Lately I dug back into Scarlet Heroes (SH) by Kevin Crawford. Before I write a longer piece about how well it holds up, I thought I’d document a couple of adventures I’ve run with it.
While I continue to play in a Latter / Dying Earth setting, that doesn’t mean that I want to play directly in the areas that Crawford delineates in Worlds Without Number (WWN) and his follow-on Atlas of the Latter Earth.
Instead, I used some WWN tags and created the city of Iramubar, a market city in the high desert that is also the seat of the Followers of Nuvrehn (popularly called the “Nuvrehnites”), a wealth-focused religion with significant influence over important locals. The Nuvrehnites endorse gambling as a way to determine the will of Nuvrehn and therefore their temples are also gambling halls. The city is also home to a large number of merchants and traders that pass through here or trade with even more inhospitable areas further into the desert or mountains.
Iramubar has some other story threads going on, such as some sort of disguised monster that has made a secret deal with the leadership of the city to allow it to feed on the city’s population as well as a nascent schism within the Nuvrehnites, but for this adventure we’ll be heading into the wilderness. I did run an urban adventure here but I’m not including it in this post, other than to mention that the treasure found during it will provide the starting capital for this expedition.
Much like when using Searchers of the Unknown (SotU), I used Who the Fuck is my D&D Character? to generate the character concept. I ended up with Amina, a “sweet half-elf rogue who grew up in a brothel and lives in a graveyard”. Originally I statted her up using SotU but moved quickly to SH instead. Her stat block then is:
STR 10 (+0) DEX 16 (+2) CON 9 (+0) INT 14 (+1) WIS 15 (+1) CHA 12 (+0)
She’s got 1420 GP at this point, plus a few weapons and leather armor.
Rather than just have a street rat wander out into the wilderness to explore for its own sake, I gave her a quest:
A mysterious “ghost” appeared to Amina in the graveyard she calls home, telling her of an ancient relic hidden in the wilderness a few days’ travel to the north of Iramubar. This relic could grant immense power to those who possess it, and so the ghost tells Amina to find the relic before it falls into the wrong hands such as those who currently hold power in the city.
It’s basic, yes, but it also gives just enough of a hook to justify this expedition.
I drew up a small hex map with Hex Kit and the SH procedures, then wrote a pair of 2d6 encounter tables (one for flat terrain, one for hilly terrain) using entries from The Monster Overhaul (TMO). The city itself is built in some scrub hills, surrounded by more scrub land, plains, desert, and even a small forest not too far away.
Amina went on a bit of a spending spree, buying a wagon and a pair of oxen to draw it plus rations and related equipment to last them for a ten day trip. She also hired a guide named Brahim and two porters (Takoti and Arnusto) to help with the wagon and oxen themselves. None of these hirelings are expected to go into any “dungeons” or other obviously dangerous areas, but they can guard the campsite at night or when Amina herself delves into those sites.
Move into new hex northeast, plains. No encounter, event, nor feature. Increase both thresholds to 2. Reduce rations by 4, down to 36.
This close to the city, they don’t expect much to happen. They see other travellers somewhat distantly but not nearly close enough to ride up and talk to them.
Move into new hex northwest, plains. No encounter, event occurs, no feature. Event die indicates Weather (assuming dry season right now): Out of water; forage or suffer thirst. Brahim will forage for water with a bonus of +2, rolling 2d8 vs 11 for an Average test: 14, success! Event threshold resets to 1; feature threshold increases to 3. Reduce rations by 4, down to 32.
The fact that they ran out of water on the second day indicates some sort of problem. I’m going to ask the oracle about this: was the water lost due to malfeasance (unlikely)? No. Was it lost due to an equipment problem (unknown)? Yes, but… a twist to the relationship between people in the situation. I don’t know what the relationship is or was between the members of the expedition, but there are six relationships between four people so I roll a die to see which relationship is affected: Takoti and Arnusto. The “Oracular Adjectives and Motivations” table seems potentially useful here: “Forgiveness”. Perhaps one of them made an honest mistake; it was Takoti, but she was surprisingly honest about it despite her deceitful nature, leading Arnusto (and the rest of the expedition) to forgive her.
Move into new hex east, plains. No encounter nor event; feature indicated. The feature is a plantation built by cultural purists of some sort, currently well-maintained. Event threshold increases to 2; feature threshold resets to 1. Reduce rations by 4, down to 28.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
What are the inhabitants of this plantation on about? Checking in with the oracle, I get “Habit”. I then asked ChatGPT to describe them with that in mind:
In the vast wilderness near Iramubar lies a secluded plantation, operated by a group of cultural purists known as the Aylari. The Aylari have dedicated their lives to the preservation and cultivation of an ancient and rare plant species, the Isha’li Bloom. The Isha’li Bloom, once a symbol of unity and prosperity in the pre-technological age, is known for its delicate, luminescent petals that emit a soft, ethereal glow. The Aylari believe that by consuming a special tea brewed from the petals of the Isha’li Bloom, they can connect with the wisdom and purity of the past, cleansing themselves of the chaotic influences of the modern world. They live a simple, monastic lifestyle, shunning the use of any remnants of technology and focusing on their sacred horticultural practices. Clad in modest, handwoven robes, the Aylari are a tranquil and enigmatic presence amidst the harsh wilderness, embodying a unique tradition that sets them apart from the rest of the world.
That’s quite nice! The expedition isn’t staying here, but the Aylari are friendly and welcoming. Do they know anything about the relic that Amina seeks (unknown)? Yes, but… An error in an assumption some NPC is making. Is the NPC in the expedition or part of the plantation? The expedition. What assumptions are they making? That the relic is nearby.
The Aylari indicate that the relic is “within a week’s ride”, not within a day or so as the porters assumed. Do they have a sense of its direction (very likely)? No, but… A fact the hero thinks they know is actually wrong. Amina doesn’t think she really knows very much: it’s a powerful relic that’s hidden two days north of the city. Perhaps the fact is about the nature of the relic itself. She thinks of it as a small item, something easily carried by one person, but it’s somewhat larger than that. Her hirelings may end up needing additional incentive to help carry it out of whatever location she finds it in!
Move into new hex northwest, scrub hills. Encounter occurs; no event; feature found. Encounter with adventurer(s); feature is a dungeon in the form of a “pillaged village”. Event threshold increases to 3; feature threshold resets to 1. Reduce rations by 4, down to 24.
As I used TMO for building my encounter tables, I’ll refer to it for fleshing out this encounter.
1 Adventurer (4 HD). She is a dwarf diplomat named Aliphen Forlorn with a lavender headscarf and a deadly accurate shortbow. TMO says she’s here to rob Amina of most of her wealth, but since there’s one of her and four members of the expedition, she’s clearly not going to waylay them in combat. Instead she will attempt to con Amina, something she’s skilled at as a diplomat. She requests to join the expedition out of fear in the wilderness. Of course, Amina doesn’t know what I know, so I’ll roll a check for her rolling 2d8 plus Wisdom (+1) and Streetwise Rogue (3): 7, failure. She doesn’t pick up on Aliphen’s malicious intent so agrees to allow her to join them for now. The dwarf will keep an eye out for an opportunity to rob Amina without being noticed, whether out in the wilderness (e.g. at night) or when they get closer to some settlement.
But this pillaged village is itself a “dungeon” (in game terms). Does it contain the relic (unlikely)? No. So when Amina explores it, she’ll just be looking for some indication of where the thing is or more information about it. This will be a fairly small place with 2 locations; I won’t need to engage the full dungeon adventure mechanics.
Most of the place has been burned down and destroyed, but there are a couple of small buildings that seem relatively intact. The first is a small hut with a single room. Amina finds nothing of interest here, just bits of furniture, some small broken tools, and animal droppings.
In the second building, though, there’s a hazard: some sort of dangerous object that can cause harm. ChatGPT created a list of possibilities:
Treating this as a table, I roll and get 1, Unstable Power Core.
A cracked and leaking remnant of ancient technology, this power core hums with barely-contained energy. Touching it or even being too close to it could result in severe burns or a violent explosion.
In Scarlet Heroes, saving throws are similar to checks but also gets to add their character level versus 9 “plus the hit dice or character level of the creature causing the throw.” Dungeons have a threat level, which normally (and definitely in this case), is equal to the character level (sort of cancelling out the extra term, I guess). I decide that the most relevant trait here is “Elven Senses”, so she needs to roll a 6 or higher to avoid the hazard. She rolls exactly a six, so she’s fine.
This seems related to the relic she seeks, though I’ve already determined it is not, in fact, the actual item. Since ChatGPT created both the quest and the specific hazard, I ask it what information she gets from it:
As Amina cautiously approaches the Unstable Power Core, she manages to interact with it safely, triggering a holographic projection that flickers to life. The projection displays a detailed map of the surrounding wilderness, with a bright, pulsating marker indicating the hidden location of the ancient relic the Ghostly Visitor sent her to find.
In addition to the map, the projection also reveals a series of fragmented, cryptic messages that provide some context about the relic’s significance. The messages mention the relic being a key component of a once-powerful machine that could manipulate the very fabric of reality. It is also suggested that the relic has the ability to harness and channel the lost energy of the dying earth, making it an object of immense power and potential danger.
Finally, the projection displays a series of arcane symbols, which Amina recognizes as a sort of protective ward. The Ghostly Visitor had hinted at the relic being guarded, and now it becomes clear that the relic is not only hidden but also protected by powerful, ancient magic.
That’s a lot of good information that will help Amina in her quest!
While she’s in here, did Aliphen decide this was the best opportunity to rob the expedition (unlikely)? No, but… an adjustment to the physical environment. One of the buildings near Amina collapses, which startles her enough that she comes out running. She’s fine, but this interrupts Aliphen’s’ plans and she’ll have to wait for another opportunity.
The new location is four days’ travel from here, and then five days back to the city. But they only have five full days of rations for this now-larger expedition. They’ll either need to detour to resupply, or spend some time hunting and gathering. For now, Amina will have them move on toward the relic.
Move into new hex northwest, desert. Encounter and event occur; no feature. Reset event threshold to 1; feature threshold increases to 2. Encounter with merchant; event is Weather: “escape disaster narrowly; no effect”. Reduce rations by 5, down to 19.
As before, I’ll use TMO to flesh out this encounter. The merchant, named Jatindranath, is accompanied by several alpacas carrying a load of enchanting perfume from Iramubar to another trade destination. He seems quite agreeable and intensely curious, but Amina isn’t particularly willing to disclose the particulars of her mission to him. They exchange information about local hazards and part ways. A sandstorm approaches in the distance, but they all get moving out of its way before the worst of it hits.
Move into new hex west, scrub hills. No encounter, event, or feature. Event threshold increases to 2; feature threshold increases to 3. Reduce rations by 5, down to 14.
These hills are quiet, which is generally what the expedition wants. Anything that delays them just increases the chance that somebody else will find the relic first, plus the delays will be extended by even more need for food and water.
Move into new hex west, desert. Encounter occurs; no event nor feature. Encounter is with pilgrims, a procession of six individuals. Event threshold increases to 3; feature threshold increases to 4. Reduce rations by 5, down to 9.
One of the pilgrims is a traitor, though I’d assume the others don’t know that. Their procession is too small for miracles or relics. Are they possibly headed to the same location as Amina’s expedition (likely)? Yes. Are they seeking the same relic (unknown)? No, but… sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event.
Before I decided that Amina would take this “Ghostly Visitor” quest, I had a list of several possible missions or events that could start off this adventure. These seem like good fodder here, so I roll on the remaining items and get “The Missing Friend: One of Amina’s closest friends, a fellow rogue, goes missing after venturing into the wilderness for reasons unknown.”
Amina recognizes one of the pilgrims as her friend, Maralus! Is Maralus the traitor (unknown)? No. I roll again on the “Oracular Adjectives and Motivations” table and get “treachery”, but since she isn’t the traitor, she must have been tricked or manipulated into joining by the actual traitor. After spending a bit of time along the procession, does Amina recognize the situation? This calls for a check, not an oracle, and I’ll set the difficulty as Average (target number 11). She’s got a Wisdom modifier of 1 and three ranks in Streetwise Rogue, so she needs a 7 or better on 2d8: 16, complete success!
Time to flesh out who the traitor is and what they want. They’re acquainted with dark magic, or at least its practitioners; they appear to be altruistic and inclined to help those in need of aid; their motivation is to ruin a hated rival or long-term enemy; and their most notable appearance trait is a haze of perfume or work-smells. I decide she’s female and give her a name, “Micelea”.
Micelea doesn’t necessarily know about the relic itself, but she seeks its location and hopes to use it against whomever is her enemy. The other pilgrims are all dupes to provide her with an expedition and escort without her having to pay. Amina sees right through her, however. While she doesn’t like the fact that her friend Maralus has been used, the balance of her outlook from here depends on the identity of Micelea’s enemy.
So: is the enemy associated with the Nuvrehnites, who have it out for Amina (likely)? Yes, but… a twist to the relationship between people in the situation.
Again I draw up a little relationship map and number each connection. The nodes are Amina, Maralus, Micelea, and the Nuvrehnites. I’ll add another self-connection for the Nuvrehnites, since they’re a faction. (I could add the other expedition members and pilgrims, but once you get past four nodes, it gets a bit unwieldy.) This means 7 connections; I’ll roll a d8, and on an 8, that will mean it’s not one of these relationships after all. Of course, it comes out to an 8, so the twist is someplace else. This is in the context of discovering Micelea’s enemy, who isn’t one of the people or factions here, and I’ll leave it open for now.
But that also means Amina doesn’t want to go along with this and confronts the traitor, noting that she is not in fact an actual believer and the stories she tells about how she got this pilgrimage together make no sense. Amina demands that Micelea come clean and admit things; I’ll roll her reaction as an “Unfriendly NPC” in SH and get a 10, “Qualified Consent”. Micelea admits that all is not as it seems, but that if everyone else knew what she knows, they’d be just as eager to help her.
The thing is, though, she didn’t tell everyone else what she knows. I don’t know how the others will react; the question for their reaction to Micelea is whether they will agree to continue their “pilgrimage” to help her, and I’ll use the “NPC Stranger” reaction table: “Qualified Consent” again. They’ve come this far and gotten to know her, so they’ll trust her for now.
This is a lot of intrigue for a simple relic-hunting expedition into the wilderness!
Move into new hex west, desert. No encounter; event occurs; no feature. Event is Weather: “Vermin eat 1d6 days food”, so 4 days of food. Reduce rations by 4+5=9, food is out. Event threshold resets to 1; feature threshold increases to 5.
They don’t see a location, and they’re out of food. Amina and Brahim will each go hunting, and the rest of their expedition will stay back. Does Aliphen take the opportunity to try to rob Amina (likely)? No, but… sublimely bad or good timing by a sudden event. I don’t want to spend too much narrative focus on this, so I’ll say that the reason she didn’t carry out the theft was that Maralus showed up at an inopportune moment and it was too risky to try it.
Amina’s hunt will be challenging since they’re in the desert, and only her Wisdom and Elven Senses can help her, so she will need a total of 8 or better on 2d8: 12, she’s good and finds 4 days of rations. Brahim’s hunt is similar difficulty, and he’s also got a total of +1 to his roll: 9, and he finds another 4 days of food. They’ve got enough for the next day, at least.
However, unlike Amina, he also finds an encounter: a firebird! From TMO, p. 209: “an elegant hawk made of dripping flame, golden light, and whirling sparks.” It wants to help, and it “will only attack if harmed”. Brahim has no intention of tangling with the thing. It follows him back to the camp, however.
It has child-level intelligence, but a much calmer demeanor. Amina and Micelea team up to communicate with the thing. Does it know where the relic is located (unknown)? Yes, definitely! It shows them the location: a prehistoric cave dwelling. This place is decently sized (2d12 = 9 locations). Amina will look for her prize tomorrow.
They’re not moving into a new hex. Brahim and the porters will continue to guard the camp; Micelea and the other pilgrims may poke around the entrance, but they are not adventurers the way that Amina or even Aliphen are. Aliphen’s not going inside, of course; she has other plans if Maralus or the others don’t interfere. Since they’re not continuing to explore, they don’t need to check for a feature. No event occurs, increasing the event threshold to 2.
At this point, I’ll engage the Dungeon Adventure procedure in Scarlet Heroes. I already have the type and size, but I’d like to see who inhabits the place: bandits. The danger is roughly as anticipated, and so the Threat is equal to Amina’s level (1).
Enter new room, a twisted tunnel. Encounter and treasure but no hazard or feature. The encounter is “1d4+T hit dice worth of foes numbering several Minions or Civilians and possibly an Elite”. The oracle says the bandits do have civilians; with only 1d4+1=2 HD of foes here, I decide there’s one non-combatant worker (probably a prisoner) and an Elite.
This is a somewhat better-equipped bandit with
HD T=1, AC 5, Atk +1, Dmg 1d10, MV 30, ML 10. In the past, dungeon encounters with SH have felt pretty flat, so I decide to roll and get some more details. He’s blindingly fast; even heroes must roll initiative. He fights individually, neglecting to coordinate with others, so he’s not going to call for backup. As he’s just a regular human, though, I’m not going to roll for any monstrous special abilities.
They tie for initiative, but she has the higher Dexterity modifier so Amina acts first. Immediately she fires her crossbow at him while he rushes at her with blade drawn, hitting him for 1 point of damage, but in SH, that’s a full HD, so she drops him before he can even get close. The prisoner screams and cowers, but Amina pays him no mind. There’s treasure to be sought here! The treasure is “standard treasure trove for whatever encounter is present”, which I think is just a Scruffy Bandit’s Purse: 6GP, that’s it. But is the relic here? Nope, she’ll need to keep moving after reloading.
The next interesting area is to the southeast, but she’ll run across an encounter in the tunnels along the way. The encounter is again “1d4+T hit dice worth of foes numbering several Minions or Civilians and possibly an Elite”. I decide this time there’s no civilian here, just 1 Minion and 1 Elite bandit. I’ll roll some details for them again: they “will seek to flee if injured by an enemy” and will charge in an all-out attack for the first round.
As they draw their weapons and mutter dark curses, she lets fly a crossbow bolt at the Elite, but missing. She draws her light spear and begins the melee. Her fray die rolls a 3; during the fighting, she takes out the minion bandit. The more experienced fighter slashes a wicked-looking blade at her, but his skill is not at the same level as his weapon and she dodges easily.
Amina spins her spear for a moment, then leaps forward and stabs at him, biting only into his armor. But after a moment more, she finds an opening (as her fray die allows her to do 2 damage to him) and he is pinned to the wall, dead. She retrieves her spear, reloads her crossbow, and enters the next area of the dungeon.
This new area is a wide gallery in the cavern. It has a hidden treasure and a hazard. The hazard is a decrepit structure, some makeshift residence the bandits or some of their predecessors left behind. Amina must save or take 1d6 damage, and she succeeds handily. The relic isn’t here, so she’ll need to succeed on a check just to find the hidden treasure. Her “Elven Senses” notice something glinting in the rubble of the collapsed structure that nearly landed on her. This is a Minor Hidden Treasure: 60GP and 3 Cheap Jewelry.
From here, she finds a passage south, fortunately not encountering any wandering bandits this time. She reaches a tunnel intersection with nothing of real interest here. She studies the intersection carefully, though, and finds tracks leading southeast again, so that’s the direction she heads.
In this new area, she finds a circular chamber with not much else here. The tracks continue west, however. She starts to wonder if maybe the bandits have found the relic themselves. Just the thought of it terrifies her a little.
This new area is another circular chamber, mostly empty. There are some inscriptions on the wall, but she has no idea how to read them. They look old, though, much older than the bandits. If they have anything to do with the relic, the usefulness of them is lost on Amina.
The next interesting passage leads her northwest to another tunnel intersection. In the center of it, she sees the sought-after relic! She also finds treasure and a feature. The feature is a dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site whose motivation is to scout the site for an outside power. Rolling on a subtable for the outside terrain, I determine that the dangerous intruder is actually a Jinnī! This is a highly powerful creature, with a full 7 HD. It appears as a “faintly transparent human with brightly colored skin.” This one is hideous, with curled horns and sea green skin. He introduces himself as Zahen Dur and he is here investigating mortal behavior.
Amina has no interest in tangling with such a powerful being. She has heard the stories of the Jinnī, and while she knows they can grant great boons, she also knows they can reach “extremes of kindness or depravity”. Fortunately, Zahen Dur has no interest in her, either, and dismisses her. Given that it is here to investigate (trivial) mortal behavior, perhaps it will allow her to investigate the items that mortals have left here. I decide she needs to make a check, but based on Wisdom rather than Charisma because of his nature. I also decide that she has some experience in dealing with immortal creatures from beyond this world and allow her to use her “Graveyard Resident” trait in the roll. This gives her a total +2 bonus to her roll. Normally, I would consider this Hard or even Extreme, but because the Jinnī is here for what she believes to be unrelated reasons, I’ll set it to Average, meaning she needs a 9 or better on the roll: she rolls an 11, so she succeeds.
The Jinnī will not object to her recovering the treasure and investigating the relic. Amina focuses first on the object of her quest. As previously noted, it is from an ancient civilization and is protected by powerful wards. Because she could not read the earlier inscriptions, she doesn’t have any assistance in understanding the controls. Perhaps she can convince Zahen Dur to assist? I’ll continue to roll his reaction as an NPC Stranger: Flat refusal. He has no interest whatsoever in her nor in what she is doing. She’ll have to figure this out on her own.
So without any other knowledge, this will be a Hard check, with a target of 13. Amina has an Intelligence modifier of +1 and Streetwise Rogue trait for +3, meaning she must roll a 9 or better on 2d8: 2, an utter failure. The wards activate and power up; she must save or take d10 damage. Her reflexes warn her just in time and she leaps back as an arc of unknown arcane energy strikes the place where she had been standing. Perhaps she will need to learn more before returning, but in the meantime she has learned where the relic is and that there are possibly-helpful inscriptions here in this cavern.
She makes the appropriate gestures and genuflections as she leaves the Jinnī’s presence, although he does not seem to react, engrossed in studying some minute object he’s found here. The regular treasure here is what was left by a Petty Bandit Chieftain: 200 GP, 3 Costly Jewelry, 6 Cheap Gems, 2 Costly Gems, 2 Costly Clothing, and 1 Lesser Magic Item (some kind of potion).
Amina seeks to make her way back to the entrance. She thinks it might be north-ish? She makes her way east back to the tunnel intersection, but encounters “1d6 + T hit dice worth of Minions and Elites, with a 50% chance of T hit dice worth of guard beasts or allies.” After rolling, I determine that there is 1 Minion and 1 Elite but no other enemies. Laden by treasure, she may not have a chance to talk them out of it with some excuse. This bandit always sends in his underlings or minions before engaging, however, so she’ll get off a crossbow shot and drop the poor kid. In the ensuing fray, she has little difficulty dispatching the more-skilled foe as well.
Back in the wide gallery, she sees the ruined decrepit structure and picks her way past it carefully, encountering no resistance from bandits or anything else that might inhabit these caves.
