Friday, November 21, 2014

The Adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero (1.5)

Continuing the on-going story of Glendal Lorg the Visionary, Elf Thief of the Phantom Cabal (at one point, at least), as he explores the Fortress of the Unholy Mound.

The immediately preceding episode can be read here, and the beginning of the story can be found here.

Turn 13, still in Room 4 on the ground floor:
Glendal drew his sword to meet whatever approaching creature was making the noise he heard.  His wounds were tended and he felt ready to fight, although there were still a few cuts and bruises that would take longer time or magic to heal.

From the same direction in which he himself had come stepped the Cleric of Cernunnos (the god of virility), Fargle Nex the Polygamist from the Accursed Island.  He held his hands open and empty in front of him, palms out, in the universal sign of, "Don't hit me!"

Glendal lowered the point of his sword, but did not sheathe it.  A part of him wanted to like this Cleric, but a larger part was suspicious.  "Was that your clever little trap I found?" he demanded, referring to the fire trap that had been added to the stairs.

Fargle Nex's face took on a pained expression, and he nodded.  "I warned you to leave.  I can't let anyone endanger my purpose here."

Glendal, losing his patience (as he often did) with this short-lived, short-sighted species of Humans, waved his sword menacingly.  "I told you I would help if I found it," he grated between clenched teeth.  "Now get out of my way."

The Cleric's face darkened in anger.  This Human seemed to wear his emotions on his sleeve, thought Glendal.  Perhaps that was why he was so successful with the women in his chosen calling.  The Elf could see the struggle between fighting and acceptance in Fargle's facial features.  Eventually, acceptance won out.

"Very well," he replied.  "If you were able to survive the fire trap, then well and good.  Perhaps you too are part of my geas, and mayhap were sent here to aid me.  I shall accept your aid."  He pulled a scroll from a side pocket and carefully unrolled it.  "This is what is required for the cure.  What I need from this place is in the room upstairs, in a sort of desk, or table, or pantry, you might say.  But it is trapped in such a way that none of my...assistants...were able to divine how to get to it."

He showed Glendal the scroll, pointing to the missing ingredient.  The Elf carefully read it.  "A poultice of cursed, salted blackberries?"

"You will find the salted blackberries in the room above," agreed Fargle.  "I will make the poultice myself.  And they are cursed simply by being here, in the Fortress of the Unholy Mound.  Anything 'unholy' constitutes a curse, for my purposes."

"What sort of disease is cured by a poultice of cursed, salted blackberries?" Glendal asked incredulously, but then quickly added, "Never mind, I don't want to know!"  After a moment's consideration, he said, "I will retrieve it for you, provided I keep anything else of value I find.  I'm not in this for your religion, and I'm not in it for you, Cleric.  I expect to be well paid.  I'm in it for the money."

Glendal asked a few more questions of what Fargle knew about the room above, then, keeping his sword bared, he cautiously ascended the stairs.

Apologies to Han Solo....

Here's how things went.

The Wandering Monster d6 check = 1 meant something was coming.  I rolled on the Basic Fantasy  Role-Playing Game Dungeon Encounter table, page 133, d12 = 5 = "NPC Party:  Adventurer."

I asked the Scarlet Heroes Oracle, page 115, the obvious question, "Is it the Cleric?"  I rated this as Very Likely, rolled d20 = 8 = Yes.

Glendal confronted Fargle with the question I wrote above (it's actually on my paper too), so I rolled for Fargle's reaction on page 117.  Despite their previous dealings, I used the NPC Stranger column, 2d6 - 2 (for insults or risks to the NPC's wealth or standing) = 4 + 6 - 2 = 8 = "Qualified Consent."

The Cleric answered with, "I warned to you leave, etc."

Glendal replied with, "I told you I would help if I find it.  Now get out of my way."

So I rolled another page 117 Reaction, 2d6 - 2 = 1 + 3 - 2 = 2 = "Anger."  I also rolled on the "Their Attitude Toward the Hero is..." table on page 79 for further edification, 2d8 + CHA = 5 + 3 + 1 = 9 = "The usual, given the nature of the encounter."  So it seemed appropriate that Anger won out.

What would he do about it?  I asked the Oracle, "Does he attack me?"  I felt that, even though he had a background that would allow fighting, it didn't seem right that it would be his first response, plus he had been pretty cautious up until now.  I deemed it Unlikely, d20 = 3 = No.

I followed up to the Oracle with the question, "Does he stop me?"  I also considered this Unlikely, d20 = 13 = "No, but..."  I rolled d6 on the 'The "But" Is Related To...' table = 5 = "The failure of a piece of gear, either for the hero or an NPC."  I interpreted this to be in regard to the failure of the trap to stop Glendal, so the Cleric would grudgingly allow him to help.  I figured he would tell the Thief what he knew about what he was looking for.

This encounter ended Turn 13.  I then rolled to discover what was in Room 7 at the top of the stairs.

Glendal cautiously peered over the lip of the top of the stairs.  This room originally had more wood in the ceiling, but large portions were missing, letting in the wavering light from the forest outside.  Shafts of golden sunlight slanted through the room, illumating the dancing motes of dust floating haphazardly through the air.  It served to illumine the room while at the same time making it difficult to see specific things.

Glendal squinted against the glare.  After assuring himself that the room was empty of inhabitants, he climbed the rest of the way up the stairs.  As he took his first step, something crunched underfoot and he instantly drew back his boot.  He looked down at the floor:  shards of clay and bits of broken glass were strewn everywhere in the room.

Shielding his eyes, he realized this had once been the Fort's Storeroom.  Lining the walls were shelves, some straight, others sagging and bent from age and exposure; all were filled with bottles, jars, boxes and loose piles of debris where a sack had once been but had now rotted away.

A stout wooden door blocked the exit to the southeast.

Other things also were in the room:  eating utensils, plates, a few weapons, and several desks and tables with cupboards.  Walking carefully through the debris, Glendal spied a short bow missing its string, numerous broken dinner plates (most beyond hope of repair), an oddly out of place ten foot long wooden pole (broken into three unequal pieces), and...he suddenly stopped short.  On the floor near one of the tables with attached cupboard was a dollop of feces and the remains of some small creature; mostly just the entrails, but a few other bits were recognizable.  Worms crawled through the remains.

Shards of glass, as from a shattered vial, sat in a blue stain on the floor behind this table.

There was nothing of any value in this room, it's contents having been looted or ruined ages upon ages ago.  And yet, Glendal knew, from the Cleric's description, that at least one thing still remained.

Sheathing his sword, Glendal edged over to the table with the built-on cupboard.  According to the love-lorn Cleric, the cursed, salted blackberries were inside this cupboard, but it was trapped in some fashion that the Looters who were "assisting" him could not decipher.  The cupboard had doors that were closed, both of which opened outward, with two round wooden knobs near their innermost edge.  The cupboard doors did not appear to be locked in any way.  The doors, however, did not begin at the table, but about six inches above it.  This left a small inset or shelf, inside which were sat a number of ceramic jars.  The jars were all different sizes and shapes -- some short and round, others tall and thin -- and two were colored green and blue.  The flat space of the table was littered with dust, leaves, broken pieces of glass and ceramic, and -- most interestingly to Glendal -- some small footprints no larger than a gold but oddly-distorted, almost as if the toes were joined or webbed.  There did not seem to be a direction of travel, and there were no more than two or three prints.

