(For those who came in late: this is the seventh session of my GURPS solo-play campaign. Instead of a GM, I use a big collection of procedural tables (see the tabs above!). The campaign is set in a fantasy world I created from scratch in in a previous series of posts, using a procedural world-creation system. Enjoy!)
If you’re just reading for the plot, you can skip the italics!
The PC: Temian Fell, explorer of ancient ruins and all-round hero.
The story so far: Temian is looking for a way to bring to Witch of Dunmoss to justice. At the end of his first adventure (“Temian Fell and the Witch’s Curse“), he discovered some old legends suggesting that the Witch’s power was derived from an ancient temple known as “Murdfane.” Surely, he thinks, if the Witch has a weakness, that’s the place to find it!
As today’s story begins, he’s beginning his journey to Murdfane Temple…
Getting Started: What’s At Stake Plot-wise?
First of all, let’s roll to see What’s at Stake This Session? (Rolling…) 5: “an element in the second personal plot”. Perfect! Temian’s second personal is his attempt to bring the Witch of Dunmoss to justice, so this session one of my tasks as a player will be to try to introduce a genuinely challenging opportunity for Temian to advance that plot – maybe by finding out more about the Witch? Since that’s actually his whole aim in coming here, that works really well.
Scene 1: A Boat along the Cairnflood
As our session begins, Temian is setting out on his Journey to Murdfane Temple. He takes a moment to plot out a route.
This counts as Researching the Dangers of the Journey, so Temian needs to roll against an appropriate skill, at a penalty equal to the current adventure’s Peril.. Let’s use his Research (11). Peril is 1, so his effective skill is 10. (Rolling…) 16: fail! Temian gets no benefit from his pre-planning. Damn! Though at least it’s not a critical failure (not like last time!), so he suffers no additional penalty.
Here’s the route he plots out:
Temian is currently in Dunmoss. As you can see, his plan is to follow the Cairnflood river Northwards until it begins its great bend to the West. Then he’s going to head up into the mountains, and trekking North across Eldervale, into the Wistwilds. His final destination is Murdfane Temple, 7 days or so to the North.
The first part of Temian’s plan involves taking a boat Northwards, along the Cairnflood river. That means he’s going to need to find a friendly riverboat captain. Does he know of one already? Temian thinks for a moment….
The sounds like a job for the Area Knowledge (Eldervale) skill. Temian’s an Eldervalean, born and bred, so he has this at 12. Peril is 1, so his effective skill is 11. (Rolling…) 8: success! Great! It turns out that he does know someone who can take him downriver – perhaps a friendly riverboat captain? Well, let’s see.
A brief digression in which I create Lillistan Squires, the boat captain.
This is a new NPC, so let’s head over to the people system. (Rolling, rolling…) Right! Who do we have here?
Lillistan Squires. She’s involved in Entertainment. She’s reed-thin, but has a forceful voice. She arches her eyebrows a lot in conversation. When Temian arrives, she is in a hopeful mood.
Ok, that works. Since Lillistan has a “forceful voice” and is involved in entertainment, let’s say she makes her living by traveling up and down the Cairnflood, singing old folk songs in Taverns. Is she famous around Eldervale? Let’s ask the Solo 6. (Rolling…) 4: “No, but..”. Ok, so she’s not famous, exactly, but she’s up-and-coming.
End of digression
Temian thinks for a moment… and then remembers Lillistan, who sang at the Tavern last night. She has a boat, and spends much of her time traveling up and down the Cairnflood – and she’s in Dunmoss right now, about to head downriver. Perhaps she would take him along?
So he heads down the the docks to see if she’s around…
Is Lillistan at the docks? Let’s ask the Solo 6. (Rolling…) 3: “Yes, but.” Ok – let’s say she’s there, but she’s heading off as we speak…
…and when he gets down to the docks, he sees that she’s casting off right now! Erk! He was hoping to have a more leisurely morning! Never mind. He shouts out to her: “Lillistan! Wait! Can I come with you?”
Let’s roll up a reaction roll for Lillistan. (Rolling…) 12: “Neutral.” But Temian gets +1 for his Charisma, and +1 for his Attractive appearance, which brings us up to 14: “Good.” Does his positive Reputation also apply? (Rolling…) 12: no. Ok then. “Good” it is. Given that, let’s say they’ve known each other for a while.
