Amina’s out lost in the desert with not enough food for herself, much less for the folks she hired for the expedition. Let’s see if she can deal with this.
Normally I do everything in B&W here but there’s too much information encoded in the coloring for now. May fix later.
Move into new hex southwest, desert. No encounter or event, but there is a feature: hopefully it involves food in some way? They find a settlement, but it’s a “dungeon” rather than a simple place to rest and buy supplies. They’ll need to explore it to find out what’s inside. The feature threshold resets to 1, but the event threshold increases to 2.
This turns out to be a crumbling moderately-sized villa, now inhabited by more bandits. It’s split into two parts of 13 locations. I interpret this as 13 locations in total, but about half of it is not well-connected to the other side. Amina is going to head inside at sundown and try to find some food (more important than treasure at this moment) while Brahim, Takoti, and Arnusto will hide outside and guard the wagon.
Amina slips inside, trying her best to remain unseen. Her entry point comes through the stable. There’s not much here besides horses, and while they can be eaten in a pinch, that’s not really what she’s hoping for. The horses don’t pay her much mind in any case.
She moves southwest in the villa and sees a guard post. Fortunately, there’s nobody here. If she listens hard enough, she can hear revelry somewhere in the distance, with some of the ruffians getting started with drinking and uproarious laughter about whatever shenanigans and comradery they’re up to. Best to stay away from them; she wouldn’t expect charity but rather blades.
She moves southwest again, finding a courtyard. To her west is that big dividing wall separating the villa into two parts. She’s still in the empty parts of the villa, though; no encounters, treasure, hazards, or significant features.
To the southeast she finds some kind of shrine. There’s hidden treasure here, plus a feature. The feature is an unusual piece of movable furnishing that actually provides a good hiding place; some minion or beast lairs in here, a baboon in fact. It’s a solitary creature, or seems so at any rate, and it reacts in alarm. There are glints among the bedding. She tries to shush it; that’s going to be a check, but she doesn’t have any real skills so it’s just 2d8 + Wisdom for a Hard check (target 13). That’s a success, surprisingly, and she’s able to get the Shiny-loving Beast Nest treasure: 20 GP and 4 Cheap Jewelry but nothing else.
Still, this isn’t the food she needs for her group.
An ancient, decrepit salon lies to the east of that shrine. No longer abandoned, though, as there’s an encounter and treasure here, along with a hazard. I need to put this all together before Amina can deal with it.
The encounter is 1d6 + T = 2 hit dice worth of Minions and Elites. No guard beasts or allies are indicated. The treasure is whatever the bandits have on them, so a Scruffy Bandit’s Purse. The hazard is a dangerous object. I kind of wonder what’s going on with these two bandits; are they on guard, playing cards, something more intimate? I’ll roll on the “Actor Relationships” table: siblings. A couple of brothers spending some time together. ((Note this was a mistake; there should have been three of them, because the Threat level is 2 now.))
This isn’t what Amina’s looking for, and she’s not looking to assault them for whatever measly coins they have. She’ll pull back and head elsewhere.
She comes back to the shrine and leaves the baboon alone as it doesn’t really present any use to her. She continues to move quietly, going west down into a cellar. For a moment, she thinks she’ll find the larder here, but no such luck. There’s someone else here, though: a prisoner! She checks to make sure there are no guards, indicating that the prisoner should keep quiet. The locked door shouldn’t present too much trouble for her, and in fact she makes quick work of it.
The prisoner is a veteran soldier named Cirana. She’s having a breathing fit (asthmatic) and speaks cautiously. She actually came here to rescue another prisoner but was herself caught. Does she know where the larder is (unknown)? Yes, it’s a few rooms away. What about the other prisoner? He’s here in the cellar too. The three of them can get out but will need to move quickly and quietly.
The larder is just north of that shrine where the baboon resides. However, there’s an encounter here: 2d4 + T = 10 HD worth of Minions and Elites. Even for a level 2 hero, that’s quite a challenge. Amina thinks quickly and tries to lure the baboon out; since she successfully calmed it before, I decide to lower the difficulty from Hard to Average, representing whatever small amount of trust and rapport they’d built. Can she get it to run into the room with the bandits, thus causing a distraction? Just barely. The baboon runs in, hooting and hollering, drawing off 1d6 = 1 of the bandits. That’s still 8 in there. She tells the prisoners to hide in the shrine as she’s going to try to take out the bandits herself.
Last time, while levelling up, I found that the Thief class has an ambush ability: “A thief attacking an unsuspecting or unwary target gains a +4 bonus to his attack roll and inflicts triple damage with his weapon and Fray die.” She’ll fire a crossbow bolt from the shadows, then immediately leap in with her spear. Hopefully that takes out enough of them that she’ll be able to handle the rest. The blood-crazed bandits (who never check morale against a wounded foe) never see it coming. I decide that, of the remaining 9, there are 3 scouts (2 HD Elites) and 6 ruffians (1 HD Minions). Taking careful aim at one of the scouts, she fires a bolt but misses! Leaping into the ambush, though, her fray die is 5, so at 3x that’s 15, meaning 4 points of damage. She fells 1 scout and 2 ruffians, leaving 2 and 4!
That’s the surprise round over, though. Now she’ll have to fight normally. Amina goes for one of the scouts with her spear, dealing 1 damage to him. Her fray die does another point of damage, dropping that scout. She’s down to 1 scout and 4 ruffians. As she isn’t injured, their blood-thirstiness doesn’t come into play and they will check morale: the ruffians fail miserably and run. The scout spits at her and faces off, slashing her for 1 damage (taking her to 5 HP). She shrugs it off and strikes back, dealing 1 damage to him (though only with the fray die). Bleeding profusely, he still refuses to yield, dealing another point of damage to her (now at 4 HP). Her spear finds him, but even though she’s unable to finish him off with her main attack, her follow-up strike (fray die) does it and she is victorious.
The bandits have all fled or died; she’d better get this food out quickly before they return in greater numbers! She and the prisoners pull out the food (16 days worth of provisions) and flee in a different direction, east, towards what she hopes is the exit.
This is actually a study of some sort. There’s no encounter here, but there is treasure and a hazard. The hazard is a dangerous object, perhaps an ancient polearm. Amina has to save or take 2d6 damage; that’s 2d8 + Dexterity (2) + Streetwise Rogue (3) + CL (2) versus 9 + Threat (2) = 11. She just needs a 4 or better on 2d8, which she makes easily and the blade falls harmlessly in front of them all. The treasure is “One tenth of the C-type trove appropriate to the place”. This would be C3 Minor Ruin’s Wealth, so she gets 10% of that. As a result, she’ll get 60 GP, 1 Cheap Jewelry, 1 Costly Jewelry, and 1 Lesser Magic Item. ((This reminds me I found a magic potion earlier and never dealt with it. Need to do that when she’s back with the wagon.)) This time, it’s a scroll of some sort. She takes it and they head out through a window, soon finding themselves outside the villa.
Brahim and the others are surprised to see Amina return with a couple of other people, but she quickly explains that they’d best get moving as the alarm will surely be raised soon if it hasn’t already. They have enough food for now and can go hide somewhere nearby.
That’s a total of 6 people, meaning the 16 days of rations are reduced to 10. Amina also gets 1 XP, but she’ll need two more in order to reach 3rd level.
Time to move to a new hex, but they’re still lost for three more random moves. Their desired route would be east or southeast; by chance, they do move east into a forest. This is a much better place to forage. No chance to look for a feature, as that’s not really their goal here anyway. They need food quickly. No encounter or event occurs, and the event threshold increases to 3.
Brahim heads out to hunt, and he returns with four days’ worth of food! That’s a total of 14 days’ worth of food, but there are six of them, so that reduces them down to 8 total.
I want to take a moment and look in on these rescued prisoners. Cirana and Tenara are business partners, and things haven’t gone well for them. They aren’t looking to go to Iramubar, actually; the place they want to go is several weeks away. Amina isn’t looking to head that far away, but she does want to get them to safety. She offers to take them as far as Iramubar, where hopefully they can find passage on a caravan to their destination. The two discuss it, then agree hesitantly as Amina saved their lives and clearly isn’t trying to take advantage of them. They’ll go with her as far as Iramubar, then they’ll go their separate ways.
What about those magic items, by the way? I keep forgetting to determine what they are. The potion’s effect is Celestial Step: “The drinker gains the ability to walk or run upon empty air as easily as on the solid ground.” That’s definitely interesting for a thief. The scroll turns out to be a fifth-level magic-user spell, far beyond anything Amina wants to risk. She’ll find a buyer for it (she hopes) and sell it for considerable coin. Just finding a buyer might provide a minor adventure all on its own, I think.
They still have two more random moves to make, but I roll a 7 and they end up going in circles, lost in this forest hex. By the time they realize it, they’ve wasted a day. They’ll have to spend the night here, and they’ll need to forage for food. Brahim brings back 3 days of food, taking them up to 11, but then they eat and they’re down to 5. Literally, they do not have sufficient food for the next day.
However, in doing so, Brahim encounters a mercenary scouting party of 9 “slouching, ill-tempered warriors in patchwork gear” (The Monster Overhaul p. 24). Per their banner, they are the Company of the Cap, and Brahim (given his background) recognizes them as serving under the command of the Master of Spirals with a reputation for being highly superstitious.
Looking at the Wilderness Adventures procedure, I see a reference to a table I didn’t know Scarlet Heroes (SH) had: “Encounter Twists”, on page 79! This is really helpful, I think; more so than the reaction table later in the book that is geared towards responses to a request. So their current purpose, given their location in the wilderness, is fleeing a greater and more brutal foe. Of course, they’re disinclined to fight unless that seems necessary (which it shouldn’t, here). Are they fleeing a lost battle (likely)? Yes. Brahim notes this and will later remind Amina that they should take care and try not to move southwest.
Are they able to give him directions or at least sufficient orientation so that his group is no longer lost? (This is where the Reactions table actually does help!) They’re persuadable, and after a bit of jawing, Brahim succeeds on his check. They’re not lost anymore!
Back at the main camp, though, the dice indicate an encounter and an event. The encounter there (without Brahim present) is more mercenaries, and the event is Weather (this is a bit frustrating): “Meet an Encounter of a hungry beast.” I’ll resolve the encounter with the mercenaries first, then the beast.
First I want to check if these mercenaries are part of the Company of the Cap or something else? Yes, but… a twist to the relationship between people in the situation. This is the company that Cirana and Tenara originally served with. Do they want to go with them back to wherever they’re headed? Again, hesitant agreement, which makes sense since the mercenaries just lost some sort of battle. But that solves that problem nicely.
As for the hungry beast: short yips and a flash of grey fur indicate a lone wolf, scouting the area for potential threats. Its current attitude is violent, willing to fight if it seems at all profitable, but here in the daylight, with so many humans around, it will wait.
During the night, though, it will attack. I roll randomly to see who’s on watch when it does: Amina herself. It’s a good thing she has those Elven Senses, as she sees it coming. Its hungry jaws gnash as the old grey wolf leaps at her, and she hits it for 2 damage. But it isn’t dead yet, and it bites at her, missing her throat narrowly. She then uses her spear but can’t quite damage it. Brahim and the others hear the snarls and barks (and probably Amina’s shouts). Seeing this, the wolf breaks and runs, as this isn’t nearly as weak of a prey as it had thought.
Back on track, they move east to put distance between themselves and whatever battle happened. They’re in scrub hills and not exploring, so no features but still check for encounters and events: none. The event threshold increases to 2 after resetting the previous day.
