Classic Fantasy Kage Gordain - Complete

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: 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.

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: 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

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


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)

Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: 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.
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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(03-25-2020, 01:13 AM)Jingo Wrote: Btw, how long did that combat take you to roll up the 14 or so rounds of combat with those shadow creatures?

I don't remember exactly, but it did span across two play sessions. It may have been around two hours, including the time to type notes. But remember, a T&T combat round is much different than most other RPGs, in that you don't have to account for an attack by every single participant. Eighty percent of the combat results come from rolling the total dice for each party and comparing the numbers.  The rest is casting any spells and assigning damage, which I handle a little differently than the official T&T rules. Therefore, one T&T combat round is much shorter than one round in another RPG. In fact, any other RPG probably would have required fewer rounds to complete, since more damage would have probably been dished out in a shorter period of time. (i.e. weaker characters would have gone down sooner instead of gaining the benefit of having there attacks/defense lumped together with the stronger characters.).
Game System: Tunnels & Trolls
Tools: solo engine; Microlite20 RPG Collection 


Before I get into this chapter, I want to make a confession. I am not an expert on ships, especially historical sailing ships. I’m sure this is not a big surprise and I doubted anyone thought I was. The reason I bring this up is that in earlier chapters I described the Skylark as a naval cutter. Upon further research, I discovered that while there are naval cutters, the type and size of a cutter is not what I had in mind when I envisioned the Skylark. The ship I was thinking of and what will be depicted in the rest of this campaign is much larger. Therefore, I have gone back to my previous chapters and replaced any reference to a “cutter” with some other generic term, such as ship or vessel. I will leave the specifics to the experts.

[Scene 1]

Does the Skylark decide to head back to Sirisea?
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Does the Skylark decide to circle the island to scout it out?
(Likely (curious what is going on) | 9[d10]) Yes +Event (to be revealed later)

It is mid-afternoon aboard the Naval ship Skylark. Captain Manyard Pollard is sitting at his desk in his quarters when there is a rap on the door. After being given permission, the first mate enters the room.

“Any sign of the landing party?” Pollard asks.

“No, sir. Today will be the third day since they left for the island. What are your plans so I can inform the crew.”

“Not even seen a signal?”

“No, sir.”

Pollard thinks for a long moment. “The more time that passes the less likely they will return. Still, I don’t want to give up hope yet. At the same, I can’t afford to send any more crew ashore to search for them. I say we give them till the ‘morn, then we should think about heading back to Sirisea.”

“If I may offer a suggestion, sir?”

“Speak your mind, Hart.”

“We have enough daylight left to circle the island. I believe we owe it to our crew and passengers to take a look around in case they can be seen on the far side of the island’s peaks.”

“That sounds like a reasonable request,” Captain Pollard agrees. “Let the crew know and prepare the ship. We sail in an hour.”

[Scene 2]

“Back up you scum!” The pirate guard warns the caged prisoners, raking his dagger across the wooden bars. Beyond him, a couple other pirates are bringing the two prisoners back from the cave. Kristopher does not see Jochim with them.

Once the guard is satisfied that the prisoners are at a safe distance, he unlocks the padlock, unwinds the chain, and opens the gate. The pirates shove the rough-looking man and woman back into the cage.

“Where is Jochim?” asks one of the prisoners who was already in the cage.

[Do the pirates kill Jochim?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and…] 

“Unfortunately, he didn’t make it. But here’s something to remember him by.” [and…] He tosses Jochim’s head into the cage. It lands on the ground, rolls over, and comes to rest facing up. As the pirates are laughing, one of the male prisoners freaks out. 

“No! No!” he screams as he charges the gate. The pirates are caught off guard and are too stunned to do anything as the man pushes past and runs off. The pirates who escorted the men back give chase. The guard quickly closes the gate and throws the lock on the chain to secure it before running after the others.

[In chapter 10 when asking the oracle about the cage, I rolled an event: Open / Disruption-NPC negative. What follows is the result of that event.]

When they are out of earshot Dalen directs Kel’s attention to the gate.  “Look!”

In his haste, the guard forgot to wrap the chain around the bar of the gate. So, while the chain was locked, it was not attached to the door!

“Kel! Quickly, give me a hand.” 

Dalen rushes out while Kel holds open the gate and keeps an eye for any returning pirates. Dalen picks up a large rock and strikes the wooden post that the chain is wrapped around, cracking it nearly through. Tossing the rock away, he gets back in the cage and attempts to fix the beam so the damage is not noticeable. [Dalen makes a LCK SR for success. The higher the roll, the less likely the tampering will be noticed. Roll: 6,1+16 LCK=23 A L1 success.]

As Dalen is making the final adjustments to the bar one of the other prisoners warn him that the pirates are returning. They carry the escaped prisoner between them.  Did the prisoner get away? (Very Unlikely | 2[d10]) No;  Do the pirates make an example of the prisoner? (50/50 | 2[d10]) No] The guard quickly unlocks the chain and opens the door as the others roughly toss the man back into the cage. He lands face down in the dirt, the air rushing out of his lungs.

“Take it easy with him!” one of the females exclaims as she rushes over to check on him.

“Hmmph!” the guard snorts, re-locking the gate, correctly this time. “Be thankful that’s all we did. If he would’ve put up much of fight we may’ve had to cut his throat.” His companions laugh at that before heading back to the beach.

[The guard needed a L2 INT SR to notice the broken bar (L1+1 level for Dalen’s L1 roll) He rolled a 1,3+13 INT = 17 and failed to notice.0.]

[Scene 3]

Ellis casts his line into the waters as gentle waves lap at the tips of his bare toes dangling off the end of the pier where he sits. Captain Helton runs a tight ship and drives her crew hard, which makes these rare moments of peace all the more special for him. Earlier all the treasure found in the cave had been hauled out, brought back to the beach, and stored in the supply hut. Now that the search was over, there wasn’t much to do but celebrate. Some of the men cracked open a jug of rum. Others pulled out various musical instruments to lead the other in a few rounds of sea shanties. Ellis simply liked to fish. He enjoyed the time alone, gazing out over the sea and listening to the gulls. If he was lucky, he might actually catch a fish or two for that night’s dinner.

Yes, this is heaven!

And then Ellis sees it.

Out of the corner of his eye, the pirate catches a glimpse of movement. Coming around the south end of the island are the bow and jibs of a ship. The fishing forgotten, Ellis drops the pole and jumps to his feet. “Ship!” he yells, waving his hands and pointing at the approaching vessel. “There’s a ship!”

Most of the pirates ignore him...or more likely can not hear him over the music of the makeshift band. Ellis runs down the pier to the beach, continuing to warn the others as loudly as he can. One by one the pirates begin to notice and it isn’t long before the Captain realizes something is up. She strides over and meets Ellis at the foot of the pier.

“What is it?” she demands.

“Captain Helton. There’s a ship coming approaching.”

By now enough the Skylark has rounded the island that it was clearly visible from where Helton stands. 

“Serpents!” she cried, spotting the flag of the Orthan navy flying from the ship’s mast. “Start gathering the men and send them to the boats.” 

Spotting her first mate, Charles ‘Cruel’ Peyton, Helton calls him over. After informing him of the situation she instructs him to stay on the island with two other men (not including the pirate guarding the prisoners) while she and the rest of the pirates row out to the Broken Curse to help fight back the Orthan navy.

Does Udele send pirates to the ship from shore?
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and… She accompanies them

[Scene 4]

[Ship’s stats and sea combat rules are based on the Microlite20 variant Gryphons & Gramarye, as found in the Microlite20 RPG Collection.

The Skylark is a medium sailing ship with an AC 8 and 121 Ship HP. Based on the random wind conditions, the ship’s current movement is up to 15 yards a round.

The pirate ship Broken Curse is a small sailing ship with AC 8 and 70 Ship HP.]

Captain Pollard of the Skylark stands on the deck next to his first mate who is scanning the other ship with a telescope.

“I only see a few pirates aboard their ship, Captain. Five or six at the most.” He turns the spyglass to the shore. “There is a lot of activity onshore, however. It looks like the pirates there are climbing into a couple of boats. I think they are going to try and race us to their ship.”

“Get the catapults ready.” Captain Pollard orders. “Fire once we are in range!”

[The Skylark has enough men to fire two catapults once every 5 rounds. They must be within 150-300 yrds. It will take them 5 minutes to get in range. To hit with a catapult, an attack roll is made with a d20. The attacker needs to roll higher than the opponent’s AC to hit. Shots do 3d6 damage. Additionally, any hits have a 1 in 6 chance of injuring 1d4 people for 2d6 CON points each (“Doubles Add and Roll Over” applies).

Do the navy use flaming shots? (Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Pirates only have enough men on the Broken Curse to fire two catapults once every 8 rounds.

Do the pirates use flaming shots? (Unlikely | 2[d10]) No +Event: Overindulge / Attention-Move towards goal  (to be resolved during combat)]

Aboard the Broken Curse, the few pirates that are currently on the ship hurriedly ready the two catapults aimed in the direction of the oncoming naval vessel. As the Skylark closes in it begins to turn slightly to give their own catapults an angle of attack. Once the two ships are in range [Round 1], each lets a volley of shots fly. The Skylark’s shots were a bit hasty and miss by several feet. [Two misses: 5 and 4] The pirate ship has better luck, piercing the navy ship with both shots, one crashing into the deck, shattering wood and injuring two seamen. [Two hits: 18 and 12, for a combined ship damage of 13, two crewmen are injured for 11 and 5 points respectively]

[For the navy crew I used the same Wizardawn stats as the pirates, randomly determining if each member would use the “easy” or “normal” stats. This created crew members who had much higher stats than the two men who accompanied the PC’s to shore. However, having higher stats would not have changed anything in the earlier part of this adventure.]

As the pilot of the Skylark turns the bow back toward their enemy, the two lifeboats that are carrying Captain Helton and the rest of the pirates from shore have just left the pier. [It will take them 15 rounds to reach the Curse. They are AC 9 and each has 15 Ship HP]

“Captain, I was correct,” the first mate tells Captain Pollard as he lowers the telescope. “The pirates from shore are trying to make it to the ship.”

“Is that so? Officer Grandshine,” he says to the Pilot. “When we are roughly two hundred yards out, halt our progress and turn the ship to give our catapults clear shot to those lifeboats.” 

[This is the event rolled a few minutes earlier:  Overindulge / Attention-Move towards goal Seeing an opportunity to take out the enemy before they reach the ship, the Skylark will turn its attention to the approaching lifeboats.]

After several minutes [rounds 2-5], the pilot steers the Skylark into position and the men manning the weapons make their final adjustments. 

[Round 6] “Fire!”

Both catapults target the lead lifeboat. The pirates see the shots sailing through the air towards them. Mere seconds before impact they scramble over the sides, realizing they are about to be hit. The tiny craft is hit by both shots and torn to splinters. [Both randomly targeted the same boat. Two hits: 11 and 17 for a combined damage of 23 points. No pirates hit.] The second lifeboat, the one carrying the pirate Captain, has room for one more but Helton orders the rowers onward in the hopes of making it to the ship before the Skylark. [Per oracle rolls, Helton was on the boat that was not hit but does not pick up any of the floundering pirates despite having space for one.]

[Rounds 7-8] Captain Pollard gives the order to reload. He orders one catapult to fire at the pirate ship and the other to target the remaining lifeboat. While they prepare to shoot again, the Broken Curse fires another volley of shots at the Skylark. These shots, however, are too far and fly harmlessly overhead. [Two misses: 7 and 6]

[Rounds 9-11 Lifeboat comes within 4 rounds of reaching the Curse.] The Skylark fires again. The shot at the pirate ship hits squarely and rips a hole in the side. [Hit: 11 for 11 damage] The shot at Helton’s lifeboat clips the back end, but no one is hit and the boat remains afloat. [Hit: 12 for 9 damage.]

[Rounds 12-16] The Skylark’s pilot resumes his progress toward the Broken Curse, but keeps slow enough to stay in catapult range for one final shot. However, by doing so the pirates also have an opportunity for one more long-range attack. Their first shot is wide, but the second one buries itself into the ship’s side [One miss/one hit: 6, 9 for 5 points damage, no injuries] In retaliation, the navy fires off their final two shots. One falls short, but the other hits right in the midst of the men huddled around one of the catapults, killing one and injuring the other two. Additionally, a loose piece of metal flies through the air and strikes one of the pirates manning the other catapult. [One miss/One hit: 2, 12 for 13 damage, 4 pirates are injured, killing one.]

With this final volley over, the Skylark sails out of catapult range and closes the distance with the Broken Curse. the naval crew preparing themselves to board the enemy vessel.

[Image: TB-_fW7JutbaUGTibWMsVJI5O88e_SPVRMxKSgEH...iPNQ=w2400]
The Skylark ... closes the distance with the Broken Curse

[Scene 5]

Back on Crossbones Island, the pirate guarding the prisoners watches the scene unfolding at sea from his vantage point on the rise overlooking the beach. Minutes earlier First Mate Peyton ran up to tell him to keep an eye on the prisoners and not leave his post. He had every intention of following orders, however, in his interest in the battle and a desire to get a better view, he has moved several yards away from the cage.

“Now’s our chance while the guard is distracted,” Dalen tells the others. He picks two men to help Kelseen and himself subdue the guard while the remaining prisoners carry Kristopher away to a safe location in the forest. Once everyone understands the plan, Dalen grips the bar that he weakened earlier and pulls it apart while Kelseen slips the chain through the gap. Throwing the gate open, the dwarf and three humans quickly run toward the distracted guard.

[They need a L2 LCK roll to surprise the guard, using Dalen’s stats. Roll: 6,4+16LCK=26 Success! Each character gets a free unarmed attack with 1d6.]

Kel and Dalen’s unspoken plan is simply to capture the guard. The other two prisoners, however, are less forgiving. All four tackle the guard before he knows what is going on. Kelseen just tries to hold him down, but the two prisoners are relentless with their fist strikes, taking out weeks of anger against this one pirate. The guard soon loses consciousness and might well be dead. [He is.] 

They strip the man of his weapons, Kelseen taking his sword and Dalen his dagger. Dalen finds the lock keys and hands them to Kel, telling her and the others to lock the guard up in the cage in case he awakens. [He won't.] While they are doing that, Dalen runs over to Sylralie and cuts her loose from the tree. The elf shakes her arms and legs to regain some feeling before the five of them head off to rejoin the others.

[Scene 6]

“Get up there!” Captain Udele Helton orders as her lifeboat reaches the ladder leading up to the Broken Curse’s deck. She follows after the eight other pirates have climbed up. Reaching the top she peers over just in time to see the Skylark pulling up alongside her ship, several of its crew aiming crossbows in her general direction.

“Duck!” one of the pirates cries and Helton backs down a rung as the navy lets crossbow bolts fly. On deck, the shots sink harmlessly into the boxes and crates behind which the pirates hide. [Each of 10 naval soldiers need a L3 DEX roll (based on distance and enemy size) to hit. All 10 missed. My conclusion after playing this campaign is that T&T missile weapons are basically worthless unless you have a DEX over 25 or so.]

Helton finishes climbing aboard as the Skylark’s crew throw grapples and secure the two ships together. Many naval men climb over the railing as the pirates draw swords and engage them in battle. Despite having an initial advantage due to the navy having to concentrate on climbing from one ship to the other, they are unable to benefit as their surge is quickly repelled by the trained man. [Despite each naval man having a disadvantage of 1 less die for boarding, the navy wins the first combat by 29 points. Damage is distributed randomly amongst the pirates.]

Another wave of navy climbs aboard the Curse as a couple of pirates fall. The sea thieves do their best to fight back but are easily overwhelmed by the attacking navy who outnumber them almost two to one. Despite being about to lose her ship, Captain Helton refrains from joining the battle herself, thinking more about protecting her own life. [Does Captain Helton join in the battle? (Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but… the Navy can reach her if they win any combat roll, a fact that turns out to be irrelevant as combat continues.]

Within a mere couple of minutes the battle is over and Helton lays down her sword in an act of surrender. When the fight is over, not a naval man is lost, yet five pirates lay dead and the remainder are beaten, cut, and barely hanging on to life. [Navy wins by 337 points. The pirates only have a combined CON of 342, but instead of merely wiping them out I decided the pirates would surrender. I randomly rolled to see how many were still alive. The result was 9. The navy will send a boat to pick up the 10 pirates floating in the water, for a total of 19 prisoners.]

[Scene 7]

Peering around the corner of a small hut-like structure, Sylralie sees ‘Cruel’ Peyton and two other pirates standing side by side on the pier watching the battle at sea. She ducks back and quickly tells Dalen, Kelseen and five of the former slaves the plan.

After being freed by Dalen and meeting up with Kristopher and the others, it was discussed what should be done. Syl, extremely ticked-off at that point, was ready to take the fight to the pirates. It didn’t take much convincing as several of the freed prisoners wanted to join her. Kristopher was too injured to move, but Kelseen and Dalen, with their newly acquired weapons, were also ready. Three of the prisoners agreed to stay with Kris and the rest searched for heavy branches that could be used as clubs. Meanwhile, Syl used some of her recovered magic to heal her other teammates. [Leaving her with 11 WIZ]

Now the group is carefully sneaking up behind the three pirates. They are successful until one of the pirates happens to glance back and see the eight of them approaching. He immediately warns the others and they turn around. [Needed a L1 Luck using the worst stat (5) Roll: 13 fail] 

“Hey, how’d you get out!”

“I’m going to kill Wiley when I see him,” Peyton curses.

The two parties charge at each other and meet at the foot of the pier. Syl casts Take That You Fiend [at random target] as the others swing their weapons. The pirate struck by the spell is shaken momentarily but quickly rejoins the fight. Even though the pirates are outnumbered, the prisoner’s lack of fighting skill shows and their blows are easily deflected. Unfortunately, the large group also makes it hard for Dalen and Kel to get in a good strike. 

Syl casts another Take That You Fiend at Peyton [chosen randomly]. He winces but remains in the battle, his sword gutting one of his opponents. Most of the other prisoners have been cut and stabbed and, even though they are still standing, it's clear that they are fearful and overpowered. Dalen and Kel try to make up for their inexperience but are pushed aside by the others who are trying to avoid being hit.

[After two rounds of combat, the pirates have won both. One prisoner is dead. Syl’s TTYF spells did injure two of the pirates but didn’t reduce either to 0 CON.]

Out of magic, Syl reaches for a dropped club intending to join in the melee. Dalen, seeing another prisoner go down, thinks they might have a chance if he can incapacitate one of the pirates. Targeting the first mate, the dwarf kicks up sand with all his might, hoping it might blind the man. However, the spray of grit fails to reach high enough. This move exposes Dalen to Peyton’s attack and the pirate drives his sword into the dwarf’s side, sending him to the ground unconscious.

[Dalen tried a stunt by kicking sand. I discussed stunts back in Chapter 4, but did not talk about what happens if a character fails his stunt. There are no hard and fast rules and it’s up to the GM to determine the penalty. Some rule that the player cannot contribute any dice to the current melee attack round. Others say there is no penalty and the attack round continues as normal. I don’t like either of those extremes. There should be a penalty, but even if a character fails the stunt he may still be able to defend himself or cause some damage. The way I handle it is that I let the character gamble two of his attack dice on the stunt roll. If he fails the stunt, he loses those two dice from that round’s attack.

In this instance, Dalen needed a L2 LCK roll to blind the pirate. He rolled 4,2+16LCK = 22. A fail! Dalen’s attack dice are reduced by two.]

Before she can take a swing, Syl sees Dalen go down and all the other prisoners either dead or dying. Besides herself, only Kelseen is left standing. [Pirates won the last round by 40. Randomly assigned damage took down all the prisoners and reduced Dalen to 0.]

“Run for the water!” Syl cries and takes off down the pier. Kel follows with the pirates in hot pursuit. They are still several feet from the end when Kelseen senses that she is about to be overtaken. Stopping suddenly, she spins around with her sword. The pirate behind her tries to halt but the blade slices into his arm and he falls back, momentarily blocking his companion’s progress. Kelseen wastes no time turning back toward the end of the pier and jumping off, right behind Sylralei.

[I used the same race mechanic as in the tunnels, requiring the PCs to only stay ahead of the pirates for one round. One pirate did catch them, which initiated a round of melee which the PC’s won. Because they stopped, one more round was added to the race, which the PCs were able to win.

Once the entire campaign was over, I realized I made a goof at this point and was inconsistent with the rest of the story. When the PCs fled, the pirates should have gotten a free attack reduced only by a high SPD SR. If I base that SPD roll on the results of the first turn of the race, both PC’s would have been killed. However, I feel this omission is acceptable for the following reasons:

1. Prior to this campaign, I did not have any experience with choosing an appropriate enemy level for the level of my party. It was clear after a few rounds of combat that the stats I chose for my pirates were too high for this party. Omitting the free attack was one way to offset this.

2. If this were not a solo RPG, the person playing Sylralei would have probably asked how many CON each pirate had and would have targeted her TTYF spell appropriately to kill someone. If I had done that instead of choosing randomly, I could have eliminated one of the pirates. That alone would have been enough for the good guys to win.

3. I’m invested in these characters and wanted to give them another chance to survive. Solo Roleplayer’s Prerogative! Besides, their escape made for a more interesting final chapter (to follow this chapter)]

Syl’s leather keeps her from swimming, but she is able to find the sandy bottom with her feet. The water comes up to just above her chin and she has to tilt her head back to breathe or speak. Kelseen stands next to her, her head slightly further out of the water.

The three pirates stop at the end of the pier. “Should we go in after them?”

“Don’t bother,” ‘Cruel’ Peyton responds.  “They can’t go anywhere and they’ll have to come ashore sometime. We’ll just wait for them.”

With that, the three pirates walk back to the beach.

[Does Cruel dive in after them? (Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Does he tell the others to chase them? (50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...they keep an eye on the PCs so they can’t come ashore.]

“I really pissed this one up,” Sylralie confesses when the pirates have left.

“Yep!” Kelseen agrees.

“Aren’t you going to say I told you so?”

“You are standing in the ocean with water up to your mouth and nowhere to go. Do I really need to point out the obvious?”

“You were right. I got us captured. Dalen’s probably dead. What am I doing? I have no right leading this group. If we make it out this mess, I think I’m done.”

Kelseen says nothing but lets the elf wallow in her own thoughts.

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The water comes up to just above her chin.

By now the pirates have reached the beach and searched the fallen men to be sure there were no survivors. Thinking of Dalen, Syl searches for any sign of her friend’s body. Surprisingly, she does not see any evidence of the dwarf. Her spirits lift slightly at the thought that he might still be alive.

[Dalen was at 0 CON, which meant he was only unconscious. While the pirates were chasing Kel and Syl, he rolled a L1 LCK to wake up and an L1 LCK to escape unseen.]

[Scene 8]

“Uh, Peyton, what’s going on?” One of the pirates point, directing first mate Peyton to the two ships.

Two lifeboats are heading toward shore. One has stopped near the pirates who were floundering in the sea after their lifeboat was struck by a catapult shot. The other heads in the direction of the shore. Even though they are still ways out, the pirates can tell that the men manning the boats are not their own.

“Gentlemen, prepare yourselves. We’re about to have visitors.”

“You’re planning on fighting them?” one of the other pirates asks.

“Of course!” insists Peyton. “We don’t run!” [Does Peyton decide to hide? (Likely | 3[d10]) No
What does he do? 1-2. Decide to wait for the boat and fight? 3-4. Go get the prisoners to use as bargaining chips? 5. Surrender     Roll (d5): 2 wants to wait and fight

Do the underlings agree? (50/50 | 2[d10]) No  Do they: 1. run and hide   2. run, take some treasure and hide 3. try to take Peyton prisoner to use him as a bargaining chip?   Roll (d3): 2 run and take some treasure]

“Uhh, suit yourself,” the other pirate responds. “I think we’re gonna go hide.”

“What! You cowards! If you were men you’d stay and fight.”

“I think we’d rather be alive cowards than dead men.”

The two pirates run inland to hide, leaving Peyton standing alone.

As the two fleeing pirates pass by the storage building one stops and makes a detour inside. He emerges carrying a crate full of bottles. Once he emerges, the two pirates disappear into the surrounding forest.

[During a chapter 9 oracle check I rolled an event: Heal/Pleasures.  I interpreted this as the pirates had a stash of healing potions and that they stored them along with a case of rum. Therefore, when the pirates took the case of rum with them into the forest, they also took the healing potions.]

As the lifeboat nears the shore it passes by Sylralei and Kelseen. They wave the naval officers on, letting them know they are OK. The lifeboat continues to the shore where ‘Cruel’ Peyton awaits their arrival. 

As the boat nears the shore, eight seamen jump into the shallows and draw their weapons. Peyton, possessed by the desire to avenge his captain and defend his land, waits defiantly. The first few naval men that make it to shore engage Peyton in combat. [Navy wins combat by 48, dropping Peyton to 11 CON] Too late the first mate realizes he has made a grave mistake and tries to run. Before he can make it two steps, however, the naval officers cut him down dead.


Tools: d30 Sandbox Companion; Matt Vancil’s Orcish Dictionary

[Set Up]

This chapter has no gameplay and is total narration to wrap up this campaign.

Following the events of the previous chapter, the navy rescued all the members of Kage Gordain and the remaining escaped prisoners from the island. The PCs were able to recover all their equipment, either from the pirate’s weapon stash or from the cave. All the treasure recovered from the island, both what was found in the cave and already stored in the pirate’s stash, has been confiscated and loaded aboard the Skylark. A rundown of the treasure will be listed later in this chapter. Finally, the two pirates that ran off with the case of rum were never found.

As this chapter starts, the Skylark is traveling back to Sirisea with Captain Helton and the surviving pirates locked up in a part of the ship’s hold.

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The Skylark

[Scene 1]

“Come in,” Kristopher calls out in response to the light rapping on his cabin door. 

Sylralei, now dressed in pants and shirt, enters. She sees Kris covered on a cot, wearing little but shorts and the bandages that have been applied to cover his many wounds.

“How are you feeling?” the elf asks.

“I can barely move. I have wounds in my back, thigh, and buttock. You can say this mission has been a real pain in my ass.”

Syl offers a slight smile to acknowledge the joke she already heard a million times from others. She takes a seat next to the bed.

“You’ll be happy to know we made out pretty well,” she says, filling Kristopher in on the news he may have missed while being confined to bed. “I offered Captain Pollard most of the treasure on account of the fact that we wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for him rescuing us. However, when he heard about Midshipman Byrd’s betrayal and you nearly being killed at his hand, he felt we were owed some compensation. In the end, he only took half the coin and whatever was recovered from the pirate ship. We kept the rest of the gold and silver coins and any other items found on the island. Oh, and I was able to scavenge several ship items Pollard didn’t want for Garlen to sell in his shop when we get back home.” [At the beginning of Chapter 10 as I was asking the oracle about the Skylark’s actions I rolled an event: Trust/Anger-NPC Positive. I determined that if the PCs survive and return to the ship, the captain would be angry that a crewmember he trusted betrayed the group. To make amends he would compensate the party by not accepting the full amount offered. (i.e. the NPC acts positively toward the party)]

“What about the pirate ship?”

“Set ablaze and left to burn. The Captain didn’t want to try to sail her back.

“Speaking of the pirates, Udele Helton chose Crossbones Island as a hideout primarily because of a legend about a treasure hidden there a while back by a pirate named Gustaf. It’s safe to assume that is the treasure we found. What’s more, it turns out when Captain Pollard interrogated the pirates he learned that Udele Helton is one of Frogbeard’s top lieutenants. Turns out she won his respect by beating him in a game of cards and winning one of his ships from him.” [Back in chapter 9 when the PCs were interrogating the captured pirate in the tunnels I did an oracle check to see if the pirate claimed the Captain was Frogbeard. It came up no, the later roll on the truth table came up “Partly True.” If the claim that the captain is not Frogbeard is only partly true, the first thing I thought of was that she was someone closely associated with Frogbeard.]

