Solo Skald |||

Our group is entering an ancient ruin that used to be some sort of airship hangar. The airships are long gone, but a senior leader in the Incendiary Guild is asking for some help retrieving something out of there. What’s going to happen? Play to find out!

Airship hangar

This will be another Perilous Wilds (Revised) style exploration. Since it’s not a Grail Tomb, I need to take a moment and understand the ruin.

Preparation

As I’ve done before, I’m going to lay the foundation for the ruin (dungeon) by going through the steps on PW p. 60.

  • Name: Airship hangar
  • Size: Small (1d6 + 1 = 4 areas)
  • Themes: Advanced Technology (airships); Ruin / Decay (this isn’t listed but I do what I want)
  • Overview:
    • Form: Ruins of a large industrial building (hangar)
    • Accessibility: Multiple entrances, some blocked by natural growth (e.g. trees or rubble)
    • Function: Research and production
    • Situation: Above ground, in a forest
    • Builder: Human society (Incendiary Guild? Predecessor organization?)
    • Cause of Ruin: Natural disaster
  • Common areas:
    • Office
    • Storage

For that last one, it was randomly determined, so I will figure that out as we go.

For the areas, there are only 4 in the whole place. The rolls as the group explores will mostly determine how many Discoveries and Dangers they find. So I will just list the areas here.

  1. Office (common)
  2. Storage (common)
  3. Barracks (common)
  4. Hangar (unique)

They’re looking for a mystical artifact” that Zuleika (the aforementioned leader of the Incendiary Guild) needs from the place. It’s in the hangar, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find.

Before they head there, what sorts of creatures might they find in the ruin? Looking at Krevborna for the Silent Forest (where this hangar is located), I see a few encounters related to beasts, serpent cults (or people), and infernals. The encounter table (using entries from The Monster Overhaul (TMO)) therefore is:

  1. Adventurer
  2. Bear
  3. Leafling
  4. Monstrous Vermin
  5. Predatory Plant
  6. Devil

There could be more than one of any of those in there, depending on number appearing and so forth.

Exploration

On the way, I’ll make a quick check for events, which comes up yes”. For the random event, something Oppose / Social” happens involving Equipment / Mystical”. A rival set of adventurers is trying to get to the hangar first. How far away are they when they’re spotted? More than expected - Zuleika likely gets a bit frantic. She may even have dastardly plans for them, but I don’t know what opportunities will arrive.

When they arrive, they first location they can enter is the office. I’ll still roll on the What They Find” table in PW p. 62: 1 Danger, no Discoveries. If the danger is Creatures”, I’ll just treat it as the rival adventurers, but no, it’s some sort of trap or hazard: Piercing / Puncturing”. Is this due to the existing ruins (likely) or something set by the rivals? The rivals, in fact! So this is some sort of arrow trap and Melisanda will need to save or take damage: she fails, and she’s seriously injured. The arrow pierces her shoulder, and she’s bleeding badly. She’s able to push through the pain for now, though. If anything, she’s more likely to support whatever Zuleika decides if they catch them.

The next area is the storage room. It has 1 Danger and 1 Discovery. There’s all sorts of junk scattered here from the original occupants. The discovery is a shaft or chasm; is it natural (unlikely) or constructed? It’s natural - maybe a result of an earthquake that ruined the place, I imagine. The danger is a creature encounter, and we have our rival adventuring group. There are d6 = 5 of them. Do they notice my group (even)? Yes, so they’re not surprised. Their reaction is to retreat. Probably they want to find the damn artifact before Zuleika can!

From here, the explorers chase the rivals to the barracks area. Checking that chasm can wait! This room has signs of activity; is this from the rivals (likely) or something else? Yeah, it’s from the rivals. They’re knocking things over behind them, trying to make it more difficult for my group to make it through. But the dice indicate no dangers nor discoveries, so the group will catch up with them in the hangar.

I can’t really call this a room”. It’s a huge space, largely open to the sky as only a few girders remain of what was once a marvelous roof. This area has 1 Danger and 1d4 = 2 Discoveries. The danger is a creature encounter; that was more or less expected. This time, on seeing my group, the reaction is still retreat” but I interpret that as taking cover”.

Zuleika calls out to them. This is Incendiary Guild territory and you know it. Get out of my way.” This time, instead of a reaction roll, I’m going to ask the Oracle: do they try to negotiate (even) or attack to drive us away? They attack; a shot goes over Zuleika’s head and it’s time to go into initiative. The rivals go first.

  • HD = 4 (10, 14, 15, 10, 19 HP), AC 11, MV 9, #AT 1, damage 1d6 pistol or rapier

Everyone has cover so every combatant has a +1 bonus to AC (+2 if they stay behind cover without shooting or anything). My group will start off with the full +2, and drop to +1 on the next round depending on what they do. For each rival, I’ll roll a random target to see which of my folks get shot at.

There are five shots: a miss against Melisanda, a hit against Bertram (6 damage), another hit against Bertram (he’s down!), a hit against Melisanda (4 damage), and another hit against Bertram (but he’s down in the same round so it doesn’t matter). I’ll check on him again after the combat.

Zuleika isn’t ready to pull back yet; she’s spending a round getting something special ready. If she can get to act in round 2, she’s going to throw a large explosive and all the rivals will need to save or take d8 damage. Melisanda hits one of the rivals for just 1 damage.

In round 2, the rivals know to target only Melisanda or Zuleika. I decide that two of them run to get the artifact and only three of them take shots. The shots are a hit on Zuleika (3 damage), a miss against Melisanda, and another hit on Zuleika for 2 damage. She’s still up, but the other two have reached the artifact. It won’t take much for them to escape with it.

But Melisanda stays down and heads to Bertram: he’s gone (natural 2 on 2d6). That’s going to be quite a shock for her. Zuleika doesn’t know this yet and throws a large explosive to the group. They’ll all need to make a save or take d8 damage. Only one of them does! The other four take 7 damage each. They’re still up, of course, but most of them are in bad shape.

They have what they came for. The two with the artifact will make a check to see if they can get out: no, they’re not gone until the next round. The other three lay down covering fire, of course. They miss Zuleika twice, but then get a critical shot against her and she’s down. Melisanda is by herself (potentially permanently) and she’s not taking on five or even three of them solo. Instead, she’ll stay in cover and they’ll escape with their target.

Zuleika turns out to have survived, but she’s not really in a position to do much. She didn’t get what she came for, and in fact Bertram died for this failure. Melisanda has nothing to say and sets off to Veil on her own. She doesn’t want anything to do with the Incendiary Guild anymore.

Veil

Although it was set ablaze to purge it of evil by the Church’s templars, the forbidden town of Veil is still home to the desperate and depraved. It is a haven for outlaws, heretics, and those who do not want to be discovered by the larger world.

That pretty well describes Melisanda at this point. She’s the lone survivor of a Labyrinth Dredger team, and while the Church of Saintly Blood has lifted the bounty on her, she knows that she’ll have to deal with them from time to time in the future anyway.

As she makes her way into the barely-standing ruins of a town that was once a prosperous farming settlement, she encounters a corpulent demon who only finds joy in the disassembly of the human frame.”

Depiction of Abraxas, here seen as a demon with the head of a king and feet made of two snakes.

As noted in previous sessions, demons in Krevborna are the bodies of those [fallen] angels who tempt mortals to commit physical transgressions.” The demon here hesitates; perhaps it has some sense that the woman it sees has a connection to the devil Crocon and even the Knights of Lilith.

She is in no mood to trifle and continues past the demon, not even giving it a second glance.

This feels like the right place for a Pacing Move”: Reveal a new detail”. A detail of what? Time to check with the oracles: something Small / Social”, related to Allies / Technical”.

There are Labyrinth Dredgers here; not a full lodge, perhaps, but some sort of outpost. She recognizes the symbols on a small building and heads there.

Ending the playthrough

This feels like a good place to end the story. Melisanda rejoins her faction and her life will continue in some fashion. Cethegus and Ataulf are dead, and I’ve decided that it’s time to move to the next thing.

Before I end this post, though, a few debrief notes:

  • Originally I thought this playthrough would just consist of exploring dungeons. It certainly focused on that, but not in the way I originally expected. An emergent narrative kept it interesting for me. (I hope it was interesting for some readers, but as a solo game, ultimately I’m playing for myself.)
  • Searchers of the Unknown is a great game and I think I need to write a little hack of it for this sort of adventuring.
  • I really love bashing together different sources. Aside from the setting book, Krevborna, this playthrough primarily included:
  • In the spirit of Sean McCoy’s advice in the Mothership Warden Operations Manual, I should start the campaign with a question and conclude it when that question is answered.
  • AI is a handy tool for solo RP but it’s best used sparingly. I used it less in this campaign than in the previous few and it worked better for me: either when my brain is mush, or when I really want some help envisioning a scene. I’m continually improving my prompts to it as well.
  • Some of the tools and sources I listed above deserve some more attention and I’ll write some reviews both here and on the appropriate storefronts shortly.

(Some of the above are affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, I get a small commission.)

I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do next, so that’s coming up very soon in the next few days. It’s already itching in my brain, and it’s not going to be tremendously different from the last few things I’ve done here: take a lightweight system, add a setting and some sort of oracles, and then mix and match several other sources and tools as needed.

Up next Solo Gothic - Part 7 Bucket of Stars - Part 1
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