Into the Temple of Zuveng

Ta Prohm

I’m traveling this week and will likely have lots of solo RPG time. With this particular adventure, Getek’s saga takes another twist as he delves into a dungeon.

Tags: Holy Site (Shou cult from Tea Riots in Xian Part 1)
Size:
Heretic hideout, 8 locations
Inhabitants: Shou + Tide Cult (mix to taste)
Thing: Black relic of a martyred anti-saint (oracular adjective: jewels)
Threat: 2 (equal to character’s level)

Getek decides to rob the Temple of Zuveng, belonging to the Shou cult he encountered during the Tea Riots. He has heard that they have a set of cursed jewels that once belonged to their foul prophet Yashub. He prepares the spells Amber Cloud of Somnolescence and Seven Small Thunders before setting out for the temple.

Mood Music: 

Cult of Zuveng

I used the Red Tide sourcebook page 142 for generating this.

Object of Worship: A half-feral God Beast, shard of a forgotten divinity
Source of Influence: Traditional fear and obedience from others
Agent Among the Public: Sinister and reclusive magic-user
Traits and Rules: The cult has animate servitors of bone or stone.

Turn 1: Entrance from the south

Location: Storeroom
Contents: Encounter, Treasure
Goal present: No
Encounter: 7 HD worth of shou (6 goblins, 1 orc)
Twist: Lying in wait for suitable prey
Attitude: The usual, but they might parlay if that seems plausible; Anger/Scorn
Oracle: Was he seen entering (likely)? Yes

He slips in through a side door of the building, which lies outside a village not too far from Xian. As he enters, he finds a half-dozen goblins and an orc lying in wait. Apparently guards had observed him approach and warned those inside of the approaching elven mage. Sneering at him with slavering jaws, they leap at him to grab their next sacrifice.

Round 1: Fray die = 4 -> 1 damage, 1 goblin killed. Cast Amber Cloud of Somnolescence – 4 HD of enemies put to sleep. 1 goblin and 1 orc remain. Morale check: 7 (stand and fight). Goblin: Spear (+1) + AC (9) + d20 = 18, miss. Orc: Axe (+1) + AC (9) + d20 = 22, hit for 1d8 = 1 -> no damage. Getek remains at 6 hit points.
Round 2: Fray die = 4 -> 1 damage, remaining goblin killed. Quarterstaff (+0) + AC (6) + d20 = 24, hit for 1d4 = 4 -> 1 damage done. Getek at 5 HP.
Round 3: Fray die = 4 -> 1 damage, remaining orc killed. Getek takes a moment to catch his breath, then does away with the sleeping goblins using their own daggers.
Treasure: 10gp of coins
Rest: recover 1 HP (back at 6)

Wandering Monsters: No

Turn 2: North

Location: Cemetery
Contents: None
Goal present: No

Getek slips out a door to the north and finds a small hall with the remains of their sacrifice victims resting in wall niches. Nothing more can be done for them in this life.

Wandering Monsters: No

Turn 3: Southeast

Location: Sickroom
Contents: None
Goal present: No
Oracular Adjective: Servitude

A door to the right leads back to a sickroom where the shou attend to their servants and captives, at least minimally. They apparently know little of medicine. Or perhaps they take sick pleasure in keeping them just healthy enough not to die before the bloody ritual sacrifices. Regardless, Getek knows he must keep moving.

Wandering Monsters: No

Turn 4: North

Location: Vestry
Contents: Encounter (6 HD worth of Minions and Elites)
Goal present: no
Allegiance: Neutrals cooperating with the rulers
Combat Style: Blood-crazed; never checks morale against a wounded foe
First Round of Action: Half maneuver to encircle, the others attack directly

Foes: 1 Elite (HD 2), AC 5, Atk +2, Dmg 1d10; 4 Minion (HD 1, AC 7, Atk +1, Dmg 1d6

