in Fantasy, Solo Actual Play

Solo-a-module Month – Death in Freeport, Part 2

Lucius’s House

Death in Freeport coverThe next morning, Jevan decides to start his investigation at Lucius’s house; he sends word to Egil that he’d like to look around. The message comes back to meet in the mid-morning.

The GME throws a twist at us, right at the start; an interrupted scene. The people behind Lucius’s disappearance were concerned that he might have left clues behind in his house, and sent an agent to investigate.

Just as they arrive at the house, Egil spots a cloaked figure leaving in a hurry. He calls out, “Hey, stop!”

Jevan doesn’t bother yelling and instead chases, intending to grapple the target.

Q: Are the streets crowded?
A: Exceptionally so; using ranged attacks or spells will be harder

The suspected thief has other ways of getting away as well as running, but is under orders to act normal unless they have no other choice. They take a fast turn and keep running, looking for somewhere to duck out of sight. No luck so far.

Jevan chases, and casts Forked lightning. The bolt lands and does two hits, but the target is still moving. They try to lose Jevan to be able to escape properly, but the mage manages to stay on their tail, and puts on an extra burst of speed to get into melee range. The target keeps running, turns a corner, breaks line of sight, and when Jevan follows, all he can find is the figure’s cloak. He surveys the crowd trying to spot anyone acting suspicious, but sees nothing out of the ordinary (Perception vs. Target’s will)

GM note
What happened here is that the thief has a shapechange ability; when line of sight was broken they used a triggered action to use it, then ditched their cloak. They then used a teleport spell to get entirely clear. They didn’t use the spell whilst being actively chased because using it as a triggered action cuts the range down. I used opposed Intellect rolls to see if the thief could break line of sight.

Crestfallen, Jevan returns to Egil. “Well, maybe he didn’t find whatever he was looking for. Let’s have a look around. Besides, I ought to secure the property.”

The two men enter the house and start looking around. It’s clear the place has been searched, including the discovery of a hidden drawer in a desk. What they do find though is a to-do list in Lucius’s handwriting, and recently emptied new bookshelves in the cellar.

GM note
They’ve lost the journal that was in the hidden drawer of the desk. It has fluff, but nothing critical to the investigation.

Does Jevan go to the ship or the temple?
Temple; he doesn’t feel up to tangling with Pirates just yet.

Egil directs Jevan to the temple and then vanishes so that he’s not associated with the investigation.

The Temple

The building is quite large and easily visible from most parts of the city. The temple is an impressive structure, its vaulted frame soaring up one hundred feet. Large bronze doors stand open, revealing a tiled atrium. Statues of the god indicate that this chamber is the center of worship, but balconies lined with books reach all the way to the frescoed ceiling. This place appears as much library as temple, and the rows of silent scholars working in the balconies attest to this fact.

As Jevan enters he’s greeting by a novice who introduces himself as Norton, who’s quite happy to take him to the high priest’s office, but does let him know that he’s unlikely to get an audience without an appointment. At the antechamber to the office they are accosted by Milos, Thuron’s right hand.

Milos is a slight man with horn-rimmed glasses. He tells Jevan that Thuron is busy preparing the dedication for the opening of The Lighthouse of Drac, and that he can answer any questions. On the whole Milos is dismissive and unconcerned, but Jevan does learn that Lucius bought his way back into the temple with a large donation of books that he’d gathered on his travels, that the books haven’t yet been catalogued so they can’t be looked at.

Further questions reveal that Lucius has been acting strangely again since he returned, getting agitated and demanding to know what he did just before he was expelled. It’s upsetting everyone, so perhaps it’s for the best that he’s sleeping off a hangover somewhere. Milos states that he’s sure that Lucius will show up again, and that it’s nothing really for Jevan to worry about.

Jevan thanks Milos for his time and wanders around the temple bothering other people, none of whom know much. He does also learn that the Lighthouse of Drac is also known as Milton’s folly, and is the pet project of the current Sealord, Milton Drac, hence its names.

There’s obviously something fishy about Milos, but not really enough proof for Jevan to feel confident just breaking into the temple or following the man home (assuming he even has a separate home)

Captain Scarbelly

Deciding that he’s at a bit of a dead end, Jevan does some asking around the docks and discovers that Captain Scarbelly is a notorious Orcish pirate who captains The Bloody Vengeance. The Bloody Vengence is currently docked, and easy to find. No-one else is moored up near her.

Is the Captain on the ship?
Yes; if he hadn’t been on the ship, he’d have been having a meal at one of the local taverns

The gangplank of the ship is guarded by two dangerous looking Orcs. Deciding that they’re more likely to respect a bold approach, Jevan strides up and says to the orcs, “I’m looking for Captain Scarbelly. Need to talk to him about a matter of some importance.”

GM Note
We’re going to use the Social Combat rules from Forbidden Rules. The Orcs have Composure of 9, and an attitude of Unfriendly. Jevan is taking the Persuade action (Will vs. Will), whilst the Orcs are Intimidating (Also Will vs. Will). Jevan will make his roll with 1 bane as the orcs are Unfriendly. Neither side is moved; both sides gain two points of Influence due to their failed attacks. Aggro or Scarbelly will show up in a couple of rounds.

“Look, I’m not asking you to let me on the ship, just let the Captain know I want to speak to him.” asks Jevan again, flashing a couple of silver coins. It’s enough to counteract the bane for trying to persuade a hostile target.

This time the Orcs are going to try and Deceive him (Intellect vs. Intellect). They fail, Jevan succeeds. His eyes narrow, “Actually, why don’t you fetch the captain first, then I’ll give you the money. I may be new in town, but I wasn’t born yesterday.”

