The Cult of Z’ol-Iku

Haicheng region new PNG image

In this Scarlet Heroes adventure the thief Gong Trond attempts to reduce the Heat that he earned in the previous urban adventure in which he killed Cheng Detlef, a wealthy heir and a villainous sorcerer, along with many members of his gang.

Trond is a third level thief with the following traits:

  • Ruin Explorer: 4
  • Great Stealth: 3
  • Friend to the Black Sapphire Tong: 1
  • Resist the Red Tide: 1

This dungeon adventure is set in a palace where Trond has the chance to rescue the captives of a cult. I am using the guidelines for Dungeons with Alarms in the Scarlet Heroes rulebook. Using The Crimson Pandect from Sine Nomine Publishing I roll to randomly generate the deity venerated by the cult. The deity is aquatic, tentacular and deceitful. These traits seem to describe a Lovecraftian monster, so I think up an appropriate name and appearance for the deity.

The Bronze Horse inn

Trond returns to The Bronze Horse inn where he pays for lunch for himself and Adalric Wulf. Kobayashi Nobu has left the inn to get some fresh air now that Cheng Detlef’s gang is no more.

Money: 28 gp and 9 sp

Nobu returns to the inn out of breath. He says that guards of the city watch are approaching the inn, most likely to arrest Trond.

Trond leaves the inn quickly taking his backpack with him. The guards have almost reached the inn and Trond runs off down the street away from them. He changes direction, heading down a side street which leads to the wealthier area of West Haicheng.

A dilapidated palace

He follows a wall, on the other side of which he can see the trees of a garden. He is now out of sight of the guards but he can hear them gaining on him. He quickly scrambles over the wall and into the garden. He hears the footsteps of the guards running past down the street.

He peers out from behind the cover of a dense clump of bushes. The palace that he sees is not the Cheng palace, but a smaller building and quite dilapidated. Curious, he moves stealthily through the garden towards the palace.

Locations: 20

Inhabitants: cultists of Z’ol-Iku

Threat: 3

Favoured colours of interior rooms: greens and floral hues

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Garden

Treasure: one tenth of the C-type trove appropriate to the place (lair of Powerful Cult Leader).

On a garden path near the palace he finds a discarded Imperial wall scroll of great artistry depicting Fa Chia, the Yellow God of law and integrity, accompanied by a wingless yellow dragon. The scroll has clearly been thrown out quite recently and has not been damaged by the weather. It seems strange that such a great work of art should be found discarded outside a dwelling. Perhaps the residents have very little regard for the Nine Immortals.

The scroll is worth 40 gp.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Courtyard

Leaving the garden he enters a paved courtyard. There is still no sign of any of the inhabitants of the palace.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Kennel

Are there dogs in the kennel? No.

Crossing the courtyard he enters a wooden kennel where there is a row of pens for keeping the mastiffs used to guard the palace, but the pens are vacant.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Stable

Encounter: five hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – two HD 1 cultists and one HD 3 cultist. The HD 3 cultist has two special abilities – (1) he is armoured with plate armour, (2) which is encrusted with green garnets and green chalcedony gemstones.

These cultists are neutrals who may or may not cooperate with the cult leader.

Are there horses in the stables? Yes there are four horses present.

A door in the west wall of the kennel leads into the stable. There are two men and a woman here who are saddling three of the four horses in the stable. One of the men, an Imperial man, carries a sword and is wearing a magnificent suit of plate armour which is encrusted with jewels – green garnets and green chalcedony gemstones. The other two wear leather armour and carry short swords.

The cultists regard Trond with grudging agreement. Oracular word: duty.

The man in the suit of plate armour is grudgingly courteous and asks Trond what is his business in the palace. When Trond doesn’t reply straight away he asks him if he has come to join the cult of Z’ol-Iku, the Immense One of the Deep. Trond replies that he has and the man directs him to a door in the northwest corner. The three cultists finish saddling their horses and ride out into the courtyard, leaving the palace on some errand.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Servants’ rooms

Encounter: eight hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – five HD 1 cultists and one HD 3 cultist.

These cultists are grudgingly submissive to the cult leader.

Hidden treasure: standard treasure trove for the encounter (H2).

He enters a corridor painted in a fading blue similar to that of the blue orchids in the garden outside. The corridor is lined with doors which presumably lead to small rooms for the servants of the palace.

One cultist is on guard while the others are in their rooms. The cultist flatly rejects Trond.

A man wearing leather armour and armed with a sword is on guard duty. He tells Trond to go back the way he came. Trond offers him a bribe of five gold pieces.

Does the guard let Trond go through? No.

The guard says that he will have the five gold pieces, but that Trond may still not enter the palace. Trond draws his sword. The man bangs on a gong and five other men enter the corridor from their rooms with their swords ready. Most are dressed in leather armour but one is wearing a chain hauberk.

The alarm has not been raised by the combat. The guards of the city watch are still unaware that Trond is in the palace.

Trond kills all of the cultists except one, an Eirengarder who turned on his fellow cultists during the battle.

Does the Eirengarder join forces with Trond? No, but… disease.

Trond sees that the Eirengarder is very pale. He suddenly stumbles against Trond, wracked by a fit of coughing.

The difficulty of the Constitution saving throw not to catch the disease is 14. Trond fails the saving throw. He will come down with the disease after the adventure and must make another Constitution saving throw then.

Trond tends the wound that he received from one of the cultists.

Hit points: 11

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

The Eirengarder goes into one of the rooms and lifts up a loose floorboard, taking a few gold pieces that were hidden there. He leaves the palace. Trond goes through the door at the end of the corridor.

Sixth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pantry

Encounter: eight hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – two HD 1 cultists and two HD 3 cultists.

These cultists are hostile towards the cult leader. I roll them as Unfriendly NPCs with a +2 modifier as Trond has done work for them killing the previous group of cultists. The cultists are persuadable.

He enters a pantry filled with sacks of rice, small barrels of sea salt, jars of honey and other food containers. There are four cultists here who appear to have heard the combat that took place in the corridor, but they do not regard Trond with hostility.

One of the cultists, an Imperial man, tells Trond that the palace contains a shrine dedicated to the worship of the monstrous deity Z’ol-Iku, the Immense One of the Deep. This deity deceives his followers, promising them power and wealth in exchange for human sacrifice. But those who sacrifice to Z’ol-Iku do not realise that eventually he will take over their minds and cause them to cast themselves into the sea as their final and personal sacrifice to him. He himself wants to leave the cult but fears retribution from the sorcerer who leads it, daifu Tang Guotin whose palace this is.

Trond asks him if there are any prisoners intended for sacrifice in the palace. He replies that there are, and that they will be taken out to sea in a junk and sacrificed to Z’ol-Iku when the time is right. Trond says that he is being hunted by the city watch because he set free two men who had been unjustly imprisoned by Cheng Detlef and his allies; if he were to be able to destroy this cult and free the prisoners then the authorities might be willing to pardon him. The Imperial man disagrees, saying that Trond cannot defeat Tang Guotin. He tells Trond to leave the palace and give himself up to the city guard rather than face the sorcerer.

Trond must make a Charisma check of 13 to persuade the man to let him through. Trond fails the check.

Do the cultists attack Trond to prevent him going further into the palace? No, but… the Imperial man is wrong in assuming that Tang Guotin does not know of his disloyalty.

Trond heads towards a door in the southeast corner. He hears a strangled cry behind him and turns to see the Imperial man fall to the ground as if suddenly struck down by sorcery. The other cultists go to his aid but he is dead.

Seventh turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Cellar

Hazard: lethal trap or environmental quality – save or perish.

Beyond the door steps lead down into a moldy cellar. Trond is exploring the room when a thick white mist starts to fill the air. He feels a pit open beneath his feet, a magical trap. He jumps away from the pit and tries to escape the room but another pit starts to open beneath him and he can hardly see his feet now.

I got the idea for this trap from the Adventure Tags section of the Scarlet Heroes rulebook, specifically the Disorienting Layout tag. Although the tags are not intended for solo play I find them a good source of inspiration for solo adventures.

The difficulty of the saving throw to escape the cellar is 15. Trond fails the saving throw and must Defy Death (3d4). He takes 2 points of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 9

He succeeds in reaching another flight of steps leading out of the cellar.

Eighth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Storeroom

Feature: a noncombatant inhabitant of the dungeon. The motive of the inhabitant is to scout the site for an outside power.

He enters a storeroom full of crates, barrels and stacks of furniture; a welcome scene of normality after the deadly sorcery of the cellar. There is a young Imperial woman in the room, dressed in the yellow robes of a priestess of Fa Chia. Trond greets her and says that he is not a cultist, and she hesitantly introduces herself as Sister Huian of the Five Pinnacle Pagoda. Abbot Nianzu of the Pagoda sent her to the palace to investigate rumours of a cult. She has just entered the building through a door which leads to the garden. Her clerical powers are limited and she came to the palace to investigate rather than to fight cultists.

Trond tells her of his discovery of the cult of Z’ol-Iku in the palace, and how the cult sorcerer Tang Guotin killed a disloyal cultist with sorcery. He warns her about the sorcerous trap in the cellar, and advises her to leave the palace and return to Abbot Nianzu with the information he has given her. He will continue to explore the palace to free any prisoners taken for sacrifice by the cultists. He also tells her that he had to flee the city watch after killing Cheng Detlef and his allies. Sister Huian replies that she knows that Cheng Detlef was an enemy of Magistrate Hao Ying. If Trond manages to defeat Tang Guotin then he must come to the Five Pinnacle Pagoda so that Abbot Nianzu can speak to Hao Ying on his behalf.

Sister Huian casts the spell the Blessing of Gentle Fortune so that Trond has the favour of Fa Chia when fighting the cultists. Then she returns to the garden.

Ninth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: nine hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – three HD 1 cultists and two HD 3 cultists.

These cultists are willingly obedient to Tang Guotin. I decide that Tang Guotin has now become aware of Trond by means of his sorcery and that the cultists will attack Trond straight away.

Trond is about to leave the storeroom through a door in the opposite wall when five cultists enter the room through the door with swords drawn. The cultists advance to attack.

Trond kills all of the cultists and tends his wounds.

Hit points: 5

The alarm has been raised. Guards of the city watch heard the combat and have entered the palace garden.

Tenth turn elapsed

City watch encounter: six hit dice worth of guards with urban Soldier statistics but armed with polearms for 1d10 damage.

Trond hears the sound of footsteps approaching up the garden path towards the storeroom door. He moves quickly towards the door in the opposite wall as six guards of the city watch armed with ji polearms enter the storeroom.

The difficulty of the check to evade the city watch guards is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

He evades the guards and slips through the door into the next room.

Scullery

Encounter: unusual foe – Man of Clay and Jade.

Hidden treasure: wrought iron stool worth 60 gp.

He enters a scullery. An artificial man of clay with pieces of green jade embedded in his body is scrubbing clothes in a wooden tub. The Man of Clay and Jade carries a sword but he has not yet seen Trond and is absorbed in his task.

Eleventh turn elapsed

The difficulty of the check to evade the city watch guards is 12. Trond succeeds on the check and also escapes the notice of the Man of Clay and Jade.

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He stealthily makes his way across the room and through the door in the opposite wall.

Shrine of Z’ol-Iku

Hidden treasure: one tenth of the C-type trove appropriate to the place (lair of Powerful Cult Leader).

He enters a room which may have once served as a storeroom but is now a shrine to Z’ol-Iku. There is a stone altar near the north wall, upon which he finds the remains of a mastiff that was sacrificed to the deity. He remembers that there were no dogs in the palace kennel.

Suddenly he has a vision of an enormous spherical being, floating deep under the sea and covered with mouths, eye stalks and tentacles. He sees how huge Z’ol-Iku is when a human figure drifts down towards him and is snatched and devoured. The deity is larger than the largest whale or giant squid.

He shakes his head to banish the vision, and searches the shrine.

The difficult of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 13. Trond fails the check. He may not use the Blessing of Gentle Fortune as he is not fighting cultists.

Twelfth turn elapsed. The difficulty of the check to evade the city watch guards is 13. Trond succeeds on the check.

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He leaves the shrine through a door in the northwest corner.

Kitchen

Encounter: three hit dice worth of Minions and six hit dice worth of Elites, Mages or Boss enemies – Tang Guotin, one HD 3 cultist and three HD 1 cultists. Tang Guotin can cast five spells including Seven Small Thunders and Withering Defilement of Flesh. He also has three special abilities granted by Z’ol-Iku – (1) he can turn invisible but cannot attack or cast spells while invisible, (2) he can vanish, teleporting once per round for twice his normal movement, and (3) he can choke with his invisible grasp; victim must save or take 3d6 damage.

Hazard: any Feature is trapped; save or take 3d6 damage.

Feature: an object stolen by the dungeon inhabitants – an elaborate lighting apparatus, possibly still working. I decide that this is a magical Lantern of Fa Chia which has been stolen by the cultists from a shrine. The lantern normally provides undying light to adventurers exploring dark and evil places, but as it is now a Hazard it has been spitefully altered by Tang Guotin to explode when handled by anyone other than him.