Knowing this to be the correct table, the Elf Thief made a careful, thorough search of the table for anything else out of the ordinary.  Running his fingers gently over the surface of the table, he detected a hard metal plate, set flush into the surface of the tabletop.  It was worked to appear the same as the wood surrounding it; only in touch did it differ.  The clever Thief immediately recognized it as a pressure plate, which either needed to be depressed, or to be kept from being depressed, in order to trigger the trap.  Further examination -- and years of experience coupled with a natural instinct for this sort of thing -- caused him to look up.  There, hidden in the maze of dark and light shafts of daylight and shadow, dangled a thin string.  The bottom end was frayed as if it had been cut long ago.

Aha!  Now Glendal knew exactly what he was facing.  There had obviously once been something tied to the end of the string, most likely a feather or something similarly lightweight, which was all that was needed to counterbalance the pressing of the pressure plate in the table surface.  Touching the plate without the correct counter-key would trigger the trap.  Peering with an Elf's incomparable eyes at the ceiling, Glendal thought he could detect a trap-door, through which, he had no doubt, something heavy and deadly would fall, crushing whoever was below it into bloody pulp.

It was no wonder the luckless thugs working for the Cleric had not understood the trap's design:  the feather had long ago rotted away or been lost, the string was all but invisible in the gloom, and the pressure plate was practically undetectable.  It was a wonder at all that the Looters even knew there was a trap!

One thing only niggled at the back of his mind as he jimmied a replacement for the feather and tied it to the string:  the strangely-webbed footprints.  But he was busy and consumed with being careful as he worked to disarm the trap.

Stepping back, the Elf took a deep steadying breath, totally confident in his abilities.  He knew he had found the only trap, he knew he had properly disarmed it.  Catching sight of the charred edge of his leather breeches, though, he decided to step as far away from the table as he could and still be able to reach it to touch the pressure plate -- just in case.

Standing at arm's length, he pressed down on the iron plate until he heard the faint click, indicating the cupboards were un-trapped and un-locked.  Silently congratulating himself on his superior skill and accomplishment, he was caught completely off his guard by the Giant Toad that plopped out of the cupboard, looked around itself grumpily, and sprang at him in attack!

Technically, the roll for the room direction was unnecessary, since this roll is for the exit of the previous room (Room 4), and I had already determined it was upstairs.  I did roll for the room type d20 = 18 = Storeroom.  Perfect!

Then I rolled the usual things:
The MacGuffin or "Goal" roll d20 = 19 +1 (for being in the second half of the 'dungeon') = 20 = Yes, it's here!

Prior to this point, I only had the Cleric agreeing to let Glendal help.  I had no specifics of what he was looking for or where it was to be found.  So I decided that the MacGuffin was the cure.  And how unbelieveably lucky was it that it was in a storeroom, so that it actually makes a bit of sense?  At the time I had it in my mind that it would be a potion.

Continuing the usual rolls:
Room contents, Encounter d10 = 1 = No.
Treasure d10 = 3 = No.
Hazard d10 = 9 = No.
Feature d10 = 7 + 1 (for 'No' to the previous three) = 8 = No.

Wow.  A real, empty room.

Next I rolled to determine the direction of the exit, which per the rules said roll should come after exploring the room.  But either I forgot or just felt at the time that a door would be noticeable; really, what difference does it make when you generate the direction?  d10 = 5 = South east.

Next, I wanted to find out what sort of things were to be found in this storeroom, so I turned to the d30 DM Companion by New Big Dragon Games.

I rolled three times on the "MDDA:  Misc. Debris I" table on page 10; d30 = 24, 9, 10 to generate the short bow, the plates and the broken pole (which I further rolled to determine their condition, "needs repair" and "beyond repair.")

I also rolled three times on table "MDDB:  Misc. Debris II" on page 10; d30 = 30, 1, 23 to find out that there were "standard" worms, feces, and offal/entrails of vermin.

That's a pretty nasty room.

Next, I turned to the Tome of Adventure Design by Frog God Games.  I used Table 3-124 "Specific Courses of Treatment for Normal Diseases" on page 216.   d100 = 73 = "Poultices of an expensive and noxious substance (1d4 days)."  So now I was looking for something to make a poultice.  (This was the second time while playing this game I had to look up the definition of a word I thought I knew.  See?  RPGs are learning games!)

I thought I better determine exactly what I needed to find to make this poultice, so I consulted the ToAD again, page 244, Table 3-166 "Plant or Plant Part," (which is a sub-table from the main heading of "Table 3-163:  Detailed Alchemical Ingredients Master Table"; I just skipped to the end).  Three d100 rolls = 47 "Salted," 25 "Blackberry," 24 "Grown in a cursed glade."  Whilst typing this up, I see that in my haste I originally mis-read line 25 for line 26; the real result ought to be "Black Truffles," but I think "Blackberries" is funnier so it stays.

So Glendal is in a storeroom littered with debris, which must have a table or cabinet of some kind, and he's looking for salted blackberries.  This is not exactly how I pictured my Hero's adventuring career!

Now for the trap that is supposed to be there, that kept the Cleric and his Looters from finding the salted blackberries themselves.

To detail the trap, I returned to ToAD, page 218, Table 3-127 "Mechanical traps - Concealment, Complicated Triggers."  First d100 = 35 = "Desk."  O.K., a desk can also be a table.  Second d100 = 07 = "A feather is suspended over a very delicate pressure plate.  If it is blown down by air currents, it will activate the trap when it lands (so would other very light objects)."

And what will the trap do?  ToAD, page 217, Table 3-126 "Basic Mechanical Traps."  d100 = 71 = "Spiked ball (or other heavy object) swings to hit."

I have very little Real Life experience with traps.  Effectively zero experience, in Real Life.  I've read most of the "Grimtooth's Traps" series of books (see also Goodman Games for an announcement regarding this line of books), and I always look forward to the 'trap of the month' in Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine, but truthfully, deep in my heart of hearts, I think most traps are ridiculous.

Take your most basic trap in any dungeon:  the pit trap.  You mean to tell me that these little 3-foot-tall kobolds/goblins/etc. dug a 10 foot deep pit in the middle of the hallway, through solid stone, on a route they travel often, and I need to tap a wooden pole along the way like a blind man to have any chance of finding it?  Or that they somehow engineered a room where the walls and/or ceiling move to crush with irresisible force and then retract back into their original place?  Why, then, aren't they in high demand in the dungeon-creating realms, demanding triple overtime for working on kobold holidays, and getting good employer-funded health plans?

Not to mention the (dare I say it?) unrealistic aspect of having traps in ancient, empty tombs, where dead people are buried; or on everyday objects, like doors and chests.  Just how, exactly, does one 'trap' a door's lock?  "The door is trapped."  What, the whole door?  Do they have a bucket of water suspended over the inside opening arc?  And how does that needle shoot out of that itty-bitty, teeny-tiny keyhole in the lock on the chest?  Is that really going to last the decades that this place has been sitting empty?

