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!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero (1.2)

The Story So Far....

Glendal Lorg the Visionary, lately of the Phantom Cabal, has invaded the heretofore peaceful ruin of the Fort of the Unholy Mound, bringing death in his wake.  He has successfully infiltrated and navigated the first room of the complex, striking down the ruffian Looters.  Details can be found here.

Having gathered his wits and his riches, Glendal surveyed his surroundings.  Where to go next?  That answer was immediately evident by the simple fact that there was only one exit from the cistern, an arched doorway leading to the northeast.

Turn 3, Room 2
For simplicity's sake, I'll briefly repeat the sequence of events as stated in the first episode.

Wandering monsters only after every third turn.

Upon entering a new room, roll to see if the Goal is present.  A d20 roll of 20 is required.  I roll d20 = another 15 = No.

Next, in order, determine:  room type, then room contents (Encounter?; Treasure?; Hazard?; Feature?).

First, direction = d10 = 3 = North East from current room.

Room type d20 = 12 = Mess hall.
Encounter d10 = 4 = No.
Treasure d10 = 10 = Yes.
Hazard d10 = 8 = No.
Feature d10 = 3 = No.

Glendal edged carefully through the sagging archway, sword at the ready, eyes sweeping the shadows ahead.  He let out a pent-up breath upon seeing that the room was empty of occupants.

Judging by the furnishings, moldering as they were, this had once been the fort's Mess Hall.  Tables and benches filled the medium-sized space.  Many of the tables were still intact, due mostly to their stout construction.  Some fallen shelves lined the wall or spilled onto the floor, mixing together broken plates and other pottery.  A fireplace for cooking was set into one wall; nothing but ashes filled its maw.

The room was nothing but dust, debris and emptiness...except for the pile of treasure sitting unguarded on one of the tables, neatly sorted.

Glendal approached as cautiously as his greed would allow.  It seemed evident to him that the Looters, either from the previous room or others as yet unseen, had already pilfered this room of it's secrets, and stacked it with great care for later taking.  Glendal decided he would take advantage of their consideration and go ahead and take it all.

Eyeing it with a skilled appraisal, Glendal estimated that there were...

Treasure Found roll 3d6 = 1 + 2 + 4 = 7 = "No encounter treasure, but M2 worth of room contents."

The M2 is a "Substantial Cash Amount" of 2d4 x 100gp = 4 + 3 = 700 gp!

...700 gold pieces stacked in neat towers!  Apparently dinner was never free for the soldiers of the fort, but the Cook wasn't able to get away from the doom that overcame the installation, with his money.  And the Looters had dug it out from wherever the scoundrel had hidden it.

However, Glendal was faced with a conundrum:  700 gold pieces weighed far too much for him to carry, especially with the ruin only partially explored, combined with what he had found previously.

I orignally decided to go with the time-honored value of 10 gp = 1 pound, as it's detailed in the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game.  Pretty standard, I felt.  I like easy math.  But then I saw where Scarlet Heroes has it's own conversion value of 50 coins = 1 pound.  I liked that a little more, especially as it lets me stay fully in Scarlet Heroes as much as possible (ignoring the parts that I previously said I would ignore).  However, it's still too much weight to lug around.  Which is a good problem to have!

Returning quickly to the previous room, Glendal carefully divested one of the dead men of the use of his knapsack.  And then, back facing the gleaming happy pile, he swept as much as would fit (all of it, by chance) into the bag, tied it closed, and stowed it under a particularly extra-broken table, completely out of sight.  Assuming he survived (and Glendal's ego would admit no chance of failure yet) he could always return for it later on his triumphant way back to town.  He kept the other treasure with him, though.  You never knew when a toe ring might come in handy.

Turn 3 ended.  Time for the first Wandering Monster check, a straight-up 1 in 6 chance.  d6 = 3 = No.

After the noisy clinking of the coins, Glendal stopped to listen.  All was quiet.  He moved toward the only other exit out of the Mess Hall, a doorway leading southeast.

Turn 4, Room 3:
Direction roll d10 = 5 = South East.
Room Type d20 = 20 = Vault.
Encounter d10 = 9 = Yes.
Treasure d10 = 10 + 3 for an encounter = Yes.
Hazard d10 = 5 = No.
Feature d10 = 4 = No.

Goal d20 = 1 = No Boss.

