Classic Fantasy Kage Gordain - Chapter 10 Posted
#11
CHAPTER 7 - THE BRINK OF DEATH

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: rpgsolo.com solo engine; T&T resources at Wizardawn, other random generators


[Scene 1]

“Kristopher!  Byrd!” Dalen’s voice calls out as he, Sylralei, and Kelseen backtrack having not found a water source themselves. 

“How far did they go?” Sylralei asks.  “They should have heard us by now.”

Kelseen spots some trampled underbrush and a few broken twigs. “I think they went this way,” she says, directing the others’ attention to what she sees. 

After a few more minutes they come to the break in the bushes where Kris and Byrd entered twenty minutes earlier. Leading the group, Kelseen is the first to notice Kris lying face down next to a muddy pool of water. She quickly scans the area for signs of the midshipman. “Kristopher’s down! Anyone see Byrd?”

Sylralei pushes past the woman warrior and, seeing Kris lying there, rushes to his side. 

[Does Syl drop her staff in her hurry to get to Kris?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but… she does lay it down when she arrives and grabs Kris, negating the staff’s effect of lowering WIZ cost.]

Kneeling next to her fallen companion, Syl lets go of her quarterstaff so she can use both hands to turn him over. The elf sees the bloody wound in his chest and fears the worst.

“Poor Baby! Poor Baby! Poor Baby!” she repeats, rapidly casting a total of four Poor Baby spells on Kristopher. 

Kristopher weakly opens his eye and coughs. “Syl, what . . . what’s going on?” 

“We found you lying on the ground. I thought you were dead.”

[Byrd’s surprise attack on Kristopher last chapter dropped his CON to exactly 0. While the letter of the rulebook states that characters die when their CON reaches 0, as is typical in T&T the GM is given discretion in this area. To account for this I have created a “Death Table” for instances when a character’s CON drops below 0. The character may be unconscious, seriously wounded, or dead, with the probability of a worse outcome increasing the further into the negative a character drops. Normally, a 0 on my table is always “unconscious”. 

Usually, this means a character will regain consciousness of their own accord. However, in this instance, I had to consider the circumstances. A single strike through the chest that drops a character 13 CON at once is a severe blow that would probably worsen if not treated soon. To account for this, I determined that for every 5 minutes that passed, Kris would lose an additional 1 CON.

The time it took the party to find him was calculated as 1d10+10=10+10=20 minutes. This meant Kris’ CON would drop to -4.  At -4, all outcomes were a possibility. Luckily, Kris rolled a “1” on the table, which resulted in merely being unconscious.

Next, I rolled to see if he regained consciousness on his own. He didn’t, which meant Syl’s first Poor Baby spell raised him to 1 CON.  Had he awoken I would have given him 1 CON point and Syl’s spells would have been added to that. It was basically a 1 point penalty. When all was said and done, Kris is alive with 3 CON.]

“Byrd,” Kris begins, trying to piece together what he remembers. “I think he attacked me. I was stabbed . . . and he was standing there with a bloody sword. I don’t know. I must’ve blacked out then.”

Dalen was already rummaging through Kris’ pack while he was speaking. “Giant’s spit! The gem is gone!  I think he also took a healing potion.”

“He better hope he’s dead when I catch up to him,” Kelseen declares looking out into the trees, “Because the jungle will be much kinder to him then me if I find him alive.”

As Kel begins to head off in the direction she believes Byrd went, Dalen quickly gets up and catches her. “Wait! Think about this. We don’t know how far he has gotten.”

“That’s exactly why we need to go after him right away!”

“Kris needs to rest and we can’t just leave him here. Besides, you said it yourself. The jungle might take care of him for us. You saw how inept he was.”

Kelseen doesn’t respond but does stop, a seething expression still on her face as she stares off into the jungle.

“Okay, now let’s get back to . . . “ Dalen stops midsentence as he turns back to where he left the others, only to see Kris sitting next to the pond alone and Sylralei standing several feet away, her back to them all.  “Kel, take care of Kristopher. I need to check on Syl.”

The dwarf cautiously approaches the elf. “Syl, is everything okay.”

She waves him off with a flick of her hand. “I’m fine, Dalen.”

“Then why are you over here instead of tending to Kris or talking strategy . . .  or criticizing Kel’s decision to chase after Byrd?”

“I thought he was dead. He could have died.”

“People have been seriously injured and even killed on missions before,” Dalen reminds her. “Those times never affected you.”

“Those times weren’t my fault!”

“What are you talking about? This wasn’t your fault. You weren’t even here. This is that sailor’s fault.”

Syl spins around and looks down on the dwarf, revealing her tear-streamed face. “I’m the reason Kris is even here. I’m the one who told him about Kage Gordain. I’m the one who encouraged him. If it wasn’t for me he’d probably be comfortable in some tavern right now instead of lying in the grass on some Jopha-forsaken island with a sword run through his chest!”

Dalen gives her a moment to catch her breath and calm down before speaking.  “Is this about Shemar?”

Syl says nothing.

“You were not responsible for Shemar’s death. You never led him on. Your relationship was honest and genuine. His actions, what he did, was borne out his feelings for you, the real you. You couldn’t have stopped him even if you begged him otherwise. And you are not responsible for what happened to Kris. He made his own decision to come here. Weren’t you listening last night? You actually saved him, not only from Frogbeard but from a meaningless life. If he was killed, I’m sure he would have rather died trying to make a difference in this world instead of in some drunken tavern brawl.”

Sylralei considers this a moment, not quite ready to fully give in. After a moment she lets out a long breath and relaxes, realizing there might be some wisdom in the dwarf’s words.

Dalen holds his arms open wide, offering a hug to the elf.  A slight smile crosses her face as she accepts. They embrace for several seconds.

“This is a bit awkward,” Dalen finally admits, his face buried just above Syl’s navel, her breasts pressing into his forehead.

“Yeah, it is,” Syl agrees, releasing the Dwarf from her grasp.

They both take a few seconds to regain their composure before heading back to Kel and Kris.

“Tell you what,” Dalen suggests. “I’ll take lead for a bit and give you a chance to sort things out. How does that sound?”

“Sounds great. Thanks.”

By the time the two return to the pond Kristopher has gotten to his feet, though he is still holding on to Kelseen for support. 

“I don’t know what you two were talking about,” Kelseen starts in, “But while you were chatting that traitor is getting away.”

“Let him,” Dalen responds.

“But he has our stuff, not to mention he tried to kill Kris.”

“I agree, I’d like to track him down myself,” Dalen admits. “But we don’t know exactly where which direction he went. He probably doesn’t know how to get back to the beach himself and will end up lost, if he even makes it past the quicksand or the jungle creatures. He’s as good as dead and we probably have to chalk the gem up as a loss.

“Besides, Kris still needs to rest and regain strength before we move on. Syl needs to conserve her magic, so I suggest Kris drinks one of the healing potions. While he’s recovering we can discuss our next move.”

[Kris drinks Dalen’s healing potion for 2d4+2=6 CON points of healing, bringing him to a total of 9.]

“We have three options,” Dalen explains. “First is to head back to the cave and explore the false wall, but I’ll veto that right away. If the Skylark doesn’t get a message from us soon, or if Byrd actually makes it back to the ship, they might believe we are dead and leave without us. Which brings us to a choice, do we head up the cliff and try to signal the ship, or do we head for the coast?”

“I say head for the coast,” Kelseen suggests. “If we’re lucky we might also catch the thief.”

“Either way will be difficult for Kris,” Sylralei says. “He’s still recovering, however, there are too many hidden dangers in the jungle. Our best bet might be to go up. Probably faster, as well.”

“I’m feeling better,” Kris informs the group. “But heading up sounds like the better option. Besides signaling the ship we . . . oh, we’ve got visitors!”

“I see ‘em, too,” Dalen says, pointing across the small pond at two crimson-toned spiders about the size of a very large jungle cat. 


[Image: zmk_0yxjJLLPYHHgvhyvKLjzpOP9kmpI-MerqadU...OjY7kJkFfg]
"Oh, we've got visitors!"

[Per an encounter roll, 2 Blood Spiders enter the area. The spiders are based on monster tables listed on Wizardawn. I used Huge Spiders with 25 MR. each. If they roll a “6”, a character must make an SR against poison.

Approx. 20 minutes have passed and Syl has regained 2 WIZ.  Kris and Dalen made a L2 LCK roll to spot the spiders before they attacked, given them one round to prepare.

Does Kelseen have a loaded crossbow?  (50/50 | 3[d10]) No]

Kelseen, cursing that she did not have the foresight to load her crossbow, picks it up and starts loading it. 

Kristopher looks around for his weapon for the first time since Byrd has left. “My scimitar! I can’t find it.”