He enters a kitchen where there is an unlit fireplace with an iron spit, two heavy wooden tables, pots and pans hanging from a ceiling, and huge barrels of rice. The dim natural light in the room is supplanted by an intense magical glow coming from a golden lantern hanging on the wall over the fireplace. The sorcerer Tang Guotin is here accompanied by four other cultists. He wears a blue and green robe decorated with images of tentacles. The sorcerer directs the cultists to attack Trond.

Trond kills Tang Guotin and one of the cultists, but he is badly wounded by the remaining cultists and taken prisoner. His armour, weapons and equipment are taken, but his wounds are treated before he is locked in a vault as he is intended as a sacrifice to Z’ol-Iku.

Vault

Trond recovers on the mean straw mattress in the vault, drinking the stale water and eating the cold rice porridge that the cultists have given him.

Hit points: 5

The vault has a door of wooden reinforced with iron. He decides to try to break it down by kicking at it’s most vulnerable parts.

The difficulty of the check to break down the door is 15. Trond fails to break down the door even though he uses up his advantage of the Blessing of Gentle Fortune. He must Defy Death (3d6) to escape. He takes 4 points of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 1

What does the advantage gained by him Defying Death relate to? Oracular word: fury. I decide that a furious cultist turns on the others and frees Trond.

He does not succeed in breaking the door. But he hears shouts and the sound of fighting coming from outside the vault. After the noise has subsided a cultist opens the door. Trond gets ready to fight but the cultist hands him a short sword and tells him to flee from the palace.

Stairwell

Leaving the vault he finds himself at the foot of a stairwell. The cultist has already left by another door. There are bodies of cultists lying around and he takes the leather armour from one of them. He heads up the stairs to the first floor of the palace.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

The difficulty of the check to evade the city watch guards is 14. Trond fails the check.

As he is heading up the stairs the six city watch guards enter the room below. Their sergeant calls out to Trond to halt. Being in no state to fight, and unwilling to antagonise the city watch any further, Trond returns down the stairs and gives himself up.

He tells the guards about what he has discovered in the palace, his encounter with Sister Huian, and his killing of the cult sorcerer Tang Guotin.

I decide that the guards certainly found the shrine of Z’ol-Iku. But did they gain any insight of the evil of the cult as Trond did? No, but… there is a twist to the relationship between the people in the situation. Oracular word: experience.

The sergeant said that they did not encounter Sister Huian. They found a shrine with the remains of a dog on it, but there was nothing to suggest that it was the place of worship for an evil cult. Daifu Tang Guotin is a respected man and he may do with his own dogs as he pleases and sacrifice them to some obscure deity if he so desires. They did not find Tang Guotin’s body, and the sergeant believes that Trond is simply plundering the palace and killing all who stand in his way, as he did when he broke into the Cheng palace.

Then one of the other guards speaks, saying that he believes Trond. He comes from the village of Lingshui on the coast southwest of Haicheng. A few years ago several people disappeared from the village. They were found to have been taken captive by the cultists who had taken over the fishing hamlet of Xiao Maowu, which is southwest of Lingshui beyond a mangrove swamp. The militia of Lingshui fought the cultists, killing most of them and capturing a few who claimed to be mere servants of the others.

The captured cultists led the militia to their shrine, which was miles inland from Xiao Maowu and hidden in a glade of Shou Swamp. The shrine consisted only of a stone altar without an image, the same as the altar in this palace. On the altar they found the remains of a young boy from Lingshui. One of the captured cultists said that Z’ol-Iku, the deity that they worshiped, was so abominable that he could not be represented by any image.

Now having the support of the guard, Trond tries to convince the sergeant to accompany him up to the first floor of the palace so that the remnants of the cult can be destroyed.

The difficulty of the check to persuade the sergeant is 11. Trond fails the check.

The Prison in East Haicheng

The sergeant says that he is not convinced that Tang Guotin is a cultist of Z’ol-Iku. Trond gives himself up. His sword is taken and he is put in manacles. The guards take him out of the palace and over the Lanbaoshi Bridge to the prison in the slum district of East Haicheng, where he is chained to the wall of a cell.

He considers that he will most likely be enslaved by the city as punishment for the killing of Cheng Detlef and for his other deeds of the past few days. He hopes that Sister Huian has spoken to Abbot Nianzu of the Five Pinnacle Pagoda about her encounter with him.

Due to his weakened condition, the Constitution saving throw to overcome the disease that Trond caught from the Eirengarder has now increased to 15. Trond fails the saving throw.

Sister Huian has spoken to Abbot Nianzu. Trond’s Heat score has decreased by 2 points.

Haicheng: 6 Heat

A roll of 10 on a 1d10 means that the Heat is no longer a problem for Trond, but I decide that he still has to do something to reduce it.

To add to his woes, he is now suffering the symptoms of the disease that he caught from the Eirengarder cultist in the Tang palace. He is feverish and coughing uncontrollably.

The Five Pinnacle Pagoda

After he has been in the cell for three whole days, he is woken the following morning by the guard thumping on the door. The door opens and the guard enters followed by an Eshkanti man in a chain hauberk, who introduces himself as Matta al-Rasheed, the temple guard chief of the Five Pinnacle Pagoda. Trond is put in manacles again and unchained from the wall. The temple guards take him to a temple building outside the Five Pinnacle Pagoda, where he is put in a sickroom to recover.

Sister Huian and a priest named Brother Shan come to treat him with medicine and clerical magic. He is now free of the disease that he caught from the Eirengarder.

Hit points: 11

After he has recovered he is visited by Abbot Nianzu. The abbot tells him that he ordered a small detachment of temple guards to attack the Tang palace. The temple knight Vigthorn Garborg led the attack and they killed several cultists. But Vigthorn himself was then killed and they were forced to retreat.

Abbot Nianzu says that he has spoken with Magistrate Hao Ying about the matter of Trond’s killings of Cheng Detlef and his allies. Hao Ying knew that Cheng Detlef was one her most powerful enemies, and she was not surprised by the knowledge of his crimes or sorry to hear of his demise. Nevertheless, Hao Ying feels that Trond’s mayhem has become something of a concern for her. She wants him to return to the Tang palace and deal with the remaining cultists.

Trond agrees to do this, even though it is clear that the authorities would prefer that he come to a grisly end in the palace and so no longer be a nuisance for them. He reminds himself that he still hasn’t managed to acquire any of Tang Guotin’s treasure.

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheng Detlef

Haicheng region new PNG image

Here is a Scarlet Heroes urban adventure featuring the second level thief Gong Trond, who has the following traits:

  • Ruin Explorer: 3
  • Great Stealth: 3
  • Friend to the Black Sapphire Tong: 1
  • Resist the Red Tide: 1

Haicheng

Trond recovers from his second expedition into the Cave of the Howling Ghosts at The Bronze Horse inn. He is now based in West Haicheng on the western side of the Lanbaoshi River, a largely prosperous and middle class district. He has 95 gold pieces stored in the vault of the goldsmith Komatsu Quan. After his recuperation is over he pays for breakfast and a cheap room for the day and then leaves The Bronze Horse to buy new equipment.

Money: 52 gp, 5 sp and 5 cp

Money in the vault: 95 gp

He has new clothes made by the tailor Hadabern Adler. He buys a new suit of leather armour from the leatherworker Li Zhensheng, and a new short sword and a dagger from the weaponsmith Wei Keung. He buys new equipment at the chandlery of Maysun al-Qattan before returning to The Bronze Horse for lunch.

Money: 2 gp and 4 sp

Threat: 2

Trond: 0 Victory points

Opponents: 0 Victory points

Haicheng: 0 Heat

Plot: a Target belongs to a group or ethnicity that is suffering problems from an Antagonist

Target: commoner – grizzled border hunter

Antagonist: commoner – erudite bookseller

Crime:

  • kidnapping (of the Target)
  • location – isolated area
  • witness – concerned local
  • why no action? Officials bribed

I use the random tables to add more detail to the Target and the Antagonist and quickly put together a plot.

Trond learns some disturbing news from Koyama Keishu, the innkeeper of The Bronze Horse: the Eirengarder hunter Adalric Wulf has been kidnapped. Trond and Adalric were schoolmates in the school in the slum district of East Haicheng, run by Sister Yoshiko of the Hospice of Hesika. Adalric left the slums as soon as he could, living with the Gadaal and learning how to hunt in the wild borderlands to the north and west of Haicheng. An encounter with a leopard in the jungle-clad hills north of the village of Huaiji left him blind in one eye, but nevertheless he has prospered as a hunter. He sells furs in the Bazaar of West Haicheng, spending most of his money on good rice wine and harlots.

The last time Trond met Adalric he was spying on an Imperial man named Feng Bingwen, a learned bookseller of West Haicheng. He is another man from Trond’s past; several years ago Bingwen accompanied him as a lantern-bearer on his first expedition to plunder the ruins of the Altgrimmr Mountains. They explored a ruined shrine and Bingwen was happy to take possession of an ancient Imperial book that Trond found there. He has seen less of Bingwen over the years as the bookseller has become wealthier and less inclined to associate with adventurers. Bingwen is known for his love of fine finger rings and his ambition is to make enough money to be able to return to Xian, the city of his youth, and to live like a daifu there.

The middle class inhabitants of West Haicheng are notorious for their dislike of wild bordermen such as Adalric, and Bingwen is no exception. West Haicheng is keen to shed it’s image as a frontier district and to establish itself as an equal to East Haicheng, which features not only the slum district near the sea but also the renowned Five Pinnacle Pagoda and the court of the Magistrate. Adventurers are becoming increasingly unwelcome in West Haicheng, even if they do bring wealth to the district, and they are associated with tavern brawls and riotous behaviour. In addition, Bingwen has accused Adalric of casing his bookshop with the intention of stealing from him.

Keishu tells Trond that Adalric was kidnapped on the outskirts of Huaiji while on his way to a wilderness hunt. A villager named Hu Anguo saw a gang of men surround the hunter. The men were not locals and Anguo did not recognise any of them. Adalric attacked them with his spear but was quickly overcome. He was bound and a sack was put over his head before he was put on a horse and taken back to Haicheng. Anguo reported the incident to Ding Chung, the headman of Huaiji, but one of the men paid a bribe to Ding Chung and told him not to investigate the matter as Adalric was a criminal.

Keishu is sure that Bingwen is behind the kidnapping of Adalric, but Trond says that he will investigate the matter further. He will spend all of next day staking out Bingwen’s bookshop. He goes to Komatsu Quan’s workshop where he withdraws 10 gold pieces from the vault, in case he has to bribe someone over the course of his investigation.

Money: 12 gp and 4 sp

Money in the vault: 85 gp

He returns to The Bronze Horse where he pays for a meal and then goes to bed.

Money: 12 gp and 2 sp

Investigation scene: Feng Bingwen’s bookshop

Stake out a Location. Whether or not you win the check, your opponent gains a Victory point due to delay.

In the morning he pays for breakfast and for a cheap room for the day.

Money: 11 gp, 9 sp and 5 cp

He goes to Bingwen’s bookshop, a small, narrow shop like an covered alleyway where the shelves are stacked with books of all types. There are leather-bound tomes as well as Imperial-style books of bamboo slats tied with red or blue silk. Bingwen enters the shop from a back room to greet a customer and Trond quickly ducks outside before the bookseller can see him. He spends the remainder of the day staking out the shop and buys a cheap meal at The Red Griffon tavern nearby.

Money: 11 gp and 9 sp

Trond succeeds on the check.

What does the clue he gains relate to? I decide that Bingwen wouldn’t be likely to responsible for the kidnapping on his own. I roll on the “elite and noble” list of NPCs and get a “wealthy heir.” Oracular word: forgetfulness.

In the early evening a bamboo litter carried by two servants stops outside the bookshop, which is currently empty of customers. Trond sees a young man get out of the litter and enter the bookshop. He is of mixed Imperial and Eirengarder or Skandr descent and dressed in a fine robe of blue silk. Trond eavesdrops near the entrance. The visitor seems to forget that he is an public place and talks quite loudly with Bingwen about the kidnapping of Adalric. Trond is mindful that the servants bearing the litter are staring at him and does not eavesdrop for very long, but nevertheless he hears the two men complain about the rogues and adventurers such as Adalric who plague West Haicheng. He also determines that the visitor is Cheng Detlef, the heir of the merchant Cheng Chao whose palace is in West Haicheng.

Trond: 1 Victory point and a Clue

Opponents: 1 Victory point

A roll of 1 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain an additional Victory point.

Opponents: 2 Victory points

Haicheng: 0 Heat

Tomorrow he will pay a visit to the Cheng palace. He goes back to The Bronze Horse where he pays for a meal and then goes to bed.

Money: 11 gp and 7 sp

Action scene: the Cheng palace

Face the foe’s best warrior. Face a Fight instead of a check.

The next morning he pays for breakfast and for a cheap room for the day.

Money: 11 gp, 4 sp and 5 cp

He leaves The Bronze Horse and goes to the Cheng palace.

The foes are a guard with Veteran statistics and four hired thugs with Rabble statistics.

The Cheng palace is the largest building in West Haicheng and exemplifies the aspirations of the district. The two-storey building is surrounded by a garden of bamboo and orchids. Trond easily scales the stone wall surrounding the garden and then gains entry to the palace itself through a paper window on the ground floor. He finds himself in a storeroom full of crates and jugs. Leaving the room he enters a corridor. Going through one of the doors leading off the corridor he enters a guardroom. An Imperial man in a chain hauberk is sitting at a table, drinking with four other men.

The man in the chain hauberk looks up and gruffly asks Trond what he is doing in the palace. Trond replies that he is looking for Adalric Wulf. The man gets up and draws his sword, and the four other men pick up knives or clubs.

Trond kills the guard and two of the thugs without sustaining a wound. The other two thugs throw down their weapons.

I use a table from the Dungeon section of the Scarlet Heroes solo rules to determine what each of the surrendering thugs do next.

One of the thugs, an Imperial man, pleads for his life and offers Trond a bronze finger ring jewelled with green chalcedony which he says is worth at least 200 gold pieces. Trond takes the ring but says that he only wants to know where Adalric Wulf is. The thug replies that he does not know, but that he is certainly nowhere in the palace.

The other thug is an Eirengarder named Fritigern, who says that Trond is a better man than Cheng Detlef. He explains that Detlef’s father Cheng Chao is a decent man, but that he is now elderly and bed-ridden. His son is arrogant and is using his wealth and position to his own advantage. Fritigern cannot tell Trond where Adalric Wulf is, or what Detlef and Bingwen want with him. But he offers to help Trond find him and Trond agrees that he could use an extra blade. Fritigern picks up his knife and goes with Trond to The Bronze Horse, where Trond buys a cheap meal.

Money: 11 gp and 4 sp

Trond: 3 Victory points

Opponents: 2 Victory points

A roll of 7 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain a Victory point.

Haicheng: 2 Heat

Conflict scene: Luo Salim’s house

Outmanoeuvre a local official suborned or bribed by the foe. Roll a die; on an odd result, add 1 Heat to the community.

Fritigern tells Trond that Luo Salim, the tax collector for West Haicheng, has been suborned by Detlef and has imposed a heavy tax on the hunters and wandering peddlers who sell their goods at the Bazaar of West Haicheng. This tax has not been approved by Magistrate Hao Ying. Trond goes to Luo Salim’s house to look for proof of his corruption.

He slips into Salim’s house through a door for servants at the rear of the building. Once inside he makes his way stealthily through the house, avoiding servants and looking for Salim’s study.

Using his trait of “Great Stealth” Trond succeeds on the check.

He finds the study and a letter from Detlef to Salim, outlining the requirements of the tax and why it must be imposed in order to keep the “undesirables” out of West Haicheng or at least to extort from them as much money as can be made. The letter also refers to Magistrate Hao Ying as a weak and ineffectual woman who should not be in charge of Haicheng.

Trond leaves the house by the rear door. He crosses the Lanbaoshi Bridge to East Haicheng. At the palace of the Magistrate he has to wait for some time, but manages to give the letter to an official who conveys it to Hao Ying at once.

He goes back to West Haicheng. On the way back to The Bronze Horse he goes to the shop of the fence Jen Mhairi where he sells the bronze ring given to him by the thug in the Cheng palace.

Money: 36 gp and 4 sp

He returns to The Bronze Horse.

Money: 36 gp and 2 sp

Trond: 4 Victory points

Opponents: 1 Victory point

Haicheng: 2 Heat

A roll of 6 on a 1d6 means that no Heat is added.

Investigation scene: Hu Anguo’s house in Huaiji

Bribe an Actor to give you a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd, immediately face a Conflict scene with them or on their behalf and win it to succeed. On an even, pay a reasonable bribe or fail the challenge.

Trond must pay a reasonable bribe.

Next morning he pays for breakfast and for a cheap room and then leaves Haicheng without taking Fritigern with him. He takes the road leading north to Huaiji. He has decided to talk to the villager Hu Anguo; perhaps he might be able to remember some characteristic of one or more of the men who went to the village to kidnap Adalric and then bribed the headman Ding Chung.

Money: 35 gp, 9 sp and 5 cp

Arriving at Huaiji he buys a mug of rice beer in tavern and asks for directions to Hu Anguo’s house. Fortunately the tavernkeeper finds nothing suspicious about his request. He goes to Hu Anguo’s house and waits for him to come in from the rice paddy for his midday meal.

Money: 35 gp, 9 sp and 3 cp

He meets Anguo and offers him five gold pieces, asking him if he can remember anything specific about the men involved in the kidnapping of Adalric Wulf. Anguo is delighted to receive the money, which is undoubtedly more gold than he has ever seen before.

Money: 30 gp, 9 sp and 3 cp

I roll on the “memorable traits” table. I get “gaudy jewellery” which suggests that Bingwen was involved in the kidnapping. Since I already know this I decide to roll on the “elite and noble” NPC table and the “ethnicity” table and get the result of a “foreign nobleman” of Eshkanti ethnicity.

Anguo says that after he went to Ding Chung’s house to report the kidnapping he was followed into the house by two of the kidnappers. One of the men was an Imperial wearing several costly rings on his fingers. The other was an Eshkanti man who wore a common tunic and trousers but was clearly of noble speech and bearing. This man handed Chung a bag of coins and told him not to report the incident as Adalric Wulf was a wanted criminal.

Trond thanks Anguo for his information and returns to Haicheng. He now knows that Bingwen was directly involved in the kidnapping. As for the other man, the only Eshkanti nobleman living in Haicheng that he knows of is a daifu from the Magocracy of Tien Lung named Muadh bin-Kazi. He claims that he left the Magocracy after he made an enemy of the Enlightened Sage who rules in the city of Tien Lung. Many consider him an agent of Tien Lung sent to spy on Magistrate Hao Ying, but he has chosen to make his home in West Haicheng rather than live alongside the other wealthy inhabitants of the city in the streets surrounding the Magistrate’s palace. He is often seen drinking tea in The Jade Bird tea house in West Haicheng. Trond knows that any daifu of Tien Lung must surely be a sorcerer of great power, so he is reluctant to confront bin-Kazi on his own.

He returns to the The Bronze Horse for lunch.

Money: 30 gp, 8 sp and 8 cp

Trond: 5 Victory points and a Clue

Opponents: 1 Victory point

A roll of 2 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain a Victory point.

Opponents: 2 Victory points

Haicheng: 2 Heat

Action scene: The Jade Bird teahouse

Rally an Actor and their comrades to oppose the foe.

In the early evening he goes to The Jade Bird teahouse. Again he does not take Fritigern with him. Muadh bin-Kazi is in the teahouse drinking tea by himself. He is wearing an ornate robe of red silk with gold brocade. Trond sits down at the table next to bin-Kazi’s table and pays for a cup of tea.

Money: 30 gp, 8 sp and 5 cp

For the new Actor I roll on the “elite and noble” table and get a “shipping fleet owner.”

Three men enter the teahouse. Two are Imperials, one wearing a robe of blue silk and the other wearing a plain tunic and trousers. The third man is Kueh and wears a black kimono. Trond recognises the plainly-dressed Imperial; he is the captain of a small merchant junk and Trond has seen him in The Squid and Whale tavern in the slums near the docks. His name is Deng Qianfan.

The three men exchange greetings with bin-Kazi and sit down at his table. Trond overhears them discussing some venture with the daifu. The wealthier of the two Imperial men is a shipping fleet owner named Chen Tao. The Kueh man is named Oshiro Hiromi and he is the captain of a junk. It seems that bin-Kazi is organising an expedition to the Shou Lands beyond the Magocracy of Tien Lung. The other men seem rather reserved and suspicious when talking to bin-Kazi, and Trond sees an opportunity to work against him.

Chen Tao, Deng Qianfan and Oshiro Hiromi finish their tea and leave the teahouse. Trond follows them outside and tries to convince them not to trust bin-Kazi. He tells them about his conversation with Hu Anguo who witnessed bin-Kazi bribe Ding Chung following the kidnapping of Adalric Wulf.

Trond fails the check.

Chen Tao is dismissive of Trond’s claim, saying that he trusts bin-Kazi well enough.

Trond: 5 Victory points

Opponents: 3 Victory points

A roll of 7 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain an additional Victory point.

Haicheng: 2 Heat

He returns to The Bronze Horse.

Money: 30 gp, 6 sp and 5 cp

Conflict scene: the guild hall of the potters’ guild

Suffer betrayal by an Actor; face a Fight as you try to escape or avenge yourself.

The next morning he pays for a breakfast and for a cheap room.

Money: 30 gp and 4 sp

Actor: commoner – retired mercenary officer

At The Bronze Horse he is met by an aging and battle-scarred Eirengarder man who introduces himself as Tancred Schmidt, a retired mercenary officer. He says that he is also looking for Adalric, an old acquaintance who helped him overcome a horde of orc Shou in the Altgrimmr Mountains.

Why is Tancred an ally of the kidnappers? Oracular word: jewels. Schmidt is looking for a cache of jewels in the wilderness and believes that Adalric knows where they are.

Tancred asks Trond to accompany him to the guild hall of the potters’ guild in West Haicheng. He knows several members of the guild who can help them. Trond summons Fritigern and they go with Tancred to the guild hall.

The foes are the guard of the guild hall with Veteran statistics and five hired thugs of Cheng Detlef with Rabble statistics.

Trond, Fritigern and Tancred enter the meeting room of the guild hall. Here there is a guild hall guard, an Eshkanti man in a chain hauberk and armed with a sword, and five ruffians armed with knives and clubs who look like more of Cheng Detlef’s hired thugs.

Tancred says “this is the thief who broke into the Cheng palace and killed two of the guards. Fritigern told me who he was.”

Tancred draws his sword and he and Fritigern attack Trond along with the guard and the five ruffians.

Tancred has Soldier statistics.

Trond kills the guild hall guard, Tancred, Fritigern and four of the hired thugs. The remaining thug, an Imperial man, throws down his club and says that he will fight for Trond and will not betray him as Fritigern did.

Is the man sincere? No.

Trond senses that the man will betray or attack him at the first opportunity. He tells him that he doesn’t want his help. He flees from the building and Trond also leaves as members of the potters’ guild are entering the room. He returns to The Bronze Horse where he tends his wounds and has a meal.

Money: 30 gp, 3 sp and 5 cp

Trond: 6 Victory points

Opponents: 2 Victory points

Haicheng: 4 Heat

Investigation scene: the shop of the moneychanger Liu Chenglei

Hunt up an Actor whom you have reason to suspect can give you a Clue.

Trond knows that a moneychanger in West Haicheng, a man named Liu Chenglei, has had dealings with Adalric in the past. The hunter once found a hoard of copper and silver coins in an orc Shou lair, a ruined village in the upper Lanbaoshi valley. He took the coins to Chenglei to be exchanged for gold pieces and later discussed the find with Trond and Chenglei in The Red Griffon tavern. He goes to Chenglei’s shop and waits until Chenglei has finished serving a customer before asking him if he knows anything about the kidnapping of Adalric Wulf.

Trond fails the check.

Chenglei coldly replies that he knows nothing about the matter. Maybe Cheng Detlef’s thugs are threatening him.

Trond: 6 Victory points

Opponents: 3 Victory points

Haicheng: 4 Heat

Investigation scene: Liang Jian’s smithy

An allied Actor can get you a clue at personal risk. Make a skill to check to help them succeed.

Actor: commoner – polished tea house owner

Trond returns to The Bronze Horse. He is met by an Imperial woman named Liang Lien, who is the owner of The Jade Bird tea house. She says that her brother, the blacksmith Liang Jian, is an ally of Cheng Detlef and may know something about the whereabouts of Adalric Wulf.

What is the connection between Lien and Jian? Oracular word: avarice.

Lien says that her brother has been pestering her to loan him some money. She has so far refused him but finally agreed to give him some money not long ago. She will go to his smithy to discuss the loan while Trond searches the building for a clue to Adalric’s whereabouts. Trond agrees to this proposal and follows Lien to the smithy. Lien greets her brother and Trond slips into the house after she and Jian have gone into a room to drink tea and discuss the loan.

Trond succeeds on the check.

Where is Adalric being kept prisoner? In the respectable home of a stern market magistrate. Oracular word: foresight.

In an empty room of the smithy he finds a young man, perhaps Kueh, who has been chained to the wall and gagged. Trond releases him using a key he found in another room, and ungags him after warning him to remain silent. They escape from the smithy through a paper window and go to The Bronze Horse.

The man’s name is Kobayashi Nobu and he explains all the details of the plot to Trond. He and Adalric were hunting in the Altgrimmr Mountains when they found a small pile of stones in a remote valley. Clearing away the stones they found sacks containing gemstones – sapphires mostly – and coins including gold, silver and copper pieces. Nobu sighted a large group of orc Shou heading their way up the valley, so they replaced the stones and hid from the orcs. The orcs made camp near the stones but did not appear to be aware of the treasure. Nobu made a map indicating the location of the stones and he and Adalric returned to Haicheng, planning to return to the valley as soon as possible.

