The Undercity – Session 8

After bringing up a haul of treasure worth more than 1,500 gold pieces in their last delve, the party decides that it may be time to consider seeking employment in a place more conducive to their well-being, at least while the money holds out.

In game terms, this means that it is time to create an overworld for Mythic and d30 Sandbox-driven adventures as the party seeks out non-megadungeon encounters for a while (although I’m hoping to still explore dungeons, possibly using the DMG Appendix A, the 1001 Pagodas of Doom, or Schweig’s Themed Dungeon Generator).

Undercity - World Map - 1
The City and its fortresses hold an important strategic position along the fertile corridor between the western ocean and great inland sea (really a massive freshwater lake).

World Creation

Rather than pre-populating the world, I used hexographer to create a large (the standard 80×60) section of the world at a scale of ~6 miles per hex. They will be able to travel:

  • 3 hexes per day along easy terrain (roads, farmland, etc)
  • 2 hexes per day along rough terrain (desert, forest)
  • 1 hex per day along really rough terrain (mountains, densely wooded hills)

The party will have a 1-in-6 chance of an encounter per hex that they travel through, generated using either the d30 Sandbox Companion or a random oracle (mostly depending on whimsy). I will also be checking using the Companion’s hex population rules for every single hex we enter to see if there is anything in a hex. If nothing comes up in a grassland/farmland, I’ll take this to mean that the party sees nothing of interest along the road, since it seems unlikely that there is any arable stretch of land without at least a farmer/trapper/woodsman living in it somewhere.

Character Sheets

Thudok, Fighter 1 (773 exp). HP 9/9; AC 17 (plate + shield); Atk +1 (d6+1 sword); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, 275 alloy coins (137.5 gp); Inventory (7): sword, bedroll, waterskin, ration, hammer, spikes (4), 20′ rope

Horatio, Cleric 1 (810 exp). HP 8/8; AC 16 (band + shield); Atk +0 (d6 mace); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, fire opal (800 gp); Inventory (6): mace, bedroll, waterskin, ration, flint, torches (4)Spell: Cure Light Wounds*

Gadroom, Magic-User 1 (773 exp). HP 5/5; AC 10 (robes); Atk -1 (d6-1 dagger); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, 275 alloy coins (137.5 gp); Inventory (8): dagger, bedroll, waterskin, ration, flint, torches (3), spellbook, mapping equipment; Spells: Sleep*, Read Magic, Invisibility

Xevius, Thief 1 (773 exp). HP 7/7; AC 13 (leather + dex); Atk +1 (d6 daggers); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, cut jasper (50 gp); Inventory (8): Dagger, dagger, thieves’ tools, bedroll, waterskin, ration, 10′ pole, 20′ rope

Men-at-arms (4):
Guldor:
 F0; HP 5/5; AC 15 (chain+shield); Atk d6 (club/lance); ML 9
Candim: F0; HP 5/5; AC 13 (leather+shield); Atk d6 (club or lance); ML 8
Huerl: F0; HP 5/5; AC 13 (leather+shield); Atk d6 (club); ML 8
Thoth: F0; HP 5/5; AC 13 (leather+shield); Atk d6 (club); ML 8

Starting the Adventure

Scene 1

Setup: Find a job
NPCs: Valencia (City agent), Lothar (thief)
Threads: find employment, bounty on death cult
Chaos Roll: 12 vs 3, no chaos

Note: I didn’t start with a random event since this party is already in progress and we know that they are looking for employment.

The bustle of the City is welcome after the damp stillness of the sewers. Horatio and Gadroom spend the first several hours after their emergence resting at the inn, praying and studying as they refresh their minds and spirits.

Xevius and Thudok, who recovered quickly from their ordeals below ground with the aid of a bit of magic and a lot of ale, have taken to the streets to find entertainment or gainful employment, in whichever allotment fate sees fit to deliver.

City Encounter check: 5 vs 1, nope

Surrounded by the manic energy of the bazaar, Xevius and Thudok blend into the crowd and travel without drawing attention, despite their foreign appearance.

Can they find employment? +0: yes (generate mission with d30)

Mission Trigger: public notice
Mission Goal: root out spies/minions of evil
Mission Obstacle: 
long journey
Key Location: temple (Bridge of Light)
Key NPC: animal trainer (teamster?)

NPC Creator: coarse herald – weaker than party – relate/church, attend/old religion, compel/purity.

Fairuza Zabana: F0 (3/3 HP); AC 10; Atk d4 (dagger)

“You lot!” a voice calls from a nearby alley as they pass. “The pale-faced giant and half-pint! Can you use those blades you wear, or are they just for show?” They turn to see a woman standing just inside the shade of a small church.

Thudok growls as he hand falls to the hilt of his sword, but Xevius steps forward. “Who’s asking?”

UNE: friendly – aid – the character

The woman grins. “Fairuza,” she says, tapping herself on the chest, “and there’s no need to get so bent out of shape. You look lost, and I think I’ve got an offer that could interest you.”

What does she look like? positively – fat

The pair glance at the corpulent woman and then back at each other. “I don’t think so you’re my type,” Xevius says. “But, ah, thanks.”