Brahim continues to hunt but can’t come up with anything this time. They have 5 rations, but subtract 4 leaving them with only enough food for one person the next day.
They continue to move east into some plains, where they expect to find more food. No encounter or event, so the event threshold increases to 3. Brahim goes out to hunt and returns with just enough food to feed the rest of the group. They have no food for the next day, but they can either head to the Aylari Plantation again or try to push for Iramubar and hunt in the plains.
Given the other hardships they’ve faced, Amina decides to go visit the Aylari Plantation again. It will cost her a bit more, but the folks she’s hired don’t actually charge very much and in any case have run into far more than they bargained for. They should have been home by now.
The expedition moves east to the plains where they previously met the Aylari, a sort of ascetic commune dedicated to the Isha’li Bloom. No other encounter or event happens, increasing the event threshold to 4.
Amina offers to buy several days’ worth of food from the Aylari, and after a bit of friendly negotiation, she buys a total of 12 rations (three days for four people). That’s actually a bit more than she needs, but she’s learned that over-provisioning is worth it. That costs just about 4 gold.
They move southwest toward the city. Again, they’re not exploring, so no feature will be attempted. They don’t encounter anyone, but an event is indicated and so I reset that threshold to 1. The event is Terrain, and they’re in the plains, so they have “a friendly Encounter in a hunting camp”. The hunters are checking a trapline they have in the area, and they’re happy to exchange news about the state of the city for information about the battle that happened to the west.
Finally, the expedition returns to Iramubar! Amina didn’t actually bring back the relic, although she does know where it is now and has a bit more of an idea of what is needed for it. She pays Brahim an extra 50% over the 3 SP per day he charges for the extra days they spent out in the wilderness. That would be 9 days or 27 SP, so she pays him a full 4 GP. Similarly, Takoti and Arnusto would be paid 2 SP per day, meaning 18 SP each, so they get 3 GP each.
Amina has some loot to unload: a total of 8 Cheap Jewelry, 4 Costly Jewelry, 6 Cheap Gems, 2 Costly Gems, and 2 Costly Clothing. She won’t necessarily get full value if she sells the items on short notice, but if she’s patient she can find the right buyer. She decides to sell the Cheap Jewelry (mostly amulets and anklets) for half their base value, bringing in a total of 170 GP. She’ll also sell the Cheap Gems (largely sardonyx and clear quartz) for 85 more GP. That’s a total of 255 GP, plus the 322 GP she had on hand, for a total of 577 GP. She could live for a good while in a fine inn room (1 GP/day), and that will give her plenty of time to move the rest of the goods.
I’ll let a month of game time pass before her next full adventure, so that’s 30 GP for her lodgings and another 10 GP for food and miscellaneous expenses. That leaves her with 537 GP but also gives her time to get full value for the rest of her loot.
Her 4 Costly Jewelry (2 belly chains, a necklace, and an armlet) fetch a full 1200 GP total! And the 2 Costly Gems (spinel and amethyst) bring in another 250 GP. The Costly Clothing (a skirt and a sari) end up only being worth a total of 20 GP, which only a few months ago in her life would have seemed like a fortune.
That’s a total of 1470 GP, plus the 537 GP she had on hand, for a total of 2007 GP. That will easily cover the cost of her next adventure, except that she needs to find someone who can tell her about how to retrieve the relic… and perhaps that someone might be interested in this magic scroll she can’t read.
Amina gets another XP for the wilderness adventure; since I decided not to run an urban adventure for her loot shenanigans, that leaves her 1 short of the next level. She’ll get that next time.
The dungeon mechanics feel a little bit clunky to me, although I’ll say more about that in my upcoming Scarlet Heroes retrospective. But the wilderness mechanics are pretty good; in fact, they fix all or most of the problems I’ve had with hex crawl mechanics in the past. That was the main goal of this experiment, to see how well they work for me. I think I need to noodle a bit on how to make sure things feel more like the far-future science fantasy that appeals to me, though.