While they were drinking in The Red Griffon tavern Adalric foolishly told the moneychanger Lui Chenglei about the treasure. He most likely told the bookseller Feng Bingwen. The following night Adalric was attacked by thugs who stole the map after knocking him unconscious. The next day he noticed that Bingwen’s bookshop was under guard from a few of these thugs whom he knew to be in the employ of the heir of the Cheng family, Cheng Detlef. He staked out the bookshop waiting for a good time to steal the map back. He managed to steal it back and then he destroyed it, telling Nobu that he was sure that he could find the way back to the treasure by memory. But he was then captured near Huaiji.

A day later Nobu was himself captured in the Altgrimmr Mountains, by a group of men led by Tancred Schmidt. Cheng Detlef and Muadh bin-Kazi were among them and bin-Kazi cast a spell that sent him to sleep. He and Adalric were imprisoned together in the smithy. Muadh bin-Kazi said that he could use sorcery on them to determine the location of the treasure, but then he was called away on some other business. The two men were beaten but refused to reveal the location of the treasure. Cheng Detlef was sure that Adalric was of more value to the gang than Nobu, but considered that the room in the smithy was not reliable as a place to hide him. Last night he was taken somewhere else. Nobu says that he has very good hearing and he is sure that he heard Cheng Detlef mention the name of the market magistrate Wan Dingxiang.

Trond recalls that Wan Dingxiang is the official responsible for overseeing the Bazaar of West Haicheng over which Luo Salim imposed his unfair tax; no doubt he despises Adalric and considers himself to be above the law. This evening he will go to Wan Dingxiang’s house. He buys Nobu a meal.

Money: 30 gp, 1 sp and 5 cp

Trond: 7 Victory points and a Clue

Opponents: 3 Victory points

A roll of 6 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain a Victory point.

Opponents: 4 Victory points

Haicheng: 4 Heat

Action scene: Wan Dingxiang’s house

Guide the Target out of the foe’s reach for at least a temporary period.

As night is approaching he reaches Wan Dingxiang’s house and picks the lock of a door at the rear of the building. Entering the house he looks for cellar where Adalric is sure to be being kept prisoner.

Trond succeeds on the check.

He stealthily avoids the servants who are moving between the kitchen and the dining room, preparing Wan Dingxiang’s dinner. Beyond a door a flight of steps leads down into the cellar. He finds Adalric bound and gagged amidst casks of rice wine and wooden bins filled with vegetables. He takes him back to The Bronze Horse and buys meals for the both of them.

Money: 29 gp, 7 sp and 5 cp

Trond: 9 Victory points

Opponents: 4 Victory points

A roll of 2 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain a Victory point.

Opponents: 5 Victory points

Haicheng: 4 Heat

Has Cheng Detlef learned of the location of the treasure? Yes.

Adalric tells Trond that Muadh bin-Kazi cast a spell on him that made him view bin-Kazi as a friend; he told him of the location of the treasure and drew a map to indicate it’s whereabouts. Muadh bin-Kazi told Cheng Detlef that the treasure was located in a valley in the Altgrimmr Mountains north of the ruined town of Mengshan. He and Cheng Detlef left to retrieve the treasure by means of a magical gate. Adalric managed to throw off the effect of the spell but feigned friendliness to bin-Kazi when he returned. He was suspecting that he was about to be killed when Trond rescued him.

Conflict scene: the Bazaar of West Haicheng

Waylay a minion of the foe. Face a Fight instead of a check.

The foes are a city guard with Veteran statistics and six hired thugs with Rabble statistics.

The next morning Trond pays for breakfast and for cheap rooms for himself, Nobu and Adalric, and then leaves The Bronze Dragon.

Money: 29 gp

He is walking through the Bazaar when he sees thug that fled from the guild hall of the potters’ guild. He is accompanied by five other thugs and a guardsman of the city guard in a chain hauberk who must have been suborned by Cheng Detlef. They are moving in the direction of The Bronze Horse and Trond intercepts them. The guard draws his sword.

Trond kills the guard and five of the thugs. The remaining thug flees. He tends his wound.

Hit points: 8

Trond: 10 Victory points

Opponents: 4 Victory points

Haicheng: 6 Heat

Final Action scene: public well

Face the foe himself. Face a fight instead of a check.

The foes are Cheng Detlef, who has Sorcerer statistics, and six hired thugs with Vermin statistics.

Cheng Detlef can cast the spell Seven Small Thunders.

Trond heads back towards The Bronze Horse. At a nearby public well he sights Cheng Detlef and six of his thugs, ragged men who look like the last reserve of his army. Detlef has seen him and Trond realises that he is a sorcerer when he approaches casting a spell. Trond draws his sword.

Trond kills Cheng Detlef and five of the thugs, with the last thug fleeing. He tends his wound.

Hit points: 8

Haicheng: 8 Heat

Trond has scored 6, a Complete Victory. Cheng Detlef’s gang has been completely destroyed. Muadh bin-Kazi, after securing most of the treasure, returned to Tien Lung.

A roll of 2 on a 1d10 (less than the Heat of Haicheng) means that Trond must either leave the city soon or do something to reduce the Heat.

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure. He is now a third level thief. He has 11 maximum hit points. His trait of “Ruin Explorer” has increased to four points, as a result of his expeditions into the Cave of the Howling Ghosts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cave of the Howling Ghosts – Second Expedition

Haicheng region new PNG image

One hex = six miles

In this Scarlet Heroes dungeon adventure the thief Gong Trond continues his exploration of the Cave of the Howling Ghosts. Trond is a second level thief with the following traits:

  1. Ruin Explorer: 3
  2. Great Stealth: 3
  3. Friend to the Black Sapphire Tong: 1
  4. Resist the Red Tide: 1

Having travelled from Haicheng to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post in the foothills of the Altgrimmr Mountains, Trond has left the trade post and arrived at the cave entrance.

Hex 03.02

Cave entrance

Type of Feature: dungeon

Dungeon type: cavern (unquiet grave)

Locations: 40

Inhabitants: Shou (first 10 locations) and centipede women (last 30 locations)

During his first expedition into the cave Trond encountered human rebels, orc Shou, and Tidespawn. The Shou have now taken over the first 10 locations and ousted the rebels that originally occupied them. The Shou made their way down into the lower part of the cave where they killed all the Tidespawn, but then they were driven out of this area by the centipede women. Some of the Shou were charmed and enslaved by the centipede women.

Threat: 6

As the cavern is an ‘unquiet grave’ any ‘unusual foes’ rolled will be undead.

Money: 24 gp, 7 sp and 8 cp

Rations: 10

This time Trond ties up his horse (on which he is storing his camp gear and rations) deep within the pine forest that grows near the cave entrance. Hopefully the orc Shou will not find his horse this time.

SAM_1291

First part – orc Shou lair

Domed cavern

Do the orcs have guards posted in this cavern? Yes.

Encounter: ten hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – six Shou spearmen with 1 HD each and two grizzled Shou warriors with 2 HD each (one armed with two spears and the other armed with a spear and an axe).

Dungeon encounter: hiding from others.

Attitude towards Trond: the Shou may parley if that seems plausible.

These Shou are neutrals who may or may not cooperate with the Shou chieftain (if there is one present).

Are there Shou women and children present? Yes.

From these results I determine that this cavern is the main living area of the Shou in the cave, that they are frightened of the centipede women, and that as a result they may be willing to parley with Trond.

Trond returns to the cavern where the ceiling forms a natural dome. There are eight orc Shou warriors here along with many women and children, and there are crude mattresses of pine branches and furs arranged around the cavern. These orc Shou are mountain orcs with pale skin and blonde or white hair.

The Shou are dismissive towards Trond. Oracular word: mystery.

Trond’s hand goes to the hilt of his sword, but he is astonished that the orcs do not seem to want a fight; even the larger two warriors seem fearful, though not of him. Instead they acknowledge him briefly and scornfully and then look towards the exit from the cavern. He remembers that the Shou charged down to kill the Tidespawn without fear. Are there more terrible monsters further down that even they are afraid of? He makes his way quickly through the cavern.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Twisting tunnel

He makes his way down this tunnel.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Flowing water

Treasure: trove M1 in room contents – copper armlet jewelled with sardonyx worth 50 gp.

He returns to the bank of the stream where the rebels were drinking rice wine. He finds a copper armlet jewelled with sardonyx.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Deep pool

He returns to the cave where the stream flows into a deep pool.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

Encounter: 12 hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – eight Shou spearmen with 1 HD each and two grizzled warriors with 2 HD each. One the grizzled warriors is armed with a light spear and an axe and the other is armed with a bow and an axe.

Dungeon encounter: enjoying suitable company.

Attitude towards Trond: they may parley if plausible.

These Shou are also neutrals.

Returning to the tunnel intersection he encounters 10 Shou warriors who appear to be guarding this strategic location. The two bigger warriors are enjoying the company of two beautiful Shou women who wear only fur loincloths.

The Shou flatly reject Trond. I decide that this means that they do not want to let him go further into the cave. Oracular word: tradition.

These orcs regard Trond with traditional Shou hostility and advance to attack.

The Shou are a few paces away so Trond cannot use his crossbow.

Trond is overwhelmed and reduced to one hit point. He must Defy Death (1d4). He takes one point of damage and the attempt is unsuccessful. He is left with one hit point and must make a retreat.

Trond kills one of the bigger warriors but the other orcs wound him severely. He attempts to retreat from the combat.

The orcs have a free round of attacks. The surviving grizzled warrior wounds Trond for one point of damage and he is left for dead.

SAM_1293

Second part – centipede womens’ lair

Vertical shaft

Encounter: nine hit dice worth of Minions and Civilians – eight charmed Shou slaves of the centipede women with dungeon Vermin statistics, armed with flint daggers, and one Shou slave with dungeon Minion statistics armed with a spear.

Although this is a dungeon adventure I decide to give Trond a break and give him half his maximum hit points (4) as recommended by Scarlet Heroes as the penalty for failing the combat challenge of an urban adventure.

When Trond regains consciousness he finds himself in darkness. He has been stripped of his armour, weapons and backpack and his hands and feet have been crudely bound with rope.

The difficulty of the check to get free is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

His crude bonds are no match for a skilled adventuring thief. He succeeds in getting free. Feeling his way around the cave he determines that he is at the bottom of the vertical shaft that he found on his previous expedition into the cave. Of course his silk rope has been pulled up by the Shou that left him here.

He hears the sound of approaching feet and shrinks back against the wall of the cave. Flickering torchlight illuminates the walls of the shaft. Trond scrambles up the wall.

The difficulty of the check to climb up the shaft is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

Once at the top of the shaft he briefly glances down. There are nine orc Shou at the bottom staring up at him. Why did the Shou leave him bound for other orcs to take? Then he notices that these Shou have glazed eyes and are poorly armed; only one carries a spear. Perhaps they are the charmed slaves of some powerful villain or monster. He leaves the shaft.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

SAM_1291

Twisted tunnel

He gropes his way down this tunnel.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Hot mud well

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

He enters the cave where hot mud splatters the walls.

The difficulty of the saving throw to avoid the mud is 15. Trond succeeds on the saving throw.

He manages to avoid the splatters.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Steam vent

He enters the tunnel where steam from a vent in the ground fills the air. He heads right to avoid the vent.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

He reaches this intersection again. Fortunately the Shou are no longer there.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pipe to surface

Hidden treasure: one tenth of C-type trove appropriate to the place (Major Ruin’s Wealth).

He scrambles up the wall towards the daylight.

The difficulty of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 13. Trond fails the check.

Sixth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Once outside he quickly makes his way down the mountainside and into the pine forest, avoiding the cave entrance.

Have the Shou found Trond’s horse? Yes.

Once again the Shou have found and taken his horse. He leaves the forest and days later he returns exhausted to Haicheng. He will not return to the Cave of the Howling Ghosts until he is better prepared.

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cave of the Howling Ghosts

Haicheng region new PNG image

One hex = six miles

Here is a Scarlet Heroes adventure featuring the second level thief Gong Trond, who has the following traits:

  1. Ruin Explorer: 3
  2. Great Stealth: 3
  3. Friend to the Black Sapphire Tong: 1
  4. Resist the Red Tide: 1

The Altgrimmr Mountains

Having travelled from the city of Haicheng to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post, Trond leaves the trade post to explore the Altgrimmr Mountains, travelling northwest.

Money: 44 gp, 7 sp and 3 cp

Rations: 12

Threat: 2

Season: dry

Hex 05.03

These hills were explored during a previous adventure, so I don’t check for Encounters, Events or Features.

Rations: 11

Hex 04.03

The next day he travels northwest into the mountains.

Event Threshold: 2

Feature Threshold: 2

He searches for water but fails to find any.

He has a -1 penalty to all checks and a -2 penalty to hit rolls until he finds water.

Rations: 10

Hex 03.03

The next day he travels southwest into the mountains.

Event Threshold: 3

Feature Threshold: 3

He fails to find water again.

Rations: 9

Hex 03.02

The next day he travels north into the mountains.