Lillistan stops the boat. She seems pleased to see him. “Temian!” she shouts back. For such a reed-thin woman, she has a remarkably forceful voice. “What’s going on?”
Temian, panting a little, finally makes it to the dockside. “I’m heading North. Can you take me up as far as the West bend?”
Lillistan raises her eyebrows, as if to mock him. “Heading off on another profitable trip?” she jokes. Everyone knows Temian’s trips never bring back much cash (though as it turns out, the last one was a real exception.)
Temian smiles. “I just thought you could use the company” he says. “I heard no-one else could put up with your singing”
She pretends to try to push him into the river. They’ve known each other for a long time, and they get along pretty well, with a lot of meaningless banter.
Another brief and ultimately irrelevant digression wherein I uncover the secrets of Lillistan’s love life. Feel free to skip it!
A moment ago the People system told us that Lillistan would be in a “hopeful” mood when Temian first encountered her. What’s she so hopeful about? This seems like a good time to roll on the NPC Hopes and Fears table. (Rolling…) 4, 3: “Love”! Uh-oh! I was sort of hoping not to involve this female character in a love plot – it seems like that’s always what happens to female characters of a certain kind, and I don’t want to fall into all the stereotypes…. But it looks the dice gods have other ideas. Ah well. It’s potentially a fun subplot, so we might as well embrace it!
Now – who is she in love with? There’s one obvious candidate… is she perhaps in love with Temian? Let’s ask the Solo 6. (Rolling…) 5: “No.” Ok – that’s probably for the best. Is she in love with someone who lives in the part of Eldervale to which she’s sailing now? That would explain her hopeful mood… (Rolling…) 6: an emphatic “No, and…”. Ok – let’s say the person lives right here in Dunmoss, and is someone you wouldn’t expect. Hmmm…. a whacky thought: is Lillistan in love with the Dunmoss Witch? (Rolling…) 6: an emphatic “No, and…” Ok, whew – that was a silly idea anyway. Is she in love with Aed Steadlark? (Rolling…) 4: “No, but…” Ok, let’s say that no, she’s not in love with Aed Steadlark, but Aed knows what’s up, and has been her confidante. Hmm… Is she perhaps in love with Heralf Vintcraven, the Innkeeper at the Phoenix Tavern, from way back in our first session? (Rolling…) 5: No.
Ok, stuff it – it doesn’t look like this love plot is going to prove terribly important (yet!), so for now, let’s just say she’s in love with a nice local fellow, and that even though she’s sailing away from him right now, she’s in a hopeful mood, because things are going really well between them. What’s this fellow’s name? Heading to the naming tables… (Rolling..) “Wyneast.” That’s a nice bit of background color. Done!
So Temian and Lillistan set sail together. As they travel, Lillistan seems particularly cheery – and Temian, who knows why, teases her a little about Wyneast, her intended. All in all, they have a pretty fine time.
Well, that was a pretty uneventful scene, though I had fun putting it together, since it gave us a lot of background color. And maybe Lillistan will come back as a recurring NPC in future. But hopefully the next scene will involve more danger!
Scene 2: Into the Wistwilds.
After a day and a half of sailing, they reach the point where the Cairnflood river begins its bend to the West, and Temian disembarks. Then, all alone, he begins his trek North into the mountains. It takes him another day to climb up out of Eldvervale proper. The next morning, he begins his long trek across the Wistwilds…
Enough background color – now we need to get practical, to see how this journey really goes. Over to the Journeys system!
First of all, how perilous does the journey turn out to be? (Rolling…) 11: About as perilous as we expected – thus, the Peril matches that of the adventure, so Peril is 1.
To arrive at Murdfane Temple safely, Temian will have to make a number of Navigation, Survival, and Event rolls equal to Peril – thus, one of each. Let’s make them now.
Navigation roll: Temian’s Navigation (Land) skill is 11. Peril is 1, so his effective skill is 10. (Rolling…) 12: fail. So Temian loses a unit of time: which means that the journey takes him 8 days, rather than the projected 7.
Survival roll: Temian’s Survival (Mountain) skill is 12. Peril is 1, so his effective skill is 11. (Rolling…) 12: fail. Bad luck! This gives him a +2 penalty to his Event roll.
Event roll. (Rolling…) 14, +2 = 16: a choice of mishaps.
Oh no! A choice of mishaps!
What are these mishaps? (Rolling…)
First Choice: A dangerous rockslide!
