Glendal Lorg -- Elf, Thief, Scarlet Hero -- the Visionary from the Phantom Cabal, has so far successfully avoided dire hurt as he explores the Fort of the Unholy Mound. He has made it to what might be called room 8 of a total of 12, which he obviously knows in some deep, dark, unconscious Elf-Thiefy-part of himself.
He has just discovered a Secret Door leading out of Room 8 to Room 9. What lies beyond, nobody yet knows!
After disabling the trap, he prepares to enter...Room 9.
Turn 19, Room 9:
Glendal slipped through the gap in the door as skillfully as sand between fingers. In a moment he was standing, silent, in what had once been the Fort's Prison Cell. A barred section was rusted and open, empty of everything but the smell of age-old decay. However, in the center of the room on a rickety table was a pile of gold coins.
Strangely, this room's roof was intact, casting everything into deep shadow. For a split second, the Thief was blind, before his Elf eyes adjusted to the gloom. What he saw made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end: three of the Looters were crouched in places of hiding around the room, very obviously ready to ambush the helpless Thief. To a lesser being, they would likely have been invisible until too late; to the mighty hero -- with his Elven senses and carefully cultivated keen danger sense -- they were as apparent as if they had never tried to hide.
With a slight swagger, Glendal stepped away from the door, fingering the hilt of his sword, and at first acting as if he knew not of their presence. Then with a flourish, he drew the blade and spoke to the men, projecting his voice with authority. "Pathetic men! Your ploy has failed. Leave the gold -- no, I'll be generous, take one each -- and go home to your families. I'll not give you a second chance or another warning."
His eyes darted between the three men. Two were mere minions, followers probably lured in by promises of much wealth. The third was more formidable, a skilled freebooter more used to the ways of treachery and bloodshed. The Elf would have to dispose of him first, and quickly.
Still, he waited for their first move. He would let them live should they choose that path.
It was not to be.
With a growl of anger, their leader rose, brandishing his weapon, and ordered his men to attack. Quickly they closed on the Thief, and battle was joined.
Glendal waited until the leader was committed to his attack before flicking his wrist to skewer the man, and promptly dropped his own sword! The human leader moved in for the kill, grinning at the Elf's clumsiness, but impaled himself on Glendal's dagger instead.
The surprised but dead mercenary crumpled to the floor, and Glendal turned his attention to the two novice adventurers. The first, while clearly upset by the killing of his leader, nevertheless continued to close and attack. His greed outweighed his better judgment. "I knew we should'a killed ya earlier when we 'ad the chance!" he spat. "That damn cleric.... We never should'a listened to 'im."
The second adventurer, however, upon seeing the widening pool of blood on the floor, fell to his knees and tried to join Glendal's side. "Please, good sir," the filthy, black-toothed scalawag begged, "I didn't mean no 'arm. I's just followin' orders. They promised me money, but I ain't seen nuthin' yet but killin'." He inched closer and closer on his knees, arms open wide. In moments, he was close enough to get in the Elf's way.
Luckily, even though Glendal was distracted, the first looter was as inexperienced as he was dirty, and his swing missed. The Elf slid his toe under his sword, flipped it up into his hand and promptly missed this attack as well. Arrgh, why didn't these lesser beings leave him alone? Frustrated, he took extra care with his backhand attack, and dropped the first minion where he stood. The Elf was always intrigued by the look of surprise on the faces of those he killed. Did he really look so incompetent that they didn't think he could kill them?
Something in the tone of the second rogue's voice triggered a warning in the Elf. The fellow had practically enveloped the Thief in a hug around his legs, since he was still on his knees. He was still saying the same sorts of things, "I didn't mean no 'arm, after all, my sword is broken now and how will I ever get home?" but somehow it was just different enough to give him away.
Glendal brought his sword around and parried the sneaky thrust of this one at the last possible second. Appalled at the treachery, the Elf dispatched the Looter without hesitation or comment. He then stooped to wipe his blade clean on the ruffian's clothing, but stopped when he realized it was only making his sword filthier. Disgusting humans, he thought.
As he caught his breath, he surveyed the rest of the room. The stacks of gold coins -- at least 400 by his quick estimate -- were there, no doubt, for the same reason as those in the other rooms: the Looters had accumulated it and stored it for later retrieval. Plus, it was probably intended as a lure for him, and a distraction from their ambush. Feeling pretty confident -- not over-confident, as the Elf would never admit to that -- Glendal left the gold right where it was. By his estimation, there couldn't be that many more trouble-makers left in the Fort, so it should be safe until he could come back to get it. What he found most interesting about this encounter was that he now knew there had to be another way up from below; these ruffians certainly had not sneaked past him to get here first!
Lastly, he looked to the South East, and the very odd door there. It was entirely made of quartz. It glowed a soft pinkish in the dim light of the room, not from any inherent light but just because it collected what dim light there was. The Thief examined it carefully. There appeared to be no way to open it: no knobs or handles that he could see, nor did it seem to be trapped in any way.
He stood puzzling over it for some time. Then, taking a lit candle for a little extra light, he went over the door more thoroughly. Engraved along the edges were a series of grooves; not quite runes, but shallow carvings, and yes!, they formed some words. Instructions, he realized with a start. Holding the candle, he traced the words with a long finger. Momentarily nonplussed by what he read, he traced the words again. It did not make sense, but with no other way to get through the door it was worth a try.
Following the instructions, he opened his canteen and carefully poured some water on the runes, then spoke the command word as written on the door. No sooner had the word left his mouth than the quartz door suddenly split right in half, side to side, opening top to bottom.
The noble Elf readied to enter the next room.
Right, so here's how things shook out:
I rolled the usual things:
Room type d20 = 14 = Prison Cell.
Goal roll d20 + 3 rooms = 18 = No. Of course you could argue that I've already found the goal, but I like to keep my options open.
Room Contents d10 rolls:
Encounter = 8 = Yes. Adds +3 to Treasure roll.
Treasure = 9 + 3 = Yes.
Hazard = 9 = No.
Feature = 3 = No.
Exit direction d10 = 5 = South East (to Room 10).
Encounter 3d6 = 4 + 3 + 3 = 10 = "2d4 + T HD worth of Minions & Elites." The 2d4 + T = 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 HD = 2 Minions and 1 Elite.
They have the same stats as previous Novice Adventurers and Skilled Freebooters.
The Encounter Treasure 3d6 = 1 + 2 + 5 = 8 = "No encounter treasure, but M2 worth of room contents." M2 = 2d4 x 100 gp = 2 + 2 = 400 gp.
The occupants' Reactions: First, I asked the Oracle, "Are these the same Looters from downstairs, that I met with the Cleric?" I assigned it as 'Likely.' d20 = 15 = "Yes."
Next I asked the Oracle, "With the Cleric gone, do they want revenge?" I assigned it as 'Very Likely.' d20 = 9 = "Yes."
I then rolled on the Reactions table on p117, under the column titled "Unfriendly NPC," with a modifier of "-2 for insults or risks to the NPC’s wealth or standing." 2d6 = 1 + 3 - 2 = 2 = "Anger/Violence."
As a backup, I also rolled a Reaction Check on page 79, which is elaborated on, on page 55 (at least, I consider them to be basically the same thing). 2d8 = 4 + 1 + CHA 1 = 6 = "Predacious, willing to take advantage of those weaker."
Both descriptions seemed to back each other up, and also fit what I felt was appropriate for the situation.
Next, I had to determine the answer to the question, Does Glendal ken to their ambush? I rolled an Opposed Check. The Looters rolled 2d8 = 6 + 2 = 8. Glendal rolled 2d8 + Elven Senses (or Keen Danger Sense; he has both at +1 but can only use one) + WIS = 7 + 7 + 1 +1 = 16. Obviously he was very aware of their presence.
I then wrote out on my sheet, "Your ploy failed. Leave the gold -- take 1 -- and go home to your families." (I was really getting into the part, don'cha'know!)
So I asked the Oracle, "Do they obey?" I continued with the theme that the Reaction Tables had provided, as 'Very Unlikely.' d20 = 13 = No. So I rolled on the Oracular Adjectives and Motivations table on p115. 2d20 = 14, 16 = "Rapacity," "Regret." I interpreted this to mean they were too greedy, and regretted that they didn't kill Glendal earlier.
Naturally this led to Combat.
The Elf took the initiative, and promptly rolled a 1 for his attack. Fumble! However, the Fray d6 scored 2, which did 1 point of damage to the Elite, killing him.
The Minion morale check resulted in Minion1 passing with an 8, but Minion2 failed with a 2. This ended with him fleeing. In order to make things more interesting, I asked the Oracle, "Does Minion2 flee away from Glendal?" Since panic can make men do strange things, I assigned it as 'Unknown.' d20 = 7 = "No, but..." The "But" d6 roll = 1 = "A twist to the relationship between people in the situation." I interpreted this as him attempting to join Glendal's side, begging and interfering with him. I took this direction partly after reading the following in the Bestiary, under the heading "Morale" on p54: "Brave creatures may make a fighting withdrawal, trying to reach some more defensible position to make a last stand. Others might simply turn and run, or throw down their weapons and beg for mercy. Most creatures will act according to their training even after their morale breaks. Soldiers may abandon their weapons and flee the field, but they’re more likely to retreat in something resembling disciplined order. Bandits, on the other hand, are apt to scatter to the winds assoon as they lose heart." [emphasis mine]
Then Minion1 attacked with a 15 and missed.
