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.

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

6. Torture Chamber.

Contents: Unique: extravagance/suffering
Size: 20’x20′
Anything inside? +0: no

Modesty listens at the door [success], but hears nothing. Taking a deep breath, she nudges it open with her staff.

The room beyond is a temple to pain. The metallic tang of stale blood and offal fills the air, and the party nearly chokes on the stench of death. Bad things happened here.

They want to move on, but Hannibal makes them take a moment to search the room before moving forward.

Treasure? 13 vs 15-, yes! 500 sp.
Hidden? -4: yes, in a barrel of oil
Search check: fail

They divide up the room and look around, but the search is fruitless. Giving up, they head north out of the room.

80 minutes have passed.

They enter a warren of twisting and branching tunnels, and though they keep their guard up they encounter nothing.

Soon, the tunnel comes to a Y and they follow it southwest. Shortly thereafter it ends in a roughly-hewn staircase that heads deeper into the earth. They mark the location on their map but are unwilling to follow it downward yet, so they return to the main corridor.

90 minutes have passed.

They pass several more tunnels as they head northwest, until eventually the faint glow of light shines ahead of them. Shields, up, they move forward–and soon find themselves standing at the edge of a great cliff! The tunnel punches out through the wall of the plateau and looks out upon the forested borderlands!

Are they low enough that this could be the entrance? +0: Yes

A narrow trail of switchbacks, barely visible, winds up amongst the broken rocks from the land below.

“Why aren’t there guards here?” Zaccheus muses.

Hannibal doesn’t like it either. “Let’s get back from the mouth,” he says. “We need to get in one of the side tunnels.”

100 minutes have passed.

They head back and take a nearby bend southwest.

Trap! Type: expose/nature (a rockfall!)
Hits: d4 people after triggered for d6 damage, save vs paralysis to avoid

Suddenly, Zaccheus curses as his foot snags on a loose wire–and heavy stones collapse into the corridor!

Hits: Zaccheus, Zephaniah, Israel, Balthasar
Save: Only Balthasar (1 hp) and Zephaniah (6 hp) take damage

He leaps forward, and the others roll aside as quickly as they can. Dust and noise echo down the corridor, but for a moment the party is still. And then–“Is everyone okay?” Hannibal calls out.

Everyone isn’t okay. Balthasar nurses a small bump and a bad bruise on his shoulder, but Zephaniah took the worst of it. His legs are pinned beneath a massive stones, and his eyes roll wildly back in his head.

“Get him loose!” Hannibal cries. Those closest pull mightily at the stone, and Modesty presses her pole in to use as a lever. Slowly, they roll the stone into the passage beside them. Zephaniah’s pelvis is crushed; blood soaks his clothing.

“Quickly! Father!”

Israel moves forward, praying fervently. Grace is with him–the spirit of God restores [d8+1=6] all the life that was so quickly taken, and Zephaniah soon rises again, shaken but otherwise whole.

7. Slaughterhouse.

Size: 30’x30′
Contents: Empty. Care/animals
Are they stables? +0: No, and…a slaughterhouse

They emerge from the tunnel into a modestly-sized chamber, filled with animals carcasses in various stages of processing. A slaughterhouse and butchery all in one, it appears. This chamber, too, is open to the west.

They search the room for valuables or clues, but find nothing [no check made since I know there’s no treasure].

110 minutes have passed.

The party takes a few minutes to rest, check their gear, and catch their breath before moving back into the tunnels.

120 minutes have passed.

Before moving back into the tunnels, Israel prays for guidance from the Lord, and he moves forward with the knowledge that God will guide his path. [Casts Detect Evil–monsters will glow for one hour.]

8. Sapping Works

Size: Massive–7,000+ square feet.
Contents: Monster, no treasure.

The party progresses along a short corridor after passing through an intersection. Just ahead, a small door leans against the wall just before where the tunnel emerges into a vast open space.

What is the monster? (interestingly/amusing) d8=4 Chaos-addled maniacs who are attempting to undermine the Keep (this is assumed from the size and location of the room)

Are there lights in the chamber? +8: Yes, but… they are positioned so the party can’t see them until they enter, so no chance to ambush

They move carefully forward into a vast cavern. As soon as they turn the last corner, they see great, smoking fires rising from the broken floor of the natural cave. Rickety scaffolds stand against the northern wall, rising in tiers to the ceiling of the cave. Crates are heaped in the center of the room.

A handful of men in tattered shorts are visible on the scaffolding. Two swing heavy picks at the wall while the others wait for their turns. All mutter and occasionally scream foul curses at themselves. Another man stands behind them. He holds a whip, which he uses to lash the men when they lag.

d8=4 Chaos Slaves: d6HD, AC 10, AT heavy pick (d6+1, -1), MV 40′, ML 10

Overseer: 2HD (11 hp), AC 13 (leather+shield), AT whip (d6, +2, reach), MV 40′, ML 11, Special (guide/wounds): allies deal +1 damage

The party moves forward in formation, shields high. Modesty draws her bow and looses and arrow–it flies true, puncturing the sternum of one of the miners and dropping him from the scaffold.

Do the others charge us? +4: no, and…event
Event: PC Positive – Befriend/Reality

The overseer demands his servants meet us in battle, but one seems to shake himself free of whatever dark conditioning they were under. Screaming, he charges the overseer and swings his pick in a vicious overhand chop–but the tip goes wide. The overseer dances back and whips the man to death [6 dmg].

The party meets the two remaining servants of chaos in battle, killing them without trouble.

Does the overseer make a tactical retreat? +2: no
Does he try to trick us? +2: yes, truce/weapons

The overseer grabs a brand from one of the great fires and holds it over a barrel. “You know what this is?” he demands. “Blasting powder. Step no closer–wait for my master to come.”

The party backs away slowly while Mercy whispers under her breath. Her strange sorcery finishes and a sweet wind blows in through the tunnels behind them. The overseer drops to the ground, asleep. They dash forward and truss him up with Hannibal’s rope, taking care to gag him as best they can.

+NPC: overseer prisoner

9. Sacrificial Room.

Size: 10’x10′
Contents: Monster + Treasure (1,100 sp and 1,100 cp–lame)
Description: take/masses (treasure hoard)

They head east out of the massive chamber, entering again a warren of tunnels. It soon branches and they head south to where the tunnel forms a T and splits west back toward the main chamber. A door stands to their left.

Monster: proceedings/power — The chaos being that leads this evil. It is offensively/rotten with d3=2 special powers.

Chaos-Thing: HD3 (11 hp), AC 14 (blubber), AT 2 sucker-arms (d6, +3), MV 10′, ML 12, Specials: [expose/spiritual] Look into the face of chaos: save v. paralysis or you are unable to attack. [separate/illness] If hit by both sucker-arms, save v. poison or die.

They open it and reveal a filthy, mind-rending horror. It is a bloated body of excrement and sour flesh; its arms are tentacles covered in biting mouths. A thousand wicked eyes peek out from between folds in the spoiled flesh. The hulking mass fills nearly all of the cramped room.

Summoning their courage, the fighters charge into the room with spears and swords leading–but their courage falters when the beast’s thousand eyes fix on them.

“Take heart!” Hannibal cries to his men, but his own sword fails to penetrate the monster’s thick skin deeply enough to wound it. The others sag, hopeless before it [fail their saves and can’t attack].

The beast wraps its sick arms around Zaccheus and strangle the life out of him as he stands helpless before it [hits twice for 10 dmg]. The others want to bring their blades down on its arms, but…what’s the use? [all fail their saves and can’t act]

Mercy tries to summon up the courage to throw her lantern at the thing, to burn it right back to hell, but she can’t.

They retreat, all of them, fleeing back up the corridor to regroup. The thing’s tentacles reach after them, grasping madly at Mercy and Israel. The magic-user moves quickly, and the sucking arm missing her by a hair’s breadth, but the cleric is slapped painfully across the chest. His armor saves his skin from the discolored teeth, but he feels several ribs break [3 dmg, 3 hp left].

Mercy quickly digs through her bag, handing out flasks of oil as the others try to light torches to get fire.

Does the beast get help? +2: yes + Event
Event: PC Negative – Expose/Riches (the monster breaks free)

Suddenly, the wall of the corridor explodes outward as the beast shoves through the very stone. Its tentacles are among them, whipping and biting.

In the melee, only Modesty the scout is able to rally her courage and throw her flask of oil, but that’s enough–it catches fire and spills into the folds of the chaos-thing’s body. It screams a horrible scream as its flesh boils.

The company falls back and watches it burn. It slaps at them futilely, but they hunker behind shields as it dies. A few moments later, and all that remains is a hunk of carbonized flesh–and then even that falls to ash.

Wandering Monster Check: 6 vs 6, yes–10 kobolds

Attracted by the noise, a swarm of kobolds spilled out of the corridors around the party. Moving quickly, the surviving fighters waded into their midst and eliminated half of them before they had a chance to mourn their fallen god-thing. The others break and run.

This is the exact kind of low-interest fight I’m trying to avoid by using more unique, powerful enemies.

10. Foul Chapel.

Size: GM Fiat–fill up remaining space
Contents: Empty

The room beyond the chaos-thing’s chamber is dominated by a sickening dark altar, an obelisk engraved with signs that make Mercy’s head light and causes the others to feel sick to their stomachs.

The room is empty, save for the altar (which they are careful not to touch) and the artifacts of a dark chapel–priest’s vestments and unholy symbols and the like.

A strange dark altar.

Can Mercy learn a sorcery from the obelisk? +2: Yes + Event
Event: PC Positive – Lie/Attention

The others leave the room before they realize that Mercy is not with them. Returning, they find her still standing beside the altar, lost in its uncanny script.

Does she learn the spell immediately? -4: Yes + Event
Event: Move toward a thread – persecute/misfortune (New thread: stop the threat of Chaos in the region)

As they try to pull her away, Mercy’s eyes uncloud and she shouts at them to wait. “It’s here!” she cries, “It’s all here. The Chaos–I know what it wants. I know where we need to go.”

What spell does she learn? Feather Fall

They manage to drag her away from the altar while others search the sacrificial room outside [room 9]. In the various urns and bowls, they find 1,100 silver pieces and a like number of copper.

They scoop what silver they can into their packs and pouches and leave the rest as they head back toward the well. They carry the corpse of Zaccheus and the bound, still-sleeping body of the chaos overseer behind them.

Are the tunnels in turmoil after the death of the Chaos Thing? +4: yes

The tunnels are riotous with the sounds of distant fighting and crying. Whatever dark force held the beasts here together has gone, and they have turned on themselves. The party moves carefully toward the well, but they make it unmolested.

Scene. Reporting Back.

The surface world seems garishly bright after their few hours below ground. The ash-filled air smells fresh after the rancid miasma of the caves.

Can they find the Corporal? +4: yes

Hannibal takes Mercy and the prisoner and sets off in search of the Corporal while Israel guides the others to the inn for rest. They find the Corporal in the inner yard, back at his post.

Hannibal waves him down as they approach.

“You survived,” the corporal says.

“Most of us,” Hannibal replies.

“We heard the screams from up here. It sounded…bad.”

“It was worse than that, but the worst of it is done.” Hannibal recounts the fight against the Chaos-Thing and describes their prisoner’s activities in the chamber beneath the inner keep. The corporal blanches at the thought of the disaster that very nearly occured.

Do they rouse the Watch to clear the tunnels? +4: Yes

Do they give the company the promised reward (100 gp)? +8: Yes, and… they’ve earned the Castellan’s favor

“This Keep owes you a great debt,” the corporal says. “It’s clear that we underestimated the threat of Chaos so close to our homes, and that hubris nearly cost us our lives.”

He sends the scribe to fetch a heavy bag of coins and hands them over while a couple of soldiers haul the prisoner away. “I’ll be telling the Captain and Castellan about what you’ve done for us. Return to the inn, rest. I must make ready to lead our men down into the tunnels after you. I pray they’re as disorganized as you say.”

Hannibal returns to the inn with Mercy. The two talk as they walk. They’ve earned enough to keep the Banner fed and sheltered for several weeks, but each know that more danger is coming.

Mercy tells him of her vision when she looked into the obelisk. Somewhere in the borderlands lies a cave, and she knows that they will have to venture inside if they want to have any hope of ending the spread of Chaos.

Back at the inn, the party counts and distributes the coins they recovered. In all, they earned 130 gold pieces, 1,239 silver pieces, and 161 copper pieces.

“Not a king’s ransom, but enough to keep us pretty wet, I’d say!” Balthasar says as he scoops his share–16 gold, 156 silver, and 25 coppers after all is said and done. The others are in agreement, and a great many silver are spent on ale and whiskey that night in memory of Comfort and Zaccheus.

Wrap Up

Treasure and EXP

8 skeletons (1HD) — 104 xp
4 stirges (1HD) — 64 xp
21 kobolds (d4 HD) — 105 xp
1 Fighter 1 (1HD) — 10 xp
4 Chaos Slaves (<1HD) — 40 xp
1 Overseer (2HD*) — 29 xp
1 Chaos Beast (3HD**) — 80 xp
30 gp, 1239 sp, 161 cp — 156 xp

TOTAL — 588 xp

Experience per survivor (8): 74 / 77 / 81

Mythic Stuff

Threads: Stop the threat of Chaos in the region

NPCs: captured overseer

The Party

Marching OrderMarching Order
Hannibal (sword) Richard (sword)
Zephaniah (spear)Balthasar (spear)
Mercy (lantern)Israel (mace)
Modesty (bow)Miles (bow)

Active

Hannibal Emmitt: F1 (80 xp), 8/9 hp, 12-8-13-11-8-16. Atk: Sword (d8, +0). AC 14 (chain, shield, -dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), 50′ rope, flint. 116 gp. Leader, crippled sailor. 

Zephaniah Poole: F1 (83 xp), 7/7 hp, 13-14-8-9-11-9. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 16 (chain, shield, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 11 gp. Armorer.

Balthasar Hill: F1 (83 xp), 6/7 hp, 15-10-7-5-12-11. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 15 (chain, shield). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 7 gp. Bridlemaker.

Mercy Rouse: MU1 (83 xp), 4/4 hp, 8-16-11-15-8-10. Atk: Dagger (d4-1, -1). AC 12 (dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), spell book, flint, lantern (8). 8 gp. Spells: Sleep, Feather Fall, Read Magic, Invisibility. Wise woman. 

Israel Clemont: C1 (83 xp), 3/6 hp, 15-8-11-11-15-10. Atk: Mace (d6+1, +1). AC 14 (chain, shield, -dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil*. 12 gp. Brewer.

Modesty Boyd: T1 (83 xp), 4/4 hp, 5-15-5-12-9-10. Atk: Axe (d6-2, -2), Shortbow (d6-2, +1, 13 arrows). AC 13 (leather, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), 10′ pole, flint. 3 gp. Bookbinder.

Richard Lanius: F1 (83 xp), 7/7 hp, 13-12-7-8-13-6. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 15 (chain, shield). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 7 gp. Farmer.

Miles Sinkler: T1 (83 xp), 2/6 hp, 7-14-9-14-13-14. Atk: Axe (d6-1, -1), Shortbow (d6-1, +1, 19 arrows). AC 13 (leather, dex). Backpack: chainmail, bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8), 10′ pole, 50′ rope, thieves’ tools. 8 gp. Roofer.

Inactive

DEAD Zaccheus McCanless: F1 (6 xp), 0/8 hp, 13-15-12-14-13-11. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1). AC 16 (chain, shield, dex). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). 7 gp. Cooper.

DEAD Comfort Stewart: F1 (6 xp), 0/7 hp, 13-10-8-7-12-16. Atk: Sword (d8+1, +1), Spear (d6+1, +1). AC 15 (chain, shield). Backpack: bedroll, rations (3), waterskin, torches (8). Sergeant, butcher.

Donkey 1: Feed (14), 10 gp, 527 sp, 138 cp

Donkey 2: Feed (14), 32 gp 4 sp

5 thoughts on “Keep on the Borderlands Solo – 8

  1. A great adventure and an excellent use of the oracle to create the Chaos-Thing. Have you heard of The Creature Crafter from Word Mill? I haven’t bought it yet but it but since it is from the creator of Mythic I wonder if it can be used to create monsters the same way.

    1. Hi Dan,

      Thanks for reading! I’ve seen the CC on store pages but haven’t bought or read it. Given how much I like Mythic I suspect that it’s probably a good product though. I’ll probably end up considering it if I keep wanting to create more unique monsters.

    1. Thanks for reading! And yeah, I’m pretty happy with the party’s success–although found treasure better tick upward if these guys want any hope of making level 2. Gotta keep my fingers crossed for the next dungeon!

      I am definitely enjoying the higher HD, non-standard monsters more, and I think I’ll be leaning on the oracle-generated special powers more often.

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