Last time, our heroes began travelling north to track down an old army buddy of Riona, their relic finding (and selling) contact. The journey was much more perilous than they thought (Peril 4). We rejoin them on March 10, when they are about to enter a new region.
Note that Bastian’s next insomnia episode is due March 12. I roll for Carys’ duty and it is negative. I roll for our enemy, Mireya, and it comes up negative. I roll for whats at stake and get nothing but the story continues.
Journey to Find Riona’s ‘Buddy’ Continued
As stated, it is time to roll up the region just north of the starting river region. The region turns out to be a tiny (1 day across) infernal lake which is semi-civilized by humans. Carys, in her never ending quest to tell me I did not make her outdoor skills high enough, fails both Navigation and Survival, leading to an extra day and a choice of two mishaps.
In the morning, shortly after setting out, the siblings realize that they have made a mistake. They come upon the shores of large lake. The water smells sulphurous and at regular intervals, a small jet of steam erupts from the surface. Bastian realizes (Hidden Lore:Demons) this must be (rolling…) The Howling Mere, a place where demons can enter the world. Carys says they have to walk around it, which will add at least a day to the journey.
My choice of two mishaps turns into either a deadly encounter, or being a bastard and letting someone get hurt. This sounds bad. I roll up a deadly encounter and it is 2 Demon-kin of Peril 6. Still hopeful, I roll for obvious stuff and roll high on bony plates. This means the monsters have DR 12 (twice the peril) and so I probably can’t even hurt them. They also end up SM+1 and really strong. Maybe Bastian’s True Faith would destroy or banish them, but it seems like a big risk.
As Bastian and Carys walk slowly and carefully around the edge of the lake, they start to hear a commotion. Investigating, they see a frightening scene. What looks like a small group of travelers is cowering before two eight foot tall demons. The demons have three heads each and are covered in bony plates. They clearly see us, but seem more interested in the travelers they have cornered.
Ok, obviously I want to run, but what would the siblings do? The only thing that might get them to fight is Bastian’s sense of duty to co-religionists. I don’t think that he could know for sure, but maybe he thinks they are co-religionists. Time to ask the solo-6. Does Bastian believe these doomed travelers follow his religion? No, but… he later finds out they do! Ah, the guilt!
The siblings speak quickly. Carys is convinced they need to leave, trying to save those people would only get themselves killed too. Bastian hesitates. He feels conflicted. One of the demons starts to turn toward the siblings. Carys says they have to go now! Both turn and run, leaving the poor humans to their fate. After a brief run, the siblings continue walking in a grim silence.
Maybe it is cheesy, but that result of ‘No, but…’ made my heart sink. I knew what it had to mean. Still, those demons would have probably slaughtered us, avoidance was the right choice.
That region was tiny, which means that they enter a new region today. I roll it up and get a small (4 days across) plains region which is semi-civilized by humans. This whole area seems like it is semi-civilized, maybe it is some frontier? The theme is ‘a particular monster’ and rolling for a monster determined it was the primary monster type and the region’s population: Humans. The only thing I can come up with is some kind of barbarian tribe which raids the other humans.
The siblings are very happy to have left the infernal lake behind. The land rises up slightly and then levels off into a wide open plain. Hoping that they are close to their destination, they set off.
Guess what? Carys fails both Navigation and Survival! Maybe I am being too hard on her, the -4 modifier from Peril really does put her out of her league. Luckily, the event roll turns up ‘uneventful.’
The relatively featureless terrain makes it hard to find their way and it isn’t as if they had great directions to start with. Frustrated, but safe, they camp for the night.
Bastian is hit with insomnia (leaving those people could have triggered it, but it was already scheduled so I let it slide. Bastian rolls over his HT-1 goal of 9, so he misses two hours of sleep and wakes with one less FP than normal (9).
The siblings wake up, although Bastian slept poorly because he kept thinking about those people getting torn apart by hideous demons. Carys tries to comfort him, but doesn’t exactly feel great about the situation either. At least the rest of the journey is uneventful and by evening they arrive at the village they were trying to reach. They enter the inn, resolving to find their target in the morning.
Bastian rolls an 8 this night, so actually sleeps well. This recovers his one lost FP, I think, so that turned out not so bad. His next episode is 7 days away.
The Village: March 14
What kind of person is this ‘old buddy’ of Riona? I roll up a name and end up with Zaniel Longerbrook, who we know is military because of the mission. He has a very attractive body (!), puffy face (?), and winks a lot. His predisposition toward us is romantic. Oh my!
I roll to see how hard he is to convince and he turns out to be quite hard to convince (16+). Sounds like I will need to do some errands for him.
They ask around the village and quickly find out where they can meet Zaniel. He is a militia leader for this area and travels from village to village training the people to defend themselves from barbarian attack. The siblings meet him in the village square after he runs some volunteers through some simple target practice. He is athletic and strong, and Bastian notices that many young girls in the village had come out to watch him shoot arrows.
Bastian and Carys talk to him a little. His face is heavier looking than the rest of his body, but it does not significantly detract from his overall appearance. While they talk, he keeps looking at Carys and winking. Bastian rolls his eyes hard when Zaniel says he has always been interested in the bastard sword and would like to see her form (wink, wink).
Hey Solo-6, does Carys like this shameless flirting? No, and… it is making her angry.
Carys loses her patience and asks him about Riona. His face changes rapidly and he says he never wants anything to do with that woman ever again! Bastian suggests that they might be able to help him protect the region from barbarians if he agrees, and Zaniel thinks a moment.
Rolling up a side quest! Peril 2, Nearby (1 hour away), reward is dwindling, kill one enemy, in a temple. Excellent! I roll up the enemy and get primary monster type: which is human.
Zaniel says that he has information one of the local barbarian clan leaders is alone at a nearby unsealed temple. He thinks it is some kind of spiritual pilgrimage, but regardless of the reason, the leader will be vulnerable. If we go and kill him, it will help stabilize the region a lot. Seeing this as the best opportunity to convince Zaniel, the siblings agree.
The Temple: March 15
The siblings leave for the temple, which is only an hour outside of the village. Carys is excited by the prospect of danger and combat. Bastian is interested in this strange temple. What was sealed there? Does it still remain?
When they arrive, I roll and find the dungeon is indeed a Peril 2, unsealed temple. I roll for entrance and discover the entrance is difficult to reach. It will require a climbing roll.
When they arrive, they find that the main doors of the temple are still sealed completely, but there is a fairly obvious broken window on the second floor. Carys determines to climb up first and secure a rope for Bastian to follow.
Uh, now that I think about it, Carys will have to control her acrophobia. It is not that high and she has a high control rating, so it should be fine. She rolls a 4 and succeeds. She also succeeds in her climbing roll. Her rope down helps Bastian succeed his roll despite the medium encumberance.
Carys spends a little time psyching herself up, and climbs up to the second story easily. In a short time, Bastian has joined her and they enter the temple.
We entered on the second floor, so that level is Peril 2. The roll for What’s up ahead? gives a level change and a standard lair.
Near the broken window, there is a narrow spiral staircase leading down to what is presumably the main floor. Up ahead is a hallway and a number of rooms and doors. The dust has clearly been recently disturbed ahead and furniture has been clearly moved. Not wanting to leave potential enemies behind them, the siblings load their crossbows and move cautiously into the hallway.
Rolling indicates that it is indeed a standard lair. The roll for mishap indicates an ambush by a standard encounter! Rolling for the encounter makes it a single Peril 3 monster. Rolling also determines that it is the secondary monster type which is apparently undead.
To me, Peril 3 undead sounds like a ghoul. Skeletons and zombies are in bigger groups I feel and ghosts and such seem too perilous. Now, The Collaborative Gamer has a few monster tables to generate demons and such, but no undead one yet, so I am on my own. I start with Advantages that all undead would have:
Doesn’t Breathe, High Pain Threshold, Injury Tolerance: Unliving, and Immunity to Metabolic Hazards.
The standard stat profile from Collaborative Gamer (adjusted for Peril 3) gives:
ST 11, DX 11, IQ 10, HT 10, Will 11, Per 12, HP 11, FP 10, Basic Speed 5.25, Basic Move 5, DR 3 Tough Skin, Brawling 12, Dodge 8 and Parry 9. I think ghouls should have sharp claws, so he gets some that do 1d-1 cut damage. I guess that is good enough for now. If a full table of special attacks and defenses was made, we might have a linked paralysis affliction, a nausea aura or other ghoulish things. Maybe I will look into that.
Ok, it is an ambush so I rule that the ghoul surprises the siblings. They both have combat reflexes so whether I call it total or partial surprise is irrelevant (it would be partial surprise, I believe). The ghouls attacks Carys and hits her torso. Holding a crossbow, she has to dodge at -4 due to stun. She fails, but the mail shirt protects her.
Suddenly, from behind a door, a ghoul leaps out and claws at Carys. The thing attacks before she has a chance to guard but thankfully her mail shirt protects her.
Both Carys and Bastian recover from stun (combat reflexes) so they may act. Both drop the crossbows since the ghouls is already in range C and get ready to fight.
Carys recovers quickly, dropping her crossbow and drawing her bastard sword. Bastian similarly drops his crossbow and pulls out his mace. The ghoul attacks Carys again, but she steps back and parries.
Hoping to put the thing on the defensive, Carys swings her sword, but the monster manages to knock the blade aside with its clawed hands, spoiling the blow. While it is distracted, Bastian comes in and hits its chest for 1 damage. The ghoul keeps clawing at Carys, who tries to parry but the claws cut her hand for 1 damage.
Carys curses at the pain and swings again. This time she connects with the monster’s side and does 3 damage. Bastian also attacks, but it ducks under his blow. While ducking, the ghoul reaches out and cuts Carys’ leg badly for 5 damage. She must not have seen that coming.
Really that was an unlucky parry roll. It happens. Carys has 8 HP left and a shock penalty of -4 so she needs to defend. The ghoul still has 7 HP.
Stepping back away from the ghoul, Carys takes a defensive stance and grits her teeth. Bastian’s mace swings toward the ghoul’s hip, but it turns and parries the blow with its claws. The ghoul now attacks Bastian, but its flailing claws miss their mark.
Carys tries to get revenge by swinging at the ghoul’s legs, but it is still able to parry. Still, the thing can’t defend against both of them very effectively and Bastian hits its leg for 5 damage. It again tries to attack Bastian, who blocks with his shield.
The ghoul has only 2 HP left and is reeling, making its dodge only 4.
Finally, Carys gets in a solid blow, swinging her sword into the thing’s skull for 8 damage. Even with its pain tolerance, the ghoul falls to the ground. Bastian hits it while it is down for another 3 damage.
The ghoul is at -9 HP but passes its HT test and kneels. Now I decide to use True Faith to keep it at bay until it collapses.
The siblings back off, and Bastian readies his holy symbol. The ghoul passes another HT test and rises to its feet. Bastian holds out his holy symbol proudly, but the ghoul takes a stumbling step forward and finally collapses.
The roll for opportunity comes up with nothing special. The roll for what is ahead turns up a dead end! Dang it!
After dispatching the ghoul, they look around for any treasure or anything else of note but the entire upper floor seems to be just a bunch of broken down furniture and dust. Realizing there is nothing else upstairs they return to the spiral stairs near where they entered. Bastian also takes the time to heal his sister 4 HP at the cost of 2 of his FP.
Carys has 12 HP and her full 11 FP (combat only took 9 seconds). Bastian has his full 11 HP and 8 FP. Rolling on the level change indicates that it will be going down 5 levels! That means we will be in a Peril 7 area. Uh oh…
As the siblings descend the spiral stairs they realize that it doesn’t lead to the main floor at all, but several floors below it. The air gets unnaturally chilly as they go and when they reach the landing, both feel a little uneasy.
The roll on what’s up ahead gives somewhere interesting, but rolling for area and subtracting 3 gives me a dead end. A roller coaster of emotions. They investigate, find it is indeed a dead end. Happily, there is no mishap and they get lucky and find a small hoard of treasure on the opportunity table!
There is only one door off of the staircase landing and they follow the passage behind it into a small catacomb. It seems long abandoned, but they eventually come to what appears to be a more important burial chamber. The main casket is open and empty and most of the objects buried alongside it are rusted or rotten. There is, however, a small box with 40 sp at the foot of the casket. Bastian says that this is probably the ghoul’s burial location. Carys shrugs and takes the box of coins.
Still, there is no way forward, so they backtrack all the way out of the dungeon. Clearly, there must be another way in.
Ok, we need to research a new way in. Bastian has religious ritual, which fits finding a temple entrance, but he fails the roll. I let him try theology, which is maybe too generous, but he fails that too! That is two units of time gone (8 hours) and nothing to show. Finally, Bastian tries observation to just wait and see if anyone else comes. This finally succeeds.
Bastian spends the rest of the day trying to decipher symbols on the temple wall and recall all the rituals he knows. Despite spending 8 hours wracking his brain, he can’t think of any lead on how to access the temple. They decide to camp a bit away from the temple and watch.
Bastian gets a good location to observe and his patience pays off: around 10 pm, he sees a few figures approach from the north, stand near one of the walls and then appear to walk right through it. In the morning, the siblings will investigate!
What will they find? Barbarians? More dead ends? Was the ghoul the thing that was sealed in the temple? or something much worse? Find out next time! (Technically, I don’t know the answers to these questions either, so we can find out together).