Event Threshold: 4

Feature Threshold: 1

Cave entrance

Type of Feature: dungeon

Dungeon type: cavern (unquiet grave)

Locations: 40

Inhabitants: rebels (first 10 locations), Tidespawn (next 15 locations), and centipede women (last 15 locations)

Threat: first expedition has a Threat of 2. Further expeditions are at Threat + 1d4.

As the cavern is an ‘unquiet grave’ I decide that any ‘unusual foes’ rolled will be undead, though not in the locations inhabited by Tidespawn as undead are not found in association with those monsters.

I’m using the ‘Dark Cave’ random locations from the Quickstart Edition of Scarlet Heroes as well as the ‘Cavern’ random locations from the main Scarlet Heroes rulebook.

He comes to the entrance to a cave. The map that he bought in Haicheng indicates that there is a cave called “The Cave of the Howling Ghosts” in this part of the mountains. He tethers his horse to a pine tree, lights a torch and enters the cave.

SAM_1291

First part – rebel hideout

Domed cavern

The entry tunnel leads to a large cavern where the roof is a natural dome. The cavern is empty. He leaves by a tunnel entrance in the northwest corner.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Twisting tunnel

The tunnel twists and turns as he follows it deep into the mountain. Eventually it straightens out and runs directly north.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: 11 hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – seven peasant warriors (HD 1) and two renegade soldiers (HD 2).

Nine men bearing torches come into view. Two of them wear chain hauberks and the others wear leather armour. They are armed with swords, spears and bows.

The rebels regard Trond with qualified consent. Oracular word: foresight.

The men are clearly rebel soldiers or well-armed bandits. But their leader, a man who seems to be of mixed Gadaal and Eirengarder or Skandr descent, greets Trond and appears to be quite tolerant of his presence in the cave. Trond tells him that he is an explorer from the slums of Haicheng who is simply looking for enough treasure to be able to get by. The leader warns him to leave that doomed city for good; in dreams he has seen Haicheng fall to Tidespawn and to an army of Shou led by a witch-priestess of the Bone Spear orcs.

Trond tells him that he helped to destroy a Tide cult in Haicheng. The leader becomes more friendly and tells him to beware of exploring too deep into this cave; further down there is a shrine where a Tide cult opened a gate to the red mist, allowing it’s foul abominations to enter the cave.

Trond says that he will be careful. The leader says that he and his men are going to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trading post to buy supplies. Trond offers him money for water and the leader fills his waterskin.

Money: 40 gp

The leader tells him that there are more of his companions living in the cave. When Trond meets them he can give them his name, which is Ariaric. Trond bids the men good-day and ventures deeper into the cave.

Flowing water

Encounter: four hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – two peasant warriors and one renegade soldier.

Dungeon encounter: lolling around and drinking.

The tunnel widens and joins a stream on the right. He sees three men – two wearing leather armour and one wearing a chain hauberk – sitting on rocks by the stream. A lantern hangs on the tunnel wall. The men are passing a bottle of rice wine between them.

The rebels regard Trond with helpful consent. Oracular word: pride.

Trond greets the men and tells them that he has just met Ariaric. They let him take a drink from the bottle. One of the men, an Imperial who has clearly had too much to drink, introduces himself as Xue. He says that he is a former peasant from the village of Zhaozedong, between Shou Swamp and Haicheng. He has no respect for the ineffectual Magistrate Hao Ying of Haicheng, and was proud to leave his village. The other men quickly shut him up. Trond says that whatever business the men have here in the cave is their own and he will not trouble them. He leaves the men to their drinking and continues down the tunnel, which follows the stream and turns to the right.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Deep pool

The tunnel widens into a cave and the stream flows into a deep pool. By the light of his torch he can see pale cave fish swimming in the pool. He leaves the cave by a tunnel entrance in the south wall on the other side of the pool.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The tunnel splits, with one tunnel heading straight on and another heading to the left. There are vents in the rock of the tunnels from which toxic gas is issuing.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15.

Trond manages to avoid breathing in the gas. He takes the tunnel heading straight on.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pipe to surface

Feature: a dangerous intruder or beast that has entered the site – five orc Shou who intend to wipe out the rebels. Four of them have 2 HD.

There is a narrow pipe in the ceiling of the tunnel here and he can see daylight through it. He could quite easily climb up the wall of the tunnel and up through the pipe to leave the cave.

Five Shou warriors, pale-skinned orcs of the mountains, are entering the tunnel from the pipe. The last one drops from the pipe to the ground as Trond approaches. They look unusually large for orc Shou. Four are armed with axes and one is armed with a spear.

The orcs advance to attack. Trond kills all of them.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (nine left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He tends his wounds.

Hit points: 8

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He searches the corpses but finds nothing. He continues down the tunnel which bends to the left.

Stalactite maze

Hidden treasure: trove M1 in room contents – bronze headrest worth 10 gp.

He enters a large cavern which is a maze of stalactites, stalagmites and columns.

The difficulty of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 11. Trond succeeds on the check.

At the bottom of a pit formed by a cluster of stalagmites he finds a bronze headrest. He leaves the cavern by a tunnel entrance in the north wall.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Steam vent

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

Hot steam from a vent in the ground fills the tunnel here.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15. Trond fails the saving throw and takes 5 hit points of damage.

He runs through the steam as fast as he can but is still burned. On the other side of the vent he treats his burns using a salve from his healer’s bag.

Hit points: 5

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Beyond the vent the tunnel splits, with one tunnel heading straight on and another heading to the left to join the tunnel intersection he found earlier. At least he will be able to leave the cave without having to run through the steam vent again.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Hot mud well

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The tunnel enters a cave where there is a well of bubbling, hot grey mud. Mud sprays the walls of the cave.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15.

Trond succeeds in dodging the mud. He leaves the cave by a tunnel entrance on the right.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Twisted tunnel

The tunnel twists sharply left and heads north. A familiar cloud of crimson mist creeps over the floor of the tunnel after the bend. He realises that he is near to the lair of the Tidespawn. He drinks his invisibility potion.

Trond will be invisible for two turns.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (eight left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

SAM_1293

Second part – Tidespawn lair

Vertical shaft

Treasure: trove M1 in room contents – pewter anklet jewelled with clear quartz worth 50 gp.

The tunnel ends at a vertical shaft thick with the crimson mist. At the edge of the shaft he finds a pewter anklet jewelled with clear quartz.

He pounds an iron spike into the rock at the edge of the shaft and ties his length of silk rope, which is 50 feet long, to the spike.

The shaft is 1d10 x 10 feet deep: 40 feet deep.

He lowers himself to the bottom of the shaft with ease, but curses when he realises that the effect of his potion of invisibility is wearing off. At the bottom of the shaft a tunnel runs northeast.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Stream bank

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The tunnel meets the bank of an underground stream flowing on the right. There are more vents in the rock here which emit toxic gas.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 15.

He manages not to breathe in the gas. He follows the tunnel which bends to the left.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Natural bridge

The stream leaves the tunnel and flows on northwest into the mountain. The tunnel crosses the stream over a natural bridge of rock and heads to the right.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Sloping gallery

Treasure: M2 worth of room contents – bronze finger ring jewelled with green garnet worth 500 gp

The tunnel enters a wide gallery of stalactites and stalagmites which slopes down in a northwestern direction. He finds a bronze finger ring jewelled with green garnet.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Spiral tunnel

The gallery narrows to a tunnel which leads down in a roughly spiral direction. Eventually the tunnel becomes level and leads west.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Tunnel intersection

Feature: a noncombatant inhabitant of the dungeon.

The tunnel splits with branches leading to the left and the right. A young man dressed in rags is slumped against the wall of the tunnel. He is about 18 years of age and clearly of mixed ethnic origin. When Trond approaches him he looks up with fear, but when Trond reassures him that he is not a Tide cultist and gives him water to drink he becomes hesitantly agreeable. Trond asks him what lies ahead in the cave and he replies that there are only the foul monsters from out of the red mist.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (seven left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

The man’s name is Pan Dagr and he is the heir of the wealthy Pan family of Haicheng. In Haicheng he lived as a rake and drank heavily, and his curiosity about all things mysterious caused him to become involved in the Tide cult that was sacrificing people in this cave. He tried to return to Haicheng but was caught and imprisoned in the cave to be sacrificed himself. But then the Tide monsters emerged from the mist and transformed or destroyed all of the cultists. Since then he has been living in the dark and evading the monsters.

Dagr ask Trond to help him leave the cave and return to Haicheng. If Trond will provide him with food and a weapon he will help fight any monsters that they encounter. His family will surely pay a considerable amount of gold if he is returned to their palace.

Trond agrees to help Dagr, and tells him to take heart as he himself destroyed a Tide cult that was flourishing in the slums of Haicheng. He provides him with his dagger and says that he will cook some rations for him to eat once they have left the cave.

Sloping gallery

They make their way up the spiral tunnel to the sloping gallery.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: four hit dice worth of Minions and Elites – one Creeper and one Wormwalker.

Two Tidespawn loom out of the red mist. One is a short, deformed creature wielding a spear, a Creeper. It may have once been a halfling or a child. It’s face is deformed with red growths. The other creature is a Wormwalker, man-sized and with a mass of pale worms crawling over it’s body.

Due to the presence of the Creeper Trond has -1 penalty to hit rolls and an AC of 6 for this combat only.

Trond draws his sword but his vision is suddenly obscured with visions of the Tide sweeping through Haicheng and destroying and deforming all in it’s path. He also experiences an urge to pick up Dagr and impale him on a nearby stalagmite. He overcomes this urge and advances to kill the creatures, with Dagr following him.

Dagr has the Vermin statistics of an urban combatant.

Trond kills the Creeper but the Wormwalker’s worms kill Dagr and badly wound Trond.

Trond is reduced to 2 hit points and must Defy Death (2d4). He takes 1 point of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 1

Two spears fly out of the darkness and hit the Wormwalker, killing it. Trond hides behind a column and sees dozens of orc Shou rush down the gallery with weapons ready. He remembers that the Shou are the greatest enemies of the Tide. He tends his wounds and waits for the Shou to leave the gallery before going to retrieve his dagger from beside Dagr’s corpse. The corpse is covered with the Wormwalker’s worms. He returns over the natural bridge to the stream bank.

Hit points: 3

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Stream bank

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

He returns to the stream bank where toxic gas issues from vents in the rock.

Trond fails the saving throw to avoid being overcome by the toxic gas. He must Defy Death again (2d6). He takes 2 points of damage and the attempt is successful.

Hit points: 1

He breathes in only a small amount of the gas while making his way along the stream bank. He coughs and splutters but manages to keep on moving and returns to the bottom of the vertical shaft.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

SAM_1291

First part – rebel hideout

Twisted tunnel

He climbs up his rope and enters the twisted tunnel.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Hot mud well

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

He enters this cave again where hot mud splatters the walls.

Trond fails the saving throw to avoid the mud. As he only has 1 hit point an attempt to Defy Death would automatically fail. He is left with 1 hit point.

Hit points: 1

He is burned by a mud splatter but manages to keep on moving.

Steam vent

Returning to the tunnel of the steam vent he heads right to avoid the vent.

Fifth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Deep pool

He enters this cave where he refills his waterskin.

Sixth turn elapsed

Trond lights a new torch (six left)

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Pipe to surface

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Returning to the pipe he douses his torch and scrambles up the rock wall and the pipe to the mountainside.

Cave entrance

He climbs down to the cave entrance and finds that the Shou took his horse to eat. His bow and arrows, camp gear and rations that were stored on his horse are gone.

He searches for food but can only gather, not hunt, as he has lost his bow.

Trond can only obtain 1d4-1 lots of food if he only gathers instead of hunting and gathering even if he passes the check.

He obtains three day’s worth of food.

Rations: 2

Hex 04.03

The next day he travels southeast through the mountains, returning to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post. He searches for water and finds a spring.

Rations: 1

Hex 05.03

The next day he travels southeast and searches for water again. He fails to find water.

Rations: 0

Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post

The next day he reaches Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post where he buys rations and rice wine, and pays four silver pieces to camp within the palisade. The skies are cloudy but there is no rain. He spends the remainder of the day resting at the trade post.

Money: 38 gp and 2 sp

Rations: 1

The next day he returns to Haicheng, stopping briefly at Huaiji for a mug of rice beer in the tavern.

Money: 38 gp, 1 sp and 8 cp

Ration: 0

He reaches Haicheng in the evening and goes to the inn, The Bronze Horse , to recuperate.

Money: 21 gp

After two whole days of recuperation he leaves the inn to sell the treasure that he found in the cave, and to buy a horse and new equipment. He then returns to Hasan al-Sakhawi’s trade post.

Money: 24 gp, 7 sp and 8 cp

Rations: 12

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure.

Shrine of the Rat Cult

Here is another adventure in my Ruins of the Undercity campaign, played using the Labyrinth Lord rules.

Plague

Shortly after Nameera, Somteva and Zareef return to Cryptopolis the city is struck by a minor outbreak of the plague known as the Fatal Boils. People who catch the disease are afflicted with disfiguring boils and die within twelve weeks.

Nameera, Somteva and Zareef all save successfully versus death.

Fortunately none of the adventurers catch the disease.

