade is a magic-user. When I rolled the Doubt / Friend interrupt, it suddenly seemed obvious that the ghost was really an illusion. I rolled a random Magic-User of level 1d6+2, giving (d6=) him Phantasmal Force and rolling the rest of his spells randomly. He used Unseen Servant to open the doors, and Spider Climb to sneak down behind the PCs.]

Magic-user, 5th Level, HP 11
CH 4 CN 9 DX 11 IN 16 ST 8 WI 11
Spells: 1st-- charm person, (spider climb), (unseen servant); 2nd-- (phantasmal force), mirror image; 3rd-- howl of the moon

Scene 8

Madness (d6)

Setup: chaos die=4, Interrupt (was: taken to prison)
Interrupt:  NPC action - Magic-user - perceive / presence

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord & lady of manor, servants, Magic-user

Threads: get equipment back, escape

The well-dressed mage has a pair of knife-wielding servants accompany him to march Éliane and Lalie down to the cellar of the manor house. He seems stylish and elegant in his expensive clothing and neatly-trimmed greying beard, but Lalie notes that his jewellery is very simple, and he wears no signet ring; he must be an underling to the manor's lord. But he does take a certain interest in the duo.

"You're the two with the rather interesting travelling chest," says the mage.

"I don't know what you mean," says Lalie.

"Haudquaquam ignoras, venefica."

"Heu, recte dicis."

"If you two are going to talk all wizardy," interjects Éliane, "then please just kill me now."

"My apologies, good lady. But I mean to say that you may be of more use to use than the rest of that rabble with whom you were travelling. But hold! what's that smell? No! It's got in the house! Take them! I give them to you! Leave me alone!"

A cloying smell of honeysuckle fills the air. Moments later, a terrible beast pads into the light. It is the size and general shape of a mastiff, with rotten, mangy skin hanging off its frame in festering tatters. In the places where its skin has fallen away, a steaming red chitin shows through, as if something alien and malign is growing beneath.

It regards the assemblage of trembling humans with empty, smouldering eye sockets, and launches itself at the nearest one. As the others look on in paralytic horror, the beast tears the unfortunate man apart with tooth and claw, then raises its bloody snout and emits a slow, sweetly-scented sigh.

[At some point I made a monster generator (on an automated Excel spreadsheet) combining the tables at the back of No Salvation for Witches with the powers table from the Summon Spell. So:

Form: Mange-covered hound.
Appendage: Scalding hot red exoskeleton
Smell: Honeysuckle

Nameless Beast (AC: 15, HD 4, Move: 150', 1 attack, Dmg: 1d8+paralysis, ML: 9, Special: Immune to cold)

It had won the initiative. The PCs are next, followed by the NPCs.]

Without a moment's hesitation, Lalie, Éliane, and their captors all turn tail and flee. The terrific beast bounds after them.

[Chase rules -- everyone rolls 1d20 + their movement rate.
E 16+12
L 8+12
MU 2+12
serv 3+12
it 9+15
The Magic-user is slowest...]

Éliane easily out-distances the rest, running blindly through room after room. Lalie is not terribly far behind, followed by the knife-wielding chambermaid. The well-dressed wizard is a poor runner, and the beast catches up with him. None dare pause when they hear his sudden sharp scream, nor the sounds of rending flesh thereafter.

[8 damage brought the M-U to 3hp, but he failed his save against paralysis.

I rolled a random location on the Scarlet Heroes dungeon-habitation places table to see where their flight took the PCs; d20=great hall

Q: Does the servant follow? Likely (3+): O6 C6 - Yes
+Event:  Move toward a thread - get equipment back - surprize / door]

In her panic Éliane runs straight past the front door and into the great hall. Lalie and the chambermaid follow close behind. Éliane skirts the long table and sideboards, throws open the first door she sees, and ducks inside. Lalie bursts in right after, then the chambermaid, who pulls the door quickly to.

Inside the small parlour is a small table with -- wonder of wonders! -- the little travelling chest and the rest of Éliane's and Lalie's possessions spread out over it.

[Initiative rolls were tied; the chambermaid has DEX 8]

Éliane [18 dex] grabs one of the pistols before the maid has time to react. Lalie [9 dex] follows suit a moment later. The two train their pistols on the young woman.

[She has a ML of 7, with a -2 penalty for the circumstances, but 2d6=5] The maid has a crazed look in her eye, whether it be terror or bravado or simple madness none can say. She rushes at Lalie, stabbing downward with her gleaming knife. The blade bites into her shoulder and she cries out in surprise [2 damage drops her to 4hp].

[Round 2]
Éliane hesitates, surprised at this turn of events. But Lalie doesn't waver, reacting before she even feels the pain of her wound. She presses her pistol into the centre of the maid's stomach and discharges it. The report is deafening in the small space. The ball erupts out of the maid's back in a shower of blood, flesh, and fragments of spine, and embeds itself in the heavy wooden door. The maid crumples [8 damage drops her to -3hp, mortally wounded].

"Shit!" cries Éliane, "Now everyone will know where we are!"

"Then grab our chest and lets away!"

[Q: Do they have time to grab all their stuff before anyone comes looking? 50/50 (4+): O2 C1 - No, and...

Who comes looking? (1d4): 1 the monster, 2 1d4 servants, 3 lord and/or lady, 4 roll 1d3 to see who isn't coming off that list]

They take up their things in haste. Éliane takes the little chest under her arm as Lalie throws her sword belt over her neck picks up the loose items in her skirt. Each has a pistol in their free hand.

When they rush back into the great hall, they are confronted by a group of three more servants armed with old-fashioned swords and a hunting crossbow. The servants seem nervous, and almost ignore the two women they are ostensibly here to recapture.

Then one lets out a shriek.

"That smell!" screams another. "The shot has summoned the monster!"

Éliane's nose begins to wrinkle at the cloying scent of honeysuckle, then the beast smashes through the doors into the hall.

[Initiative: PCs 4, it 1, servants 5]

Everyone starts running. The steaming horror gives gleeful chase.

[Chase rolls (Movement rate + 1d20)--
3 servants 25,15,32
L 29 E 24
it 35

Q: Can PCs get out a window in the next room? 50/50 (4+): O5 C6 - Yes
Q: Do the servants give chase? Likely (3+): O1 C 2 - No, and...
Q: Do the PCs reach a village safely? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...]

They run into the next room off the great hall as the beast pounces upon the slowest servant. The sounds of terrified screaming and breaking bones are thankfully muffled when the heavy door is closed behind them.

The two remaining servants block the door with a heavy table whilst Lalie uses a chair to smash open a window. The casement gives way, and Lalie jumps right through, followed moments later by Éliane and the two servants. The servants disappear round the back of the manor as Éliane and Lalie sprint down the drive and away.

They walk the rest of the night down the forest road, insensible to the wind and rain. The storm lets up as dawn is breaking, and our heroines come upon a sleepy village. They make straight for the inn, exchange a few words and coins with the landlady, and march up to their rooms to sleep away the entire day.

~ ~ ~ ~

Event Tables

All told, the adjusted Mythic event meaning tables worked well for me. They could probably stand a bit of editing still, but in the main I found that I spent a lot less time trying to make sense of the results in a way that fit the adventure, and I gave up on the results and re-rolled a lot less often too. On the success of this, I moved over to using the Monk charts for my main adventure as well. I wasn't expecting this to be a monster-movie adventure, but I don't think the tables are to blame. I honestly had no opinion about how the adventure should go other than see-what-happens.


The PCs have defeated a total of five 0-level humans, for (5x10xp)÷2PCs=25xp each. They got 0sp worth of treasure, for a total of 0÷2=0xp each.

My other historical game is running along much the same lines. To this end, I've devised a system for earning XP on a per-scene basis, based on the Chaos Factor table in my MCSV variations for Mythic. Each scene is now worth a set number of XP, divided equally amongst all PCs and NPCs in the party who were present. This replaces treasure XP. XP for defeating enemies is still calculated normally, especially since it will often be a matter of more than one scene (or even adventure) spent moving against a powerful enemy. I tend to run dungeons as single scenes, so those would provide XP normally. Very short scenes might not be counted for XP at all, though in longer adventures (44 scenes is my record, I think) this would all even out.

Chaos Factor Chaos Die XP
------------ --------- ---
*Boring        d20       0
Under control  d12      50
Average        d10     100
Out of control d8      150
Madness        d6      200
*Abject Chaos  d5      350
*Plaything of
   the Gods    d4      500

* optional chaos factors

Based on this, Scenes 1 & 2 were Out of Control, divided between 8 N/PCs.
Scene 3 was also Out of Control, and the party was down to the 2 PCs. Scene 4 was just Philippe, so the PCs earned nothing thereby. Scenes 5-8 descended into Madness for the 2 PCs. So:

  300÷8=  37xp
  150÷2=  75xp
+ 800÷2= 400xp
scenes:  512xp
combat:  +25xp
total:   537xp each

Thursday, 6 October 2016

LotFP solo - Horror adventure : part II

Scene 3

Out of control (d8)

Setup: through the manor

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord&lady of manor, servants

Threads: get equipment back, escape

The maid leads Éliane and Lalie out into the entrance hall, where candles still burn brightly. The rest of the manse is dark, and there are great shadows cast up the grand staircase. Éliane holds a dagger at the maid's back as they proceed.

[Q: Is anyone else about on the ground floor? 50/50 (4+): O6 C8 - Yes
Q: All servants? Unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - Yes, and... all doing more -or-less mundane things.
1d6=4 servants. reaction=6, neutral.
d6=5,4 neither side surprised.]

Despite the late hour, servants are moving to and fro on their appointed tasks. There are four in the hall and on the landing above. Éliane quickly conceals her dagger in her sleeve. Lalie does her best to hide the poker behind her back.

"Be so good as to show us up to our rooms," says Éliane.

[Q: Does this actually work? Unlikely (5+): O2 C8 - No.]

But when they get closer to the stairs, the maid leading them [1d8: 1 shouts, 2-4 runs, 5-6 attacks, 7-8 something odd; d8=4] turns and flees towards some other servants.

"Call the [d6=] master! Don't let them escape!"

The servants all run off in (d4=) four different directions. Éliane and Lalie bolt for the front door. [1d4-1=] A  single houseboy interposes himself between them and freedom.

[Round 1 - he wins initiative]
He makes a grab for Lalie, but she wrenches her arm free [failed grapple attempt]. Éliane slashes him across the chest with her dagger [3 damage], and Lalie lays him low with a blow from the poker [2 more damage brings him to 0hp, unconscious].

[Q: Is the front door bolted? 50/50 (4+): O1 C1 - No, and...they are already running through it
+Event: PC negative - Lalie - spread / Corse]

They barely slacken their pace and erupt straight out through the front doors. Éliane bounds down the marble steps in one graceful leap, but Lalie slides through some red goo spreading over the porch -- the shredded remains of a human (?) corpse. She almost falls on her face, but windmilling her arms she regains her balance and keeps running [save vs. paralysis succeeded].

They rush out into darkness of the manor's park, where they hide behind some sculpted hedges to catch their breath and make a plan.

Scene 4

increases to Madness (d6)

Setup: d6=3, Interrupt (was: plan to get stuff back)
Interrupt:  NPC Negative - Philippe - quit / House

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord&lady of manor, servants

Threads: get equipment back, escape

Suddenly there is a great crash as Philippe hurls himself through the window, having smashed through the shutters and wooden framed glass. He runs out screaming into the darkness. He is bleeding from numerous cuts to his hands and face [1d6=2damage total, 5hp left]. [d4-1=] Three servants clamber out the window in pursuit.

[All the same movement rate, so simple d20s are rolled for the chase: Philippe 11, servants 8,2,15.]

One of the maids catches up to Philippe and attempts to take him down [STR 13, d20+1=17, vs. Philippe's d20+0=11: grappled]. She jumps on his back and sends him sprawling into the grass. The other two servants are on him in a moment, and they kick him into unconsciousness.

His senseless form is dragged back into the house.

Scene 5

Madness (d6)

Setup: plan to get stuff back

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord/lady of manor, servants

Threads: get equipment back, escape

"Now what?" asks Éliane.

"We need to get our treasures back," says Lalie. "They were so hard won."

"Agreed. And our weapons. Then we should get some horses and get out of this awful place."

"So how do we proceed?"

"The maid said our things were brought upstairs. We'll have to climb in a window and then do a bit of sneaking round."

"And if we jump another servant to help us, we bind their hands this time. And maybe gag them."

"We should wait for things to settle first."

"I'm cold..."

[Q: Do they see anything unusual whilst they wait? Unlikely (5+): O6 C2 - Yes, and...
d30 Sandbox Companion table AG6 - Phenomena: d30=strange weather]

"OW!" exclaims Lalie. "Something fell from the tree and hit my head. Ewww. It's a frog. In my hair! Get it out!"

"Don't be silly, it's just a little animal. It can't hurt you. See, it's lost a leg in the fall. That's strange, it only has one eye... and... ears?"

Then another three-legged frog-like creature falls from the sky with a wet plop. And another. And another. A shower of them is spit forth from the nauseated heavens, and soon the lawn is crawling with hopping, flopping, slimy, writhing, mutant frogs. Those that survive the fall begin to feast upon those that do not, biting them with decidedly un-batrachian fangs.

Éliane and Lalie make a run for the stables, sprinting away from the shower of awfulness.

[Q: Do they get there unmolested? Unlikely (5+): O5 C6 - Yes.
Q: Anyone about? 50/50 (4+): O3 C2 - No, and...]

They rush inside the half-open door into the empty stables.

"Shit! where are the horses?" exclaims Éliane.

"How will we ever get out of here?" responds Lalie.

"First we need our guns. Then I suppose we go on foot..."

"But there must be horses! We came in the wagon."

[Q: Is the wagon present? Doubtful (6): O1 C3 - No, but...]

"Look there! the wagon cut across the grass. It left quite the ruts."

"Why would they take the wagon behind the house?"

"Weapons first, luv. I can't imagine they went anywhere nice."

Scene 6

Madness (d6)

Setup: sneak back in

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord&lady of manor, servants

Threads: get equipment back, escape

The shower of blasphemous frog-things soon ceases. Beyond the lantern-light of the front porch, the ground is an amorphous, writhing mass of the grotesque creatures.

"So how do we get in?" asks Lalie, peering out the stable door.

"I think the front door is out," replies Éliane, "even if we didn't have to wade through those things to get to it. Anyway, I think going in a first floor window might be safest."

"I do so trust your expertise in these matters," says Lalie.

[Q: Is there a trellis, vines, or something to make it a simple climb(i.e. not need a skill check)? 50/50 (4+): O5 C4 - Yes, but... up to the roof, not near any windows.]

"Not the most direct route," says Éliane, "but I think I can get us in unannounced. Follow me."

Éliane sneaks up to the corner of the manor house, Lalie close behind her. Lalie ties the poker to her belt with a kerchief so she doesn't lose it as Éliane begins scaling a vine-laden trellis up towards the roof. "It's solid enough," she calls down, and Lalie begins climbing after her.

[Q: Do they find a way in? Certain (2+): O2 C5 - Yes.
Q: Do they see anything interesting from up top? Likely (3+): O3 C3 - Yes, but... uncertain
+ Event:  Remote event - appear / Ghost

Well, then...]

Once atop the roof, they look down at the grounds to see if anything unusual stands out. There is the edge of a forest some hundred yards behind the house. A strange glow is visible, diffuse and yellow in the mist between the trees. What its source might be, neither can say.

As they make their cautious way in the darkness, a soft light appears in the air before them, indistinct at first, but quickly resolving into the ghostly shape of a young woman.

NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: sociable
scheming - intent - previous scene]

"You must stop him!" says the spirit in a far-away voice, "He's mad! He thinks it will give him power but in truth it will only bring doom! For him, and for everyone!"

"I, uh, we, uh..." says a surprised Éliane.

"I was to be the young bride of Comte Kelnor, who sacrificed me to dark powers on my wedding night."

"Oh... um..." adds Lalie.

"I see the gleam in your eyes, that hunger after treasure. I will tell you where there lies a treasure beyond price, but you must stop him! Else it will be your deaths. Even if you leave here with your lives, you'll live but a moment longer unless he be stopped!"

"Then help we must," says Éliane. "But show us to our rooms first. We need our weapons to stop this madness!"

"Follow me!"

And so saying, the ghost glides silently downward through a trap door into the house. Lalie and Éliane follow quickly behind, and descend into the darkness of the attic.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

LotFP solo - Horror adventure: setup & part I

As it's October, I really wanted to get back to horror gaming. And earlier this year, I got to go to a handful of lectures whose common thread was magic and the occult in early modern Europe. The astute amongst you will already have gleaned that this means some Lamentations of the Flame Princess is in order. I could, of course, have taken up again the campaign I already have going, but the confluence of history and magic and horror has come together in yet another new project, or rather, the realisation of one of those ideas I've had rolling about in my head for years.

So I did the unthinkable, and started a campaign set in early modern Europe. I have a bit to say about historical gaming, but I will save that for another post.

Very recently in the Lone Wolf Roleplaying community, Alex Yari made a post about using converted word clouds generated from books to create themed solo gaming oracles. This struck a real chord with me, and I made two over the course of an evening (one silly, one serious), distilling novels into the Mythic event tables. So, naturally, I want to see one in action.

My historical campaign is well under way, but it might be December by the time I get it all written up. But, as it is also an LotFP game, I have been expecting heavy casualties (it's a bit of a slow burn; in ~15 scenes I've only lost 2/8 PCs). To that end, I created a secondary party of six PCs and their two 0-level hirelings, and ran them through The God that Crawls, with the intention of using the survivors to make up for character attrition. Three PCs made it out of the dungeon, but one was killed by the treasure afterwards. The two survivors both happened to be French, so it would make sense that they need to flee to the continent to avoid the English authorities. This seems a good set-up for an adventure to test my new oracle.

The adventure shall begin on a night both stormy and dark, as our heroines are taking a coach from Calais, bound for Amiens. I rolled up 6 quick NPCs to fill out the "party". The coachman was 0-level by default, the rest rolled on the following chart:

roll  class
----  ---------
 1    cleric
 2    fighter
 3    magic-user
 4    specialist
 5+   0-level human

The chart uses the current Chaos Die according to my MCSV. I started this adventure at d8 (Out of Control) since that sums up how they left things in England. I also rolled random social classes for each one, and used the results to figure out their connexions and reasons for being on this journey.

Nicodème, the coachman
0-level, HP 2
CH 11 CN 7 DX 11 IN 11 ST 9 WI 11

Isabeau, the coachman's daughter
0-level, HP 5
CH 13 CN 13 DX 10 IN 15 ST 16 WI 6
matchlock arquebus

The coachman was obviously a tradesman. I rolled tradesman for the strapping lass (STR 16) next to him on the 2x4 party character sheet, so proximity and social equality suggested she should be his daughter.

Jeanne, the mysterious woman
Specialist 1, HP 4
CH 10 CN 12 DX 8 IN 15 ST 10 WI 10
short sword, leather armour, specialist's tools
skills: Stealth-3, Search-2, Sneak attack x2

The mysterious Jeanne is also a tradeswoman by birth. I am leaving her background a bit of a blank, to be filled in by the Oracle when dramatically appropriate. She hasn't even told the rest where she's going.

Philippe, the drunken rake
0-level, HP 7
CH 12 CN 14 DX 7 IN 9 ST 9 WI 10
rapier, dagger, 24sp, 4gp

Phlippe is a noble! He shouldn't be on this carriage; he has his own, and much fancier. But he passed out drunk in some lupanar in Calais, and his mates put him on the coach as a prank.

Frère Martin, the monk
Cleric 1, HP 4
CH 11 CN 9 DX 8 IN 10 ST 15 WI 15
holy symbol, holy water
spell: remove fear

Frère Achille, the novice
0-level, HP 2
CH 11 CN 8 DX 12 IN 12 ST 16 WI 18
holy symbol

Frère Martin is a humble Franciscan of modest birth. Achille is a younger son of the gentry who has recently taken holy orders. The pair are bound for Amiens cathedral.

Lalie (« Laelia »)
Magic-User 2, HP 6
CH 10 CN 6 DX 9 IN 17 ST 12 WI 14
rapier, brace of wheelock pistols, leather armour, 30GP, 10Sp
Spells: Unseen servant, Magic Missile

Specialist 3, HP 13
CH 15 CN 13 DX 18 IN 15 ST 13 WI 7
skills: Stealth-4, Search-4, Sleight of hand-2, Sneak attack x2
dagger, brace of wheelock pistols, specialists' tools, 30gp, 7sp

Lalie and Éliane are the PCs: a pair of feckless, treasure-hungry chancers with a somewhat loose interpretation of ethics (or is that definition a tautology?). None of the characters on the previous expedition were developed enough to have a social class, so I rolled for these two now; Lalie is the black sheep of a minor noble house, and Éliane is street scum from Paris. Lalie usually introduces her as a paid companion and/or bodyguard, but in truth they put no store in social matters. It does, however, allow them to move about in society. Being a magic-user means that Lalie has ties to the world of the universities, though as a woman would not have attended one herself. Thus, there are many scholars who know her as Laelia, her Latinised name, and a few friends who are aware of her occult pursuits call her Aelia Laelia as a joke.

The pair of them have a small travelling chest (counts as an oversized item for encumbrance) containing the books, scrolls and jewels they recovered on their first adventure.

If the PCs survive this adventure, I should probably reward them with surnames of their very own.

Toolbox for the adventure

Scene 1

Out of control (d8)

Setup: In medias res - see below

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice

Threads: -

It is a terrible night for travel. It was doubtful that they'd make the next coaching inn before daybreak even before the storm hit. Now the rain is falling in sheets, driven by the howling wind, and the occasional flash of lightning splits the sky. For the six passengers crammed inside the coach, the time for small talk has long since passed. None can sleep as the coach bounces over the uneven road, and a fair few times they have cause to fear the elements will overturn their creaking conveyance. Only the young nobleman is able to sleep, though in fact he hasn't been awake since his confrères bundled him into the coach in Calais. The others sit in an oppressive silence. There is some small comfort, for as damp and draughty as the coach is inside, at least they aren't sat atop it like the coachman and his daughter; though it be doubtful if any besides the monks have spared them the smallest compassionate thought.

Then suddenly...

[1d6: 1 highwaymen, 2 obstacle across road, 3 horse lamed, 4 horses spooked, 5 lightning strike on carriage, 6 horror within
Q: Does Nicodème stop the team ok? 50/50 (4+): O6 C2 - Yes, and... he's a pro]

...the coach lurches to an abrupt halt.

"What's wrong?" says Jeanne, her hand moving to rest on the concealed blade beneath her skirts "Why have we stopped?"

"You know what these roads are like," says Frère Martin.

"And in this weather!" adds his novice. "It's probably just a tree fallen over the road."

"I'm sure you're right," says Lalie, even as she and Éliane are making ready their pistols.

After a few moments, the coachman appears at the carriage door with lantern. As it opens those within are assaulted by the cold and wet. "Horse 's gone lame," he says bluntly. "Passed a manor house not too far back. I'll go for help. Me daughter'll stay up top and keep an eye out for bandits."

[Q: Are the NPCs amenable to waiting? Likely (3+): O4 C 8 - Yes.]

Nicodème closes the door soundly, and silence once again grips the coach's passengers. After a long space of stillness within -- though the storm shews no signs of abating without -- the drunken nobleman awakes with a start. [I rolled his reaction to the sudden "encounter"; 2d6=7, neutral.]

"What the...? Where the deuce am I? Is this a carriage? The devil take des Esseints and Durtal, those rascals! When I find my way back to Calais, they'll catch hell for this little jape -- please excuse my language, good ladies."

[Q:Does Nicodème make it to the manor? (Unknown: 1d6=1 100%; rolling for events or qualifiers) O3 C6 - simple, unmodified Yes.
Q: What happens when he gets there? bring / presence]

After the better part of an hour, a rider in a long, heavy cloak appears outside the carriage. He says that he was sent on ahead to inform them that a waggon has been dispatched to take them safely to the Château Drumer. Nicodème is waiting for them there before the fire.

Scene 2

Out of control (d8)

Setup: welcome, guests

NPC list: Nicodème the coachman, Isabeau his daughter, Jeanne the mystery woman, Philippe the drunken rake, Frère Martin the monk, Frère Achille the novice, lord&lady of manor, servants

Threads: -

[Q: Is the party received by Lord and/or lady? 50/50 (4+): O3 C6 - No.]

Most of the castle is in darkness, but candles burn brightly in the entrance hall. The guests are ushered into a cosy sitting room with a blazing fire. Nicodème sits before it in borrowed clothes, eating bread and warm broth. A servant brings in food and wine for the rest, and announces that their effects are being brought up to the guest rooms, and please would they take some refreshment whilst all is being made ready.

[Everyone gets a Search roll to notice anything odd, but they all fail; even Éliane (search 4) rolls a 5!

Q: Is the wine poisoned? Likely (3+): O3 C3 - Yes, but... given too early.
+Event:  Horror - PC (Lalie) - remember / death]

Everyone greedily sets in to the food and wine, and there is a bit of jostling for position round the fire. The monks, of course, cede their places to the ladies. Philippe does not.

Everyone is feeling quite restored by the hospitality, when Lalie catches sight of a large mirror reflecting the dark, sombre curtains. It suddenly reminds her of one of the terrors she witnessed in England, the shattering mirror and the extra-dimensional space beyond, and the death of Fr. Daniel whose throat was transfixed by a shard.

Lalie cries out and swoons, and half-collapses into an overstuffed armchair. She drinks down a strong draught of wine in one gulp, and Éliane rushes to her side, refilling her cup [-2 poison saving throw].

"No, I'm fine. I just took a turn. Really, I'm fine now. Don't fuss."

But then Isabeau drops her cup. Moments later she is lying on the floor beside it. And one by one the poisoned wine overcomes the others, and they drop into unconsciousness.

[Poison saves (+CON bonus):
N 11, I 1+1
J 14, P 7+1
A 5-1, M 3
L 20-1-2, E 15+1

No one really needs to read the saving throw results, but for a party of 8 it's nice to roll them all at once and then look them up. It looks like only the PCs saved... how convenient!

Q: Is the sitting room door locked? Likely (3+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... windows aren't.]

"We've got to get out of here!" cries Éliane, throwing her cup to the floor.

"Not without all our things!" replies Lalie.

"You're right! they were too hard won! When the servant comes to check on us, we'll jump him."

"What if he's not alone?"

"You take the fireplace poker. I've my dagger yet."

"Alright. I'll sit back by the fire, pretend to be asleep."

"I'll wait close by the door..."

[Q: Does the servant checks on them alone? Unlikely (5+): O3 C6 - No.
Q: Any classed characters come with them? Doubtful (6): O2 C5 - No.

1d4+1=3 servants; d6=4,6,5; all female]

After a few interminable-seeming minutes, the door opens and three housemaids enter. They check on each of the slumped figures in turn to make sure the poison has done its work. Éliane stands up slowly, and pulls the door silently to. [She has Stealth-4; her check is d6=1, success]

She creeps up behind one of the maids, grabs her mouth from behind and slips her dagger into the girl's lower back. The maid lets out a muffled cry and collapses to the floor with a thud.

Stealth check d6=2, success; sneak attack hits for (1d4=4)x2=8 damage, putting her at -4hp]

Lalie springs to her feet and brandishes the poker. "Surrender or you'll meet the same fate!"

The two maids stiffen, they look to one another, and then to the body of their slain comrade. A look of fear passes over them. [ML7; ML check 2d6=11, fail]

"Why are you doing this?" asks Lalie.

NPC Relationship: peaceful
Conversation Mood: guarded
inquisitive - questions - power

"You've nothing to fear," says one of the maids. "We are preparing them for a better Way of Life. Have you no concept of the Power granted to us by the Old Ones? Do you not also wish to bask in their Radiant Glories?"

"The Old Ones?"

"Ésa noï ar cay oï, è ici noï ar cay oï, oï ar cay oï es taï !"*

"τί φῄς ;" asks Lalie.

"Tip... what?" replies the maid.

"What you just said... That's Greek!"

"So it is, I guess. It is the prayer as was taught us by his reverence."

"What does it mean?" asks Éliane.

"Nothing good, I'm certain," says Lalie.

"What have you done with our things?" asks Éliane.

"They're up in your rooms. We thought you'd be in bed before the sleeping draught took hold."

"You will take us to them, or else."

"Really, this is all too much! You won't need your things when you see the golden future by that is planned for you! Come, let's discuss this like friends. There's no need for this unpleasantness." [UNE: insane - turmoil - rewards]

"I don't trust them," says Lalaie.

Éliane stabs a second one in the back [3x2=6dmg, 2hp=dead]. "Easier to keep one under control than two," she says.

The remaining maid looks a bit pale, but is otherwise calm.

"Take us to retrieve our things now. One scream and you're done for, understand?"

"I understand."

~ to be continued ~


* The maid has learnt the prayer phonetically by rote, though the individual words are meaningless to her: ἦσαν οἱ ἀρχαιοί, εἰσίν οἱ ἀρχαιοί, οἱ ἀρχαιοὶ ἔσται (The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be).

During the course of her last adventure, Lalie made a Language roll to know Greek. She's got a good humanist education and uses Erasmian pronunciation.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Other Dust solo - Part VI : The Good Life

Scene 13

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: get Tansy home

NPC List: Tansy, Shelley, scavengers

Threads: the Quest, escape Eastbourne, see Tansy Home

"So," says Ewa as they are walking at a leisurely pace up an overgrown dual carriageway [the A22], littered with the stripped remains of burnt-out vehicles, "now that you're reunited -- and we're certain no one's still following us -- what are you planning on doing?"

"Gotta finish what we started," says Tansy. "We didn't set out into the wastes to go rambling, y'know."

"What were you doing, then?"

[the Alteration: she isn't going home until she completes her own mission.
Adventure Template: Privation - The water supply has become contaminated. Tech must be found to purify it.]

"Something's wrong with our water supply. I went out looking for something to purify it again. I thought maybe the coastal areas would be a good place to find water reclamation gear."

"Not bloody likely! If it's around, it'll either be in use or too big to move."


"What's the source of the contamination? Where are you getting your water?"

[Q: Does she know? 50/50: O3 C3 - No, but...
+Event: Close a thread - see Tansy Home - Deceive/Environment]

"I don't know. It comes from a well. Gilbert can tell you more."

"How far is it."

"A couple hours on foot."

"I could use more food before I move on, afterwards."

"It's a farm."

"Let's go then."

[I rolled a random enclave, and it all made sense the first time so no re-rolling was necessary. Since Ewa doesn't know about it, it had to be small and/or recently founded. Briefly--
Size: ~50 adults
Government: caste
Core: farm estate
Tech: TL1
Tags: podborn, educated

I made a Reaction Roll to see how the community receives Ewa, at +2 since she's coming with Tansy: 2+2=4, hostile]

Tansy's enclave is a very small farm on the grounds of a former manor house, which looks to have been ancient (if well-maintained) even before the bombs fell. The fields do not look healthy, even to Ewa's inexpert eye. Many are just dirt, and those that harbour plants seem to be mostly fellweed. The farm appears to have no livestock, and the farmers are forced to pull the ploughs themselves. Ewa looks at Tansy quizzically.

"I know what you're thinking," says Tansy, "but I refuse to yoke Shelley. He's a good guard dog, but no work horse!"

The farmers are all clad in identical, pastel green jumpsuits and matching slippers. Each is emblazoned with some Old Terran symbols, or maybe writing; Ewa can't tell the difference. One of the farmers stops ploughing when he sees them, and walks up to Tansy.

"Why have you brought this... mutant?"

"She helped me save Shelley. And she said she would help with the water."

"It's bad enough you keep that weird cow thing here."

"I've told you a million times, not all mutants are bad. You got the wrong first impression, is all. My old village was full of mutants, and--"

"And nothing. She can't stay. Get her gone before the Masters find out what you've done."

"Ewa, maybe you'd better go. Wait back by the road. I'll get you some food for your trouble. Sorry."

Ewa goes back to the road and sits in the shade of a tree, wondering if Tansy is actually coming back. She watches through her binoculars, and sees her soon come back out of the great old house and set off across the fields, Shelley following behind like a puppy. Ewa doesn't want to come too far out of the tree line in case it's some sort of trap, even though she's mostly certain Tansy can be trusted.

"Sorry," says Tansy when she has found Ewa in the shade, "when they came out of their pods it was kind of hard for them to adjust."

"So that's why they're all dressed the same!"

"Yeah. They're not so bad, really. Just terribly naïve.  Here, I've brought you some food." [d6=4 rations]

"If I happen across any purification equipment I'll send a message or something."

"Yeah, OK. Sorry. Bye, I guess."


[NB: the water isn't any more contaminated than the rest of the farm, which is tainted with low-level radioactivity (Deceive/Environment)]

Scene 14

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: into the wastes

NPC List: -

Threads: the Quest

Ewa sets out into the wastes. She doesn't have a definite plan other than 'get to the coast', and she's never been out this way before. She decides to travel northeast until she reaches the water.

[This is my first go at the Scarlet Heroes wilderness adventure solo tables. I've played through a dungeon and two urban SH adventures before, but neither of those has been written up to post (yet).

I have a very rough map, made by importing a screenshot from Google Maps into Hexographer and overlaying a blank hex map, which after a little jiggery-pokery I sized to fit the scale (6mi/10km hexes -- the hex height was set to 113). I exported the map as a PNG, and cropped it in Paint (which I am also using to annotate it). I may go back and make a nice map, I may not. I'm much more interested in the coast than the interior, but Ewa needs to get there first.

I'm using the SH wilderness tables mostly as written, though some of the Feature results will need to be altered to fit the setting, and I'll obviously be using the Other Dust encounter tables.

Per Scarlet heroes, a character can explore one hex per day. There is a 1-in-6 chance per day of an encounter, which may be either during the day or at night (even chances). There is also a chance for a Feature and an Event. These each start at 1-in-8, and increase by 1 for each day until the roll is made.

House Rule: Even when my PC is moving through previously explored areas, I still make the encounter & event checks once per day. And if they care to search more, there might even be a second feature -- 6 mile hexes are pretty spacious.

Also, she needs to make 2 skill checks each day. First, she needs an Intelligence/Navigation roll of 8+ in order to move in the right direction; failure indicates a 1d6 roll to determine the direction she travels (which may coincidentally be the right way). Each night she must make a Wisdom/Survival roll of 5+ to find suitable shelter (it's summer, but she doesn't have a  tent or even a proper bedroll). Failure will give her the negative condition Fatigued (-2 to hit, -1 saves & skills) for the next day. I won't be mentioning these rolls unless she fails them.

Part of the fun of post-apocalyptic gaming is watching your stores of food, ammo, and medicine slowly dwindle and wondering just how desperate things will get before you find more. However, I kept track of all this on scratch paper as it's much easier than doing it in my game notes .txt file.]

Day 1

[travel to hex 1]

The journey proceeds more slowly than she would have expected. She doesn't want to rush, as travelling the wastelands alone is usually considered a suicidal move. She must be ever alert for danger, and she doesn't want to miss anything interesting besides. If she's to unite this ancient land, she ought to at least have an inkling of what's in it.

She passes through weed-choked fields and hillsides, the occasional overgrown patch of forest, and crosses the crumbling, ancient roads of Old Terra. Small clusters of ruined buildings and destroyed vehicles dot the landscape, but none appear to offer any promise of good salvage.

That afternoon, as Ewa is refilling one of her canteens in a stream, she feels her skin tingle in that way it always does when enemies (or anyone, really) are near. She drops the canteen on the bank and snatches up her new combat rifle as a pair of twisted skewmen burst out of the long grass towards her.

[encounter: 2d4=2 savage Skewmen seek prey (AC 8, Move 15’, HD 1, Atk: +1/1d4 club, Skill +1, Save 15+, Morale 8)

No surprise, Ewa wins initiative.]

Ewa turns quickly round and fires a single shot from her combat rifle at the advancing mutants, but hits neither. And then they are suddenly upon her, striking out with rude clubs. One gives her a nasty knock across the shin [1 damage], the other hits her so weakly in the stomach she barely feels it [0 damage].

[round 2]
The skewmen's unfortunate physiology makes them low to the ground. Ewa fires another shot carefully, hitting one right between the shoulders. The other hesitates a moment to see its companion felled, but shouts a vile curse then feints toward Ewa [Morale roll, 2d6=6, it fights on. But it missed.]

[round 3]
The skewman is scuttling from side to side in a furious war dance. Ewa fires again, but the bullet just buries itself in the soil where moments before the creature had been. But it dares not get too close. [miss/miss]

[round 4]
When it thinks she is just about to fire, it dodges left then springs. But Ewa was waiting for such a manoeuvre, and she shoots it down in mid-leap.

The rest of her day passes without incident.

[The rolls for Feature and Event both came up naught, so the threshold of each increases to 2-in-8 for the next day.]

Day 2

[Ewa's Navigation roll failed; she moves [1d6=6] towards the northwest, to hex 2.

No encounters, no feature, no event. The thresholds go up to 3-in-8.]

Day 3

Navigation check fails again; she moves back to Start hex. But as she's coming from a different direction, she doesn't realise how near she is to Tansy's farming enclave.

Ewa has spent a day and a half unwittingly travelling in a circle. She has barely seen another living being beyond the occasional flying creature in the distance, and the omnipresent insect vermin that devour -- or are devoured by -- the local flora.

As the evening sun is lighting up the sky in a dazzling array of colours, beyond even the wildest palettes of an expressionist painter as its vespertine rays pass through the clouds of radioactive dust which blanket the globe.

[1d8=2, this hex contains a(nother) Feature!
Feature=dungeon type (thus, a Ruin)

Random ruin generation tables produce--
Origin: mandate base
Destruction: raiders
Inhabitants: exiles from nearby enclave

Exiles (enclave tag)
Cryo pods (ruin tag)

The dice made it really obvious what she's found.

Q: Is there activity outside? 50/50 (4+): O3 C3 - No, but... signs of recent activity
+Event: Introduce a new NPC - Betray / Dispute]

As Ewa sees her shadow stretching out before her over the hillside, she spots a glint of metal coming from the grass on the next hill over. She looks through her binoculars to see the entrance to an ancient installation peeking out of the summit. The trans-steel windows look out of a darkened interior, but there is a still-smoking fire pit on the ground before it.

Ewa makes her way up to it, as cautiously as she can on the grassy, but otherwise featureless hillside.

[Her Wisdom/Stealth (+0) vs. their Wisdom/Perception (modifier of 1d3-2= +0): 11 vs. 12, she's spotted.


Though she can see no one in the dark interior of the installation's entrance, a voice calls out to her. "Hey! Hey there! You're one of us!"

"Hello?" calls Ewa. "One of you? What do you mean?"

"A mutant."

"Well, obviously. You seem surprised."

"I'm coming out now. Please, don't shoot."

Ewa shoulders her rifle as the mutant comes out of the installation. [1d6=] He has greyish skin, and seems to be more fungus than human, like a walking, bespectacled mushroom. He is wearing tattered green coveralls and no shoes, and carries no weapon.

[Easy (5+) Intelligence/Perception check: 2d6+0=7]

Ewa recognises the colour and patterns of the coveralls. "Are you from the farm?" she asks. "I thought they didn't like mutants."

"They don't. We... we woke up like this, and they refused to take us with them to the manor. We've tried to eke out a living here, but we have few weapons and there is a band of outlaws who seem to take especial delight in tormenting us. We can usually make it inside and lock them out, but they've learnt how to get past the front door now. It's only a matter of time before they can get the emergency stairwell open. I wish we could be at the manor with the others."

"They're not doing so well. Their water is contaminated and they don't know what to do about it."

"Serves them right, turning us out like that. I'm sure Doctor Cartman could determine the cause of the problem."

"At least you have a medic," says Ewa.

"A medic? Ha ha! No, you misunderstand. Jeanette -- Doctor Cartman, has a Ph.D. in microbiology. She used to lecture at Imperial... this doesn't mean anything to you, does it?"


[Q: what do they want? Adjourn / Legal matters]

"What we need to know," says the mutant, "is where we can appeal for justice. We have as much right to the manor as do they, and we'd like to bring the case before a judge for settlement. Amaya's a solicitor, so she can represent us. Where is the nearest Crown Court?"

"You're kidding," says Ewa. "Oh... you're not? Look, all that's the past. Every enclave makes its own laws. Even the raiders, I hear, have some sort of laws. Or at least inviolate customs, else they couldn't function together."

"Oh. Oh, dear me. This isn't good. This isn't good at all. We're on our own, then?"

"That's the way of things."

"I don't suppose you'd stay on to help us understand this... this brave new world?"

"I can't. I'm trying to get east, to the coast."

[SH Friendly NPC reaction: 2d6=8, Quick consent]

"I see. But the night is coming. At least stay here tonight, and tell us of this world."

[Mental save to overcome Paranoia succeeds]

"I'll try. But it'll cost you a meal."

"A meal... I-- oh, of course! That's the first lesson, isn't it?"

"You catch on quick. I think you'll be ok after all."

The fungus man, Professor Thaddeus Oberlinde-Sharma, leads Ewa into the ruined installation to meet the rest of the podborn mutant community. Ewa really intends to leave in the morning, but she is so moved by the pitiful and helpless state of the mutants that she ends up staying a fortnight, helping them shore up their defences and learn to hunt and forage better, and telling them of all the myriad horrors and dangers of the new world.

[Q: Does anything untoward during her stay? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and... the exiles are eager to listen and learn.]

She also confides in them about her Sacred Quest. Though fully half of the mutants were members of the Old Terran intelligentsia, none of them can find it in their hearts to tell her she must be chasing after a half-remembered story or myth.

One of them does take pity on her, and teaches her the rudiments of writing the alphabet, and even gives her a child's phonics book with which to practice [to justify spending skill points on Literacy when she reaches 2nd level].

[Q: Any events during her stay? Certain (2+): O2 C7 - Yes - 1 event:
PC negative - Ambush / Weapons]

One day. When Ewa and Prof Thaddeus are out hunting, they are ambushed by raiders. The four raiders are mad and desperate, and fight to the death. The professor is visibly shaken for hours after the event, but Ewa is all smiles, and especially pleased that she can present their swords, spears, and breechloading rifle (with 13 bullets!) to the community for its defence.

[Boring combat redacted. Over 6 rounds, the raiders hit Ewa once for 1 point of damage. Thaddeus wasn't injured at all.

I also rolled 14d6 to check for random encounters at the enclave. Weirdly, I only rolled a single 1.

Encounter: 1d8=2 tribals from nearest enclave
Q: Is it Tansy and Shelley? 50/50 (4+): O6 C8 - Yes]

On the tenth day, Tansy and Shelley arrive at the installation. They've left the manor for good, as the Masters had begun to get vicious. The mutants are more than happy to have the pair live with them, and Ewa is glad that someone born into this world is going to be there to see the community through; she had feared her conscience wouldn't allow her to leave for months.

Four days later, Ewa says it's time for her to depart. She, the mutants, Tansy, and, in his own, strange way Shelley, say their fond farewells. Ewa is given a bundle of food and some blankets before she goes, and told she will always be welcome back.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Other Dust solo - Part V : the people one meets in ruins

Scene 11

Chaos: Out of Control (d8)

Setup: into the wastes

Threads: escape

Ewa walks away and up through an overgrown field (once a golf course) following Kaz's route. But instead of turning left towards Eastbourne, she turns the opposite way. She follows an old motorway for a while [A259/Eastbourne road], then looks for a ruined house to camp out in overnight, as dusk is beginning to settle.

[1d6=no encounters
Q: Is anyone following? Doubtful (6): O6 C4 - Yes, but... someone new
Q: A single follower/pursuer? 50/50 (4+): O6 C1 - Yes, and... with no allies nearby
Q: Intelligent? 50/50 (4+): O4 C7 - Yes

1d10=3, human
class 1d4=slayer (as a Wanderer in the bestiary, 1d4+2= 3rd level; using average stats)

Dex/Stealth (+1dex, -1 no skill) vs. Wis/Perception (-1 no skill): 10vs5, Ewa does not detect them.

reaction=6, neutral

Q: What does her pursuer do next? Imitate / The physical just keeps following

Ewa's Wisdom/Survival 7+ (+1 skill) to find good place to "camp": 6+1, success.

Pursuer's current greatest desire (1d10, p184): Cure for a sick or crippled friend

Q: Does (1d6=)she attempt to make contact overtly when Ewa finds a house? 50/50 (4+): O2 C5 - No.]

Ewa finds a small house that looks reasonably intact, and makes her camp on the top floor. She is a little worried that there may be soldiers sent to hunt her down, but reasons that she'd probably wake up if anyone came in the house. She is soon sleeping soundly.

No one does try to enter the house, though Ewa has been being watched. Her unknown pursuer is more curious than bold. They slip a dry branch through the front door handle so it can't be opened without making noise, and find a place to sleep across the street.

[but! 1d6=1, night encounter: Patch of Radioactivity -- this area is still suffering from an ancient atomic generator leak or some such, and is bathed in low-level radiation. Saving throws are required, so Ewa heals 1d6=3, 1hp (from her Radioactive Vitality mutation. The stranger fails her save, and loses 1pt of CON (reduced to 10).

Q: Does she have any System Strain? 50/50 (4+): O4 C6 Yes - 1d10=6pts.]

The next morning, a groggy Ewa wakes up and quickly consumes some food. She wants to set out as early as possible, just in case there was someone sent to find her.

She finds front door stuck, and struggles to get it open. At last she puts her back into it, and it opens with a loud crack. At first she assumes it was just old and got stuck after being closed for the first time in decades (or longer), but then she notices that someone had barred it with a stick. [6+ Wis/Perception check: 8-1, success]

"What the hell?" thinks Ewa, as she ducks back into the house and raises her rifle.

[Q: Doe the stranger make contact now? Likely (3+): O6 C8 - Yes]

"Hey!" cries a young woman's voice from across street. "I want to talk to you!"

[To agree to this, Ewa will need to make a Mental save against her Paranoia defect; 1d20=14, success.
And does she see who's talking? Int/Stealth (+1 bonus for hiding spot) vs. Ewa's Wisdom/Perception (-1): 9 vs. 11.]

Ewa peeks round the doorframe, and can see a vague silhouette in the house across the street. "Come out, then," she shouts. "We'll talk!"

"How do I know I can trust you?"

"Because I see you up there and haven't aimed my rifle at you yet."

"Maybe you're just afraid I'll shoot first."

"Getting my attention before shooting makes for a pretty shite ambush, dont'cha think?"



"OK, I'm coming out."

Ewa shoulders her rifle and walks out into the street. The mystery woman emerges and meets her in the middle. She is young and bright-eyed, and clad in a colourful mix of Old Terran clothes. She also seems to have collected a fair bit of Old Terran technology.

"I'm Tansy. Sorry I had to be so roundabout getting to talk to you, but I needed to know you were out here on your own and not part of a bunch of raiders or summat. Or one of those crazies from the shore fort." [UNE: mysterious - conundrum - last action]

"So, Tansy, here we are. I'm Ewa. And I'd like to avoid those crazies from the Fortress as well. Now, what do you want?"

"I need help."

"And I need to get away from here."

"So do I. But I can't abandon my poor Shelley."

"She's hurt?"

"Shelley's a he. I named him after an old poet in a book I found. We were sheltering in a building not too far from here. There was a collapse, and I think his leg's broke. I couldn't pull him out to check."

"Um... what is Shelley?"

"He's a redhorn [mutant carnivorous bovine]. I know! but he's different than all the others. Maybe on account of I raised him from a calf, back when I was a kid and lived in a farming enclave. An' he's the sweetest, most docile thing to them as is friendly to him. And he's saved my life from the raiders who burnt down my home. No one else survived, so we just have each other these days. Well, we found a new farm what took us in, but... I can't leave him to die."

Ewa points. "He's somewhere in that direction?"

"Yeah. How... how did you know?"

"Because, m'dear, that's the opposite of the way I want to go..."


"I got a weird feeling that I sort of have to do this." [Ewa's Paranoia save to agree was a 19!]

"Really? You'll help me just like that? Why? I mean I'm grateful, but..."

"I can't explain it. Maybe the Vicar told me too many old myths. This just sounds like a test or something legendary, like Kahuna and the Cattle Raid of Ulster. So, lead on. But if we run into any scavengers from Eastbourne, they can't see me, ok?"

"Yeah, OK. How come?"

