Archive for February, 2013

The Devil’s Riddle:Interlude

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 27, 2013 by Carl

It feels like part 1 of the story is over, and part 2 is about to begin. Looking back at how it’s gone so far I’ve been delighted with the unpredictable directions the GM Emulator has taken me, and I’ve found a lot of excellent randomiser tools online.

One of the best of these has been a recent discovery, the Donjon site. If you’ve not come across this site before do yourself a favour and go play. There are some fantastic tools there, with pretty much anything a DM could want, all in one place. It really is the Holy Grail of RPG random generator sites. The Fantasy World Generator is a particular favourite of mine, and the random dungeon generator is pretty good fun too.

One other noteworthy discovery is the Roll20 site. This is a free web-based RPG tabletop tool which looks incredibly powerful and versatile. Whilst I’m quite interested in its possible use for games nights when players can’t travel, or when someone wants to join in from home, it also looks like it might have potential for my solo game. This site is a pretty recent Kickstarterbut launch but is already generating some very positive reviews, so I recommend you check it out.

Whilst I’ve liked the USR system for it’s simplicity I’ve found I’m having to spend too much time house-ruling to make it do what I want. It’s a little bit too light for my needs.

It’s time to try a new system in Part 2 of the Devil’s Riddle. I thought about using D&D Next, but the incomplete and regularly changing playtest rules don’t seem a good fit currently.

One free ruleset I’ve encountered on the Donjon site is Microlite20, a really simple take on the d20 OGL. It looks well put together and pretty quick and easy, so I’m going to give it a try.

I’ll be spending some time converting my characters over to Microlite20, and then it will be time to hit the tunnels to find some monster ass to kick.

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The Devil’s Riddle: Session 15

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 26, 2013 by Carl

Rufus is about to begin interviewing applicants when Lisandra points at a hulking fellow towards the back of the room, armed with an immense black iron greataxe.

“That one. That one and one other.” To Rufus’ trained eye there is very nearly a smile upon her lips.

“Why him?” Rufus protests. “He’s big, certainly, but we don’t know if he can use that axe worth a damn…”

Lisandra’s only response is a raised eyebrow at the huge fellow. The brute shrugs, rises to his feet and stomps towards them, then says in a piping feminine voice “Ye’ve a keen eye miss, I’ll give ye that.” His whole body seems to shimmer and dissolve before Rufus’ astonished eyes, and when the blademaster looks again the brute is gone, replaced by a tiny old lady leaning on a cane almost as gnarled as the hand that holds it. She can’t be more than four feet tall.

“Pleasure to meet ye both. Name’s Idril. I specialise in…” for just an instant Rufus finds himself staring at his mirror image “…perception.”

Lisandra moves to the door. “Please join me Idril. I have a feeling your company may prove beneficial. Enjoy your morning Rufus.”

It takes Rufus several thoroughly un-enjoyable hours to interview all the suitable candidates. Finally he decides on an a tall strapping fellow who shows formidable skills with a warhammer and doesn’t seem quite as amoral or witless as some present.

As he and Jeden finally manage to dislodge the last of the cut-throats from the inn Lisandra and Idren return. “We need have no further concern regarding Constable Hawthorne” she says. “He was most apologetic, wasn’t he Idril?”

Rufus rolls his eyes. “I don’t think I want to know. Lisandra this is Tomas, he’ll be the sixth in our group.”

Lisandra looks around the room and assesses their party. Besides herself and Rufus Idril the illusionist has already proven her skill, and Fyn has also shown great resourcefulness and character for one so young. That leaves the nervous, stoop-shouldered Cayleb and the heavy-set hammer-wielding Tomas. Unknown quantities both.

She bows her head. “Welcome all, your assistance is gratefully accepted, and shall be well rewarded. Now, I suggest we prepare, we shall be leaving soon.”

The Devil’s Riddle: Session 14

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 25, 2013 by Carl

“You’re right not to trust him” Rufus grunts once the door is closed. “Like as not he’ll lead us to our deaths if we give him half a chance.”

“Cayleb’s arrival does raise a pertinent point however” Lisandra replies. “Our foe seems to have greater numbers than we had anticipated. And that’s not all. Despite my best efforts I have been unable to yet shake off the inhibiting magical effects I experienced at the abbey, at least with regards to healing. Perhaps with further study… But now is not the time. If we are to return to those tunnels and get to the root of this mystery we will need assistance. We will need to hire some men to accompany us.”

The pair descend the stairs of the inn. “The Light alone knows where we’ll find fighting men in a place like this” mutters Rufus as he tightens the buckles on his armour and wraps his cloak about his shoulders.

“Fighting men you say?” cries Fyn. He gesticulates expansively at a tap room full near to bursting with the roughest bunch of thugs, cut-throats, sellswords and ne’er-do-wells Rufus has ever seen. “Over an ale or two and a recounting of our exploits last night I took the liberty of suggesting that we might be in the market for some backup in our little quest. And lo and behold, look who turned up this morning!”

Jeden, busily serving drinks with a haunted air, looks as if he can’t decide who he wants the ground to swallow up first; him, Fyn or the mercenaries.

The Devil’s Riddle: Session 13

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 24, 2013 by Carl

Rufus has rolled out of the bed, found a blade from who knows where and pressed it against the crossbowman’s throat before anyone in the room has time to blink.

“What are you doing here?” he growls.

“Just hear me out!” the short man whines. “I never wanted to end up with a crew like that! I was just in it for the coin, see? I’m a sword for hire, I go where the money takes me. But that cloaked guy was crazy, him and his guys, there was somethin’ wrong with them, y’know? Cut your throat soon as look you. Best favour anyone ever did me, you killin’ those guys. Well, apart apart from yer boy there lettin’ me cut out.”

Rufus doesn’t ease the dagger pressure for an instant. “You haven’t answered my question.”

The weasel-faced fellow raises his hands in surrender. “OK! OK! Listen, I know you got no reason to trust me, I wouldn’t trust me neither, y’know? I just thought, I know somethin’ about them guys, you seem to want to stop ’em, I figured we could come to some arrangement, see?”

Lisandra rises from her seat and approaches. “And what is it you know, mercenary? What can you tell us?”

The short man ducks his head. “The name’s Cayleb, mam, Cayleb Marsh. I don’t know nothin’ about their plans, they didn’t tell me nothin’ about what they were doin’, but I can guide you, show you their tunnels, see?”

Lisandra approaches until their faces are inches apart. “You are quite correct. We have no reason to trust you. However I prefer to keep those I distrust in plain sight rather than skulking in the shadows. You will lead us back into those tunnels, and if I find I have any reason to regret that decision Rufus here will open your throat for you. Is that clearly understood?”

The mercenary nods very carefully over Rufus’ blade. “Sure, sure, I understand you. So, uh, what’s in this for me? A man’s gotta eat, right?”

Rufus steps back and sheaths his dagger. “You’ll need to pay for your supper around here Cayleb. You deliver, you’ll get paid. Now head downstairs with Fyn. Lisandra and I need to talk.”

Glancing nervously from one to the other the stoop-shouldered man swiftly complies.

The Devil’s Riddle: Session 12

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 23, 2013 by Carl

Rufus blinks awake. Sunlight is streaming in through an open window. He turns and sees Lisandra seated next to his bed, her dark eyes betraying no emotion.

“It is good to see you awake at last.” she says. “You have been sleeping since yesterday night.”

She bears no sign of ill effect from the battle, and Rufus notes that he feels none either.

“Are we…”

She nods. “The Devil’s Riddle Inn. We have our rooms at last. Jeden has been most accommodating, and has done his best to persuade the local constable that we are not responsible for his wife’s death.” She gives the warrior a meaningful look. “However it should come as no surprise that, gratitude aside, he wants us gone as soon as politely possible. We represent everything he is trying to forget.”

The hint of a smile touches her lips. “Slightly more surprising has been the enterprising Mr Smallwood. Not only do we owe that young man both our lives, but it seems he has become rather attached to us. He has asked to join us in, and I quote, our “heroic endeavour”.

Rufus grunts and sits up, stretching. “This constable. Should we be concerned?”

“He has questions, understandably. And he is not naturally predisposed to believe the rather fanciful tale we have to offer. However with time I see no reason why…”

She is interrupted by the door bursting open to reveal a grinning Fyn. “Perfect, you’re awake! I have a little surprise for you two.” He steps to one side to reveal the last face either of them expect to see; the crossbowman from the catacombs!

The Devil’s Riddle: Session 11

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 23, 2013 by Carl

Fyn hurls another dagger at One-Eye before ducking back behind cover. It strikes true but does no more than add yet another wound to the grizzled man’s growing collection.

Thinking quickly the young man makes one last desperate roll of the dice. Ducking back into the eastern passage he mimics a deep gruff voice, as if from some distance off. “Ho! Who goes there?” Then in his own voice he calls out “Constable! Oh thank the Light! Come quickly! Bring your men! We can’t hold them much longer!”

The cloaked man barks out a laugh. “Do you think us children, to be so easily tricked? I shall watch you die slowly, you cur!”

Jeden, his back pressed against the wall, squeezes his eyes shut and waits for the end. He’s going to die, here beneath the ground, at the hands of lunatics, and he doesn’t even know why. He grips the hilt of a dagger, then lashes out blindly as One-Eye rounds the corner. The blow is knocked aside with ease.

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“Time to die, innkeeper” sneers the one-eyed man, and Jeden cries out as a crossbow bolt punctures his calf and a dagger opens a red line across his chest. One-Eye raises his knife for the killing blow only to look down in surprise to see Fyn’s rapier plunged deep into his chest. He drops to his knees, his knife clattering to the stones.

The crossbowman curses and frantically reloads as another bolt goes wide, then the cloaked man strides into view raising an imperious finger. Jeden’s shriek of terror is cut short as he is cut down.

Fyn, against all sense, charges at the cloaked figure and stabs at him eliciting a thin wail of pain and fear. The crossbowman grazes him with his next shot, but Fyn barely notices. The cloaked man is backing away now, his hands raised as if to ward off the rapier. No spell comes, almost as if the caster is attempting to regather his strength.

Fyn steps forward grinning. “You know, I wasn’t kidding about the Constable coming. Look!” In spite of himself the cloaked man turns, and in that instant Fyn thrusts his rapier into his back. The cloaked man goes rigid, then collapses to the ground.

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Fyn turns and fixes the crossbowman with a baleful stare. “Run.” he growls, and after a moment’s consideration the fellow obliges.

Victory. But at what price?

The Devil’s Riddle: Session 10

Posted in The Devil's Riddle on February 23, 2013 by Carl

Jeden sidles around a pillar, his face gaunt with terror. Despite his fear he takes one of Fyn’s proffered daggers and hurls it with all his might at the torch-carrying hood. Astonishingly the dagger strikes true, burying itself to the hilt in the woman’s shoulder.

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“Sturn! What are you waiting for?” snarls the cloaked figure, and the great-sword wielder joins the attack upon Rufus. Even the blade-master cannot cope with so many foes, and he grunts as he catches a wicked cut to his midriff.

Fyn hurls a dagger at the torch-bearer, but she is wary now, and ducks just in time. Rufus uses the vacated space to launch a beautifully disguised blow that takes Sturn’s head clean off his shoulders. Another crossbow bolt sails wide of the mark as Rufus blocks the attacks of both remaining foes in a single elegant sweep.

“Curse you fools, must I do everything myself?” snarls the cloaked figure as he unleashes another bolt. Rufus, intent upon keeping Lisandra safe, takes it square on the chest. He is knocked from his feet and does not rise. Lisandra’s only reaction is tightening of her lips as she gestures at the torch wielder. Flame springs from the torch to the woman, and she collapses flailing to the ground, engulfed in fire.

Jeden’s second dagger strikes One-Eye, though it is not enough to put him down. Fyn’s blade goes wide. The two of them back away from the cloaked man, ducking behind pillars. Lisandra is not quite quick enough. A bolt of black lightning catches her, and with a scream she too falls.