Onzir the travelling peddler

The adventurers meet a travelling peddler named Onzir, who has travelled to Cryptopolis with a caravan from the city of Ezar to the south. He is selling potions and scrolls but is not asking for less than 200 gold pieces for any of them, so the adventurers bid him good-day and say they hope to meet him again if they are richer by the time he returns to Cryptopolis.

New party members

The adventurers go to Aliam’s Babuschs to collect the babuschs (shoes) that they ordered before going on their previous adventure. Then they search the dingy khiva shops for anyone who wants to join them for another expedition into the Undercity. They find three new party members.

Akram

Formerly a holy beggar devoted to the Red Goddess, Akram is now a cleric of that deity.

Azmi

Azmi was formerly a town crier and is now a wizard. He understands the language of flinds.

Nisma

Nisma was formerly a prostitute. After one of her clients robbed her she stole her money back from him, and discovered that she was good at getting into places. She is now a thief.

The Undercity

The adventurers go to the abandoned house near the Temple of the Red Goddess, where there is a stairway leading down into the Undercity.

All characters are moving at a rate of 30′ per turn (exploring movement).

SAM_1287

The party make their way to the moldy wooden door that gives entrance to the corridor of lanterns (34). They rest at the door for a while.

First to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (19 left).

They go through the door and make their way down the corridor beyond which is illuminated by a row of glass lanterns on the right-hand wall.

Has the covered pit trap 20′ deep in this corridor been covered again? No.

They make their way carefully around the pit in the corridor and go down a side passage (85) discovered previously but not explored.

First to third turns elapsed.

91: Cesspit

The passage ends at a door of moldy wood, which is unlocked. Going through Nisma (at the front of the party) finds herself in a small circular room 10 feet in diameter, with no exits. The floor is strewn with rotting refuse and a putrid smell fills the air.

Nisma fails to detect the covered cesspit.

Somteva follows Nisma into the room. The two adventurers tumble into a cesspit in the middle of the floor that was hidden beneath the refuse.

Nisma succeeds in climbing out of the cesspit.

Nisma climbs out of the cesspit and lowers a length of silk rope down into the pit so that Somteva can climb out. They clean themselves as best they can using rags from the floor of the room.

The party leave the room and rest in the passage outside.

Fourth to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: four zombies.

Akram lights a new torch (18 left).

Zombies

Akram has just finished lighting a new torch and the party are ready to leave when four rotting zombies appear at the entrance to the side passage and advance towards them.

The zombies have hit points and weapons as follows (d4: 1 – hand axe, 2 – mace, 3 – scimitar, 4 – short sword):

  1. First zombie: hand axe, 5 hit points
  2. Second zombie: hand axe, 6 hit points
  3. Third zombie: mace, 10 hit points
  4. Fourth zombie: short sword, 9 hit points

The party has the initiative.

Somteva fails to turn the zombies and in the ensuing combat Nisma is killed and Azmi and Somteva are wounded before all the zombies are destroyed. Somteva partially heals herself with Cure Light Wounds and Akram completely heals Azmi with the same spell. Somteva and Akram perform the rites of the Red Goddess over Nisma’s corpse.

Somteva has 8 hit points left.

First to third turns elapsed.

The party return to the main corridor and go left, following the corridor for 30 feet before resting again.

Fourth to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (17 left).

SAM_1288.JPG

87: Standard masonry corridor

The corridor beyond is no longer illuminated with lanterns. They follow the corridor for another 30 feet before going down a side passage which branches off at 45 degrees.

First and second turns elapsed.

92: Refuse-strewn chamber

The passage ends in a large, square chamber strewn with refuse and with no other exits. They return to the main corridor which they follow for another 30 feet.

Third and fourth turns elapsed.

88: Torch-lit corridor

They follow this corridor until it turns to the left. They rest at the turn.

Fifth and sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (16 left).

They follow the corridor for another 30 feet.

First turn elapsed.

89: Rough masonry corridor

They follow this corridor for another 30 feet and come to the door to the chamber where Nameera, Somteva and Zareef found a hoard of gold coins. They take the side passage on the left.

Second and third turns elapsed.

93: Corridor of lanterns

Corridor illumination: row of lanterns, fragile glass.

Corridor type: rough masonry and dirt floor.

Corridor features: dank and moldy.

They follow the corridor of lanterns for 60 feet before resting.

Fourth to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (15 left).

94: Shrine of the Rat Cult

The corridor ends in a chamber of rough masonry with a dirt floor, and illuminated by the same glass lanterns. There are 16 giant rats, each at least three feet long, feeding on the remains of food which appears to have been given to them on clay plates as offerings. The chamber is apparently the shrine of some bizarre cult that worships rats. Scattered around the chamber there are seven rotting sacks amidst human bones and scraps of leather armour. The sacks appear to be filled with silver coins.

The sacks contain a total of 4,000 silver pieces.

The rats have the initiative and attack.

Zareef is attacked by four rats with 4, 4, 4 and 3 hit points.

Somteva is attacked by three rats with 3, 1 and 3 hit points.

Azmi is attacked by three rats with 1, 2 and 4 hit points.

Akram is attacked by three rats with 3, 3 and 4 hit points.

Nameera is attacked by three rats with 3, 4 and 1 hit points.

I decide that any ‘overflow’ damage from a successful hit against one rat can be shared between the other rats within range of the hit.

The adventurers kill 13 of the rats and three of them flee, but not before Azmi has been killed and all of the adventurers have been wounded.

Akram: 2 hit points left.

Nameera: 8 hit points left.

Somteva: 3 hit points left.

Zareef: 6 hit points left.

The adventurers quickly fill their sacks with silver coins and then leave the chamber, heading back towards the stairway to the abandoned house. Zareef is now the mapper for the party.

Each adventurer takes 600 silver pieces.

89: Rough masonry corridor

Returning to the turn in this corridor they rest.

First to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (14 left).

85: Rough masonry corridor

Returning to this corridor they rest.

First to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (13 left).

12: Rough masonry corridor

Returning to this corridor they rest.

First to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: 28 kobolds 40 feet from the party, coming from the entry corridor.

Akram lights a new torch (12 left).

Kobolds

The kobolds are uncertain. Since the previous group of kobolds encountered by the party were indifferent, I decide that these kobolds will be hostile.

A group of kobolds enters the corridor from the entry corridor. Their numbers are difficult to determine but there appear to be at least 20 of them. The two kobolds in the front rank have javelins ready to throw. They bark at the adventurers and gesture for them to drop their sacks.

The adventurers decide to comply with their demands and place their sacks on the floor of the corridor. The kobolds advance to inspect the sacks. The adventurers hope that they will be satisfied with the hoard of silver coins.

Are the kobolds satisfied? Yes.

The party leave the kobolds to squabble over the silver and head back up the corridor. They pass the intersection.

13: Slimy corridor

Past the intersection slime coats the floor of the corridor and they have to watch their footing. They pass a putrid chamber strewn with refuse (14) and enter a corridor free of slime (38). They reach a side passage (39) which ends in a rubble obstruction. They decide to get some sleep here as they have been exploring for eight hours now. Zareef sits on watch while the others lay out their bedrolls and settle down to sleep.

First to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Zareef lights a new torch (11 left).

Akram, Nameera and Somteva will sleep for eight hours.

First hour elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: three giant carnivorous flies 60 feet from the party, with 11, 12 and 14 hit points.

Zareef lights a new torch (10 left).

Giant carnivorous flies

Three giant carnivorous flies enter the side passage. Zareef quickly wakes the others.

The flies have the initiative.

The adventurers kill all of the flies but not before Nameera has been wounded.

Nameera has 6 hit points left.

The adventurers are now exhausted but they decide to leave the Undercity. No doubt the kobolds will have returned to their lair by now.

12: Rough masonry corridor

Returning to this corridor they rest.

First to sixth turns elapsed.

Check for wandering monsters: none.

Akram lights a new torch (9 left).

They return to the abandoned house and to Cryptopolis without further incident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sentha’s Journey – Miso RPG combined with Rory’s Story Cubes

Here is a short adventure played using the basic set of Rory’s Story Cubes and Sophia Brandt’s Miso game, a minimalist solo RPG available for free on her blog.

The Setting and the Heroine

The setting is the Vedren Islands, an archipelago with a temperate climate. Hills and broadleaf forest cover most of the islands.

Sentha is a 15 year old maiden of the Trarg tribe. She lives in the village of Gev on the coast of Krelex Island. Sentha is a powerful swimmer. For many years a swimming festival has been held every summer in Gev. Villagers swim the kilometre between Gev and Swimmer’s Rock. When Sentha competed in the womens’ race this year she won the prize, an amber necklace that she wears. She wears a light tunic belted at the waist that she can swim easily in, and carries a knife.

The Aikur tribe are the traditional enemies of the Trarg. In the previous year they destroyed all of the Trarg villages with the exception of Gev. The village is now attacked by Aikur warriors. Although the Trarg warriors fight bravely they are overwhelmed and their village is burned to the ground. Sentha is swimming not far from Gev when the village is attacked, so she is able to escape and swim to Swimmer’s Rock. Climbing up onto the rock she can see Gev burning.

Rovgan Island

After grieving for her lost village and family Sentha decides to swim to Rovgan Island, a small island two kilometres away.

I use the options rule from Miso:

Option A: Sentha swims to Rovgan Island without an incident (d12).

Option B: Sentha is attacked by a giant fish while swimming to Rovgan Island (d6).

I roll a 4 on the d12 and a 2 on the d6, so Sentha swims safely to Rovgan Island.

She reaches a beach of Rovgan Island and rests for a while. She finds a stream where she drinks. Searching the forest beyond the beach she finds some edible herbs to eat.

She explores the beach and finds a tidal pool full of fish. She returns to the forest and searches for a herb with leaves that can be used to poison fish.

Option A: She finds the herb (d8).

Option B: She doesn’t find the herb (d10).

She finds the herb and returns to the tidal pool with the leaves. She crushes the leaves with a rock and throws them into the water. Soon she has several fish to eat. Returning to the forest she collects some tinder and makes a fire with her knife and a rock. She cooks the fish and eats them before settling down to sleep.

I roll three cubes to determine what Sentha finds on Rovgan Island.

SAM_1270.JPG

The next day she explores Rovgan Island, which is quite hilly and covered with forest. She finds no sign of human habitation, only trees and a small sea turtle on a beach. She rolls the turtle onto it’s shell, kills it and eats it. In the distance she can see another island. She decides to swim to this island.

When she is about 100 metres from the island she sees that a giant fish is closing in on her. It swims quite slowly and she tries to outswim it.

Option A: She is able to outswim the fish (d12).

Option B: The fish catches up with her (d6).

She is able to outswim the fish and reaches a beach on the island.

SAM_1271.JPG

The Island of the Ruined Hut

She goes fishing again and catches more fish. The island is less hilly than Rovgan Island, but is still covered in forest. Exploring the forest beyond the beach she finds a rough trail which leads to a ruined stone hut. Searching the hut she finds a smooth piece of dark wood about as long as her forearm which terminates in a brilliant blue gemstone, a star sapphire. The wood of the wand has not decayed like the wooden items of furniture in the hut.

SAM_1277.JPG

I decide that these images mean that the user of the wand can travel through air, water and on land with ease.

She leaves the hut, taking the wand with her. Returning through the forest to the beach she sees that bright light emanates from the star within the sapphire, and that the dense vegetation draws back at her approach.

She returns to the beach. She finds that if she concentrates while holding the wand she can rise a few metres off the ground. Soon she is able to fly around the island, which she finds to be devoid of any signs of habitation other than the ruined hut that she found earlier.

SAM_1278.JPG

She sees another small turtle on a beach which she kills and eats. The next day she leaves the island and flies out over the sea.

The Island of the Pyramid

After flying for some time she comes to a large island, hilly and covered with forest. She can see villages dotted around the island. Deep within the forest at the top of a hill she sees a stone stepped pyramid. The top of the pyramid is flat and features an altar, around which there is a group of men wearing masks and white robes. Warriors armed with bows stand around the pyramid. She remembers that the Trarg used to tell stories about a distant island with a hill of stone built by men, inhabited by priests who would kill or sacrifice any intruders. She flies away from the pyramid but she has already been seen and the warriors fire arrows at her.

Option A: She is able to fly away without injury (d20).

Option B: She is hit by an arrow (d8).

I roll two 8s. I decide that she is hit by an arrow, but not badly injured.

One of the arrows grazes one of her legs as she is flying away, but does not seriously injure her. She flies away over the sea.

SAM_1282.JPG

The Island of Giant Bees

She comes a small forested island. Flying around the island she seems to hear a voice in her head calling for help. The voice becomes stronger as she approaches a beach, where she can see a tiny woman about three feet tall, a gnome. The woman has tanned skin and white hair, and is wearing a green robe. She is running from a swarm of what appear to giant bees, each a foot long. The woman calls out to Sentha, and she swoops down and clasps the woman to her body with her free left arm before flying away from the island. The giant bees do not pursue them very far.