Round 1: Fray die = 3 -> 1 damage, 1 minion defeated (3 remain, plus elite). Quarterstaff (+0) + AC (7) + d20 = 12, miss. Minions: 2 move to encircle, one attacks directly. Attack (+1) + AC (9) + d20 = 27, 1 hit. Damage d6 = 2 -> 1 HP of damage. Elite: Attack (+2) + AC (9) + d20 = 14, miss. Getek at 5 HP.
Round 2: Fray die = 3 -> 1 damage, 1 minion defeated (2 remain, plus elite). Quarterstaff (+0) + AC(7) + d20 = 11, miss. Minions: Attack (+1) + AC (9) + d20 = 22, nat 1, 1 hit. Damage d6 = 2, 1 HP of damage. Elite: Attack (+2) + AC (9) + d20 = 16, miss. Getek at 4 HP.
Round 3: Fray die = 2 -> 1 damage, 1 minion defeated (1 remains, plus elite). Quarterstaff (+0) + AC (7) + d20 =9, miss. Minion: Attack (+1) + AC (9) + d20 = 20, hit. Damage d6 = 6, 2 HP of damage. Elite: Attack (+2) + AC (9) + d20 = nat 20, hit. Damage d10 = 4 -> 1 HP of damage. Getek at 1 HP.
Round 4: Fray die = 2 -> 1 damage, minion defeated (elite remains). Quarterstaff (+0) + AC (5) + d20 = 21, hit. Damage d4 = 1, no damage. Elite: Attack (+2) + AC (9) + d20 = 25, hit. Damage d10 = 10, 4 points of damage. Getek at -3 HP.

The mage stumbles into a vestry with human cultists getting dressed for their rituals. With blood in their eyes, they turn on him immediately. Despite defeating the weaker members of the group, Getek cannot match the twisted cultist in battle and finds himself captured by his foes.

Per page 20, I have decided to let Getek live – but he will have to find his way out of captivity in the next adventure. He still gets 1 XP but forgoes any treasure he might have found here, plus most of his equipment. (Better get to that spell book though!)

I only know one way to love things.

I only know one way to love things: throw myself into completely, maybe even obsessively.

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When I’m looking for a new pastime

That has an obvious dark side to it: at some point, I often tire of the thing and cast it aside, at least temporarily, once I’ve finished devouring it intellectually. I crave that sense of newness, of exploration. (Earlier in life, I feared that would apply to relationships too, but we recently celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.) Continue reading

Tea Riots in Xian, Part 1

Getek returns for another urban adventure! This time, civil disturbances provide a backdrop for the fact that he has had an evidently complicated love life. Even if he saves everyone, complications will almost certainly result…

Also, I’m still experimenting with the format of these posts and future ones will probably continue to vary considerably.

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Urban Adventure

A Location is struck by a fire, riot, building collapse, monster outbreak, or the like. Draw three Actors; they’re somehow caught in the event and must be saved from it. Scenes revolve around saving Actors from the calamity. The last Actor cannot be saved until the concluding Action scene.

Location: Exclusive Tea House
Actor 1: Drug den proprietor (Elf, lover)
Actor 2: Riotous young heir (Halfing, ex-lover)
Actor 3: Pitiless tax collector (Human Imperial/Ashkanti, ex-spouse)

Adventure tag: Sudden Privation
Adjective: Hunger

Tea riots – and apparently Getek gets around! Prepare Amber Cloud of Somnolescence.

Continue reading

Rescuing a Moneylender

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I picked up Scarlet Heroes again after far too long. While Madcat’s urban adventure report puts mine to shame, I thought I’d still post this. And I learned from theirs for the next one!

Character Overview

Getek of Still Water is an Elf Magic-User. His traits include Elven Senses, Market Mage (x2), and Strikingly Attractive. His previous incarnation also gives him the Locksmith trait.

For his initial known spells, I chose Painted Vermillion Eyes (Charm), Lens of the Enlightened Scribe (Read Languages), Amber Cloud of Somnolence (Sleep), and Daifu’s Bright Mantle. That last spell doesn’t have an analogue known to me; it mostly involves maintaining an unmussed appearance. As a side note, while looking up information on that spell, I found that I used almost the same build for an earlier character. I didn’t intend that, but apparently I wanted a similar experience. (That character met an early death, though.)

Getek dresses in Fine Clothes, wields a Quarterstaff, and carries Artisan’s Tools (Locksmith) about his person.

Continue reading

Scarlet Caverns

Because I wanted to keep trying solo dungeon runs separately from some urban adventure, I rolled up a character specifically for delving and finding gold. In the Red Tide setting, the stereotypical dwarven lust for gold is explained by their “religion” or at least their metaphysical views about using it in the afterlife to attack a goddess or something.

Continue reading

Scarlet Dungeon

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Most of the time when playing Scarlet Heroes, I run an urban adventure. This time, I wanted to see how the solo dungeon adventures work. So I took my magic user Ye Xue into a temple to see what he can find, looking for some magical knowledge or something.

Type: Temple (Heretic Hideout)
Size: 1d20=14 locations
Inhabitants: Massacre (Hungry ghost / Ghoul / Jiangshi master / Ghoul mage / Confused ghost)
Threat adjustment: They’ll send for help. Your first expedition is at a Threat equal to the PC’s level. Any further expeditions are at Threat + 1d4.

Xue learns of a temple where an atrocity occurred generations ago that holds secret scrolls of arcane knowledge. He prepares for his expedition as best he can…

Buys new equipment. Starts with 188 gp. Buys backpack, lantern with 2 flasks of oil, rope, a day’s worth of rations, and a wineskin of cheap wine. Total cost is 5gp.

Prepares Amber Cloud of Somnolescence.


Turn 1:
Enter temple via a garden. No encounter or hazard. Hidden treasure. Feature is present: an unusual piece of movable furnishing, religious in iconography or purpose. Scrolls of something relevant to nearest community. Check for treasure: 2d8 + Intelligence(3) + Scribe(1) vs 11 = 11, success! Treasure is 1/10 of C-type trove appropriate to place. Minor hidden treasure: 5gp.

Xue finds a long-abandoned garden just inside the gates. Among the pots and dust, he finds a concealed scroll with the story of a local saint. He stuffs it into his backpack and heads out.


Turn 2: Exit garden to the east into an altar hall. No encounter. No treasure. No hazard. Feature is present: bath or large pool with an item of information, whether book, note, or talk. Appears to be worth 50gp (will turn out to be worthless).

In a nearby altar, Xue finds a ceremonial bath and a ritual book with what appears to be a gold inlay in the cover. Happy with the score, he places the book carefully in his backpack.


Turn 3: Exit altar hall to southwest into a sickroom. No encounter. No treasure. No hazard. No feature.

Check for wandering encounter: no.

An empty room with bed frames and cabinets. Despite his best efforts, Xue is unable to find anything in any container. Despite his disappointment, he knows he still has plenty of rooms to check out.


Turn 4: Exit sickroom to north… no, just a passage back to the garden. Exit east into storeroom. No encounter. No treasure. No hazard. Feature is present: noncombatant inhabitant of dungeon, motivation is feed on inhabitants or just kill them. Scavenging small beast.

In a small storage room with empty shelves and rat droppings, a raccoon dog is sniffing around. Nothing else grabs his attention. 


Turn 5: Exit storeroom to east into another garden. No encounter. No treasure. No hazard. Feature is present: a piece of original artwork blocks an exit to the northeast. Destroying it would take 1d4 turns of noise. Oracular adjective: Truth.

In another garden, he finds a pathway blocked by a large statue that has fallen. He inspects the personification of Truth carefully but finds no gems or other objects worth removing. The statue itself is far too large to take without specialized equipment.


Turn 6: Exit garden to northwest… no, passage to altar hall. Exit north into pilgrim quarters. Encounter with treasure and feature but no hazard. 4 HD worth of Minions and Elites (Hungry ghosts, ghouls). No encounter treasure but M2 worth of room contents. Feature is stolen artwork, despoiled by the locals’ atrocities.

In a dormitory, the angry undead rise from the dust itself and are upon him in seconds! Whatever terrible massacre occurred here, the spirits of the unfortunate victims never found proper rest. The intruder must suffer their wrath…

Fight: 2 hungry ghosts, 1 ghoul
Round 1: Attack ghoul with dagger
Attack: 1d20+Atk(0)+Dex(-1)+AC(6) = 20, hit!
Damage: 1d4=3, 2 points of damage, ghoul is killed
Fray die: 1d4=1, no damage

Hungry ghost 1:
Bite: 1d20+Atk(1)+AC(9)=27, hit!
Damage: 1d6=2, 1 point of damage

Hungry ghost 2:
Bite: 1d20+Atk(1)+AC(9)=30, hit!
Damage: 1d6=6, 2 points of damage

Round 2: Attack ghost 1 with dagger:
Attack: 1d20+Atk(0)+Dex(-1)+AC(7) = 19, miss.

