Solo Skald |||

The first session in Cinderheim turned out to be something of a funnel, with only one member of a 3-person party surviving: Nammah the Butcher, a mage in the desert settlement of Koraaz under the democratic” rule of Andastros Qualenethi, an elven warlord.

I still want to explore Cinderheim, although I’ve decided to do so in a slightly different direction. To maintain continuity, I’ll focus on the character of Nammah as a solo adventurer using the Scarlet Heroes combat rules in conjunction with SotU Refired (a hack of Searchers of the Unknown). For this session, I’m going to use the Trilemma adventure The Coming of Sorg. Where it lacks creature stats, I’ll use The Monster Overhaul.

The Coming of Sorg

I have a slightly edited version of the adventure linked above from the hardcover Trilemma Adventures Compendium. Looking at the monsters and creatures, I see that I’ll need the following:

  • Acolyte: as cultist, but with the ability to cast a blight as per TMO p. 19. However, I have generated new blights that are more thematic for their demon lord.
  • Cultist (or heretic): HD 0 (2 HP), AC 9, MV 12”, #Att 1, damage as weapon (varies), Morale 11 (but will vary per the adventure), TMO p. 19.
  • Emanations of Sorg (multiple forms): HD 5, AC 7, MV varies, attack varies but is approximately 2d8, Morale 12
  • Sorg (demon): HD 8, AC 3, MV 6” (slow due to bulk and lethargy), #ATT 1, 1d8 bile spray (1 per 3 rounds, save vs breath) or 2d6 crush, summons emanations 1/hour, Morale 10

However, I’m hopeful that Nammah can avoid combat without backup, possibly by playing one faction against another (there are several in the adventure).

The Coming of Sorg Copyright 2014 Michael Prescott, licensed CC-BY-NC

My procedure will look like this:

  1. Enter one of the areas in the adventure (there are 9 total).
  2. Roll for treasure (1 in 3 chance). If present, use the Scarlet Heroes treasure tables. (This will not apply in the one area of the adventure with defined treasure.)
  3. Roll for reaction by the inhabitants, modified by their existing disposition and Nammah’s actions.
  4. Play out whatever results from that reaction.
  5. Repeat until the adventure is complete, likely by her choosing to leave.

Updating Nammah

Last time, I missed that SotU Refired has different spellcasting rules:

Wizards can memorise 1 spell plus 1 spell per level and can cast these any number of times per day. The wizard chooses what level to cast a memorised spell at, up to [her] own level. 1d6 is thrown per spell level with each result of 1 or 2 causing 1 hp damage. If so damaged the wizard must save or be aged 1 year. If reduced to 0 hp [by this damage] the wizard falls into a catatonic slumber from which [she] cannot be roused for a full day.

Therefore, in addition to her thematic light spell, I’m giving her magic missile which will do d4+1 damage (from Spellcasters of the Unknown). I’ve already defined that her light spell can be cast in reverse as darkness; there’s not really a reverse” version of magic missile in this sense, or at least not without turning it into healing, which doesn’t fit at all.

This leaves her stat block as:

  • Nammah the Butcher (M1 AC9 MV12 HD1d6 Save +4, 1d6 staff, d4 fray die, spellbook, ink, quill). She is a human who is trying to answer a question. Mages attack with d20 + target AC. Add +1 to dungeoneering rolls for feats of lore (reading scrolls, operating wands, deciphering runes, addressing nobles in court, concocting potions, etc.) She knows the spells light and magic missile.

Delve

The Deelian temple sits just outside the settlement of Koraaz; no wilderness adventure will be required. The grounds around the temple are fairly open; there’s a gate with two stone pillars and some crumbling outbuildings, then a large stairway leading up to the temple proper. Even from a distance, there’s an awful smell as she approaches, and she can see some corrosion on some of the temple buildings. Movement within the ruins makes it clear that she will be dealing with existing inhabitants.

Turn 1

She enters via the gate (on the left side of the art), where those stone pillars flank a great dais and display engravings that boast of blessing by Deel the Protectress. She inspects them closely (successful feat of lore check) and determines that they can be harmful to the servants of Sorg. However, it would take significant time and magical research to determine whether these could be copied or learned in some way.

There’s no treasure here, though there are a few dark smudges on the ground where the cultists had executed wayward members.

From here, she could go to the ruined archives, the outbuildings, or straight into the temple. As an inquisitive mage, she’s headed straight to those archives.

Turn 2

These ruins have no roof anymore, and there is 1 cultist taking cover in here. Their reaction is hostile, seeing that she passed through that gate with no difficulty and thus cannot be a fellow believer. Rather than call down magic upon this person, she’ll try to use her staff, needing to roll an 11 or better to hit, and she does so, dealing 1d6 = 4 => 1 HD of damage (using the SH rules overlay). As the cultist has effectively 0 HD, this is enough to subdue him. He carries 1d4 = 1 gp.

Before investigating the books here, she stands with a foot on his chest and her staff at his throat. She asks about the temple and the cult, and her tells her that Sorg is punishing the order. But at the same time, this cultist wants to purge the outsiders who probably caused this retribution by their god”.

While considering what to do with her prisoner, she looks at the tomes among the moldering books here. She only finds cult writings that claim that Deel is actually a vicious herald of Sorg; whether that’s true or not is unknowable to her at this time.

But what she can do is try to bring this cultist with her as a prisoner, demanding he guide her. I’ll roll for his reaction to that, and he refuses, trying to attack her from his disarmed, disadvantaged state. At that point, she simply dashes his head in with her staff.

Turn 3

Nammah crosses the lower courtyard towards the ruined cloister. There are over a dozen heretics within, and they are led by one who calls himself Myen the Pitiless. His reaction is hesitation / confusion” - he wants to see what she’s doing and what she wants. She tells him that she’s here to learn; this seems acceptable to him. Perhaps the reason she was able to pass through the gate is that she simply hasn’t yet committed herself to Sorg and thus is not yet cursed by Deel.

His group believes that the thing in the high temple is not Sorg, but rather some foul impostor. His (rather pitiful, she thinks) band seeks to eliminate the other survivor bands. They have no treasure, but she does promise that she will assist them in fighting the other bands if they will allow her whatever spoils that those groups may have.

Based on this, I’ll roll Myen’s reaction again, with a +1 for her offer to help them. Again he’s confused - that seems like a lot of danger, as so far they have been unable to deal with the emanations of Sorg.

She tells them that she will proceed up the stairs and that, should they wish to reclaim it, they should accompany her. If she demonstrates actions in accordance with their goals, I decide they’ll have a 4-in-6 chance of showing up to whatever confrontation she gets into.

Turn 4

From here, she could try to explore the fetid water dribbling out of the temple into some underground cistern, but she’s not that thirsty yet. Instead, she’ll ascend the Stairs of Greed Ascendant”. Here, among the smashed statues that have been fully corrupted to demonic magic, she must roll a save versus the effects: unfortunately, she is not strong enough, and so she will abandon all frugality in favor of greed and avarice.

There is a small cache of treasure here in the base of one of these statues, but she does not find it (failed dungeoneering roll). Instead, at this courtyard, she can either further ascend to the high temple, enter the smaller temple here, or head to the granary. This closer temple has a different smell than the other areas that isn’t quite as repellent, so she goes there next.

Turn 5

Here, in what turns out to be a small brewing house, there are 8 cultists, with a leader named Len of Otton. They regard her with the same hostility as the first cultist she encountered, and she will have to fight them. As they rush her, I decide that the cramped surroundings mean that she can only fight 3 at a time. They’re all 0 HD, so any amount of damage at all will take them out.

To start things off, as Len directs her followers to attack, Nammah casts magic missile, which does 2-5 => 1 HD of damage automatically; this immediately defeats Len, and with her staff she sends another one flying off the nearby cliff. Myen’s heretics come screaming up the stairs, and I decide that’s enough to give Len’s followers a -2 penalty to their morale: they succeed and will keep fighting.

Since Myen’s group outnumbers them by over 2 to 1, Len steps back and simply uses her staff (via her fray die) to keep them at bay and defeats one more. The larger side has a 4-in-6 chance of winning easily, and they do so, with only 1d4 = 2 of their own falling (after all, they were poorly armed with a few swords and long knives).

In here there is a brass kettle and a good amount of honey and mead. No treasure was hidden here, but among the defeated Len cultists, she finds 8d4 = 17 gp. Additionally, Len wore a medallion that conferred immunity to the effects of the stairs, which she takes. Immediately, she feels those urgings of waste and greed fade away.

Turn 6

As it’s been an hour, Sorg produces a horrid minion–a roving mouth to feed his strength”. This time it’s a swarm of translucent air leeches (as murderous crows from TMO p. 223 but 5 HD). They are immune to non-magical damage, and at 5 HD that could be quite a problem. Instead, she’ll wait inside this brewery area while they patrol for exposed prey for a few minutes, after which the air leeches head into the wilderness.

(As she hasn’t had to go into any underground environments, she has not needed to use any light sources.)

Turn 7

She’ll lead Myen and his group over to the granary, where the roof has been corroded by a spray of ichor.” This group of 8 is somewhat hostile as well, as they believe that Sorg is a deceiver and the prophecies are false. They are preparing to repent by burning all the food. She offers them the same deal as she did to Myen: join her and they can end the foul thing in the high temple. However, they’re quite aggressive, only having restrained themselves from attacking her because she’s got over a dozen heretics behind her.

This restraint doesn’t last when Myen commands his followers to fall upon the false worshipers”; the resulting fight is a bloodbath and she slips away, heading up the stairs to the high temple to see who (or what) might be there.

Turn 8

Draped over the altar is a rhino-sized demon larva” (I imagine something like Jabba the Hutt but with foul abyssal magic swirling about it) attended by a dozen acolytes. They are led in their devotions by a man with a withered arm name Vnaud, praying among the bile and excrement.

Vnaud asks her carefully about her business here before the great, looking back and forth between this bold magus and his god”. She attempts to deceive them, telling them that there is a great slaughter below and they must act to protect Sorg! This ruse fails, as she has no particular skill in feats of subterfuge (failed another dungeoneering roll with a 1).

At this, he leads his followers against her and she must flee back down to the courtyard, yelling for Myen and his faithful” to come to her aid. I decide there’s a 3-in-6 chance that 2d6 of them can do so; they do not, unfortunately, and she must flee with these acolytes in pursuit.

Vnaud calls down a blight! This is a ravenous maw that will open in the ground beneath her feet, gaping and toothy. She must save to avoid being grappled and bitten, but she fails. This would deal 1d8 = 2 => 1 HP of damage to her and, far worse, immobilize her for 4 rounds. Instead, she’ll Defy Death as per the SH rules, and she takes 1d4 = 2 => 1 HP of damage and is not immobilized (her next Defy Death roll will incur a d6 damage roll.)

She makes it to the Granary, where Vnaud and his followers pause briefly. Myen and his heretics have won, and there are still 10 of them left, making it a nearly even fight should it come to that. Among what is left of the original cultists here, she finds 8d4 = 22 gp. Better, there is a treasure cache here, an Overlooked Trifle (SH p. 82), which is just a piece of cheap jewelry: a turquoise necklace worth 1d10 = 5 x 10 = 50 gp.

Turn 9

There’s a standoff here between Myen and Vnaud and their followers. At this point, she doesn’t want to fight, she just wants to escape back to Koraaz. She’ll cast darkness to cover her escape, risking magical aging against death, and in fact she does age slightly, but with her life.

She’s able to make it back with 40 gold pieces and a turquoise necklace, for a total of 90 gp, as well as this medallion of protection against magical effects. Perhaps she’s made an ally of Myen the Pitiless, though if his band falls to Vnaud and Sorg, that may not matter.

Regardless, this gives her 90 XP and she’s now at 190/1000 XP for level 2. That isn’t much.

Back in Koraaz

Once she’s back in the settlement itself, eventually one of the surviving heretics finds her. The standoff ended in violence, as everyone knew it would. I wrote a small table for the result of that conflict:

  • 1-2: Myen and his heretics defeat Vnaud and his acolytes.
  • 3-4: Vnaud and his acolytes defeat Myen and his heretics.
  • 5: Both groups clash so mightily that they effectively destroy each other.
  • 6: Both groups find common cause and join forces in the service of Sorg.

The dice then tell me that, in the end, Vnaud and his acolytes triumphed. Sorg still sits atop the temple, and this heretic - a woman named Jiao - is one of the few who escaped.

Nammah is intrigued, both because of her desire to get whatever lay under the altar where Sorg lay, and because she’s seen enough abyssal magic to want to learn more of it for her own power and curiosity. I think this is the question” that motivates her: what is Sorg, and how can she gain personal power from this lesser demon?

As a result, she will spend some time here in the encampment (possibly with Jiao’s assistance) learning what she can about this demon, his worshipers, and whether there are others who might be interested in seeing him overthrown. Could one of those other factions or powerful individuals become a patron of sort?

Conclusion

I did in fact enjoy this session and intend to continue the story of Nammah the Butcher. Next time will likely not be a dungeon delve, nor even a location-based adventure (although I suppose that could change). Instead, I think she’ll adventure around Koraaz, trying to find out more and otherwise preparing for an eventual return to the Deelian temple.

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