“Here,” Syl calls out, handing him her Bich’wa. “This is a little better than your dirk.” She then prepares to cast a spell at the eight-legged creatures rounding the pond in their direction.

Kelseen gets her crossbow loaded and raises it just in time to fire off one shot the quickly approaching spiders. Unfortunately, her shot goes wide. [Failed the  L2 DEX roll] Dalen and Kris are ready with their weapons, but the monster’s momentum allows it to plow through and sink its fangs into Kelseen’s leg. [Spider rolled a “6”. Low roll on a d6 determines who is poisoned. Kel lost.]

Meanwhile, Sylralei hits the second spider with a Take That You Fiend spell that is powerful enough to kill it immediately. [TTYF cast at Level 2 for 30 CON. After Round 1 one spider is dead, the other is down to 19 MR]

“It burns!” Kelseen cries through gritted teeth, clutching her leg and falling back. Dalen and Kris finish off the remaining spider as Syl quickly rushes to Kel’s side and uses most of her remaining magic to heal her as fast as possible. As the wizard casts her spell, Kel rummages through her pack, pulls out the healing potion she was responsible for, and drinks it.

Kelseen stands, stronger but still feeling the effects of the venom. Syl pulls out the last vial of healing potion and offers it to her. “Not yet. That’s our last bottle. I think I’ll be fine.”

But she is not. Almost as soon as she says she’ll be fine, Kel is overcome with a feeling of faintness and crumbles to the ground. Syl removes the stopper from the vial and pushes it to Kel’s mouth, forcing her to drink. Kel lies back, giving the magical liquid time to work. After several minutes she is feeling much better and gets to her feet. 

[The poison mechanic is a combination of Wizdawn’s description and the T&T V5 rules. Per Wizdawn, for a spider of this size, someone who is injected with venom must make a L3 CON roll. Failure means death. That’s a bit too harsh in my book, so I revised it.  According to the T&T, effects from spider poison last 5 combat rounds. Combining the two, this is how I handled it. Kel had to make the L3 CON roll. If she makes the roll, the poison’s effects are neutralized and she takes no damage. If she failed, she would take 1d6 CON damage and move to round 2.  The same L3 CON check is made on round 2. If she fails, the SR for round three is dropped by one, resulting in a L2 CON check. Round 4 will drop to a L1 CON check and it will remain at L1 until round 5. After round 5 the venom’s effects totally wear off. 

The poison rolls for this combat went as such:

R1: Kel fails L3 check and takes 2 points of damage. (Current CON: 2)
R2: Syl casts Poor Baby to heal Kel for 4 CON. Kel fails L3 check and takes 4 points damage (CON: 2)
R3: Kel recovers 6 CON from healing potion, but fails L2 check and loses 3 (CON: 5)
R4: Kel fails L1 check and loses 3 CON (CON:2)
R5: Kel drinks final potion and recovers enough CON to bring her back to a full health of 10 CON. She fails L1 check but only takes 1 damage. (Final CON: 9)]

“That was a close one,” Dalen admits.

“I’ve never seen spiders that color red before,” Kristopher says.

“Those were Blood Spiders,” Sylralei explains. “Really no different from other giant spiders ‘cept for the color.”

“How are you feeling?” Dalen asks Kelseen who by now has retrieved her weapons.

“Surprisingly not that bad. Perhaps even better than before the attack.  I think that last healing potion was extra potent.”

“She probably let herself get bitten so she had an excuse to use all the potions herself,” Syl chided.

“If you believe that then you shouldn’t have wasted your magic on me.”

“Unfortunately, I’m kinda obligated. Preservation of the team and all that.”

“Enough,” Dalen cuts in. “Let’s get to the safety of the cave and rest.”

Kristopher waits for the girls to start off before whispering to Dalen, “Does Syl really believe that about Kelseen?”

“Nah! You saw how she didn’t hesitate to heal Kel during battle. Sylralei takes every mission seriously and would never let a team member die if she can help it. But that doesn’t mean she won’t pass up an opportunity to let Kel think that helping her was some great sacrifice. It the game they play.”

[Scene 2]

[It takes 20 min to get to the cave. Syl recovers 2 WIZ (4 total)

Have any Scrats returned? Encounter roll: 2 No.]

Once they are back in the cave, Dalen suggests that Sylralei rest to regain her magic strength and Kelseen stays with her for protection. Kristopher and he will scale the cliff and try to signal the ship.

“Do you think it’s wise leaving these two alone?” Kris questions.

“Sure,” Dalen answers. “They’re not going to kill each other.”

As if on cue, Syl throws a mischievous grin Kelseen’s way and the warrior woman gives a challenging look in return.

Dalen's eyes dart from one woman to the other. “Yeah . . . I think they’ll be okay.” His voice doesn’t sound confident.  “Let’s go.”

The dwarf leaves the cave, followed closely behind by Kris.

[Scene 3]

[The pair will need to take two rounds to climb high enough to signal the ship. Each round will be similar to the jungle trek. I will roll 1d6 for terrain difficulty. The result will determine the DEX SR necessary to climb (1 = L1  2-3 = L2  4-5 = L3  6 = L4). They will employ Dalen’s rope, so if one can gets up, he will automatically pull the other up safely. Each round is 30 minutes.  If both fail their climbing checks, they can take 15 minutes to travel to another area and try again.]

Kristopher has an easier time climbing up the first several feet of the mountain. After reaching a flat area he lowers down the rope and Dalen uses it to climb up as well. [L2: Dalen fails, Kris succeeds]  At this point the cliff face steepens and the two are unable to find any hand or footholds. [L4: both fail] They head to east for a while until the ground appears angles a little. However, they were unable to climb but a few feet before sliding back down. [L3: both fail]

Before moving on, they glance through the tops of the trees out over the ocean.

“At least the Skylark is still there,” Kris says, spotting a glimpse of the navy ship.

After about another 10 minute trek, Dalen looks at the rocks and boulders and feels he can climb up. He easily pulls himself up and makes good time until he nears the next flat area. Right below it sits a long face of sheer rock about six to seven feet high. The dwarf puts one foot in a crack, pushes up and reaches out to grab the lip of the rock. His hand, however, finds a loose patch of dirt and slips off. Dalen is unable to catch himself and he tumbles back down, bouncing off the rocks, to where Kris is waiting. “Son of a cursed giant!” he swears, blood running down his dirty face. [L2 Both fail, but Dalen rolled a 1, 2 meaning a critical fail. He took 6 (1d6) CON damage as a result]

“Maybe we should head back,” Kris suggests.

“No dwarf lets a mountain get the best of him!” declares the dwarf, recovering his pride. “We move on!”

After several more minutes, the terrain gets worse instead of better. “Then again,” Dalen says, “A smart dwarf knows when it’s time to retreat, review and recalculate.” [L4 Both fail.]

Kris and Dalen turn around and head back to the cave.

End of Chapter 7

Wrap Up:

Using similar rules as those for the journey inland, I ran through Midshipman Byrd’s journey back to the Skylark. Based on that, I know whether or not he made it back to the ship, what happened to him along the way, and how long it took him. I might share this information in a future post, but for now it will remain a secret, only revealed as necessary throughout the regular narrative.
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#12
CHAPTER 8: DANGER FROM THE SHADOWS

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: rpgsolo.com solo engine; Johnn Four's 5-Room Dungeons


[Scene 1]

It is the middle of the night and Kristopher, Sylralei, Kelseen, and Dalen are resting for the evening in the cave that was once inhabited by a nest of scrats. Earlier, Kris and Dalen returned from their failed attempt to signal the Skylark, the naval cutter that has brought the party to Crossbones Island. While they weren’t able to signal the ship, they did have good news in that they saw it still anchored off-shore. While no specific schedule was determined, Syl is pretty confident, based on discussions with the captain while still aboard, that they have roughly one more day before the crew would consider writing them off as lost and return to Sirisea. That is, assuming Midshipman Byrd doesn’t reach the Skylark first and convinces them to leave early.

The best course of action, they all agree, is to get some sleep and try to make some progress in the morning.

During Kelseen’s watch, as happened the previous night, the woman warrior hears some snapping twigs some distance outside the mouth of the cave. [Encounter rolled. Made L2 INT SR to notice the creature(s) before they reached the cave]  She quietly wakes the others. Kris and Kel ready weapons while Syl and Dalen prepare to cast Oh Go Away spells. In the darkness, the party spots several large creatures, vaguely human-like in shape. Kelseen wonders if one might be the same creature she saw the previous night down at the foot of the cliff. Eyes that glint in the moonlight watch them for several moments before the shapes move away.

[In this instance I felt a roll on my reaction table was warranted. The result was “Enthusiastic Friendship”. Since I don’t see these creatures coming up the party and sharing a nice meal, I treated it as they simply leave.

Per my home rules, each character receives 1d6 CON for a night’s rest. The party’s CON are as follows:

Kris: 12   Syl: 16  Kel: 10  Dal: 13      Syl’s WIZ is back to a full 26]

[Scene 2]

In the morning the group agrees to examine what’s behind the wall, however, they still would like to check on the ship and signal it, if possible. To that end, Dalen and Kelseen will use any empty waterskins, healing potion flasks, and helms to carry water from the muddy pond back to the cave. Meanwhile, Syl and Kris will take the rope and Dalen’s target shield and try to scale the cliff again, hoping to signal the ship, providing it is still anchored off-shore.

[Following same climbing rules as Chapter 7, but giving Kris a +5 advantage on the first section due to his familiarity with it.]

Kristopher and Sylralei make it up the cliff to the same point where he and Dalen had difficulty the previous day. This time they travel west instead of east, hoping to find the climb easier. Unfortunately, this turns out not to be the case. Like Dalen the day before, Kris takes quite a fall and injures his leg. Before heading back to the cave, Syl casts Poor Baby on the injured leg, but only uses the amount of magic that she will be able to recover on the trip back. The only good thing about their outing is that they are able to confirm that the Skylark is still present.

Kelseen and Dalen’s task is much more productive. They travel to the pond, gather as much water as they can, and return to the cave. There they douse the wall with the water and rub away as much sandstone as they can using their hands and weapons. Once finished, they gather up their containers and head back to the pond. It takes them six unhindered trips [3 negative encounter rolls] to open up a hole several feet in diameter before they decide to stop and wait for their companions’ return. [I calculated time for both tasks and the cliff journey took longer at 2.7 hours]

Kris and Syl return and tell the others about their journey. Dalen shows them the opening in the wall and points out a series of glyphs he spotted running up both sides of the narrow passageway. [Successful L1 LCK roll]. Syl’s ability to Detect Magic lets her know immediately that they have mystical power.

Would Sylralei be very familiar with these glyphs?
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No  She will need to make a L2 INT roll to be able to decipher.
Roll: 10+15=25 success

“I don’t know these specific glyphs,” the elf wizard admits, “But parts of them resemble glyphs I do know. I think they represent some type of shield or barrier, but exactly what kind I can’t tell you.”

“So it could be some sort of trap?” Kristopher asks.

“Yes,” Sylralie answers. “Or it could be a force that will only let certain people pass. Less likely, but it might even be a passageway to another location or dimension.”

“So how do we figure this out?”

“Let’s start with something easy,” Dalen says and picks up a rock. He hurls it at the passageway. The rock flies past the glyphs and falls to the ground several feet beyond. No darts, blades or knives shoot out of the walls, nor is the rock enveloped in flames or bolts of lightning.  “Well, it’s not an invisible wall.”

“At least not for stones,” Syl agrees. “However, that doesn't mean the glyphs aren't attuned only to living creatures."

“One of us will have to try and walk through,” Kelseen says, voicing what all were thinking.

“Are you volunteering?” Syl asks wearing her familiar smirk.

Kelseen responds by rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

“Relax, Kel,” Syl says. “ I have another idea.” Holding up her snake-headed staff, she speaks the words of the Magic Fangs spell. The rigid wood of the staff begins to bend, then wiggle as the rod transforms into a live snake a little over two feet in length. A tongue flicks out of it’s now living head. She lays the snake down and tells it to “Go” while pointing down the tunnel.  The snake slithers along the ground past the glyphs.



[Image: PPhOW1lLKe82I4u2NcF1IvRcy7FEK_S0oilVyjzu...ElfQ=w2400]

The rod transforms into a live snake a little over two feet in length


[Does the trap work on snakes?
(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and…  the PCs are given a preview of what will happen.]

A few feet beyond the glyphs, the narrow passage opens up into a larger cave-like area. Syl allows the serpent to travel a few feet into this larger chamber before ordering it to return.  When it returns to the line of magical symbols, it’s head and body turn up and rise several inches as though it was scaling up a wall. Thinking the creature is simply distracted, Syl calls for it again. The snake moves sideways along the passage, tries to turn in the direction of the waiting party, but raises up again, apparently unable to move past the line of glyphs.

Behind the snake, back in the chamber, the party sees a small dark shape emerge from the shadows, almost as if it were a part of the shadow separating from itself. The shape elongates and takes on the form of a snake, identical to the one that was once Sylralei’s staff.  As the shadowy serpent crawls toward the cave opening, Syl’s snake turns, coils and prepares to attack. However, before battle can ensue, Syl’s snake uncoils itself, stiffens, and reverts back into a staff. As this happens, the shadowy snake loses form and dissipates back into the shadows.

Kristopher carefully approaches the opening and crouches. Being sure to stay on this side of the glyphs, he reaches his hand out for the staff.

“Wait!” Kelseen cries. “What are you doing?”

“Testing something.” Kris’ arm passes beyond the markings without meeting any resistance. He picks up the staff and pulls it back to himself unhindered.

“It seems you are only trapped once you completely pass the line of glyphs,” Kris surmises, handing Syl back her staff.

“Is it safe to assume that whoever enters the cave will face a shadow version of themselves?” Dalen asks, concerned but with a hint of excitement in his voice.

“That would be a safe guess,” Syl agrees.

“The question is, is the reward worth with danger?” Kris wonders.

“Whoever put this here must have been guarding something valuable,” Kelseen presumes.

Sylralei casts Will-O-Wisp in order to get a better look down the tunnel. Unfortunately, only a narrow portion of the cave can be seen from where the group stands.

“Even if we go in and defeat our shadow selves,” Kristopher begins, “Could we even get out?  We have no guarantee the invisible wall will drop and I can’t see any other exits from here.”

[Can the party see an exit from the cave?
(Unlikely - only a small portion of the room is visible | 2[d10]) No
Making some saving rolls and asking some oracle questions it is also determined that from the party’s vantage point they are unable to see any signs of treasure or containers that might hold treasure.]

“I say we take the chance,” says Dalen.

“I agree with the dwarf,” says Kelseen. “Things are getting boring and I am ready to gain some income on this mission.”

Sylralei studies their eyes and can tell all are in agreement. “If we do this, we have to assume that we will be facing copies of ourselves, with our same abilities and powers. Our biggest threat will be my shadow.”

“Thinking rather highly of yourself?” Kel accuses.

“No, but I do think highly of Take That You Fiend. If you are hit with that spell it will probably be enough to drop you, probably kill you. Your armor is worthless against it. The best you can hope for is to dodge, but that’s a roll of the dice.” 

“Then,” Kris says, “we just need to make sure we target the shadow Syl first and hope we can strike faster than it can cast.”

The four adventurers ponder this a while in silence until Syl’s eyes suddenly grow wide. She looks directly at Kelseen as a wide grin spreads across the wizard’s face.

“Kelseen,” she says, “I’m about to make you a very happy woman!”

[Before we begin combat, let me explain how I intend to handle damage taken by the PCs.  If you are not interested in game mechanics, feel free to skip this section of purple text (but you already know that). 

Back in chapter 4, I explained that the difference between the PCs and opponents combat rolls represents the damage dealt to either party. How these points are distributed amongst the PCs varies between the different versions of T&T and I am not a fan of either one.  In version 5, points are divided equally amongst all the PCs engaged in melee combat. I don’t like this method because it is not indicative of how combat works. This method assumes each character is targeted equally and is attacked with equal force and efficiency. Character deaths will most likely occur in order from least armor to most.

Later versions of T&T allow the players to distribute damage points amongst the character in a manner that does the least harm (i.e. Characters with the most armor take the most damage, the least armor the least damage. Once all armor points have been used us, whatever points remain are distributed amongst the characters) Once again, this is not representative of true combat. It assumes that opponents focus most of their effort against the characters with the most armor and ignore those with little to none. Death will either occur from the character with the lowest CON to the most, or the party will wipe at the same time since damage will be distributed in a way that keeps all the characters alive as long as possible.

I prefer, and will follow, a hybrid method that takes into account a character's location in the battle, actions they may take, and the mindset of the opponents.  Characters who are more likely to be hit due to their position or the focus of the opponent will receive a greater portion of the damage. Below are some examples from the combat which is to follow:

-Characters in the front row might receive 2x the damage of characters in the 2nd row.
-If a character chooses to shield another and is successful, they will receive the damage intended for the character they are protecting.
-If the monsters decide as a group to target a single character, that character will receive a greater portion of the damage depending on how many monsters attack and how successful they are at reaching them.

My hope is that if characters must receive damage, they receive it in a manner that represents what would likely be expected from actual combat.]