Glendal slid through the shadows like he was a part of them, making no more noise than the breeze through the trees.  Peering around the corner he spied out the next room.  Six hearty thugs were millling around a glistening pile of loot, their silhouettes blurring and mixing together as they reached and counted.

Glendal thought he could make out two leader-types among them, giving orders for the distribution of the wealth.  Six was a lot to handle, but his blood was up after the first battle, and the glorious treasure so easily found just now.  Glendal decided surprise might be to his advantage; running away certainly never entered his mind!

Encounter Found roll 3d6 = 4 + 6 + 6 = 16 = "2d4 hit dice of Minions plus 2xT hit dice worth of Elites, Mages or Boss enemies."  The Goal roll decided there was no Boss here.

2d4 Minions = 1 + 3 = 4 hit dice = 4 Novice Adventurers.
2xT = 2 hit dice worth of Elites or Mages.  I arbitrarily opted for a 60/40 split for which might appear.  d% = 40% = 2 hit dice of Elites = 2 Skilled Freebooters.

I rolled for Glendal's steathiness in sneaking up on the enemies.  I opted for a DC 11, an average difficulty:  the Looters were busy, Glendal is very quiet.  2d8 = 2 + 7 + (3 for being an Adventuring Thief) + (2 DEX bonus) = 14.  Success!

Stepping quickly and forcefully out of the doorway, yet still a cautious distance away from the Looters, Glendal called out in a commanding voice, "Hand over the treasure and no one gets hurt!"

The Looters froze for a moment, and then it all began...

I was a little unclear at this point as I was playing, since I was still learning my way around the game, as to which exact reaction table I should use.  I mentioned this last episode too.  The Dungeon section specifically directs you to the Reaction table on page 117 (see below), but I found this to be a bit vague for my tastes.  I think it would work well with sort of a "named" NPC, but not with semi-random dungeon dwellers.  Then again, a player with more imagination than me, or less of a desire for tables to roll on, might use it pefectly well!

First I rolled for a Reaction Roll from page 55 in the Beastiary chapter.  I rolled 2d8 = 3 + 6 + (1 for CHA modifier) + (no social traits applied) = 10 = "Most probable outcome comes to pass."

I didn't really know how to apply that.  So to determine the Looters general attitude, I used the Encounter Twists:  Their Attitude Toward the Hero Is... table on page 79.

I just used the same roll = 10 = "The usual, but they might parlay if that seems plausible."

Hmm.  O.K., but how to decide if parlaying seems plausible?  This is where and why I like rolling on tables, to determine some of these things for me, so that it's not just Me Making Stuff Up.

I then used the Reactions table on page 117 to give the Looters a suitable attitude.  I arbitrarily labelled them as "Unfriendly NPCs," rolled 2d6 = 1 + 2 = 3 = "Anger/Scorn."

Alright, now we're getting somewhere.  "The most probably outcome comes to pass, but they might parlay if that seems plausible, and they regard me/Glendal with anger and scorn."

I decided this was the perfect place to use the Oracle table on page 115.  With their attitude established, I asked the Oracle, "Do they comply with Glendal's demand to give up the loot?"  Based on their attitude, I deemed this as "Unlikely."  I rolled d20 = 2 = No.

With muttered snarls and oaths, the two Skilled Freebooters (i.e., the leaders) stepped back from the pile of treasure.  There was the metallic shing as swords cleared scabbards, and six angry, wary ruffians converged on the lone Elf.

Momentarily nonplussed by the fact that the thugs had not run away from his obvious awesomeness, Glendal missed with all his attacks.  Yep, missed six guys standing there in front of him.

In return, the Novice Adventurer third from the left, clad in a soiled red tunic, swung at Glendal with enthusiasm...but also missed.

The Novice second from the left also swung, less carefully, and missed as well.

The first Freebooter, using the Novice's body as cover, swept under Glendal's defenses, drawing blood nearly to the point of his incapacitation!

The second leader, not as graceful, missed his swing.

The last two Novices, on the far left and far right, also missed, having misjudged their weapons' reach.

The Minions have the same stats as before:
HD 1
Attack +1
Damage 1d6
Morale 7

The Elites are:
HD 1
AC 5
Attack +1
Damage 1d10
Morale 10

I rolled d8 + DEX modifier (0) for their initiative, although it didn't matter too much truly.  Glendal goes first each round.

The one Elite who hit, hit for maximum damage of 4 points!  Ouch!  I saw that this could quickly become too much for Glendal, but I wasn't ready to run away yet.

Sucking in his breath at the pain, Glendal focused his next attacks on the more dangerous leaders, especially the one who hurt him.  Showing his true superiority, Glendal, with an almost careless backhand slash, killed both Freebooters, the sword slinging blood from the neck of one into the eyes of the Novices!  This caused the Novices to flinch back, making the Elf miss his main attack.

Lucky for me, the Fray Die hit with a 6 which equals 2 hit dice of damage, with also equals two 1-hit dice opponents, which in this case happened to equal the two Elites.  Whew!  With their 1d10 potential damage now gone I felt a lot better about this fight.  I also determined that a Morale check was in order for the Minions.

Seeing both of their leaders cut down, nearly effortlessly, was too much for the fresh-off-the-street scum Novices.  Maybe they weren't really meant to be Adventurers after all!  All four stared briefly at the still-twitching corpses, and then, with one motion, turned and ran further into the fortress.

Morale check:  2d6 vs 7 = 2 + 6 = 8 = Fail!  All Minions flee.  I supposed I could have checked each one individually, but it seemed narratively better to just make one check; especially since they ran away!

Glendal let them go.

Wiping his sword clean on one of the dead men, the Elf turned to survey his hard-earned gains.  Once again, the Looters had done a lot of the work for him:  they had dug the scattered bits of treasure from out of its hiding places, and left it neatly arrayed for him to take possession of.  How nice.

His ever-more-practiced eye surveyed the piles.  Surely there was...

Treasure roll 3d6 = 3 + 6 + 6 = 15 = "One tenth of the C-type trove appropriate to the place."  This is the same as last episode.  So a C4 "Minor Ruin's Wealth" ended up being (see last episode for the details of what to roll):

...70 gold pieces; 1 piece of cheap jewelry, a malachite earring (probably the matching piece for the malachite toe ring; there were some weird dudes guarding the Fort of the Unholy Mound) (90 gp).  1 piece of costly jewelry, a bracelet with bits of amber (300 gp).  And hooray, 1 piece of precious jewelry, a deep yellowish-green peridot set in a belly chain(?) (4000 gp!).  Glendal guessed the garrison must have had a few harem girls gracing the premises.  Also 1 lesser magic item, a scroll of some sort (It happens to be a 4th Level Magic-User scroll of "Tireless Horse of Long Travel").  But no greater magic items.  Glendal had spent enough time around mages to know that this is something that will be valuable to the right person, but useless to him right now, seeing as how he cannot read or cast magic.

The wounded Elf quickly slid the gold into another of the Looters' packs, along with the scroll, and hid it carefully out of sight.  The jewelry, however, he kept with him.  He knew a certain Elven dancing girl on whom the belly chain would look particularly fetching, and with whom he could certainly get (4000 gp!) worth of entertainment.

After bandaging his sword cut, Glendal felt better.  This took a few minutes to complete, and then he was ready to continue on.

I realized at this point that I had made a mistake in the numbering of the turns so far completed.  In the One-DM-and-One-Player part of the rules, it simply says that a hero can take a few minutes after a battle to bandage wounds; they regain up to 2 hit points.  This was what was in my mind.  However, in the Dungeon Exploration part, it says first aid after a battle or trap usually takes a full turn to complete (10 minutes).  So I renumbered it on my hand-written records.  It doesn't really change anything here though, so you can relax.

Turn 5:
Glendal healed 2 hit points, putting him at 4 currently, of 6 possible.

Before leaving, Glendal gave the Vault one last check.  Surely there must be more treasure than this in the veritable Vault of the fortress!  But alas, there was no more.  It had apparently been long ago removed, much longer ago than just these dead Looters.

I asked the Oracle:  This is the Vault.  Is this all the treasure?  I assigned it an "Unknown" 50/50 value.  d20 = 10 = "No, but..."  The related d6 = 6 = "Sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event."  To help make sense of that, I rolled on the Oracular Adjectives table:  2d20 = 9 x 5 = "History."  It would appear that the bulk of the treasure was removed in the distant past.

Checking the security of his backpack and his weapons, Glendal prepared to move into the next room.

To be continued, in the next exciting(?) installment of The Adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero!