Meanwhile . . . Somewhere South of Zkaria

I had some fun today.  Got together with the Man Called Bear and Steve Crompton (krooomp of Trollhalla) and designed a GM adventure for the Trollworld section of the Deluxe T & T rules.  I’m not going to tell you about the adventure, but I did get permission to post Steve’s sketch of the area map, which covers the region between the city of Zkaria and the Fire Dungeon of Z’tpozz. For  your viewing pleasure, here it is, and feel free to set some of your adventures in the area.  I will tell you that this part of Zorr is like the Lost World, there are many different survivals of the original Trollworld rock-based lifeforms abundant here including the great lizard-like yotts and obsidian spiders.

Zkariamap

 

I must say that as a fantasy cartographer, I find it a lot of fun and very satisfying to go from the continental scale to the local scale and start to really put a lot of detail into the maps for the adventures. Even more fun when I have a real artist to turn my ideas into something that actually looks pretty decent.

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You Die Alone

. . . and fairly often if you’re playing T & T solitaire adventures. It’s part of the fun. Yes, death can be fun. It’s another one of Christ’s true meanings when he told his followers “it is better to give than to receive.”

I’ve been writing a lot of short solos the last couple of years, and so have several other Trollhallans. It’s fun to imagine a situation, and lay it out like a maze of your own creation, a sort of puzzle for others to solve and enjoy, a test of your writing and imaginative abilities.  Such solos usually contain the possibility for abject failure or character death. As a writer, how do you handle that?  I’ve been including a “Death paragraph”–something like, “You are dead, dead, dead. Nope, no last second rescue for you. Close the book!”  That’s pretty clear and final.

I asked Trollhallans what kind of Death paragraphs they would write. Several responded, and I’m going to show their “true names” just so credit can go where credit is due.  Take a look. How would you like your defeated personna to go out?

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tarot death

Alternate Death Paragraphs for Solo Adventures

 

Let’s punch up the unhappy endings for solo adventurers doomed to die.  Here are some suggested Death paragraphs from the members of Trollhalla.

 

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“You are looking into the teeth of death. You can feel the putrid, garlic-infested breath of the Grim Reaper and you can hear the clanking of his bones as he reaches for you. His scythe is swinging down, straight for your neck… You have one last chance, perhaps a chance you scarcely deserve. Make a L1 SR on your worst attribute. If you succeed a passing Wizard-God sees unspent entertainment value in you. If you fail, your head rolls all the way to the Sewers of Oblivion. (Mark Thornton)

 

You look up at the stars as your life force drains away, and they begin to glow brighter and brighter as every moment passes by. Eventually they fade as you wake on the cold floor of the blue frog tavern, utterly confused by the whole event. You are alive, but your adventure is over. (Willis Labs)

Your body will forever lie in the dark mists of the forgotten isle, you will never be remembered and your soul scattered to the seven winds. You are beyond saving now. (Willis Labs)

Your soul leaves your tattered body and flies to the fields of Valhalla.” (Ned-Patrick Leffingwell)

 

“Just before the killing blow is delivered, a dragon crashes through the roof (even if you are underground) and eats your foe. You practically dance for joy, when you realize you are now face to face with a very hungry dragon…..” (Huw Adamson)

 

“Oy there, this is where you get off!”

You feel your body being pulled and then lowered down to the ground. Your eyes open and you see two older men staring down at you. Other than having a really bad headache and a few bruises, you seem to still be in one piece. You get to your feet and notice that the black collar is no longer around your neck. Anything that you had before your capture is still in your possession. The two men climb back onto the wagon and head back towards the city. You may award yourself 100 APs as long as you make a note on your character sheet of the scar on your forehead after being trampled by a Minotaur during the Baru Kesh “Minos Encierro”. (Jerry Teleha)  {This doesn’t quite work for anything but the solo Jerry wrote it for, but if we deleted the last sentence, it could.–Ken)

Long after the dust settles a greasy Hobb sidles up to your unmoving body. After an experimental kick to make sure you are food for the worms he sets about looting your corpse of anything of value and a fair bit of no value whatsoever.

It’s time for you to close the book or try again. Good luck. (Andy James)

 

You seem to have lost your senses. You can¹t see, hear, smell, or feel anything. There is a sudden flash of light, is it a sign of life?

