Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 11

This session begins as Father Israel Clement and Zephaniah Poole, armorer and experienced campaigner, limp home from a disastrous but profitable delve into a lair of Chaos magic. Considerably wealthier but now nearly alone, the pair must consider their options before moving forward.

Scene. Return to the Keep.

Setup: Return to the Keep to report, resupply, and plan
Chaos: 5 v 2-, no chaos

Israel and Zephaniah limp out of the woods and into the shadow of the Keep. Neither thought they would ever be so grateful to see the small, monster-threatened fortress. They climb the winding trail and approach the gatehouse.

Do they find the Corporal inside? +4: No +Event
Event: NPC Action – arrive/news

They enter to see a crowd clustered around a rider on a lathered horse.

What is he discussing? Propose/Competition

“People of the Borderlands! The Queen, God save her, has heard your plight and recognizes the great sacrifice that you have made for her empire. As such, she has proposed a competition–a way for men of might to show their honor and strength.

“The company that can rout the forces of Chaos from their foothold in the hills will be granted a reward of 5,000 gold pieces, and they will earn Her eternal favor.”

Is the news received favorably? +0: Yes

The war-weary citizens of the Keep applaud, though Zephaniah and a few of the other men-at-arms in the crowd curse under their breath. Five thousand gold pieces is enough treasure to bring adventuring parties from across the Known World.

“It’s about to get crowded,” Zephaniah whispers to the Cleric, “but at least we won’t have any trouble finding help.”

+Thread: Queen’s call to clear the Caves (5000 gp reward)

Continue reading “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 11”
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Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 10

The Banner of the Bleeding Wheel ended last session at the mouth of a yawning pit, attempting to find the source of a mysterious lightning storm that has blasted a swampland into oblivion. The journey there had been uneventful until a mud monster ambushed them and slew Richard the fighting man and Modesty the scout.

Scene. Into the Dark.

Chaos: Level 3, no roll

The party peers down at the torch flickering 40′ below.

Is there anything within 10′ that they can tie a rope to? -4: No.

“How are we going to get down there?” Balthasar asks. “Looks deep.”

“Rope,” Hannibal says. “String it around the stone there, and we’ll daisy-chain half of the second.”

“Better be a good knot,” Balthasar replies. “We’re heavy.”

“I grew up in a ship’s rigging,” Hannibal says. He cuts one of their lengths of rope in half and joins it with the other using a good knot. He loops them around the donkeys’ harnesses before tossing the end down into the dark.

-Inventory: 2 lengths of 50′ rope
+Inventory: 25′ rope

“Should we leave something up here, just… you know… in case?” Miles asks, peering down into the hole.

Israel nods. “I’d rather my gold be returned to the poor than lost in the dark.”

They each chip in 40 gold pieces and bury them in an inconspicuous place beside one of the standing stones.

+Thread: 240 gp buried beneath the stones

When the coins are buried, Balthasar moves to the rope. “Me first,” he demands, grabbing the rope and dropping into the pit.

“Godspeed, my son,” Israel says. He shoulders his pack and prepares to drop onto the rope next.

It takes a few moments for Balthasar to reach the ground, but they soon see the torch pick up and wave the okay. Israel grabs the rope and rappels down.

One by one they descend until they find themselves in the darkness.

Tools Link: I’m using Kabuki Kaiser’s Mad Monks of Kwantoom, his awesome sequel to Ruins of the Undercity, to generate this dungeon.

Continue reading “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 10”

Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 9

After preventing the forces of Chaos from undermining the inner bailey, the Banner of the Bleeding Wheel has spent a few days burying its dead, resting, and getting to know the other residents of the Keep.

Rules Changes.

I really dislike having to keep track of a bunch of kinds of dice. I’m working to winnow the dice used at the gaming table to a d20 or two, a d100 (for Mythic), and a couple of d6s. As such, I’ll be remaking the PCs to accommodate the following rules:

  • d6 Hit Dice. Fighters and monsters get d6+1, thieves and clerics get d6, magic-users get d6-1.
  • d6 Damage. Two-handed weapons deal d6+1. One-handed weapons deal d6. Small weapons (for magic-users and less-conspicuous carrying) deal d6-1.
  • Combat styles. Fighters can choose to dual wield (+1 to hit), carry a two-handed weapon (+1 to damage), or carry a shield (+1 AC). Clerics can also carry a shield, but no other class may choose from these options.
  • d6 Specialist skills. Thieves in Labyrinth Lord are boring. I’ll be switching to Lamentations of the Flame Princess’s specialist skill selection (roll-under on d6). Modesty is the party’s scout–learning Search 3, Bushcraft 2, and Sneak 2. Miles is their second-story man, learning Tinker 3, Search 2, and Architecture 2.
  • Reduced coin clutter. I’ll either be rounding copper pieces away or will be replacing them with bulky but obviously valuable trade goods–iron bars or silverware sets, etc. (I believe this idea was Gerard Neval’s). PCs can carry a number of coins equal to ST x 10. I will be tracking all found coins and distributing them only at adventure’s end. I’ll be assuming that 1 gold piece is approximately equal to a day’s salary for an average laborer, so prices will be adjusted when clearly out of line. An ale at the tavern doesn’t cost 5 silvers, for example, and no one would be willing to adventure for 1 gold per day.

Scene. Keep Business.

Setup: Finish up mundane business in the Keep and get a mission
Chaos: 2 vs 2-, Event!
Event: Move toward a thread – adjourn/reality (supernatural phenomenon)

Recovered and rallied, the Banner of the Bleeding Wheel makes ready to sally forth into the wilderness. Hannibal sets the men and women of the company to their duties as he reports to the inner bailey for a scheduled meeting with the Castellan.

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Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 8

After how long it took to play out the battles against “trash mob” monsters in my last session, I have decided that I would much rather fight more unique, difficult monsters in fewer numbers. Starting with this session, I’ll be using Mythic to create a unique monster for most encounters. If an encounter calls for a more mundane enemy, it will be men. Check out Room 9 to see how I am using the oracle to develop a monster’s look and special abilities.

Scene. Continuing in the Dungeon.

60 minutes have passed.

After taking a short rest, the party escorts the body of Comfort back to the bottom of the well. While they keep a loose watch in the corridor behind them, they send the wounded Miles back up to the surface with a pile of silver and coppers coins, the chaotic warrior’s armor, and Comfort’s body and effects.

The tunnel after part 7.

The return north, passing a door beyond which Modesty could hear nothing. From the slave quarters [room 5], they head north into the tunnels, passing a closed door and a side tunnel before their own passage ended in a T.

70 minutes have passed.

Choosing blindly, Hannibal leads them west. The short tunnel dwindles away, and they return to a nearby door.

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Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 7

In Part 6 of my solo Keep on the Borderlands playthrough, the Banner of the Bleeding Wheel arrived at the Keep just in time to help put out some fires and repel an invasion by the forces of Chaos. Thanks to their heroics (and the fact that everyone else has their hands full), the Corporal tasked the Banner with chasing the retreating kobolds down the Keep’s well and finding out how the beasts got in.

Scene. A Night to Worry.

Setup: The company gets lodging and rests up before their mission
Chaos: 14 vs 3-, no event

Are there any rooms available at the Traveler’s Inn? +2: Yes.

The Banner takes up residence at the Traveler’s Inn, although the fire next door has made the air inside acrid and stale. Hannibal hands the innkeeper 10 silver pieces for a private room for the women to share and another 7 silvers for space in the common room for the men. Another twenty silver pieces buy the whole troop dinner and a breakfast of bread, butter, and thin soup.

Israel prays for healing for Zephaniah Poole, and the Holy Spirit answers him [heals 5 hp, back to max].

Hannibal sends Miles, Modesty, and Richard Lanius to the stables. They feed both donkeys and retrieve 30 gold pieces from the pouches hidden in the feed bags, then head to the provisioner’s to buy a set of thieves’ tools.

Can they find one? +6: No, but… +Event
Event: Ambiguous — Betray/Danger

The provisioner’s shop is closed when they arrive. [1-2: him, 3-4: wife, 5-6: kids] The man sits weeping on the front porch, the body of his wife in his arms.

The party moves onward, not wanting to disturb the man. The trader has a set available, although he is quick to charge a premium when he learns what they’re looking for. [+4% cost] Miles hands over 31 gold pieces and two silver for the set of picks, files, and pliers.

That evening, Israel retreats to the women’s private room to devote himself to prayer while they sleep. He prays for the strength to detect evil and heal his companions’ wounds twice.

Continue reading “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 7”

Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 6

The Banner of the Burning Wheel arrives in the Borderlands road-weary but alert. The company’s rations have run low. Morale is better, but fading–fighting is hard on the men, but long bouts of boredom are even harder.

So it’s with great relief that Hannibal Emmitt sees the Keep rising in the distance. A night or two of drinking, sleeping beneath a roof, and letting off steam will do the company good, he knows, and he and Comfort are sure to find profitable work in the dangerous region.

Note: For this session I went back to using a Mythic Variations II style “roll for 11+ on a d20 with modifier” oracle system. I also roll a second d20 against a Chaos number to determine if a random event occurs.

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Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 5

After last session’s disastrous attempt to explore a ruined castle a few days’ march from the Keep, I’m stepping back from my oft-repeated experiments at running sole heroes or tiny parties through Basic-DND era dungeons and encounter tables. It’s hard enough with four, but with one or two guys a single bad roll–which happens a lot–is enough to spell our doom.

The Banner of the Bleeding Wheel

And so, I introduce The Banner of the Bleeding Wheel, a mercenary company that has come to the Keep in search of work, wealth, and excitement. If they do a little good while they’re at it, all the better.

Party Members

I’ve rolled up a party of ten random PCs, based around a low-magic world in which only PCs with a natural 15+ in INT or WIS can choose to be Magic Users or Clerics. Presenting the Banner:

Hannibal Emmitt: F1, 9/9 hp, 12-8-13-11-8-16. Leader, crippled sailor.

Comfort Stewart: F1, 7/7 hp, 13-10-8-7-12-16. Sergeant, butcher.

Mercy Rouse: MU1, 4/4 hp, 8-16-11-15-8-10. Wise woman.

Israel Clemont: C1, 6/6 hp, 15-8-11-11-15-10. Brewer.

Balthasar Hill: F1, 7/7 hp, 15-10-7-5-12-11. Bridlemaker.

Zephaniah Poole: F1, 7/7 hp, 13-14-8-9-11-9. Armorer.

Zaccheus McCanless: F1, 8/8 hp, 13-15-12-14-13-11. Cooper.

Richard Lanius: F1, 7 hp, 13-12-7-8-13-6. Farmer.

Miles Sinkler: T1, 6/6 hp, 7-14-9-14-13-14. Roofer.

Modesty Boyd: T1, 4/4 hp, 5-15-5-12-9-10. Bookbinder.

Adventuring Gear and Equipment

Since the Bleeding Wheel is a mercenary company, I’ll be rolling each of their starting coinage and then pooling it for the company’s benefit. Pay will be distributed after everyone is equipped and company goods (wagon, etc.) have been purchased.

Continue reading “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 5”