“What do you know?” Kris says. “I guess I can consider this part of my revenge. Is she alive?”

“For now. We’ll see what the authorities do to her once we get back to the mainland.”

With Kris all caught up, Sylralei sits silently for a few moments, head bowed. She swallows hard before speaking her next words.

“I’m sorry. This is my fault.”

“What is?”

“You lying here. In fact, this whole mission was a mess. Upon our return to Baybrook, I will be informing Garlen of my decision to leave the group.”

Kristopher lets out a breath he had been holding inadvertently. “Dalen told me as much earlier,” he admits. “Why are you blaming yourself for this?”

“I’m rash. I’m hasty. I’ve made some bad decisions. Not just on Crossbones Island, but all the time. People have been hurt, even killed, because of me. That cannot happen again.”

“That night on the island when you walked away from me at the fire [Chapter 5], Dalen said you had a story to tell. Is that what this is about?”

Instead of answering Syl stands. “My decision is best. Let’s just leave it at that.”  She walks away from the bed and heads for the door.

“Stop!” Kris demands.

Syl halts, her eyes narrow in fury. He dares command me!

“Tell me, Syl! You owe me. Remember when we met.”

Syl softens. He dares . . . because he’s earned it.

[Scene 2]

It was a crap job. Not because it paid lousy or was terribly difficult. It was crap because of the object of the mission.

The son of a prominent noble was kidnapped and the father hired Kage Gordain to find and rescue him. Instead of studying at university or learning the family business, the son preferred to spend his time at the tavern, drinking and whoring. One night he met up with the wrong maiden and drank a bit too much. The next morning he found himself chained up at the oars of one of Frogbeard the Pirate’s galleys, a story rather similar to Kristoper Miglward’s, yet very different. Kris didn’t come from a wealthy family with any number of opportunities. He wasn’t someplace he shouldn't have been. Kristopher was an outlaw without a gang and on the run. The Seven Ayes Tavern may have been the only home he had at the time.

With the help of a little coin, a few contacts, and successfully cast My Wish Your Command spell, Sylralei and Dalen had little trouble finding the slave’s cell. Upon their entry, the noble's whelp of a son pleaded and begged to be saved. He was someone important! He didn’t deserve to be treated in such a manner! Syl quickly released his shackles, more to shut him up and keep him from alerting any other pirates than because she cared at all what happened to the privileged snob.

In this manner, Kris was also different. He never asked to be released. He sat quietly as his fellow slaves were freed. Syl truly believed if they left him there he would have simply accepted his fate. Once his chains were finally removed, all he offered was a quiet, “Thanks.”

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Kris sat quietly as his fellow slaves were freed.

Kage Gordain’s mission only required them to return the son to his home, but they weren’t going to leave the rest of the slaves behind to be recaptured. Instead, they would escort them to the next average-sized city, a couple of days away. Whenever possible they traveled on forested trails to avoid the main trade routes.

They were barely several hours out when most of the slaves began to feel comfortable reverting back into men, to use Syl’s thoughts. While Dalen led the way up at the front, Sylralei was far enough behind him to hear the crude comments of the now free men. It’s been a while since they’d had the pleasure of a woman, and now there’s a fine one within reach. They remarked, rather lewdly, about her various body parts and how they would love to grab and grope them. The rogues debated who among them was man enough to take her and who had to wait their turn. Even though the noble’s son didn’t dare associate with these lowly men, he didn’t mind chuckling along with their comments, the ungrateful whelp.

Here, once again, the former outlaw Kristopher differed from the boy.

Sylralei had had enough of this talk. As the evening was approaching, she could sense the men inching closer and could hear them making plans. As incredulous as it seemed, she truly believed these idiots were going to attempt to overpower her and Dalen and rape her right there. She spun around intending to hit them with a Take That You Fiend spell in order to put them in their place. However, before they could feel her wrath Kris was standing between her and the mob.

“Back off,” he warned. “Show some respect.”

“Outta my way,” the largest of the group said moving past Kris. Without hesitation, Kris landing a punch squarely on the man’s jaw, sending him to the ground.

“Anyone else?” he asked, facing the rest of them with fists at his side. No one moved forward but slowly backed off a bit. The fact that by now both Dalen and Syl had drawn their weapons and were ready to fight didn’t hurt.

It was clear to Sylralei that Kristopher was not like the rest of the men. He was more capable and confident than the worthless son of a noble, yet more refined and respectful than the rest of the rogues. What she didn’t know was what he expected to receive in return. 

But she knew what she had to offer.

Once they had reached the safety of the city the elf wizard approached the outlaw and offered to share his bed for the night. Certainly, that must be the reason for his chivalry. To win her favor. However, to Syl’s surprise, Kris refused. To accept, he said, would be to cheapen what he did. How noble is it to save a woman from rape only to bed her himself? Besides, he felt women had much to offer apart from their bodies. This woman he just met, in particular, was brave, skilled, intelligent, and he respected her.

No, Kris assured her, he did what he did because it was right, not because he expected a reward, and certainly not to take from her what wasn’t rightfully his.

It was then that Sylralei decided to offer him a position in Kage Gordain. A humble man lacking in greed and well acquainted with a sword. He would fit in well. If he accepted, then maybe one day she could thank him properly.

[Scene 3]

Back in the cabin aboard the Skylark Kris waits for Sylralei’s response.

Who am I to deny Kris what he is rightfully due? She thinks.

The weary elf returns to the seat beside the bed.

“My father is a very prominent man,” Sylralei begins, her voice soft. “It was always his desire that I would become his apprentice when I was of age and work alongside him. His greatest joy would be to see me take his place when he is aged. But that is his desire, not mine. It’s not that there's anything wrong with his life; I respect him very much. I just wanted something different. I wanted to be free to travel the world unhindered by responsibility. I didn’t want to have to watch my every action or guard my every word as my father did. That is why I left home and eventually found myself in Baybrook.

“I was a wild elf. I hung out in the taverns and flirted with men for drinks. The handsome ones I would offer more. I befriended young wizards both young and old to learn whatever spells I could beyond the ones I already learned from my father. I didn’t take a job, didn’t need one. And I didn’t need anyone watching over me, as I learned to fight by wrestling and dueling with the young boys back home.

“One night I was sitting at the bar in the Hare’s House Inn when a young man sat down beside me and offered to buy my next round. His name was Shemar and he said he’d seen me in the Inn a few times and was impressed with the way I handled myself. I knew where that was heading and frankly, I didn’t mind. He was handsome, generous with his coin, and heavy with the compliments. So I flirted a bit before suggesting we went somewhere more private. He turned me down. Kinda like you.” The memory drew a smile and slight chuckle from Syl’s lips.

“Anyway, Shemar said he would rather just talk . . . get to know me better. And that’s what we did for the rest of the night. Drank and talked.

“Over the next several weeks, whenever I visited the Hare’s House, Shemar was there and we would share conversation over a mug of ale. He didn’t strike me as a habitual tavern patron. Instead, he seemed responsible and had more important things to do than carouse with the other drunks. Yet, he always seemed to know when I was there.

“Then one night a pair of . . . what shall I call them . . . oafs walked in. The first was definitely human, but had the height and build of urook. The other was . . . would you believe it . . . a halfling. He was stocky and I suspect he had a little dwarf in him. The two were loud, boisterous, and smelled like they had just come from another tavern . . . one that kicked them out, if I had to guess. 

“They weren’t in the Hare but five minutes before they took an interest in me. They strode right up to our table and the large one invited me to join them as if Shemar wasn’t even there. 

“‘Hey there, sweet elf,’” Syl mimics the stranger’s deep voice. ‘My friend was curious what you might be doin’ the rest of the night. He here was hoping you might consider spendin’ it with us.’

“I asked Shemar if he was going to help me out. You know what he said?” Kris shook his head. “He said, ‘You’re on your own with this one,’ Then rocked back in his seat and flashed a wide grin.”

“No!” Kris exclaimed, shocked. “He didn’t.”

“Oh, yes he did,” Syl confirmed. “The man insisted again that I accompany them for a walk to their room at a nearby hostel. I refused, suggesting his halfling friend’s manhood held little interest for me. That’s when he grabbed my arm and not so gently lifted me up from my seat.”

“Shemar did something then, right?”

“No. He just sat and watched as the two rogues walked me to the door. Right as they reached for the handle I cast a simple Will-O-Wisp spell. It didn’t hurt them, but the sudden flare of light startled them and allowed me to draw the human’s dagger from his belt and slice open his arm. Then I held the point to the halfling’s face and told him, ‘If I was interested in someone your size, I would find a true dwarf. They have a lot more to work with.’ By now most of the inn’s patrons were looking in our direction and the two knew when it was a good time to retreat.

“When I got back to the table I asked Shemar what the heck that was all about. He told me it was a test.”

Kris’ eyes widened in surprise. “A test? You mean he staged the whole thing?”

“That’s what I asked him. ‘Oh, no,’ he assured me. ‘They were for real. That could’ve turned really bad, but I was sure you could handle it.’”

“Well, at least you knew he thought highly of your skills,” Kris pointed out.

“True,” Syl agreed. “And if they happened to get me outside, Shemar insisted he would have stopped them before they got too far.”

“So what was this test?” Kris asked.

“Shemar told me to follow him and he walked to a doorway behind the bar. As you can imagine, I was a bit wary despite our many weeks of getting to know each other. But I was curious so I followed him.

“We were in the Hare’s House’s stock room and Shemar stood next to an opening in the wall. I saw no door frame and I suspected that when closed it looked just like part of the wall. He motioned me in and followed behind. It was a tunnel that led from the inn to the basement under the Dragon’s Hoard, the same tunnel I led you down the night you met the rest of the team. Once we got there, Shemar introduced me to Garlen, his father.”

Kristopher sits up in surprise then quickly sinks back down as a sharp pain shoots through his thigh and buttocks. Syl tells him to take it easy. “Shemar is Garlen’s son?” He says through gritted teeth. “Why haven’t I met him?”

Syl turns her head away for a moment and puts up her palm to stop Kris before he says another word. She’s quiet at first but eventually answers. “I’m getting to that.”

“Shemar explained about Kage Gordain, who at the time were only his father and himself. They’ve been working together for the past year helping those who couldn’t help themselves. He asked me to join them and I said yes. I saw it as a way to travel through more of Barisea while going on exciting adventures.

“Garlen made the contacts and Shemar and I worked the missions. Over the next several couple years we delivered important messages, recovered stolen items, and hunted monsters that invaded nearby farms. More members were recruited and our missions reached throughout all of Ergon. Even my relationship with Shemar progressed, eventually moving from the bar room to the bedroom.”

“You were in love?” Kris inquires.

“Shemar was,” Syl admits. “He was much more serious about us than me. Remember, I wanted to be unhindered by responsibility. That went for relationships as well. While I felt a loyalty to Shemar, I wasn’t about to be tied down to just one person. I didn’t want someone keeping me in Baybrook if my interests drew me elsewhere. Shemar was a trusted friend, ally, and teammate. That was all. And he was okay with that.”

“That's what he told you?” asks Kris, skeptical.

“Yes! That’s what he told me.”

Kris let the matter drop but feels her defensiveness is a bit extreme.

Syl continues her story. “Kage Gordain was helping a lot of individual people, but I began to feel we weren’t doing enough. All the missions we took felt ‘safe.’ Nothing too dangerous. Also, nothing we did had any wide-reaching impact. There was a lot of injustice and I believed Kage Gordain was the group that could change that.”

“One area I felt we could make a difference was within the merchant guilds. Gokhan Baddour ran the largest guild in central Ergon. Even if a particular business was aligned with a smaller guild they were still beholden to Baddour as he had his hand in most of the shipping and transport houses. However, Baddour didn’t leave his success up to honest dealings. Extortion, bribery, and intimidation were tools the Guild boss was well acquainted with. 

“A situation arose where some of the warehouses along the riverfront felt Baddour held too much sway over their profits. They were looking to break away from under his direct control. Of course, this didn’t sit well with the Boss and things got ugly fast. Shipments went missing. Warehouse and dock workers were threatened and sometimes beaten. Eventually, the warehouse managers reached out to us for help. Garlen, however, didn’t want to get involved . . . said it was much too big and dangerous a task for us.

“I was upset and determined. On my own, I began hanging out at the waterfront tavern and mingled with the warehouse workers. Before long I caught wind of a plan to sabotage one of the dissenting warehouses. I told Shemar and, of course, he told me to let it drop. But I persisted until I changed his mind. I convinced him that not only would we protect an innocent business, but we might also actually break some of  Baddour’s grip over the city's merchants, especially the smaller shops who were barely getting by.

“On the appointed night, Shemar, Dalen -- who was a recent recruit at the time -- and I found ourselves waiting among the crates, boxes, and barrels in a large, dark warehouse. Eventually, we heard someone enter and hid while two dark-clad rogues made their way to several crates of fabrics and other textiles. They broke open a couple of crates and started stuffing dry hay and other kindling inside. They were planning on setting the warehouse on fire.

“We went into action. We told them to stop and put their weapons down . . . like that would actually work. Instead, they drew their weapons and we attacked. It was three of us against two of them and it was over quick. As with every mission, any treasure belonged to us so Shemar and Dalen looted the dead men while I watched, proud of what we had just accomplished.

“Until I felt the stinging pain of a dagger thrust in my side!

“I fell to the floor in pain as I saw a bright flash. Dalen barely ducked away from the flames of a Blasting Power spell cast in his direction. ‘Dalen, get Syl out of here!’ Shemar commanded as he jumped over my fallen body. I looked up and saw my friend standing between me and four other men: three rogues and a wizard. It was obvious that there were more of Baddour’s men than we knew.