Nope, you are dead, game over. (Craig Luis)

 

 

What were you thinking?
Your actions have resulted in you reaching the threshold between life and death.
Make a saving roll, for your level, against luck and see if you walk into the light or if you stay in this mortal realm.
If you fail, YOU HAVE DIED – YOU’RE DEAD – FINISHED – KAPUT – TAKING A DIRT NAP – ETC.
If you succeed, you have survived and may return to the beginning of the quest; but anything you gained during your failed quest, has been lost. (Martin Land)

“Miraculously, you dodge out of the way at the last second. You catch your breath and thank any gods that you follow for your miraculous escape. Just kidding. You die horribly. Tear up your character sheet and close the book.” (Susan Davis)

 

You have died. There is a small chance, however, that something good may come of your death. Roll an SR vs. Luck, then apply the conditions of the highest paragraph below for which you make the save. Apply only one paragraph (e.g., if you make a L3SR, apply only the L3 paragraph, but not those for the lower saves.) Talents and your level may not be applied to this roll.

Failed: Your character’s body is consumed, and their possessions taken, wrecked, or scattered by the denizens of this place.

L1: You’re dead, and all your possessions are lost, but at least your corpse was not desecrated.

L2: Your character’s body is taken away, but one possession remains in the place that they died. Determine which at random, including their armor and weapons, and treating their cash as one item, plus any other valuables as separate items. If you reach this same location with another character within one month (in the real world) of the time that you played this adventure, make a L2SR vs. INT to locate the item when you enter this location. If the location is inhabited, you must also make a L2SR vs. DEX to retrieve the item before your encounter with them.

L3: One random item from among your dead character’s belongings ends up deposited outside the entrance to this dungeon. Determine which item, as in the L2 save. Then, if another of your characters visits this adventure within one month (real world time), make a L2SR vs. INT for them to find that item before they enter into the events of this adventure.

L4: You’re in luck! A passing wizard found your dead character in relatively good shape, then decided to raise them as an undead minion. After using them to serve their own purposes, they deposit your character’s body, once again lifeless, outside the bounds of this adventure. They have stripped your character of their valuables–coins, especially valuable items, gems, magic items, etc.–but left behind your mundane belongings. Your next new character may find and loot the decomposing remains before starting their first adventure if you create them within a week of this time (in real world time.)

L5: You lucky dog! An altruistic adventurer located your character’s corpse shortly after they were killed, collected their belongings, then returned them to what they could identify as next of kin as best as they could. They held back any magic armor or weapons for their own use in recovering the body, and took a finder’s fee of half your character’s money and other precious items, but all else will be available to your next character of the same kindred if you create them right away!

L6: A spurious bit of magic triggered when your character died, depositing their newly-dead corpse in the home of your next character with all belongings in the same state as when they died. You must create your next character immediately to receive the belongings.

L7: A deity smiles upon your character. Just before the moment of death, they transport your character away, restoring you to 1 point of CON, then depositing you just outside the entrance to this adventure just as you were otherwise. You are not dead, after all.  (Mark Graybill)

 

Suddenly, a vision opens before your eyes. Just like Marlon Brando’s face floating towards Christopher Reeve, you see a face blurred in bright light, floating towards you. In the back of your mind, a tickle seems to tell you this is {Ken St Andre, Michael Stackpole, etc – the author of this particular solo} and now he/she speaks:

“You have not chosen wisely, but you have ONE, and only ONE, chance for redemption. If you bought this solo directly from the author, make a Level 1 SR on Luck. If you make it, return from whence you came and choose wisely this time! 

“If you bought this solo from the publisher, make a Level 2 SR on Luck. If you make it, blah blah blah.

“If you bought it from a retailer, make a Level 3 SR on Luck. Etc.

“If you stole this, whether photocopying, data copying, or by any other means – that is, if no recompense reaches the hands of the copyright owner and/or author, make a Level 75 S (Chet Cox)

So sorry.  You croaked, kicked the bucket, bought the farm, died.  Game over, close the book, and roll up a new character.  Better luck next time.(Duncan Beach)

grinning skull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Not Easy, Parts 17-21

And now, let’s finish this tale of wizardry being tested . . .