Hungry ghost 1:
Bite: 1d20+Atk(1)+AC(9)=23, hit!
Damage: 1d6=2, 1 point of damage.

Xue is dead… Perhaps he has simply joined the ranks of the lifeless monsters and may pursue his goals from beyond the grave? Or perhaps the machinations of a life have reached their end.

Urban Adventure in the Red Tide setting

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Now that I’ve created a Scarlet Hero, I ran through an urban adventure. Unlike previous efforts, I decided to rely on the oracle tables as much as possible and try to fashion a narrative from the procedural generation. For the most part, this worked well despite a few complications. I set the adventure in the Imperial city of Xian and tried for a bit of a noir feel.


Weather: Wet season (concealing downpour)

Plot: An Antagonist seeks the assassination of a Target

Draw or choose either the Antagonist or the Target, whichever your hero is most likely to care about. Draw the unknown actor only after a successful Investigation scene spent discovering their identity. Scenes revolve around identifying the assassins, learning when and how they are to strike, and protecting the Target from one or more attempts on their life.

Antagonist: Relentless bounty hunter

Xue hears a rumor that a feared bounty hunter has arrived in the slum neighborhood of Naozishan and decides to investigate further. Perhaps this will help him find a patron to latch onto.


Scene 1: Investigation

An allied Actor can get you a Clue at great personal risk. Skill check to help them succeed.

Actor: Crime victim, human, numerous piercings, compassionate, desires cure for sickness.

Wu Song is a city magistrate responsible for the market in Virtue Square. She recently had to spend considerable resources to repair the market area after a bounty hunter damaged it apprehending a fugitive. During the cleanup, she was warned that the bounty hunter remains in the area on another job. Xue asks her for assistance in identifying the hunter.

Check: 2d8 + Charisma (+0) + Knows a city magistrate (1) vs difficulty (9) = 9, success.

Song identifies the bounty hunter as an Eshkanti man named Habib al-Qattan, staying at the Secluded Cloud Hotel.

Clue: 1
VP: Xue 1, Habib 1


Scene 2: Investigation

Search a Location related to past events where a Clue can be found and face a Fight.

Xue decides to investigate the Secluded Cloud Hotel. Knowing he is going into a potentially dangerous situation, he prepares the spell Amber Cloud of Somnolescence and makes sure his “ornamental” dagger is concealed but easily reachable inside his robes.

Who does he talk to? a Promising Artist
What is the Promising Artist’s general reaction? Flat refusal
Check: 2d8 + Charisma (0) + Strikingly Attractive (1) vs difficulty (9) = 13, success

Xue strikes up a conversation with a young artist painting a mural in the hotel. At first, she wants nothing to do with his questioning, but after some flirtation, she finally gives him a clue.

How far away is the hunter? The other side of the room

She points out Habib, drinking tea in the lobby. Hotel guards notice the conversation and tell him he needs to leave immediately.

Hostile NPC reaction: Qualified consent

“We won’t beat you this time, stranger, just leave.” Xue decides that discretion should win out, since now he has confirmed Habib’s location and knows his face.

Clue: 2
VP: Xue 2, Habib 2


Scene 3: Investigation

Stake out an Actor or a Location. Whether or not you win the check, your opponent gains a VP due to delay.

Xue leaves the hotel but doesn’t go far. Instead, he sets up across the street in a tea house to keep an eye out. The rain has slowed to a light drizzle.

Oracle: Has traffic started to resume (likely)? No
Does Habib leave (unknown)? Yes, but a twist to the relationship between the people in the situation.
Relationship: coworkers
Check: 2d8 + Intelligence (+2) vs 9 = 11, success

Xue observes Habib talking and then paying the young artist woman with whom he himself conversed earlier. She thanks him very politely.

Oracle: Does she point to anything (unknown)? No
Does she give Habib anything (unknown)? Yes, but an adjustment to the physical environment
Does the adjustment relate to the painting (likely)? Yes

Habib pays the young woman and follows her to the mural, where she makes some changes to the painting in progress. He nods affirmatively before leaving.

Clue: 3
VP: Xue 3, Habib 3


Scene 4: Investigation

Bribe an Actor to give you a Clue. Pay a reasonable bribe or fail the challenge.

