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!


  1. Very nice report! It seems to be playing out very well, with your other resources and your own input.
    I did buy the Scarlet Heroes rules and rolled up a character. I've been studying the rules, and your reports are a great inspiration. I've been a bit "under the weather" lately, and then trying to get caught back up at work, but hope to get some gaming in soon. Starting a Scarlet Heroes game is high on my gaming "to do" list!

    1. Thanks for the compliments, I'm glad my reports can inspire someone else to play. I put a lot of information into them, so much so that I'm afraid it's too much and might put people off from reading them.

      Yes, the story is developing nicely and in ways I can't predict.

      Get well soon, and enjoy Scarlet Heroes. It can be called a fully self-contained game, I just like adding a little extra; but it's well worth the price of admission.

      And let me know if you write your own reports, I'd like to read them.

  2. I'm enjoying your reports, sir . . . even with the cliffhangers.

    -- Jeff

    1. Thank you, sir, I appreciate you taking the time to read.

      I also think you've got a dungeon awaiting your return.