And now, friends and neighbors, the concluding chapter of the current adventure of Glendal Lorg, Elf Thief and bloody Scarlet Hero.
This mighty hero, this Visionary from the Phantom Cabal, now a free agent working only for his own betterment, has explored and sacked nearly the entire Fort of the Unholy Mound, a decrepit ruined bastion from ages past. Foes too numerous to count have ended their miserable lives on his crimson-stained blades. Now, through some deeply-ingrained Elf sense, he know that he approaches the last two rooms in the Fort. Will he win his way through to glory and gold, or die twitching on some Boss monster's sword?
Let's find out, shall we?
Glendal's immediately previous escapades can be found here and to start at the very beginning, go here.
The Elf had just cataloged a huge amount of treasure and slung it all into his bulging sack (now dangerously overloaded, surely), having just killed what he sincerely hoped were the last of the Looters. The avaricious Elf was no more blood-thirsty than any other adventurer, but he was tiring of these short-lived humans trying to take what was rightfully his!
On with the Adventure!
Turn 23, Room 11:
The door was, for once, an ordinary door, unlocked, untrapped and open. The Elf sidled up to the opening, peering through into the next room. The remains of a bed, a table and chair and a few other things led him to believe this was once the Officer's Quarters. As small as the room was, it was likely the Fort's commander's room.
Interestingly, in the middle of the room was a spiral staircase, leading down. A thrill of excitement ran through the Thief: just as he had supposed, there was a back way after all!
That thrill was promptly smothered when he noticed the quiet, unmoving figure sitting in the chair behind the desk across the room. Glendal's hand reflexively moved to the hilt of his sword but didn't draw it. He was stayed by the figure speaking.
"Good to see you again, Glendal." The man, another human, was burly, dark-skinned with dimpled -- nay, scarred -- cheeks and a decided twinkle in his green eyes. His wavy light-ash brown hair fell to his collar, and for as long as Glendal had known him, his beard remained stubbly and forked.
"Hello, Bosko," Glendal replied, not without a small amount of affection. "What do you here?"
Bosko Stith was otherwise known in the Underworld, from which Glendal had only recently extricated himself, as the Hedonist Courier from the Forsaken Dens. It was a big title which he had no doubt given himself. The Elf knew him as the Press Gang boss; surely someone to avoid in the dimly lit early hours of the day, after having been drinking all night at some totty-shop.
Bosko spread his hands wide. "I am here at the behest of certain others," he said, and paused to spit. "Certain others, to whom I owe a measure of ... obedience. For now."
Glendal moved more fully into the room, making sure -- subtly, of course -- that there were no more treasure seekers waiting to ambush him. He knew from past experience that Bosko could be capricious in his moods and tastes. However, the man remained sitting comfortably behind the desk, his hands resting lightly on the tabletop.
"I am alone," Bosko assured the Elf, "the moreso now that you've killed all of my hired hands." He smiled grimly. "Easy come, easy go."
The cautious Elf relaxed his grip on his sword only slightly. "You're the leader of these bandits? That doesn't sound like your usual line of work."
The bossman shrugged. "Work is as work does. I prefer to go my own way, as you know, but sometimes you have to work for someone else. That is why I am here." He shrugged again. "But ask me if I care if I succeed for my ... friends."
Glendal's smile was more natural this time. "Yes, I think I see which way the wind is blowing. Well, at least one of them escaped, maybe more, I can't recall; they were nothing." He cocked his head before saying, "Interesting you using a Cleric."
Bosko laughed, a harsh grating sound. "That fop? He never knew I existed. But my men tried to play him off against me." He laughed again, a short bark. "I would have had to exact my own vengeance on the two-timers if you hadn't done them in for me. For that, I owe you, and will hereby let you pass unscathed."
Glendal bristled at the brush-off. Bosko beat him to the punch with his reply. "Oh, don't bend your pointy Elf ears. Maybe you could take me," he said, standing up, "but I'd make you know you'd been in a fight." He thumped his fist against his chest; Glendal heard the sound of armor underneath Bosko's cloak. The light that had been dancing in his eyes now glinted dangerously.
Mastering his emotions, Glendal deliberately relaxed. "If you're not here to stop me leaving with all this treasure, and you don't really seem to care whether you let your 'friends' down, then why are you here?"
Bosko's mercurial moods swept over him again. He threw himself back into his chair with a genuine laugh, saying, "The fools think there is a certain document that was stored here that might lead us all to riches unimagined. Or perhaps call into being some infernal demonic power. I really don't know. But I hired my ruffians to find what they could," (and by 'hired' Glendal knew he meant 'press-ganged'), "and keep whatever they found with the exception of the item." He squinted a look at Glendal. "I'd say the same arrangement could be made with you."