After Habib leaves, Xue motions for the artist to talk to him in a private alcove in the hotel.

Reaction: Unfriendly NPC – Considered refusal

She informs him it would not be in her favor to tell him her business with the bounty hunter. He offers to pay her 5gp (minor bribe) and promises not to ever tell anyone. She finally accepts.

Does she know the target (unknown)? Yes
Actor: Exiled pretender, Dwarf.

The artist, Ushi, points out a place on the mural where a dwarven underking is blessing two of his children. “One of them eventually took the throne, but the other lives here. Underking Pyotr has many friends in Xian…”

Clue: 4
VP: Xue 4, Habib 3


Scene 5: Action

Pass an incriminating or disgraceful Clue to an Actor who can make sure important people learn of the evidence.

Xue returns to Song, the city magistrate, to inform her of what he’s learned: the bounty hunter-cum-assassin has been sent to eliminate the brother and rival of the dwarven Underking Pyotr. He doesn’t know where or when, nor indeed who has sent the killer, but perhaps she might be able to make something happen.

Check: 2d8 + Intelligence (+3) + Knows a city magistrate (+1) vs 9 = 16, success
Oracle: Can Song do anything about it (likely)? Yes
Do her contacts want the pretender protected (unknown)? Yes, but an adjustment to the physical environment
Do they want the pretender moved to a different location (unknown)? No, but an adjustment to the physical environment ((this oracle is getting frustrating, heh))
Oracular Adjectives & Motivations: Forgetfulness

Song indicates that her contacts would like something more complicated and sends him to meet with a contact.

Clue: 3
VP: Xue 5, Habib 3


Scene 6: Action

Bring in an outside authority or useful Actor to oppose the foe.

Actor: Feared court blackmailer ((now we’re in the thick of it))
Reaction (NPC stranger): Qualified consent
Memorable trait: Tends work constantly
Ruling temperament: Garrulous
Immediate desire: Destroying evidence
Name: Nuwa

Xue is sent to Peace Blossom Manor to meet with “Nuwa,” a Ravenmistress. She runs a significant espionage operation and is known to be connected in some way to the Imperial Court. Rumors swirl about the specific connection, but in the cloak-and-dagger world of Xian, what appears clear one day fades into the shadows the next.

He is ushered into her garden, finding her trimming flowers while periodically interrupted by servants who bring her parchments to read and sign or otherwise give the briefest of directions. At his approach, she stands and smiles. “Ah, the neophyte has arrived and a new stone is laid on the board. You’ve found something useful to me, something I will appreciate.”

Check: 2d8 + Charisma (0) + Scribe Background (1) vs 9 = 17, success!

Xue gives a concise recount of his experiences at the hotel with Habib and Ushi. Nuwa nods. “We can turn this to a benefit, but first we must find out how and when Habib will strike. In the meantime, I will have additional protection placed around Fyodor – another stone on the board, after all.”

Clue: 2
VP: Xue 6, Habib 3


Scene 7: Investigation

Infiltrate a Location where the activities relate to a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight.

Xue returns to the Secluded Cloud Hotel and looks for a way into the room to see what he can find in the way of targeting information.

Check: 2d8 + Intelligence (3) + Scribe (1) vs 9 = 13, success!
Oracle: How far away is a thing (distant)? The same community
Urban location: Urban palace
Does the pretender live there (unknown)? Yes
Is Habib already on his way (likely)? Yes

The pretender resides in a small palace – really, a villa – in a neighborhood not far away. With no time to lose, Xue heads that way.

Clue: 3
VP: Xue 7, Habib 4


Scene 8: Action

Rally an Actor and their comrades to oppose the foe.

Actor: Foreign Diplomat
Race: Human, Kueh
Reaction (NPC stranger, -1 for risk): Bribeable

Check: 2d8 + Charisma (0) + Knows a City Magistrate (1) vs 9 = 9, success

As Xue approaches the palace, he finds a Kueh diplomat and her bodyguards arriving. He informs them that there is an imminent attack and requests her assistance. She raises an eyebrow and starts to object, until he whispers about the Ravenmistress. She blanches and orders her guards to assist in watching for anyone else arriving.