[Scene 4]

The four members of Kage Gordain deliberately step past the line of glyphs and into the cave. Last in line, Sylralei does two things as the passes the magical symbols. First, she casts Vorpal Blade on Dalen’s +1 sax dagger that Kris holds in his hand. Then she reaches back to feel if their retreat is indeed blocked by some invisible force. It is.  

Next to Syl, Kelseen has her crossbow ready and aimed forward. The plan is for her to identify the Shadow Sylralei first and hit her with a bolt the moment she solidifies, hopefully before she can cast any spells against the party.

In the front are Kristopher and Dalen. Despite the light emitting from the oil lantern that Dalen is carrying, the shadows seem as thick as when they entered. The dwarf sets the lantern down, draws his axe as four dark shapes drift out from the shadows.

(Round 1)

The loose, cloud-like forms shrink and compress first into tall cylindrical forms.  Dark arms sprout from the sides of each, the lower halves split into legs, and bulbous spheres form on the tops and become heads. Kelseen aims her weapon at the thinnest of the shapes, ready to fire should it indeed take on Syl’s form. Her suspicions are confirmed when a thin wisp of shadow becomes a staff in the creature’s hands. Kel pulls the trigger and the bolt strikes Shadow Syl right in the chest . . . a moment too soon, as it meets no resistance passes right through. [Failed the calculated L1 DEX roll] A mere second later, the creature finishes its transformation and is a perfect double of the female elf except in color. Instead of the silver hair, pale skin and blue leather, the shadow creature is a mixture of blacks and greys.

All four shapes undergo a similar evolution until each is a black and grey replica of one of the four adventurers. Each creature holds a weapon identical to what the person they copied is holding.  Sylralei realizing this quickly shifts her attack from her shadow self to Shadow Kelseen who has a crossbow pointed at the party. She casts Take That You Fiend, but Shadow Kel is slightly faster and releases a bolt before being hit with the magical blast of energy. Luckily, the bolt misses Kelseen, as the warrior barely moves out of the missile's path to lay down her crossbow and draw her sword. [Shadow Kel won SPD challenge against Syl, but failed DEX check] Across the cave, the form that was Kelseen bursts apart after being hit with Syl’s spell and dissipates back into the normal shadows.


[Image: M9iuSTuhBmlVffk30f-jYRM8DitkaB6claLFeFu3...yptA=w2400]
Shadow Sylralei and Shadow Kristopher begin to form


(Rounds 2-6)

The remaining three forms charge. While they engage in melee with Kris, Dalen, and Kelseen, who has now moved up to join the men, it is clear that their focus is on Sylralei.  Kris and Dalen try to stay between the shadows and the elf, but the creatures are strong and they succeed in pushing through. [PCs lost opposing STR checks] Syl casts Take That You Fiend at her shadow self and is surprised to see the creature continue to advance despite taking the full blast. She backs away and parries with her staff, blocking most of the blows. Her leather armor easily absorbs any strikes that make it through.

Dwarf and human hit their shadowy doppelgangers from the rear as Kelseen uses all her might to wedge herself between the shadows and Syl. She takes a beating but her scale mail easily protects her.  The shadows' attention slowly returns to the other members of the party and the seven of them engage in full melee. No single combatant is able to land a solid blow, only small cuts, stabs, and strikes.

“Why isn’t Shadow Syl attacking us with magic?” Dalen calls out between blows.

“They must only mimic our forms, not abilities,” the real Syl answers.

“That seems to be enough,” Kristopher comments, referencing the fact that the fight is rather even, despite the shadow creatures being outnumbered four to three. “They are extremely strong for shadows.”

“You’re not kidding,” Syl agrees. “My Take That You Fiend should have been enough to destroy my shadow-self.”

[Time to talk about the shadow creatures. Per the published adventure, the shadows take on the form of the adventurers in appearance only but do not possess their powers or talents. To compensate, they will work as a team and are very strong, having the same above-average strength. Converting this to T&T game mechanics, I calculated the average strength of the four PC’s, multiplied it by 1.5, and assigned that as the STR for each shadow monster. This gave them a 26 STR and 14 adds. The rest of the stats were identical to the PC the monster represented. The adventure says nothing about how they fight, so I determined that they will use the same weapon as the real character. Finally, I decided that the shadow creatures will not have real armor that will absorb any damage, but instead will have 4 additional CON points added to their counterparts full CON.  The results were as follows:

Shadow Kris: 21 adds plus weapon (dagger 2d+6)  CON: 22
Shadow Syl:  17 adds plus weapon (staff 2d, dagger 2d+3)  CON: 21 
Shadow Kel:  14 adds plus weapon (sword 3d+5, cbow 5d)  CON: 14 
Shadow Dal:  19 adds plus weapon (axe 4d)  CON: 24

The Shadow Creatures won rounds 1-6, but the combat point difference was not enough to overcome the PCs armor.  The only damage dealt to either side was due to spite points.]

(Rounds 7-11)

The three Shadow Creatures suddenly pull back and stop fighting. The party, already worn down from the battle, take the opportunity to catch their breath.

“What are they doing?” Kelseen asks.

“If I had to guess,” Dalen responds, “I’d say they’re strategizing.”

After a moment, all three Shadows turn as one and advance upon Dalen.

“And apparently their strategy is to attack me!” the dwarf concludes.

The creatures take a few swings at Kel, Syl, and Kris in their effort to get past. The three do their best to halt the monsters’ progress, but the monsters eventually break through. They attack Dalen full force, diverting only occasionally to fend off blows from the others. Due to his small stature and fighting skills, Dalen is able to duck under and avoid many of the blows. Those that he can’t avoid are either blocked by his shield or bounce off his armor. 

“Syl, cast a spell already!”  Kelseen orders. The wizard responds with Vorpal Blade, effectively sharpening Kel’s and Kris’ weapons. Even with the improved weapons, however, they only inflict minor damage and are unable to stop the Shadow creatures. The two parties go back and forth with neither really gaining any significant ground. [Once again Shadows win every round, but cannot deal enough damage offset armor bonuses. All damage is due to spite.]

(Rounds 12-14)

Having no luck against the bulky and heavily armored dwarf, the Shadow Creatures turn their attention back to seemingly easier prey: Sylralei. Before any of the party realizes what is going on, Shadow Dalen hits Syl in the side with his axe and Shadow Syl thrusts her staff into the real elf’s chest. Syl is thrown back against a wall sore from the attack, but still in one piece. [Syl had to take 5x more damage than the other characters (based on the monsters skill rolls). That calculated to 7 CON points, exactly the number of points blocked by her armor and magic cloak]

“Okay! I’ve had about enough of you,” Syl yells as she charges Shadow Syl. The first swing of her quarterstaff lands a solid blow in the upper right thigh. As Shadow Syl attempts to parry with her own staff, Syl thrust the end her staff into the enemy’s gut. The creature doubles over from the strike and Syl brings the end of her staff down hard on the back of its neck. Shadow Syl collapses to the ground defeated and dissipates back into the surrounding darkness. [This final hit was actually only 1 spite damage, the monster’s CON having been slowly whittled down during the battle.]

Looking up, Sylralei sees that her companions have the remaining two Shadow Creatures occupied. Kelseen and real Kris have surrounded Shadow Kris and Dalen is facing off one-on-one with his shadow-self. As Kris parries with his own shadow Kelseen pokes it in the back. When it spins to face Kel, Kris drives his dirk in between its shoulder blades. Working together, the pair soon dispatches the Dark Kris and sends it back into the cave’s shadows.

Meanwhile, Syl comes up behind the creature battling Dalen. Catching the monster unawares, she drives the butt of her quarterstaff into its back, sending it toppling forward in Dalen’s direction. The dwarf steps aside and gives the shadow a chop with his axe as it passes. The thing goes down and both dwarf and elf pounce on it and send it back where it came from. 

[In round 14 the PCs finally win a combat 95-58. With the 37 point difference and spite damage, the two remaining shadow creatures are defeated.

Character stats after the battle are as follows:

Kris: 10 CON   Syl: 11 CON  15 WIZ    Kel: 6 CON  Dal: 8 CON]

Sylralei leans on her staff for support as she catches her breath. She looks over to Kelseen who is bent over, hands on knees and breathing heavily. “Kel, you missed me.”

“Don’t . . . start!” Kel warns between breaths. 

“Not to be critical, but have you hit anything with that crossbow?” asks Kristopher who is seated with his back against the cave wall.  Dalen, who is leaning against the wall next to him can only shake his head.

“Go easy on her, boys,” Syl chides. “Actually, I’m touched that she couldn’t find it in her heart to harm me, even if it was just a monster that looked like me.”

“I see you had no problem blasting my shadow,” Kelseen points out.

“No, I didn’t,” Syl agrees, quickly adding as a wide smile crosses her countenance, “And it was kinda fun!”

End of Chapter 8
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#13
CHAPTER 9: THE TUNNELS

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: rpgsolo.com solo engine; John Fours’ 5-Room Dungeons; Age of Fable Treasure Tables; other generators


[Setup]

I realized that I forgot to formally mention that the cave with the Shadow Creatures was Room 4 of the Crossbones Island 5-Room Dungeon, the Final Big Battle or Climax. This adventure will start with Room 5.

[Scene 1-Room 5:Reward, Revelation, or Twist]

“Blessed giant’s grave!” Dalen exclaims, motioning the others over to get a better look.

After catching his breath, the dwarf began to investigate the cave where the four adventurers had just defeated shadow versions of themselves. The cave walls were very irregular and outcroppings blocked their view, leaving many possibilities for entrances to other tunnels or chambers. Dalen rounded one such rock formation to discover a deep alcove filled with various chests, boxes, urns, and sacks.


[Image: A_i_n2zEWjhLBKDmWmi_pI8GqtEJZttdXURp5yrM...JMhw=w2400]

[4d4=12 Containers. 1d4 for each container to determine the type (chest, small box, sack, urn). Each type required a different number of rolls on my treasure type table (i.e. chest=4 rolls, urn=1 roll). Each roll on the treasure type table directed me to consult either the standard T&T treasure table, Age of Fable’s Treasure Tables, or nothing. There was also a chance that each container was trapped and that any traps might be ineffective due to their age.]

The party begins to carefully open the containers, searching each for traps. The collection contained a variety of coins, weapons, armor, and other odds and ends. Only one box appeared to be trapped, but the mechanism looked old and worn. Still, Sylralei was careful to disarm it just in case it was still working. [Successful L1 INT SR] Inside one chest they found a ring. Another box held a paintbrush. Syl detected magic on both of the items but couldn’t begin to guess what power they held and now was not the time to experiment. A potion was recovered from the same chest that held the ring, unfortunately, it wasn’t labeled. [checked using the “Drink Me” table found on Alea Iactanda Est.]

The most disappointing find among the trove is a moldy, torn (possibly chewed by scrats?) sack that contained the remnants of a book. It appears to be some sort of journal, however, most of the pages are torn or water damaged. Included in the journal is what the group guesses is some sort of treasure map, but the ink on what remains of the page is so splotched and washed away that this conclusion is mere speculation.

“What a shame,” Dalen sighs, examining the damaged book. “This could have been the most interesting thing in the lot.”

In the end, the final tally is as follows (I’ll list gem values, but obviously the PCs won’t know how much each item is worth until it is appraised):

Coins=230cp, 770sp, 660gp
A comb adorned with a sapphire. (300gp)
40’ of rope
2 steel helms, one decorated with coral (5gp).
A sack of unidentified powder
Knife with pearl (100gp) set in the pommel
Ring (of unknown magic)
Potion (unidentified)
Paintbrush (of unknown magic)

[Is there a passageway leaving out of the cave?
(Likely (natural cave was blocked off, probably part of a system) | 9[d10]) Yes]

Further exploration of the cave reveals a second tunnel leading out of the chamber.

“Should we take this stuff back to the ship or explore further?” Kelseen asks.

“Treasure is nice,” Dalen admits, “But it’s not why we are here.”

“We still have no explanation as to what happened to the scouting vessels,” Kristopher adds in agreement. “They obviously weren’t killed by the shadow trap. Perhaps they were killed by jungle creatures, but it’s hard for me to believe that two entire crews, one of which was warned there might be some danger, would have been eliminated. And even if that did happen, where are their ships?”

“You have a point,” Sylralei agrees. “We should press on.”

Kelseen shakes her head. “The cave wall was intact. Whatever happened to them it will not be found in this cave.”

“Unless, these caves exit somewhere else on the island or end in another false wall.” Dalen counters.

“Right now we have no guarantee that if we leave this cave the way we came in we will be able to get back in without having to fight the shadow creatures again,” says Sylralei. “I would suggest we explore the tunnel and see what we find. If it’s too extensive or it turns out to be a dead-end we just come back.”

Dalen grabs the lantern and Kelseen joins him at the front of the line. Syl and Kris, holding a torch, follow behind. After several feet, the tunnel splits into (1d4) two branches. [Each branch will require a successful L2 LCK SR to find something of interest (i.e. exit, treasure, etc.), as well as one encounter check. Also, for those keeping track, Syl has regained 3 WIZ during this time.]

The first branch winds into the rock a couple hundred feet before ending in a dead-end. They head back to the split and investigate the other passage. After about 5 minutes they see a faint glow ahead of them.

“There’s light up ahead!” Dalen tells the group. “Maybe it’s another cave.”

The party eagerly moves forward and rounds a bend where the tunnel walls widen. Instead of an exit, they see a lit lantern sitting on the ground. Next to it are three men. One stands alone, sword at the ready. The other two stand next to each other. One is clearly the other’s prisoner, as he has the point of a sword held against his gut.

“Hold it right there!” the man restraining the prisoner commands. “Don’t take another step.”

“Listen, I’ll help you,” the prisoner pleads to his captor. “I promise, just let me go so I can fight.”

“Shut up! Ya think I’m stupid!”

While this exchange is going on, Sly leans forward and quietly whispers in Kel’s ear, “Keep them distracted.”

[Rolled an encounter in the second branch. A few rolls on encounter and reaction tables resulted in 2 Pirates and 1 prisoner with a hostile reaction to the party.  The Pirates passed a L2 LCK roll to detect the approaching PCs, but failed a L2 LCK roll to surprise. The oracle told me that the pirates would use the prisoner as a hostage, but also mentioned an event: Cruelty/Misfortune - PC Negative. My interpretation was that the prisoner would offer to help the pirates. However, an opposing stat roll (Prisoners CHA vs. Pirates INT) determined that the Pirate didn’t believe him.]
[Image: SCgTMvc8eOk6Hih0_rHZUfNdOcwWHaF05moXq6dU...mD0w=w2400]


“Okay. Okay. You can put that sword down,” Kelseen assures the pirate. “We are not going to attack.”

“I feel more comfortable with it right here,” the pirate says, denying Kelseen's suggestion. “You try anything, he’s the first to die. Who are you and why are you in these caves?”

“We’re shipwrecked on this island . . . just looking for shelter,” Kel lied.

“With weapons drawn? Unlikely. Drop them, all of you, come with . . . Oh, no you don’t!”

While he conversed with Kelseen, the pirate keeps his eyes on all the party members. Syl particularly catches his attention. From her cloak and staff, he suspects she might be a wizard and, when he sees her mouth move he acts quickly, driving the point of his sword into the prisoner. [11 CON damage, dropping the prisoner to -5 CON].  As the stabbed man falls to the ground, Syl finishes casting her Oh Go Away spell. A blank look crosses the pirate's face. He lowers his weapon, turns and begins to walk away in the opposite direction.

[Who made the first move, Syl or the Pirate, was dependent upon a challenge roll between Syl’s SPD and the Pirate’s DEX. Kel failed a CHR roll, meaning she was unable to sufficiently distract the pirate. Syl’s SPD roll would be adjusted by -3.  After assessing the penalty, Syl’s SPD roll totaled 10, the Pirate’s DEX roll totaled 20. The Pirate acted first and stabbed the prisoner.

As for the Oh Go Away spell, there is a chance that the spell will fail, however, since T&T rules base that possibility on a player not knowing the enemy’s stats, I had to modify the mechanics for solo play. I will leave that explanation for the wrap up at the end of this chapter for anyone who is interested. What is important now is that the spell was successful and the pirate was magically compelled to leave the battle.]

The remaining Pirate, seeing his partner leave him to fight alone, thinks better of taking on four-to-one odds and turns to flee. [Fails morale check] Kelseen and Dalen act quick and strike at the fleeing man before he can escape. He is dead before he can take two steps. [Free attack at full strength per SPD SR, Kel and Dalen’s combat roll is enough to kill the Pirate.]

“Quick! Stop him before he can warn others,” Syl commands, directing Kris to go after the retreating Pirate. She then attends to the fallen prisoner, casting Poor Baby on him to slow some of the bleeding. He doesn’t open his eyes, but the elf can tell that the man is still alive.

[At -5, the prisoner is eligible for a roll on my Death Table. The roll determined that he is alive, but with a serious wound. Based on the table found here, he suffered a gall bladder injury and will be spitting up/defecating blood for 1 day. In-game mechanics, whenever he tries to move I will roll a STR SR. He needs a L2 to remain conscious, L3 to do more than just move. Those SR levels drop as he regains CON. He must receive significant medical help within (1d6) 3 days or he will die. Extended rest will only recover 1-3 CON.]

Kristopher easily catches up to the Pirate and grabs him. The man snaps out of his spell induced stupor but is easily overcome and thrown to the ground. [Kris made L2 STR SR] Dalen soon catches up to Kristopher and helps him bind the captured man with a length of his rope.