Glendal considered the offer. He preferred to keep people like Bosko on his good side, if he kept them at all; he had no particular grudge against him at this time; and so he said, "I saw some maps back there that might be salvageable. What were you looking for?"
In response, Bosko slid a piece of parchment across the desk. Glendal studied it for a moment, then shook his head. "This I have not seen."
Bosko took the paper back, stuffing it into his jerkin. "I believe you. You do not deal in such things, and have no use for it. But if you find it, will you bring it to me?"
Glendal nodded. "We have an accord."
Bosko stood up laughing, and slapped the Elf on the shoulder good-naturedly. "You always were my favorite Thief back at the Phantom Cabal."
Glendal bid good-bye and began to descend the stairs, knowing that he would not find any document before he was shot of this place. And not really caring.
The room rolls are as previously discussed:
Goal roll d20 = 1 + 5 rooms = 6 = No goal.
For the room exit direction, I rolled d10 = 10 = "whatever direction would make the dungeon the most compact." I decided that stairs down, leading to just east of Room 6 would fit the bill.
Room type, d20 = 13 = Officer's Quarters.
Encounter d10 = 7 = No.
Treasure d10 = 5 = No.
Hazard d10 = 6 = No. Add 1 to Feature roll.
Feature d10 = 10 + 1 = 11 = Yes.
Nature of the Feature, roll d8 = 5 = "A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site."
Creature Motivation, roll d10 = 6 = "Scout the site for an outside power." Further clarification on the "Their Allegiance" table, d4 = 2 = "Grudgingly submissive to the location's rulers." I determined him to be a Unique Foe d6 = 4 = Elite. I'm not going to give the Elite stats because I didn't end up fighting him, but he did have the result of "Armored, AC +2."
Initially this was looking very much like a Boss Fight.
So I rolled on the NPC Reaction table, p117, and classified him as an "Unfriendly NPC, -2 for risks to NPC's wealth or standing." 2d6 = 11 - 2 = 9 = "Persuadable." Hmm, maybe not so bad after all.
Next I rolled for his Attitude Towards the Hero, p79, 2d8 = 7 + 5 = 12 = "Disinclined to fight unless that seems necessary."
To determine exactly who I was dealing with, I asked the Oracle p115, "Is this the Bandit Leader?" I gave it odds of Very Likely, rolled d20 = 17 = "Yes."
So with all of that, I wrote on my sheet, "He's working for somebody else but doesn't like it. Doesn't care if he succeeds or not."
Well, if we're not going to fight, I need to know more about who he is and what he wants.
So I rolled on the Actors & NPCs table, p116, d8 = 7, d10 = 3 = "Press Gang Boss" in the "Underworld" column.
More rolls: Memorable Trait p117, d100 = 43 = "Facial Scarring."
Ruling Temperament, d100 = "Capricious."
Immediate Desires, d100 = "Getting a document."
For his physical description, I used the "d30 Sandbox Companion," p46 "NPC Physical Traits."
His name, Bosko Stith the Hedonist Courier from the Forsaken Dens, I generated from the Wampus Country blog.
So in the end, I wrote that Glendal and Bosko parted without a fight. In my notes, I didn't actually have Bosko and Glendal come to an agreement, but fiction deserves being added to.
I did kind of like the fact that I faced the so-called Boss Monster and it was nothing.
Turn 24, Room 12 (the final room):
Glendal descended the spiral stairs, peering carefully at each step before putting his weight on it. He had not asked Bosko if the leader had come up this way, but he wasn't going to go back now and risk losing face. The stairs led down into gloom.
The Elf guessed that this was a secret room, accessible only from above and from the outside through the door (probably hidden from the outside) to the southeast of him. This room seemed to be just to the east of the Smithy, the sixth room he had encountered on the ground floor. There may or may not have been a secret passage between the Smithy and here in the past, but it would have made sense, as this appeared to be an Armory. The Thief surmised it to be the secret Armory of the Officers.
Alas but there were no magic, glowing weapons to be had. Even though it was a secret room, it had been pilfered more thoroughly than had many of the more mundane rooms. In fact there was very little here beyond some empty scabbards and broken scroll cases.
Scroll cases? Kicking through the detritus, the Elf's sharp eyes espied one intact scroll case. Not daring to believe his luck, he retrieved it, removed the ancient scroll from the case and carefully unrolled it. Could it be the very document for which Bosko was looking?
Glendal sat back on his heels, momentarily stunned by the confluence of events. It was the scroll in question. Amazing! Before returning it to it's case, the curious Thief scanned the document. A-ha! It was no wonder certain persons wanted this scroll; it contained a terrible truth about a very important person in the land, or at least about their family's history.