I realize it's very easy to simply hand-wave away all of this with the use of magic traps, but I'm talking the ordinary, mundane traps that are all-too prevalent in most written dungeons.  I also realize that it's unrealistic of me to allow my imagination to visit a world populated with elves, dragons, and magic, and yet have this be a huge sticking-point at the same time.  I think the best explanation is that traps represent a form of puzzle that the Dungeon Master presents to the players to solve.

I just like for a little realism to pretend to exist in my fantasy world.

And so, with all that being said, I felt the need for more details to help explain this feather-trap (I mean, what kind of a trap is that, really?).

Therefore I consulted the d30 DM Companion, page 12, table "RTG1:  Trap Type & Difficulty."  d30 = 2 = -10% chance to detect/disarm (this means it's more difficult to spot); and it's a barrier type.  A further roll on table "RTG2a:  Barrier Traps" table, d30 = 15 = "Iron Door" that will do 3d4 damage if it springs.  I figure the 'iron door' equates to the 'delicate pressure plate.'

As far as where the 'treasure' is, exactly, I roll on page 13, table "TCP1:  (Treasure) Container Type."  d30 = 10 = Ceramic urn/jar.  This fits quite nicely with it being in a storeroom.

For grins and giggles, I also rolled on page 13, table "TCP2:  Treasure Protection."  d30 = 11 = Hidden creature in a hidden area.  While technically the room is empty of an Encounter, Hazard or Feature, still I felt that this could be added without disrupting the Scarlet Heroes flavor.  I also felt it would explain the feces found earlier.  Something is hiding, as a separate threat apart from the trap, that is still somehow related to the treasure.

To determine what was hiding, I rolled d30 = 11 for 1 roll on the "Common" monsters column on page 15 of the d30 DM Companion.  I then counted down the list, excluding monsters that could not possibly be hiding inside a pantry/cupboard, and ended up with a total of 8 candidates.  I rolled d8 = 7 = "Giant Toads," which a further roll produced only 1 Giant Toad instead of 2.

And finally, I turned to GM's Resources:  Dungeon Dressing:  Chests by Raging Swan Press.  This particular issue has a table in it called, "Table B:  Dressing & Features."  I rolled d100 = 77 = "Shards of glass, as from a shattered vial, sit in a blue stain on the floor behind this chest."  Raging Swan has a lot of similar booklets to buy, and some seem pretty interesting, but some others seem a trifle thin for the price, even if that price is only a buck or two.  But I already had this one, and more ambience is almost always better than less.

Glendal searched for traps with full foreknowledge given by the Cleric.  I adjudicated that this would start at an Average difficulty of 11, plus the 10% extra difficulty of the harder-to-find trap equals the next-higher difficulty class of 13 (as I've done in two of the previous episodes of Glendal Lorg, when dealing with traps), minus the helpful foreknowledge provided by Fargle, finally equalling a target Check number of 11.  I rolled 2d8 + 3 (Adventuring Thief) + 1 (WIS) = 8 + 7 + 3 + 1 = 19!  Woo hoo, that's what I call passing a Check!

Found it.

Glendal then attempted to disarm the trap.  Taking into consideration its age and the missing feather/trigger, I ascribed a Hard DC 13 to the task.  2d8 + 3 (Adv Thief) + 1 (WIS) = 3 + 7 + 3 + 1 = 14.  Close enough!  Here's what is written on my paper:  "Opened, and out plops Giant Toad.  Am I surprised?"

One of the two special abilites of Giant Toads (the other being it can shoot it's tongue 15 feet) is that it surprises on 1-3 on 1d6 in normal OSR-style games (this as described in the d30 DM Companion).  However, there is no "surprise roll" in Scarlet Heroes.  Instead, it uses "Opposed Checks" to determine the outcome when two opponents are trying to accomplish mutually contradictory ends.  There is a specific example of a surprise attack by a monster described in "An Example of Play:  The Tower of Iron and Jade" on page 26 that uses an Opposed Check, so that's how I opted to resolve it.

I gave the Toad a +2 skill bonus for no reason other than the spider in the example had a +2, plus I figured it tied in nicely with a 50% surprise chance.  It's also a 2 HD monster.  I did not add more because it felt like the Toad wasn't attempting to surprise, it just happened to be in the cabinet (maybe it got stuck there?).  The Toad rolled 2d8 + 2 = 7 + 6 + 2 = 15.  Glendal rolled 2d8 + 1 (Keen Danger Sense) + 1 (WIS) = 8 + 2 + 1 + 1 = 12.  Glendal is surprised.

By surprising me, the Toad gets a free attack.

Letting out an amplified bullfrog croak, the loathsome, slimy, warty, green monstrosity hopped aggressively across the table and lunged to bite the startled Elf.  In the instant between surprise and reaction, Glendal had the stray thought that he didn't know Giant Toads could bite; did they even have teeth?; how much could this possibly hurt, really?

The next moment, the Toad's mouth closed on the Thief, and Glendal breathed a mental sigh of relief that there was no pain.  Having previously sheathed his sword, Glendal struck out with nothing but his fist as he tried to re-arm himself.  He landed a resounding thump on the Toad's head, causing the creature to pause momentarily.  But the Toad's ravenous hunger from being locked away accidentally far outweighed it's fear of being harmed, and it attacked again.  It's mouth closed again on the Elf's arm, this time causing a flare of pain as it bit down hard.

Glendal finally managed to drag his sword free of it's scabbard, and promptly skewered the vile creature.  Viscous green bile dribbled down the blade and dripped onto the table.  Glendal looked around for something to use to clean his weapon but didn't find anything suitable, so he gave it a good shake.  Digging a cloth out of his pack, he realized he now knew what had created the pile of dung:  this Toad must have been living here for some time.

Having sheathed his sword, the Thief began examining the jars and vials in the cupboard.  On a few the writing was still faintly legible, others he had to open and carefully sniff the contents.  Eventually the Elf's sensitive nose identified the salted blackberries in a small ceramic jar, which he placed in his backpack.

The Giant Toad's stats, as derived from the d30 DM Companion, are:
HD 2(+4), but Scarlet Heroes does not address the +4 part, so it's ignored
AC 7
Attack  bite 2d4
Move 9
Special  Tongue can shoot 15', surprises on 1-3

The Toad's surprise attack hit Glendal, d20 + skill 2 + my AC 5 = 15 + 2 +5 = 22.  However, it's damage roll of 2d4 = 1, 1 = no actual damage was done.

For my first attack, I rolled d20 + STR 2 + attack bonus 1 + Toad's AC 7 = 3 + 2 + 1 + 7 = 13 = miss.  My Fray d6 = 5 = 1 HD worth of damage.  Toad down to 1 from 2 total.

The Toad's next attack, d20 + 2 + 5 = 16 + 2 + 5 = 23.  It hits.  Damage, 2d4 = 1, 2 = 1 hp damage to me.  Glendal was now at 3 from 6 total.

