We’re playing through the Shadow of the Demon Lord versions of the Freeport trilogy. SotDL is a D&D adjacent RPG, with a character advancement scheme that owes something to Warhammer FRP in that you pick careers – called Paths, for your character. However, unlike in WHFRP, the Paths are picked at set level points (1,3, and 7) and each path chosen gives the character abilities throughout their 10 level career.
Our character is Jevan Algredi, an Adept (new Novice path from Forbidden Rules) with knowledge of the Storm and Divination traditions. His known spells are Epiphany, Freezing Fog, and St Astrid’s Fire. Some decent rolls on the background tables see him start with both soft leather armour, and a short sword.
As I’m only running a solo character rather than a party, I’ve adapted the Solo Hero rules from Sine Nomine to the SotDL rule system as follows.
Dice are rolled as per Scarlet Heroes. To find out how many Hits an enemy can take, round their HP, then add the 10s digit to the 10s digit of their Difficulty. E.g An Orc with HP 18 and Difficulty 10 can take 3 Hits, whereas a Zombie with HP 20 and Difficulty 5 can take 2.
The dice rolled are 1d3, 1d6, 2d6 and so on. When rolling multiple D6, only read the highest one. Damage dealt from Defying death is applied to Sanity or Corruption rather than Health.
All characters get 1d6 Fray die, usable against any enemy where the 10s digit of their difficulty is less than the character’s level. Characters with Magic, or attacking from Range can instead use a d3 which applies to any enemy.
Characters may heal up to their Healing value after each fight.
Death in Freeport, Part 1
Jevan stepped off the gang plank of The Blue Nomad, the ship that had brought him to Freeport. The docks around him were busy, the locals paying little attention to yet another new comer to the city. He had the name and approximate directions to a couple of inns; hoping that they were still in his exceedingly limited budget he set off through the crowds.
Chaos factor – 4
Intended scene – Jevan gets accosted by a pressgang; Roll was higher than CF, Scene will occur as normal
Before he’d gotten too far, he suddenly found himself surrounded by a gang of rough looking men armed with belaying pins. The leader, a toothless man with tattooed knuckles stepped forward and said, “You’ve just volunteered for an exciting life at sea. You want to go the easy way, or the hard?”
Jevan looked around; too many people around to summon Freezing fog, and the press-gangers had chosen their approach well; there was no easy escape route.
“Actually, I thought I’d try being a landlubber for a while, so I’m going to have to refuse your offer.” replied Jevan, drawing his sword.
Defence 10; Hits 1; Belaying pin +0, 1d3
No one needs to move to attack, and there isn’t a clear line of escape at the moment; Jevan is badly outnumbered. The only advantage he has is that they won’t hang around if the fight goes against them.
Jevan takes a fast round, triggering the Epiphany spell as he attacks the leader of the press-gang. It doesn’t help, and he misses as he lunges forward with his short sword. One of the others makes an equally hasty lunge and is rewarded by a stab to the stomach. (Fray die)
There’s only enough room for three of them to effectively attack him; the others will have a bane. Ironically, it’s two of those who actually manage to hurt him; 2 damage)
A second casting of Epiphany is no more helpful than the first; at least not directly. The magic must be helping somehow though, as he manages to take down another two (fray die again).
The remaining men are going to make one last try to take him down and retreat if unsuccessful; though one manages to hit him, they don’t bring him down. At the command of their boss, the survivors carefully back away.
Taking some moments to catch his breath Jevan quickly searches the bodies of the three he killed.
Do they have anything interesting? Yes
Worn on a thong around his neck like some sort of amulet or pendent, the leader had a miniature abacus from a distant land. Jevan packs it into his bags; who knows when it might come in useful.
Around him the crowds start to return to their usual business; a deadly fight apparently not being worth much more attention than the price of fish or the weather.
One of the crowd however, doesn’t disperse. A young man in the robes of a priest strides forward and says, “That’ll teach them to pick on newcomers! But where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Brother Egil, and I’ve been looking for people who can take care of themselves in a scrap. If you’ll allow me to buy you a round of drinks, I’d like to talk to you about a job. What do you say?”
Free drinks sound good, and Jevan follows Egil to a tavern called the Bilge Rat. It’s a hole, but the beer is surprisingly good. As they drink, Egil explains the job offer.
“Two days ago, a librarian from my temple disappeared. For reasons that are somewhat complicated, the high priest has declined to look into the matter. The missing man, Lucius, is a dear friend of mine, and I’m worried that evil may have befallen him. I’m willing to offer you 10 silver shillings, five now and five on completion of the mission, if you can find Lucius and return him to the temple. I will provide you with any information I can, and healing should you require it. Interested?”
“Does your temple have extensive archives?”
“The money is appreciated, but I’d really appreciate a look at your archives, or a chance to talk to the librarians. If you can arrange that, I’m in.” says Jevan, thinking back to the strange map that brought him to Freeport in the first place.
“I can arrange that.”
“Then we have a deal”, says Jevan offering his hand. They shake, and Egil explains what he knows so far about the disappearance of his friend, Lucius.
In short, 6 years ago, Lucius’s demeanour changed entirely; he asked bizarre questions, treated the library like his own personal archive, remembered nothing of their former friendship. A few months later he was caught violating the sanctum of the temple and was expelled. He left Freeport and vanished for four years.
When he returned, he was back to normal. He begged to be re-admitted. The high priest, Thuron, initially refused, but changed his mind after a meeting. Lucius returned, all was well for nearly a year, and then he started having strange dreams and asking questions about what he’d been like just before his expulsion. And then he vanished, and the temple is acting as if nothing is wrong.
Egil doesn’t know much else, but says he can take Jevan to Lucius’s house, and that if he wants to speak to Thuron or the other priests, could he please leave Egil’s name out of it; just say that he’s a friend of Lucius’s from overseas.
He suggests that Jevan stay at an inn called The Scholar’s Quill, which is near the temple, but Jevan says that he was already planning to stay at The Black Rose, near the docks.
To be continued…
And that’s the end of Part 1. In Part 2, the investigation kicks off. The first part of this module doesn’t really have a lot to offer the solo player because it’s pretty much all an exposition dump, with very few moving parts. There’s some extra rumours that the characters can pick up if they do some chatting to NPCs, but little guidance to the GM if the characters go off-piste for a long time. Since I’m specifically trying to play this module rather than just running a sandbox Freeport game, we’re assuming that on the whole, Jevan’s player is going along with the adventure.
One of the assumptions of SotDL is that characters level after every adventure, and that there’s a period of time between each adventure. In the Freeport trilogy, the characters level after each part, and there’s no downtime; at least not between each chapter of the adventures.
So we level Jevan up to level 2. At this level he remains an Adept; HP goes up by 4, he picks up a new spell or Tradition (Forked Lightning from Storm), and a talent that improves the Potency of attack spells. Power remains unchanged.