in Fantasy, Retroclone, RPG, Solo Actual Play

Scarlet Heroes, Part four – Urban Adventure, Part one

Having created Kasumi, it’s time to send her on an adventure or three.

This time I’ll be using the tables included in Scarlet Heroes, and running Kasumi through each of the three types of adventure.

There’s a page of General oracles, Including a Yes or No? table, tables that answer How far away a thing is, and what the weather is like.  There’s also a table of Adjectives and Motivations to help flesh out details, and random NPC tables. We’ll be referencing all of these as we play.

Urban adventures take the form of an investigation, and consist of three types of Scene – Investigative, Conflict, and Action.  You build up Clues in the Investigative and Conflict scenes, then spend the Clues to trigger an Action scene.  As you clear scenes either you or your opponents will gain a victory point.  If you get to 10 points before your opponents you immediately trigger an Action scene.  Upon conclusion of the scene you compare your opponents and your Victory point totals to determine how clean a victory you got.

Playing through an Urban adventure will almost certainly build up Heat in the community the adventure is taking place in – eventually your character will be forced to deal with the Heat or move on to another community.

Each adventure has a Threat level, which is usually equal to the character’s level, but can be randomised by rolling 1d4-1d4 and adding the result to the base Threat (to a minimum of 1).  For this adventure we’re going to leave the adventure at Threat 1.

Next we generate the Plot – this gives us the general gist of the adventure, provides set up instructions for any NPCs or other details, and gives guidance on what sort of scenes are likely.

Adventure setup


A target faces a calamity due to an untouchable antagonist

Draw the target and pick the crime.  If the Antagonist isn’t obvious, it requires an Investigation scene to identify them, and the rest of the adventure to deal with them.

Extra setup

These results have been generated using the tables at the start of the solo play section

Is the target our Lawyer friend?

No, but… they’re connected somehow

Who is the target?

A weary Physician – Yanmai Xiong, who works in the slums; she charges affordable rates for her services, which has obviously brought her to the attention of someone who’d prefer the poor to be sick and miserable.

How is our Lawyer friend connected to the target?

An old favour

What’s the crime?


Is it the physician themselves who’s been kidnapped?


Scene One

Kasumi is following her daily routine when she receives a message to go to the home of Yanmei; it’s been signed by her friend Akiko Endo, a lawyer who surreptitiously works against the government of the Shogunate.

Yanmei’s home and workshop is on the edge of the slums, and even a basic glance shows that it’s in disarray.

Scene type: Investigative

Bribe an actor to give you a clue.  Roll a die; on an odd, immediately face a conflict scene with them or on their behalf and win it to succeed.  On an even, pay a reasonable bribe or fail the challenge.

Roll: Odd – a conflict scene

Do a friendly actor a favour that will advance them into a position to help you.  Roll a die; on an odd result, face a fight as the foe tries to stop you. (Roll is odd)

Friendly actor (rolled on the Underworld table): A street-worn prostitute.  Desire – to go home; he wants to return to his village but owes money and doesn’t want to do the journey alone.

The kidnappers have been careful not to leave any obvious clues in the house, so Kasumi reassures Akiko that she’s got the matter in hand and sets about trying to find someone who firstly saw something, and secondly is prepared to admit it.  The local people, understandably, haven’t seen or heard anything, until a young man with a haunted look in his eyes approaches Kasumi.

“I might have seen what happened.  Swear to help me leave the city when you’re done and I’ll tell you.”

Kasumi could try and intimidate the man into helping her anyway, but she’s not that sort of person; instead she’ll try to convince him that she will uphold her end of the bargain.  This will be a Charisma check, her Warrior monk trait will help for a total of +1 bonus, and the difficulty is 9.  The check is successful.

Kasumi asks him where his village is and is in the process of agreeing to act as a bodyguard on the trip home when the man goes pale and a shadow looms over the pair of them.  Whirling around, Kasumi sees a large brutal looking man backed up by a couple of ruffians.  Their tattoos announce them as representatives of the Red Spiders, the local crime syndicate, and they’re clearly not here to talk.

Kasumi brings her spear up and prepares for a fight…


HD 3, AC 6, To Hit +3, Damage 1d10, Morale 10


HD 1, AC 8, To Hit +1, Damage 1d6, Morale 8

Kasumi will be going first, followed by the Brute, then his backup

Striking fast, Kasumi wounds the leader of the group (1 HD) and knocks out one of the thugs with the butt of her spear as she pulls it free.

The Brute swings his hammer; Kasumi catches it on her shield, but the force of the blow still leaves her shaken (2 HP).  The remaining thug slashes ineffectively at thin air.

Kasumi quickly dispatches the second thug, then strikes the Brute again (1 HD).

The Brute is unfazed by the downing of his men and swings again, though this time Kasumi is able to dodge clear.

Another exchange of blows doesn’t go as smoothly; Kasumi deals a glancing blow at best, whilst the Brute swings his hammer hard enough to stagger her again (2 damage).

Reeling and knowing that she can’t take many more of those, Kasumi launches a desperate attack, impaling the Brute, who then slumps lifeless to the floor.

Impressed by the display and convinced that Kasumi intends to honour her word to help him get home, Jiro is more than happy to let her know what he saw – that they bundled someone out of the house in the direction of the old canal, and where she may be able to find someone in the local gang who was there on the night.

Are the kidnappers the local gang?

Yes, but… a fact the hero knows is actually wrong

There are only three facts I know that are related to this at the moment; Yanmei was kidnapped, Yanmei uses their skills to help the poor, and the kidnappers are the local gang.  We’ll find out which one of these is incorrect when it seems appropriate to do so.

Scene round up

Clues: 1

Victory points, Kasumi: 1

Victory points, Anatagonist: 0

Scene two

We’re going to use our Clue and roll an Action scene next – if Kasumi is successful, she’ll get two victory points.  Rolling on the Action Scene table gets us

Despoil or ruin a sanctum or safehouse belonging to the foe.  Roll a die; on an odd result face a fight as well as the check.

Kasumi heads down to the old canal; it runs sluggishly and is fouled with the filth thrown into it from the surrounding houses.  Still people use it for both bathing and drinking.  A stone towpath runs alongside the canal and under some bridges.  Kasumi’s heard that the Red Spiders have a number of store and safe houses under the city streets; perhaps this is a route into them?  The easy boat access would make smuggling a doddle, after all.

Indeed, under one of the larger bridges she finds a crude loading dock, and a door set into the arch.  Locked.

It’s going to require either picking the door (Dexterity) or kicking it down (Strength).  If Kasumi had an axe or other weapon along those lines she could also hack it down, but she doesn’t.

Difficulty is 9, bonus is +1 regardless of which route is picked (Str -1 +2 for burst of Str, or plain Dex +1).  A roll of 12 is a success whichever way we look at it.

Kasumi takes a solid stance, then strikes the lock as hard as she can with the butt of her spear.  To both her and the thugs playing cards in the room beyond, the lock is shattered and the door swings open.  Thugs and Kasumi look at each other for a moment, and then the fight is on.

Round 1

Kasumi casts Hand of Merciful Succour regaining 5 HP, bringing her back to full.  Ducking away from the doorway, she spears the first thug through the door, leaving her with three – two mere street rabble, and a third who looks like he’s been through more than a few brawls.

One of the rabble scores a hit with their knife (1hp), but the narrow walk way hinders the attempts of the others to score a hit.

Round 2

In a flurry of blows, Kasumi takes down both the Veteran and another of the Rabble.  The remaining one decides to run for it, bolting back towards the room under the bridge.

Round 3

Kasumi speeds after him, tripping him with her spear.  He falls hard, and she follows up by planting a foot on his chest and the tip of the spear against his throat.

Does he know anything about the kidnapping?

No, but… An error in an assumption an NPC is making.  A check on the Adjectives and Motivations table gives us Sorcery.


Before Kasumi can ask the thug any questions he starts babbling in fear.  From what she can make out the Red Spiders are involved with a Sorcerer, and may have failed to uphold their side of whatever deal they struck – the thug thinks she’s working for the unknown Sorcerer.

Is the gang doing Sorcery themselves?

No, but… there’s a twist in the relationship between the people in the situation

The people involved so far are

  1. Akiko, our lawyer friend
  2. Yanmei, the missing physician
  3. The Red Spider Gang
  4. Jiro, a prostitute and informant

Randomly rolling gets me Yanmei and the Gang.  This ties in nicely to the earlier statement that one of the facts we know is actually wrong.  A possibility is that Yanmei arranged their own kidnapping, under the belief that no-one would investigate?  Or perhaps they were kidnapped on the order of the Unknown Sorcerer, and now the gang isn’t handing her over?  Could Yanmei be the Sorcerer?

Kasumi knocks the thug out and proceeds to investigate the store room/safe house some more

Scene round up

Clues: 0

Victory points, Kasumi: 3

Victory points, Anatagonist: 0

To be continued…