Glendal's next attack, d20 + 2 + 1 + 7 = 10 + 2 + 1 + 7 = 20, exactly what I needed to hit.  I rolled damage, d8 = 7 + 2 STR = 9 = 2 HD worth of damage.  This is more than enough to kill the Toad.

Turn 15, still in Room 7:

Glendal Lorg the Visionary then removed a tin of ointment and treated his wound -- more of an abrasion, really -- from the Giant Toad.  This took a few minutes, after which he was ready to continue.  Now the question was, should he go downstairs and deliver the blackberries immediately to Fargle Nex, or should he obey that unspoken urge to continue exploring and go through the door into the next room?

I took a turn to regain the single hitpoint I had lost in the fight with the Giant Toad, putting Glendal back at 4 of 6.

I then rolled a Wandering Monster check, d6 = 3 = No.

Please tune in again, same Scarlet Hero-time, same Scarlet Hero-channel, for the further adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero (1.4)

And So we continue the tale of the Elf Thief, Glendal Lorg the Visionary, of the Phantom Cabal, as he scours the Fort of the Unholy Mound for fortune, fame and glory.  The immediately prior episode can be found here.

Turn 9, Room 6:

Glendal dusted the bone fragments from his tunic and carefully walked to the doorway leading to the sixth room.  The entrance was hung with tattered remnants of heavy fabric, or perhaps even leather, dyed red, green and blue; age had had its way with the material, however, and it almost powdered away at a touch.

Ultimate Toolbox by AEG, page 215 "Door Types," d20 = 13.

The door headed to the north east.  With the tip of his sword, Glendal slid the hangings aside.  It was just enough to see that the room had been the fort's Smithy:  a huge furnace and bellows were against the far wall, and a few metal-working implements were still in their places on hooks.  The room was empty of other furnishings, however it was not totally empty.  Two grim-faced Looters, both of whom appeared accomplished in their chosen career, faced the door with weapons drawn.  Behind them shivered the four fresh-off-the-street Looters that Glendal recognized from his earlier fight; they had run further into the fortress and had apparently reported his doings to their leader Looters.  Now they took a form of courage in their numerical superiority, and cautiously opposed the bloody Elf.

The encounter rolls were as follows:
Boss roll d20 = 7 = No Boss / Macguffin.  This is the half-way room, so after this I'll be adding +1 per room to the roll.
Room direction d10 = 3 = North East.  This will also be the last room on this level.
Encounter d10 = 10 = Yes.
Treasure d10 = 10 + 3 = Yes.
Hazard d10 = 9 = No.
Feature d10 = 10 = Yes.

The Encounter 3d6 = 3 + 5 + 6 = 14 = "1d6+T hit dice worth of Minions and Elites, with a 50% chance of T hit dice worth of guard beasts or allies."  T = 1 in this case.

1d6+1 = 5 + 1 = 6 hit dice worth of Minions and Elites.  It just felt right that 4 of the 6 would be the cowardly Novice Adventurers from Room 3; the remaining 2 would naturally be Skilled Freebooters.

50 / 50 on a d100 = 69 = No beasts or allies.

Even though it felt right, I asked the Oracle on page 115 of Scarlet Heroes, "Are these the 4 Minions from Room 3?"  I considered this to be Very Likely, d20 = 18 = Yes.

I then asked the Oracle, "Are they expecting me / Glendal?"  I deemed this as Likely, d20 = 16 = Yes.

Next I asked the Oracle for a general sense of their attitude, "Do they fear me?"  I left this as Unknown, d20 = 15 = Yes, but....    I rolled d6 on the "The 'But' is Related To..." table = 6 = "Sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event."

I had to look up in the dictionary what 'sublimely' meant; it's one of those words you think you know but you really might not.

So I rolled 2d20 on the "Oracular Adjectives and Motivations" table.  It doesn't tell you to roll 2d20; it's actually labelled "1d20," with 1-20 along the top row and 1-20 along the left column.  It would be possible to roll 1d20 and pick one word, based on that one number, but you would never be able to get some of the words, due to how the columns are numbered.  You could roll 2d20 and designate one as the top row and one as the column number, and therefore pick one word; as long as you knew which d20 went to which part.  To me, it makes much more sense to roll 2d20 and pick two words.  This also gives you two words to work with, which is much more fun anyhow.

I rolled 3 and 13, which cross-referenced as "Chastity" and "Madness."

Filling out the rest of the Encounter and room, I rolled on the "Nature of the Feature" table on page 128, d8 = 1 = "A noncombatant inhabitant of the dungeon."  I then rolled on the "Creature Motivation" table, d10 = 6 = "Scout the site for an outside power."

My first thought was of a mad monk.  How could I work this into the story?

Keeping as much in Scarlet Heroes as possible, I used the "Quick NPC Creation" tables on page 113.

--Their Age, d4 = 2 = "Youthful and vigorous."
--Their Source of Influence, d8 = 1 = "Great personal strength or potential for violence."
--Their Engaging Attitude or Temper, d10 = 6 = "Altruistic, inclined to help those in need of aid." (but insane?!, I thought)
--Their Most Powerful Motivation, d12 = 3 = "Cure for a sickness that afflicts them or one dear to them."  Which?  Well, he's "youthful and vigorous," so it must be the latter.
--Their Most Notable Appearance Trait, d20 = 9 = "Hazed by an aura of perfumes or work-smells."
--Their Race (page 116), d20 = 13 = Human.

I felt the need for more fleshing out.  I rolled on the tables on page 117.

--Their Memorable Traits, d100 = 93 = "Tends work constantly."
--Their Ruling Temperament, d100 = 5 = "Bigoted."  Who does he hate?  d8 for Elf, Dwarf, Halflings, or All Demi-humans = 3 = Dwarves.
--Immediate Desires, d100 = 7 = "Avenging a slight."

More!  More!  Who is sick?  Why does he care about this person?  I turned to the D30 Sandbox Companion by New Big Dragon Games.
--"NPC01:  Race, Sex & Occupation Type," page 42:  d30 = 27 = a "female half-elf."
--"NPC02c:  Misc. Occupation":  d30 = 23 = "politician."

What is this new NPC's attitude toward Glendal Lorg the Visionary?  For the answer to that, I returned to Scarlet Heroes page 79, "Their Attitude Toward the Hero is..." table:  2d8 = 14 = "Willing to talk and can be persuaded to friendliness."

So here's what I had so far:  A human non-combatant from outside, here at the behest of some outside power, is in this room with the brigands.  He is young, strong, and ready to use his strength to further his aims, even if it means violence.  He is a do-gooder, being altruistic and wanting to help others.  He is here seeking a cure (in some capacity) for a sickness that afflicts someone dear to him, who happens to be a female half-elf politician.  He smells of incense used in his devotions, and he "tends to work constantly," which fits with a Cleric-style person; they're always trying to convert the heathens.  For some reason he dislikes dwarves, and his immediate desire is to "avenge a slight," which I interpret to mean he wants to stop Glendal from further hindering his (the NPC's) work in the Fort.  However, he's not immediately hostile to the Thief; perhaps cautious is the better descriptor.