[The following interrogation was generated using multiple oracle rolls and UNE. Unless the oracle is clear as to the truthfulness of any statement, anything the pirate says will be subject to a “Truth Check” using Alea Iactanda Est’s Rumour Table. Before the conversation, I rolled a CHA SR using Kris’ stats to determine how intimidated the Pirate would be. The result was L1, which meant the pirate will speak freely and there will be no modification to the truth roll.]

By now the wounded prisoner has regained consciousness and Syl and Kel have assisted moving him to where Kris and Dalen were finishing binding the Pirate. Kris begins to grill the man for information.

“Who are you? What are you doing on this island?”

The bound man snorts, “I’m a pirate. What else would I be?”

“How many other pirates are on the island?”

“Besides me and Cooper there are only a few of us. We stopped at this island to restock our food and water. Most of the crew stayed on the ship.” 

“Who’s your Captain?” Kris asked, hoping he’d have a chance to settle the score with Frogbeard, though he knew it was unlikely that this pirate was one of his crew.

“You’ll find out soon enough when he runs you through with his sword.”

“If you are just looking for food, why are you in these caves? Last time I checked pineapples don’t grow underground. And why were you holding that man prisoner?”

“Capt’n wanted us to find a good place to set up a treasure cache. We found these caves and were checking ‘em out. As for the prisoner, he was with us to help haul back any food . . . or feed to the jungle cats if necessary. Y’know, to keep ‘em from eatin’ us.”  He laughs at his own wit.

By this time Kris feels he has extracted as much from the Pirate as he believes he can get. He walks over to where Sylralei is tending to the wounded prisoner.

“How’s he doing?”

“Not well,” the elf answers. “He’s alive and conscious. I cast Poor Baby to slow the bleeding, but his wounds are more serious than a simple healing spell can fix. [See discussion at the end of the chapter]  He’s weak and can barely walk.”

Kris turns to the man. “Hi, my name is Kristopher. What’s yours?”

“Jochim,” he says weakly.

“Jochim, we need some information about this island. Are you able to answer some questions?”

Jochim nods his head.

“Have you been their prisoner for long?”

“A month . . . maybe two. Don’t know. I’m from Sirisea. I . . . we were sent to survey the island.”

“And you were captured when you got to the island?” Kris asked surprised.

Jochim nods again.

“The Pirate who stabbed you said you just arrived at the island to gather food.”

“Lies . . . The island is a safe harbor for the pirates. They built bedhouses, storage rooms, even a jail for us prisoners.”

“How many prisoners?” Syl asks.

“Ten. Most of my crew. Some from another vessel sent to find us and a couple that were already here.”  He coughs violently, spitting up blood.

“It’s okay. Rest.” Syl instructs him.

Jochim raises a hand a few inches in an attempt to wave away her concerns but is too weak and lets it drop back down. “No . . . I can go on. They made us dig in the caves. We only cleared this passage a couple of days ago.”

“To find a hiding place for the captain’s treasure,” Kris finished, more of a statement than a question.

“No.  Looking for treasure.”

“That’s not what the pirate said.”

“He knew. We all knew. Captain Helton was looking for a hidden treasure . . . supposed to be hidden on the island.” [Truth check indicated that the pirate was not telling the truth regarding his knowledge of the treasure.]

“How many pirates are on the island?”

The wounded man closes his eyes and takes a few deep breaths before answering. “Not sure. Could be around thirty if the ship is just off-shore, less if it is out to sea. We can’t tell from the jail.” 

[Per Oracle, he couldn’t confirm the number of pirates]

“One more question, then you can rest. Captain Helton, what can you tell us about him?”

Her,” Jochim corrects Kris. [Truth roll indicated that the pirate’s information about the captain was not completely true.] “Udele Helton. Some of the crew calls her ‘Smelly’ Helton. She has the respect of the crew, but that’s all I really know, other than her first mate is ‘Cruel’ Peyton.”

While Kris spoke with Jochim, Kelseen and Dalen gather around to listen. He asks if any of them have heard about Udele “Smelly” Helton. None had. 

[Scene 2]

After some discussion, the group devises a plan to continue down the tunnel and see what the situation is at the other end. They secure the pirate firmly to a stalagmite and put Jochim in a safe place out of the pirate’s view. Leaving a lantern to provide light for both men, the four adventurers continue along the tunnel, Kris carrying one of the pirate’s short swords.

When they near the end Kris volunteers to go alone and scout out the situation. He comes upon a large wall of stones, boulders, and rubble. In the center of the wall is an opening a few feet wide that appears, from the tool marks and bits of broken rock on the ground, to have been recently excavated. Kris carefully peers through the opening. Sitting against a wall wearing chains are a ragged looking man and woman. He suspects they are two more prisoners. Standing completely in the cave are three pirates, one of which is female. Kris wonders if that is “Smelly” Helton, but quickly dismisses the thought when it is clear that she lacks any air of authority. Just outside the cave entrance, Kris can see other pirates milling about. He thinks there might be only two, but can’t be certain. He remains for a couple of minutes before heading back to tell the others. [Kris easily made a L1 LCK roll to successful spy on the group without being seen]

“Back in the Bronze Horn we had a system of ‘lure and ambush’ that should work,” Kris suggests.  “We’ll hide and I’ll call out to them, doing my best to sound like the pirate. When they pass by, we attack.”

All are in agreement.. Once they have found hiding places Kris calls out.

“We found the treasure! Could use a little help carryin’ it out!”

[Scene 3]

“. . . Could use a little help carryin’ it out!”

Up in the cave, the short, yet muscular, female pirate grows excited and begins to head for the opening recently made through the cave wall.  ‘Cruel’ Peyton, however, puts a hand on her shoulder, stopping her from going any further.  He can’t be sure with the echo, but he doesn’t think the voice sounds like Clifford Penny.

“Mr. Penny,” the first mate calls back. “Do you have your dagger?”

The other pirate looks questioningly at her supervisor as they wait for a response. After a long hesitation, they hear, “Yeah. Got it right here.”

“What’s that about,” the female asks. “Why do you care if he has his dagger?”

“A while back I caught Penny on patrol without his dagger. As punishment I made him clean the entire ship’s deck with nothing but a hand brush. Since then, whenever I ask about his dagger his answer is always the same. ‘For you Peyton, I’ve got two.’ That is not Clifford Peyton!”

[Scene 4]

Kristopher looks across the tunnel at Dalen who is crouched behind a pile of boulders. “Why is he asking about my dagger?”

Dalen shrugs but keeps silent waiting for a response or the sounds of people coming through the tunnel. After a while, the voice sounds again.

“C’mon out with what you got! I want to see some of it first before we all head in there.”

“Giants!” Dalen curses. “They’re onto us!”

End of Chapter 9

[Chapter Wrap-Up]

Syl told Kris the prisoner’s wound were, “more serious than a simple healing spell can fix.” Mechanically, this statement is probably not true. When a PC gets fried by a dragon, yet survives with at least 1 hit point, enough healing spells and potions can bring him back to full health in a short amount of time, possibly before the party moves on to the next room. Syl has enough WIZ to heal Jochim to a state better than he was before being stabbed and still have enough WIZ to deal about 30 CON of damage with TTYF. However, this would make the roll on the “serious wound” table rather pointless. Therefore, to honor the table and “raise the stakes,” I am going to rule that while magic can maintain Jochim’s stability, the wound will require greater attention than Syl can offer to permanently stop further damage. Mechanically, I will require him to make a SR simply to move or remain conscious and, if he is not cared for in three days (medic on naval boat will be sufficient), he will drop to 0 CON and die. I also leave open the possibility of a slow CON drain during that time, depending on how things go.

Oh Go Away!  This is a T&T spell that compels the victim to simply walk away. Officially, a wizard is supposed to declare they are casting the spell before they know their opponent’s stats. Then the wizard’s combined INT, LCK, and CHA is compared to the same of the opponent (or MR if it is a monster). If the wizard’s is higher, the opponent is affected by the spell.

This doesn’t exactly work for solo play, as my PC’s will always know the stats they have to beat and would easily avoid wasting WIZ on a spell that fails to work. To account for this I changed the way the spell works. Basically, the wizard and opponent each roll a d6. If the wizard rolls higher the spell worked. However, the more experienced the wizard is compared to the opponent increases their chances of winning the roll. As with the original spell, the Wizard’s INT, LCK, and CHA is compared to the opponent's stats or MR. If the difference is four or less in either direction, each combatant rolls a single die. If the difference is greater than five, the opponent with the higher number gets to roll an additional die for every additional 5 points (5-9=+1d6, 10-14=+2d6, 15-19=3d6, and so on.). The highest die roll is then compared to the opponent. If a tie, the entire roll is repeated.

