Friday, January 5, 2018

Untold: Adventures Await Solo AP

Untold: Adventures Await

What follows is a play-through of the Creativity Hub’s new Untold: Adventures Await story game powered by Rory’s Story Cubes. Designed by John Fiore (no stranger to the solo gamesphere) and Rory O’Connor, inventor of his now-famous Rory’s Story Cubes.

Not much is going to accompany this post...the photos pretty much tell the whole story. These are notes basically exactly as I made them during play. I’ll only conclude that Untold is a format for which I’ve been looking for some time: concise episodic gaming (it clocked in at almost exactly ONE hour, as it says on the box), keeps things concise, and is physical in nature. You’ll see I wrote down answers to my questions and one-sentence summaries of all the actions. This is not necessary, but it’s not overly burdensome to do so. I think it’s helpful to do so as a solo endeavor.

The story board layout does a great job through the use of story cube icons to keep visual reminders of the action so far. The tactile layout of the game, with its recessed spaces for modular scenes, is a joy to look at and play. The allotment of actions and questions keeps things moving and makes prompts for building the story clear.

I can’t say I’ve definitively kicked all the tires. I want to see what it does to a continuing story line, so maybe I’ll continue Visconda’s adventures. If you haven’t yet checked out or were not aware of Untold, grab a copy for yourself. For 1-4 players (that’s right, it can be played solo!).

Friday, September 8, 2017


I haven't posted hear almost at all recently. I'm still puttering with solo play projects and enjoying reading what others are doing with their solo games.

However, I had a moment of inspiration and came up with something new. It's simple, but it's been helping me to shape my solo gaming sessions. Introducing, Impetus...

The solitaire rpg driver to move things forward when you’re stuck.

Impetus is simple, really.

It’s a doohickey for playing tabletop role-play games all alone. It’s a tool that gets you un-stuck when you hit a roadblock. A simple thing that gives a nudge when you need it. In the solo gaming niche, they might call this a driver.

You see, when you sit down to play an rpg, whether it’s that funny game they played at the beginning of E.T., or some other game with books, dice, and pencils, and you’re alone, you need something to help out. Something so that you’re not taking part in a fully scripted premeditated storyline invented by you.

Impetus is essentially a list of universal plot twists combined with a random idea to produce spontaneous events to prod your story along with little fuss and effort.

It's also free.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Wizard's Ruby

Reading over an old actual play from about five years ago in preparation for getting an old character ready for reprise, I was entertained by this story. The following is a four-scene short solo AP in the form of short fiction.

A solo game wherein the hero starts at a random location in the Forgotten Realms game world, and shit happens to him. This game uses the Freeform Universal RPG and Rory’s Story Cubes.

This one uses FU rules straight-up, with the exception of characters being defined by profession, body/mind, edge, flaw, gear, gear, and a general Basic, Expert, Champion, or Master scale Descriptor used only for scaling the types of questions to be asked and give a clue as to what type of challenges may realistically be met. The profession Descriptor grants a bonus die for everything assumed under a profession’s description. It also uses the optional uses for FU points founding on p. 14 of the rules, namely, “Flip a Pip”, “Use a Prop”, “Stunts and Powers”, and “Taking a Hit”. Also, damage accrues through the logical stages, though spending an FU point can replace a damage Condition with a freeform creative one, such as, “I Can’t hold a blade!”, or “Limping in Pain.”

FU Points are earned from living up to one’s background, such as taking other people’s shit for a thief or kicking ass for a fighter, humorous or memorable description, succumbing to one’s weakness, and emerging victorious by engaging one’s enemy.

Description: He’s tall, slender, and grim with long dark hair and an eye patch covering a dead eye. He’s all about himself and cashing in on gold and fame.
Relationships: He’s got nobody except the occasional courtesan and enforcer from the odd disgruntled crime lord. Gedric had it with the cities and left to seek the better company of ghosts and goblins, but had it with that as well. Now he’s back trying to freelance as a petty thief, hired sword, or what-have-you.
Drives: Strong drink, women, and of course the jingle of coin.
Stat Block
Scale: Basic
Descriptors: Thief, Swordsmanship, Clever, Greed Gets the Best of Him
Gear: Twin Sabers, Pouch of Useful Tools

FU Points: 1

Credit: the incomparable Jason Chan

Lord Blade, Xalivar Exalskaiy
Description: Somewhat diminutive with repugnant facial features, Xalivar dresses in dark, drab robes and has a bald head and pinkish eyes. He is one of the ruling Blades of Mulmaster, the only wizard, and without heir or bride.
Stat Block
Scale: Expert
Descriptors: Wizard, Brilliant Researcher, Fearsome Mien, Repugnant
Gear: Wand of Transmutation, Ring of Protection

crescent moon, building, key, evil shadow

It was dark. The moonlight filtered through the tower window slit of Baron Xalivar’s inhabitance, one of the Towers of the Blade on the rocky sides of Mulmaster’s singular mountain. Xalivar was one of the Blades of Mulmaster, the patriarch of one of its feared and formidable ruling families.

…and it was said, possessed a wealthy house.

Gedric Twoblades worked at the lock of the highest part of the tower said to contain the Blade’s vault. He stopped, suddenly – alerted by some strange sound. Was it the wind? Rats? A passing guard outside on patrol? After long moments of bated breath, the thief continued to work the lock.

Life’s many ups and downs had kept Gedric on the move. How had he gotten to Mulmaster, anyway? he wondered. It was a convoluted road of petty thievery, buggaring of women (some courtesans, others the bored wives of surprisingly grudging fellows of note), dungeon delving, cavern spelunking, and once (and never again) as a caravan guard.

One thing he had learned. Coins – whether earned through honest means or not – were slow to beget and quick to loose, not to mention heavy to carry in any great quantities and capable of attracting undesirable attention by many an envious man or woman. Then, there were trade bars, some in far more valuable denominations. But these, however, also suffered from similar weight and space restrictions. Jewels, on the other hand…

…There it was again… What was that?

Gedric waited out the figment of his imagination, repeating to himself that Lord Xalivar was away, his whole household with him. Now, where was he? Oh yes…

Jewels, on the other hand, were even thousands of times more precious, and small too! A handful of the beautiful colored stones cut into magnificent rainbow-casting shapes were easy to carry, conceal, and highly sought-after – at least to those who knew their value and could afford such luxuries. A buyer was not always easy to find.

It was said that Xalivar had troves of gems, jewels, and precious objects – all tucked away in his vault, by which was secured by nothing more than a fancy lock.

Suddenly, Gedric heard the sweet sound of the tumblers falling into place. He replaced his well-used picks as the door swung open. He defeated the lock, and inside reflecting the pale moonlight were a multitude of dazzling gemstones that even in darkness foretold of many hues, shapes, and sizes.

He stepped in, eager to stuff his pouches full of the precious stones. He heard nothing of what now followed him with violent, hateful eyes. But a queer unsettling feeling stole some of the expectant pleasure, replacing it instead with dread and loathing. He knew not why the sudden change overpowered him. Nonetheless, he proceeded forward.

The feeling subsided somewhat when he saw the jewel-encrusted gold and silver dainties and opals and emeralds and rubies. He stuffed a sack with jewels that spilled through fingers and rolled pearls on the floor, and so tripped the lurker standing but mere feet behind him poised to slay.

magic wand, uncertain face, earth, chaos, speech bubble, tower

The scrape of feet alerted Gedric first. He spun around in surprise, dropping his bag of jewels. A scream shot out and in front of the thief’s eyes materialized a robed form who, moments before, was invisible. In dark garb, a flailing form with a wand in hand fell backwards after sliding on a handful of round bead-like gems underfoot. The form hit the floor with a thud and a the hood fell back revealing a stunned man with bald pate and an expression of shock and anger.

Gedric wasted no further time and snatched up the half-empty sack and leapt over the sprawling form of the man. Obviously a wizard, the man, moments before, no doubt nearly loosened a lightning bolt or similar devastating effect at the back of Gedric’s head. He needed to get as much distance between the two as possible. However, the man must have regained his wits nearly as quickly, latching on to the hem of Gedric’s breeches, bringing him down with a gasp, and sending the sack and its glittering contents across the moonlit floor.

Gedric struggled to free his pant leg from the astonishingly tenacious grip. His twin sabers clanked uselessly under his legs. The proximity from his assailant disallowed any effective use of his blades even if he could draw them. With a desperate kick, he shot the heel of his boot into the wizard’s grimacing face, knocking himself free of his vice-like grip and stunning the aggressor.

Then he was up and off. He picked up a choice gemstone, a flat-cut ruby a third the size of his palm and tore off down the curving stair. Giving the wizard a good kick would have no lasting effect, and who knew of what the wizard was capable?

Does Xalivar have other guardians? “Yes…”
scary shadow, bee, guard tower, lock, chaos
Details: Dark, Locked Door

Gedric rushed headlong down the winding stairs, escaping the vengeful screaming from above. He came to a landing which opened to an area almost completely dark. From somewhere, moonlight filtered in, but revealed little but a black vastness. He stopped to get his bearings, panting uncontrollably. The area was dark, but echoed his breathing with a stony reverberation. Then he pushed ahead with feeling fingers.

He could tell he was in some sort of lofty area, but no light leaked through any windows here. It was likely a more interior hall or chamber. He shuffled forward to get to the exit. In the distance, he heard more echoes of the wizard’s voice in the distance. He was coming, and suddenly appeared in the room’s center not more than a few feet in front of Gedric. Purplish motes flew away in all directions and lit up the room momentarily.

The two locked eyes on one another, and something else in the upper corner of the chamber caught Gedric’s attention too. It was an evil, toothy grin on a diminutive winged figure. Even now, he could see the thing’s red eyes aglow.

In a moment, the wizard spoke a word of power, and light in his hand appeared, constant and bright, brighter than that of a torch. Gedric wasn’t idle either. He slipped his two sabers from their scabbards and come forward to deal with the wizard before he could loose any more magic.

The thing resting on the crown moulding extended its wings and descended. It was some sort of gargoyle-spawn or wizard’s pet.

Descriptors: Small, Winged, Hideous-Looking, Barbed Tail, Poisonous
Conditions: Out of Action

Two strides brought the thief within striking distance of the wizard, but not before the hideous gargoyle-thing was on his shoulders grasping at his neck with tiny clawed hands. A long, barbed tail snaked over the thing’s head and stabbed at Gedric like a scorpion. The thief let a horrified scream. He dropped one of his sabers to grab at the thing which was latched on with tenacious strength. It growled like a demonic puppy.

Try as he might, he couldn’t get the thing off. Even prodding at it with his sword, the thing would wriggle out of reach. It stung him numerous times about the arm. It didn’t hurt, but now he saw that its tail glistened with something. Was it poison?

The wizard leveled his wand at the intruder, but waited with a grin for the outcome of the brief struggle. “Soon the sting of Jordie will weaken you.”

Even now, Gedric swooned from a sickening, dizzying sensation. Sweat beaded on his face, and he felt nauseated. He was poisoned, but got a grip on the creature and flung it off. He stooped down to retrieve his sword while the imp recovered and launched itself toward him. That’s when Gedric heard the words of power being recited.

Whatever spell it was, Gedric rolled and somehow avoided its effect, coming within striking distance of the wizard. The man’s face once again registered astonishment as the swordsman struck. The blade arced through the air, true and swift. Aimed to gut the repugnant man, it was Gedric’s turn to be astonished as his two blades jarred his arms as though he had struck solid rock. In fact, one of the blades was notched. The wizard grinned.

Then the man’s wicked pet was on Gedric again, stabbing with that barbed tail. Gedric slashed our with both arms, scissoring the creature in two, but the poison had done its trick. He kneeled down on one knee trying to fight the delirium, but the wizard sped up the process, knocking Gedric on the back of the head. The thief went down and knew nothing more.

tower, stars, magnet, bumblebee
Details: Brimming with Power

Descriptors: Small, Winged, Hideous-Looking, Barbed Tail, Poisonous
Conditions: Out of Action

Gedric felt that he was dying… No, that he was already dead. He did not like the feeling of death. It made him feel thin, stretched, to the point of snapping like a cord. Slowly, pain filtered its way into his brain. It nagged him like an ember, burning its way deeper and deeper. A cry of agony escaped his lips.

“Ah! I see that you are awake,” said a voice.

Gedric slowly opened his eyes, and much to his dismay, he found that he was not yet dead. Reality was slow to come into his perception. A cloudy haze obfuscated his sight. Finally, with a shake of his head, some of that haze cleared away.

The rogue looked around at his surroundings. There was a chill air scented by exotic herbs and acrid odors. The room in which he found himself was round and high. A dome ceiling was vaulted above, and set about the walls that even intervals were burning braziers. At the center of the room stood a large table of black granite. On a pedestal lay open a great tome, clearly of magical origin. Numerous candles outlined the table, their wax running into long stalactites down its sides. It was clearly some sort of conjury or laboratory. Gedric could nearly feel the arcane power vibrating in the room.

Before the book and pedestal stood the ugly man Gedric had met in the floors below when he broke open into the Lord Blade’s vault. Obviously Xalivar was indeed home.

The thief found himself hanging by bonds that shackled his wrists together. He dangled against a wall at the end of a long chain. His cloak and weapons were taken away, and he was left with little but his small clothes. Another one of those small, winged, hideous creatures sat on a perch not far from the wizard, leering down at the helpless hero with an evil grin on its demonic face. Was it the same creature magically mended, or some wholly new counterpart?

“Are we feeling better?” asked the wizard. Gedric could little more than groan in response. “Good! Then let’s begin…”

The man thumbed through several pages until settling on one that satisfied him. His ugly pig-like features contorted to an evil toothy grin.

“Good help is so hard to find these days,” the wizard commented. “The other Blades of Mulmaster abhor my gruesome experiments, but only out of fear and misunderstanding.”

The revolting flying thing giggled and scratched under its wing, its deadly tail swinging left and right.

The wizard intoned the preamble of some rite. The vibrating energy Gedric felt seemed to come alive then with a baritone hum bespeaking of dangerous power. Xalivar Exalskaiy completed the overture, his face displaying great exaltation.

“Now, my slippery weasel, hold still and do not resist what next will take place,” he said. “I promise that the pain will be far greater if you do.” Then, the wizard continued his ritual.

Gedric allowed the pain to clear his dazed state somewhat. He had to get free! Glancing near a wall, he spied a stool upon which his few belongings were laid. Vials and decanters of strange frothing fluids bubbled, warmed over the many burning candles. He also sought the ruby he had filched. He saw it, but it was being toyed with in the hands of the wizard’s pet. A plan quickly worked itself into the bound victim’s imagination.

Gedric waited until the homunculus' attention was on the gem. The wizard was absorbed in the complexity of his ritual, and the thief could feel that power building. He had no idea how much time he had, but he had no desire to discover what horrifying transformation awaited him when the spell was finished. He began wriggling one wrist free of his bonds.

So skillful was Gedric, able to collapse his hands gracefully, that he quickly escaped both bonds immediately and slyly without either the wizard or his pet noticing. He was free of his bonds, and he had the chains in hand. One flick of his wrist would clear the chains from the iron hook on the wall. He waited until the time was right.

The moment was ripe. With a deft flick, Gedric released the chain and whipped it across the table. His intent was not to harm or maim directly, since the wizard was clearly enspelled against such malady, but to set other things in motion. The chains knocked the tome of spells from its podium and shattered two of the beakers and their hot fluids doused the astonished wizard, breaking his concentration. His spells clearly did not ward against boiling liquid that now burned his face. The man screamed in agony.

At that moment, the homunculus cast aside the ruby and leapt down at Gedric. The one-eyed rogue was not idle and leapt on the table, allowing enough room for him to swing his chains effectively.

The chains whistled through the air as once, and then twice, the winged horror evaded his blows. On the third swing, the heavy chains caught the thing mid-flight and cast it in ruin across the chamber. It was dead, but that was all the time the wizard needed to regain his wits and reach for his wand.

“You prefer a quick death, I see!” the man screamed with white-hot rage. He leveled the dweomer-imbued stick at Gedric who was but a step and a leap away.

Gedric wasted no time to fetch his weapons and instead lunged at Xalivar. The rogue sprang on the wizard before the Mulmasterite could release the potent magic, and Gedric wrapped the chains around the wizard’s neck, squeezing his wind pipe.

Through clenched teeth, Gedric twisted and tightened those cold links with all his might. The two went down in a heap together. Xalivar fought with hands trying to free those choking threads from his throbbing, reddening neck. Legs kicked, eyes bulged, and mouth opened vainly to gulp for air. Gedric leaned close putting lips to ear and with hissing voice whispered, “This would have been far easier for both of us if you were elsewhere, master enchanter! Now there will be one less evil conjuror in the world…”

Gedric continued to squeeze, and did not stop until the fat form of Lord Xalivar Exalskaiy, High Blade of Mulmaster went limp and final breath expired. Gedric lay sweat covered and weak, gasping for air with a heavy dead weight atop of him. He had defeated the wizard!


And though he did not mourn the loss of so devious a sorcerer, nor did he wallow in guilt nor regret, a part of fantasy often played out horrors in his sleep of the spirit of the wizard Xalivar escaping through that final accursed breath, and living in some malevolent deathless state houseless in a realm of shadow – lurking in the doubt of Gedric’s mind, or perhaps haunting the blood-red stone that the thief later pocketed.

It was not a great enough fear to restrain Gedric from filching the ruby, although he did not seek the vault again for the remaining dropped treasures for fear of encountering more flying horrors. Nor did he take the sorcery-enspelled devices left in the magician’s conjury that might have afforded many more such precious stones. Fencing the wares of wizards would likely draw unwanted attention from other wizards, and Gedric wished to cross no other wizard’s path in the future.

But he was alive, and richer than he was before – at least for a time…

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What's Going On?

I haven't posted much in a while. My last actual play posts using Barbarians of Lemuria (Mythic Edition) were lots of fun, and I may return to that. But my solo hobby allows me to indulge in my gamer ADD desires.

Recently, I've discovered the beautiful game, White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game by Charlie Mason over at Seattle Hill Games. I understand that imminently the game will get a make-over and new name, but it's got my attention at the moment.

I cut my teeth on the old Red Box (Mentzer), and this little gem has got that old feeling coming back. It's also simple enough (Thievery - I'm looking at you!) that I feel I can run a dungeon romp with a handful of characters and not feel overwhelmed. nHere are a few things I'm going to try with it:
  • The Location Crafter. I used this wonderful game attachment by Tana Pigeon for my BoL run back during SGAM 2016. In other tests, I've had more consistently good results. Can this work with an old school crawl? I'm currently finding out. One of the things that helps me set my location results to graph paper is to ask in vague terms of game turns how long does it take to get from one point to another...this immediately suggests dimensions for my rooms and corridors. It also helps me count off resources.
  • The Black Hack. I just love the usage die! Tracking gear is my least favorite part of that old game. This can help me grab an "adventuring pack" with a d12 and roll when I require something. I can even roll 2 or 3 dice, taking the worse result if what I need is rarer or valuable. That's a time saver.
  • Tweaks. Along with tracking gear, I sort of like the fidget-iness of counting encumbrance, but not in a solo game where I have to track lots of other stuff too. Armor will indicate the general movement rate of the character, and a general treasure level chart that I'll devise in increments of impact upon party movement (assuming treasure is easily dividable) will help me see at a glance the effects of a big haul.
Will I post it and finish it? That's to be determined, but I'm having fun at the moment.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Valda and the Desolation of the Fire Coast, part 6

Better late than never? Continued from here, the thrilling conclusion of Valda's adventure as part of the 2016 Solo Gaming Appreciation Month...

11. The Observatory

Location Roll — expected, expected, none (11, 11, 2; reduce location & encounter list by 5 due to over-extending)

Across the domed roof, Valda stared out at the blustery nighttime skyline high above Parsool. She had a choice — to accept defeat, or to finish a most likely intentional improbable task. To accept defeat would necessarily incur the wrath of the city’s war counselor, not to mention King Bley.

No! This was not acceptable. Valda vowed to turn her misfortune around.

The ice princess stole across the granite dome and skittered down one smooth sheer side to a narrow ledge. Following this, she found a slender window space through which to crawl. Having done so, she found herself inside a large area within the dome broken by frequent window slits letting in the night sky. Several outward-pointing spy glasses were set about the perimeter of the observatory. The palace’s master no doubt used the heavens to gather much of his wisdom or to channel the will of his god.

Q. Are there places to hide? (50/50) Yes (7)
Easy (-1) Hide — Calamitous Failure (hero point gained)
Do guards enter? (likely) No (2)
Is it Paol? (50/50) Yes!!! (8)
What’s he like? oddly enormous, cheerfully soft

Paol Steelgard (villain)
Strength 3, Agility 0, Mind 0, Appeal 1
Melee 2, Ranged -1, Initiative 1, Defense 2
Careers: Priest 2, Warrior 1, Blacksmith 1, Noble 0
Lifeblood: 15
Villain Points: 5
Fate Points: 2
Traits: Hard to Kill
Trappings: sword (d6), medium armor (2 protection; -1 agility)

Valda knelt to hide, but heard footsteps. It was too late!

In strode a lean man of hardened muscles and a bald pate. He stepped with the wary deadliness of an andrak, his eyes were wicked yet controlled. He wore the raiment of a priest over a steel breastplate. At his hip was a curved sword which was now brandished in the man’s mighty grip.

“So, you are the assassin come for me!” he said in bass tones. Paol Steelgard stalked slowly around the room, holding his arms out wide. “Here I am, slayer. Have at me!”

Hard (-1) priority roll — fail (6)
Q. What tactic does Paol use? Haggle Plans
Paol attack — hit (9) — villain point spent to get a Mighty Success (Bloody Slash) 13 damage!
Valda — spends a hero point for Shattered Shield

The man lunged impossibly swift. A killing blow arced down threatening to slice her in twain. She had time but to raise her sword in defense. Her weapon shattered into a thousand pieces, though nearly impervious Valgardian steel it was. She dropped to a knee, her arm numbed by the ferocity of the blow.

“Who sent you, wench?” the man hissed, circling.

Valda attack — miss (8)

The ice princess went for a dagger concealed in her boot and sprang. Paol deftly sidestepped at the last moment. “You’ll never know!” she hissed.

Paol attack — miss (8)

The royal counselor countered with a swift riposte, but the deft barbarian woman was already standing opposite him after an acrobatic roll.

He turned to follow. “You are a greenhorn, girl,” he said. “No one of import sent you — or at least meant for you to be the real threat against me,” he said.

Valda attack — miss (6)

Valda swore, slashing wildly. “You’ll find I am more than capable of the task.” Paol deflected her dagger.

Paol attack — miss (5)

“I will let you live,” he said with a half-hearted swipe, “…if you give me the name of your employer.”

Valda attack — miss (7)


“Then, you leave me no choice!” the priest-guardian said.

Paol attack — miss (8) — VP spent for Luck of the Gods — miss (6)
Valda attack — hit (10) — HP spent for Mighty Success (Bloody Slash) 8 damage!

A fierce exchange took place. Paol stepped away to widen the distance, but Valda was relentless, always closing the distance with her swift footwork. He grunted as she found an opening that pierced his armor, drawing first blood.

Paol — spends a VP to Shake Off Wounds (1)
Valda attacks — miss (8) — HP spent for Luck of the Gods — hit (9) — another HP spent to get Precision Blow — 0 damage

The warrior-priest was stunned. Valda did not falter, smelling victory. She wrapped herself around him from the back, and brought her dagger across his eyes. He cried out and thrashed. Blood freely flowed into his sight.

“She-demon! Morgazzon curse you!” he screamed.

Paol attacks — hit (10) — 3 damage
Valda attacks — hit (12) — final HP spent for Bloody Slash — 8 damage

By luck, the speaker of Fyrzon struck a glancing blow. Valda was bloodied but felt not the slice of the blade. She danced close and sank her dagger into Paol’s abdomen. He sank slowly in a wordless curse.

“No!” she whispered. “Nemmereth take you!”

She recovered her dagger when he had passed on to the realm of the dead and scooped up his scimitar to replace her own blade. It would also serve nicely as a token to show Erion.

Hard (-1) escape — success (13)

She slipped out quietly into the night into the sleepless and windy city…


She met with her master the very same night, dropping Paol Steelgard’s sword at Erion’s feet. She gloated over the trophy and her mentor’s passive facade.

“I did it!” she bragged.

Q. Was the timing critical in the mission? (likely) Yes (4)

“You failed,” he said simply, robbing her of her victorious mirth. “Your task was to be completed the same night we spoke — before Steelgard’s meeting with King Bley. Also, the King now knows your face. You cannot work in Parsool again.”

Fires roiled in Valda’s breast. She wished to cut Erion down where he stood. “No matter!” she said, salvaging some composure. “I have the skills I need. It is time for me to move on.”

Q. Does he agree? (50/50) No (5)

“Not yet,” Erion said. “You are reckless and uncouth. You are not an assassin yet. What would complete your skills is an even more daunting task though the King spares no expense to hunt you down. This job calls for subtlety.”

Valda cocked her head to the side, intrigued. “What do you wish of me…?”

Not sure if I will add more adventures of Valda, but I like the process and result. BoL plays fast and deadly, even though it's fairly traditional mechanics. Lots of fun in this little indie gem.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Valda and the Desolation of the Fire Coast, part 5

Way behind on my SGAM updates. A short, single scene today, continuing Valda’s contract. In this one, an ophidian twist squeezes our heroine. Lesson to be learned: always check unfamiliar bathrooms for critters.


10. Steam Room

Location Roll — random (efficiently lovely), trap, random (peacefully lonely) (7, 6, 4)

Valda loped down a corridor with a descending grade. The tunnel grew hot and steamy. Presently, she emerged into a large room tiled in white and sometimes colorful slate. Steam was thick and immediately made her skin glisten. The details of the room were hidden within the gloom. Somewhere above, a skylight shed some illumination about the bathroom.

Large baths divided the room, all fed by a fountain in likeness to a great stoic warrior with closed eyes. Some of the areas were also for washing laundry or crockery.

Q. What does the trap do? abandon hope

As she lurked and watched for danger, she stepped on some sort of loose tile. Suddenly, the doors at either end of the room slammed shut. In desperation, Valda turned and tried to push the solid stone door open, but it was closed fast.

She was trapped!

Glodol (unique creature)

A glodol is a large snake found in the jungles that grows extremely long. Although not poisonous, they have a tremendously strong body and are very quiet and sneaky. They kill their prey through strangulation.

Size: Large
Traits: furtive; special attack: constriction. If a glodol attacks by ambush when its prey is unaware and hits, it inflicts automatic damage each turn (d6H) unless the victims can break free with a Hard strength task.

Strength:    4    Attack:    +2
Agility:    1    Damage:    bite (d6) or constriction (d6H)
Mind:    -1    Defense:    1
Lifeblood:    20    Protection:    1

Hard (-1) observe roll — fail (4)

She fought with the slick door, but there were no latches, rings, or catches that could open them from within. Beyond the periphery of her awareness, a small trap door opened in one of the pools, and an immense camouflaged serpent swam slowly out and over the lip. Its forked tongue darted out of its mouth as the large reptile gauged its prey.

Then, it struck!

Note: since the snake is statted as a full monster, I’m going to summarize this struggle round by round, instead of as a whole…

Glodal attacks for free with a bonus — miss (8)

Round 2

Initiative roll — Valda scores a mighty success!
Valda: attack — hit (11; 4 damage)
Glodal: attack — miss (8)

From behind, Valda sensed something as the giant slithering doom poised itself. Suddenly, the monster lunged to wrap its great coils around the slender northron. The ice princess deftly moved aside and readied her blade. She had but a moment to regard the thing with loathing and then struck, scoring the smooth scaly hide along the great snake’s flank.

Round 3

Valda: attack — calamitous failure! (Valda earns a hero point)
Glodal: attack — miss (6)

The assassin pressed the attack, but a thick coil checked her step, tripping her backwards. Her Valgardian blade skittered from her grip. In desperation, she drew her dagger dove aside as the great head of the serpent struck.

Round 4

Valda: attack — hit (14; 1 damage)
Glodal: attack — mighty success! (12; 4 damage; knockdown)

Valda turned and struck again, but another unseen coil tripped her afresh. This time, she was pinned underneath a heavy sinuous length. However, she still had her dagger in hand. The creature’s hissing head loomed closer, its slitted eyes regarding its prey deviously.

Round 5

Valda: attack — hit (12; 2 damage; 1 hero point spent for mighty success — bloody slash)
Glodal: attack — miss (7)

Rather than try to gain her feet, Valda awaited the inevitable strike. She turned to the side at the exact moment when the deadly fanged attack came, and the next moment drove her dagger hard into the thing’s head, gouging one of the monster’s eyes.

Round 6

Valda: attack — hit (9; 1 damage)
Glodal: attack — miss (7)

Valda struck again and again, but her small blade was largely ineffectual against the great serpent.

Round 7

Valda: attack — hit (9; 1 hero point spent for mighty success — 1 point + bloody slash)
Glodal: dead

The creature struck again. This time, the ice princess latched on with her hind legs, wrapping herself around the beast’s large diamond-shaped head to keep its deadly jaws trapped shut. The thing smashed and thrashed against the tiles, but still Valda held. She plunged her dagger into its head. With a final quiver, the giant beast slumped to the floor atop the gasping assassin. She had killed the monster!

3 Lifeblood restored

She wriggled free of the heavy serpent and immediately went to the water to wash herself clean of the serpent’s filth and clean her wounds. The fountain continued to stare sightlessly at her. The play of water gurgled despite the violence that had just transpired. She recovered her sword and next sought a way out of the bath room.

Tough (-2) find a release mechanism — failure (2)
Tough (-2) climb to the skylight — success (9)

The barbarian once more sought a way out. She felt about for hidden mechanisms, trap doors, and concealed pressure plates, but found none. Next she observed the statue fountain as it spilled its waters into the now bloodied pools. She belted her sword about her waist and climbed the statue. Using a combination of determination, agility, and luck, she squirmed her way to the skylight by wedging herself into the oddly shaped chimney. Eventually, she found freedom in the open air above the structure’s roof. As she did, the sliding door below to the bath room opened, guards pouring in only to find the slain guardian.

A harrowing encounter! But Valda lived. Tune in again when Valda makes her final confrontation with the concern of her contract. While Valda emerge successful, or we she succumb to a greater foe? Find out next time...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Valda and the Desolation of the Fire Coast, part 4

Continued from here, in this part, Valda explores deeper...and the heat is on! It is clear that subtlety is not Valda’s strong suit in the third part of my Barbarians of Lemuria solo actual play for the 2016 Solo Gaming Appreciation Month.

7. The Dome

Location Roll — expected, random, none (3, 7, 5)
Q. What does the encounter look like? Loudly Hard

The opposite way led to another doorway. This opened to a descending stair that hugged the inside of the central dome of the palace. Many ways branched off from this landing or that. The winding stair descended two levels to the main floor of the building. Skylights allowed the starlight to enter.

As she descended, bells of alarm tolling incessantly, a group of guardsmen entered the floor below led by a hulking man of huge proportions. He looked up as Valda was mid-span down the way. In a booming voice, he commanded his men after her.