Round 2: Glendal again attacked but only managed a 14, which is quite the miss. However, again the Fray d6 saved him with a 2, killing Minion1.
What was I going to do with Minion2? I didn't really want a camp follower or a dogsbody or anything. I asked the Oracle, "Does Minion2 stay?" 'Unknown.' d20 = 14 = "Yes, but..." The "But" d6 = 5 = "The failure of a piece of gear, either for the hero or an NPC."
Again I turned to the Oracular Adjectives and Motivations table. 2d20 = 20, 14 = "Servitude," "Trickery." I interpreted this to mean that Minion2 panicked, offering to help Glendal, claiming his sword is broken, but when he gets close he attempts to attack instead.
Do I notice? This calls for an Opposed Check. Minion2 = 2d8 = 2 + 5 = 7. Glendal 2d8 + Keen Danger Sense + WIS = 1 + 8 + 1 + 1 = 11. Yes, the Elf notices.
Combat ensues / continues: Glendal d20 = 25. That's a hit. Damage d8 = 4 + 2 = 6 = 3 points of damage = one dead Minion2.
To determine what type of door the connecting door to Room 10 was, I consulted the Tome of Adventure Design p153, Table 3-30 "Normal Door, Unusual Features of." Four d100 rolls provided that it was made of Quartz; of a Natural Color; that it Divides at middle, top slides up, bottom slides down; and that it had a Written Trick. To divine what the Trick was, I rolled on p208, Table 3-114 and 115. It answered as "Water" and "Carved in Stone." Table 3-116 said, "The written trick gives instructions that must be immediately followed."
Ergo, If you pour water on the quartz grooves and read the command word the door opens.
Turn 20, Room 10:
The Elf Thief slipped carefully but determinedly through the quartz door into the room beyond. He had time only for a quick glance before events began to move forward. This had been the Fort's Map & File Room, judging by the tattered and torn ribbons of parchment adorning the walls and what furniture that remained. A table or two still stood upright, covered in yellowing, desiccated, decaying scrolls: map scrolls by the looks of them, not spell scrolls. Most of the writing and images on the wall maps were so faded as to be illegible.
However, what captured the Elf's attention first were two simultaneous things: first, a mound of glittering jewels, jewelry, gemstones, potion bottles and gold pieces; and second, three more thugs angrily facing him with weapons drawn as he appeared.
"He killed Kenny! Get 'im!" their leader shouted.
Glendal was already moving. He had had enough of these shallow, greed-blinded humans, interfering with his plans to acquire all of the treasure in the Fort of the Unholy Mound. Didn't they realize yet that it was all meant to be his?
His sword sang from its scabbard with a musical sound, and promptly flew out of his fingers to stick in the wall across from him. But his backhanded dagger slash gutted the skilled freebooter who had spoken. He withdrew the blade and met the eyes of the two lesser thugs.
The first unskilled adventurer very obviously plucked his courage up by it's bootstraps, and stood his ground. The second, though, gave in completely to panic.
"Oh no, not again," thought the Elf. But this time, instead of claiming his sword had broken, the young ruffian actually broke it over his knee, and then turned tail and ran out the single door behind him to the east.
The Thief was momentarily distracted by the spectacle, and was unable to sufficiently parry the first hooligan's attack. The sword scraped through in a gap between the Elf's leather armor, drawing a thin line of red behind it.
Dancing away from the attack, Glendal deftly retrieved his sword, swung about, swung, and ... missed again! With an aggravated grimace, the Elf re-centered his focus, and impaled the looter on his dagger.
Glendal had already cleaned and sheathed his weapons before the novice adventurer's body fully hit the floor, and was eyeing with intense pleasure the pile of loot before him.
Turn 20's events unfolded as follows, with the normal rolls:
Room type d20 = 11 = Map & File Room.
Goal roll d20 + 4 = 5 + 4 = 9 = No.
Contents d10 rolls:
Encounter = 10 = Yes, add 3 to Treasure roll.
Treasure = 7 + 3 = 10 = Yes.
Hazard = 8 = No.
Feature = 5 = No.
Room exit direction d10 = 4 = East (to Room 11).
The Encounter 3d6 = 1 + 2 + 3 = 6 = "1d4+T hit dice worth of foes numbering severalMinions or Civilians and possibly an Elite." The 1d4 + T = 2 + 1 = 3 HD worth of foes = 2 Minions and 1 Elite.
