The Devil’s Riddle: Session 11

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.


“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.


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?


5 Responses to “The Devil’s Riddle: Session 11”

  1. I have a thing or two to learn about balancing encounters in USR it seems. That was as close to a TPK as it was possible to get 🙂

    Lots of very poor rolling for the good guys but even so, the enemy spell-caster was devastating. I may need to reconsider the magic rules in the light of that combat.

  2. Magic Rules Version 2

    A spell cast equal with a level equal to character level is Medium(4+). For each spell level above the caster level the DC rises by one rank. A spell with a level below character level is Easy (2+).

    A level 1 spell deals 1d4 damage or healing. Each spell-casting level increases the die type by one (ie d6, d8 etc). Alternately a die step can be replaced by an effect, ie immobilized or plus one target. The mana pool equals starting Hits.

    Example 1: Lisandra, a 1st level Character, wishes to cast a 3rd level spell at the marauders racing towards them. She must take one of her two actions to make a Very Hard (10+) difficulty Channeling roll. She rolls an 8. Adding +2 for her Magic specialism results in 10, a success. She may use her second action to cast her spell for 1d8 damage, which costs her 3 of her mana pool of 6. She chooses to cast a twin bolt of force, striking two targets. Adding a second target costs one die step, which means she strikes each of her two targets for 1D6 damage.

    Example 2: Lisandra is now Level 2. She wants to cast a 3rd level spell at the ogre attacking Rufus. She must spend her first action making a Hard (7+) difficulty Magic roll. Succeeding she uses her second action to cast an explosive ball of light at the ogre. She chooses to do 1D6 damage, and use substitute the final die step for a blinding effect. The ogre will take a penalty to its next attack.

    Additional Rules

    • Hits heal naturally at the rate of 1 point per extended rest.
    • Mana is restored between encounters, but each encounter or Mana use between encounters (ie healing) reduces the maximum by one. Mana can only be fully restored by an extended rest. A Magic action can be spent to regenerate spent Mana; easy for 1 point, Medium for 2 etc,up to the current cap.
    • 5 XP are required each for level 2. The requirement doubles each level, ie 10 XP for level 3, 20 XP for level 4 etc..

  3. Some thoughts on death and dying in my game.

    USR states that hitting zero HP means either death or, at the DM’s discretion, unconsciousness. As I am both DM and player that choice seems like a bit of a conflict of interests. I probably need some more formal rules around death and dying.

    In designing death rules I need to consider my goals. This is not a hack and slash adventure but a story-driven one. I don’t want my party members dying every five minutes due to a bit of bad luck with the dice. To create my story I need some continuity.

    But I also don’t want my characters to feel indestructible. There needs to be some jeopardy to keep things tense.

    As a first pass I’ll go with this:

    * Reaching 0 Hits or lower results in unconciousness
    * Basic first aid (binding wounds) heals 1 Hit.
    * Reaching your Hits as a negative value is automatic death
    * A coup de gras on an unconscious foe results in automatic death
    * Each point of negative Hits adds a 10% chance of death. This can be mitigated by healing (first aid and magical).
    * Hits heal at 1 point per extended rest.

    Example: Ronan the Barbarian has 11 Hits. Over the course of the battle he takes a massive beating, and ends up on -7. He’s down and in a very bad way. Although his wounds are not enough to kill him outright he has a 70% chance of bleeding out unless he gets some healing. After the battle Brother Bertrand heals him for 4 Hits, including first aid. Now Ronan only has a 30% chance of dying from his injuries. He rolls 76%, and dies in spite of his comrade’s assistance.

  4. Healing

    As my results show no-one died I’ll handle the healing section here, behind the curtain.

    Lisandra: 0 Hits
    Jeden: -2 Hits
    Rufus: -4 Hits

    All get +1 from Fyn’s first aid attempts, and with her remaining mana pool of 3 Lisandra heals 3 Hits for Rufus (1d6) and 2 for Jeden (1d4). Her mana pool is now down to 2.

    Rufus is still unconscious but at no risk of dying, the others are all badly wounded but are up and about.

  5. XP

    I probably need to refine my XP awards at some point but for now I’ll stick with what I’ve been using; 1 XP per enemy level slain, divided equally among the characters involved. After this fight the party are on:

    Rufus: 4.5
    Lisandra: 4.5
    Jeden: 1
    Fyn: 1

    Not quite at Level 2 yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: