Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 2

This is a follow up to my first session of solo Labyrinth Lord Keep on the Borderlands. Last time, Tangrir the Fencer made his way to the Keep but was unable to find any paying work or clues to the location of the famed Caves of Chaos, so he has been ranging to get a feel for the environs.

Character Sheet

Tangrir the Fencer (Fighter 1, 26/2025xp): 11-16-9-14-10-6. 8/8 hp. 16 ac (chain+dex). Melee: rapier (+0 dmg, +2 hit). Ranged: bow (+0 dmg, +2 hit). 5 gp 9 sp. Inventory (5/10): rapier, bow and quiver (20), bedroll, waterskin, ration (5)

Chaos: Average (d10)

NPCs: corrupt priest, castellan, necromancer, captain of the watch, monster raiding parties, rival adventuring party

Threads: missing merchant, clear the Caves of Chaos, losing control of the countryside, missing Keep grain wagon

Reminder: You can find links to every one of my solo session game reports on my Campaign Logs page.

Session 2

Scene 4. Return to the Keep.

Setup: Report the ruined grain to the army
Chaos: Average (d10) — 10, no event

Currently camping in 07-05 after fleeing the zombies.

The journey back to the Keep is long but uneventful. By walking a known route and avoiding detours, Tangrir is able to cover the distance by nightfall.

Does he make it before the gates close (unlikely)? No.
Are there any sentries he can talk to (50/50)? No, but… a contingent of soldiers arrives

Unfortunately, the portcullis has long since closed by the time he arrives, and his shouts elicit no response from the men he knows to be standing within the walls. He has just about consigned himself to another cold evening beneath the stars when the sound of an approaching company of soldiers draws his attention.

Is it the officer from the inn before (unknown–50/50)? Yes +Event
Event: Move toward a thread (Clear the Caves of Chaos) — communicate/art (gain a map)

Tangrir and the officer in charge of the company recognize each other almost immediately. He dismounts and approaches Tangrir while he sends a soldier to call to a sentry and get them entry to the Keep.

[sociable – obscurity – relics]
“Ah… Tangrir, if I’m not mistaken?” He glances at the Fencer’s unglamorous campsite. “I take it the hunt for treasure has been slow going?” The officer’s good nature makes a joke of an observation that could have been an insult from another.

+NPC: friendly army officer

Tangrir shrugs–“The Keep was in little mood for work when I arrived. Some kind of party. I spent the last few days on the road–and found something that I’m hoping will earn the favor of the Castellan.”

“Yes? What’s that?”

Tangrir explains about the ruined wagon of grain and the dead farmers.

Is the officer interested (likely)? No.

The officer sighs. “A tragedy–and one that’s far too common these days. I’m afraid we haven’t the manpower to deal with the press of Chaos since they gained a foothold in the Caves. Tell the Captain of the Watch inside–[m/f] he’ll need to know that a shipment isn’t forthcoming–but I doubt there’s anything that can be done.”

A moment later the great portcullis begins to grind upward. The officer and Tangrir enter the Keep before the sentries lower the gate closed behind them, and the officer sends his men ahead to the inner keep while he detours with Tangrir to find the captain of the watch (who is [carelessly/abnormal]).

The captain is nothing like the stern and campaign-hardened soldier that Tangrir expected. Instead of region maps and schedules, they enter his office to find the man stripped to his chest and splattered with paint nearly up to his elbows. A vast landscape painting of some sublime landscape is half-finished before him. Tangrir is so transfixed by the painting that he doesn’t notice that the captain is an elf until the man addresses him directly.

When Tangrir relates his story, however, the captain is far more disturbed than the army officer had led him to anticipate. “The risen dead…” he muses, frowning. “I had suspected that the forces of chaos were organizing closer than ever, but if they are feeling emboldened enough to send a sorcerer this close to the Keep, then we are in more danger than we realized.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Tangrir asks.

[(neutral) knowing – records – flaws]
“You have done enough already by bringing this to my attention. The enemy has made a mistake by revealing itself to us so soon. But, there is more that you could do for us, if you were so interested.” Almost as an afterthought, the captain adds, “You would be rewarded well, of course.”

“What do you need?”

“Sorceries that bind the dead are not quick to work. I doubt that they were performed at the farm itself. I would ask that you map the surrounding woods and hills. There must be a cave or ruin nearby that the sorcerer is using for a camp. Find it and explore what you can safely.”

The captain wipes his paint-covered hands on his pants and steps over to the room’s small desk. He lifts a piece of paper from his desk. “Prove yourself capable in this and we will aid your journey to the Caves of Chaos. We know that few men would travel all this way to serve as a scout, but if you come seeking real treasure, that is where you’ll find it.”

“You won’t just tell me where the Caves are?”

[(cautious) hostile – death – current story]
“You aren’t the first swordsman to come here seeking fortune and glory, nor the hundred and first, nor even the thousand and first. I’ll not stop mad men from heading east, but I’ll not push them along that road.” He steps over to Tangrir and hands him a pouch containing [2d10] 20 gold pieces. “Do this. Prove yourself. The Keep will be behind you if you are stalwart in your fight against Chaos.”

Tangrir takes the coins and nods. “I’ll return quickly.”

+Thread: find necromancer’s base
-Thread: missing Keep grain wagon

Chaos: Unchanged at d10–resolved a questline

Scene 5. Prepare for the Adventure.

Setup: Hire help and purchase gear
Chaos: Average (d10) — Alteration (attainment/dispute)

His purse full, Tangrir heads into town to purchase what he’ll need for his quest–a stout companions or two, a staff, rope, the works.

Is he ambushed by a servant of Chaos on the way (50/50)? Yes.
By a humanoid servant (v. likely)? No! By Kobolds
4 Kobolds: d4 hp, 12 ac (dex), knife (d4 dmg, -1 to hit), ML 6, MV 20′

The dark is settled deeply in the streets of the Keep by the time Tangrir leaves the captain’s office. So it is that he finds himself alone when a flung rock skips off the cobblestones by his feet. His draws his blade quickly, but already the four small dog-men are on him.

He skewers the first as it charges [4 dmg kills it, +5 xp], but one of the other three deals him a painful scrape with its hooked blade [2 dmg, 6 hp left] as he struggles to extract his rapier from the impaled kobold.

Morale check: 11 vs 6-, they flee!
Does anyone hear the fight (likely)? Yes, and… the watch comes running!

Tangrir is hard pressed to fend off the three remaining beasts, but as he falls back from the blades he hears the sound of a horn just behind–the Watch is coming! The remaining kobolds turn and start to run. He drops his rapier and draws his bow, sending an arrow streaking off just as the pack rounds a corner [2 dmg, kills it, +5 xp]. The arrow sinks home and the kobold flops to the floor as its companions disappear.

Do they find anything interesting (unlikely)? No.
Can he recover his arrow (likely)? No.

The watch sergeant apologizes for the disturbance as Tangrir helps him search the two dead monsters. Tangrir finds 14 and 16 copper pieces on the bodies, but there’s nothing on them to hint at their origins. The sergeant takes Tangrir’s statement and warns him to be careful when moving around the Keep at night.

+Thread: Monsters in the Keep

Eager to be done with his business, Tangrir sticks to the busier main street and heads for the Provisioner’s shop, hoping it’s still open.

Does he find what he’s looking for (likely)? No

Although the Keep is well-suited for equipping adventurers, the Provisioner explains that roads have been bad and the wagon Tangrir found was not the only to be lost in recent weeks. Prices are high and he’s forced to buy many of the tools on his list from other adventurers [goods cost 25% more this shopping trip].

All told, Tangrir buys:

  • 10′ pole — 2 sp 5 cp
  • Torches (8) — 3 sp 8 cp
  • Flint — 2 gp 5 sp
  • Rations (2) — 5 sp

for a total of 3 gp 6 sp 3 cp, leaving him with 22 gp 2 sp 37 cp.

His shopping done, Tangrir heads to the tavern to try to recruit a handful of companions for his mission. He knows that hardened adventurers will be hard to lure away from their own quests with his meager supply of coin, but he hopes to be able to find a couple of stout woodsmen or caravan guards looking to kill time profitably before their next journey.

He spends 22 cp for a bowl of soup, a couple slices of bread, and a beer, beforing spending the rest of the night socializing at the tavern.

Does he learn any rumors (50/50)? Yes

While drinking, he overhears a pair of scarred adventurers discussing massive men, with heads and teeth like dogs, who make their homes in the higher reaches of the Caves of Chaos.

+Rumor: Dog men live in the higher reaches of the caves (Truth: 4+?)

I will be using a rumor system inspired by this blog post to determine whether these tales are true. I’ll roll the second die to determine how truthful it is if Tangrir ever reaches the higher levels of the Caves.

He identifies three men-at-arms and a torchbearer worth considering, but finally decides on hiring two of the men-at-arms for the trip: Rothwood (5/5 hp) and Tal (4/4 hp) agree to accompany him for the going rate of a gold piece a day for hired.

I didn’t realize that there were rules for men-at-arms in the module when I wrote this section. I’ll be hiring using the module’s rules for this if these poor redshirts need to be replaced.

Rothwood (NM 0): 5/5 hp. 12 ac (leather). Melee: club or dagger (+0 dmg, +0 hit)

Tal (NM 0): 4/4 hp. 12 ac (leather). Melee: club or dagger (+0 dmg, +0 hit)

They shake their agreement and head their separate ways for the night with the understanding that they meet by the gates at dawn. He hands each a gold piece with which to purchase rations, torches, and miscellaneous supplies [20 gp 2sp 15 cp remaining].

Regain [d3] 1 hp overnight

Scene 6. Hunting for the Necromancer.

Setup: Explore the region around the farmstead
Chaos: Average (d10) — Interrupt!

Event: NPC Action (Necromancer) — Guide/Legal Matters (he had a spy in the keep)

Do the NPCs show up as agreed (v. likely)? Yes, but… only one of them

Tangrir pays a silver piece for his room and four coppers for a breakfast of bread and butter. He then arrives in the paved entry yard before his companions, but not long after that [R/T] Rothwood arrives in a jog. “Fencer,” he says, catching his breath, “I guess you hadn’t heard.”

“Heard what?” Tangrir asks.

“Tal, our companion. He won’t be coming. The Watch took him last night. They’re saying he let some kobolds in over the wall! The Castellan had him strung up inside the fortress. Most of the Keep’s there to look on the hanging.” He doesn’t look very sorry.

Tangrir curses, but there’s little he can do, and he knows there isn’t time to spend another night carousing for hired help. Resigning himself to be more careful than he would have needed to be otherwise, Tangrir hefts his pack and the pair head out into the forest.

Wrap Up

I now have a companion page for this series that collects maps, updated character/mythic info, etc.

The Party

Tangrir the Fencer (Fighter 1, 36/2025xp): 11-16-9-14-10-6. 7/8 hp. 16 ac (chain+dex). Melee: rapier (+0 dmg, +2 hit). Ranged: bow (+0 dmg, +2 hit). 20 gp 1 sp 11 cp. Inventory (8/10): rapier, bow and quiver (19), bedroll, waterskin, ration (7), 10′ pole, flint, torches (8)

Rothwood (NM 0): 5/5 hp. 12 ac (leather). Melee: club/dagger (+0 dmg, +0 hit), ML 6, MV 30′

Mythic Stuff

Chaos: Average (d10)

NPCs: corrupt priest, castellan, necromancer, captain of the watch (elf), monster raiding parties, rival adventuring party, friendly army officer

Threads: missing merchant, clear the Caves of Chaos, losing control of the countryside, find necromancer’s base, monsters in the Keep

Rumors: Massive dog men live in the higher reaches of the caves (Truth: 4+?)

One thought on “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 2

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