Thursday, 28 December 2017

12. In Need of Treasure

Grunferdfest, west of the Obsidian City, Xen’drik
Dravago 22, 997 YK

Mythic GME Chaos Rank: 9
Scene setup: d10=4 (Interrupt!)

Event: Move away from a thread(Kappefesting): Proceedings Illness
Okay, something that makes it even harder to get to Kappefesting—as the party wasn’t going to have a hard time doing that already. Let’s say that Arjen’s wounds, from the fight last time, are a problem; something that will not just heal on its own.
Make Camp(party): Arjen heals to 12 HP, but...
Level Up(Arjen): +1 Str, Sundering Blows
Level Up(Sakhisli): +1 Cha, Callus

Show signs of an approaching threat

In a ruined building in the shadow of a giant tower, three adventurers huddled around a small campfire. Sakhisli had gathered wood and lit the fire—using flame produced from her burned hand when Kyorlin was not looking—while the drow attended to Arjen’s wounds.

Arjen’s jerkin had given little protection against the creature’s acid. A band of skin around his chest was partly burned away, too much for Kyorlin’s needle and threat to easily stitch back together. All that Kyorlin could do was clean and bandage it.

After a while, the drow moved back, his work done for now. He sat by the fire, looking across it at Sakhisli.

“That wound will not heal on its own.”

Sakhisli glowered back at him. It had taken some effort to persuade her that they could not explore the tower immediately, and now it seemed that her companions did not want to proceed at all.

“We came here for treasure, and treasure awaits us if we climb that tower.”

“Arjen may live for a week or two, but he will weaken as time passes. If we are to reach a healer, we need to go now.”

New bond for Sakhisli. I’ll restate them below.

I like Sakhisli. She is becoming a badass and really doesn’t care about any of these average fools that she has ended up with. But Adventurers struggling together she has to stay with them for now, not least because she would quickly starve here if left alone.

Show a downside to their class, race, or equipment: You lost Lavias before you even left the city.

“There is probably no-one of the Healer’s Guild closer than Last Chance, or probably Stormreach—hundreds of miles north. It is nearly two weeks since we left Last Chance. He will die before we get there.” She glanced over at Arjen; sweat beaded on the man’s face and chest and he was breathing slowly, clearly pained. He looked at her anxiously.

Spout Lore(Kyorlin): 2D6(2 1) +1 = 4 Failure!
Reveal an unwelcome truth

So, what’s the unwelcome truth? Since Kyorlin was already about to say that Vulkoorim healers are closer, I don’t plan to change my mind and say that they are further away.

Is Kyorlin an outcast? Somewhat likely (It explains why he is working for outsiders).
Fate d100(92)=Yes

Fortunately, that was not an exceptional yes, or he would have been the shoot-on-sight sort of outcast

Okay, so Reveal an unwelcome truth: Kyorlin is not able to ask them for help. And Sakhisli wields fire, which means they will hate her if they find out. The party is in trouble.

“Your healer’s guild is not the only place where one can find healing,” said Kyorlin. “There are Vulkoorim tribes living scattered throughout Xen’drik; they might offer healing if you can persuade them.”

“If I can persuade them? Won’t they offer you help, dekhel?” Sakhisli sneered as she said it.

Kyorlin did not know dwarven, but he took the hint that it was meant to be insulting. However, he did not snap back; instead he looked down at the fire and frowned. “I have not been amongst my people for many years. They will not aid me. It will be up to you,” he said, looking between Arjen and Sakhisli, “to plead your case.”

“I plead for no-one,” said Sakhisli.

“I will plead for my life,” said Arjen, wincing in pain. “I know little of your people, Kyorlin, but I hope they would help a stranger in need.”

“My people care for little outside their tribe,” said Kyorlin. “They may trade, though, if you have something of value to offer.”

“I have nothing to give them,” said Sakhisli, just as Arjen said “I have gold...”

“Gold does not mean a great deal to my people,” said Kyorlin. “Certainly not to tribes this far south, who hardly ever trade with outsiders.”

Sakhisli saw an opportunity. “We should search the tower first. Perhaps it contains something of value that could be traded.” She did not want to trade anything away without getting something for herself, but it seemed like a good excuse to persuade her companions to continue with searching the tower.

Kyorlin looked across the fire at the dwarf; she had already made clear that she wanted to explore the tower, and his mistrusted her enough to guess at her real motive. But then he looked to Arjen and said, “It is your life, Arjen. We take a chance either way.”

Discern Realities(Arjen): 2D6(6 3) -1 = 8 Partial success.
What here is useful or valuable to me?

This is a hard one for the GM to answer; your party member hopes you die so she doesn’t have to pay to heal you. The tower might contain loot, and it may not take too long to explore, it might be enough to keep Sakhisli in a good mood and she might use it to pay to heal you and you might live long enough to see it happen. Okay?

Arjen’s bond with Sakhisli changes. Let’s restate the party’s bonds.

Arjen: Sakhisli has been changed by her time in Xen’drik; watch her carefully.
Kyorlin: Sakhisli wields a dangerous power: I do not trust her.
Sakhisli: Kyorlin is wary of my power, for good reason. Arjen is weak and is holding us back.

Arjen looked down, then looked at Sakhisli. “Go on then. I hope you find something. I’ll wait here for you.”

It was well into the evening as they stepped back into the entrance of the tower. Sakhisli led the way this time, her hammer hanging at her side as she stepped under the great archway. Kyorlin followed her with his bow in hand and an arrow at the ready, looking as much behind them as ahead this time. The inside of the tower was dark now; the same acrid smell still hung in the air here.

Sakhisli held up her hand again and a flame sprung up, lighting the ground level of the tower; the bronze flame on the statue stood out in the sudden light. Green pools of ooze still lay between the broken paving stones. Sakhisli gave only a glance to the statue, then headed towards the stairway.

Introduce an Element From Ages Past

The stairs were made of huge stone slabs, with steps sized for the giants that built the tower in ages past. Each step rose nearly as high as Sakhisli’s shoulders, and it took some effort to haul herself up onto each step. The stonework was less weathered here than outside, but the steps were covered in moss and were damp from water running down the inside of the tower.

Kyorlin followed her; when she looked back, she saw that he was watching her as much as their surroundings, eyeing her summoned flame suspiciously. Sakhisli did have a torch in her pack, but did not consider taking it out—this power was hers, and the drow could think what he liked of it.

Random d12=11 Unique, discovery & danger. Discovery is a Random altar, which fits with my idea for the unique element; the danger is squabbling creatures. I rolled some gulls, and a huge water beast with unusual abilities. Oh goodness.

Discern Realities(Kyorlin): 2D6(2 2) +1 = 5 Failure!
Introduce a new faction or type of creature: Quori creations. The creature knows you are coming.

Adventuring is a bad idea, folks. Just don’t do it.

They had been climbing for over half an hour when they heard some noises further up the tower; it sounded like birds squabbling, and a faint vibration seemed to pass through the stairs as the noise stopped. Kyorlin gestured to Sakhisli to be quiet, and they listened for a moment but could hear nothing. With a few gestures, they agreed to continue to climb, but did so quietly now, afraid that there might be something up here to alert.

They soon reached a broad landing with a doorway leading to a large chamber. They had passed doorways at lower levels, but the floors there were all gone, the wood having long since rotted away; but, at this level, there was a floor of stone slabs that seemed solid, if damp and weather-worn. There was a faint blue light beyond the doorway.

Sakhisli extinguished her flame, approaching the doorway slowly. There was a slight sound from the room beyond that she could not place. Kyorlin, at her shoulder, was wide-eyed and had his bow at the ready again. They advanced to the doorway and peered inside.

The room was a large chamber, fifty feet tall and a hundred feet across, with a large pedestal at the centre bearing a large crystal of some kind. There were larger windows into the chamber than there had been on the lower levels, though it was dark outside now. Instead, the light came from a large creature that lay coiled around the centre pedestal—a giant serpent, with coils a foot thick and probably fifty yards long. The serpent was almost transparent but its near-invisible scales glowed blue, lighting the stone of the pedestal and the stone slabs around it. It appeared to be sleeping.

Sakhisli hesitated. She had no idea what the creature was, but the crystal on the pedestal looked valuable if they could get to it. Greed fought against caution, and she unconsciously rubbed together the fingers of her burned hand, itching to summon flame.

Kyorlin tugged at her shoulder, and gestured for them to continue on past; the stairs continued up to another level. Sakhisli took one more look at the crystal and then moved to follow him. We can always get it on the way back.

Think dangerously. Put someone in a spot: the creature is behind you now, blocking your escape. And you cannot run away because the stairs are too high to climb fast.

Okay, so let’s make a dream serpent. Moves: Lulling Gaze, Sleep Poison, Knows Your Fears. d8+1 damage (bite or crush), 16 HP. 1 armour (scales), stealthy, planar.

They climbed as quietly as they could, slowly ascending the next flight of steps. They had turned the corner and climbed two more steps when they heard a hissing sound behind them.

Defy Danger(Wis)(Sakhisli): 2D6(5 2) +0 = 7 Partial success.
You are not lulled entirely, but you don’t get time to summon your elemental and attack before the creature is on you
Volley(Kyorlin): 2D6(5 6) +1 = 12 Success!
Deals d8=6 damage

Sakhisli turned just as the giant serpent flowed around the corner, lifting its huge head up to face them. Its silver eyes glowed brightly, seemingly the most solid part of its otherwise transparent form. It stared at Sakhisli, meeting her eyes, and something about its gaze seemed strangely soothing, almost mesmerising. Sakhisli’s alarm overcame the effect, and she stepped back, pulling her gaze away from the creature’s eyes. She looked down just as Kyorlin’s first arrow sunk into the snake’s thick neck, causing it to hiss in pain.

Summon Elemental(Sakhisli): 2D6(3 2) +2 = 7 Partial success.
d4-1=2 control

This is a bad spot for Kyorlin; it’s a close space, and the huge creature can easily reach up to him even if he tries to climb away.

Defy Danger(Dex)(Kyorlin): 2D6(3 4) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Separate them

The snake struck at Kyorlin, lunging forward with surprising speed for such a large beast. The drow threw himself sideways, moving away from Sakhisli on the huge step; the dwarf suddenly found the snake’s head alongside her. Leaving her hammer at her side, Sakhisli called on the flames again, and once more a fire mephit appeared above her outstretched hand. The stairway was flooded with red light, and the snake recoiled, staring with evident surprise at the creature that had just appeared.

“You like that, eh?” said Sakhisli, gesturing forward. The mephit flew out towards the snake, unleashing a burst of flame. The snake was faster, however, moving its sinuous form aside; it lowered itself and struck forwards again, this time at Sakhisli

Elemental Attack(Sakhisli): 2D6(1 1) +2 = 4 Failure!
Put someone in a spot: it dodges your mephit friend and recognises that it must go after you, the summoner
Defend(Sakhisli): 2D6(3 6) +2 = 11 Success!
Hold 3; defending herself

Spend hold(Sakhisli): Halve damage to the target Spend hold(Sakhisli): Deal damage equal to your level =2

The dream serpent is at 8/16 HP. Deal damage: d10+1=3 damage, halved to 1, 0 after armour. Since the attack is negated, the poison doesn’t take effect either.