I did not feel the need to ask the Oracle whether or not these were the last of the Looters from downstairs. It just seem right to say they were.
The Treasure roll turned out as follows: 3d6 = 6 + 6 + 6 = 18! = "A full C-type trove is present appropriate to the type of dungeon. It will require 1d6 turns to fully catalogue andcollect it from its repository, risking wandering foes."
For the C-type trove I felt C4, a "Minor Ruin's Wealth," was appropriate. The rolls required were as follows:"1d6+4 x 100 gp, 1d6+4 Cheap Jewelry, 1d4 Costly Jewelry, 25% for 1 Precious Jewelry, 1d3 Lesser and 25% for 1 Greater Magic Item."
So I rolled on all the appropriate tables. This was definitely Glendal's big score! Rather than write it all up, I've included a photo of my notes, below.
|You can click on this to enlarge it in order to read it more easily, assuming you can actually read my chicken-scratch handwriting.|
For the combat, I had Glendal attack right away, no need for conversation. There was no way the avaricious Elf was going to let this loot slip through his fingers!
There were two Minions (Novice Adventurers) and one Elite (Skilled Freebooter), just like the previous room. Glendal attacked first, and rolled a 1, just like the previous room! Ol' Glendal really isn't as good as he thinks he is! His Fray d6 scored a 5, which was enough to kill the Elite.
I then rolled a Morale check for the two Minions, just like the previous room. Minion1 passed with an 8 (same number as Minion1 in Room 9, which is exactly the number needed to pass), and Minion2 failed with a 2 (which, again, was the exact same number as in Room 9!). This is total déjà vu!
I asked the Oracle, "Does Minion2 flee away from Glendal?" The same as before, I assigned it as Unknown due to panic, d20 = 13 = "Yes, but..." The "But" d6 = 1 = "A twist to the relationship between people in the situation." Again, this was the same result as previously.
I really did roll everything separately, I promise!
Finally, with the Oracular Adjectives & Motivation table, I got some new results. 2d20 = 1, 10 = "Habit," "Broken Object." So I decided he broke his own sword and ran away home.
Minion2 attacked Glendal and hit for 1 hp, bringing Glendal down to 5 remaining.
Round 2: Glendal attacked, scoring a 14 which is a miss. The Fray die scored 3, which was enough to kill Minion2.
And Thus Ended Turn 20.
Glendal wasted no time. Despite his greed, he knew to take care of himself first (as he usually did in most situations anyhow, whether they were social or combative). While applying some ointment to his wound, he listened carefully for the sounds of further attack. All was silent, save for the sound of blood seeping into the wooden floorboards. After a sip of water and bite of pounded cake, he felt like a new man, er, Elf.
Next he turned his attention to the pile of treasure on the table. Ordinarily, such a large 'take' would require a long time to carefully sort and catalogue. Luckily for him, the looters had done the work for him: everything was neatly arranged in rows by type and value. Obviously they had been preparing to split the wealth between them when they were interrupted. As it was, Glendal was able to rake his eyes across the gems, fixing everything in his near-perfect memory for such things before sweeping the entire lot into his backpack (with the exception of the huge pile of gold pieces; he would need a larger sack to carry those). The clatter and clink was like music to his pointy ears. It was so quick he didn't even worry about other looters sneaking up on him.
After a last look under the table to make sure he had missed nothing, he turned his attention to the eastern door, leading to the next room. By his estimation, this would be the next to last room in the Fort. Somewhere ahead must be another way down that the looters were using to get in front of him. The thought sobered him: he didn't know how many more looters there might be, and he was in no mood to share. Steeling his nerve and checking his sword, he approached the door.
Turn 21 was a simple healing turn. Per the rules, Glendal healed the immediately preceding damage, bringing him back to full hit points. The wandering monsters d6 roll = 3 = No (only on a 1).
Turn 22 was to have been the start of cataloging the treasure by rolling 1d6 for the total number turns it would take. My roll was d6 = 1 turn. I figured the ruffians already had it sorted and counted. Very nice of them. In fact, it seemed so elegant that I either decided to not roll for another wandering monster or I forgot (I don't recall which).
And Thus Ends Turn 22. Tune in next time (whenever that may be, hopefully sooner rather than later) for the final two rooms in the Fort of the Unholy Mound. It was great fun for me to play it. It just takes 10 times as long to write it up as it does to play it out. I think after this game finishes, I'll simply play and write them up as "narrative," with no rules explanations. It'll save an enormous amount of time.
* * * Thanks for reading this far, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. * * *