Scene 12

Out of Control (d8)

Setup: rescue the redhorn
1d8=1, altered

NPC List: Tansy, Shelley, scavengers

Threads: escape, rescue

[I wasn't immediately sure what the Alteration would be, so I put it to the Oracle--
Q: Are there scavengers around the building? 50/50 (4+): O5 C8 - Yes.
Q: Do they know there's a helpless food source in the ruins? Unlikely (5+): O6 C5 - Yes.
Q: How many scavengers? 1d4+2=5 +1 soldier
Q: Anyone Ewa likes? Unlikely (5+): O3 C4 - No, but... no one she hates, either
Q: How many scavengers are armed? 1d6-1=0 (they have knives and clubs, though)]

Tansy leads Ewa back towards Eastbourne proper. They turn a corner into a long, broken street filled with wrecked vehicles and less identifiable detritus, and tansy stops short. "Oh, no," she says.

Some [2d6x10=] fifty meters ahead, a small group of scavengers is picking through piles of twisted metal in the street. Ewa and tansy crouch behind some plasticrete rubble, and Ewa peers at the group through her binoculars.

She hands them to Tansy, who sees one of the scavengers talking to a soldier and pointing at a certain building. "Shelley!" she gasps.

Ewa takes aim at the soldier. "Get [1d6=] his attention, tell him he's dead if they don't all surrender right now. I've got him in my sights."

Tansy, her submachinegun in hand, strides out to do as she's bid.

"Stop!" she yells. "We have you surrounded. We mean you no harm, so please cooperate!"

Ewa winces.

[Scarlet heroes has great reaction tables for getting NPCs to agree to things. The soldier counts as an Unfriendly NPC.
2d6=3, Anger/Violence]

The soldier says nothing, but raises his combat rifle to fire...

[Initiative: E (+3 bonus) 7, T 4, soldier 5.
Ewa rolls 16+1+7, hit. 1d10+2=12, 4HD damage]

...but Ewa's shot drops him before his gun is quite level with the ground.

[The scavengers' Morale is 6. 2d6=3, they don't run, but don't fight either
Q: Does Tansy start firing? Unlikely (5+): O2 C5 - No.]

"No one move!" screams Tansy. "I don't want to hurt any of you. Just put your hands up and we can talk about this like reasonable people. Please!"

Ewa is hurriedly reloading her rifle. "Get the gun away from them," she says, "or it'll start all over again. I'll cover you."

Tansy edges forward. She snatches up the rifle and slings it over shoulder. "Someone look after him."

One of the scavengers scurries forward as Tansy retreats a few paces.

"He's dead!"

[(normal OSR)reaction roll=4]

The scavengers are getting tetchy, but none are willing to be the one to start the fight. Ewa moves up under cover, hoping to remain unseen [Dex/Stealth vs. Wis/Perception: 10 vs. 5, success]. She gets to within [1d6x5] 10m of Tansy's position, seemingly unnoticed.

"What do we do now?" asks Tansy, hazarding a look over her shoulder. "You still there?"

"I'm here. Tell them to get on the ground, face down."

"You heard her! What? She said to get down on the ground... face down. Do it!"

[SH reaction, Unfriendly NPC: 2d6=7, Considered refusal]

"Why should we?" says one of the scavengers. "So you can shoot us more easily? Face it, you might have a gun, but you're outnumbered. And the more you shoot, the more chance somone'll hear and come running."

"He's bluffing," says Ewa.

"We're wasting time!" shouts Tansy. Still no one moves.

"Tell him you'll start shooting if they don't cooperate," says Ewa.

"why don't you talk to them?"

"I told you why. Say it!"

"Fine," says Tansy, defeated. She takes a deep breath, then tries to sound as stern as she can. "We'll start shooting if you don't listen to me. I'm going to count three. One... two... th--"

[Q: What happens? (1d4) 1 scavengers attack, 2 T shoots, 3 both sides attack at once, 4 no one moves.

Only one of the scavengers beat Ewa and Tansy's initiative]

[Round 1]
One of the scavengers throws a knife at Tansy [10+1+AC6=miss] but it sails clear past her. She responds with a burst from her submachinegun, killing the scavenger. Ewa's rifle barks, and a second scavenger falls bleeding to the street.

[ML check due to losses: 2d6=8, fail]

The other three scavengers turn tail and run.

"Why does this always happen every time I leave the farm?" says Tansy, still in shock.

"We should hurry," says Ewa. They probably won't be back... but if they do, it'll be with reinforcements."

"I understand."

They rush into the building where Shelly is trapped beneath a collapsed girder. Tansy checks desperately to see if he is still alive.

[Q: Well? 50/50 (4+): O5 C1 - Yes, and...]

The huge, gaunt, mutated bull snorts and stamps when it hears strange footsteps coming up behind it. He tries to rise but his front hooves just struggle and slip on the slick floor. He looks back over his shoulder, and Ewa shudders when she sees the sharp horns and bared, awful fangs. But the animal's face softens immediately when it sees Tansy. She pats his head and whispers comforting words before turning back to Ewa.

"I think his leg might not actually be broken," she says hopefully, "but he still can't move."

"I've got to be able to rig something out of all this junk," muses Ewa.

[Ewa needs to roll 8+ on Strength/Postech to improvise a lever to shift the beams: 11+1=success]

Ewa finds some serviceable carbon-steel pipe and a pile of solid furniture enough to make a lever. She can only raise the fallen beam about half a metre, but it's enough for the redhorn to slip out, and stand shakily on all four feet.

Ewa offers a stim patch to Tansy. "Here. This should help with the pain. But you should probably be the one that applies it."

"You can do it," says Tansy. "He knows you helped him, so you've nothing to fear."  [1d20=14, Ewa rolls a successful Mental save vs. Paranoia]

"OK..." says Ewa. She fully expects a disaster when she slaps the patch on, but the redhorn's tail merely twitches a few times. Then the beast turns to face her with its big, soulful eyes and snorts quietly in what Ewa is sure is meant to be gratitude.

"See?" says Tansy, "He's a big softie."

[Shelley is now at 1d2+1(for the stim)=2HD.

Q: Does the captured combat rifle have a full magazine? Likely(3+): O1 C7 - No. d30-1=16 rounds (out of 30)
Q: Does anyone come back before they get away? Uncertain odds: 1d6=5, Unlikely: O5 C5 - Yes
+Event: PC positive - Attract / Exterior factors

Ewa's Perception 9-1=8 vs. their Stealth 2+1=3]

But the touching scene is cut suddenly short. "What's that noise outside?" says Ewa, picking up the combat rifle. "It sounds like voices."

She pads over to the entrance and peers to into the street, where a number of distorted, twisted, once-human savages crawl about on all four limbs, shouting amongst themselves in their horrible voices.
"Skewmen!" whispers Ewa. "Is there a way out the back of here?"

"I think so," says Tansy, hopefully.

[Q: Is there? Uncertain odds: d6=3, Likely: O5 C7 - Yes]

The three make their way out to the back of the building slowly. As they are about to leave, they hear gunfire round the other side.

"They went for reinforcements!" says Ewa.

"And they're fighting the skewmen instead of us!" says Tansy.


They break into a dead run down the back street, and the sounds of gunfire get further and further away. They turn up several side streets to put as much distance and rubble between them and the other parties as they can. By the time they can run no more, they have found a narrow, partly obstructed alley (just big enough for a redhorn to pass) in which to hide. Listen as they might, they can hear nothing above the blood rushing in their ears.

[Q: Do they get to safety? 50/50 (4+): O4 C2 - Yes, and...]

to be continued...