The City of Glass – a solo Scarlet Heroes wilderness adventure

The City of Glass PNG image

One hex = six miles

This is a condensed version of a wilderness exploration adventure that I played using the solo gaming guidelines of the Scarlet Heroes roleplaying game from Sine Nomine Publishing. The Quickstart version with less detail is available as a free PDF. This adventure illustrates what a great tool Scarlet Heroes is for generating random wilderness encounters, events and features while solo play is in progress.

Although the solo section of Scarlet Heroes includes a great mechanic for randomly generating terrain, I decided to use Hexographer to map out the basic terrain of the region beforehand and then use the random tables in Scarlet Heroes to generate specific features while I was exploring. The basic terrain was based on the southern coast of Ektau at the borders of the Mandinarate of Xian and the Magocracy of Tien Lung, as shown on the maps in the Red Tide sourcebook from Sine Nomine Publishing.


My player character is a second level fighter named Du Renshu, with the following traits (as explained on page 7 of the Scarlet Heroes Quickstart rulebook):

  • Forest Hermit: 2
  • Strong Constitution: 2
  • Once was a Peasant Rebel: 2

Renshu has left the coastal city of Haicheng in the Mandarinate of Xian and travelled west through the village of Zhaozedong into a swamp.

Hex 07.05: swamp

Hex 07.06: swamp

Hex 06.07: swamp

A Feature is discovered

The Silver Scabbard

Type of Feature: structure and road inn

I generated the name of the inn randomly using the d30 Sandbox Companion.

On the southern edge of the swamp he comes to an inn at the meeting of a few rough tracks. The inn is a single storey building surrounded by a wooden palisade. It is named The Silver Scabbard, after the silver scabbard of daifu Li Yi who founded Haicheng in 31 AL after the Clearing Wars. Within the palisade there is a small courtyard and a well full of water for himself and his horse. He pays three silver pieces for a room and stabling for his horse, and five copper pieces for rice porridge and beer.

Money: 4 gp and 5 sp

The innkeeper is a man named Domnall Du; his first name is Gadaal but his surname is Imperial and same as Renshu’s. He welcomes Renshu like a long-lost relative. He says that he has not had many people stay at the inn these days; the village of Maichen to the south-west on the coast was conquered by the Sea Blue elves and the orc Shou sacked the village of Shanwei which is further west on the coast. But now that soldiers from the fort of Xibao have taken back Maichen he is hoping for more traffic on the road.

The next morning Renshu pays five copper pieces for breakfast and leaves the inn, heading south-west into jungle-clad hills.

Money: 4gp, 4 sp and 5 cp

Hex 05.07: jungle hills

Event: non-magic gear item breaks or rots away

I decide to roll a 1d2 to determine which item it is.

  1. Backpack
  2. Saddlebag; lose 1d4 rations

One of the saddlebags on Renshu’s horse breaks and he loses four lots of rations in the undergrowth.

Hex 04.07: jungle hills

Hex 03.06: jungle hills

A Feature is discovered

Bandits’ cave

Type of Feature: natural Feature and cave

Contents: encounter and Trove H2 (six bandits with four gp worth of treasure)

He comes to a cave in the hills. He tethers his horse to a tree outside and goes inside. The cave floor slopes down steeply and it quickly gets dark, so he lights a torch.

The cave narrows to a tunnel which bends to the left. He comes across six bandits armed with spears who are sitting around a fire.

For their Reaction the bandits are rolled as Unfriendly NPCs. They are persuadable.

The bandits get up and level their spears at Renshu. He says that he is not looking for a fight and will not inform the authorities of their hiding place; he is only exploring the region.

Renshu must make a Charisma check of 11 difficulty to persuade the bandits. He uses his trait of “Once was a Peasant Rebel” but still fails the check.

The bandits advance towards Renshu and he draws his sword. He kills five of them and one flees. He tends his wound.

Hit points: 14

The bandits have two gold pieces, 12 silver pieces and 80 copper pieces stored in their hideout.

Money: 6 gp, 16 sp and 85 sp

Do the bandits have any rations? I consult the yes/no oracle. Yes they have 1d4 days worth of rations.

Among the bandits belongings he finds three days’ supply of rations.

Rations: 3

He leaves the cave and camps nearby.

Hex 02.06: forest hills

The jungle-clad hills give way to cooler forested hills and he realises that he is approaching the foothills of the Altgrimmr Mountains.

Event: dangerous beast; Encounter if you move

After he had set up camp at midday on the slope of a hill he sees a tiger prowling around the lower slopes. He realises he will be stalked and attacked if he leaves his campsite. He puts more wood on the fire to discourage the tiger from approaching and remains on guard for the rest of the day.

Not able to check for Features

The next day the tiger has gone. He searches the area for any ruins or other features.

Hex 01.05: forest hills

Hex 00.06: forest hills

He searches for food and water but fails to find either.

As Renshu has not eaten or drunk water in a day he suffers a -1 penalty to all checks and a -2 penalty to hit rolls until he finds food and water.

Five bugbear Shou are 250 feet from Renshu. They see him first and advance to attack. The biggest has 6 HD.