Kalev Bauk (tough)
Strength 2, Agility -1, Mind 0, Appeal 0
Melee 1, Ranged 0, Initiative 0, Defense 1
Careers: Mercenary 1, Captain 1
Lifeblood: 8
Protection: Medium armor (2) (-1 Agility (already figured)
Weapons: Sword (d6)

Palace Guards (rabble)
Guard 1; 3 LB each (x6); 1d3 damage (d6L horde)

Q. Do the footsteps of pursuit get louder? (likely) No (2)
Q. Is there chandeliers or curtains? (likely) No (2)
Q. Is there a nearby side passage? (likely) No (1)

A half-dozen men issued up the stairs in their war regalia. Valda couldn’t make the next landing and side passage before the men would beat her there. Instead, she faced them with a ferocious snarl, staking out a point of defense near a column on higher ground.

Battle ensues — Valda takes 1 damage

The snarling northron bested the six men, sending each sprawling on the floor or fleeing for their lives. Their huge captain stared incredulously at the barbarian streaked with soot and heaving like a feral pict.

“Bah!” he growled, drawing his own broadsword. “Can’t even defeat a woman!”

The man flew up the stairs. Valda was ready for him.

Battle ensues — no damage

The two squared off, but the barbarian woman yielded no ground. They exchanged savage blows, but the barbarian was too quick. The man tried to use his superior size to take her down into a bear hug, but he only managed to skewer himself on her waiting blade.

She pushed him off and stole downstairs.

8. The New Crypt

Location Roll — special (random [Nicely Young] barely there), random (Frantically Important), random (Gratefully Macabre) (6, 7, 4)

Valda turned down a darkened passage and immediately was swallowed by a maze of tarpaulins. The air was dusty, and she caught herself before running to a wall. Someone squealed. When she got her bearings, she found herself in a small alcove of fresh and partial construction. She saw it was a small crypt with a newly chiseled tombstone. The squeal came from a scrawny household servant — or more likely official, like a seneschal, in a nightcap and gown.

“Don’t kill me!” he sobbed, sinking to his knees.

“Get out of my sight, knave!” she hissed in her thick northern accent. The man got to his feet and ran out.

She wished not to be trapped there, so turned about to find another hiding place.

9. The Bedchamber

Location Roll — Bedchamber, King Bley, none (7, 9, 9)
Q. Are the king’s advisors with him? (likely) Yes (4)
Q. Any fighting men? (likely) Yes (9)
Q. Does the king have any fighting ability? (50/50) No (5)

King’s Advisors (rabble)
Scribe 1, 1 LB each (x6); 1d3 damage (d6L horde)

King Zandar Bley (villain)

Strength -1, Agility 0, Mind 2, Appeal 3
Melee 0, Ranged 1, Initiative 2, Defense 1
Careers: Merchant 2, Mariner 1, Noble 2, Priest 0
Lifeblood: 9
Villain Points: 2
Traits: friends-in-high-places
Trappings: rich clothing, dagger (d6L)

King’s Guard (toughs, 4)
Strength 2, Agility -1, Mind 0, Appeal 0
Melee 1, Ranged 0, Initiative 0, Defense 1
Careers: Guard 2
Lifeblood: 7
Trappings: sword, shield (1), medium armor (2)

Valda turned down another corridor and passed through a door. There, a torchlit bedchamber stood. Just ahead of her was King Bley and his escort. “Let us hide here, m’lord,” one of his advisors said. The group all heard the door behind them and turned. The king’s face turned ashen when he saw it was the intruder, bloody blade in hand, and face streaked with soot like an assassin.

Q. Does the king order an attack? (likely) Yes (4)

“Kill her!” the man said, drawing his rich silken robe about him. Four armed men detached from the king’s retinue and advanced in the small space.

Q. Does Valda have room to retreat? (50/50) Yes (10)
Moderate (0) evasion — success (9)

The ice princess turned and fled with the four king’s guards behind her. She turned a sharp blind and, as soon as she was beyond sight, ducked within the shadowed opening to the crypt and knelt within the shadows.

Moderate (0) hide — success (12)

The soldiers lumbered by. “Where did she go?” one asked. “This way!” answered another. She heard them head towards more distant shouting.

When it was clear, she furtively retreated to the bedchamber.

Q. Did the king lock the door from within? (50/50) Yes (8)

The northron swordswoman found the door barred from within. It would require a prodigious effort, but she nonetheless tried.

Demanding (-4) kick — failure (6)

She smashed at the door, but it was made of solid jallallibar, and would not yield.

Q. Does that alert men to her location? (likely) No (3)

She heard hushed whispers from within. It was no use…she would not have a hostage. With little other choice, she explored further along the adjoining corridors.

Getting quite messy for Valda. Will she be able to fulfill her contract? Will Steelgard find her first and best her in battle? Find out next time. Monstrous serpent guardians await...