Monday, 22 December 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part X, The prisoner

Scene 17

chaos 6

Setup: Identity of the prisoner is revealed. Hilarity ensues.

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Sage
3. Underworld Character
4. Kurkeza (the mission-giver)
5. Prisoner

1. find a certain sage

It is a most peculiar sensation for the sorceress to stand face to face with someone whose power she actually fears, and to know that he is now wholly subject to her whims. The fear itself is even a strange and unaccustomed feeling, for there are few who have ever inspired her with even a hint of terror. She cannot be said to fear her brother Enzzal in the slightest -- though she truly does dread seeing him most of the time, she generally views him with antipathy and spite, and sometimes in fact actual hatred, though in the most familial sense. Unlike many in Anzakàr, she has never felt fear of the serpent folk; veneration and respect, certainly, and through long familiarity with them, gained as she studied sorcery under their cold and exacting tutelage, she would honestly say that she finds them less frightening than those of her own species. Even the city prefect, who publicly regards her as an enemy, and has considerable resources he could bring to bear against her, should he wish (and his wishes are tempered only by the law of the City, which he has sworn to uphold), even such a one cannot arouse any fear. She has nothing to gain over him, and thus rather enjoys their one-sided rivalry as a joli divertissement.

And now, the fear in her breast is struggling against actual pity at the pathetic sight of the prisoner before her -- and not a little revulsion, too. For there before her, in the stout iron cage, restrained by powerful magic and heavy chains, battered and bruised, in once-fine tatters now stained with blood and his own filth, is the man whom she knows only by the appellation 'the evil jeweller', whose awful sorcery had once overcome her own.

He looks up at her face framed by the glowing lamp, his eyes unaccustomed to light for many a day. A sudden recognition passes over his face, his surprise momentarily the equal of her own. "Well," says he, "isn't this embarrassing."

"You!" shouts Lachaidiga, "How... what are you doing here?"

"The alchemist was planning to drain my life-energy to work some sort of grand spell."

"The irony is stifling..."

"Quite. So, what do you intend to do with me. I am, indubitably, in your power."

"What should I do? What would you do in my position? No, don't answer that; I don't hold with murder. But I'm not sure if I should let you live after... well! I think you know."

"I shan't beg, if that's what you're hoping. But I would like to be free of this loathsome predicament. Kill me or free me, just be quick about it."

"Fine. Prepare to die, then."


The sorceress laughs. "I'm only calling your bluff. And my own, if truth be told: I don't intend to kill you. But Wihiyaba may have other designs..."


"Wihiyaba! The warrior you had imprisoned in your lair. I'm sure he'll have something to say about all this. And I daren't stop him from administering justice, should he feel so inclined."

"It may surprise you to learn that he was only there by chance. The others had caught him snooping around. I only saw him the once, myself. He probably won't even remember me. I dare say my recollection of the meeting is a mite hazy."

"You came in and announced we were to be sacrificed to your Dark Masters in some sort of summoning ritual."

"Ah. Yes. That... it was nothing personal. We had originally intended to just use some vagrant for the ritual: someone of no consequence, who'd not be missed. But then the prefect's men started nosing round our affairs. And then, you appeared. 'Twas nothing personal, but... well, as a sorceress, your soul is just so much more attractive to certain parties. You must understand."

"Oh, of course I understand. If I were an evil cultist, I'd certainly want to sacrifice someone like me, brimming with magical power. Plus, I'd look ravishing all splayed out on the altar. But that's neither here nor there; tell me, why shouldn't I just end your evil ways right now?"

"I offer you a trade. A grimoire for my freedom: a book you won't find in the library of your precious college."

"Tempting... but I'm not so sure I should be reading anything you hand me."

"You mistake my meaning! I meant only that it was very rare, not forbidden."

"But what assurance do I have that you won't just turn on me again once you're free?"

"Would it make any difference to tell you that I'm done with daemonolatry? that I've had done with the cult entirely?"

"No, because I suspect you're lying."

"Of course. What if I were to furnish you with a list of names of cultists still at large in Anzakàr...and in Hasharu."

Whilst they have been speaking, a white mouse has crept into the room, unbeknownst to either party. It scurries in front of Lachaidiga, and runs in circles to get her attention. She bends over to look at it, and notices its eyes shine with their own light. It stops, stock-still, and a voice emanates from within it. The voice is that of Kurkeza, the man who hired her for this mission. "Sorceress! You have done well. Leave the prisoner there. We shall come and take possession. Wait until we arrive, and the agreed payment shall be yours."

"Wait," interjects the jeweller, looking pointedly at Lachaidiga. "That rogue Kurkeza sent you?"

"Yes. Why?"

The jeweller does not reply, but picks up the wooden bowl he's been given for his 'supper', and hurls it between the bars of his cage, crushing the little mouse. It expires with a squeak, and the points of magical light behind its eyes are instantly extinguished. "Kurkeza," says the jeweller, "is a nobody, but there is a great deal of raw power inside him. I doubt he'd ever make a decent sorcerer, but then I could be wrong about that; you've certainly exceeded my expectations--"


"but in any case," continues the jeweller, undaunted by Lachaidiga's outburst, "he is the errand boy for a cabal of death cultists in this lovely city with which I have had some dealings... mutual cooperation amongst sorcerers and all that. Though I'm afraid I may owe them a fair bit of money."

"Does this mean I'm not getting paid?"

"This means you've been set up to do their dirty work. Now, I've made my offer, sorceress: the book for my freedom."

Lachaidiga unlocks the cage, and hands the jeweller the keyring that he may loosen his bonds. "I'm sure," says she, wrinkling her nose, "that we can find you something decent to put on upstairs."

"And then we'd better flee," he replies, "before the cabal gets here."


[Die rolls for the above:

The jeweller needed to make a Hard (skill x2/3) Influence (66% x2/3 = 44%) vs. Lachaidiga's Willpower (79%) to get her to listen.
36 vs. 85, success

Q: Will Wihiyaba remember him? 50/50: 96, Exceptional No. (after all, it was dark and Wihiyaba was Seriously Wounded for the few seconds they met.)

Q: What can he offer? Guide / Magic. A grimoire!

Q: Can he offer any assurance of his intentions? Unlikely: 35, Yes.

Q: What? Change / Allies - he's against the cult now

Q: Can he offer anything else? Unlikely: 22, Yes. + Event
NPC action - Kurkeza - Communicate animals

Does Lachaidiga believe him in the end? Influence (66%) vs. Insight (60%)
87 vs. 29; if he's lying, she'd know.

Q: Is the jeweller lying? 50/50: 82, No.]

STR: 13
CON: 12
SIZ: 11
DEX:  9
INT: 12
POW: 17
CHA:  6

Action Points    2
Damage Modifier +0
Magic Points    17
Movement         6
Strike Rank 10(10-0)

Cult rank: Overseer
Cult Mage of Dark Forces Order

1D20  Location AP/HP
01-03 Right leg 0/5
04-06 Left leg  0/5
07-09 Abdomen   0/6
10-12 Chest     0/7
13-15 Right arm 0/4
16-18 Left arm  0/4
19-20 Head      0/5

Skills: Athletics 74%, Brawn 53%, Endurance 60%, Evade 18%, Influence 66%, Insight 79%, Invocation 77%, Locale 68%, Perception 76%, Ride 90%, Shaping 79%, Unarmed 85%, Willpower 72%
Maximum shaping: 8
Intensity: 8
Sorcery spells: Castback, Imprison, Smother, Store Manna, Tap Strength, Tap Constitution, Evoke, Wrack Darkness
Sorcerer Manna Store: Wand with Stored Manna of Max Intensity (Invocation/10).
Combat Styles: knives 55%

Scene 18

chaos 7

Setup: 6=interrupt (was: meet jeweller next day to collect grimoire)
Interrupt: PC Negative - random pic

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Sage
3. Underworld Character
4. Kurkeza
5. The Evil Jeweller

1. find a certain sage

As the jeweller had predicted, Wihiyaba does not recognise him from their brief encounter. The generous-hearted warrior is all to eager to help another victim of the wicked alchemist, and even more pleased to hear that this last has information of the movements of pernicious cults which threaten the good people of Anzakàr and Hasharu. The jeweller promises to send a list to him at the barracks in a day or two. Lachaidiga vacillates between being pleased at the outcome and feeling guilty that she has lied to her old friend. But, she reasons, allowing a sorcerer -- and a powerful one at that -- the chance to atone for his evil ways will do more good in the end. And should the grimoire he has offered to her turn out to be full of lost secrets, then she herself could donate it to the great library at the sorcerous college.

Such are the thoughts going round her head as she hurries through the market towards her rendez-vous with the jeweller. She is on the point of reminding herself yet again that she must learn his name when a small band of ragged-looking townsfolk block her path. Their leader, a brawny man in a long filthy robe, steps up and addresses her. "Sorceress!" he shouts.

Lachaidiga has just noticed the death rune amulet he wears and is about to speak when he strikes her solidly with his fist. She is caught off guard by the sudden attack, and falls half to the ground, seeing stars from the force of the impact [1d3+1d2=4 damage].

[Q: Do any passers-by intervene? 50/50: 42, Yes.]

Before she has time to react, some passing nomads have already interposed themselves between her and her assailant. One of the nomads shouts angrily at the cultist in a language Lachaidiga does not understand, and makes a great show of the curving knife he carries without actually drawing it from its scabbard. The man backs down, but is no less defiant.

Lachaidiga climbs to her feet, and wades in to the fray. "These miscreants," says she, "are dabbling in forbidden magic and are trying to get me killed!"

[She needs to make an Influence (63%) roll: 98, failure.]

The nomads look at her, somewhat puzzled. The leader throws up his hands, and backs slowly away. She thinks she hears one of them mutter the words, "crazy witch" -- or something that sounds very much like it. The crowd around her disperses, leaving her to face the lead cultist alone. At least the threat of the nomad's knife has left him somewhat chastened.

"We need to talk," says he.

"I've no idea what about," she replies. "As far as I'm concerned, our dealings came to an end when I found I'd been lied to. I'm just off to the market now to buy a new gown, so if you'll kindly--"

[Formidable (skill x1/2) Influence (32%) roll to get rid of them: 62, failure.]

"You're hardly just going shopping, sorceress! Take us to him. If he pays us you'll get your thousand silvers."

Scene 19

chaos 8

Setup: meet the jeweller to figure out the next move (+collect grimoire)

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Sage
3. Underworld Character
4. Kurkeza / death rune cult
5. The Evil Jeweller

1. find a certain sage

The jeweller's residence is a smallish house in an unremarkable street. Lachaidiga arrives, death cultists in tow, and pauses before the front gate. She turns to address her unwelcome entourage.

"Perhaps I had better go in alone at first. If he hears you all tramping up the stairs, he may run."

[she needs to make an Influence (63%) roll to convince them: 12, success.]

"Agreed," says the lead cultist, "but be quick about it. And don't try anything funny."

Lachaidiga gives not a word in reply but marches straight up to the gate with a dismissive wave. She climbs the steps of the little house to find the jeweller waiting for her in his cramped study. As he rises to greet her, she blurts out, "there's a pack of death cultists outside who've come looking for you. I'm afraid I couldn't get rid of them. How's your magic?"

"Still suppressed," he says, eyes downcast. "The alchemist would give me a potion every three days. Perhaps another day or so until the last one wears off..."

"Do they know that?"

"I've no reason to suspect that they should."

"Good. I've been pondering what to do about this mess the whole way over. I've decided to trust you and not them."

"I... I'm grateful you feel that way."

"I wouldn't be; I've notoriously poor judgement! But come, and follow my lead."

Lachaidiga and the jeweller step out onto the balcony and look down upon the cultists standing outside in the street. "You lot!" shouts the sorceress to get their attention. "I believe this little farce is at an end. We decided to join forces and start a cabal of our very own. You are, of course, more than welcome to declare yourselves our enemies. That is, if you believe your magic be strong enough."

[Q: Does this tip the balance? Unlikely: 06, Exceptional yes.]

The cultists pause to consider her words as she smiles down at them maliciously, the jeweller standing behind her with arms crossed, looking rather peevish. Suddenly, one of the cultists bolts in fear. His fellows rapidly follow suit.

"I don't think they'll be any more trouble," says the jeweller, and the two repair to his study. He produces a jug of his best wine and a pair of drinking bowls, making sure to sip first in order to reassure his guest that he's not about to poison her. He then hands her a basket full of scrolls and a pair of nearly-dry clay tablets: the promised grimoire and the list of the daemonolaters with whom he once terrorised two great cities.

The two spend a pleasant hour drinking wine and talking about magic, the way idle sorcerers are wont to do, but the wine quickly goes to the jeweller's head, as he is still weak from his ordeal as the alchemist's prisoner. Lachaidiga leaves him asleep in his chair, and quietly lets herself out. As she walks back to her inn, bundle of scrolls and clay tablets in her arms, she makes a mental note that upon their next meeting, before any other necessary business be transacted or simple pleasantries be exchanged, she absolutely must learn his name!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part IX, The alchemist's manse

Scene 16

chaos 5

Setup: 5-room dungeon

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Sage
3. Underworld Character
4. Kurkeza (the mission-giver)

1. find a certain sage
2. rescue the wizard

Kurkeza's master is being held in a townhouse with a walled garden, in one of the more affluent areas of Hasharu. Lachaidiga spends a goodly amount of time wandering the nearby streets, and paying careful attention to the comings and goings around the house. She sees almost no one dare to even approach it, as it some sinister reputation caused the locals to take longer routes around it rather than drawing too near.

[She needs a Perception (51%) check to successfully case the joint. Rolls 25, success.]

She is beginning to despair of gaining any actual information, but in the late afternoon, her patience finally pays off. A door in the garden wall opens, and she is witness to a horrible sight. A finely-dressed, goat-headed broo -- the universally feared and reviled chaos beastmen -- drags a frightened man by his hair out into the alley-way. The man pleads with the hideous creature to spare him, but the bleating fiend dexterously removes the mans head with a single quick stroke of his sword. He tosses the head onto the cobbles, looks around once or twice, to see if there were any witnesses, then, apparently satisfied, disappears back into the garden and closes the door behind him.

[Her Stealth (44%) vs. the broo's Perception (69%) to avoid being seen.
42 vs. 23; it does not see her.
Q: Does anything else occur? 50/50: 58, No.]

Lachaidiga does not wait to see what happens next, but rushes back through the streets to a crowded place she feels is safe, where she is violently sick. Ignoring the disapproving stares of the populace, she races off immediately to find Wihiyaba at the fort.

. . .

Having convinced her friend of the necessity and urgency of her 'Secret Mission', the two go stealthily to the alchemists manor in the dead of night. One street away they pause. Lachaidiga throws a spell over the both of them, so that they may "see" without light [She makes her Invocation roll to cast Darksense: 2 targets, duration 7xPOw=119 minutes, costing 3 magic points)].

The back alleys are empty of all sound and movement. Wihiyaba lifts Lachaidiga up onto the garden wall effortlessly, and then springs up after her. They jump down into a flower bed, the soft dirt cushioning their fall.

[Getting over the garden wall without making too much noise: Wihiyaba made a Brawn (64%) roll to lift Lachaidiga, and an Athletics (59%) roll to climb over himself.

Here beginneth the 5-room dungeon

room 1 - guardian monster
Q: Is the guardian monster around in the garden? 50/50: 28, yes.

The PCs need to make Stealth (L:44%, W:29%) rolls vs. the broo's Perception (69%): Lachaidiga fails on a 60, Wihiyaba succeeds on an 08, and the broo fumbles with a 00.]

From the darkness at the bottom of the garden, Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba see the chaos beastman roaming nonchalantly up an down the flagstone paths amidst the flora. They sink back behind an obliging shrub as the creature ambles towards them, humming some sort of awful, guttural tune and swinging its wicked sword in the air. It passes right by them without even looking in their direction.

Wihiyaba springs out from the bushes behind the oblivious broo. In a single fluid motion he brings his axe about and crashes it down on the creature's head with a sharp crack. The broo falls to the ground, and rolls over to face its attacker. Wihiyab swings again as the surprised beast tries vainly to scurry back out of reach. The tall warrior leans forward, swinging downward, and buries the axe blade between the broo's eyes, smashing its face into an unrecognisable pulp. The sword falls from its limp fingers and it moves no more.

[Wihiyaba made a surprise attack, rolling a 69 (Combat style 79%) for a normal hit. He got 2 special effects (1 for the uncontested success, +1 for attacking with surprise):
Choose Location (head) and Trip.

The damage roll is (1d8+1+1d4=)8 -1 for the broo's armour = 7 points; a serious wound.
Because of the serious wound, the broo needed to make an Endurance (84%) roll, which had to beat the original attack roll: 84 vs. 69 succeeded, so it remained conscious.
A similar Evade (72%) roll vs. original attack was needed to resist the Trip; it rolled a 13, and so fell over.

round 1
The broo suffers a -10SR for being surprised. Wihiyaba's base SR is 15, so the broo could not possibly win initiative. He also wouldn't be allowed to attack in the first round; though this is all largely academic.

Wihiyaba attacked, the broo tried to evade.
rolls were 74, success vs. 84, failure: a hit with 1 special effect.
Going for Choose Location (head) again, resulted in  10-1= 9 damage reducing the location to -9HP, a major wound.
This forced an Endurance roll, which the broo managed to fumble (00 again!), resulting in an instant gory death.

STR: 16
CON: 16
SIZ: 16
DEX: 15
INT: 13
POW: 10
CHA: 8

Action Points 3
Damage Modifier +1d4
Magic Points 10
Movement 8
Strike Rank 14

1D20  Location AP/HP
01-03 Right leg 1/7
04-06 Left leg  1/7
07-09 Abdomen   1/8
10-12 Chest     1/9
13-15 Right arm 1/6
16-18 Left arm  1/6
19-20 Head      1/7
Skills: Athletics 66%, Brawn 67%, Endurance 84%, Evade 72%, Folk Magic 46%, Perception 69%, Stealth 67%, Unarmed 71%, Willpower 64%
Folk magic spells: Bludgeon, Disruption, Mobility, Slow
Disease: Pyrohoxia - Rq6 pg 114
Combat Styles: Chaos Unleashed 82% - If primary attack is parried, broo gets a free head butt.
Weapons: Scimitar 1d8+1d4, Head butt 1d6+1d4, Heater Shield 1d4+1d4

On to Room Two: Puzzle Or Roleplaying Challenge - random picture below]

Lachaidiga does not come over to examine the results of Wihiyaba's handiwork. "Make sure it's dead!" she whispers.

"Trust me," replies the warrior, "there's no need to check." He pulls the axe free with some difficulty. Lachaidiga is momentarily sickened by the wet squelching sound.

The two look across at the manor house. Some dim light is coming from within. They approach cautiously, hearing low strains of a harp and tuneless singing. As they creep into the building, they espy a group of young women lounging about what appears to be a harem. They are all vacantly watching the musician playing her harp. The room is hazy with incense, which swirls in clouds as a breeze blows in through the now open garden door. Noticing the change, the music abruptly stops and all look towards the new arrivals.

One of the women gets up clumsily and totters over to Lachaidiga. "You must be the new girl," she says through bared teeth.

[Lachaidiga makes an Insight (60%) roll: 08, success.]

"Uhhh... yeah," she replies. "And this is the new eunuch."

"You don't want to mess with me. He's mine! all mine..."

"Of course I don't... I'll just wait outside."

Lachaidiga begins backing away, and the woman loses interest and wanders unsteadily back to the others. Lachaidiga swiftly intones a spell, casting her magic into the room, over the woman and the two nearest her. The woman stops short as it takes effect. She begins to look around fearfully, as do the other two, whilst the rest sit vacantly.

[Successful Invocation roll (fortunately) for Neutralise Magic, costing 3MP: 1 +1 (range) +1 (additional targets)
Q: Can she get info from the woman? 50/50: 46, Yes.]

"Hey," calls Lachaidiga, "I really need to talk to you."

The woman comes over with obvious trepidation. The other two are too scared to move. Lachaidiga is shocked by her appearance from up close. She is clad in the finest silks, voluminous fabrics concealing a coat of light mail beneath. Beneath her heavy make up, her skin is sallow and drawn, and though drenched in perfume it is clear she hasn't bathed in weeks.

"What's going on here?" asks Lachaidiga.

"Don't come any closer," the woman whispers, "it's not safe. If the others think you're coming to see the master, they'll tear you limb from limb!"

"I an help them," insists Lachaidiga, "as I've helped you."

"It's all a horrid joke of... of... I don't know his name. We only know him as our 'Master'. Though in truth we hardly see him. I think he's afraid of his own spells. He keeps us arrayed here, day and night, playing the part of harem girls. But we're not... we're just guard dogs! If anyone comes into the room too far, we attack in a jealous rage, and tear them apart. The magic compels us!"

At this, she holds her hands up for Lachaidiga to see. Blood is crusted under her vividly painted nails.

"I can free the others," says the sorceress, and immediately begins weaving her spell. One by one the other women come back to their senses. They are terrified to think on what they have done; some sit in shock, others weep quietly, one vows terrible revenge. Wihiyaba and Lachaidiga are full of questions about the layout of the manse, which the freed guardians are all too eager to answer.

[Lachaidiga managed to make three successful Invocation rolls in a row for casting Neutralise Magic. She's spent 9 more Magic Points in total, so has only 5MP remaining.

Room Three: Trick or Setback - Believing the object of the quest now lays within easy reach, an NPC companion turns traitor and betrays the PCs.]

Whilst Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba are interviewing the more cogent of the captured women, one of the others absentmindedly eats a piece of fruit off of a gilded tray. She slips instantly in to a feral rage, and starts screaming that the new girl can't have the master. She flies at Lachaidiga, fingers outstretched like claws, but she is quickly caught by the others and restrained, but the commotion has roused the Master of the house.

[Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict - Give the bad guy unexpected powers, abilities, or equipment.]

A portly man clad in bizarre finery appears on the upper balcony at the top of stairs. "I see you found a way around my guardians. In their 'jealous rage' they made short work of the last fool that got this far," says he, indicating some awful stains on the carpet with an imperious wave of his jewel-bedecked hand. "Even my broo was afraid of them... poor thing, I suppose you've killed him without a thought. Alas! I see that I'll have to deal with you myself."

STR: 6
CON: 10
SIZ: 15
DEX: 10
INT: 19
POW: 11
CHA: 14

Action Points 3
Damage Modifier +1d4
Magic Points 11
Movement 6
Strike Rank 12(14-2)

1D20  Location AP/HP
01-03 Right leg 0/5
04-06 Left leg  0/5
07-09 Abdomen   2/6
10-12 Chest     3/7
13-15 Right arm 1/4
16-18 Left arm  1/4
19-20 Head      0/5

Skills: Brawn 21%, Conceal 51%, Deceit 83%, Endurance 50%, Evade 50%, First Aid 59%, Folk Magic 75%, Influence 78%, Insight 80%, Invocation 73%, Locale 88%, Perception 70%, Shaping 80%, Stealth 69%, Unarmed 16%, Willpower 82%
Folk magic spells: Protection
Maximum shaping: 8
Intensity: 8
Sorcery spells: Enslave Human, Evoke, Tap CON, Wrack Harm
Gift (Secret Teaching): Gift (Secret Teaching): Mighty - Damage Modifier is recalculated, based on the sum of STR, SIZ and POW. RQ pg 291 (counts as the unexpected power)
Combat Styles: Dagger and Small Blades 51%
Weapon: Dagger 1d4+1+1d4, Shortsword 1d6+1d4

[I am not using a map for the combat, so it will take (1d3=)3 Action Points spent on movement to run up the stairs to reach the Alchemist.

Initiative (SR+1d10)
Alchemist 14+9-2(armour)=21
Lachaidiga 13+7=20
Wihiyaba W 15+4=19]

The women seem cowed by the appearance of their captor. They flee to the corners of the room, fearful lest they be caught up in the ensuing battle.