The woman’s good mood evaporates. “Watch your mouth, boy. I am a Speaker for the Circle of the Star, who follow the teachings of the great prophetess Qadira! Not a whore!”

Xevius shrugs. “You could work on your propositioning, then. What do you want from us?”

UNE: prejudice – bias – friends

“The Circle has need for men of violence for a journey, but I doubt the Prophetess would want to consort with the type of men who think any woman who speaks to them is whoring.”

Thudok nudges Xevius and leans down to whisper, “She has work, thief, and you made her mad. Apologize.”

Reaction test +0: 5, fail

“Look, lady, I’m sorry. I’m sure your Circle of the Sun or whatever isn’t all–”

Thudok elbows his friend and pulls him back before he can finish the apology and make things worse. “My companion is an idiot,” the big warrior says, “but no worse than most. We travel with a cleric and a sorcerer from the north, and we have worked with four other reliable men from the City. How many men are you looking for?”

Reaction roll: 11, success

Fairuza seems to accept the warrior’s explanation, helped no doubt by the fact that Xevius was stewing like a child for being talked over. “The Prophetess Qadira has commanded a pilgrimage,” she explains, “and we need guards for the caravan. We can pay well–the Star has blessed us beyond our due–but we trust little the men of the city. The Red Goddess and the Star are…if not old enemies, at least not friends.”

Does she insist on an interview? +0: yes, but… + event
Event: NPC Positive (Valencia) – Intolerance – Bureaucracy (see next scene)

“Bring your friends to this church tonight,” Fairuza says. “The prophetess will speak to them before an offer can be made. If they are found acceptable, you each will be paid 50 gold pieces per week for this trip.”

“We’ll be there,” Thudok says. “When?”

“When the South Star peaks,” she says.

+NPC: Fairuza (Speaker of the Star)

Scene 2.

Setup: Circle of the Star to interview for the journey
Chaos: no roll, altered by last event (see below)

The party leaves the inn late to make its way to the church.

Do they have an encounter along the way? -4: yes, mistrust/military

As they pass down quiet streets, a boy runs past them the opposite direction. “Watch out!” he shouts, seeing them. “The Watch is on the warpath!” He’s gone into the night before they can ask any more.

The party makes sure their gear is in order as they continue toward the church, but the boy’s message becomes clear as they arrive. The small building where Thudok and Xevius met the Speaker is on fire, great pillars of black smoke pouring from the windows.

Red-armored guards stand arrayed in a tight circle around the church, spears crossed to forbid entry.

Are the church members there? +0: yes

A crowd has gathered to watch the conflagration, and within it the party recognizes a handful of women, some weeping and others shouting. The party spots Valencia, the agent, standing behind the guards. They approach her.

“What happened here?” Horatio asks.

Let’s learn a little more about Valencia, since she’s now appeared twice:

Motivations: construct/envy, implement/populous, interact/wealth. She is drawn to build a better station for herself, diligently enforce the law, and spend time with the upper classes.

What does she say? mysterious – whispers – skills

“You again,” Valencia says. “Should I be surprised to find you here as well? This was a cult temple, said to be the site of many dark rituals forbidden by the Goddess.”

“Was it?” Gadroom asks.

Reaction roll: 5, mistrustful (she won’t tell them her opinion)
What does she say? knowing – news – future action

Valencia shrugs. “It isn’t for me to say–the Hierophant ruled and the Justice demanded and I obeyed. Why so curious, sorcerer? Surely you would not seek out forbidden sorceries beneath the light of our Goddess?” This last with a smirk that tells Gadroom he’d best leave well enough alone.

Horatio speaks up now, asking, “Are these women criminals?”

Are they? +0: yes

“Any who dabbled in the dark arts, yes. We have word of one, a Qadira, who leads them and looks into the future–perhaps in the consort of a demon. When we find her, she will be put on trial.”

Is Fairuza present? +0: yes

Xevius is the first to notice that Fairuza is standing among a circle of onlookers watching the fire. He slips away from the guards and blends into the crowd to reach her.

“Speaker,” he says, grinning.

What does she say? (guarded) inquisitive – request – history

“Now isn’t the time, whoremonger,” she says without looking at him, “but I assume that your presence means that your allies have considered our request?”

“You’ve work and we want it,” he admits.

Her response: (withdrawn) scheming – negotiation – current story
Did the Circle escape the attack? +2: yes

“It pains me to admit that we’ve been reduced to begging, rather than choosing. Qadira’s blessed vision gave us word of the assault just in time, and all of the Sisters were away when the guard arrived. Our caravan was nearly ready to depart; this has merely moved up our timeline.”

“We’re ready now,” Xevius says.

Where should they meet? d30: potion shop

“A Sister is an alchemist near the west wall. Siroun’s Tinctures. Meet us there in one hour.”

+Chaos Factor: now at 4

Scene 3.

Setup: Meet the Circle of the Star at Siroun’s Tinctures
Chaos Roll: 20 vs 4, no chaos

The tincture shop is one of several trade shops in a row of respectable businesses built against the city’s western wall. The party finds it without trouble and quickly slip inside.

