Saturday, 23 July 2016

II.14: Red and Silver Fire

near Newthrone, Q’barra
Dravago 9, 997 YK

I forgot to update the party’s bonds at the end of last session. I’ll put the new ones in italic.

Anaya’s bonds:
Lady Esthana is a fellow Templar of the Flame.
Lady Esthana works for the Flame against a great evil; I aid her holy purpose.
Though not Purified, Vaalyun is a resourceful ally.

Esthana’s bonds:
Lady Anaya is a fellow Templar of the Flame.
Vaalyun rescued me when I was unjustly imprisoned.
Vaalyun is a liability in a fight, but needs my protection.
Nyseris is a faithful follower of the Flame.

Vaalyun’s bonds:
Esthana saved my life.
Lady Anaya unhesitatingly put herself in danger to rescue my companion; I am in her debt.

Nyseris’ bonds:
Lady Anaya is a cleric of the my deity; I trust her implicitly.
Esthana is a brave warrior that I am proud to fight alongside.

Make Camp(party): Heal

They are out of the jungle now, no need for encounter checks.

I’m going to start marking randomly-chosen moves, monster types and so on with Random , rather than writing about it out every time: I am finding that I do this a lot now in this game, and it is making the write-ups a bit verbose. I will only write them out when I think the not-chosen options are particularly interesting.

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(1 5) +1 = 7 Partial success.
What should I be on the lookout for?

The sun had just dipped below the horizon, and the lights in Count Zuokas’ manor were starting to assert themselves in the dwindling light. There was a fresh southerly wind, cool and still fresh with the salt scent of the sea; it was a pleasant change from their days in the jungle, particularly for the two armoured Templars. Vaalyun supposed that it was not a welcome change to Nyseris, but he did not speak of it.

They had been watching the manor for half an hour, and the only movement in the grounds was that of half-grown corn blowing in the breeze. Vaalyun did now notice someone in the house open a window on an upper floor, peer out, and close it again.

“There is movement on the upper floor—a watcher, probably,” Vaalyun said.

Anaya looked at him with concern, but he looked away. He had not felt like talking today, and had deflected a few attempts by Anaya and Esthana to start a conversation. The shameful display at the camp last night, where he had panicked and left his companions to fend for themselves against the displacer beasts, weighed heavily on him; he was glad that there was little chance of his House ever hearing of the display. While he was no warrior, he had prided himself on his ability to keep his nerve in dangerous situations, but last night he had been quite out of his depth.

Nyseris took God Amidst the Wastes at level-up, making them a spellcaster now. Lay the ground for the ranger now having Flame-driven magical abilities.

Nyseris had talked enough for both of them. The lizardfolk had been healed by Anaya after the fight yesterday, and was awed by the experience of being healed by the Flame. When the party had rested at the edge of the jungle this morning, to check on their injuries, Nyseris talked on about how they had never felt the Flame so strongly before, and that even now they felt connected to it as never before. Though encouraging at first, even Anaya had tired of talking about it after a while.

“Should we go around the other side?” Anaya asked. “There is no way of knowing what kind of guards Zuokas keeps, but our argument is with the Count himself, not his guards; the fewer that we have to deal with, the better.”

“I imagine that the other side is watched too.” Vaalyun felt like leaving it at that, but their goal was before them; after a few seconds, he added, “Perhaps I can get us closer without being seen.”

Vaalyun had always been strongest with his Dragonmark in manipulating shadow as shadow. But his House training had encompassed more subtle uses, manipulating light to create illusions and camouflage. In the twilight, it should not be too hard to mask their appearance.

Vaalyun got his second domain with his Mark of Shadow at the level-up at the end of last session.

Dragonmark(Concealment)(Vaalyun): 2D6(5 5) +2+1 = 13 Success!

The elf drew on his Dragonmark, the flow of magical energy through the birthmark feeling like a crawling itch on his skin. The wind would help, he thought, as there was no need to try to mask their movement; he simply bent light from the adjacent section of the cornfield and projected it above to cover their entry point. From this side, they could see the corn as if it was standing in the air, but from the house it would cover their movement.

“That should keep us from being visible from the manor,” he said.

“Does everyone in your House have this power?” asked Esthana.

“Only some in the bloodline are born with a Mark. But copying the magic of the Marks is how many magical devices were invented. The Twelve could make a wand that would do this better than I. Those without Marks can use our powers through such devices.”

“And, of course, the Twelve never share that knowledge.”

“‘Information is key,’” said Vaalyun. “The Houses that make up the Twelve guard their secrets.”

Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities: Esthana can literally bend bars.

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(3 2) +1 = 6 Failure!
Random Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment

Esthana kept her bow in hand, arrow nocked, as they approached the manor; Nyseris, in front of her, had their bow ready also. They had seen no-one outside the house, and no further activity inside yet, but they expected trouble at any moment.

The lowest floor of the manor was stonework, and the upper floors were wooden; the windows on the ground floor were small and barred. Nyseris had said that the front side of the building, which they had observed a week ago, had a broad stone staircase up to an entrance; but they were at the back of the manor house, and there was no way up here.

“I can probably yank these bars out,” said Esthana, “but I won’t fit through the window in plate, and Nyseris would not fit at all.”

“There is a servant’s entrance further along,” said Vaalyun; they had seen the iron-bound door as they approached. “If you get me in, I can probably open it from the inside.”

Bend Bars, Lift Gates(Esthana): 2D6(1 3) +1 = 5 Failure!
Random Turn Their Move Back On Them

Has it ever gone well when Esthana and Vaalyun cooperate? Time to reuse an existing threat. Deal Damage: 2d6 = 7 damage, no armour.

Esthana picked a window where the bars looked a little rusty, and kicked. As her heavy boot hit home, an arcane rune flashed in front of the window and there was an explosion as lightning burst from the rune. She was flung backwards several feet and landed sprawled in the dirt, bruised and shaken. As the rune dissipated, the bars were still in place, if a little bent out of shape.

Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(6 3) +2 = 11 Success!
4 damage

From the ground, Esthana saw a window open on the upper floor, and a man leaned out and pointed a wand down at them. Nyseris loosed before he could fire, catching him square in the chest; his body slumped, hanging in the open casement. Anaya stepped up and helped Esthana to her feet.

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(2 3) +1 = 6 Failure!
Show signs of an approaching threat

Nyseris has an adventuring gear pack, 5 uses; they can grab some rope and a grappling hook from that.

“If that window was warded, they probably all are,” said Vaalyun. He looked to Nyseris. “Can you get us up there?”

The twilight quiet was broken by a howl from the other side of the building now, followed by some muffled shouts. Nyseris nodded; they unslung their pack and took out a rope and grappling hook.

More howls, now clearly from more than one creature. Nyseris remained focused, though, and after whirling the grappling hook overhead twice, tossed it up to the window above, hooking onto the edge on the first try—or, at least, into the body hanging over the edge. The howling was now coming from the end of the building; something about the sound sent a chill down Esthana’s spine.

“You first,” said Nyseris to Vaalyun, “it may not hold my weight. Secure it firmly at the top.”

Defy Danger(STR)(Nyseris): 2D6(6 4) +2 = 12 Success!
You get it

Unnatural threats meet Nyseris’ alignment goal. Portray a fantastic world Introduce a new faction or type of creature Give an opportunity that fits a class’ abilities

As Vaalyun began climbing the rope, Esthana saw the hounds round the corner of the building. It was hard to tell at first, but as they drew closer it was apparent that they were no mere dogs; there were three of the furless creatures racing towards them in the twilight, fire flickering around their mouths, eyes, and bodies.

Discern Realities(Nyseris): 2D6(1 1) +1 = 3 Failure!
Use a threat from an existing faction or type of creature: there are cultists following the hell hounds
Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(2 5) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Deal d8=4 damage, 3 after armour; Put someone in a spot
Defy Danger(DEX)(Nyseris): 2D6(4 5) +2 = 11 Success!

“Hell hounds–s!” shouted Nyseris. “These abominations must die!” The lizardfolk loosed an arrow, hitting the leading hound, but it barely stumbled. The hound leapt for their throat, and Nyseris had throw aside the bow and roll to the side to dodge the attack.

Volley(Anaya): 2D6(1 1) +1 = 3 Failure!
Use up their resources
Volley(Esthana): 2D6(2 2) +2 = 6 Failure!
Deal damage: d8=5 damage, 1 after armour

Okay, this is going terribly.

Defy Danger(CON)(Vaalyun): 2D6(3 6) +0 = 9 Partial success.
Hard bargain: Use up their resources: drop his pack and bow

Esthana drew her own bow, loosing an arrow at the hound bounding towards her; the creature was too fast though, and the arrow sailed over it. As she swapped her bow for sword and shield, the creature slowed down in front of her, took a deep breath and breathed out a gout of flame. She turned her head away, and her helmet and plate mail deflected most of it, but flames licked at the joints in her armour.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(6 4) +2 = 12 Success!
Deal d10+d6=8 damage, 2 piercing

Closing in before it could gather its breath again, Esthana struck at it, the silver fire trailing from her sword contrasting with the red flames flickering around the creature. It sidestepped the first stroke, but she reversed the blow and sunk her sword into its side, causing a harsh shriek of pain from the creature. Up close, she could feel the heat emanating from the creature, and smell the sulphurous odour of its breath.

Defy Danger(DEX)(Anaya): 2D6(4 5) +1 = 10 Success!
Deal d6=6 damage, 5 after armour

Anaya had been knocked down by the third hellhound’s charge, and had lost her shield. As the creature stood over her and gathered breath, she managed to roll out from under it, slashing at its belly with her sword and rolling to her feet.

Cast a spell(Magic Weapon)(Nyseris): 2D6(3 1) +1 = 5 Failure!
Random Turn their move back on them; Deal damage: 2d6=12

Beyond the hellhound that she was fighting, Esthana saw that Nyseris was circling the first hound, trying to run the beast through with a spear. But the beast breathed fire, causing Nyseris to jump back towards the building behind her. Before Esthana could yell a warning, another warding rune flickered and there was another explosion of lightning; Nyseris was flung to the ground, badly injured.

Defend(Esthana): 2D6(4 2) +2 = 8 Partial success.
Hold 1

Hell hound Deal damage: d8=1 to Nyseris, negated by armour
Spend hold(Esthana): Deal level damage to the target=4, 3 after armour

Golden opportunity, no-one is dealing with the cultists behind. Deal damage: d6+1=3 damage, 2 after armour

Hack and Slash(Nyseris): 2D6(6 4) +2 = 12 Success!
Deals d8=1 damage, negated by armour

Hell hounds are at 1, 5, 4 HP. Nyseris is at 6/20, Esthana and Anaya are just down 1 each.

The hell hound facing Esthana was limping badly, so she circled around, moving to help Nyseris. She came up behind the other hound as it slashed at Nyseris with its claws, and her sword cut into its side; like the creature’s eyes and mouth, the wound leaked fire.

Nyseris stood up, noticably limping, and immediately took a crossbow bolt in the side; Esthana glanced to the corner of the building, and saw that two humans with crossbows had followed the hounds, and were reloading for another volley. Nyseris let out a hiss of rage, and stabbed at the hell hound again, but the blow failed to penetrate its thick hide.

It proved a sufficient distraction, however. Esthana stepped alongside the creature, and struck downward with her sword, cutting through the creature’s neck. There was a gout of flame from the creature’s neck, and it fell to the ground.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(6 4) +2 = 12 Success!
9 damage, 2 piercing

That’s enough to kill those two; both were injured.

Esthana spun once more to face the hound that had attacked her, just as it charged again. She pointed her sword forward and felt the jarring impact as it impaled the charging beast. Its jaws stopped only a foot from her face, and she jammed her shield in front of her just as it breathed out its last fiery breath. She and the creature were engulfed in an explosion of red and silver flames. It lasted only a few seconds and, as the flames cleared, it was the Templar that was still standing, and the creature lay dead at her feet.

Hack and Slash(Anaya): 2D6(1 6) +0 = 7 Partial success.
Deal damage: d6=2; Put someone in a spot
Volley(Nyseris): 2D6(1 3) +2 = 6 Failure!
Deal damage: 2 damage, 1 after armour

Golden opportunity, no-one is dealing with the crossbow cultists. Deal damage: d6+1=5 damage, 1 after armour. Nyseris is at 2/20 HP.

Nyseris, limping and bleeding from multiple wounds, yelled a battle cry in Draconic and threw a spear at the remaining hellhound, but the throw went wide. The cry was cut short when another crossbow bolt caught them in the chest.

Esthana ran over to Anaya, who was still trying to land another blow on the last hound and getting singed for her efforts. Esthana drove her sword into the creature’s back; it let out flames and one last unnatural howl as it expired.

Hack and Slash(Esthana): 2D6(5 3) +2 = 10 Success!
Deal d10+d6=5 damage, 2 piercing

Golden opportunity again, still no-one dealing with those crossbow cultists; Deal damage (to Anaya) d6+1=4 damage, 3 after armour.

Volley(Esthana): 2D6(2 5) +2 = 9 Partial success.
Deal damage: d10=7 damage; use up ammunition

The sharp twang of crossbows sounded again, and Anaya was hit in the side, a bolt forcing its way between the rings of her mail. Esthana snatched up her bow, and in a couple of quick shots took out both of the cultists firing at the party.

There was a moment of quiet, as Esthana and Anaya caught their breath. The sea breeze began to disperse the sulphorous smell. Anaya looked as singed as Esthana felt, but they were both in reasonable fighting shape.

Cast a spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Nyseris): 2D6(3 6) +1 = 10 Success!
Heal d8=3 wounds

Nyseris is at 5/20 HP, Anaya is at 13/17.

Not so Nyseris. There was a howl of rage and Esthana turned to see the ranger fallen to their knees, obviously in pain. Then, suddenly, a slight aura of silver fire surrounded Nyseris. The ranger rose to their feet, bow in hand once more.

“Come on,” said Vaalyun from above, his voice low but urgent. Esthana looked up to see that he had made it in through the open window. “The rope is secure now.”

Cast a Spell(Cure Light Wounds)(Anaya): 2D6(6 5) +2 = 13 Success!
Heals d8+4=10 HP

“How did you do that?” said Anaya, walking to Nyseris. She laid a hand on the ranger, and they were surrounded with silver fire again, wounds closing at the Flame’s touch.

“I do not know,” said Nyseris. “But I feel the Flame within me now, as you do. Come, we must deal with the source of these abominations.”

Marching Order(party): Nyseris, Vaalyun, Esthana, Anaya

I had trouble with making the last dungeon that the party explored, so this time I will use the Perilous Wilds’ rules for generating much of the content randomly. I have not used these before, so we will see how it goes. We have some pre-established fiction to work in: it’s a cultist base, and a grand manor house.

Dungeon: Count Zuokas’ manor.
Size: Medium.
Foundation: Manor house built over something, to be determined, linked to Khyber. Themes: Grand manor house, TBD, TBD. Unique areas: Count’s bedroom, grand ballroom, dining room, study.

So it begins. See What They Find: Random Common, Discovery(pit/shaft/chasm)

Vaalyun waited for Esthana to climb and then, while they waited for the others, he looked around the room. It was a dusty bedroom; almost bare apart from the old bed frame. There was a laundry chute in one corner; Vaalyun walked over to it and pushed it open, peering down. Dust and cobwebs. “This room has not been used in years,” he remarked to Anaya, as Esthana helped her through the casement.

The door to the next room stood open; this room looked like it had been a fine bedroom at one point, but now it contained five bunk beds. An open chest contained common clothes, and there were several swords leaned against one of the beds.

See What They Find: Random Common, Discovery(signs of battle), Danger(trap)

Discern Realities(Vaalyun): 2D6(4 4) +1 = 9 Partial success.
What should I be on the lookout for?
Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(3 3) +1 = 7 Partial success.
What here is hidden?

Treasure d6=4 (small gem worth 80gp.)

“This looks like a dormitory. Perhaps this is where the cultists that went into the jungle were quartered,” said Esthana.

“Perhaps.” There was a door opposite the windows, probably leading to the main passage on this floor, but Vaalyun was interested in the door opposite where they came in. The handle was dusty, and there was something odd about the lock case that the handle was attached to. “The mechanism on this door is suspicious, and it has not been used in some time. It might be trapped.”

“Let’s try the other door.” Esthana bent down to the chest and turned over the clothes there, and after a moment lifted up an emerald.

“At least we’ll be able to buy the cleric some new armour,” said Vaalyun. Anaya’s chain had taken a lot of damage during the displacer beast fight.

See What They Find: Random Common, Discovery(broken door)

Nyseris was with them now; Vaalyun let the ranger go first. The other door led into a wood-pannelled passage runing the length of the house on this floor. The doorway opposite had had its door removed, and beyond they could see another empty barrack room.

“There seems not to be much up here. We should get down to the lower level,” said Anaya. ”If the Count is here, we do not want him getting away.”

See What They Find: Random Common, Themed, Discovery(carvings)

Slightly further along the passageway, the passage opened up on one side to overlook the entrance hall below, with a large staircase leading down. Whereas the upper floor had been lit only by the light from the windows, the hall was lit by a floating chandelier of everbright lights—a rather expensive decoration. Nyseris and Vaalyun started down the stairs, looking out for movement, but so far the manor seemed deserted.

“Perhaps we have killed all of the Count’s followers,” said Nyseris.

Vaalyun stopped part-way down the stairs to look at a crest of arms carved into a wood panel above the stairs, depicting three lizards and a dragon. Anaya joined him, and read the motto underneath: “‘Strength and perseverence’—just as Taliesin said.”

See What They Find: Random Unique, Themed, Discovery(weapons/armor), Danger(trap, alarm)

The hall floor was covered in a fine but aged woven rug, and there were large wooden doors leading out to the front of the building. As Nyseris crossed the hall, a loud clear chime sounded.

“An announcing bell—doubling as an alarm,” said Vaalyun.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(5 1) +2 = 8 Partial success.
What here is useful or valuable to me?

“They know where we are now,” said Anaya. “The front door is closed though.” She checked the doors and looked out of one of the front windows. “Locked, and I see no activity outside. I do not think that anyone has fled.”

Nyseris had turned left, and pushed open the large double doors there. They opened into a large ballroom, with another floating chandelier above. Paintings, presumably of the Count’s ancestors, hung high on the panelled walls; a sword hung over a disused fireplace, and a few old suits of armour stood along the walls.

See What They Find: Random Common, Themed, Discovery(minor magic item), Danger(creature = Random servants, making plans)
Random I rolled the first servant as a very rare race, and picked duergar.

As Nyseris opened the next door, they heard gasps and a voice in the room said “We mean no harm. Leave us alone, please!” Vaalyun saw that the room beyond was smaller, with chairs and small tables. A human and a dwarf, both in smart servants’ attire, were standing near the windows with their hands raised.

Esthana stepped past him into the room. “We will not harm you—our business is with the Count. Who are you?”

The dwarf—as Vaalyun entered the room, he saw that it was a grey-skinned duergar woman—said “I am Unwula, the Count’s butler. We know nothing of his business, or his... associates.” She shifted uncomfortably at the mention of the cultists.

The other, a man, said “And I am Berend, the chief cook. We heard the explosions and were, well... deciding whether to flee.”

Discern Realities(Esthana): 2D6(6 3) +1 = 10 Success!
What here is not what it appears to be? 2xWhat here is useful or valuable to me?

Answers: they are what they say. If they go back to town saying that you murdered their master, that would be bad. Find the magic item (scroll of Random Contact Spirits).

“Count Zuokas sent armed men into the jungle, to slaughter a village of lizardfolk,” said Anaya, sheathing her sword and addressing the servants as the others checked the room. The servants looked at Nyseris nervously. “We are here to see that he pays for that crime.”

“The Count went to his study this afternoon,” said Unwala. “It is the other side of the main hall.”

Vaalyun went to the window and looked out; it was dark outside now, and in the clear night sky the Ring of Siberys could be seen clearly.

“Look at this,” said Esthana. From a bureau in one corner of the room, she withdrew a scroll-case. Anaya went over to inspect it. “It looks like a summoning spell of some sort,” the cleric said.

See What They Find: Random Common, Discovery(weapons/armour), Danger(creature, dying)

Nyseris led the way back to the hall, and they crossed into a sitting room on the front side of the house. Vaalyun was second through the door, and the first thing that he saw was a body in the middle of the room in a pool of blood. Around the body were scorch marks, and there was still a scent of sulphur in the air.

Vaalyun moved around the room while Anaya checked the man. It was richly furnished, like the other rooms on this floor, with another suit of armour standing in one corner. The silk drapes hanging by the windows looked expensive, if old. The scorch marks and smell told a more recent story, however: this was where the hellhounds had been summoned.

Discern Realities(Anaya): 2D6(2 1) +2 = 5 Failure!
Deal damage: d6=2 damage, 0 after armour

“Die!” croaked a voice, and Vaalyun spun to see a flash of steel as the fallen man tried to stab Anaya as she leant over him. The dagger failed to cut through her chain mail, though, and Anaya jumped back. The man tried to stir, but instead coughed up some blood and stopped moving. This time he was really dead.

After a couple of hurried breaths, Anaya shook herself. “It looks like they summoned the hounds here; the beasts killed this cultist before the summoner could get control of them.”

They are about to exhaust the “grand manor house” theme for the dungeon. Let’s end the session there, mainly because I think I will switch to writing from Anaya’s perspective for the dungeon beneath the manor.

End of Session(party): Nyseris met her alignment goal, braving danger to counter an unnatural threat (hell hounds)

Bond changes:
Nyseris wields the Silver Flame; I will learn more of her power.

Nyseris, like me, serves the Flame; we have a common purpose.
Resolved: Nyseris is a faithful follower of the Flame.

Anaya: 2 failures; at 6XP.
Esthana: 3 failures, one bond resolved; now at 13XP.
Nyseris: 3 failures, alignment goal; at 4XP.
Vaalyun: 1 failure; at 2XP.

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