(Rolling…) 2, 4: Temian must brave a Hazard. What kind? Let’s head over to the Hazards system. (Rolling…) Ok, this hazard sounds like some sort of potential rockslide. To spot the danger, you need to make a Geology or Prospecting, and then you need to make another to stabilize it. (Though there is a workaround: rolls against Hidden Lore (Troll-Wights) can substitute for these, which indicates that this potential rockslide is caused by Troll-wights burrowing into the mountainside, and thus destablizing it. Damned troll-wights!). If you fail, you can try to avoid damage at the last minute with a DX-Peril or Dodge roll. If you fail that, you take 1d-1 crushing damage.
Second choice: a deadly troll-wight!
(Rolling….) 4,4: “Convince, sneak past, or fight a Deadly encounter!” Ok – what sort of encounter? Let’s head over to the Monsters system. (Rolling…) Ok, so it appears that Temian is up against one Peril 3 monster of the Region’s Secondary Monster type. Fair enough. What’s the Region’s Secondary Monster Type? We don’t know yet, so let’s roll it up. (Rolling…) 8: “A monster appropriate to the Terrain Type”. Ok – the terrain type is “mountains,” so let’s roll accordingly. (Rolling…) 3: “Troll-kin.” Great! That works really nicely with the rockslide hazard we just created, since it, too, was a sign of Troll-kin (more specifically, Troll-wights). So we have one Peril 3 Troll-Wight. Nasty!
… and a few days later, Temian has a come a long way further North – but he’s worried that he might have lost the true path a little. He doesn’t know the Wistwilds very well, but he could have sworn that he ought to be crossing a broad, pretty valley full of wildflowers by now – and the rough path he’s following is currently taking him into in a narrow, deep ravine. Not good.
Hmmm… Come to think of it, the ravine he’s heading into looks suspiciously like Troll-Wight country – Temian has dealt with their kind before, and narrow clefts like this are their favorite haunts. Surely it’s better to avoid this area?
On the other hand, avoiding this ravine means a pretty hard climb up a steep, rocky hillside. So either way has its dangers.
After taking a close look around, Temian decides that, yes, the ravine is probably infested with toll-wights – so it’s probably better to risk the difficult climb up the hillside. So he starts to climb…
Right! Temian has opted to risk the first mishap – the dangerous rockslide. Let’s see if he spots it in time! He has neither Geology nor Prospecting, but he does Hidden Lore (Troll-Wights) 11. Periil is 1, so his effective skill is 10. (Rolling…) 11: just missed it!
Temian starts his climb up the hillside. After a while, he thinks – hey, this isn’t so bad! The hillside is actually less steep than he’d feared, and the whole thing seems pretty stable. Sometimes Troll-Wights can destabilize whole hillsides by burrowing in behind them – but luckily, he thinks, as he steps out onto a very solid-seeming rock, this is not one of those ti….
Woah! The rock he’s stepped on tips dramatically, and rocks start to tumble everywhere as this section of the hillside begins to crumble! Desperately, Temian tries to leap for safety…
Temian gets one chance to avoid damage here. He needs to make a DX-Peril roll.. DX is 12, so he’s rolling against an 11. (Rolling…) 11: made it by a whisker!
…and just barely lands safely on a fairly solid part of the hillside a few yards on. “Whew!” he thinks as the rockslide goes clattering down into the ravine below him. “That was close!”
The rest of the climb is a little hair-raising, but he manages it safely, and eventually, he finds his way back to the proper path. From there it’s a fairly straight run to Murdfane Temple.
Luckily, the rest of the journey passes without incident – in fact, Temian enjoys himself a great deal – the Wistwilds are exceptionally beautiful.
Scene 3: Orcs at the Entrance
Eight days or so after he first set out, Temian reaches his destination: a deep crevasse that some ancient legends refer to as “The Maw of the World”. If those legends are right, then somewhere deep down inside this dark crevasse is Murdfane Temple.
After looking around for a while, Temian finds a very old, very worn set of stone steps, leading down into the crevasse. Carefully, he descends. The cliffs loom above him, and gradually the light fades – it’s very gloomy down here.
Suddenly he rounds a bend, and comes face to face with…
Temian shudders. This doesn’t look good.
We’ve now reached the Dungeon, so let’s head over to the Dungeons system.
So far, all we know about this dungeon is as follows:
Dungeon Type: Temple
Dungeon Theme: Place of Power
That’s not much to go on!
Now that we’ve arrived, let’s check to see if Murdfane Temple is really what we expected. (Rolling…) 12: “This Dungeon is a bit more dangerous than you signed on for: +1 Peril” Ok – so the Peril rating is now 2.
What’s the entrance to Murdfane Temple like? (Rolling…) 9: “The entrance is obviously guarded.” Ah, ok – that’s bad news. What’s it guarded by? Let’s ask the Monsters system. (Rolling, rolling…) Ah, ok: it appears that we’re dealing with two Goblin-kin, rated at Peril 1 – and it turns out that “Goblin-Kin” is also the primary monster type here in the Wistwilds. Interesting.
Temian watches the entrance to the Temple for a while, just to check if anything is out there – and sure enough, he soon sees movement: Orcs! Two of them, by the look of it.
Temian considers searching around to try to find another way in, but he doubts his chances – the steps he’s been following seem to lead right here, and nowhere else. But can he really take on two orcs single-handledly?
Temian does have quirk-level Overconfidence on his sheet….
“Just two of the beasts?” he thinks to himself, steeling up his nerves for the fight to come. “Surely I can do this – especially with the advantage of surprise.”
Very quietly, he stows his pack in a rocky hollow beside the path. Then, sword drawn, he begins to sneak down toward the two orcs, trying to remain out of sight.
Temian has Stealth at 11. What’s the Orcs’ Perception? (Rolling) 12. Damn. Well, nothing for it – let’s roll up a quick contest. (Rolling…) 6 and 6! Woah – everyone is doing their best here – Temian succeeds by 5, but the Orcs succeed by 6. Failure.
Temian swears he’s at his best here, flitting from shadow to shadow, creeping absolutely silently over the rocky ground… but before he can get within striking range, one of the orcs snarls suddenly and points his way. Damn! He’s blown it! A moment later, both Orcs are on their feet, with weapons drawn.
Grimly, Temian prepares to enter the fray…
Now let’s use the monsters system to roll up some stats for the Goblin-Kin. (Rolling…) ST 9, DX 10, HT 10, Weapon skill 11. This means they have Parry/Dodge 8, DR 1, and do 1d-1 cutting with their hatchets. They also have Bad Tempers and Infravision – and the latter totally explains why they spotted Temian so easily just now, despite his excellent Stealth roll!
Temian’s relevant stats are here.
Temian has the higher Basic Speed, so he goes first. He thrusts at the body of Orc 1. (Rolling…) 11: Hit. Orc 1 tries to dodge (Rolling…) 14: fail. Temian rolls 1d+1 damage (Rolling…) 1! Oh no! Just 2 pts of basic damage, -1 for the Orc’s DR, then doubled for impaling = 2pts damage. Not great! Ah well, at least he hit.
Now Orc 1, smarting but still aggressive, tries to swing at Temian. His effective skill is just 9, due to the shock penalty. (Rolling…) 9:hit! Temian tries to parry (rolling…) 11: succeeds.
Now Orc 2 tries to hit. (Rolling) 9: hit. Temian tries to dodge (rolling…) 8: succeeds. Phew!
Temian opens the fight with a rapid thrust, dealing the closer orc a minor wound to the belly. Then both orcs lash out at him with their hatchets; Temian parries one blow, and dodges the other. “This is risky business,” he thinks.
Temian thrusts for Orc 1’s body again (rolling…) 10: hit. Orc 1 tries to dodge (rolling…) 7: succeeds.
Orc 1 swings at Temian (rolling…) 10: hit. Temian tries to parry (rolling…) 9: parries.
Orc 2 swings at Temian (rolling…) 14: miss.
Temian thrusts for Orc 1’s body (rolling…) 14: miss.
Orc 1 swings at Temian (rolling…) 10: hit. Temian tries to parry (rolling) 6: parries.
Orc 2 swings at Temian (rolling…) 8: hit. Temian tries to dodge (rolling…) 16: fails. Orc 2 rolls for hit location (rolling) 7: Temian’s right leg. Orc 2 rolls for 1d-1 cutting damage (rolling…) 4 pts basic damage, -2 for Temian’s heavy leather leggins, then x1.5 for cutting, =3pts damage. Ouch!