Are all the Sisters there when the party arrives? +0: yes, and… they’re ready to go

A half-dozen women are crowded into the small shop. Most are dressed in the long, flowing robes of desert travel. “You’re the caravan guards Fairuza hired?” one of them asks.

“We are,” Horatio says, “though I fear that we’ll do you little good. The Watch is looking for you. They’ll never let you through the gate.”

“Let us through the gate,” the woman says, tossing him a bag of coins. “You’re in my employ now. I’m Qadira, the Ear of the Star.”

What is Qadira like? hopelessly/exotic

The men have never seen a woman who is so obviously a prophetess. Her eyes glow a bright blue even in the dull room, and her skin, where they see it, is vivid white, like dune sand beneath the midday sun.

+NPC: Qadira (prophet)
What does she say? hostile – death – previous scene

“I did not foresee that the Star’s influence would vanish so quickly in the City of Spires, but the Hierophant has put to the torch the prophecies that She saw fit to give us. It is the end of an era, and one to mourn. The sayings of the Star have been recorded for a dozen generations, and all were kept safe within those walls.” Her voice burns with a vinegar bitterness. This is an impossibly hard woman. “This is a city that hates us, and we must now hate it in return. We leave. Immediately.

“Where are you–we–going?” Thudok asks. “Your Speaker did not get that far.”

“North first,” Qadira says, “and then east for a while. I will tell you more when many miles are behind us.”

“How will we get through the gates?” Xevius asks. “They’re down at night.”

Does Qadira have a way through? +0: yes

“We would not be much of a dangerous cult if we could not even get beyond the walls without notice, would we?” Qadira asks. “Sisters, into the wagons.” Turning to the party–“You four will ride atop the wagons.”

Are any of the men teamsters? +0: yes
Who: Horatio

Horatio steps forward. “My father was a merchant and I learned to handle the whip before I devoted myself to the Almighty, but not all of us can drive a team.”

Qadira shakes her head. “If we’d needed drivers, we’d have hired them. The Sisters will drive. We’ve hired you for protection.”

Thudok nods. “We can do that.” He leads the others out to a small caravan of traveling wagons and camels tied outside, where several sturdy Sisters of the Star were performing the final preparations to get their teams ready.

Undercity - World Map - 2 (path to Bridge of Light)
The pilgrims’ planned route to the Bridge of Light. They are expecting to take the better part of three weeks to arrive, assuming the roads are navigable.

Conclusion

Quite the rambling adventure! I had thought to roll up the d30 mission and get started, but it soon spiraled out of control and has, completely organically, become something of an escape/flight in the dark situation, with a pair of new NPCs (who possibly have a dark secret, if Valencia is right) and a promise of future adventure.

Mythic Wrap Up

+NPC: Guldor and company

Unfortunately, since we were forced to flee without preparation, the party had to abandon their men-at-arms without notice. Since they had been planning on leaving the city and had recently doled out more than 70 gp in treasure, I don’t think this will engender a significant amount of ill-will, but I was really hoping we could have brought Guldor and his chain armor with us.

NPCs: Valencia (agent of the City), Lothar (thief), Qadira (prophetess), Fairuza (Speaker), Circle of the Star, Guldor and Company

Threads: bounty on the death cult, escort the Circle

Character Cards

Thudok, Fighter 1 (773 exp). HP 9/9; AC 17 (plate + shield); Atk +1 (d6+1 sword); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, 275 alloy coins (137.5 gp); Inventory (7): sword, bedroll, waterskin, ration, hammer, spikes (4), 20′ rope

Horatio, Cleric 1 (810 exp). HP 8/8; AC 16 (band + shield); Atk +0 (d6 mace); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, fire opal (800 gp); Inventory (6): mace, bedroll, waterskin, ration, flint, torches (4)Spell: Cure Light Wounds*

Gadroom, Magic-User 1 (773 exp). HP 5/5; AC 10 (robes); Atk -1 (d6-1 dagger); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, 275 alloy coins (137.5 gp); Inventory (8): dagger, bedroll, waterskin, ration, flint, torches (3), spellbook, mapping equipment; Spells: Sleep*, Read Magic, Invisibility

Xevius, Thief 1 (773 exp). HP 7/7; AC 13 (leather + dex); Atk +1 (d6 daggers); Purse: 157 gp 5 sp 5 cp, cut jasper (50 gp); Inventory (8): Dagger, dagger, thieves’ tools, bedroll, waterskin, ration, 10′ pole, 20′ rope

Tools and Affiliate Links

This is a solo game using Kabuki Kaiser’s Ruins of the Undercity dungeon generator. RotU was not used this session, as the party is about to begin adventuring above ground (although the dungeon will still be there when they get back, low on coin and desperate).

I am using Labyrinth Lord and pieces of its Advanced Edition Companion as the rule system for this game (free, no-art versions are available on DTRPG, too). I am using Mythic Game Master Emulator and its Variations I and–most importantly–Variations II for my solo GM oracle.

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