Sentha flies over the sea still holding the gnome woman. She introduces herself as Hufilbel, an explorer of the Vedren Islands with some skill in sorcery. She sensed that Sentha was approaching the island and so was able to call to her telepathically. Sentha tells her of how her village on Krelex Island was destroyed by the Aikur tribe.

Although Sentha is strong her arm is soon aching from holding Hufilbel. Noticing her discomfort the gnome woman directs her to fly to nearby Drononst Island.

Drononst Island

Reaching Drononst Island Sentha and Hufilbel come to the village of Drorva of the Trumvor tribe, a fishing people not unlike the Trarg. Hufilbel says that she has often visited the village before to trade. Sentha is adopted into the Trumvor and is happy to have found a new home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret Shrine

Haicheng region new PNG image

Following on from The Slums of Haicheng here is another Scarlet Heroes urban adventure featuring the thief Gong Trond, who has the following traits:

  1. Ruin Explorer: 3
  2. Great Stealth: 2
  3. Friend to the Black Sapphire Tong: 1

The Tide Cult

Trond returns to The White Dragon inn for lunch.

Money: 12 gp

In the last adventure Trond earned Heat or unwanted attention as a result of a fight in a market in which he killed the priestess Thora Unger and her followers. In this adventure he must deal with the consequences of this Heat.

Five guards of the city watch armed with ji polearms enter the common room of the inn and quickly surround Trond. The sergeant tells him that he must accompany them to a guardpost of the city watch where he will be questioned by the captain of the city watch in relation to the fight with the priestess Thora Unger and her followers in the market. Trond allows the guards to march him to the guardpost where he is met by the city watch captain Chen Dawei. Trond is informed that Wigo Adler has already been caught and questioned by the watch, and he told them that he saw Trond kill Unger and all her followers in a fight that was started by Liang Yong of the Black Sapphire Tong. Dawei says that the city watch had no great regard for Unger and her followers, regarding them as dangerous fanatics. If Trond will pay him a bribe of 500 gold pieces and do a job for him, then he will be willing to forget the matter.

Trond asks what the job is and Dawei says that a Tide cult is rumoured to be spreading in the worst part of the slums. People are disappearing and are said have been taken and sacrificed in a hidden shrine somewhere. Some of the cultists appear to be living in a dilapidated tenement building. The city watch raided the building and some of the cultists were killed or fled, but no shrine was found. Trond is to infiltrate the tenement and learn of the cult’s secrets; perhaps stealth will achieve better results than force of arms.

Trond curses inwardly but agrees to pay the bribe and to investigate the cult. He realises that he will need to sell one of his magic potions in order to pay the bribe. Dawei has the five guards accompany Trond while he goes to the sage Han Daichi to sell his potion of Furious Might for 500 gold pieces. He returns to Dawei with the bribe and then goes to the tenement.

Threat: 4

Trond: 0 Victory points

Opponents: 0 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

Investigation scene: tenement

Infiltrate a Location where the activities relate to a Clue. On a check failure, face a Fight.

The brick tenement building rears over a muddy alleyway. He enters through an open doorway; a few planks of broken wood in the dark room beyond are all that remain of the door. Scraps of paper flutter in the empty windows and there are puddles from recent rain on the uneven floor. The building seems almost deserted but children wearing rags scamper off into dark rooms as he approaches. He ascends rickety wooden stairs to the first floor and enters a room where Tide cultists sleep on rough mattresses, dreaming the strange dreams of the Tide with smiles on their faces. He explores the room stealthily.

Trond fails the check.

Six cultists, four men and two women, emerge from the darkness. One man has eyes that glow red and the cultists advance to attack Trond with knives. He draws his short sword.

The cultists have Rabble statistics.

Trond kills four of the cultists and two flee down the stairs. He searches the bodies but finds nothing but a total of six copper pieces.

Money: 12 gp and 6 cp

Trond: 0 Victory points

Opponents: 1 Victory point

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 2 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain an additional Victory point.

He finds no more cultists elsewhere in the tenement, only frightened slum dwellers. He leaves the tenement and feels eyes watching him as he makes his way back to the guardpost to report to Chen Dawei. He tells Dawei about his fight with the cultists, one of whom was definitely a Tide cultist with eyes that glowed red. Tomorrow, he says, he will search for the cultists in the slums again. He returns to The White Dragon where he pays for a meal and then goes to bed. The next morning he pays for a cheap room and for breakfast and then leaves The White Dragon, making his way back to the tenement building.

Money: 11 gp, 6 sp and 1 cp

Conflict scene: street corner

Waylay a minion of the foe. Face a Fight instead of a check.

He comes to a street corner near the tenement. He recognises a man at the corner who is one of the cultists who fled from him yesterday. The man draws his knife and shouts out a summons to eight more cultists who come to his aid wielding knives.

The other cultists have the statistics of a Swarm.

Trond kills all of the cultists and tends his wounds.

Hit points: 5

He searches the cultists and finds a total of nine copper pieces.

Money: 11 gp, 6 sp and 10 cp.

He returns to The White Dragon for lunch.

Money: 11 gp, 6 sp and 5 cp.

Trond: 1 Victory point

Opponents: 0 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

Investigation scene: fence’s shop

Be waylaid by a hostile Actor with a Clue. Face a Fight instead of a check.

In the afternoon he explores the slums around the tenement building, searching for cultists. He comes to the shop of the fence Noya Shuji, an ally of the thief Yamamoto Teruaki whom Trond killed.

The foes are scruffy toughs; one man with Brute statistics and seven others with Thug statistics.

I decide that these men are members of Teruaki’s thieving ring, which is now headed by the Eirengarder Eckhard Knecht. But are they also cultists? Yes.

Trond approaches the shop cautiously. Eight scruffy men saunter out of the shop and surround him. The leader is armed with a sword and the others wield short swords. The leader sneers at Trond, telling him that Teruaki’s gang has survived despite Trond having killed Teruaki. He says that the gang is now headed by the Eirengarder Eckhard Knecht, the tavernkeeper of The Dwarf and Goblin, who will make sure that Trond does not last long in the slums. The leader exhales a cloud of crimson mist and Trond realises that he is a Tide cultist. He draws his sword.

Trond wounds the leader and kills two of the other men, but the leader deals him a severe wound with his sword and he falls to the ground close to death.

Trond: 1 Victory point

Opponents: 1 Victory point

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 7 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain an additional Victory point.

Action scene: The Dwarf and Goblin tavern

Escape from the tavern. Make a check at +2 difficulty.

When Trond revives he finds himself in a small dark room which is vaguely familiar. His weapons, leather armour and money have been taken, along with his backpack and all of its contents including his Airy Body potion. He is bound hand and foot with rope. Most likely the Tide cultists intend to sacrifice him.

Hit points: 2

He can hear drunken laughter coming from an adjoining room, and realises that he is in the back room of The Dwarf and Goblin tavern. It seems that Eckhard Knecht is one of the cultists. He struggles to get free of the ropes binding him so that he can make an escape through the paper window in the outside wall of the room as he did before when he was working against Teruaki.

The difficulty of the check is 13. Trond succeeds on the check.

He gets free of the ropes and escapes through the paper window.

Trond: 3 Victory points

Opponents: 1 Victory point

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 7 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain a Victory point.

Resting at The White Dragon

Trond goes to the workshop of the goldsmith Zhang Bai, where he withdraws 79 gold pieces from his hoard stored in the vault.

Money in the vault: 300 gp

He returns to The White Dragon and spends the remainder of the day and all of the next day recuperating. He pays the physician Moyna Mar MacSithean two gold pieces for treatment.

Money: 65 gp, 9 sp and 5 cp

Hit points: 5

The opponents gain a Victory point because Trond is Resting in place of a scene.

Trond: 3 Victory points

Opponents: 2 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

On the morning after his recuperation he pays for his room and for breakfast and then leaves The White Dragon.

Money: 65 gp and 7 sp

He buys a short sword, a dagger, a suit of leather armour, a backpack, a crowbar, and a healer’s bag. He returns to The White Dragon for lunch.

Money: 26 gp, 6 sp and 5 cp

Investigation scene: Eckhard Knecht’s lair

An allied Actor can get you a Clue at personal risk. Fight to protect them.

Trond returns to the streets around The Dwarf and Goblin tavern to continue his investigation. He hears a hiss and turns to see an Imperial woman beckoning him into an alleyway. He approaches her cautiously. The woman gives her name as Biyu. Even within the shadows of the alleyway she is constantly watchful as if afraid that someone is searching for her. Biyu says that she is a burglar who was formerly a member of Eckhard Knecht’s gang. However, she left the gang when she realised that they were abducting the most vulnerable people in the slums, such as harlots and beggars, and sacrificing them to the Tide in a secret shrine somewhere. She says that she saw Trond fight the cultists outside Noya Shuji’s shop, and saw him escape from The Dwarf and Goblin tavern. She knows the location of Eckard Knecht’s hidden lair, and with Trond’s help she will infiltrate it.

Trond agrees to this proposal. He follows Biyu down the alleyway, which twists and turns and leads to an alcove. At the rear of the alcove there is a wooden door. Biyu succeeds in picking the lock and opens the door to reveal an opulent room beyond. An Imperial folding screen depicting a stream flowing through a bamboo grove is placed along one wall. At the centre of the room there is a fine hardwood table. Seven men are sitting around the table drinking rice wine. One is a huge Eirengarder with a bald head and a bushy moustache; Trond recognises him as Eckhard Knecht. He is wearing a suit of banded armour. Knecht looks up and thanks Biyu for bringing the trouble-maker back to him; they were just about to leave and search the slums for him. Biyu tells Trond that she had no idea that the room was occupied, but Knecht has already drawn his sword and the other men draw their short swords.

Knecht has Tank statistics and the other six cultists have Thug statistics.

Trond wounds Knecht and kills one of the other cultists, but he is wounded by Knecht and three other cultists and falls to the floor close to death.

Trond: 3 Victory points

Opponents: 3 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 9 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain an additional Victory point.

Action scene: Eckhard Knecht’s lair

Escape from the lair. Make a check at +2 difficulty.

When Trond regains consciousness he realises that he is once again a captive of the cultists, intended for sacrifice to the Tide. All his gear has been taken and he is a prisoner in a dark room with no windows. His hands and feet have been bound with rope.

Hit points: 2

He struggles to get free.

The difficulty of the check is 13. Trond fails the check.

He has been bound more securely this time and cannot get free.

Trond must Defy Death (1d4) to escape. He takes 1 point of damage and the attempt to Defy Death is successful.

Hit points: 1

He hears the sounds of combat in an adjacent room. After the noise has subsided a guard of the city watch opens the door to the room where he is being held prisoner.

Has Knecht been killed by the city watch? No.

The guard tells him that the city watch were led to this place by a woman named Biyu. They have killed five cultists but Eckhard Knecht was not one of them. The guard frees Trond and he goes outside to meet Biyu in the alleyway. She tells him that she searched Knecht’s lair but found nothing to help them in their search for the cultist’s hidden shrine. Trond tells her that he will return to The White Dragon inn to recover from his wounds; she can meet him there in two days time. Trond goes with the guards of the city watch to report to Chen Dawei, and then he goes to the workshop of the goldsmith Zhang Bai where he withdraws 70 gold pieces.

Money in the vault: 230 gp

Trond: 5 Victory points

Opponents: 3 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 1 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain a Victory point.

Opponents: 4 Victory points

Resting at The White Dragon

He returns to The White Dragon and spends the remainder of the day and all of the next day recuperating.

Money: 57 gp, 8 sp and 5 cp

Hit points: 5

The opponents gain a Victory point because Trond is Resting in place of a scene.

Trond: 5 Victory points

Opponents: 5 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

On the morning after his recuperation he pays for his room and for breakfast and then leaves The White Dragon.

Money: 57 gp and 6 sp

He buys new gear and then returns to The White Dragon for lunch.

Money: 18 gp, 5 sp and 5 cp

Conflict scene: the Hospice of Hesika

Support an Actor who’s working against the foe for their own reasons. Face a Fight instead of a check.

Biyu arrives at The White Dragon. She says that she has found an ally to help them in their fight against the cultists, who can be found in the Hospice of Hesika. Trond goes with her to the Hospice, which is dedicated to Hesika the Vermillion Goddess of sensation and perception. In the main hall of the building a small wooden statue of Hesika painted a brilliant scarlet stands on an altar. A few priests and priestesses hand out small bowls of rice porridge to cripples and homeless people. Biyu introduces Trond to an Imperial woman named Niu. She wears a suit of banded armour and carries a sword. She is clearly Shou-blooded with skin of a greenish tinge. She says that she is a cleric of Kusha, the Red Goddess of war, and a wandering cult hunter specialising in Tide cultists. Her Shou blood makes her particularly effective against them. Niu has already fought with Tide cultists in the slums and she knows that they often lurk around this hospice to take beggars for sacrifice.

Niu has Tank statistics and can cast the Blessing of Gentle Fortune, the Fist of Burning Rebuke, and the Blessing of Righteous War.

Niu grasps Trond’s right hand and casts the Blessing of Gentle Fortune, invoking the favour of Kusha for the purpose of giving Trond the strength to fight the cultists.

Trond may reroll one failed attack roll during the combat to follow.

Niu leads Trond and Biyu outside and the three of them patrol around the Hospice. Biyu is carrying a short sword.

Biyu has Soldier statistics.

Niu casts the Blessing of Righteous War on Trond and Biyu. They come across Ekhard Knecht and five other cultists who are lurking near the Hospice. The cultists approach with swords drawn.

Knecht has Tank statistics and the other five cultists have Thug statistics.

Niu casts the Fist of Burning Rebuke, badly wounding Knecht. Trond kills Knecht and three of the other cultists, and Biyu kills the remaining two cultists. Trond tends the wound that he received from Knecht.

Hit points: 5

Trond and Biyu search the corpses and find only nine copper pieces and four silver pieces. Niu takes the money to give to the Hospice of Hesika.

Trond: 6 Victory points

Opponents: 4 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

Investigation scene: The Dwarf and Goblin tavern

Search a Location related to past events where a Clue can be found. Face a Fight whether or not you succeed on the check.

Now that Knecht is dead, Trond suggests to Niu and Biyu that they search The Dwarf and Goblin tavern for information relating to the Tide cult’s activities. They reach The Dwarf and Goblin in the late afternoon. Trond peers cautiously inside and finds the place to be almost deserted, although one barmaid is still serving a few customers on Knecht’s behalf. He goes around to the rear of the building where a paper window gives entry to the back room. The paper has been replaced from when Trond tore it last time to escape. Niu and Biyu wait in the alleyway outside while Trond enters the room through the window. He searches the room.

Trond fails the check.

He doesn’t find anything of value in the room.

The foes are footpads with Rabble statistics.

One of Knecht’s footpads enters the room from the main room of the tavern. On seeing Trond he draws a knife and shouts a summons to seven other men who enter the room armed with knives.

Trond kills six of the men and one flees. He tends the wound that he received from one of the men.

Hit points: 5

Searching the corpses he finds 10 copper pieces and six silver pieces.

Money: 18 gp, 11 sp and 15 cp

He enters the main room of the tavern. The barmaid has fled. He meets up with Niu and Biyu. He returns to The White Dragon for a meal and then goes to bed.

Money: 18 gp, 9 sp and 15 cp

Trond: 6 Victory points

Opponents: 5 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 8 on a 1d10 means that the opponents do not gain an additional Victory point.

The next morning he pays for his room and for breakfast. He meets with Niu and Biyu at The White Dragon and then goes to Chen Dawei to report the deaths of Eckhard Knecht and the cultists outside the Hospice of Hesika.

Money: 18 gp, 7 sp and 10 cp

Conflict scene: The House of Wondrous Pleasures

Fight through an ambush arranged by the foe at a Location. Face a Fight instead of a check.

Trond returns with Niu and Biyu to The White Dragon for lunch.

Money: 18 gp, 7 sp and 5 cp

The fence Noya Shuji enters The White Dragon and approaches Trond’s table. He claims to have severed ties with Eckhard Knecht’s gang, and congratulates Trond for killing Knecht. He invites Trond, Niu and Biyu to accompany him to the brothel named The House of Wondrous Pleasures, where they can meet with enemies of the Tide cultists who are working to rid the slums of this menace.

Trond asks Shuji to wait outside, and discusses this proposal with Niu and Biyu. He tells them that he does not trust Shuji, but argues that they should go with him as they have no other leads at present. Niu and Biyu agree. Niu casts the Blessing of Gentle Fortune on Trond.

Trond may reroll one failed attack roll during the combat to follow.

The three of them go with Shuji to the brothel. When they arrive Shuji leads them to a room where he tells them to wait while he goes to see the brothel madam. Trond, Niu and Biyu sit down on chairs but do not drink the rice wine that has been offered to them.

A wooden panel in the wall slides open and 11 men armed with swords leap out to ambush them. The leader wears a chain hauberk and wields a sword while the others are armed with short swords.

The leader has Veteran statistics and the other cultists have Thug statistics. Trond, Niu and Biyu are surprised and cannot act for the first round of combat. Trond is attacked by the leader and by three other cultists, Niu is attacked by four cultists, and Biyu is attacked by three cultists.

Trond, Niu and Biyu kill all of the cultists except for one who flees, but not before Niu has been badly wounded. Trond tends the wounds that he received and then treats Niu’s wounds using items from his healer’s bag. She has been so badly wounded that she must return to The White Dragon and will not be able to investigate the Tide cult further today.

Hit points: 5

They search the corpses and find a total of 18 copper pieces and four silver pieces. Trond leaves most of the money for Niu and Biyu. They decide to leave the brothel before more cultists are summoned by Shuji.

Money: 18 gp, 7 sp and 10 cp

Trond: 7 Victory points

Opponents: 4 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

They return to The White Dragon where Trond gives Niu two gold pieces to pay for a physician.

Money: 16 gp, 7 sp and 10 cp

Investigation scene: Okada Tsukasa’s drug den

Bribe an Actor to give you a Clue. Roll a die; on an odd, immediately face a Conflict scene with them or on their behalf and win it to succeed.

Leaving The White Dragon Trond and Biyu walk the nearby streets. Trond sees the cultist who fled from The House of Wondrous Pleasures enter the drug den owned by Okada Tsukasa. Trond and Biyu follow the cultist, an Imperial man, into the dark and smoky building.

They find the cultist who is already smoking his favourite drug. He apologises for ambushing them in the brothel and says that he wants to leave the Tide cult. Trond offers him a bribe of five gold pieces if he will reveal the location of the cultist’s secret shrine. The man appears to be about to accept the money when he glances towards the door to the drug den. His face goes pale when he sees a man in leather armour and wielding a sword enter the door accompanied by five cultists. He says that this man is Yang Fu, an adventurer and Tide cultist brought in from the wilderness to eliminate those cultists who try to leave the cult. If Trond will kill Yang Fu then he will accept the bribe and tell him where the shrine is.

Conflict scene: Okada Tsukasa’s drug den

Eliminate an outside Actor brought in to aid the foe. Face a Fight instead of a check.

Trond and Biyu draw their swords as Yang Fu and the five cultists approach.

Yang Fu has Brute statistics and the other cultists have Thug statistics. Yang Fu and three cultists attack Trond and two cultists attack Biyu.

Biyu is killed by one of the cultists. Trond kills three of the cultists and one flees. But Yang Fu deals him a severe wound and he is taken prisoner by the cultists once again.

Trond: 7 Victory points

Opponents: 5 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 6 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain an additional Victory point.

Opponents: 6 Victory points

Action scene: the Tide cultists’ shrine

Escape from the shrine. Make a check at +2 difficulty.

When Trond revives he finds that he is bound hand and foot in the place that he was searching for, the secret shrine of the Tide cult. All his gear has been taken, of course. He is in a dark room without windows, in a building which appears to be an abandoned tenement. A cloud of crimson mist hangs over the floor.

Hit points: 2

He can see Yang Fu and seven other cultists in the room. They have their backs to him and are facing a hideous Tide priest who wears a crimson robe. The priest’s eyes glow red and he breathes red mist, and a mass of writhing tentacles emerges from his face. The Tide cultists are chanting and ignoring Trond for the present, though clearly he is intended to be sacrificed very shortly.

Trond struggles to get free of the ropes binding him.

The difficulty of the check is 13. Trond succeeds on the check.

He gets free of the ropes and moves stealthily out of the room. The cultists are preoccupied with their ritual. As he is leaving he hears a scream and turns around to see the priest plunging a dagger into the body of a young woman, bound on a stone altar that he couldn’t see before.

He leaves the building. It is not the same tenement that he explored before but a different building that is entirely abandoned.

Trond: 9 Victory points

Opponents: 6 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

A roll of 4 on a 1d10 means that the opponents gain an additional Victory point.

Opponents: 7 Victory points

He arrives at Zhang Bai’s workshop just as the goldsmith is closing up for the night. He withdraws 70 gold pieces from the vault.

Money in the vault: 160 gp

Resting at The White Dragon

He returns to The White Dragon and spends all of the next day recuperating. He meets with Niu, who is still recovering from the wound that she received in The House of Wondrous Pleasures. He tells her about being taken captive by the cultists and seeing the cloud of crimson mist and the sacrifice of the young woman in the abandoned tenement. Niu says that the cloud of mist indicates that the cultists are about to open a gate to the Tide. If this happens then Haicheng will be overrun with Tidespawn.

Money: 57 gp, 8 sp and 5 cp

Hit points: 5

The opponents gain a Victory point because Trond is Resting in place of a scene.

Trond: 9 Victory points

Opponents: 8 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

On the morning after his recuperation he pays for his room and for breakfast and then leaves The White Dragon.

Money: 57 gp and 6 sp

He buys new gear and then returns to The White Dragon for lunch.

Money: 18 gp, 5 sp and 5 cp

Conflict scene: the Hospice of Hesika

Discredit or frame an Actor ally of the foe.

Niu casts the Blessing of Gentle Fortune on Trond and then they leave The White Dragon to go to the guardpost of the city watch where Trond will inform Chen Dawei of the location of the cultists’ shrine. On their way they visit the Hospice of Hesika. One of the priests, an Imperial man, seems eerily familiar to Trond. He realises that he is one of the cultists that he saw in the shrine. No doubt he can use his position in the Hospice to procure sacrificial victims for the cultists.

He tells Niu about the priest and she suggests that they talk to the priestess in charge of the Hospice, a Kueh woman named Sister Yoshiko.

Trond succeeds on the check after I use the Blessing of Gentle Fortune spell to reroll the check.

Trond succeeds in convincing Sister Yoshiko that the priest is a cultist. She orders the guards at the Hospice to seize the priest, who is named Brother Zixin, and take him to the guardpost.

Trond: 10 Victory points

Opponents: 7 Victory points

Haicheng: 1 Heat

Final Action scene: the Tide cultists’ shrine

Trond and Niu arrive at the guardpost of the city watch where Trond informs Chen Dawei of the location of the secret shrine. The city watch captain assembles a detachment of 10 guards to attack the shrine. Niu casts the Blessing of Righteous War on Trond and the guards. Trond leads Niu and the guards to the abandoned tenement building.

Entering the shrine Trond sees that the cloud of crimson mist is thicker now. Ten Tide cultists, including Yang Fu and Noya Shuji, are facing the hideous mutated Tide priest who is preparing to sacrifice a young boy on the altar.

The guards attack the cultists and Niu fights with Yang Fu. She kills him but not before she has been badly wounded.

Niu has been reduced to 1 HD.

The Tide priest flees into another room and Trond follows him. The room appears to be the private chamber of the priest and contains a bed, a table and a chair. The priest drops his sacrificial knife and picks up a gleaming short sword from the table.

The priest has Sorcerer statistics and can cast the spell Seven Small Thunders. His short sword is +1.

Trond kills the priest and tends his wounds.

Hit points: 4

He takes the priest’s short sword which has a gleaming magical blade, a hilt of silver and a grip of blue enamelwork.

Have all the other cultists been killed by the city watch guards? Yes.

The noise of combat from the other room has subsided. Trond quickly searches the priest’s chamber. On the table he finds a cylindrical, thumb-sized vial of white jade inscribed with High Imperial characters.

The vial contains an Invisibility potion.

Beneath the table he finds the priest’s wooden treasure chest.

Is the chest locked? Yes.

The chest is locked but he succeeds in picking the lock. Inside he finds 75 gold pieces and a silver necklace jewelled with yellow-green peridots.

Money: 93 gp, 5 sp and 5 cp

The necklace is worth 5,000 gp.

Entering the shrine he finds that the cloud of crimson mist has begun to dissipate. Haicheng is safe from the Tide, at least for now…

The guards have killed all of the cultists in the shrine. They have also collected all the treasure that was heaped around the altar in tribute to the Tide. Trond helps Niu to tend her wounds and then they return to the guardpost. Chen Dawei thanks Trond for his help in destroying the Tide cult.

Trond has scored 3, a Partial Victory. Although it has been almost destroyed the Tide cult survives in the slums and grows again slowly.

The Heat of Haicheng has returned to 0.

Trond receives one experience point for his adventure. He is now a 2nd level thief. He has 8 maximum hit points. His trait of “Great Stealth” has increased to three points. He has also gained one trait point in a new trait of “Resist the Red Tide.”

Trond returns to The White Dragon for a meal and a bottle of good rice wine and then goes to bed.

Money: 83 gp, 3 sp and 5 cp

Hit points: 5

The next morning he pays for his room and for breakfast and then leaves The White Dragon.

Money: 83 gp and 1 sp

He pays the sage Han Daichi 50 gold pieces for identification of the potion that he found in the priest’s chamber. Daichi tells him that the vial contains an invisibility potion and explains how it works.

Money: 33 gp and 1 sp

He goes to the shop of the fence Bakir al-Halabi, who pays him 600 gold pieces for the silver necklace jewelled with peridots.

He pays Zhang Bai a deposit fee of 60 gold pieces for storage of 540 gold pieces.

Money in the vault: 700 gp

He returns to The White Dragon to rest and to celebrate his victory over the cultists.

Money: 22 gp and 5 sp