Clue: 2
VP: Xue 8, Habib 5


Scene 9: Action

Sabotage a tool, evidence, or ally of the foe so that it betrays their attempted use of it.

Oracle: Does the assassin know the pretender’s specific location in the palace (likely)? Yes

Xue heads directly to the pretender’s suite and finds several capable-looking rogues sent by Nuwa plus two dwarves attending Fyodor. He directs one of the serving dwarfs and Fyodor to change clothing as a misdirection, intending to then slip Fyodor into another part of the palace.

Check: 2d8 + Charisma (0) + nothing vs 9 = 11, success
Reaction (Friendly NPC, -1 for risk): 7, Hesitant Agreement
Oracular Adjective: Pride

Fyodor hesitates. “You are meaning that I am to dress… as a servant?” Xue convinces him that his life is worth demeaning himself for a bit.

Clue: 1
VP: Xue 9, Habib 6


Scene 10: Action

Convince an Actor ally of the foe to betray them. On a failure, face a Fight.

Actor: Instructor to nobles
Race: Elf

An elven tutor is wandering the halls, suspiciously given the late hour. Xue narrows his eyes and explains to the elf about the pain and suffering he’ll have inflicted if he doesn’t come clean.

Check: 2d8 + Charisma (0) + nothing (0) vs 9 = 10, success

The elf goes pale at the mention of flaying and stammers quietly that he was supposed to distract the guards for a moment when the assassin arrives.

Oracle: How far away is a thing (same place)? A few paces away

Clue: 0
VP: Xue 10, Habib 7


Climax Scene: Action

Face the foe’s best warrior- or the foe himself if this is a climactic battle and they’re fit for combat. Face a Fight instead of a check.

Habib steps out from behind a curtain and unsheathes a dagger, moving quickly towards Xue and the elf.

(using Brute statistics):
Brute: HD=T+2=3 || AC=6 || +Hit=+T+2=+3 || Dmg=1d10 || Morale=10 || +Skill=+2 || Move=20’

Oracle: How far away are the guards? In the next room, 1d4 = 2 rounds before they arrive.

Not an Ambush because Xue is here for exactly this, therefore he goes first. Cannot cast Amber Cloud of Somnolescence because the opponent has 3 HD.

Xue unsheathes his dagger and moves closer without considering that the assassin is far more skilled at combat.

Attack: 1d20+Atk(0)+Dex(-1)+AC(6) = 10, miss
Fray die: 1d4 = 2, 1 point of damage

As combat is joined, Xue only makes incidental contact with the assassin as they struggle in the hallway.

Attack: 1d20+Hit(3)+AC(9) = nat 20, automatic hit
Dmg: 1d10 = 2, 1 point of damage

Habib whirls his sword for a moment, then lunges and grazes Xue.

Round 2:
HP: Xue 3, Habib 3

Xue circles warily. His school taught him the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat but he prefers to spend his time reading…

Attack: 1d20+Atk(0)+Dex(-1)+AC(6) = 15, miss
Fray die: 1d4 = 1, no damage

Habib easily dodges the clumsy slash and counterattacks.

Attack: 1d20+Hit(3)+AC(9) = 21, hit
Dmg: 1d10 = 2, 1 point of damage

Xue cries out as Habib gives him a cut to the arm.

Round 3:
HP: Xue 2, Habib 3

The magic user grits his teeth, trying to hold the assassin off until the guards arrive.

Attack: 1d20+Atk(0)+Dex(-1)+AC(6) = 24, hit
Damage: 1d4 = 4, Habib is killed

The sounds of boots thudding out momentarily distract Habib. Xue sees his opening and plunges his dagger into the attacker’s chest, ending the threat. For now, at any rate…


Results

Partial Victory (news of the failed attempt will reach Pyotr), 1 experience!

Favor earned with dwarven pretender Fyodor and Ravenmistress Nuwa. Earned 1 Heat (Xian) and 100gp.

Creating a Scarlet Hero

WuYongI started a new solo play “campaign” using Scarlet Heroes, this time sticking in the Red Tide campaign setting instead of using the adventure to build out a new city. This urban campaign will chronicle the rise to power of a Machiavellian wizard, the Imperial Ye Xue. I’ve already run his first adventure and will post it once I have straightened out the narrative a bit more.