For instance, a Wizard has stats equalling 28 against a 35 MR monster. The monster wins by 7 points, giving him an additional 1d6. Wizard rolls a 4. Monster rolls a 1 and a 5. The monster’s 5 beats the wizard’s 4.

However, if the monster only had a 15 MR, the wizard would roll a total of 3d6. (28-15=13. 13/5=2.6 or 2 dice)
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#14
CHAPTER 10: ENGAGING THE PIRATES

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: rpgsolo.com solo engine; various other generators

[Scene 1]

“They’re trying to flush us out,” Dalen explains to Kristopher, following the failed attempt to lure the pirates into the tunnels, trapping them in an ambush.

“So what’s our next move?”

By now Sylralei has come out of her hiding spot among the rocks and approaches the men. Looking at Kris she asks, “You care what happens to that pirate we have tied up back there?”

“Not particularly.”

“Good, let’s go.”

[Scene 2]

On the way back to where they left Jochim and the pirate Syl explains her plan. If she can cast My Wish Your Command on the pirate she can instruct him to exit the tunnels first, walk up the other enemies in the cave and, when they are not expecting it, attack. While they are occupied with him, the party can then surprise the pirates by entering the cave and attacking.

[For solo purposes, I am handling the charm person spell My Wish Your Command with the same mechanics as Oh Go Away. The only difference is which stats are compared. For this test, Syl has a combined stat score of 47 against the pirate’s 55.  Unfortunately, that means the pirate will be able to roll one extra die and take the highest of the two.]

The eleven wizard crouches down before the seated and bound pirate who looks back at her with disdain. 

“You,” she says, “Are going to help us with a little problem. We need you to distract your friends back there in the cave.”

“Not a chance!” he huffs.

“You don’t really have a choice. My Wish Your Command!”

Hearing Syl’s words, Mr. Penny closes his eyes and his face muscles go slack. He rests that way for several breaths before reopening his eyes and giving Syl a wide grin.

“Not today, honey,” Penny says, dispelling any illusion that Syl’s efforts were successful. [Penny won the dice roll.]

“Damn!” Syl curses.

“So now what?” Kelseen asks.

“Now that we know what we are up against, perhaps we should head back to the Skylark,” Dalen suggests. “They have a full crew of trained fighters who can take care of these rogues. Why risk our lives when we don’t have to?”

“We don’t know if the ship is still there,” Syl counters. “I’m not sure if Jochim can make it to the shore and I don’t want to leave him here. The pirates will certainly kill him when they find him. There’s the treasure to think about. We don’t want them to take it.”

“We can recover that after the navy takes care of the pirates.” Kelseen interrupts.

If they take care of the pirates. We don’t know how many there are. Captain Pollard might decide it’s best to come back with more troops. In the meantime, they leave with the gold. Besides, it’s what we came here to do.”

“We came here to find out what happened to the missing crews.”

“And take care of any problems we can handle. That’s our mission!”

“You just said we don’t know how many there are. How do we know if we can handle them?”

“I’m with Syl,” Kristopher cuts in, disrupting the women’s squabble. “I’ve been in Jochim’s position. We may not be dealing with Frogbeard, but these thieves are cut from the same cloth. We need to stop them and stop them now. They can’t be given a chance to slip away.”

Kelseen cries out, “This is insane! Dalen, are you going to go along with this?”

The dwarf thinks for a moment. “We’re sitting ducks if we just walk into that cave. We’ll still need a distraction.”

Kelseen rolls her eyes in disbelief. The dwarf is actually considering this!

“And I might just have one,” Syl says, running her fingers along her snake-headed staff.

[Scene 3]

Kristopher, Dalen, Kelseen and Sylralei watch the snake (which mere moments before was a wizard's staff) slither over the rocks and into the open cavern. Instead of heading directly for the pirates, the reptile makes its way around the edge of the cavern. While not as big a distraction as a human turned trader, Syl hopes that the snake will at least draw enough attention to give the party time to sneak out of the tunnels and attack from behind. And if they are lucky, the little guy might even bite a pirate or two.

Once the snake is about halfway to the cave opening it veers away from the wall, but still in the direction of the mouth of the cave. A pirate near the mouth of the cave is the first to see the creature. He calls out and the others look as well. When all are distracted with their gaze on the snake and not on the tunnel, Dalen climbs out of the tunnel opening.

[Each character must make a LCK SR to successfully sneak in undetected. The more time that passes, the more likely they will be spotted. 1st person, Dalen, must make a L1 SR. The 2nd and 3rd a L2 SR. The 4th a L3 SR.

Dalen rolls 24 and makes it in safe.]

As Kristopher exits the tunnel he takes a quick inventory. He sees the same three pirates in the cave and one of the pirates that he spotted outside.  He has no idea where the fifth is. [Rolled a 26 SR and is safe]

Kelseen is next, but before she even sets her first foot down inside the cave, the pirate who is standing in the cave mouth (and as a result primarily facing the back of the cave) catches a glimpse of Kris and Dalen inside the cave. [Kel rolled a 19, target was 25]

“Intruders!” he calls out.

‘Cruel’ Peyton and the two remaining pirates turn to face Dalen and Kristopher. The snake forgotten, the men charge with swords drawn. The stocky female pirate ignores the human and dwarf and instead moves to intercept Kelseen who is exiting the tunnel.

[Do any pirates ignore Kris and Dalen and go to guard the opening?
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but… only 1 

Kel must make a DEX SR to be able to fully enter the cave and join in the battle. L2=In with no penalty, L1=In but her attack roll is cut in half.  Kel fails with a 15. Because she is unable to make it out of the tunnel, Kel is effectively blocking Syl from casting any spells.

‘Cruel’ Peyton (M)  S: 27  D: 17  LK: 22  CON: 60 (59)  INT: 16  CHR: 21  SPD: 12  (30 adds)
P1 (M) S: 20  D: 15  LK: 17  CON: 30 (29)  INT: 13  CHR: 18  SPD: 10  (16 adds)
P2 (F)  S: 27  D: 17  LK: 22  CON: 60 (45)  INT: 16  CHR: 21  SPD: 12  (30 adds)
P4 (M) S: 20  D: 15  LK: 17  CON: 30  INT: 13  CHR: 18  SPD: 10  (16 adds)]

Dalen and Kris engage the three male pirates. They parry a bit and are even able to get in a strike or two, but the sea thieves prove to be too much of a match for them. [Pirates win combat by 42 points. Each side gets 2 spite points] Dalen is punched, bashed and stabbed. His armor takes the brunt of the attack, but a good strike to the head drops him [after adjusting for armor, Dalen is down to -1 CON]

Kristopher tries to help his teammate, but doing so gives ‘Cruel’ Peyton an opening. The first mate drives the tip of his sword deep into Kristopher’s side, just above the right thigh. Kris yells in pain and pulls away. Unable to stay on his feet, he falls back landing hard on a sharp rock. The last thing he hears is a crack coming from his pelvis before losing consciousness. [After adjusting for armor and adding spite, Kris is down to -7]

“Retreat!” Syl cries, seeing the situation go bad. She quickly follows that with a Take That You Fiend spell cast as the pirate who is quickly approaching Kelseen. The woman warrior is momentarily conflicted as to what to do as the burst of energy hits the female pirate squarely in the chest. However, the pirate merely winces before lunging at Kelseen with the point of her sword. The warrior turns to retreat but her hesitation costs her as the sword point pierces her armor. Kel falls to the cave floor and loses consciousness.

[The female pirate essentially used round one to travel the distance to the tunnel. So in round 2, she gets an attack, Syl can cast a spell, and Kel can either attack or retreat.  Syl only had enough WIZ for a Level 1 TTYF spell, which automatically did 15 CON damage and counted as part of the attack against the female pirate. Kel tried to flee which meant the pirate got a free attack, minus any adjustments for Kel’s SPEED, -25% for every SPD SR Level she rolls. Unfortunately, she didn’t even reach L1 and has to take full damage.
Pirate wins the combat by 30 points, all of which are applied to Kel, dropping her to -1 after armor adjustment.

As all this was going on, I checked to see if the chained slaves in the cave could assist the party in any way. Being chained to each other they would have to work together to stand and try to tackle a pirate. I handled this with a DEX SR based on the prisoner with the lowest stat. L1: Pirate is distracted and attack is reduced by half, L2: Pirate is tackled and has no attack.  The prisoners completely failed the roll, so they had no impact and there was nothing to include in the narrative.]

Sylralei doesn’t wait to see Kel’s fate but takes off down the tunnel. Her only thought is to outrun the pirates, exit the cave and survive. If she can do that, perhaps she can make it back to the Skylark, circle the island with the entire navy and take care of the pirates. With any luck, the others will have survived and could be rescued, but that seemed like a long shot at this point.