There’s a flurry of blows: Temian tries to get in a better hit, but finds the orcs too mobile; the orcs hack at Temian, but can’t find an opening. Until suddenly, wham! A solid hatchet-blow catches Temian in the leading thigh. He grits his teeth and shifts to the defensive, hoping desperately that this isn’t the beginning of the end…
Temian takes an all-out defense (+2 to dodge).
Orc 1 swings at Temian (rolling…) 11: hit. Temian tries to dodge (rolling) 12: dodges. Whew.
Orc 2 swings at Temian (rolling…) 5: hit. Temian tries to dodge (rolling) 8: dodges. Double whew.
Temian thrusts for Orc 1’s body (rolling…) 10: hit. Orc 1 tries to dodge (rolling…) 10: fails. Temian rolls 1d+1 impaling damage (rolling…) 5, +1 =6 pts of basic damage, -1 for the Orc’s DR, then doubled for impaling = 10pts damage! Nice!
This is a Major Wound, so the Orc has to make a HT roll to avoid being stunned and knocked down. (Rolling…) 12: fails. Orc 1 is stunned and knocked down.
With Temian wounded, the orcs seize the initiative, only to have Temian slip narrowly aside from their blows. In his haste to attack, the leading orc over-extends himself, and Temian rapidly switches back onto the offensive, catching the orc with a mighty thrust, right in the belly. The orc screeches and then tumbles to the ground.
Orc 1 is at 0 HP, and therefore must make a HT roll to remain conscious. (rolling…) 9: succeeds. This orc is stunned, and so must Do Nothing this turn. At the end of the turn, he tries to snap out of it (rolling…) 7: snaps out of it.
Orc 2 swings at Temian (rolling…) 10: hit. Temian tries to parry (rolling) 8: parry.
Temian switches targets, and thrusts for Orc 2’s body (rolling…) 7: hit. Orc 2 tries to dodge (rolling…) 9: dodges.
Orc 1 is pretty badly hurt, and needs to make a HT roll to stay conscious. (rolling…) 9: succeeds. Will it stay in the fight? (rolling vs Will) 7: yes, sadly it’s here for the duration. Perhaps that Bad Temper has something to do with it! It rises to a kneeling position, intending to carry on the fight.
Orc 2 hacks at Temian (rolling….) 9: hit. Temian tries to parry (rolling…) 17: critical failure. Ok, this is definitely time to use Temian’s Luck for the session. (Rolling again, twice) 9 and 11. Thanks to his Luck, Temian parries this time.
With the leading orc down, Temian and the second orc exchange blows, but neither can find an opening in the other’s defenses. The downed orc crawls back up to its feet. Temian is a bit alarmed at this – surely he hit the beast hard to enough to keep it down permanently? How can it possibly be getting up? – and just as his attention is elsewhere, the second orc’s axe finds its way through his guard, and comes scything down towards his kidney…
…at which point, by pure luck, Temian stumbles a little on the rocky floor, and parries the blow without meaning to. Whew! Temian’s heart is beating very quickly now. That was far, far too close.
Temian thrusts at the body of Orc 2. (rolling…) 10: hit. Orc 2 tries to dodge (rolling…) 8: dodges.
Orc 1 needs to make a HT roll to remain conscious (rolling…) 12: fail. Orc 1 passes out.
Orc 2 hacks at Temian (rolling….) 9: hit. Temian tries to parry (rolling…) 10: parries.
Temian thrusts at the body of Orc 2. (rolling…) 9: hit. Orc 2 tries to dodge (rolling…) 11: fails. Temian rolls 1d+1 impaling damage (rolling…) 4, +1=5, -1 for DR, x2 = 8pts damage. A solid hit! This is a Major Wound, so Orc 2 has to roll vs Ht to avoid knockdown and stunning (rolling…) 8: succeeds.
Temian exchanges blows with the second orc, but neither finds an opening. The first orc, still clutching its hatchet in one hand and its bloody belly with the other, tries to rise from its knees, a mad light in its eyes… but the effort is too much for it, and it passes out from blood loss.
Seizing the initiative, Temian delivers a mighty thrust to the second orc’s belly. The orc gasps as the blade goes in.
Orc 2 attacks at a -4 shock penalty. (rolling…) 8: fail.
Temian tries to decapitate the second orc. He tries swing for the neck, delivered as a telegraphic attack. Effective skill is 12; the orc gets a +2 to active defense. (rolling…) 13: miss.
Orc 2 attacks. (rolling) 7: hit. Temian tries to parry (rolling…) 11: parries.