“So why don’t you stop fucking me around and get your Captain.” Jevan turns nasty this time, patience wearing thin. The larger of the two orcs steps forwards his hand on his weapons. Both sides are intimidating. Jevan hasn’t noticed the orc in the crow’s nest taking aim at him.

Deciding that this human must have some tricks up his sleeve if he’s refusing to do the sensible thing and back off, one of them hurries up the gangplank. The other says, “About that silver…”

“Fine” says Jevan and tosses him the coin.

A few minutes later the door to the forecastle slams open and a massive orc stomps out, followed by the orc who fetched him, and a second large, angry looking orc.

Captain Scarbelly stomps down the gangplank and glares at Jevan. “So you’re the pink-skin who thinks he’s important enough to talk to me. What do you want.”

“I’m looking for a scholar called Lucius. I understand that he came to talk to you.” Jevan has by now noticed the orc in the crow’s nest and is trying to avoid looking up at them.

“Lucius, huh. This way. Talking is thirsty work.” Scarbelly strides off towards a tavern, the dockside crowds parting around him.

It costs Jevan another two silver and the cost of drinks to get Scarbelly talking. It turns out that Lucius went to talk to him only a few days ago, asking questions about the previous voyages he’d travelled with the pirates on, which was pretty strange because he’d been right there. What Scarbelly doesn’t know is where Lucius went after he’s talked to the Captain, but he does say that the man was nervous and continuously fiddling with the hilt of his dagger. “Looked nice. Made of ivory or bone.”

And that seems to be the end of the investigation. Milos’s lack of concern or interest over the missing scholar was a bit suspicious, so Jevan resolves to go back to the temple tomorrow for a proper snoop around. He starts heading back to his own inn when he catches sight of an crossbowman on a rooftop ahead of him. He just manages to flatten himself into a doorway as the arrow is loosed.

The Ambush

Risking a look out of the doorway, Jevan sees that three armed figures have stepped out of an alleyway ahead of him, and another two behind. The ambush spot is well chosen, the street deserted. Jevan swears and casts Freezing fog ahead of him, both enveloping the three figures and blocking the crossbowman’s line of fire.

There’s the sound of someone gasping for breath and dropping to the ground as the sudden freezing air does a number them. The other two will advance and be out of the cloud at the end of next round.

GM Note
The Solo rules make Freezing Fog a lot more dangerous than it normally is as it only does 1d3 damage, but since the foot soldiers have only 1 hit under these rules, that’s enough to drop the one who failed his Strength challenge. Jevan’s Potent Magic talent also came into play here, as Freezing fog is an Attack rather than Utility spell.

The soldier at the back rushes forwards, whilst the second figure casts and a glowing, shifting ball of magic flies towards Jevan on an erratic path, and at the last minute splashes against the wall.

GM note
The mage cast Capricious devastation, but took a penalty on the attack roll. It’s a nasty spell, doing 2d6 damage, with an extra 2d6 if you get a penalty on the attack and still hit. A 20+ will also teleport the target into the open.

The soldier reaches the doorway and swings and hits.

In the second round, the mage is going to cast Erratic bolt, whilst the soldier swings again; both miss, whilst Jevan breaks out of cover to charge the mage. Both the crossbowman and the soldier take the opportunity to try and hit, but both miss. (Crossbow had one bane due to the fog)

He stabs forward with his sword and takes the mage, Belko, down, the sorcerors’s arcane armour failing under the assault.

Only Ritorro, the leader of these men, makes it out of the freezing fog.

The crossbowman shoots at Jevan; now that he’s moved forwards, the fog isn’t breaking the  line of sight; it’s a solid hit. Jevan staggers as the bolt hits him in the back.

He moves to cover and summons arcane energy to both heal and regain Forked Lightning. (Using the Spell Recovery talent). Both the other soldier and Ritorro reach him, though only the soldier can swing this round. He too connects, scoring a minor hit.

Jevan casts forked lightning at the soldier and Ritorro, the latter of which has metal armor. The soldier dives out of the way, leaving Ritorro to get fried in his nice metal armour. He drops to the floor twitching and smelling a bit like a roast. The soldier backs off and then runs for it, whilst the crossbowman takes another shot then also scarpers across the roof tops.

GM note
I’ve ditched the fray die, and removed the healing after each fight option. After this module I might look at increasing the amount of damage enemies do again; atm the danger level is far too low, but I want to see how the final dungeon plays out.

Cursing, Jevan checks to see if any of his assailants have survived; none have. Searching Ritorro, Belko (the mage) and the two frozen soldiers he finds a total of 11cp, 10ss, a brooch worn by the mage (5ss), a silver ring (3ss), and an ivory handled dagger matching the one described by Scarbelly. Ritorro also has a scrap of parchment with an address on it. Figuring it’s either these guy’s HQ or something to do with who hired them, Jevan pockets it.

To be continued…

It probably plays a bit differently with a live group, but the main issue is that none of the investigation leads directly to the temple. The players have to basically decide that Milos is acting suspicious and act on that, or wait to be ambushed in the evening. There’s nothing on the pirate ship (except an unrelated magic staff that the orcs are waiting to hand over to the mage who hired them), and the main handout in the house just paints the temple as uncaring rather than particularly suspicious.

Ending another chapter means another level, and at 3 we open up Expert paths. We’re going to make Jevan a Spellbinder, which gives him another spell or magical tradition, and the Spellbound Weapon spell, a level 0 utility spell which basically gives you a bonus to attack with the enchanted weapon. He also learns the Call Lightning spell from the Storm tradition.