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Blasting Power spell

“Dalen grabbed me as some of the crates began to burn, the residual effect of the fire spell. I tried to get free, insisting we help Shemar. ‘Get her safe!’ I heard him say and that’s what Dalen did. He literally had to pick me up and drag me away. Last thing I saw was Shemar advancing toward the gang as the wizard cast a Smog spell, enveloping Shemar in a poisonous cloud.

“The only escape we knew of was back the way we came. Dalen wasn’t sure he could outrun the saboteurs, especially carrying me, and we had no idea if there were any more thugs. So he pushed me behind a stack of boxes and we hid, his hand clamped over my mouth to stop my protests. 

“We waited for a while but heard or saw no one. We did, however, smell smoke. We had no choice but to try and find a way out. Wisely, Dalen began to run away from where the fire burned. I, on the other hand, couldn’t leave without at least trying to save Shemar. I ran back to where we left him, my eyes watering from the raging fire. Finally, I rounded a corner and saw my friend lying on the warehouse floor, mere feet from the inferno. Dalen, who had followed me, helped lift him up. Somehow we made it out of the building. When we were clear we checked Shemar but he . . . he was dead. He had been stabbed multiple times.”

Kristopher gently squeezes Sylralei’s hand which had found its way into his a while ago. “I’m sorry.”

“The thing is,” Syl explains, turning to lock tear-filled eyes with Kris, “They didn’t even come looking for us. Shemar could have run and he would have been safe!”

“You don’t know that for certain.”

“No! I do. They were not there to kill anyone, just start the fire.” She turns away and lets her shoulders sag.

Continuing to stroke her hand, Kris says, “You lied.” Syl shoots him a look. “You did love him.”


“Yes, you did. And that’s okay. But obviously, you didn’t quit then. You still work for Garlen and I know you have seen other members get hurt or die. Why haven’t you left before?”

“Because no one died because of me. No one ever sacrificed themselves so I could live. We always fought as a team for the team. Anyone who died did so defending themselves. Or they got caught in a stupid trap . . . or an ambush we didn’t see coming. Besides, I was not the recruiter. I was not responsible for anyone person joining Kage Gordain.”

Understanding sparked inside Kris. “Until you recruited me. You feel responsible for me.” Syl said nothing. “Syl, it was still my decision. You only made the offer. I accepted.”

“That’s not the only reason,” Syl cuts him off. “I’m reckless. I don’t listen to other’s advice. That’s what killed Shemar. This time it almost killed you ... it almost killed all of us. Kelseen was right back in the tunnels. We should have gone back to the ship.”

Kris knew it was no use arguing any further. “Sylralei, we have two days till we arrive back at Sirisea. Take some time and think about it. Talk to Kel and Dalen. Trust me, you haven’t scared me off and I still mean what I said on the island. I got your back. I always will.”

“Thanks,” Syl says, getting to her feet. She leans over and gives him a gentle kiss on the cheek. “You get some rest.”

Kristopher watches his friend leave the cabin.

[Scene 4]

It is late in the morning when the Skylark arrives back at Sirisea harbor. Once she is off the ship, Sylralei tracks down Captain Pollard and discusses some matters with him. Kelseen waits for her to finish, along with Kristopher who is able to hobble along with the help of a pair of crudely made crutches. 

“It will be another hour before they can unload our crates,” Syl explains when she rejoins the group. “Where’s Dalen?”

“He’s over there talking to that young boy,” Kris tells her, nodding his head in the dwarf’s direction.

Syl glances over to where Dalen is wrapping up his conversation with a boy who appears to be in his early teens. The youth runs off and Dalen strides back to the group, a big grin on his face.

“What was that all about?” Syl asks, a questioning look on her face.

“Oh, that’s just one of the local boys. Hangs out around the docks a lot. Hopes to be a sailor one day. Travel the world.” The three stare at him intently, waiting for the dwarf to say anything useful. “Listen, Syl, I know you are hoping to head back to Baybrook first thing in the morning. That’s fine, you go ahead. I have some business to attend to and I’m not sure how long it is going to take.” 

“Business?” Syl asks. “What sort of business?”

“I have someone I need to meet, But . . . but never mind that. What’s important is that I might not be ready to leave in the morning. If that happens, go on without me. I follow when I’m done.”

Syl studies Dalen suspiciously but eventually relents.

“Well, I better get going,” Kelseen pipes up, saving Syl from the awkward conversation. “I’m sure Governor Mistsplittler is eager to hear our report.”

“And I’d like to find a nice bed and rest my rear,” Kristopher adds.

“You two go on,” Sylralei tells them before turning her attention back to the dwarf. “Dalen, can I at least count on you to help with the crates?”

“Of course. My meeting isn’t until tonight. However, if I have some time I would like to see if there are any children around interested in a story.”

Syl nods her approval and, with everything settled, the members of Kage Gordain part, each going their separate ways.

[Scene 5]

The Smoking Helm is a tavern where good friends meet to have a good time after a hard day’s work. At least, that’s the impression Dalen has as he enters the establishment. Unlike many seedier establishments, the Helm was well lit and filled with joyous music played by a three-piece minstrel troupe playing by the hearth. Light from the fire twinkled off the stained and leaded glass windows. Barmaids carried trays filled with mugs of ale and plates filled with unique and exotic foods. And the barmaids . . . they were actually smiling like they enjoyed their work. Dalen wasn’t surprised that the person he was to meet frequented this establishment. 

He motioned one of the maids over, asked a favor while handing her a gold coin, then pointed to a booth near the back. The serving girl ran off and Dalen approached the booth he indicated just moments before. Seated on one of the benches was a dark-haired woman, her hands cradling a nearly full stein of dark ale. Dalen slides onto the bench opposite her.

“You’ve barely touched your drink,” the dwarf says without any introduction. “Is it not to your liking?”

Slight creases form at the corners of Lachaidiga’s eyes as her mouth turns up in a wide smile at  the sight of her dwarf friend from the Horizon.

“Not really,” the sorceress answers. “I thought I would try something different. But I must say . . . it tastes like the horses have been here.”

“May I?” Dales asks, reaching for the mug.

“Help yourself.”

Taking the vessel, Dalen tilts it back and takes a long swig of the dark drink. Finished, he wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and sits back satisfied. “The problem, my dear, is that you haven’t acquired a taste for fine dwarven ale. But never you mind. I’ve taken care of that.”

With a wave of his hand, Dalen calls over the barmaid he spoke with earlier. On her tray, she carries a bottle filled with a deep red wine and two crystal goblets. She places one goblet in front of each of them and fills each halfway with the wine. Placing the bottle on the table, she leaves them to their conversation.

Lachaidia takes her glass and sips it gingerly. She smiles at the delightfully sweet taste. 

“And what will this heavenly nectar cost me?” the woman asks teasingly.

“Your stories, m’lady,” Dalen answers with a grin. “Your most wonderful stories!”