At this point I decided to fully flesh him out as a Cleric NPC with real stats and everything.

I used the D30 Sandbox Companion again, page 39, "Classed NPCs:  Quick Ability Score Generation."  The d30 rolls ended up giving the following Ability stats:
STR 18 (+3)  [funny how the random rolls fully agreed with the previous random rolls]
INT 11 (+0)
WIS 15 (+1)
DEX 15 (+1)
CON 14 (+1)
CHR 13 (+1)
--First level Cleric (for no reason other than I picked first level).
--He is armed and armored with d30 = 1 = a club, leather armor and a shield.
--The "Quick Magic Item Determination" chart on page 41 for Clerics resulted in d30 = 14 = "Convert NPC's armor (or shield) to a +1 item."  50 / 50 on a d30 = 11 = +1 Leather Armor!  If Glendal finds out about that, he might decide he wants it.

I needed a name for this rugged individual.  I once again turned to the Wampus Country Name Generator, which I use for all my names, because I love the wackiness that ensues each time I use it.

This youthful paragon of virtue and Cleric-y strength is none other than Fargle Nex the Polygamist from the Accursed Island!



...the Polygamist?  Really?

Huh.  Must be an interesting church he goes to.

I also decided to use the Reaction Graph I found in an old, old issue of Pegasus magazine from the early 1980s.  This is a fascinating graphical way of finding out an NPC's reaction, other than simply rolling 2d6 on a straight-up table.  It's calculated for Good, Neutral and Evil.  I rated the Looters as Evil, rolled, and got a result of "Fight."  I then tried it as if they were Neutral, and got the same result.  Just out of curiosity, I rolled for Good and got "Help."  This seemed to fit the circumstances so I ran with it.

I felt I needed one more bit of information about this Cleric before I started trying to play him.  Scarlet Heroes doesn't include Alignments, but I've always been partial to the AD&D 1e standard of 9 Alignments, as opposed to the 3 simple ones of Basic D&D.

So I asked the Scarlet Heroes Oracle, "Is this Cleric 'Good'?"  I considered that more Clerics than not are Good, so I rated it as Likely, d20 = 15 = Yes.

Next, I asked the Oracle, "Is this Cleric 'Lawful'?"  Seeing as how this Cleric appeared in the same room as a bunch of Looters, I felt this to be Unlikely, d20 = 5 = No.

Fargle Nex the Cleric is therefore Chaotic Good.  This seems rather fitting for a polygamist.

So why is he here, specifically?  I asked the Oracle, "Is he compelled by a geas, or forced to come here?"  I arbitrarily set this as Very Likely (after all, this didn't seem like the sort of place a Cleric would be, by himself), d20 = 16 = Yes.

One of the nervous Looters who had run away once, pointed a shaking finger at Glendal, and exclaimed, "There he is!  He's the one who killed the others!"  The Skilled Freebooter to his left set his jaw, tightened his grip on his sword, and ordered, "Get him!"

Glendal sensed their fear, and also knew that the only exit from the room was the one in which he was standing.  They would have to go through him to get away, and at least he would have an escape route should it -- almost inconceivably -- become necessary for him to retreat.  He decided to oblige their confrontational attitude, and growled out, "Come get some!"  Besides, he could see a very small pile of uncounted treasure behind them in the room.

At the exact moment that their muscles tensed to send them springing into death, a strident voice suddenly rang out:  "Stop!  In the name of Cernunnos!"

Glendal became aware of another figure in the room, who had somehow gone undetected in the heat things.  There, standing off to the side, slightly behind the Looters, was undeniably a Cleric of some Good religious order:  shining white-wood club held high, gleaming(!) leather armor under a monk-like cloak, his eyes blazing with a righteous fury.  His passion was evident in his face, his features contorted with the urgency he obviously felt to stop the fighting.  And there was the faintest whiff of incense, that smelled a little like a brothel.

I asked the Oracle, "Does the Cleric stop the fighting?"  I deemed this Very Likely, d20 = 16 = Yes.

To further clarify the situation before continuing, I asked the Oracle, "Are the Looters working for the Cleric?"  Again, I deemed this as Likely, d20 = 7 = "Yes, but..."  The 'But' Table, d6 = 5 = "The failure of a piece of gear, either for the hero or an NPC."  Why, this could only mean that the Cleric has hired these Looters to help him find the cure he is looking for (probably a potion of some sort) but that they have not been able either to find it or to retrieve it from wherever it is.

I decided to see where this would go....

Glendal checked his attack swing, watching that the Looters did the same.  Keeping one wary eye on the brigands, he turned to more fully address the Cleric.  The man was large, obviously strong, and apparently used to fighting as well as healing.  He held himself with a sort of calm grace that yet appeared spring-loaded with potential fury.

Glendal spoke first.  "Who are you, and what are you doing here?"

I asked the Oracle, "Is the Cleric truthful in his answer?"  Despite having previously determined that he is Chaotic Good, I still felt that the truth was important to him (as a Cleric), and so gave it a rating of Almost Certain, d20 = 6 = Yes.  (Which a '6' is very close to a "Yes, but...").

Glendal could easily see the man's emotions as they played across his face; he struggled with himself, but eventually it was apparent the truth won out.

"My name is Fargle Nex," he answered in a rich, resonant voice.  "I am a Cleric of Cernunnos, god of virility.  I am searching these ruins for a cure for my lady love, Raglia Bazh the Scribe, from the Fallen Castle."

The Elf, having lived longer than most Humans by this time, knew a little something of Cernunnos, god of virility.  Feeling that the Cleric was being truthful, and yet that he was holding something back, Glendal ventured to say, "I've never known a Cleric of Cernunnos to admit to loving only one lady...if you are a Cleric of that god."

The man's eyes shaded as something like shame overcame him.  He looked down briefly, but setting his jaw he then looked at the Elf squarely.  "You are correct.  Among my brethren, I am known as 'The Polygamist' for so ardently following Cernunnos' teachings.  Or I was," he added, after a pause, "until I actually did fall in love with one woman.  Now, I am compelled, nay, COMPELLED to know no others until I cure her of her dread disease.  It is a geas from Cernunnos himself."

For the name of the god, I turned to the Ultimate Toolbox again, page 68, "Table 2-101:  Pagan Gods":  d20 = 5 = "Cernunnos, god of virility."  Honestly, not what I had been expecting.  But fascinatingly it tied in rather well with the idea of his being a polygamist.  It seems less a religion and more of a cult, really.

I rolled on Wampus Country for his girlfriend's name, Raglia Bazh the Scribe from the Fallen Castle.  I don't put too much stock in the "from..." part yet, as names of places can still be almost anywhere.  I did like that she is a Scribe, which fits rather neatly with her being a "politician."  A Scribe can easily be a minor functionary in some high mucky-muck's regime.  (And knowing Wampus Country, "high mucky-muck" might actually be a real title....)

"Have you found your cure?" Glendal asked.

The Cleric nodded.  "Yes, it is locked inside a protective thing, that these men cannot breach."  He cast a disparaging look at the Looters.  "We have been looking for a key."

There was another pause, and the Elf thought for a moment that Fargle would ask him to help search, but the moment passed, and afterwards the Cleric's demeanor seemed more reserved than before.

I asked the Oracle, "Does the Cleric ask Glendal to help?"  I judged this as Very Likely, d20 = 1 = No.  Not just no, but NO!

So then I asked the Oracle, "Is the Cleric angry at Glendal for killing his men and generally hindering him?"  I deemed this Likely, d20 = 17 = Yes.

The Thief lowered his sword but did not sheathe it, and took a conciliatory step back.  "I have no quarrel with you.  If I find what you are looking for, I will bring it to you.  In the meantime, keep your men out of my way."

Disdaining to spend any more time not finding gold and gems (especially because this room was distinctly lacking any anything glittering), Glendal backed out of the room, keeping an ever-watchful eye on the Looters.  The Cleric's face clouded with anger, and the Elf, even with his sensitive Elf ears, couldn't quite make out what he said.  What he took from the exchange was the Cleric's consent to his demand; what Fargle actually said was, "Only if you stay out of my way."

In Scarlet Heroes, I rolled on the "Reactions" table on page 117, classifying the Cleric as "NPC Stranger."  I also gave the roll "-1 for the risk of significant cost to their actions."  I rolled 2d6 -1 = 4 + 5 - 1 = 8 = "Qualified Consent."  At the time, I completely forgot to add my CHA modifier or any trait, which would have changed things to a degree, but in writing this part up I felt I liked the tension better anyhow.

Deciding to round out the room, I rolled for Treasure.  3d6 = 1 + 1 + 2 = 4 = "Trove type M1 worth of coins, furnishings, or items."  M1 Petty Cash is 1d6 x 10gp = 1 = 10 gp in the room.  Certainly not enough for Glendal to risk starting a fight.

Also, I rolled for the Feature discovered, having forgotten that I rolled for it originally and got what ended up being the Cleric.  (This is the problem with playing sporadically in hotel rooms, days or even weeks apart.)  However, it did not matter.  For the (new) Feature, d8 = 5 = "A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site."  I felt this obviously referred to the Cleric.  And for the "Creature Motivation," d10 = 8 = "Reclaim a seeming trifle of actual great importance."  Perfect!  The cure, no doubt.

It's really fun and cool how these things seem to fit together so well.

Turn 9 ends.

Wandering Monster check, d6 = 2 = No (only on a 1).

Turn 10:
Glendal stopped on the other side of the tattered hangings, listening.  He heard some soft speaking from the room he had just quit, but other than that, nothing.

Glendal retraced his steps back the way he had come.  His unerring Elven instincts told him that there were no more rooms on this, the ground floor.  Instead, he must climb the stairs he had found earlier to the second floor.  He cautiously returned back through the Guardroom with the smashed skeletons, and into the Armory.  There, a narrow set of stone steps led up into darkness.

I don't know why I arbitrarily decided that the second floor was above ground, and not below ground like a normal dungeon, or even like many a fort.  Somehow I just had it in my head that it was that way, just like I had it in my head that the Cleric was male, even though I never rolled for it, or that he was Chaotic Good and not Neutral Good.  I try not to lose too much sleep over such decisions though.  You shouldn't either.

The Scarlet Hero solo dungeon rules dictate that it takes one turn to backtrack two rooms.

Turn 11, Back in Room 4:
Glendal approached the stairs warily.  The hole in the upper floor was blackness itself, and the steps were worn from long years of use.  He carefully inspected them for anything unusual, running his fingers gently over the rocky surface.  His caution was rewarded when he found an old, unsprung trap, likely left over from some passer-by years ago.

As he deactivated the mechanism, he briefly pondered how odd it was that the Looters either had not been up these stairs yet, and / or that they had not sprung or dismantled the trap themselves.  Shrugging off the cluelessness of Humans, and certain of his own skills, he ascended the steps, equally certain that he had found the only trap there was to find.

His incredulity was paramount when the fire trap set into the floor-part of one of the steps activated and scorched him for half of his life strength!

Here's how I handled trap-finding in Scarlet Heroes, which does not have a specific skill for doing so.  Instead it uses "checks" with applicable traits and Ability modifiers to assist you to roll higher than a target number.

First, I annotated that I (er, Glendal) examined the stairs for traps.  Next, I assigned a "Check Difficulty" of 11, which is considered Average, and which I felt was appropriate for the situation.  Then I rolled 2d8 + my Adventuring Thief trait + applicable Ability modifier (WIS, I assumed) = 1 + 6 + (3 + 1) = 11!  Whew, just barely made it.  Apparently ol' Glendal is getting a bit overconfident.

What this had accomplished was only to say that Glendal found a trap IF A TRAP IS THERE.  Technically, this room had already been "discovered" when I rolled for it's creation when it was originally investigated back on Turn 6.  Any traps would have been found the first time.  However, since the stairs are sort of an "add-on" to the room, and because I didn't want to re-roll the entire encounter, I used a different method.

In order to determine if a trap is there, I asked the Oracle, "Are the stairs trapped?"  I considered this Unlikely, given the age of the Fort and the comings and goings of the Looters.  d20 = 15 = "Yes, but..."  The "But..." d6 = 4 = "A fact the hero thinks they know is actually wrong."


I asked the Oracle, "Is there more than 1 trap (implying a second trap set by the Looters)?"  I now considered this Likely, d20 = 4 = "No, but..."  The "But..." d6 = 2 = "An adjustment to the physical environment."

Since I didn't say I was searching for a second trap, but I felt it fair to give myself at least the chance of spotting it, I set the "Check Difficulty" at 13, Hard.  It's only 2 numbers higher than Average but that can make a big difference.  I rolled the same 2d8 + 3 + 1 = 2 + 2 + (3 + 1) = 8.  Fail!  Glendal is seriously overconfident, and neither looking for nor expecting another trap.

So what sort of devious trap have the Looters left me?  I turned to the D30 DM Companion, page 12, "RTG1:  Trap Type & Difficulty":  d30 = 9 = a Floor trap (that technically is 10% easier to spot, if you're using regular old-school D&D rules; even if I factored this in by adjusting the Check Difficulty down to 9 [which is similar to what I did in Episode 3], it was still not enough to allow Glendal to find it, even if I were to allow the ret-conning of the result).

Further rolling on "RTG2b:  Floor Traps," d30 = 4 = gave a "single target fire chamber" that did 2d6 worth of damage.  I rolled 2d6 = 3 + 4 = 2 hit points worth of damage.  Glendal was at 4 of 6 total hit points, so this took him down by half of his remaining life energy!  Ouch!  He now has 2 hit points.

What I only now, as I type this, realize is that I forgot to allow Glendal a saving throw against the trap.  Scarlet Heroes has saving throws, which are similar to Checks, and they apply to saves from traps, but I completely forgot to roll one.  However, this time it did not matter, as you will see in Turn 12.

The roar of the blazing blast barely covered the yowls of pain and rage as Glendal absorbed the direct hit of fire from the ground up.  Stamping his boots and patting out his smoking clothing, he cursed loudly and profusely in Elvish and Common.