Renshu sees five bugbear Shou armed with spears advancing through the forest towards him. They have pale skin and green hair and the biggest of them appears to be about eight feet tall. He gets on his horse to flee.

The bugbears move 30 feet to be 220 feet from Renshu. The difficulty of the check to flee the bugbears is 11. Renshu succeeds on the check.

Renshu gallops away on his horse and evades the bugbears.

Hex 01.06: jungle hills

He searches for food and water again. Hunting with his bow he obtains one day’s worth of rations. He also finds a stream.

Event: blind canyon; next move must be back

The valley he is travelling down narrows to a canyon which comes to a dead end. He turns back and retraces his route. Returning to the stream he found earlier, he refills his waterskin and rations his water carefully as he returns to the forested hills.

Not able to check for Features: Renshu returns to hex 00.06

Hex 00.06: forest hills

Hex 01.05: forest hills

Hex 02.06: forest hills

Hex 03.05: forest hills

Hex 04.06: jungle hills

A Feature is discovered

The City of Glass

Type of Feature: ruin and city

Great past event: mysterious vanishing

Current state: partially buried

Contents: Trove type C1

Walls: glass or stranger

Towers: square

Wall adornments: hideous gargoyles

Other features: much flowing water

Favoured colours: delicate pastels

He comes to a city in the jungle that appears to built entirely of glass, or perhaps some stranger substance. Even the defensive wall and the square towers along it are made of glass, allowing him to see into the interior rooms and through to the city beyond. The glass gates of a gatehouse are open and he walks inside. The city appears to be entirely deserted. The buildings within are mostly constructed of the same colourless glass as the walls and towers, but the walls of some rooms are built of opaque glass in pastel colours such as a blue, green and violet. Glass gargoyles stare down from many of the walls, and small streams flow through glass channels throughout the city. The beauty of the city is only marred in one place where a mudflow from a nearby hill has buried many of the buildings. The mud is not yet overgrown with jungle vegetation and seems to have been very recent.

The houses still contain the clothes, tools and furniture of the inhabitants, and there are no corpses. Entering one of the towers he finds an armoury where all the weapons and armour are still in storage. It seems that the inhabitants of the city just vanished. It is curious that the chandler Hilt Osterhagen, who claimed to have travelled throughout this region in his youth, did not mention this place to him. Perhaps the city was previously concealed by some great enchantment that faded after the sorcerous inhabitants disappeared.

In one house he finds a chest containing sixty gold pieces and a bronze finger ring with a blue topaz gemstone set in it. Some of the coins are ordinary koku pieces, but others, although round like a koku, are more beautiful and bear the images of the kings and queens who may have ruled in this city long before the exile fleet reached Ektau.

The ring is worth 40 gp. The hoard of coins consists of 1d10% of ancient coins. Thirty of the coins are ancient.

Is an ancient coin worth more than a koku? I consult the oracles. No, but… exhaustion. What does this mean? I decide that the coins have been placed under an enchantment that makes them exhaust their possessor. Renshu has a -1 penalty to all checks and a -2 penalty to hit rolls while he still possesses them. After each check or combat, he can make a Wisdom check of 14 to realise that the coins should be discarded.

Money: 66 gp, 16 sp and 85 cp

He sets up camp in the city beside one of the streams and refills his waterskin.

Hex 05.06: jungle hills

The next day he refills his waterskin at the stream and then leaves the city, travelling south-east into jungle-clad hills. He feels strangely tired but attributes this to the heat of the jungle.

Five goblin Shou are scouting the area around their camp for potential threats. They are 300 feet from Renshu and willing to fight if it seems at all profitable. The goblins notice Renshu far enough in advance to be able to set up an ambush.

Renshu is hit by a spear and an arrow from the surrounding undergrowth. Another arrow grazes him and two more shoot past without hitting him. Five green-skinned goblin Shou emerge from the undergrowth, one wielding a spear and the others wielding daggers. He kills three of them and the remaining two flee. He tends his wounds. He searches the bodies of the goblins but finds nothing.

Hit points: 14

Renshu fails the Wisdom check.

Renshu considers that he was an easier target for the goblins than he should have been. He wonders why he feels so tired but again attributes it to the heat.

Hex 06.06: jungle hills

A Feature is discovered


Type of Feature: settlement and farm village

I decide that I want to run an urban adventure in this village so I add a bit more colour to it. The villagers of Enping are escaped slaves from the Magocracy of Tien Lung. Some of the villagers sell weapons to the Bone Spear, a tribe of orc Shou.

He comes to a village in the hills. It is a typical borderland village surrounded by a wooden palisade. From the palisade a track leads south to the swamp and presumably to The Silver Scabbard inn. Renshu and his horse drink at the well and he goes to the tavern. After sitting down at a table and paying 10 copper pieces for rice porridge and a mug of beer he notices that several of the tavern patrons are staring at him with hostility. The tavernkeeper, a man named Hilt al-Kalbi, explains that the village, which is called Enping, is made up of escaped slaves from Tien Lung like himself. They distrust outsiders. Renshu pays 20 copper pieces for stabling for his horse and 30 copper pieces for a room and then goes to bed.

Money: 66 gp, 16 sp and 25 cp

Renshu receives one experience point for his adventure.

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