Below is a list of the treasure Kage Gordain acquired on this campaign after the navy took their share:

275 CP
985 SP
570 GP
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)
A Camelian gem (160 GP)
+1 Great Sword
Scroll (My Wish Your Command spell)
Knights Shield (+1 against humans)
A crate of miscellaneous items taken from the pirate ship. The exact nature of the items is irrelevant except to demonstrate how Kage Gordain’s missions help to provide Garlen with inventory that he can sell in the Dragon’s Hoard to help fund the team.

I didn’t bother rolling navigation and sea encounters for the journey back to Sirisea. By now I felt the campaign was over and was ready to wrap things up.

Half a continent away, in a dark corner of the Hare’s House Inn, a halfling and an urook sit across a table from each other. In addition to their mugs of ale, a deck of cards sits in the middle of the table. The halfling picks up the deck and begins to shuffle.

To keep busy while they waited for Kelseen, Sylralei and the rest of the team to return, Nen Goldmore thought it might be a good challenge to attempt to teach the urook Tozhug how to play Hunt. It was simple enough. All one had to do was match cards. And an added bonus, halfling thought he could use the opportunity to learn some simple Urook words and phrases.

The halfling deals each of them a hand of eight cards and sets the rest of the deck down in the middle of the table.  He picks up his own cards and spreads them out. Nen’s hand includes a couple of circles, a blue horse, a red shield, and other shapes and images of various colors. 

“Okay, Tozhug, you go first.” Nen speaks in common, knowing the urook understands enough of the language from his time conversing with Kelseen.

“Dja doludam?”

Nen scans his hand for any cards containing a picture of a tower. “Hunt!” he said, having none. At the command, Tozhug takes a card from the top of the deck and adds it to his hand.

Now it was Nen’s turn. “Do you have any boats?”

Tozhug pulls a card from his hand and lays it on the table face-up, revealing a black boat with a sail. Nen picks it up and adds it to the green card already in his hand.

“Dja Vaksul?” Tozhug asks on his turn.

Nen looked questioningly at the urook, not fully understanding the words he spoke.

“Ahve Vaksul?” Tozhug repeats, trying to pronounce the common “have” thinking that might help.

“Sorry,” Nen shrugs. “I don’t know what you are saying.” He then motions with his eyes to a scrap of parchment lying on the table.

Tozhug studies the parchment on which are drawn simple representations of all the possible images on the cards. With a thick finger, he points at the picture of a sword.

“Oh. Swords!” Nen says in understanding and then hands over a card.

After picking it up, the urook removes two other cards and lays them all down face up. Each card contains a different color sword: red, black and the green one Nen just gave him. Tozhug sits back in his chair with a big smile, having just scored a point.

Nen, however, frowns at the collection of cards. “I’m sorry, buddy, but you need four cards to score a point.” While saying this, he reaches for the three sword cards lying on the table, intending to pick them and hand them back to Tozhug.

With a grunt, Tozhug slams his hand down on top of the cards, ale splashing over the rims of the mugs. Nen pulls back quickly, barely avoiding having his hand crushed. The halfling looks up to see his opponent snarling back at him.

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Tozhug slams his hand down

“Okay,” Nen finally relents. “New house rule. The urook decides what counts.”

When the Skylark sailed away from Crossbones Island with Kage Gordain, the navy, and their prisoners, they left behind them two unfinished stories whose endings would remain unknown if I did not tell them here in one last post. 

Whatever Happened To Midshipman Arlo Byrd?

At the end of Chapter 6, Byrd stabbed Kristopher, stole some treasure, and took off into the forest. His plan was to make it back to the Skylark and convince Captain Pollard that the rest of the party were dead and the ship should return to the mainland. This benefited Byrd in two ways. First, he would be alive and safe off the island, a state that was not guaranteed based on the encounters the party already had on the island. Second, he could sell the gem he stole and put a little extra gold in his pockets.

As we eventually found out, Byrd never made it back to the naval vessel. Still, I know what happened to him since I played through his journey after fleeing from the party.

I used the same game mechanics to get back to the lifeboat as I used to bring the party inland with some adjustments. First, Byrd had to navigate the quicksand pits. For each of four rounds, he had to pass a LUCK SR to avoid the pits and, if he encountered a pit, he would need to make a DEX SR to pull himself out. I made both these rolls only a L1, since he would be very careful to avoid the pits and make sure to always be in reach of a branch or other sturdy object in case he did start to fall in. With a rather good DEX stat, he made it past the quicksand alive.

Next, he had to navigate the jungle. Just like the journey inland, he would have to make three successful INT SR (Level determined randomly to simulate the difficulty of the terrain) to find his way out. Each INT roll would have an accompanying encounter roll.  Without the benefit of Kelseen’s compass, this task proved considerably difficult. Byrd failed every navigation roll and eventually stumbled upon a next of ten Scrats, who tore him to shreds in a single round of combat.

What Or Who Were Those Large Creatures Kelseen Saw Each Night?

The party had to set up camp for the night twice during their stay on Crossbones Island. Both times, during her watch, Kelseen saw large, human-like shapes in the night. These encounters could have just been tossed away, however, I actually developed the bare bones of a story should it become important later on in the adventure.

Each night I rolled two encounter checks. The first night I rolled negative both times. However, I did come within one point of having an encounter. For the sake of narration, I decided to write the story to address this near miss. One of the creatures listed on the random encounter table were gorillas. I randomly decided that a gorilla would be watching the group from a distance that first night. Kelseen wouldn’t get a good enough look to identify it and it would retreat as soon as Kelseen advanced toward it. 

The second night (the night in the cave) I legitimately rolled an encounter. Also legitimately, I rolled “gorillas” on the random encounter table. And a final d4 roll determined there were four gorillas. I randomly determined that the encounter happened on Kelseen’s watch and she made a successful INT SR to spot the creatures before they approached, though she still couldn’t clearly identify them. You may recall that she awoke the rest of the party and they prepared for an attack, but a reaction roll indicated that the gorillas were “Enthusiastically Friendly.” I played it off as though the gorillas just left. 

These events, however, left me to ruminate on some curious questions. Why were these gorillas watching the party? Why didn’t they attack? What can “Enthusiastically Friendly” mean?

Good news, readers! I have answers. 

I left it vague to leave some room for solo roleplaying if the group ever encountered the gorillas again, but this is the background I developed. While not unheard of (there were pirates on the island, after all), humans on this side of the island was a rare occurrence. The first night was simply curiosity on the part of a single gorilla. Who are these strange beings near my home? He would have gone back and communicated this to his troop. 

The second night he returns with others, either his family or other members of his troop. Whether it was instinct or something the male gorilla saw in the party, its curiosity stemmed from a need for assistance. One of the young gorillas in the troop, possibly his own offspring, was hurt (either due to injury or illness, to be determined when necessary) and he wondered if these strange creatures could help. Sylralie did know simian (you can check the character sheets posted in chapter 2), so understanding what the gorillas needed would be relatively easy. Furthermore, I increased the chance to encounter the gorillas from that point on, believing the animals might follow the party. Also, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that in a future encounter with an enemy, the gorillas may jump in and assist the party. However, this would have had to have been an outside encounter, most likely not in the vicinity of the pirate hideout and such an opportunity never arose.

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