Turn 12:
Retreating back down the stairs, Glendal found a protected corner and sat down cross-legged.  He broke out the medicinal salves and creams in his backpack, accrued over years of thieving and adventuring, and applied them judiciously to his burns.  Drinking a little water, too, helped him feel better.

Luckily the room was still empty and it was not yet time to check for wandering monsters, so I was able to let Glendal have a "short rest" and heal back those 2 lost hit points.  He returns to 4 hit points.  This also takes the full ten minutes (one turn).

However, now that Turn 12 was over, it was time to check for Wandering Monsters. d6 = 1.  Yes, there is something coming.

Glendal's sensitive ears picked up the soft footsteps of an approaching creature.  It didn't seem to be making any attempt at stealth, particularly, and it was coming from the direction of the Guardroom.  He was momentarily confused.  Hadn't he already checked out the rooms in that direction?  Where would a creature come from?  Were there secret passages he had missed, somehow?  His Elven pride would not accept the possibility of that premise.

Springing nimbly to his feet, Glendal drew his sword with a ringing schwing, ready to meet whatever might appear.

To be continued soon!, in The Adventures of Glendal Lorg the Visionary, Scarlet Hero!

Ta-daa!  How 'bout that for a cliff-hanger?  Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero (1.3)

The Story So Far...

Glendal Lorg the Visionary, an Elf thief of unusual talents, has (at least temporarily) left the service of the Phantom Cabal to explore the dilapidated ruin of the Fort of the Unholy Mound, an age-old military installation long ago overrun by enemies and sacked.

In spite of the age-old sacking, Glendal has found quite a bit of treasure...and combat with like-minded Looters.

Immediate details can be found here.

Turn 6, Room 4
After one last check around the Vault, Glendal looked to the next room.  Initially he thought there was only the one exit (the one by which he had entered), but upon closer inspection -- after all, the shadows were very thick and even an Elf's eyes could miss something -- he spied both another exit AND a narrow set up stairs leading up!

Leaving the exploration of the second floor until later, the thief crept to the northeast archway.  This was a single piece of sandstone, made to look like multiple bricks, each with an ancient rune carving; the runes were ruined (ha ha!) however, having been scratched off and defaced.  Carefully peering around the edge, Glendal surveyed the next room.

The archway is courtesy of the Ultimate Toolbox by AEG.  Table 5-31:  Archways, page 215.  (I added the part about their defacing.)

It was empty of life but not of other things.  The walls were lined with vertical shelves, hooks and what looked like lockers of a sort.  From this, and the various broken weapons littering the floor, Glendal surmised this to be the fort's Armory.

Room direction d10 = 1 = North West.  Since I just came from the northwest into the Vault, I figure that can't be right.  The d10 result dictates the direction of the next room, with the caveat that, "If there is already an explored room in the direction you've rolled, draw in a passage to it and roll again, or add a stairway up or down."  I decided to do both,  locating a set of stairs up here.  The d10 re-roll indicated I had found the Armory to the north east.

The d20 Goal roll = 14 = no Boss monster/macguffin.

Encounter d10 = 7 = No encounter.
Treasure d10 = 10 = Yes.
Hazard d10 = 10 + 3 for yes treasure but no encounter = 13 = Yes.
Feature = 6 = No.

Glendal kicked through the piles of detritus:  broken swords, snapped long bows, arrow fletchings without the shafts, rusty and dented shields.  Nothing worth taking.  However, over in the far corner was an oddly-shaped and dented copper...something.  It was not a weapon, that the Elf could see.  He crept closer.

Picking it up, he dusted it off.  Although the thief had no magical training, yet had he lived long enough to recognize magical apparatus.  He held a dented alembic, a copper pot with a tube extending out from it, used to distill magical potions or alchemical exotics.  However, his thief training did see something that a lesser mortal might have missed, namely that this alembic was originally designed to expel some form of gas in the manner of a trap.  Except that it was broken, it might still have carried it's deadly cargo; another thing to thank the Looters for, it would seem.

I rolled for the type of Hazard found, as that seemed a little more pressing than the type of treasure found.  1d8 = 7 = "Trapped feature.  If Feature, save or take Td6 damage."  I wasn't quite sure how to interpret that.  'There is a trapped feature, and if there IS a feature in the room make a save, and if there is in fact no feature in the room then ignore it?'  Because there was no Feature in the room, but I didn't just want to ignore it.  I've come too far to ignore things now!

So I turned to the mighty and magnificent d30 DM Companion from New Big Dragon Games.  I rolled my golf-ball-sized rhombic triacontahedron (i.e., my d30) on table "MDEF:  Magical Furnishings & Effects" on page 9, resulting in an 11.  This indicated a standard alembic trap, which a further roll said was a sleep trap.

However, there is no Feature in the room so I figured the non-featured Feature was a broken trap.  Ergo, nothing happened.

Glendal set the alembic down, willfully discarding the marginally-valuable copper of which it was made.  As he did so, he caught sight of another valuable form of metal:  a gold flash glinted as the light fell on it.  Shifting things out of the way, he counted out 30 gold pieces, apparently missed when the Looters cleaned out this room.

Treasure roll 3d6 = 2 + 4 + 6 = 12 = "Standard treasure trove for whatever encounter is present.  If no encounter, trove M1 in room contents."  Very definitely there was no encounter, so a quick roll on "M1:  Petty Cash Amount" resulted in 1d6 = 3 x 10gp = 30gp.

Glendal swept the coins into his pack, deciding that 30 gold was worth enough to take with him, but not enough to bother with hiding.

After the clink of the coins quieted, Glendal listened.  He listened very intently.  He heard no unusual noises.

Wandering monster check:  d6 = 6 = No.  (Only on a 1.)

Turn 7, Room 5
Glendal, from long experience, checked his pack and buckles, sword and bow, before moving to the next archway, which, incidentally, was a duplicate of the opposite archway.  The same sandstone with ancient rune carvings.  Only, some of these runes were still legible.  They did nothing as he passed under them except make his skin crawl.

Having heard nothing, Glendal expected to see nothing, and his assumption was correct.  The next room, a generic Guardpost protecting the way to the Armory and the Vault, was deserted of any movement.  One outside wall was cracked from floor to ceiling, pierced at chest height with a hole the size of a small boulder.  The battle that took place here was so long ago that no blood remained, but the hole allowed in a filtering of sunlight.  The movement of the trees outside caused flickering shadows inside the otherwise dimly lit room.  A very slight breeze ruffled the Elf's tunic.  The fresh air contrasted with the musty smell of the old building.  Glendal's Elf heritage rose up in him, nearly compelling him to leave the exploration and return to the healthy outside world.  But his greed and sense of adventure won out in the end, as they usually did; after all, he was nearly halfway through the fort!

Room direction d10 = 6 = South.  Room type d20 = 9 = Guardpost.
Goal d20 = 19 = No boss (but nearly!).
Encounter d10 = 1 = No.
Treasure d10 = 7 = No.
Hazard d10 = 2 = No.
Feature d10 = 9 + 1 (for no E, T, or H) = 10 = Yes.