Sakhisli had her hammer out, now, and held it with both hands in front of her to block the serpent’s bite. The serpents jaws, though they seemed insubstantial, closed on the haft of the hammer with a powerful grip, trying to pull it from her hands. Sakhisli turned the monster’s strength against it, moving with the pull and slamming the snake’s head into the wall. The monster released its grip, though it was hard to see if it was wounded, or even dazed.

Defy Danger(Wis)(Kyorlin): 2D6(3 1) +1 = 5 Failure!
Monster move(Lulling Gaze): You’re mesmerised and out of action.

Kyorlin had climbed up to the step above, and was just drawing another arrow when the creature looked up at him. Those silver eyes were now turned on the drow, and he paused in the act of putting the arrow to his bowstring; the arrow dropped from his fingers, falling to the floor as he stared dumbly at the creature.

Elemental Attack(Sakhisli): 2D6(2 5) +2 = 9 Partial success.
-1 control, deals d8=7 damage

The beast is at 1/16 HP.

Volley(Kyorlin): 2D6(3 3) +1 = 7 Partial success.
Less damage; d8-d6=2-5 no damage

Then the creature broke its gaze, letting out an agonised hiss as flames washed over it. Sakhisli had willed the mephit up behind the snake’s head, unleashing its flames directly over the creature. The snake’s huge body thrashed around in the stairwell, causing the steps to rumble as it bashed into the walls below them. Kyorlin, freed from its gaze, shook himself and loosed another arrow at the creature, but it seemed to glance harmlessly off of the creature’s transparent scales.

Elemental Attack(Sakhisli): 2D6(3 5) +1 = 9 Partial success.
-1 control, deals d8=2 damage

Feeling her control slipping, Sakhisli urged the mephit once more towards the head of the beast. Flames engulfed the snake’s head once more, burning at its eyes and into its open mouth. The fight seemed to be gone out of the creature now; its coils lay over the steps below them, running around the corner and out of sight, writhing as the head jerked from side to side. Whatever control Sakhisli had had over the mephit was gone now, and the flying creature hovered over the dying spectral snake, blasting it with fire again and again and seeming to watch with amusement at its death throes.

Uvar maug!” exclaimed Kyorlin. “What was that thing?”

“A bloody great snake.” The dwarf sniffed disdainfully. “It died to fire, though.”

They continued their climb in silence. As on the lower floors, most of the doors from the stairway opened into just open space, the wooden floors having long since rotted away, leaving the tower mostly hollow. Birds had made nests in the stairway in places, and Kyorlin was able to grab a few eggs once he scared the birds away.

Forage(Kyorlin): 2D6(1 6) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Worse outcome: just d4=2 days of rations
Defy Danger(Con)(Sakhisli): 2D6(1 4) +2 = 7 Partial success.
Weak for wielding a weapon only

They had been in the tower for over an hour by the time they reached the upper floors. Even Sakhisli, with the strong arms of a smith, was feeling exhausted after hauling herself up over so many of the giant steps. It was a relief to finally reach a huge iron-bound doorway.

“That is the only door that we have seen in this place; it looks like the door to a strongroom,” said Sakhisli, holding up the flame in her hand as she looked up at the door.

Discern Realities(Kyorlin): 2D6(3 5) +1 = 9 Partial success.
What should I be on the lookout for?

“For the wood to have lasted so long, it must be magically protected,” said Kyorlin. The drow had his bow ready again, looking around once more for potential hazards.

“Here, if you stand on my shoulders you should be able to reach the handle,” said Sakhisli. “Hmm, let me light a torch.” Retrieving a torch from her pack, she lit it and extinguished her own flame, propping the torch up against the next step.

Kyorlin shouldered his bow again. Sakhisli moved to stand by the door with her hands cupped, and Kyorlin stepped up to stand on the dwarf’s broad shoulders.

“There’s a lock,” he said. “Shift a little to the right. No, other way.” The drow was light enough that Sakhisli had no trouble supporting his weight, even as he shifted around to take out items from his pack.

“I hope there isn’t a magical warding as well as the lock,” he added. Sakhisli couldn’t see what he was doing, but could hear the scraping of metal on metal as he tinkered with the lock.

“Perhaps I should just burn the door down,” said Sakhisli.

Spout Lore(Kyorlin): 2D6(2 5) +1 = 8 Partial success.
Worse outcome: it just takes more time and tools

There is no move for slow, skill-based activities in DungeonWorld ; it has no skills system. Instead, I’m letting Kyorlin fictionally position himself into being able to do the lock by reference to his ancestors.

“These Giantish locks were not made with small hands and small tools in mind,” said Kyorlin. “There are legends from the rebellion of how the early elves broke out of their cells by working the locks with stolen tools.”

This is a great moment to bring Kyorlin’s broad-bladed dagger into play. It is magical and can cancel the magical warding on the door. Its effects are random though, so: d3=1, the first effect is Probing.

There was a sudden light from behind her; as Sakhisli turned her head, Kyorlin wobbled above her and then jumped down. The door was now covered in a dim pink light, faintly illuminating the aged stone of the stairwell.

“Magical warding,” said Kyorlin.

“That’s good,” said Sakhisli. “That means that no-one has made it into that room since the tower was abandoned. We’ll be the first to loot it.”

“Only if we can get past that warding, and it doesn’t kill us.”

“What did you do to make it appear?”

“I was just probing the lock,” said Kyorlin, holding out the broad-bladed dagger that he held in his hand; the runes on the dagger seemed to stand out in the arcane light.

“Maybe you nearly have it.” Sakhisli put her back to the door again. “Go on, get back up there!”

Shaking his head, Kyorlin nevertheless did step back up to continue to work the lock.

Magicbane d3=3 Cancel.

After a few seconds, the light from the door flickered out; Sakhisli felt the door move behind her. “Got it,” Kyorlin said as he jumped down.

A shaft of flickering light cut across the chamber, and there was a sound of scraping metal as the hinges of the door moved for the first time in 40,000 years. Sakhisli held the torch high as she pushed the door wide open, revealing the dusty room beyond.

The chamber was large for the dwarf and the drow, though it would not have seemed so to the Giants that built it. A large wooden table and cabinet stood against the wall on one side, and another desk was against the other wall, both with giant-sized chairs next to them. The far wall contained a large opening, floor-to-ceiling, which opened to the outside of the tower and looked out at the platform that floated alongside the tower, twenty yards away. The opening was covered in a shimmering magical barrier of some kind; rain was falling again outside and, as the rain played upon it, the barrier shimmered slightly as it screened the chamber from the weather.

This is, in a way, a classic wizard tower, with the wizard absent. Following the DungeonWorld loot rules, I took the damage die for a giant, applied the various modifiers (magical, hoarder, lord, ancient and noteworthy), and made the roll: 2d8k1 + d4 + d4 = 5 + 1 + 4 = 10 for a magic item or magical effect, plus a strange (possibly magical) item. So we have some magical loot to decide here.

Random Twilight armour Random Fire weapon

Both D&D and DungeonWorld lean towards magical weapons in their magic item lists, due to the sort of games that they are, though there were plenty of non-weapon choices on the list that I composed and randomly chose from. The Giants were at war at the end of their empire, so it’s reasonable that the treasure in their lab here is weaponry.

Of course, fiction first: these are Giantish items so they are sized for giants. I think, to help our characters out, for the weapon at least

“There is a light up on the table,” said Kyorlin. He hauled himself up onto the seat of the chair; unlike the rest of the tower, the contents of this room seemed untouched by the passage of time, and the polished wood of the chair shone in the torchlight.

“What is up there?” asked Sakhisli.

Kyorlin was frowning. “A weapon of the Giants.”

Impatient, Sakhisli climbed up as well; as she was shorter, she had to jump up and grab the edge of the seat and pull herself up onto it.