[round 1]
Wihiyaba springs up the stairs toward the alchemist, who is tracing a pattern in the air with his free hand and intoning mystic syllables of power. His other hand holds a broad-bladed bronze shortsword, which he points menacingly at the advancing warrior. Lachaidiga remains below, beginning a counterspell. Ghostly tendrils, like the legs of a giant spider, appear in a weirdly-glowing halo around the alchemist. Lachaidiga struggles against them with her magic, but they resist her attempt to banish them.

[The Alchemist spent a round to cast Wrack; for the range and extra target it cost 3MP. Whihyaba spent all his AP on movement. Lachaidiga failed her Invocation roll so did not manage to cast Neutralise Magic; at least she didn't lose any MP in the attempt.]

[round 2]
The alchemist gestures at Wihiyaba, causing one of the spidery wisps to lash out at him, which the warrior deftly sidesteps. He slashes at the alchemist in return, but in avoiding the evil magic had retreated too far. His blade sails harmlessly through the empty air. [1AP to attack with Wrack, 1AP to defend: rolls are 22 vs. 25, the evade is successful. Wihiyaba failed his uncontested counterattack; 1AP.]

A second spider leg stabs toward the warrior, but snaps back too soon. Wihiyaba likewise brings his weapon down without injuring his target. [1 AP each for a missed attack roll.]

Lachaidiga is still pitting her magic against the Alchemist's vile sorcery, but it does not yield [Failed another Invocation roll, no MP spent].

Wihiyaba presses his attack against the alchemist, who brings up his bronze sword just in time to turn the axe from his head. The axe rebounds off the blade and into the balcony's railing, where it becomes stuck in the wood. [Wihiyaba's successful attack roll (41) was bested by the Alchemist's critical defence (04), which let him choose a special effect. He chose Overextend Opponent, so Wihiyaba cannot attack on his next turn.]

[round 3]
As the warrior wrenches his axe free, the alchemist directs another spidery filament to strike. It bores a bloody hole in the warriors leg. [Wrack hits, Wihiyaba's Evade fails; 3 damage to Right Leg.]

Wihiyaba re-balances his axe as another filament punctures his stomach [W failed evade, tendril hit for 5 damage to the Abdomen]. Still another of the waving black ribbons darts forth, tearing his arm from shoulder to elbow [It hits on a 23, doing 6 damage to the Right Arm: a Serious Wound. Wihiyaba rolls an Endurance check against the attack roll, beating it with a 48, so does not lose use of the arm].

Lachaidiga finally overcomes the evil spell with her own incantation [costing 2MP, 1 base + 1 for range]. The spidery arms shudder and burst into foul smelling smoke.

[round 4]
The Alchemist's eyes go wide with fear as his spell is sundered and the great warrior, seemingly insensible to the pain in his mangled arm, is bearing down on him. He desperately swings his sword in a clumsy attempt to fend him off.

Wihiyaba does not even seem mindful of the man's clumsy attack [he didn't Evade] as he swings his axe in a mighty arc. The alchemist attempts to ward off the blow but makes a terrible misjudgement. The blade of the axe takes his sword hand clean off. [Attack 14 vs. parry 73 (failure). Hit + special effect: Choose Location. Damage is (1d8+1+1d4=)10, -1 for armour makes 9 points total, dropping the location to -5: Major Wound. The alchemist fails an Endurance roll -- KO].

The alchemist swoons and tumbles forward in a faint at Wihiyaba's feet, blood jetting from the stump of his arm. Wihiyaba roughly picks him up by his collar and drags him down the stairs. He tells the women that he is an elite warrior of Anzakàr and intends to see the brute brought to justice. [Easy Influence (31 x 1.5 = 47%) roll succeeds] The women assent to his plan, as they have no more stomach for killing after their murderous ordeal. He bids them mind the alchemist, binding his wound so he does not escape justice in death, and finally turns to his own injuries. [Wihiyaba successfully rolls 1st Aid (44%) to stop blood loss from his own wound.]

[Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist]

"You mind your arm," says Lachaidiga as she take a large ring of brass keys from the alchemists belt, "whilst I go free the prisoner."

The door to the cellar is left unlocked; no invader had ever traversed the harem to reach it before. A long flight of steps leads down into the darkness. Lachaidiga takes an oil lamp from a table before beginning her descent -- more for the prisoner's benefit than her own, as her magic still makes the darkness as bright to her as the noontide.

The cellar is musty and full of old junk, but a path has been left open to the far corner, where a sturdy cage of wrought iron bars is built in to the corner. As Lachaidiga draws near, she sees that a magic circle has been chiseled in to the floor surrounding the cage; how else does one hold a sorcerer captive? She also sees the prisoner slumped on the floor. She clears her throat to speak, and the man stirs, turning to face her.

"I'm Lachaidiga," says she, "a sorceress. I'm here to resc-- oh, shit: it's you!"

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part VIII, Days in Hasharu

Scene 14

chaos: 3 (I don't like it to drop below 3, so I'm using that as a minimum)

Setup: 2=interrupt (was: go to meet the sage)
Interrupt: Move away from a thread

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Sage

1. find a certain sage

Hasharu, 'the Sheepfold', is a sprawling desert city that grew up round a large oasis. Hasharu was once rules by a coalition of noble families, but following a disastrous war against Anzakàr, the conquered city had been made a protectorate. The Anzakàrite governor is the nominal head of state, whose power in practice is tempered by the council of elders, the matriarchs and patriarchs of the local nobility. Anzakàr's army defends the city, and a large fort is located without the southern wall. The local language is closely related to Anzakàrite; sages disagree on whether one is dialect of the other or the two diverged soon after the cataclysm. A smattering of nomad tongues are common second or third languages, but ophidian is scarcely spoken at all, there being neither serpentfolk nor any organised sorcerers in the city. The greatest god of the city is the Divine Shepherd, though most other common faiths are represented.

Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba bid a terse goodbye to Ni'arouj, and set off into Hasharu. Wihiyaba feels he must report to the army and disappears into the fort. Lachaidiga finds herself a room at an inn, again the best there is to be had.

Despite her fatigue, she lays awake that night, pondering her next move. Her master at the college had bid her seek out a certain sage: a sorcerer living a monastic existence with his order in one of the city's many temples. But the old serpent hadn't told her the name of the sage, nor even the name of the temple wherein he may be found!

She had been given a message to memorise, as cryptic as you like. Turning it over and over in her head provided no hints as to the sage's whereabouts. She thought back, too, on the final admonition the serpent had given her: "You must look into yourself for answers. We both know your resistance to outside influences. I would not ask you to undertake this task if I did not think you ready. Your brother is right about you needing to grow up, but not in the way he thinks."

Tomorrow, she decided, she would get up early and begin to unravel the mysteries in earnest.

. . .

A very somnolent sorceress makes her way to the inn's common room some time around mid-day, finally compelled there by the rumbling in her stomach. She makes idle conversation  with one of the serving girls, and without meaning to finds she has divulged her entire mission. Her surprise is further compounded by the girl's answer. "Sorcerers? There aren't really any in Hasharu. Well, excepting that group what lives all hidden away-like in the temple of Ishq-Ihar. But they mostly keep themselves to themselves."

"That was too easy," thinks Lachaidiga, rushing across town.

. . .

Ishq-Ihar, the Lord of Silence, is a seldom-worshipped god of unknown origin. Lachaidiga isn't even certain she's ever noticed a shrine to him on Gods' Street, though she is certain one must be there. Certainly the temple in Hasharu is an unpreposessing affair, a squarish building sandwiched between its neighbours, and mostly hidden from view. The only means of ingress is a doorway at the end of a long alley.

Lachaidiga sees a group of young monks milling about the entrance, all with shaved heads and flowing robes. They take no notice of her as she walks right up to them, and seem deaf to her repeated salutations. "This must be the real test," she thinks. She tries addressing them once more, in Ophidian, and with all possibly formality.

Yet do they ignore her, attending only to their prayers and incense. She espies movement within, and sees an older monk -- probably about her age -- coming out of the dim interior towards her. He motions for her to come inside the temple, and studies her intently for a few moments. "You are Lachaidiga," says he. "Your coming has been foretold."

"Yes!" she whispers, afraid of how her voice should echo in this gloomy place. "But how...?"