This was nearly a completely empty room, but now we have our first Feature.

And what *I* did was roll on the "Hazard Found" table on page 127, instead of the "Nature of the Feature" table on page 128.  Yes, I screwed up, and I didn't even realize this until I was writing this up just now.  HOWEVER, the end result was pretty cool so I'm just gonna go with it.

So for "Hazard Found" I rolled d8 = 6 = "Trapped container.  If Treasure, save or take Td6 damage."  Well, there is no Treasure, per the previous roll, but there is a container of some sort and it's trapped.  If it's trapped, why there must be something inside worth having!

After making sure the room was empty, Glendal approached the...

What is it?

I turned again to the d30 DM Companion, table "TCP1:  Container Type" on page 13.  d30 = 4 = a huge wood chest.

And it's trapped how?  "TCP2:  Treasure Protection" table on page 13.  d30 = 1 = a creature hidden inside the container.

How difficult will it be to detect / disarm the trap?  "RTG1:  Trap Type & Difficulty" on page 12.  d30 = 5 = it's a barrier with +20% adjustment to the Thief's dexterity check.  I opted not to further divine the type of barrier, since I envisioned...

...huge wooden chest pushed against one wall.  It looked as old as the rest of the ruin, but it was still solid.  To Glendal's mind, that meant some form of magic might be at work, keeping the chest from falling apart.  And if there were magic, it might mean more treasure...maybe even the good stuff, magic weapons and their like!

He examined the chest.  There was a flap of leather folded over the seam between the lid and the body of the chest:  as obvious a trap as the Elf had ever seen.  He carefully slid his knife behind it until he felt it bite through the connecting string.  Letting out a pent-up breath, he made ready to raise the lid.

Once again, Scarlet Heroes does things slightly differently than regular OSR games.  There are no specifics listed for disarming traps.  I could just as easily have used the stats from the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game, but again I wanted to stay as much within Scarlet Heroes as possible.  So I opted to make it a check, which is what is intended in Scarlet Heroes.  To allow for the +20% I made the difficulty simple (9).

For a check I rolled 2d8 = 1 + 4 + (5 relevant trait + DEX bonus) = 10.  Whew!  It may have been simple, but that doesn't mean even a Scarlet Hero can't screw up.

At the last moment, Glendal felt one more string snap beneath the blade of his knife.  If he had tried to open the lid too soon...!

Ready for almost anything, he opened the lid of the chest, straining against the heavy weight.  The dust of ages cascaded into his face.  The hinges gave out a creaking groan that, oddly, did not stop when the lid stopped moving.

For rising from the dark of the chest, dusty, moldering rags clothing their dusty, moldering bones, were four nightmare creatures that should not exist, yet somehow did:  the undead skeletal remains of the former guards of the Fort of the Unholy Mound!  Their bones clacking and creaking, somehow they moaned without lungs, as they stood up in the huge chest, weapons swinging.

Since I was already in the d30 DM Companion I decided to stay there.  This is also partly due to the fact that I didn't care for the list of possible encounters in ruins in Scarlet Heroes.  However, I also didn't like the full list in the d30 DM Companion in the "Monster Enounter Tables."

The reason I didn't like either list is that they include creatures that really wouldn't be hiding inside a huge chest, such as bandits, dwarves, orcs, and lots of Oriental-type names that I can't pronounce and don't know what they mean.

So I took the list of Level 1 monsters in the d30 DM Companion and counted only those creatures that could "reasonably" be hiding in a chest for an extended period of time.  I came up with 8 possibilites.  I then rolled d8, scoring a 5, which corresponded to #5 of the 8 total, which was Skeletons.  This was oddly satisfying.  The list stated the number appearing as 1-6.  I rolled d30 on the bell-curved results table in the d30 DM Companion, scored 16, which equals 4 appearing.

Skeletons are listed in Scarlet Heroes, so I used their stats (which, coincidentally, are practically identical to the d30 DM Companion): 
HD 1
AC 7
Attack +0 (weapon)
Damage 1d6 (weapon)
Morale 12
Move 30'

And so, to battle!

Glendal, not really surprised but startled, struck out madly with his sword, batting away the groping, grasping bone-clawed hands of his unliving opponents.  His wild backstroke smacked into the brittle bones of one of the dead soldiers, toppling him into pieces inside the chest.  His next swing, more controlled, similarly cracked the skull of the dead man, felling him.

The undead fear nothing and fought on.  One stabbed repeatedly with its sword, drawing blood from the Elf.  The last bony horror missed when Glendal flinched from having been wounded.

The thief's next backswing decapitated the third skeleton.  And then -- horror! -- his sword became entangled in the collapsing bones, making him fumble and almost drop his sword entirely.  The last remaining soldier also missed its attack; it was apparent his heart really wasn't in the battle (or in him either, for that matter).

Taking a firm grip on his weapon, Glendal ended the undead's unlife, shattering the thing into many tiny parts that clacked and clattered as they struck the chest.  The reign of unlife fell even as the rain of dust floated slowly to the ground.

Glendal attacked first, hitting with his Fray d6 = 2 = for 1 hit die of damage.  Scratch Skeleton #1.  And he hit with his main attack (d20 = 18 + 3 [attack] + AC 7 = 28); d8 damage = 2 + (2 STR) = 4 = 1 hit die equals dead Skeleton #2.

Skeleton #3 hit with d20 = 17 + AC 5 = 22, for d6 = 3 = 1 point.  Ouch!
Skeleton #4 missed (d20 = 8 + AC 5 = 13).

Skeletons, with Morale 12, never take morale checks.

My next Fray d6 = 3 = 1 hit die damage.  Skeleton #3 killed (again).  For my main attack, I rolled d20 = 1.  Not only a miss, but a fumble (if you use those rules; I love fumble charts, but I also never use them; maybe I will eventually later).

The last remaining skelly missed (d20 = 8 + AC 5 = 13).

My last Fray d6 = 6 = 2 hit dice worth of damage.  Skeleton #4 - deader than dead.

These were not wandering monsters, so the Treasure roll for the room remained in effect:  No Treasure.

Glendal searched quickly through the bone chips in the chest and found nothing.  Despite the trap, despite the seeming-magic -- no reward.

Turn 8
Grumpily, he sat down to catch his breath and bind his wound.  Luckily, the rusted blade left no poisonous residue and it was a clean scratch.

I took time for a short rest, healing back the 1 hit point Glendal had lost in the fight.  He currently has 4 of 6 hit points remaining.

"Stupid skeletons," he muttered.  But he felt better after sipping some water and nibbling on a travelling cake.  He picked up the skull of one of the fallen warriors, silently musing about the fate of Man (and Elf).  "Poor Yorick," he quoted, "I knew him, Horatio.  And then I stabbed him and stabbed him and chopped his head off," and he laughed quietly to himself.  Truly, Elves have a different way of looking at the world....

He made ready to continue on.

To be continued soon, in the next exciting installment of The Adventures of Glendal Lorg the Visionary, from the Phantom Cabal!