Turn 25, return to Room 11:
Replacing the scroll in the tube, he immediately climbed the spiral stairs. Bosko looked at him expectantly, thinking, no doubt, that the reason for his so-soon return was anything other than the actuality.
Glendal set the scroll case on the desk and stepped back. "My word is kept."
Bosko appeared non-plussed at first, then frantically tore at the scroll tube. As his eyes read over the document, he murmured softly at first, and then more loudly as his mood changed, "Ha haa! Well done, my Thief friend, well done indeed! Bosko won't soon forget this! A favor for a favor, yes? I owe you one now, my friend."
Leaving his "friend" behind to crow over his treasure, Glendal began to backtrack into the Fort of the Unholy Mound, there to gather all of his blood-gotten loot. Taking extra sacks from the already-stiffening dead men, he knew he would have plenty of space to drag it all out...if he could carry it all. Somehow, the Elf knew he would find the strength. Town and dancing girls were not so far away after all.
The end...for now.
I knew this to be the last room.
Wandering monster check, d6 = 6 = No.
Goal roll d20 = 8 + 6 rooms = 14 = No goal. Ah well, I had pretty much found something to qualify for it much earlier.
Room exit, d10 = 5 = South East (into the woods outside).
Room type d20 = 2 = "Armory." I figured, based on it's location in the Fort, it was a secret Officer's Armory. Would there be any good loot left?
Room contents rolls:
Encounter d10 = 5 = No.
Treasure d10 = 1 = No.
Hazard d10 = 8 = No. Add 1 to Feature roll.
Feature d10 = 8 + 1 = 9 = Yes.
Nature of the Feature table, p128, d8 = 8 = "An item of information, whether book, note, or talk."
Inanimate Feature Quality table, d20 = 12 = "Contains a terrible truth about an important NPC." (I will admit I rolled more than once [4 times actually] before I got a result I felt "fit." But this is the only roll I ever fudged.)
On the Example Specific Feature table, I rolled d4 = 3, d10 = 6 = "Ancient scroll; 10% chance of being magical." d100 = 41% = Not magical. Still, a scroll Feature? It's like the game knows what it wants to make happen.
I asked the Oracle, "Is this the document that Bosko wants?" I will also admit, I led the question by making the odds 'Very Likely' but I still feel they were appropriate. d20 = 20! = "Yes." A very definite Yes.
I will even further admit I was getting tired at this time, and was ready to both finish this particular session as well as this chapter in the life of Glendal Lorg. So I went straight back to Bosko.
I rolled for his Reaction, p117. Now that I knew who he was, he was no longer an Unfriendly NPC, so I used the column for "NPC Stranger, +2 for large bribe or significant service owed." 2d6 = 5 + 3 + 2 = 10 = "Full Agreement."
It's not only the very document he wants, he is fully willing to honor our agreement, and I wrote that he said, "A favor for a favor. I owe you one, my friend."
With all of the rooms explored, and all of the "monsters" defeated, there was nothing left for Glendal to do but gather up his loot and return to town. Maybe find a wheelbarrow to carry it all or something, but he's resourceful; I think he can handle it.
And so comes an end to the Adventures of Glendal Lorg, Scarlet Hero, for now. He survived his first foray into Adventuredom, and will gain 1 XP. This puts him firmly halfway to Second Level.
The rules as written say, "Heroes usually receive one experience point after every session of gaming, assuming they at least tried to accomplish some suitably heroic feat." However, even though I took 9 sessions to play this out, I don't really feel XP should be given that way in this case. I figure the Fort counts as one session. This is good, because I like low-level play, so I will be able to have a second adventure before he levels up.
I do plan to continue, possibly with an "urban" adventure next. However, I will NOT be including all of the dice rolls and rules descriptions, except in rare circumstances when they're needed. I may give just roll summaries so you can see how things develop organically. Hopefully this will speed things up, enough that I can write about it more frequently. We shall see. Hopefully it won't be too, too long before Glendal Lorg sallies forth once again to make his mark upon the world!
And if you've enjoyed reading, seriously check out Kevin Crawford's Sine Nomine Publishing and get a copy of Scarlet Heroes for yourself.
Thanks for reading!
Postscript: You want to know what's funny? It wasn't until I was writing up session 1.8 that I realized that I have been spelling Glendal's name wrong this entire time. Check out the photo of his character sheet below.
And then I thought, well maybe I wrote it wrong on his sheet. But no, the Wampus Country name generator (linked above for Bosko) gives it as Glindal.
How embarrassing. But I'm sticking with Glendal. Birth certificates get messed up all the time.