"That is not for me to reveal. The first of us has said it; we do not not question his wisdom."

"You know then... I mean... I must see him. Or another of you.... I bring a message from Master Hhsasv!" This last she nearly shouts, though her words are swallowed up by the very darkness of the place.

"I am sorry, sorceress, but I may not admit you to the sanctum. It is not yet time."

"But, the message...?"

"It is not yet time."

"When will it be time then?"

"When it is time."

Lachaidiga does not answer, but turns to leave immediately. Her departure is momentarily arrested by the frightening visage of the great basalt idol of Ishq-Ihar, past which she then rushes towards the rectangle of light which shews the exit. She slows her pace so as not to crash into the novices, but when she steps forth into daylight the alleyway is empty.

Scene 15

chaos 4

Setup: waste time in Hasharu until 'it is time'

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader
2. Sage

1. find a certain sage

[Once again, I'll be using the City Catch-up Tables in Cities. Lachaidiga still has a +5% for event occurrance since she attracts trouble. Wihiyaba is better behaved, so has a -20%. Any event of a military nature for Wihiyaba will indicate he's been called to active duty. After the event determination step, there is a 1-in-6 chance per week that 'it is time' to visit the temple. I've already picked out an event/picture to go with it.

Week 1
Lachaidiga mostly lounges around the inn, Wihiyaba gets acquainted with the soldiers in the fort.

Random event: Lachaidiga offends a townsperson; this will result in a -1% to the conviction roll if accused of crime. Should this later amount to anything, I'll work out some details, but as it stands it's not interesting enough to devote any time to the project.

Expenses: Lachaidiga, for Room & board (finest Inn) spends 80sp.
Wihiyaba is staying in the barracks, so has no expenses.

Week 2
Bored with the inn, Lachaidiga takes in the sights a bit. Wihiyaba drills with the army. Lachaidiga calls at the temple every other day, but is not admitted.

Random event: Lachaidiga makes a friend, an Underworld Character, one afternoon in a less-than-reputable (but still expensive) tavern. Again, details can wait, but this has potential so I will add 'Underworld Character' to the Mythic NPC list.

Expenses: Lachaidiga spends 80sp on the inn, and 100sp for companionship (Level 5 (of 6), the second most expensive option).
Wihiyaba is still staying in the barracks, so has no expenses.

Week 3
Another random event for Lachaidiga, none for Wihiyaba.
Random event: offered a dangerous mission. It pays (1d20x100=) 1000sp and entails a 1d6x10% chance of the PC's death: no modifiers, determine odds only if the mission is accepted. That's a bit too old-school, not to mention dull, so I'm going to use a 5-room dungeon instead. Cities does have mission tables, so the base mission is to Free a Magician. I used the d30 Companion to get a few more details: trigger=message, key NPC=treacherous alchemist, villain goal/reason: envy. For location, a random picture. But to set it up...]

Lachaidiga is returning to the inn one evening, meditating upon her possible plans for the night's entertainment, when a street urchin runs up to her, shouting for her attention. "Hey! Hey missus!" he says, tugging on her gown. "You're the sorceress!"

"In fact, I am."

"You have to come with me."

All thought of other diversions instantly drains away as she follows the child through the still-busy streets. "This can only mean," she thinks, "that it is time for my audience at the Temple."

But after a while, she begins to distrust her initial instinct. The surest route to the temple certainly cannot be through this neighbourhood. None of the buildings look familiar, and they're rather run down in places. Could it be a test?

When the child has lead her to their destination, another one of those low establishments that never bode well for her, she wonders if she has, in fact, been set up. But she hasn't any enemies in Hasharu yet. Well, there was a run-in in the market the other day, but that can't possibly be leading to an ambush.

The urchin runs across the common room, into a dark corner where a mysterious man is lurking by himself at a table which wobbles every time he sets down his clay drinking-bowl. A second bowl sits on the table near a clay jug filled with something frothy. The oil lamp hanging above him is cracked and useless. The urchin whispers something theatrically in the man's ear, and is rewarded with a pair of copper coins. The excited child nearly knocks Lachaidiga down as he runs back outside.

Wishing she'd come here with her sword instead of just the knife at her belt, Lachaidiga strides purposefully through the room. She sits down across the table from the mysterious stranger.

"Well?" she says.

"You are the sorceress who recently came to Hasharu with the caravan from Peren'osh?"

"It would be awfully embarrassing for you, were I otherwise."

"Yes. Quite..."

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Lachaidiga looks pointedly at the empty drinking-bowl. "I believe," says she, "you were going to offer me a drink before we discuss the business for which you brought me here."

The man flushes crimson beneath his heavy cowl. "Oh, no, m'lady!" he blurts out. "I mean, I had intended to... but it tastes like... like the horses have been here."

Lachaidiga can scarcely contain her laughter. The stranger's face blanches from an embarrassed red to a rather consternated white. Lachaidiga looks at him squarely, as if to say something, but his expression only elicits another peal of laughter. "I'm sorry," she says, wiping a tear from her eye, "this is just so unexpected. I have no idea why you want me here, and I was half expecting it to be a trap. And then... what you said..."

Lachaidiga bites her lip to contain herself, but only succeeds in spluttering out in a new fit of giggles. "My lady," ventures the stranger again, "you are a sorceress, are you not?"

"You don't know who I am? How is it, then, that you can tell I'm a lady."

"That ring you're wearing," he says, "looks like it cost more than everything contained in this whole room."

"I hadn't thought to be coming here for this... well whatever it is. Here, take some silver, and go buy something potable. I'll compose myself and we can start fresh."

The stranger accepts the handful of coins, and sheepishly complies. When he returns, Lachaidiga is waiting patiently, having given the rest of the jug of foul-smelling beer to the residents of a nearby table who seem less than picky about their tipple. She sees her companion sat down and, pouring the wine like the good little hostess Enzzal was always trying to make her into, bids him speak.

"My name is Kurkeza. Though I look like a barbarian, I am actually a native of Hasharu, an orphan to be sure. I survived on my own as a thief and petty criminal for many years until at last I met a man who claimed he could sense the magic within me, and took me under his wing. He was one of a group of wandering sorcerers, and together they taught me the Art. But there is one who is jealous of our power, and uses his own perverse sorcery to drain it quite away form us. My master is his captive, held prisoner somewhere within his mansion. We are a simple band of scholars, and dare not go up against this Alchemist, for we fear what he can do with his potions and conjurations. But when we heard there was another sorceress lately come to Hasharu, we knew that the gods had sent us a great boon. We have heard tell of your battle with the witch-woman. You must be the one to help my master. We can offer you a great reward, one thousand silver coins. Please, say you will help!"

"Oh, all right," says Lachaidiga. "I was getting bored with waiting around."

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part VII, Town & Country

scene 10

chaos: 6

setup: 2=interrupt (was: continue next day)
Interrupt: Close a thread 1d3=3 no one else coming after her

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

[Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Anzakàr... Enzzal has given up trying to send anyone else after his sister and harassing the Sorcerous Colleges for information on her whereabouts. Alkinu returns to active duty, as dispatches from the frontier begin to come in, speaking of increased chaos-monster activity.]

scene 11

chaos: 5

setup: press on

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage

The next day Ni'arouj leads the caravan onwards. They make poor time, and so she elects to stop for the day at the campsite they would have reached the day before, had they not stopped by the ruins. The wind picks up the next morning, and soon a sandstorm is blowing across the desert.

[Q: Are there any problems caused by the sandstorm? 50/50: 82, No -- but they are effectively losing a day of travel].

The storm eventually lets up enough that the caravan can pitch their tents. The following day is a long, steady trudge to the next campsite, and the day after that another grim march, but in the late evening they finally reach their destination, the city of Peren'osh.