Character Sheet

Attributes

  • STR 8 (-1)
  • CON 10 (0)
  • DEX 8 (-1)
  • INT 16 (+2)
  • WIS 12 (0)
  • CHA 12 (0)

Combat

  • HP 4
  • AC 9
  • Atk +0
  • Fray 1d4 (any opponent)

Traits

Scribe (background), Long-distance runner, Knows a city magistrate, Strikingly attractive, Has far-flung family

Spellbook

Amber Cloud of Somnolence (sleep), The Daifu’s Bright Mantle (appearance), Lens of the Enlightened Scribe (read languages), Painted Vermilion Eyes (charm)

Coin: 93 gp
Equipment: Ornamental dagger (1d4), Scribe’s tools, Fine clothing.

Background

Goal: Achieve Daifu status

IC: Xue comes from a merchant family and learned the trade of the scribe at an Imperial school. However, his teachers recognized his gift for geomancy and so he received additional training in magic. Xue’s family has never quite managed to achieve the level of commercial success they sought, and thus he has decided to seek his own fortune in the great city of Xian.

OOC: The trait “Long-distance runner” came up randomly, and when I re-rolled it, the dice insisted. So I figured I would go with it and see where it might make sense, but for now it just informs my sense of his build and physical carriage. I also decided to keep his Constitution at 10 but Strength at 8. He’s wiry and has good conditioning. Knowing a city magistrate will almost certainly come in handy. Mages don’t really need to buy much – they can’t wear armor and don’t need much of a weapon. I intend to run an urban adventure (at least at first), so he doesn’t need a lot of gear. Better save that gold for a time when he might actually need it (spoiler alert: good choice!).

 

 

Exploring the Ruins of the Undercity

Great success playing with my kids tonight! They’d lost most of their old character sheets, but no problem – we rolled up new ones pretty quickly. My favorite part of old-school gaming is how little time character generation takes. I let them roll 3d6 6 times and assign each as they wished, mostly using Swords & Wizardry Core. The 12 year old wanted to play a sort of “battle mage”, so I grabbed the variant Elf from S&W and told her she only knew “Read Magic”. The 9yo wanted a Fighter – simple enough. He’s done this before and knows that’s basically the simplest class to play. “I want a shield and a sword and chain mail.” Rock on, little dude.

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Allen Deger, “Rebel Dragon”, and a hastily scribbled map…

We also used the overlay system from Scarlet Heroes. This basically means you get a “fray die” to represent all the smaller attacks and by-blows over the course of a round, plus you read hit and damage dice slightly differently, so that you can play effectively with 1 or 2 characters. Because we were going for a simple dungeon crawl, I didn’t want to overthink it and they don’t have much fun when they have to spend all their time bleeding out on the dungeon floor. (Careful play is not quite in their mindset yet.)

So we started off using Ruins of the Undercity. The 9yo did most of the mapping and the 12yo tried to keep a narrative going in a Google Doc. That last part only made it about halfway through the session because it just slows down the pace too much. Also, kids roleplay way better than adults. “Describe your attack” leads to jumping around with air swords, and describing kobolds all burning to death from lamp oil leads to running around the living room with screams and flailing arms.

Lessons for next time:

  • On-the-fly dungeon generation slows the game down too much compared to basic dungeon preparation in advance. I like to improvise details (because players always ask questions about stuff I hadn’t previously considered), but figuring out the basics of what’s behind a door or inside a room should be done ahead of time, at least in games where there’s an actual GM. This isn’t a fault of RotU which is really designed for GM-less play.
  • Equipment “packages” can really speed up character generation. Buying equipment is the longest part of that process for us. The players can customize the packages, of course, but depending on the class and adventure type, they’re going to get almost the same stuff each time anyway.
  • Funny voices are still the best part of being a GM. The looks on the players’ faces when I say “hmmm…” and start rolling a bunch of dice are the second best part. It’s a good way to get them thinking more about what might occur and how they should prepare, because it makes it clear that things can happen even if the GM hasn’t specifically decided they should happen.
  • Set a time limit. Even older kids may get antsy after an hour or more of play and want to do something else. Be prepared to suggest ways to wrap up a session logically. In my case, this means “we’re not pausing in the middle of the dungeon, so you need to head back to the entrance.”

We’ll probably play again tomorrow, or at least the 9yo and I will. He wants that treasure!