On the table stood a large blade, perhaps three feet long, made of steel—but the surface was mottled with a red glow. It rested on two iron ingots laid on the desk and, even from here, Sakhisli could feel the heat emanating from the blade. The base of the blade had a socket instead of a grip.

Sakhisli is strong from her days as a blacksmith, and Callus makes her near immune to damage from fire and heat. She can wield this.

The weapon is Awkward, at least for now, and Fiery (not an official equipment tag in the game, so I will have to figure out what that means as I go along.

“It’s a spearhead,” Sakhisli said. Clambering onto the edge of the table, she walked over to where the weapon lay and grasped the socket confidently, ignoring the heat, and held the blade up before her. It had been designed to be mounted on a thick spear haft, and the blade was broad and unwieldy held in the hands of someone her size, but she gave it a couple of swings and nodded, feeling satisfied that it would work as a weapon.

“Be careful, dwarf—the weapons of the giants can burn the wielder.”

“They don’t burn me. And Giantish artefacts are why we are here; this will fetch a good price in Stormreach.” As she said it, though, Sakhisli realised that she would never sell this weapon; the fiery blade belonged in her hands. Looking past the drow, she added, “There is a chest in the corner over there; let’s see what else we can find.”

The chest was not locked, but lifting the heavy lid was difficult; they had to drag one of the chairs over to it, and Sakhisli stood on the chair holding the lid while Kyorlin groped inside. The drow dragged out the contents: a large chainmail shirt, made for a Giant, that glittered darkly in the torchlight.

Spout Lore(Sakhisli): 2D6(1 4) -1 = 4 Failure!
Introduce a threat from a new faction or type of creature: I rolled for a random danger, and got a creature: Random Sulatar.

That’s really bad news. The Sulatar venerate the giants; anyone stealing from a Giantish ruin is going to be killed on sight. And Arjen is outside, at risk of capture. The torchlight shining out of the portal in the side of the tower on a dark night has alerted them to someone’s presence there.

Sakhisli climbed back down and looked at the chain closely. “This is not like any metal that I have seen—but it is as light as mithril,” she added, as she lifted a fold of the huge shirt. “It must be valuable.”

Discern Realities(Sakhisli): 2D6(1 5) +0 = Failure! Reveal an unwelcome truth: nothing else of value, no way across to the platform.

And Reveal an unwelcome truth.

While Kyorlin was folding up the shirt and stuffing it into his pack, Sakhisli took another look around the room. There were more of those bronze coins inside the chest, but the dwarf knew that those would have little value. A small bookcase contained some dusty old tomes that might have been better than gold to Esinor, but Sakhisli had no interest in such things. She picked up her torch again and walked to the opening in the side of the tower, looking across at the platform; as Kyorlin had said, gems and gilded patterns glittered on its surface, a wealth of treasure if they could have reached it. But even if the magical barrier could be lowered, Sakhisli could see no way to cross the twenty yards of air that separated the platform from the tower.

Dissatisfied, the dwarf glanced back at Kyorlin as he shrugged on his backpack again. “There is no way across. We have found all that we can get, here.” She took one last look across at the platform, then glanced down towards the ground—and started in alarm. “Traveller’s curse!”

Around the base of the tower were clustered a number of point of light. Humanoid figures carrying torches were clustered near the base of the tower; it was hard to tell from up here, but the light seemed to glint off of the figures as if they were wearing helmets or breastplates.

Discern Realities(Kyorlin): 2D6(6 5) +1 = 12 Success!
What happened here recently? Hold 2

Kyorlin stepped up beside her, looked down, and cursed. “Maug ettin! The Sulatar have come.”

End of Session(party): They defeated a notable monster and looted notable treasure, +2 XP

XP: Arjen: 0 failures, 1 bond resolved; 3 XP.
Kyorlin: 3 failures, +2 session; 10 XP.
Sakhisli: 3 failures, +2 session; 5 XP.

There is no opportunity for Kyorlin to camp and level up, however.

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