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Final Exam, episode 17 14A cont.

The idea of being knocked down from behind caused Markus to discount the idea of fleeing. Although badly hurt, he didn’t want to be beaten by a crow.  As the huge bird dived at him once again he got ready to smack it with his staff.

(Combat roll: Crowette rolled 2D6 + 6 = 12. Markus rolled 2D6 + 7 = 14.  Markus needed a L1SR on DEX to hit. He does no damage.)

The giant crow nimbly avoided Markus swing, but it did not manage to sink its talons into the wizard that time. As he flailed at it, and missed, Markus felt like a heavy burden was lifted off his spirit. He thought he heard a voice saying “The curse has expired.” But there was no one nearby.

The bird flapped its way back up into the upper reaches of the room again.   It landed on a projecting stone and cocked its head at Markus. The man thought the bird might be actually considering whether to attack again or not.

Final Exam, episode 18 14A 14B 47D 51G 73A (no) 46D 48A

The crowette perched up near the ceiling on a small outcropping of stone. Markus thought maybe it would leave him alone now, having failed twice to take him down. He could feel himself bleeding, and knew he had to administer some first aid to himself quickly. He pulled off his pack and reached for both bandages and the half a healing potion he had left.

When he took his eyes off the crowette for a second, it attacked again. He had been expecting it, and the harsh caw croaking sound the bird couldn’t help but make also alerted him. He closed his eyes for just a second, visualized the purple lighting, and tried his Take That You Fiend spell one more time. (L1SR on INT to cast. Rolled 8, gets 8 a.p. Succeeds.) Purple lighting shot from his staff to the body of the diving black bird and enveloped it in purple flame. The crowing noise abruptly stopped as the bird died instantly. Its dive fell short, and it impacted the floor at Markus’s feet. (12 a.p. for killing it.)

Markus kicked the bird once just to make sure it was dead. Yep. He then finished digging bandages and healing potion out of his pack, and fixed himself up as best he could. The healing potion brought his Constitution back up to its normal value (13). The bandages and astringent stopped the bleeding.  He ate and drank from his supplies, and rested, and in about two hours he felt ready to go on.

Markus took a crowette feather as a trophy.  Then he headed for the west door.  He walked through an intersection and continued down his narrow corridor until it finally ended in another door. He listened and heard nothing, tried the door, and walked in. The first thing he noticed was a very bright, hot light set in the ceiling far above him. The room was so hot that he immediately broke into a sweat.  In the center of the room was a short pedestal made of an unknown material, but glowing redly—perhaps from the heat. Sitting atop the pedestal was an orange token.

Markus looked at the token. His mentor hadn’t said anything about needing tokens, but he had a feeling that he needed this one. He sensed for magic. The strongest source was the light in the ceiling, but the pillar also seemed a bit more than ordinary. The sweat trickled down his face in hot little streams.

“I’m pretty sure this is a trap of some sort,” Markus mused. “But what can I do about it?”

Final Exam, episode 19 48A 24F 74A

Of the 36 spells that Markus knew only a few of them seemed useful in this situation. Finally he narrowed his choices down to five:

  1. Call Water. Costs 8. Briefly summons a forceful dash of water.
  2. Cloud o Dust. Costs 4. Raises a 10 foot wide cloud of dust, obscuring vision.
  3. Complete Drip. Costs 3. Drops 20 gallons of water on the target.
  4. Spit in your eyes. Costs 2. Produces a drop of mildly stinging liquid in the eye of a foe.)
  5. Call Ice. Costs 8. Briefly summons an icy blast of frost.

Final Exam, episode 20 51H 24F 74A 10C 60F 74A 33E 11G 48E 54A

Markus had figured out that the token itself was superheated. He cast Complete Drip (10 a.p.) and 20 gallons of water materialized and splashed over the token. A flash of steam arose when the water hit  the hot token. He had hoped that the water would wash the token off the pedestal but that didn’t happen. Perhaps it was stuck or attached to the pedestal in some way. The big splash of water cooled it off for a few moments, but because of the extremely bright light overhead, it started to steam and heated up again immediately.

It occurred to him that he would have to do something about the light overhead. There was some kind of magical reaction going on between the light and the token that produced enough heat to make it glow.  It would certainly hurt him to grab the token while it was red hot. Yes, the light up above was hot, but it couldn’t be hot enough to have that kind of effect without magic being involved.

Markus thought about the trap a bit more, and decided that the Cloud o Dust spell might obscure the light enough to allow him to get the token. He had never thought that spell would be good for anything, and he had a hard time remembering how to cast it, but finally he managed to get it right. (4 a.p.) The room filled with a big cloud of dust, making everything kind of hard to see.

As he approached the token, Markus could see that it was still glowing with heat. It occurred to him that perhaps he could knock the token off the pedestal with his staff, and push it out of the room to get it out of the light, but he decided against trying that. This was meant to be a magical test, and if his instructors were watching him, he wouldn’t get any points with them by figuring out a non-magical way of beating the test.

The Complete Drip spell had seemed to work before, and it was the least expensive of the ways available to cool the token. Markus stood far enough away that no steam would hit him, and cast it again. (7 a.p.) The deluge cooled the token enough for Markus to grab it and stuff it in his pouch.

As the dust settled, he noticed that the room seemed to be heating up again, and he decided to make a rapid exit. He saw a door other than the one he had entered by and headed for it. He came out into another hallway.

Closing the door behind him, he sat down, had a meal and a drink, and rested for more than an hour until his kremm was completely restored. He also examined the token. It was a curious coin made of iron—perhaps it was magnetism that held it to the pillar. Markus had noticed that it was difficult to pull it away from its resting place. One side of the coin had a small picture of a well on it. The other side showed a hill with a fortified village on top.  He wondered if the token had a secret message for him.

Markus continued to wander through the walls until he reached another door. Entering it, he found himself in the exit room. On the opposite wall was a portal, and beyond the portal, a fiery pit. In the wall next to the pit were a number of slots of curious shapes meant to hold tokens. Each slot was a different shape and color.

Also inside the room were five of his classmates. They all seemed to be in a trance. One of them held a piece of paper, and on it was a message.

“We have assembled 8 of the 9 tokens necessary to leave this place. If you have brought the 9th, please insert it in its slot, waken us, and let us all leave together.”

“I do have the ninth,” Markus mumbled. He searched the walls until he found a slot where the token would fit.  Before he put his coin in its place he thought, “I haven’t really seen that much of this dungeon. Perhaps I should just keep the coin and wander around a bit more.”

(Khenn’s commentary: having reached the exit room completely randomly, and learning that you need 9 of a possible 10 tokens to get out, I have to say, Sligo, that I consider this challenge way too tough.  Three tokens would be fair; five would be tough but perhaps do-able. Nine out of ten?  Yikes!

By all means, O Ye Elite who love a challenge, be sure to get your own copy of Sligo’s Final Exam. It is mapable, and should make you think a lot. If you manage to find the exit room with any tokens in hand, I do think you should give yourself the option of escaping.)

Final Exam, episode 21

Markus put his token in the slot designed for it. For a moment nothing happened, and then the portal shimmered and changed. The other side now showed an examination room in the tower of the Wizards Guild.

Markus shook his classmates awake. They snapped out of the trance fairly easily.  Holding hands they all stepped through the portal together. They felt an electrical shock that made every hair on their bodies stand up, and heard a loud zapping noise. The portal vanished behind them.

Old Professor Oinkenwartz had been dozing in his chair. He woke with a start when the loud zapping noise told him that someone had found the way out of the training dungeon. He opened his rheumy old eyes to see Markus and five other students beaming at him.

“Here! What’s this?” he snarled. “You’re supposed to get out one at a time, not in gaggles.”

“Why is that, Sir?” asked Markus. “Don’t you think that cooperation is a viable survival strategy in the outside world?”

“NO!” snarled the professor. “Er, well, um, maybe it could be once in a while, but in my day, we wouldn’t . . .”

The sound of Markus and the other students laughing at him further ruined the old professor’s day.

The end.

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And now that I have completed this tale of wizardly hijinks, I think I’ll transpose it into the correct sequence and publish it on my blog devoted to dungeon tales.

He thought long and hard trying to decide which of those spells to use.

 

 

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