She reaches the entrance and makes her way through the twisty tunnels, all alike, and finally sees blinding sunlight as she exits. The expedition is still there, albeit wary.
Brahim had gone foraging, although it was a bit of a challenge as the two of them had already been over this area the day before. Still, he managed to bring back 2 days’ worth of food for one person, helping their stocks a bit.
Did Aliphen decide to carry out her robbery while Amina was inside (very likely)? Yes. And did anyone else, such as Maralus or the porters, catch her (unlikely)? Yes! Are they still arguing or disputing when Amina emerges, blinking, into the sun (unknown)? No. So did she make off with any of the treasure (unknown)? Yes, but… a twist to the relationship between people in the situation. I interpret this as meaning that she shared some of the ill-gotten gains with the person who saw her. Was it one of the porters (likely)? No, but a fact the hero thinks they know is actually wrong.
The obvious explanation is that she thought Maralus was her friend, but she was not. Together with the dwarf diplomat, they made off with over 1200 gold pieces. Heartbreaking, but Amina has been betrayed before (see her background as a gutter urchin) and has recovered plenty of treasure today.
The previous day ended with 8 days of supplies; subtracting 5 (as certainly the thieves would not have left hungry) and adding the 2 Brahim found, they end with 5 days of supplies. They will need to forage as they go, but they have fewer mouths to feed as well.
With Maralus having left, Amina and Micelea make peace quickly. The pilgrimage will continue doing whatever they had in mind, and the explorers will part ways on friendly terms.
I also think that exploring the dungeon itself completes enough of an “adventuring session” to give Amina her second point of XP, allowing her to advance to level 2. (Her first point came in the urban adventure I ran privately.) As a thief, she’ll gain 2 HP, 1/2 a point to her attack bonus (so, effectively nothing yet). She also gets a bonus trait point, which I’ll apply to the Elven Senses that she used several times during the adventure. (Hey, I just that thieves in SH get a special ambush ability!)
She’ll get her next experience point when she returns safely to the city from this wilderness adventure.
Move into new hex southeast, desert. No encounter; event occurs; feature found. Thresholds for both reset to 1. The event once again is Weather: “Escape disaster narrowly; no effect.” They see dust devils on the horizon and redirect their path slightly to avoid them. The feature is another cave. This might be a decent place to camp while they forage for food the next day. The cave itself isn’t large enough to require full dungeon exploration, and it only contains filthy animal leavings. Reduce rations by 4, down to 1.
Remain in this hex. Brahim will hunt, though the desert still presents a challenge, and Amina will do so as well. He gets a +2 to his roll against a difficulty of 10: he rolls a 10, so he succeeds in finding 3 days’ worth of food. Amina gets a total of +3 to her check, but the difficulty is increased to 11, meaning that (just like Brahim) she needs an 8 or better: 7, so she finds nothing. Increase rations by 3, to 4, then reduce by 4, to 0.
However, Brahim must roll for an encounter and we still need to check for an event: no encounter occurs, but the event does. This time it’s a Terrain event, not weather: they’ve gotten lost (possibly due to those dust devils the day before) and the next 1d4 = 4 moves are random. They do get moving, though, hopefully to find fresh hunting grounds. Reset the event threshold to 1; feature threshold remains at 1.
The simple answer for “getting lost, move at random” is simply to roll d6 and move in that direction, similar to how the terrain mapping works. I could also roll a d8; on a 7, they end up in the same hex, and on an 8, they move in the direction they intended to go. I decide to do the latter: instead, they end up moving southwest into more desert.
I’m inserting a break here before this gets ridiculously long! Not sure I really did a great job of making it feel “Latter Earth-y” but anyway it was a fun session. The hex mechanics work particularly well, I think, and spending a little bit of time putting some meat on the bones of the encounters, events, and features really went a long way.
Next time, we’ll see if they can find some food and get their bearings, or if they all starve to death in the desert.