Solo Skald |||

Continuing to experiment in Cinderheim means I’m going to give Mythic GME a spin here for some questing by Nammah the Butcher, a first-level mage.

Adventure Lists

To set this up, I need a few lists. First, the Characters List includes not just NPCs but also other active adventure elements” (p. 61). That will start off as:

  1. Sorg, a minor demon lord
  2. Jiao, a heretic cultist of Sorg
  3. Vnaud the Withered, leader of Sorg’s cult
  4. The Cryptorum, a vast underground dungeon

The other core list is the Threads List, which includes the quests, tasks, and missions you choose to pursue”. The list will kick off with one thread only:

  1. Acquire Sorg’s hoard

The last time I used Mythic lists, I recommended the Thread Progress Track. For now, I’m not using it here because this specifically is not an investigation game, so I don’t need to decide when she’s solved the mystery. Instead, I’ll know she completes that thread when she has the stuff (or it becomes irrelevant for some other reason).

Finally, I will set the Chaos Factor to 5 as the default.

Scene 1

Although I have played two sessions in this campaign, I haven’t previously used Mythic GME in it. Those sessions are thus pre-existing context.

While I have a few ideas, I want to start with the Meaning Tables and see what that gets me. I roll a d100 twice to get Praise” Project”, which I decide to flip around as Project[ing] Praise”. Jiao is going through the streets, hailing Nammah the Butcher as a hero for cutting down so many cultists and also for seeking to confront the foul impostor atop the Deelian Temple.

Does this attract attention from someone powerful (Likely)? Yes. I’ll roll on the Characters Meaning Table and get Threatening” Frightening”, which is a fairly potent combination. Looking at the Cinderheim setting for Koraaz, which is ruled by an elven warlord named Andastros Qualenethi, there’s a warlock named Nordak Rumna who serves the warlord by using his powers to uncover potential threats to Qualenethi’s life” (p. 8). Rumna sends a demonic emissary to Nammah, threatening her (as demons do) to come before his master. She hurries through the streets to the Sundered Temple where this powerful warlock resides.

That ends this brief scene. The Chaos Factor decreases to 4, and I’ll add both Nordak Rumna and the Sundered Temple to the Characters List.

Scene 2

I expect this scene to focus on Nordak quizzing Nammah and likely giving her some sort of assignment, but this will be an altered scene. That means that Nordak will not be the traditional sort of dwarven warlock” I’d otherwise envision, but a contrast to that stereotype.

The Sundered Temple is an ancient building of white stone,” with columns carved into statues depicting revered warriors” that have previously fought and died for Qualenethi or in one of the many wars in the elven homeland. As she enters, there is uproarious laughter echoing down the halls from some of the guards and she can hear the sounds of screaming from further down.

I’ll roll a couple of Descriptors from Mythic for the warlock’s lair: Joyfully” Modern”, which in this context means that his quarters and study are luxuriously appointed, not at all the sort of thing one might expect from a powerful witch in league with abyssal powers. He apologizes for what must have been a rude summoning by his impish servant, Gussel. (This is the alteration of the scene.)

He politely asks Nammah to recount her experiences at the Deelian Temple, and she does so. She’s not as afraid as others might expect, because she sees this as her opportunity. Does Nordak view this as good news (50/50)? Exceptional Yes. Is Sorg a rival or other enemy of Raaz, the demon lord of their encampment (Very Likely)? Yes (and nearly exceptionally so).

Nordak thus encourages her to turn the remaining cultists and acolytes to the service of Raaz, the Praetor of Slaughter. Will he give her some sort of material support for this quest (Likely)? Exceptional No - this is a test of her abilities and resources. She will be well-rewarded for success, but Nordak isn’t giving her so much as a waterskin to get started. His happy-go-lucky exterior is ultimately a façade.

Will he at least give her some idea of how to get started (Likely)? No, this is part of the test. There is an entire encampment here full of elven refugees from Raben Vol Shai and others who have been exiled under the demonic sun into Cinderhim.

As she leaves his chambers, she is racking her brain about where to head from here. The Chaos Factor increases back to 5, and I’ll add a new thread: Convert Sorg’s cult to serve Raaz.

Scene 3

Not knowing exactly where she should go, I look back at the Notable Features of the encampment Koraaz. There’s a public marketplace, the Golden Agora, frequented by pickpockets and mercenaries. She’ll ask around to see if she can find anyone who has dealt with Sorg or the cults that worship him.

As she enters the marketplace, is she accosted by pickpockets (50/50)? No.

Who does she find that might be helpful in her quest? Based on the population description in Cinderheim for Koraaz, I’ll write up a quick little d10 random table:

  • 1-5: Elf
  • 6-7: Human
  • 8-9: Dwarf
  • 10: Minotaur or Goliath (d2 to determine)

There’s a male boldly calm” dwarf. Is he a merchant (likely)? Exceptional Yes - he’s a prominent merchant and a leader of a consortium of traders. He has lots of information and rumors, in fact, and he’s disposed to share with her. Let’s get a name for this merchant, Rakim”. He has information in the form of a cryptic message regarding messy business”. I think this means an assassin (very likely), yes. Did the assassin previously do some work for one of Sorg’s cults (likely)? Yes. Rakim knows where to find him, although of course meeting someone in that line of work is best when it’s arranged. Rakim will send word to Tomas, the assassin, to meet with Nammah, and the usual meeting place is a sculptor’s studio.

The Chaos Factor decreases to 4, and I’ll add Rakim and Tomas to the Characters List.

Scene 4

Nammah makes her way through the dusty city, doing her best to stay in the shade as the demon sun bakes the encampment. She plans to meet with a shadowy assassin she’s been told is named Tomas” who has connections to Sorg’s cults, in the hopes of finding a way to suborn them to the service of Raaz and perhaps gain Sorg’s hoard for herself in the process. However, this will be a slightly altered scene; the indicated adjustment is remove an object” - the studio is devoid of the statues that normally are created for the Sundered Temple here.

Tomas - clearly not his real name - is a powerfully-built elf with an arrogant air about him. His initial reaction on a 2d6 roll is cautious aggression”, so in the context of the fact that he’s been told she’s coming, he’s starting off on an unfriendly note with her.

She’s not going to get very far with this him if she just asks what he did for the cult, so instead she’ll just ask him what he can tell her about Sorg and his followers. Given his attitude, I can establish some expectations about his willingness to talk, so: is he going to tell her which of the cult leaders he worked for (unlikely)? No. Will he tell her why he worked for them specifically (50/50)? Exceptional No - he’s unhappy about this whole discussion. Did she come here to investigate him or to hire him? Neither, she says; she’s investigating Vnaud the Withered, and she wants to find a way to get to him.

That’s where it’s time to re-roll his reaction: hesitation”. That’s not what he expected out of this interaction, and he’s not sure it would help his reputation if he were just giving up information about past clients. So he’s going to need something from her; is it a task / quest (likely), or money? He wants coin. That’s what motivates his cold heart.

Nammah doesn’t have a lot of money, but she has a bit that she collected from Sorg’s temple. I’ll have her offer 2d6 = 10 gold; is that enough (50/50)? Exceptional No. He laughs in her face and pushes her hand away. I’m no street thug,” he says, insulting the pittance that he sees as an insult to his reputation.

This isn’t going anywhere, but he’s the best lead she’s got for now. She’ll need to go find money, and adventurers like her have one good way to get it: going into scary dangerous places and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down.

Despite my earlier plan, I think she does need to go on a bit of a delve to acquire enough coin that Tomas will take her seriously. The Chaos Factor increases to 5, and I’ll add a new thread, Acquire enough coin to hire Tomas”.

Scene 5

She’s headed to an ancient ruined fort outside the encampment where bandits are known to lair. On the way, I roll a couple of d20s on the Cinderheim wilderness encounter tables and get Dune bandits, desperate and poised for ambush.” Are these the same bandits as the ones she’s headed to rob (very likely)? Yes.

I’d already planned that these are specifically mutant bandits, so I’m combining the Mercenaries from The Monster Overhaul page 24 with the Mutants on page 191 of the same.

For each of them, I’ll roll on the Cosmetic Mutations table, and each of them will have a 2-in-6 chance of a Major Mutation (mechanical effect). They’re acting under telepathically-infused orders” from an unknown master; maybe she’ll learn more about that as she goes through the fort where they’re holed up.

At the moment, this encounter is a lance of 3 bandits. One has a red, inflatable throat sac; another has had their face rotated somewhat, with their eyes below their mouth; still another has a dribbling infant head. In fact, on closer inspection, the one with the rotated face actually has roaming features as their face scrambles periodically (-1d6 Charisma).

The relevant stat block is HD 1, AC 7, MV 9", #Att 1, damage 1d6, Morale 6. Since they’re waiting in ambush, I’m applying a -2 situational modifier to their reaction roll, cautious aggression”. As per the Scarlet Heroes rules, she gets the initial action and immediately rolls throws a magic missile at them, hitting one and dropping it immediately. She avoids any magical backlash, and with her staff (fray die) she takes down another. One mutant bandit remains; it screams a horrifying croak (passes its morale check) and rushes her with a bone sword, striking her for 1d6 = 1 => 0 HP of damage. In return, she bashes its knee with her staff and crushes its throat sac on the sand. The three of them had a total of 11gp between them, which she deposits into a small coin sack on her belt before continuing on to the fort.

The Chaos Factor increases to 6, as the fact of an ambush in general was outside her control.

Scene 6

For this purpose, I’m using Dyson Logos’s map The Goblin Warrens at Fort Redshield. The mutant bandits dwell in the above-ground levels, while I’ve put a troglodyte colony in the underground level.

Dyson’s map with my notes Cartography by Dyson Logos with my notes added on

I roll a dungeoneering check to see if she can approach without being noticed, and she succeeds. That will prevent the bandits from rushing everyone to the main entrance.

The way I have this specced out, in the main rooms there is a 50% chance of 1d3 mutant bandits. Fights that go past the first round have a 50% chance of attracting 1d3 more from a nearby room. Each of these rooms has a 30% chance of a Scruffy Bandit’s Purse (H2 treasure from SH p. 82). The upper back room has a bandit chief, which I’ll deal with when we get there; same dal with the underground level where the troglodytes are.

Turn 1

She enters the first room and finds 3 mutant bandits. None of them have major mutations, although they all have other weirdness like neck nostrils, tufts of bristly fur, and another throat sac.

Rather than use heavy magic, she leaps in with her staff, just missing, and can’t get to any of them. They all attack her, and one succeeds in hitting her, but as earlier is unable to deal damage.

In the second round, she still can’t hit anyone (mages aren’t really known for their melee) and the bandits score 1 HP of damage on her before a few more show up. Only three can get to her at a time due to the close quarters, though.

At this point, she really needs to thin them down so she raises her hands to the sky and calls down another magic missile, which takes out one of the bandits (no magical backlash) before dashing in another one’s head. 4 remain, of which three attack her, none connecting.

The fight continues; she tries with her staff again, and while it misses, incidental arcane energy takes down the other initial bandit (fray die). The others flee before her onslaught, likely to lay in wait further in. Digging around in their filth, she finds a bit of treasure, 6gp but nothing else.

From here there’s a set of rickety wooden stairs leading up, where those bandits fled, or a door leading out into the main courtyard. She gives chase up the stairs.

Turn 2

Now in room 8, she sees the mutant bandits and flings arcane energy at one, destroying it, and swings her staff in a wide arc that takes down another one. The other one flees out a small passage to an open area between this ruined tower and another one. This room only has 2 GP in it.

Turn 3

Nammah picks her way out into room 7, where that mutant bandit has fled and is now prepared for her with two more bandits. Given the context, they’re pretty hostile but I’m going to roll their reaction with another situational modifier: they hesitate a bit. They’ve just seen their friends get swept aside by this mage who walked in here without a care. She glances around the area and doesn’t see any obvious treasure; there’s a dropoff into the courtyard on her right with a ledge around to a smaller area, and a few steps that lead up into another tower. She considers what to do here, but these bandits aren’t some local natives or beasts who can just be left alone to their existence. They’re a threat, so she moves to take them out.

The first thing she does is throw a magic missile again (and she avoids the magical backlash), then sends one flying off the edge with her staff (fray die). The remaining one charges her and does 1 HP of damage to her, but she retaliates and takes them down.

This went past the first round, so reinforcements arrive from the room in front of her. A single mutant bandit comes flying out of there; this one has plated skin (-2 AC) and another of those throat sacs. She swings her staff for her major attack, and misses (and the fray die does no damage). The bandit attacks her but she deftly side steps and cracks their head.

She can’t get to the other tower from here because of the rubble, so she would either need to do some dangerous climbing or just enter the other room in front of her and find a different way up. Given her strengths, she’ll investigate room 6 in front of her.

Turn 4

In room 6, the bandits already had cleared out (the last one that provided the reinforcements above). There’s a bit of treasure here, just 2 GP. So far she’s suffered 2 HP of damage, but that’s a big chunk of her overall defenses so she’ll rest a full turn here.

Turn 5

This is her rest turn and I’ll roll for a 1-in-6 chance that the mutant bandits creep up here: no, she’s able to get back to a full 6 HP.

Turn 6

She picks her day down to room 5, where she finds 3 more mutant bandits. Given the earlier activity, it makes sense when they end up fully retreating, perhaps to find some backup. She can’t find any treasure, but she knows that there are plenty more dangers ahead, and she hasn’t found their leader who will undoubtedly pose a larger threat (and likely have most of their loot).

Turn 7

Nammah exits into the courtyard, where there are a full 6 bandits lying in wait. They are a bit hesitant, and there’s a huge sinkhole behind them down to the lower (underground) level of the dungeon. The thing is that, for her to get either the main bandit leader’s treasure or to find whatever might be beneath, she needs to go through all of them, so she’ll need to fight from the doorway to keep them from overwhelming her.

Her initial assault begins with her usual ranged magic which obliterates one of them, and the ancillary magic swirling around her (fray die) helps her taken down another. Three of them hit her - she takes a full 4 HP of damage (leaving her with 2 HP) and this is getting dangerous!

But this is the last fight before getting to the main challenge and she doesn’t want to give up so easily, so she continues to throw magic at them, taking one down. Only one of the remaining three is able to get to her, doing 1 HP of damage.

At this point, she needs to retreat, because a single hit would leave her at their mercy. Thinking about the probabilities, she’s likely to take two of them down in the next round but the remaining one will have about a 50% chance of taking her down, and if she’s unlucky there would be two of them attacking her. The odds aren’t in her favor now, so she pulls back. Do they follow her (unlikely)? No, she can get to a safe spot.

The Chaos Factor increases to 7. She only managed to find 10 GP in the fort, but she also defeated 13 mutant bandits at 1HD = 100 XP each, so she gets 1300 XP. She’s now at 1300/1000 XP for level 2.

Interlude: Leveling Up

Now that she’s no longer at the basic 1st level, I need to roll for her HP. The way I do this is to continue to assume she’s at max for the first level, then 1d6 = 6 (the dice finally blessed me) for the second. That said, SotU Refired says that Hit points are rolled each new day” so this only applies for now.

Her saving throw also improves to +5 (or 15 on a d20). She also gets another spell, so I start by looking at Spellcasters of the Unknown for some possibilities. It lists the following at first and second levels, respectively:

  1. Charm Person, Detect Magic, Light, Magic Missile, Sleep, Shield
  2. Detect Invisibility, Invisibility, Web

Given her focus right now, I think Shield makes the most sense. That’s just a first-level spell, but she doesn’t wear armor and is relying on her heroic stats (the SH rules), so the ability to increase her protection to AC4 for a couple of turns (AC2 versus missiles) makes a big difference.

I want her to get some more thematic spells for the setting but that feels like something that could be tied to a quest or mentor.

Scene 7

She hasn’t gathered enough gold to work with Tomas; she can either head back to the bandit lair (where they will certainly be prepared for her) or find another way to get the coin she needs. From an OOC point of view, I want to use the rest of the dungeon I prepared, so she’ll head back but once more she will need to face another wilderness encounter.

Under the demon sun, she spies a maniacal dracolich, its flesh eaten by the cruel sun” (as a Zombie Dragon”, TMO p. 81). This is so far beyond her ability to handle! (It has 25 HD.) But I’m going to roll to see what happens; first, can she avoid it (dungeoneering check)? No, but she also attempts to flee as she fails her save vs fear. What’s its reaction? As a Grandiose creature, I use a specific table for its reaction and get Banter / Analysis”.

This dracolich has pale, waxy skin with a few stretched scales. It wants chaos and destruction and to protect its hoard - where is its hoard? Who can say? It must have been stolen by the thieving bandits… Is she one of them? Why is she attempting to flee its prsence?

She’ll try to convince it that she knows where the bandits are, if it will allow her humble servitude. This seems pretty close to the feats of lore” described in SotU Refired (“addressing nobles in court”, among other things) and she succeeds admirably. The dracolich who once answered to the name Thornscale, Who Devours” accompanies her.

Along the way, she’ll continue to flatter the dragon, as she’s heard that’s how to deal with these creatures. This one is somewhat confused in its undeath, however. It once ruled an empire, but now it has been exiled to this horrible land. What have these foolish bandits done, antagonizing such a majestic creature, the pinnacle of all existence?

It stumbles along, but eventually Nammah and Thornscale reach the lair.

The Chaos Factor decreases to 6; while she didn’t look for an encounter with such a high-level creature, she’s managed its finicky nature (even moreso than a regular, living dragon) so far. Thornscale also goes on the Characters List.

Scene 8

The two of them reach the bandit lair, where I expect the bandits to flee in terror as they approach, and indeed that happens. Thornscale takes off after them, wiping them out with its vaporous breath weapon, a relic of whatever foul magical energies animate it. Even the bandit leader is no match for the dracolich!

The bandit leader’s treasure clearly is just a pitiful gathering of trinkets next to Thornscale’s rightful hoard. Does it react in anger at this (50/50)? Yes, the dragon’s rage bursts forth. Does it attack Nammah in its fury (unlikely)? No, it knows that she is its servant, worthless as she may be, and thus Thornscale would no more attack her than it would melt down its gold.

The Petty Bandit Chieftain treasure (per SH) has 600 gp, 5 costly jewelry, 6 cheap gems, 2 costly gems, 4 costly clothing, and one lesser magic item. In its munificence, it concedes to her the clothing (which it regards as human folly) but decides to relocate itself here until it can find its lost hoard. (Honestly, I don’t think that hoard even exists, or at least not in Cinderheim, but that’s not something I need to determine right now.)

The costly clothing items are each worth d10 x10 gp, and so she ends up with treasure worth 20, 100, 80, and 40 gp, or 240 gp total. That might be enough to hire Tomas… but perhaps she won’t need him after all. She’s made a much more powerful ally, after all.

The Chaos Factor decreases to 5 and I add a new thread: Convince Thornscale to eliminate Sorg”.

Wrap-up

Nammah gained another 240 XP from that treasure, bringing her to 1540/3000 XP for level 3. She didn’t defeat” Thornscale in any meaningful sense and it cleared out the bandits on its own, so she doesn’t get any XP for either of those.

More importantly than the XP, she has an incredibly powerful ally, perhaps on the scale of a demon lord. This fundamentally changes how things will look going forward, but I still want to pursue the Sorg thread.

At the end of the session, then, her Threads List looks like this:

  1. Acquire Sorg’s hoard
  2. Convert Sorg’s cult to serve Raaz
  3. Acquire enough coin to hire Tomas
  4. Convince Thornscale to eliminate Sorg

And her Characters List:

  1. Sorg, a minor demon lord
  2. Jiao, a heretic cultist of Sorg
  3. Vnaud the Withered, leader of Sorg’s cult
  4. The Cryptorum, a vast underground dungeon
  5. Nordak Rumna, Raazite warlock in service to Andastros Qualenethi
  6. The Sundered Temple
  7. Rakim, a prominent merchant
  8. Tomas, an elven assassin
  9. Thornscale, a dracolich

If she can get Thornscale to eliminate Sorg and perhaps allow her some of the hoard, or just to lead the cultists, then that should tie up this mini campaign nicely. From there, if I continue to play in Cinderheim, she’ll become an NPC (probably as a villain, if I’m being honest).

Up next Cinderheim - Session 2 Cinderheim - Session 4
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