in Fantasy, Retroclone, RPG, Solo Actual Play

Crypts & Things – The halls of Nizar-Thun

The Halls of Nizar-Thun

Having generated a character and his henchman, it’s time to send them on an adventure, in this case the little dungeon crawl provided in the C&T book.  As I only have one PC, I’ll be using the Solo Hero overlay from Sine Nomine Publishing, as seen in Scarlet Heroes and Black Streams.  The main differences are that Jaron now gets a Fray die of 1d4 – representing damage he does every round to enemies without a to-hit roll – damage to enemies (and Henchmen) is done to their Hit Dice, not Hit Points, and the damage dice are read as follows.

1 = 0

2-5 = 1

6-9 = 2

10+ = 4

A magic user’s fray die can be used against any target, not just ones with equal or fewer HD than them.  As damaging spells are Black Magic in C&T, using the Fray die to attack a more powerful opponent will count as using Black Magic and cause a point of corruption.

The Defy Death rule from Scarlet Heroes won’t be used, instead we will be Testing our Luck if required to do so.

I will also be using the Mythic GM emulator to provide some randomness to the action and encounters, and sometimes to determine what course of action Joran and Devran take.  I won’t be outlining every mechanical use of the GME, just key ones.

Introduction

Thousands of years ago, Nizar-Thun was a fearsome Sorcerer.  His name is still used to scare the local children into obedience.  High in the mountains is his palace, a complex of rooms and corridors carved into the living rock itself.  Here he did his great works of magic, housed his armies, and hid his treasures.

Some said he was working on a potion of immortality when a rival brought his reign of terror to an end.  Despite looting the palace they never did find the Sorcerer’s treasure.  Of Nizar-Thun little is said in the legends and his fate is uncertain.

You’ve travelled the winding rocky path up the mountainside far from civilisation and find yourself outside the entrance to the Halls of Nizar-Thun.

GM Note

The adventure site is broken into three distinct areas; the Reception Halls – heavily ruined and trapped to prevent people venturing further into the ruins, The Crystal Caves – caverns infused by an otherworldly crystal and inhabited by Others, and finally Nizar-Thun’s chambers – the wizard’s inner sanctum.  There are a few places in the ruins where you can add entrances to deeper levels.

1. The Entrance

Once a massive stone statue of Nizar-Thun towered above the entrance to his palace.  Now all that guards the shattered doors are a pair of immense feet, and an awful lot of rubble.

GME

Scene: Jaron and Devran arrive at the entrance to the Halls

Chaos: 5

Thread: Explore the tomb

Altered Scene? Yes (Fate table: Proceedings/Goal)

Behind some rocks, sheltered from the worst of the wind is the campsite of another explorer.  The ashes of the fire are still warm – they can’t be that far ahead of our ‘heroes’.

Jaron and Devran poke through the campsite, but find nothing worth adding to their own supplies

1. The Collapsed Hall

A large hallway leads deeper into the mountain, half blocked by collapsed pillars.  Stairs lead upwards to the west and down to the south.  The intrepid explorers turn to the right first, Jaron holding the lanter, whilst Devran has his bow ready and an arrow nocked.

3. The Ruined Barracks

Another room mostly blocked by rubble, this seems to have been a barracks in the past.  A partially crushed footlocker is visible under some of the rubble, whilst another is laying open in the centre of the floor, surrounded by smashed bones.

GME

Scene: Exploring the old barracks

Chaos: 5

Threads: Explore the tomb, find the other explorer

Altered Scene: Yes – the earlier explorer already uncovered the treasure here and got into a fight with the skeletons.

Skill roll – Perception; result 18

As the pair look around the room, Jaron hears a scrabbling noise and sees that some of the rocks are shifting.  He turns to Devran and says, “I don’t think we should stay here for too long, besides, it seems that someone else has already dug out any treasure.”

With no desire to face the undead, Devran nods and they back out of the room back into the Collapsed Hall.

GME

Since the characters left the room, will the skeletons still trigger?

Exceptional Yes. In about 5 minutes 2d6 (9) skeletons will pull themselves out of the Barracks rubble and go hunting.

4. The Trapped stairs

Wide stairs lead deeper into the complex.  Just as they’re about to head down, Joran says “Stop.  They may be trapped.”

Devran sneers and responds, “If they were the other guy would have set them off.”  and he heads down the stairs, promptly triggering the trap.

1d6 = 3, which is read as 1 point.  Enough to take down our henchman with his 1 HD

Joran watches Devran’s dart pocked body tumble down the rest of the stairs, and then carefully makes his way down them, avoiding the remaining trip wires.

I didn’t do a skill roll here as the module says that they just need to be detected to be avoided, not disarmed

5 & 6. Guest rooms

A wide corridor leads to the south, whilst narrower ones lead east and west.  Joran decides to go west first.  He soon comes to another cross junction; A small intact room is to the north, a partially collapsed one to the south, and ahead is a larger chamber from which he can hear disturbing eating noises.  He decides to make sure that he won’t be ambushed from behind before he advances and checks first the room to the north, discovering it to be an empty guest room full of decayed and worthless furnishings.

The room to the south is mostly filled with rubble, a skeletal hand glad in decayed finery pokes out from under the stones.  Remembering the room above, Joran decides to leave it alone rather than poke around.

The rubble contains giant centipedes and a skull that contains a gem worth 50g

7. The Countess

Joran decides to try and sneak forwards, whilst being aware that his lantern light is a bit of a dead giveaway.

Skill roll with a -4 penalty.  He fails

In the centre of this web filled room is a four poster bed, on which sits a ghoulish woman in a decaying wedding gown.  She’s eating a very fresh looking arm, but as Joran approaches stops and stares at him.

There are also 3 zombie bodyguards lurking in the room, Joran failed a skill roll to notice them

“It’s very kind of you,” she says in an ancient tongue, “but I have quite enough for now.  If you could come back in a few days?”  Joran doesn’t understand her, but does understand an undead horror when he sees one.  He carefully puts his lantern on the ground, loads his crossbow and fires.  The bolt hits the ghoul (1d6 = 4 = 1; Fray die: 1d4 =2 =1), as does a burst of dark magical energy.  She collapses with a cry of “Nizur-Thun, my love!”.

Too late, the zombie bodyguards make themselves known and shamble forwards.

Meanwhile, the skeletons from 3 have dug themselves out of the rubble and are heading down the stairs.

Round 1

Initiative is rolled each round in combat rather than being set for the duration.

The zombies shuffle forwards, whilst Joran backs away and reloads his crossbow.

Skeletons are dumb, and the first four of them will set of the remains of the dart trap on the stairs.

Monsters don’t generally get saves, rolling damage takes out three of them, leaving a total of 6 skeletons to continue hunting for intruders.

At the bottom of the stairs they clatter around a bit and then head west, the same direction that Joran chose.

Round 2

The zombies continue their slow shuffle towards Joran, who’s just realised that he’s left the lantern on the ground and is almost out of the circle of light.

Joran fires again, but misses.  Fortunately he does hear the clatter of the skeletons moving behind him.  Cursing he slings his crossbow over his back and dashes back towards the zombies whilst drawing his sword.

1 point of damage from the Fray die

Round 3

Joran picks up his lantern and continues running towards the ghoul’s bedchamber, slashing at the zombies as he goes.

Miss on the attack, 1 damage on the fray die, taking down a zombie

Two of the zombies land solid blows, whilst the third flails as Joran decapitates it.

4 damage total from the zombies, Joran’s now on 2 hp

The skeletons are almost visible now.

Round 4

The skeletons surge forwards and crowd around Joran.  3 of them manage to get enough space for a strike, but all miss.  Zombies shuffle forwards, once again left behind the fight.  Joran lashes out at the skeletons, downing two of them, then continuing back to the bedchamber.  One of the skeletons swings but misses as Joran retreats.

Round 5

Joran makes it to the bedchamber and shoves the mostly intact door shut behind him, then looks for something to barricade it with.  Fortunately there’s enough surviving furniture to form a rough and ready barricade.

Tested Luck to see if the door is barricaded in time.  Succeeded

The door groans and the barricade shifts slightly as the undead outside pile against the door.  It won’t be long before they’re through.

He looks around the room and spots the rest of the body that the ghoul was eating, the body of the ghoul herself and a whole lot of old and dry bed linen.  As the undead continue to assault the door, he drags the drapes and linens off the bed, lays them in front of the door, soaks them in oil –  using up half his supply just to make sure. Just before the door gives way, he lights the oil soaked cloth and stands well back, crossbow loaded.

There’s no rules for burning oil; I think 1d6 damage for anyone in the area is fair.  It’ll burn for 1 round per flask used, so 5 rounds in this case

Round 6

As the door shatters, Joran fires through the pall of smoke, only to see the bolt remain in the crossbow as he’d forgotten to draw the string back again.

Rolled a 1 – a fumble

The undead advance through the flames, crowding around Joran.

Zombies 1 and 2 both take 1 damage, whilst the skeletons prove that they are not even slightly fire retardant, crumbling into piles of charred bones.

Both zombies hit, but only one landed a solid blow.

Round 7

The zombies flail, whilst Joran manages to strike down one of them.

Round 8

Joran and the zombie both land their attacks; Joran decapitating the zombie as a heavy blow from it forces him to his knees.

Whilst he waits for the fire to burn out, he looks through the wreckage of the room, pocketing a ring found on the ghoul-bride’s corpse.  He also searches the body and equipment of the dead explorer, finding a large stash of coins in his pack (the coins from the barracks) and a full wine skin

Tested for luck to see if the explorer had anything useful – characters can heal a few HP a day with a swing of booze.

Once the fire has burnt out, Joran stumbles back up the corridor.  He’s exhausted, and having seen nothing but undead, feels he might need a different spell.  Whilst the empty guest room is probably safe, Joran decides that he’d prefer some fresh air before returning to the tomb, and heads upstairs to the campsite they’d discovered before entering the tomb.

With no-one to share watches with, it’s a matter of Luck as to whether he gets a quite night’s sleep, which he fortunately does.

Before returning to the Halls in the morning he memorises Divination rather than Sleep.

To be continued…