[The chase will be a contest of SPD. Each party will make a SPD SR (pirates will use the fastest person, 12 SPD). They will get a point for each Level reached. <L1=0, L1=1, L2=2, etc.  If the pirate’s points ever equal Syl’s they catch up. Syl will need 3 rounds to make it out of the tunnels.

Syl starts with a head start equaling 1 + SPD SR points.  She rolls 19. She is at 1 point total.

Round 1:Syl rolls 19=0 points;  Pirates roll 18 = 0 points  Total: Syl:1  Pirates:0]

Guided by the light ahead, Syl runs as fast as she can.  Behind her all four pirates have entered the tunnel and are in pursuit. As she nears Jochim, Syl calls out for him to run. Jochim tries to stand but is still too weak. [STR SR=13, not able to stand] However, he might be able to help. The freed prisoner pulls himself toward the main path. He can’t stop her pursuers, but if he can get in their way, maybe that will give Sylralei a few extra seconds. However, he is too slow and is barely in the path when ‘Cruel’ Peyton and the other rush by, kicking him out of the way as they pass.

[If Jochim could make a L1 LCK SR, Syl would have gotten 1 point and a free SPD roll.  He rolled a 14.

Do any pirates stop to help Clifford Penny the captured pirate?
(Very Likely | 9[d10]) Yes    How many? (d2) 2  
First mate continues, other pirate continuing is (based on d3) P2.  Both have a SPD of 12.]

A couple of the pirates stop to help their tied-up companion as the first mate and the female pirate continue to race after the elf. Sylralei hears their shouts and footsteps and picks up the pace. With the light from the lanterns behind her fading, she quickly casts Will-O-Wisp. The light, however, casts dark shadows along the walls and on the ground hiding a large rock in the middle of the tunnel. She strikes it with her right shin and tumbles to the ground.

[Round 2: Syl: 1,2 which is a critical fail. She gets -1 point;   Pirate: 26=2 points;  
Total: Syl: 0  Pirate: 2 Syl is caught!]

Before Sylralei can get back to her feet, Peyton pounces on her and rams her head into the ground. 

“Quick!” he calls to the female pirate. “Give me your bandana!”

She removes the head covering, hands it to Peyton, and helps him pin their quarry to the ground. Syl struggles but is unable to stop them as Peyton shoves a piece of cloth torn from his own shirt into her mouth and ties the bandana around her head, forming a gag.

“There! Now she won’t be able to cast any spells.”

The two lift Syl to her feet and march her back to the others, where they bind her arms and legs with the ropes that were previously used to hold Penny in place. Lifting her by the shoulders and legs, the pirates carry her back to the cave.

[Struggle was determined by an opposing STR check. Cruel=34  Syl=18.  Syl lost (1d6) 3 CON in the struggle.

Since there is already precedent in the story for the pirates taking prisoners, I’m not going to have them kill the party outright (as would be the case if all party members were down and the enemy is a monster), but instead, take them prisoner. This is good for us since otherwise this would be the end of our story and probably the end of this particular world for me as the majority of Kage Gordain would be wiped out.  However, this decision requires me to determine who is dead or alive in the party after the battle and what sort of condition they are in.

Death checks for downed members of the party (1d10 rolled on my homemade table):

Dalen (-1): 7 = Unconscious
Kel (-1): 6 Unconscious
Kris (-7, on a  roll of 5 or greater he is dead, otherwise he’s seriously wounded): 4  Critical wound in left leg and buttocks. Loss of 3 STR, 6 DEX, and 4 CON till extended rest and treatment. Following the campaign, he will have a permanent loss of half the DEX damage (Drops his max DEX from 14 to 11). Critical wound information generated from this table.]

[Scene 4]

Kristopher opens his eyes.

He finds himself laying on the ground. Moving his head left to right he can tell that, while he is outside, he is in some type of cage or prison, its bars made from bamboo, thick tree limbs, and other types of wood. [Is the cage metal? (Unlikely | 3[d10]) No +Event (to be revealed later)] In the cage with him are several men and one woman. They are dressed in rags. He also notices Dalen and Kelseen, all their armor and weapons missing except for their leggings and shirts. [Until they are given non-protective pants, I will say they block 2 CON of damage due to still wearing their leg armor] He is unable to see Sylralei.

[Image: ni_fmUM775HmplpRi3tX451-RNhwXV_bNa1iICh1...DtMg=w2400]
Caged Prisoner

“Arrgh!” he cries as he tries to sit up.

All turn toward him and Kelseen quickly kneels beside him.

“Don’t move. You were seriously wounded in the thigh.”

“Heard something crack when I fell,” Kris added. “Feels like I broke my ass.  Where’s Syl?”

[What have they done with Sylralei? d10
1-2: In cage  3-7: gagged and tied to tree  8-9: somewhere else  10: in cage, tongue cut out
Roll: 4 whew!]

“She’s tied to that tree over there. They’ve gagged her so she can’t cast any spells.”

Kris turns his head and cranes his neck as much as he can bear to see the bound elf. She is still wearing her leather armor (he assumes it was either too difficult to remove or she wore nothing underneath), but her cape has been removed. Strong ropes wrap around her, holding her fast to the trunk of a palm tree. Another rope is fitted over a gag stuffed in her mouth, securing her head to the tree as well.

“These are the other prisoners Jochim told us about, I assume?” Kris asks.

“Seven of them are here,” Kel confirms. “Jochim and the two that were in the cave have not been brought back. They might be retrieving the treasure we found.”

Suddenly, everyone’s attention turns toward the front of the cage and the path that leads from the beach. Heading up the path in their direction is the large burly first mate who Kris recognizes from the cave. Next to him is a woman dressed in green, her brown-blonde hair tied in two long, thick braids that frame her face and hang to just above her belt. From that belt hangs a curved saber and a Jambiya. While she stands nearly a foot shorter than the man next to her, she walks with authority and purpose. Based on that and the way the guard straightened to attention at her approach, Kristopher suspects this is Captain Udele Helton.

[Image: 15oHgHlZ911CVYLpXZNNsnQgkIsBrlvJKE0Wz7oC...oS2w=w2400]
...This is Captain Udele Helton

As soon as they arrive, the woman glares at Dalen with dark eyes. “Dwarf!”

“Yes,” Dalen responds. “Might you be Udele Helton?”

“You will address me as Captain Helton!” she orders. “You killed one of my men!”

“That was unfortunate,” Dalen agreed, “But he was about to . . .”

“Quiet!” Helton barks. “That was not a question. What are you doing on my island?”

Taking a cue from Helton’s own crewmember, Dalen attempts to cover their real mission. “Pardon us for intruding. We were on a fishing boat and travelled way off course. We were lost and running low on supplies when we spotted this island. We did not realize it belonged to you. We were simply looking for food and some shelter.”

[Conversation requires a check of Dalen’s CHA vs. Helton’s INT. The better Dalen rolls the more Helton will believe him. Dalen rolls a 6,6,5,4 + 14 CHA = 35 Total.  Helton rolls 1,1,5,1+16 INT = 24 Total.  Dalen wins by 11 points, which means Helton will believe him completely.]

The captain darts her gaze from one party member to the next. “It’s no wonder you were lost. You four must be the most unlikely fishers in all of Barisea because of all the islands you could have landed upon, you landed on my personal hideaway. And now you four belong to me. 

[Using UNE for conversation:  Inquisitive-Curiosity-Wealth]

“But what good does that do me?” Helton continues. “I’m sure you have nothing of any real value on your craft. And we’ve just found the Gustaf’s treasure. Once that is hauled in and loaded aboard the ship I have little use for slave labor. You came along just in time to . . . let’s say, be disposed of. That applies to all of you,”  she says looking at the other prisoners. “But that’ll be later. Right now we’ve got work to do.”

Captain Helton turns to her first mate and the guard to discuss some things. When they are finished Helton and her first mate walk away, leaving the guard behind.

“Now I know why they call her ‘Smelly’ Helton,” Kelseen whispers to Kristopher.

Kris gives her a questioning look, having detected no offensive odor wafting their way from the Captain.

“She stinks like a rat!”


End of Chapter 10


Author’s Note: I have finished the actual gameplay for this campaign and I expect it will take three more posts to finish: one of gameplay, one that is primarily narration to wrap up the story, and the afterpost that fills in behind-the-scenes information that would never see the light of day otherwise.  I expect those will post at a much quicker pace than my last few chapters. As always, thanks for reading and all comments/questions are welcome.
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#15
Well, at least it wasn't a TPK, only a TPC (capture). Am curious to see if they'll get out of their current predicament.
Btw, how long did that combat take you to roll up the 14 or so rounds of combat with those shadow creatures?
Anyway, nice game!
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