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!


  1. After thinking a bit about the treasure discussion from the last episode, I think that I would, for a delve like this one in an oft-looted site, I would roll 1d20 for each "treasure" and only allow it to still be there on a roll of 20 (or 1 if you prefer) . . . figuring that most treasure has already been glommed . . . but then again I don't allow much treasure anyway.

    -- Jeff

    1. That is certainly a feasible possibility, and at the current rate of treasure accumulation I might do something down the road to curtail it. However, I'm also just sticking to the Scarlet Heroes tables for now, just to see how things play out.

      Plus, I figure Glendal will either squander it away on wine, women and song; or else there will be an unexplained price increase on everything due to some emergency in the kingdom. There are many ways of divesting a hero of his treasure!

  2. Very good report! I like the way things worked out with the chest and skeletons, only to find nothing of value. That lends verisimilitude to the adventure. Just because something is trapped and involves some sort of struggle doesn't mean there will always be a reward. A 1 in 20 chance of finding loot still there seems a bit extreme to me though - I think I would go at least 50/50. I need to get these rules and try them out myself soon! I will also not be doing an Oriental style game, but something more in the tradition of Tolkien, Howard, et al. Low to middle fantasy maybe.

    1. Fitz-Badger, you should get them, they really are a well-done set of rules. They put *nearly* everything you need all in one place, and if you're a little less persnickety than me, you can probably count it as all you need.

      And thanks for reading!

  3. Skeletons are the one monster I never remove from encounter tables.

  4. I got the rules and have been perusing them. Skimming through I noticed there is an optional rule called "Wastrel Heroes", with a good way to keep treasure from just piling up endlessly.
    So far I'm liking what I see. I won't be using their background, but the rest looks great.