Peren'osh, 'House of the Cedar' (in a half-forgotten tongue), is a moderately-sized city nestled at the foot of low, cedar-forested mountains, from whence the wealth of the city derives. It is self-governing, but a client state of Anzakàr. Peren'osh's own small military is little more than a police force; Anzakàrite forts protect the logging concerns in the mountains (owned by the city's wealthiest families) and keep the surrounding area free from bandits and monsters. Anzakarite is the language spoken by the majority of the populace, and sages believe that the people fleeing the hosts of chaos from Peren'osh-of-the-time-before were the first humans welcomed into the safety of Anzakàr's bosom.

scene 12

chaos: 4

setup: stopover lasting 2d4=6 days

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage

Ni'arouj has business to conduct in Peren'osh, but intends to be off again for Hasharu after six days. She will be staying at the caravanserai. She cares not where Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba stay, though she politely requests they send her word of their habitation, that she may contact them should there be need of their assistance.

Lachaidiga decides she would like to stay somewhere comfortable after all that time sleeping in a tent. She sets out into the city with Wihiyaba, and homes in on the most opulent inn in the merchant's quarter, or indeed in the whole of Peren'osh. Wihiyaba protests that it's far too rich for his meagre purse, but Lachaidiga won't hear it; she insists she has plenty of money for the both of them.

As curious as she may be to see a new city, for the next few days Lachaidiga hardly steps foot outside the inn, making only a daily pilgrimage to the baths at the end of the street. Wihiyaba is a bit shocked at the amount of money she seems willing to spend, but after the first day gives up altogether at trying to convince her to economise -- a word of whose very existence she seems scarcely aware.

[Finally, a chance to use the City Catch-up Tables in Cities. They are much more geared to standard D&D-type FRP worlds, so I may take some liberties. And some things, like the looking-for-work/employment steps don't apply to our independently-wealthy heroine, but I've been looking for a chance to try them out so...

Each cycle through the tables represents a week of time, so just one go for each of our heroes before the caravan continues on its merry way.

First, I need to check for random events. High INT or POW (WIS) allows a +5% or up to a -20% on the event roll. Wihiyaba is inclined to lay low, so with a -20% he gent No Event. A certain sorceress is much more prone to trouble, so rolling with a +5% modifier does result in an event.

Rolling on the event table produces "Your friend has offended someone". Characters who don't have friends in the city yet get to roll to see who the new friend is, but as I rolled Employer, I figured that it must be Ni'arouj. Another roll determined that she offended the guildmaster of the jewellers' guild. Rather than just going with the table results (bonus/penalty to getting arrested based on who you decide to help), I played out the scene.]

Lachaidiga leaves the baths late one evening, as is her wont, and is coming back to the inn, preoccupied with the weighty decision of which wine to sample with supper, when the concierge rushes up to present her with a letter. She breaks the wax seal and opens the wooden tablets to find the following lines therein:

Ni'arouj to Sorceress
Problems with a guild
Come immediately

Lachaidiga arrives at the caravanserai to find a more-than-unusually agitated Ni'arouj puttering about, checking over the camels with a bewildered assistant.

"Well, well," she calls out the caravan mistress, "so herself has finally seen fit to grace us with her presence!"

"You're not the only one with important business in the city!" snaps Lachaidiga.

"Yes, I've heard. Making eyes at the bath attendants is work that must require great industry!"

"Hmpf! Do you require my services or not?"

Ni'arouj explains her disagreement with the jeweller's guild, and Lachaidiga promises to see if she can smooth things over. The next morning, Ni'arouj leads her to the guildmaster's personal shop. She consents to wait outside whilst Lachaidiga attempts to negotiate. Lachaidiga peeks into the shop to make sure there is a visible statue of Nuriu, the earth god, and upon finding it strides in with confidence.

[I'll save the negotiation scenes for Star Trader, and just let the dice determine this.

Lachaidiga needs to make a Courtesy (45%) roll, resisted by the jewellers' Willpower (1d6+1 x10 =50%) to solve the problem.
Rolls of 67 and 78 are both failures. She's too offensive (in both senses!), he's overly defensive.

As there was no clear winner, negotiations go into a second round. Her Influence (63%)vs. his Willpower to force an agreement.
Rolls of 83 (failure) vs. 13 (success) show the jeweller as the clear winner.]

Ni'arouj hasn't long to wait before Lachaidiga stomps out of the shop, flushed with rage. "Some people!" she exclaims, "I've never met anyone as absolutely pig-headed before. It was like talking to my brother!"

"Why didn't you use your magic?" asks Ni'arouj.

"Are you mad? Do you have any idea what sort of trouble that would cause? I'd be ejected from the college for such flagrant abuse of its teachings. What do you take me for?"

"As it stands now, fairly useless," responds the nomad, and so saying turns to walk away from the sorceress still standing there mute, with mouth gaping, fists balled, and tears beginning to cloud her vision.

When she returns to the inn, one of Ni'arouj's lieutenants is waiting for her in the common room. "The mistress wishes you to have this," says he, handing her an earthenware bottle "and says she hopes the unpleasantness will be forgotten."

Lachaidiga unstoppers it and sniffs the contents. "Istridzian date wine!" she says to herself. "If this isn't poisoned, she must be truly sorry!"

[I had asked Mythic-- Q: Does Ni'arouj stay mad? 50/50: 53, No.

The rest of the time passes without incident, and there isn't anything of note on the Catch-up Tables except Cost of Living. Lachaidiga spends 80sp each for her and Wihiyaba on room and board (Living Level 6, the highest), and 300sp (again, level 6) for Companionship, which is a generic entertainment budget. Aside from a few silver a day for the public baths, I ruled that upon checking out of the inn, she is presented with the world's biggest bar tab. Fortunately, she brought a bag of silver and 7 gold coins (1gp=100sp) with her, in addition to her least favourite jewellery which she is planning to sell if things get desperate. She also bought a new travelling dress to replace the one that got ruined in the battle with the shaman.]

scene 13

chaos: 3

setup: back into the desert

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage

The caravan sets out from Peren'osh, traversing more sandy dunes and rocky wastes. By mid-day Lachaidiga already feels the want of the comforts of her suite at the inn, but resolves to face the resumption of hardship courageously. Her efforts are nearly undone when she finds a (fortunately dead) scorpion whilst pitching her tent that evening, but Ni'arouj tells her they only have two more days before they reach Hasharu.

The following day is as uneventful as the first. There is some minor hesitation near the end, when they see shapes moving in the oasis, their destination. Ni'arouj peers at them for a few moments then orders the march to continue.

[random encounter: monster; random picture
Q: Are they friendly? Very likely (just look at them!): 46, Yes.]

A tribe of skiapodes ended their own day's journey at the oasis. The strange and delightful creatures are known to many of the nomads, who converse with them in a pidgin language neither Lachaidiga nor Wihiyaba can understand in the slightest. The evening is passed in general merriment, and even though Lachaidiga can barely make herself understood, she enjoys their lively piping music and even joins one of them in an awkward, hopping dance.

[Ni'arouj talks to the tribal leader, and picks up a rumour
Location Data - small scale - specific location. (nearby ruins)
magnitude: minor annoyance (-1/-5%) : Ambush/Intrigues
Interpretation: the chief skiapous tells her that the ruins are occasionally used as stopover by bandits.]

The next morning, the skiapodes bid their friends the caravaneers good-bye, and the two march off in opposite directions through the desert. Before nightfall, almost before Lachaidiga even realises it, they arrive at Hasharu.

[Time for XP-- er, Improvement Rolls.

For her adventures with the caravan, Lachaidiga earns 4 (+1 bonus) Improvement rolls. Wihiyaba came halfway through all the significant encounters, so he gets 2+1. They're both going to sit on these for the time being (mostly because I don't want to have to update the PC page).]

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part VI, Investigating the ruins

scene 9

chaos: 5

setup: investigate ruins

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

[Ni'arouj sends the PCs (+1d4-1=0 warriors for backup; so just the PCs)
Q: Are the ruins inhabited? 50/50: 63, No.
Q: Are they dangerous? 50/50: 30, Yes.]

Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba walk half a mile over the dunes towards the ruins. When they are near, they peer over the top of a dune and watch patiently. The structure was evidently once a temple, though they cannot tell which god or gods it once honoured in its broken state. Nothing seems to move amongst the crumbling stones, so they move closer to get a better vantage point.

Nearer and nearer they creep, until they can discern the vague shapes of men and beasts carved on the walls, once gaily painted and gilded, now only known through long familiarity and guesswork. "There's Nuriu," says Wihiyaba, "and Ziburrun, and that one there, I think it's Yqoureh."

"No, it can't be," says Lachaidiga. "It has to to be Ta'ok. Hasn't it?"

"Well, they are all gods welcomed by Anzakàr, so it's not a temple of chaos at any rate."

"But what could have happened to it? It can't be from... the time before. Can it?"

"You're the scholar. How old can it be, in your estimation?"

[Lachaidiga has Lore - History (42%); she rolls a 97, so isn't sure.]

"I'm not sure. So much was lost..."

The pair lapse into silence for a while; news of a massing chaos army has brought fears of another world cataclysm to the fore. Still they detect no movement amidst the toppled stones. They decide to head into the ruin to explore.

[Formidable (skill x1/2) Perception rolls are required to notice the danger. Lachaidiga (51/2=26%) succeeds with a 16, Wihiyaba (24/2=12%) fails with a 20.]

"Look!" cries Lachaidiga, "So many skeletons littering the place. Wait-- stop a moment. I don't think we should go any further. The bones are all too perfect. Prey, scavengers, predators-- all arrayed as they fell, as if they rotted away undisturbed. Let's away from here."

[Q: But have they come too close? 50/50: 43, Yes.
Narrative first, then mechanics in a separate section at the very end.]

Wihiyaba is about to open his mouth to reply when a something begins to stir round the bones of a great cat. Like an angry swarm a spirit begins to swirl and coalesce into a diaphanous shape.

"Get out of here!" says Lachaidiga, "Warn the others. I'll hold it off."

Wihiyaba wastes no time, but turns to run. Lachaidiga sits down calmly in the sand, watching the spirit assume an ever more frightening visage. She reaches for the small stone about her neck and presses it over her heart as she was taught by the shaman, vaguely hoping it wasn't another of Qes' lies. The stone still pulses against her skin, but she can't quite tell if it is working or not.

The phantom flits towards her, covering dozens of paces in the blink of an eye. It surround her like a whirlwind. She feels as if dozens of tiny talons are clawing at her very being. She resists its pull, but it renews its attack. She feels her awareness being drawn into the spirit world, as the phantom tries to separate her soul and body altogether. Her eyelids go heavy. It would be so easy to just slip away, to fall asleep and walk the spirit realm in a dream. But no! she must fight back. She summons all her will, and pushes back. It becomes angry, unused to such might in a mortal creature. It comes back, ever more furious, a flurry of spectral nails and fangs. Not to be outdone, Lachaidiga shrieks like a banshee, lashing out with pure force of will. She knows not even if her mouth is screaming, or just her soul. But it is enough. Waves of energy crash through the spirit, seeming to shred and flay its very essence. It turns and flits back to the temple, to hide, vanquished, amongst the stones of the ruined pile.

Lachaidiga snaps instantly back to the world of the living as it departs. She lays back on the sand for a moment, exhausted from the struggle. But then she realises there may be more spirits lurking nearby, and without a moment's hesitation leaps to her feet and runs all the way back to the caravan.

[Once more, with die rolls...

Spirit combat is a lot simpler than mêlée, but also a bit less interesting in the purely mecahanical sense.

Before the combat, Lachaidiga tried to activate her Spirit Shield matrix, so needed to make a Folk Magic (31%) roll. A 96 is a failure. She didn't bother to try again because she isn't certain that the item is even genuine. The attempt cost 1 Magic Point, so she has 16 going into the fight.

Back at the end of scene 3, I rolled up 3 death spirits, assuming that a battle with them was immanent. Scene 4's alteration made this a waste of time (I have learnt my lesson -- no more stats until the fight is unavoidable). When Mythic said the ruins were dangerous but uninhabited, I decided spirits would be a more interesting encounter than dodging falling rocks from structural collapse. Plus, it gave me an excuse to use that way cool picture.

Death Spirit
Intensity        1
INT             11
POW             11
CHA             17
Discorporate    72%
Spectral Combat 78%
Willpower       72%
AP               2
SR              14
Damage         1d8

[round 1]
First off, Initiative (Strike Rank +1d10).
Lachaidiga SR13+2=15
Spirit SR14+7=21; it goes first.

Before the spirit can actually engage Lachaidiga in spirit combat, it must successfully pull her awareness into the spirit realm. This is accomplished with a resisted skill roll, its Discorporate (72%) vs. her Willpower (79%). The first attack costs it 1MP, with the cost increasing by 1 for each subsequent attempt.

The spirit makes two unsuccessful attempts (41 vs. 69, resisted; 34 vs. 73, also resisted). This takes 2AP and 1+2=3MP; the spirit has (POW)11-3=8MP remaining.

Lachaidiga can't do anything this round, as she is not Discorporated, nor does she posses any shaman skills.

[round 2]
Once again the spirit makes a discorporation attempt, for 1AP and 3MP. This time the rolls are in its favour: 61 vs. 48.

The spirit pulls Lachaidiga into the spirit world, and the fight begins in earnest. It works rather like mêlée, though there are no special effects. The spirit uses its Spectral Combat (78%) skill, does 1d8 damage per successful attack (based on its skill; there is a chart), and MP are used as HP. Lachaidiga, lacking shaman skills, uses half her willpower (so, 40%) for her skill, which gives her a mere 1d4 damage rating.

Now it's finally Lachaidiga's turn. She attacks (1AP) and it defends (1AP): 84 vs. 05, miss.

It's out of Action Points, so Lachaidiga gets to attack it without resistance. A roll of 38 scores a hit for 1d4=4 damage; it now has but one Magic Point left.

[round 3]
New round, it goes first. It attack and she defends: 49 vs. 61; it hits for 1d8=7 damage. Lachaidiga has 9MP left. They've both spent their first AP.

For the second AP (both of them), she attacks and it defends. Some truly awful die rolls result in a miss against an equally poor attempt at defence.

Lachaidiga has one AP left, which she wastes with another crummy attack roll.

[round 4]
It attacks, she defends (1AP each). 15 vs. 72 is a hit, but only 2MP of damage are inflicted. Lachaidiga has 7MP left.

She attacks, it defends (1AP each). 89 vs. 96, miss.

Lachaidiga again fails (roll of 67) at the unresisted attack, squandering her 3rd AP.

[round 5]
It rolls a successful attack (28) but Lachaidiga defends with a 30.

She then counterattacks, and it defends. 82 vs 31, miss.

Her final, uncontested attack roll is a 31; this time she hits for 3MP damage; it is defeated.]

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Runequest solo 2 - part V, Good tidings and bad

Scene 5

chaos: 5

Setup: 1d10=4, interrupt (was: head back into desert after uneventful village stay)
Interrupt: PC Positive - Pursue / Ambush

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

The trial is concluded the next morning quickly, but with all due ceremony. The truth of Lachaidiga's testimony is evident even without supernatural confirmation. Mighty Anzakàr promises swift justice to those who date harm his people; she is sentenced to be buried alive in the desert, and taken away to her fate forthwith. Lachaidiga does not go to watch the execution, having no stomach for such things.

The wind blowing off the lake makes Ni'arouj nervous, as she watches it kicking up dust clouds over the sandy plain. She decides the caravan is not setting out again until the weather turns.

Being forced to wait in the village makes Lachaidiga nervous. They're scarcely a week out of Anzakàr; any pursuers, even had they set out a few days behind, could be on the verge of catching up with her. She has no doubt but that Enzzal will use his old army contacts to have scouts sent to track her down and drag her back home, perhaps even from their brother Nid-dallum's very unit. And Alkinu -- though the gods alone know how such a useless idiot could become so -- is an elite warrior himself. His comrades would almost certainly offer to help find his runaway bride.

The priest of Anzakàr offers her every hospitality, even providing her quarters adjoining the temple. He seems desperate for talk of home, and gratified to entertain a noble lady of rank. The two spend their evenings together in cheery conversation. When he is busy during the day, Lachaidiga swims in the lake or reads books form his personal library. She's still wary of having offended Ni'arouj, and gives her a wide berth.

On the third evening, Lachaidiga is reading quietly under the shade of an obliging palm tree when the priest comes to find her. "My lady," says he, "an elite warrior has just arrived in the village, and he's asking after you."

She is on the point of attempting to flee when a loud voice stops her in her tracks. "Lachaidiga, my dear friend! A happy day it is whenever I see you!"

"Wihiyaba!" she cries, and runs up to him, throwing her arms about his neck, hugging him tightly as he spins her round, her feet dangling several spans from the ground. He sets her down gently and steps back to look her over.

"You're looking well. The desert must agree with you."

"Hardly. My face is bright pink and there are tangles in my hair and not even my magic can get all the sand out of my linens. Oh, and look! I've a battle scar of my very own now."

"Whatever has happened to the girl who tried to hide in the command tent to avoid drilling with spear and shield?"

"Someone tried to kill her... but come, we've things to discuss. Privately."

The priest bows and excuses himself as Lachaidiga leads Wihiyaba down to the lake for their interview. She stretches out in the grass whilst he sits down beside her.

"So, I suppose you've come to fetch me back home," she says after a long silence.

"That is the mission for which I volunteered."

"You know I can't go back, don't you? At least not for a while. Not until things have settled. How bad is it?"

"You've caused quite a commotion.  Enzzal is in a constant rage, and has vowed to do everything within his power to bring you home and see -- how does he put it? -- that you do what's expected of you. He's petitioned your godfather to perform an official augury, but the clergy of Anzakàr will, of course, never get involved in purely familial disputes. For a few days he was convinced you were hiding in the sorcery college, and some serpentmen, I hear, had to forcibly eject him from their doorstep. He has pulled some strings, though, and gotten the army involved. Well, some scouts form his old unit. And some of us in the elite cadre have volunteered to help for Alkinu's sake -- esprit de corps and all that."

"So Enzzal is going round offending everyone in the City, and yet somehow it's all my fault!"

"I have not come to assign blame. But, you know, you're not entirely innocent in this matter."

"Hmpf! If he had listened to me, none of this would have been necessary in the first place! It is he who forced my hand! And he who is still trying to make me submit to his will, sending the army all the way out here to find me."

"Your family is still very powerful in Anzakàr, and has many friends and allies. And as a family friend, I could not refuse to help. Indeed, I stood in the presence of the sacred axe, and swore a solemn vow that, though the desert be full of terrors, I should brave them all to find you."


"And so have I found you. My oath is fulfilled."

"Wait -- you've not come to take me back?"

"As if I could! But honestly: you saved my life. I owe you at least this much. Alkinu's not a bad sort, but I understand why you wouldn't want to marry him -- or anyone else your brother picked out for you."

"I cannot tell you what a relief this is. But what will you do now?"

"I mustn't return yet to Anzakàr. That would look suspicious."

"Come with me to Hasharu."

"And whatever shall you do there?"

"Not marry Alkinu!"

Scene 6

chaos: 4

Setup: head back into the desert

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

After two more days of leisure by the lake in Pahem, the threat of sandstorms being past, the caravan once again continues in to the desert. Wihiyaba goes with them; Ni'arouj does not begrudge him food or water; she is pleased to have an elite warrior in addition to the sorceress for protection.

From the village the caravan travels down the shore of the lake and into the rocky hills for a day. The next two days see slow progress through the hills. The hills are nearly devoid of life. Only once is there any sign of life, a wisp of smoke rising in the distance. Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba are sent ahead to investigate, fearing that it be the cooking fire of a group of bandits. But it turns out to be a priest and a small group of worshippers, making an expiatory sacrifice to the gods of the air.

[only one random encounter in three days.
Q: Anyone want to stop? 50/50:47, No.]

The caravan continues past them, leaving them to their worship. Everyone is exhausted from the journey, and anxious to make the oasis by nightfall. Led onwards by the promise of cool water, shade, and rest, they wend their weary way over the unforgiving terrain.

But when they crest the last hill before the oasis, they look down to see a horrid sight [the Remote Event rolled back in scene 2]. The body of a man is silhouetted against the pool, lashed onto a great wooden pale.

Ni'arouj orders an immediate halt. She dispatches Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba to investigate. They creep forward, but soon find the place to be deserted. The man appears to have been a warrior -- possibly one of Anzakàr's elite -- and dead for several days. His body is already shrivelled and desiccated from the desert heat. Strangely, no scavengers appear to have been at him. His broken axe and shield are found discarded nearby. A pattern of stones has been arranged on the ground before the stake. "I fear this whole place," says Lachaidiga, "has been used as an altar of chaos!"

[Q: Is the oasis otherwise ok? Unlikely: 54, No.]

Finding the oasis empty of any obvious dangers, they report back to Ni'arouj. She is visibly shaken by Lachiadiga's explanation of the import of the dreadful find. She decides to examine the oasis herself [Survival roll: 43, success]. She is not there for a minute before she has discovered that the water of the oasis seems tainted. She orders the caravan to make camp well away from the corrupted place. A small party of volunteers (led by Wihiyaba) go back to retrieve the man's body and give him a proper burial. A double guard is posted that night.

Scene 7

chaos: 5

Setup: 2=interrupt (was press on)
Interrupt: Move toward a thread (1d3=#3)

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

As the caravan is packing up to leave the next morning, the sentries spot a rider in the distance, coming hard towards the oasis. A detachment of armed camel-riders are sent to head them off, with Lachaidiga and Wihiyaba in tow.

They are relieved to find that the rider is a courier wearing the uniform of a soldier in Anzakàr's army rather than some chaos cultist. They warn the woman off from the tainted oasis, and bring her to their camp to see Ni'arouj.

"I must back to Anzakàr at all speed," says the woman. "There has been a disturbing increase in wild broo activity in recent months, and we have intercepted some dispatches -- the chaos-men are forming an army of monsters! We haven't a strong enough body of troops in Peren'osh to withstand them, should their numbers not be exaggerated. We need the City to send more soldiers for defence."

Ni'arouj is concerned enough by the courier's report that she freely allows the woman to water her horse using the caravan's supplies.

Wihiyaba tells the courier that he is travelling with the caravan to ensure its safety, and asks if she would convey a personal, though not private, message back to to Anzakàr as well. She assents, and he dashes off a missive to Lachaidiga's brother on a scrap of old leather.

"To Nid-dallum say, thus sayeth Wihiyaba: I am well! Greetings to you. I am travelling to Peren'osh and then on to Hasharu with a trade caravan, to protect them from the increased dangers in the area. I will check in with the garrisons in those cities. Tell my unit commander of my movements, and tell your good brother Enzzal that I have nothing that I may report to him."

scene 8

chaos: 4

setup: press on

NPC list:
1. Ni'arouj, the Caravan leader

1. get to the city of Hasharu
2. find a certain sage
3. don't get caught and dragged home

The caravan continues ever on its way through the wastes. After leaving the poisoned oasis, the route goes a few more leagues through the hills, and then out into sandy dunes. The camels are starting to feel the effects of their missed watering-hole, making progress difficult.

[The first random encounter roll came up a 0, Wilderness Event. I drew the above picture from the folder. Some of the camels are really suffering from the missed oasis. This will result in a one-step penalty to Ni'arouj's Navigation rolls. Traversing hills already puts the difficulty at Hard, so the additional step pushes the day's roll up to Formidable (skill at 1/2; so, 40%). Luckily she rolls a 38, so they stay on course.

The second random encounter roll this day came up an 8, Ruins & Places. Random picture below...]

Some toppled stonework is seen in the distance. Large sandstone columns still rise into the sky, and a main building and partial wall is still visible between two gate towers. A murmur goes through the caravan, and many are the fingers that point towards the structure.

[Q: Does Ni'arouj want to send scouts to see if there's a well? Likely: 77, no. +Event NPC Negative - Ni'arouj - Refuse / The public]

"Ruins in the desert like this," says Ni'arouj to a certain inquisitive sorceress, "generally mean bandits. Or broo. Or worse. I do not propose to deliver my goods straight to their door!"

"But mistress," says one of her lieutenants, "there could be a well. There is a great rumour passing through the ranks. They are anxious to know, and I fear they may contest your leadership if you order us to pass by this potential source of water."

"Very well," sighs Ni'arouj, "we shall stop here. Now, who shall I send to investigate?"