Temian tries the same move again (rolling…) 10: hit. Orc 2 tries to dodge – its dodge is now reduced to 6, but it gets +2 for the telegraphic attack, so effective dodge is 8. (Rolling…) 7: dodges.
Orc 2 attacks. (rolling) 13: miss.
Temian tries the same move for a third and hopefully final tine (rolling…) 12: just hit. Orc 2 tries to dodge (rolling…) 9: fails. Temian rolls 1d+3 cutting damage to the neck. (rolling) 6! Nice. +3=9, -1 for DR, doubled for cutting damage to the neck, =16pts damage. Orc 2 is now at -14 HP, and so must roll HT immediately to avoid death (rolling…) 11: fails.
The orc, wild with fury, keeps trying to hack at Temian, but its wound has slowed it. Trying to tend the fight quickly, Temian attempts to take advantage of the orc’s slowness by striking for the neck, but he can’t get his blade there fast enough, and the orc is able to lash out again. Temian parries the blow, and swings for the Orc’s neck again – but the orc slides out of the way. Desperate to finish the fight quickly, Temian tries for the neck a third time – and finally, with a sickening thwump, his blade slices cleanly into the orc’s throat, severing its head from its body.
The fight is over.
Ok – that got a little hairy! The beheading tactic was a terrible idea, as it turned out – it took three tries, and thus exposed Temian to a lot more risk. But all’s well that ends well, I suppose.
Scene 4: The Runes of Murdfane
Temian makes sure that both orcs are dead, and then catches his breath. He’s bleeding quite a lot from his right thigh, so he limps back up the path to where he left his pack, and takes out his first aid kit.
Temian has First Aid at 12 . (Rolling…) 10: success. Temian regains 1 HP due to bandaging.
He wraps some clean bandages tightly around his thigh to stop the bleeding. Then, seeing that no more enemies seem to be issuing forth from the entrance to the Temple, he decides to take half an hour to rest and let the shock of the injury subside, before going further.
I don’t actually know if you’re allowed to use the rules for “Treating Shock” (p. B424) on yourself, but I’ve allowed it before, so I figure I might as well allow it again. Solo adventuring is dangerous enough as it is! (Rolling against First Aid again…) 15: failed. Ah well! No more HP gained in any case.
Temian rests for a while, but it doesn’t seem to be doing him much good – in fact, his leg is starting to stiffen up a little. Better to keep it warm and moving.
He decides to head back down to examine the Temple entrance.
If you recall, one of my tasks this session was to provide Temian with a genuinely challenging opportunity to learn something new about the Witch of Dunmoss. This seems like a good opportunity for that!
The entrance to the Temple is horrific – it leads in through the gaping mouth of a huge (and particularly evil-looking) stone head. There’s obviously some sort of dark power at work here. In fact, looking at the head itself makes Temian a little queasy – there are runes carved into the stone face, but Temian’s eye seems to slide right off them, as if his subconscious is unwilling to confront what it sees.
But Temian is here to discover the secret of the Witch’s power, and so it’s important to take a close look at runes like these. He steels his nerves and begins to try to read…
Alright! Now for the challenge: let’s treat these evil runes as a dangerous Ward, as per the system for Wards, here. (Rolling to create the ward…) Ok, so we have a very dangerous infernal ward! You need to roll vs per-based Theology to notice it, then dispel it using IQ-based Theology. If you don’t have Theology, then Hidden Lore (Demons) can be used as a workaround. If you fail either roll, you must try to resist the ward using Will, or else take 2d-2 impaling damage. Ouch!
That’s deadly: 2d-2 impaling could easily kill Temian, and end the campaign right here. And we’ve already used our Luck for the session, so these rolls better go our way! Man, I’m glad that Hidden Lore workaround came up – otherwise we’d be toast already. Well, here goes…
Temian starts trying to make out the runes. As he reads, he starts to…
Does he notice the infernal ward? Temian’s Per-based Hidden Lore (Demons) is 11, but Peril is 2, so his effective skill is just 9. (Rolling…) 13: failed. Damn. This is serous, serious trouble. Man, I wish I had made that roll!
… feel a bit strange. A moment ago, he was very reluctant to read these runes – they gave him a queasy feeling – but now it’s almost as if he wants to keep reading, faster and faster – as if he wants, no yearns to let the runes have their way with him, with his mind, with his very soul…
Temian’s Will is 14, and Peril is 2, so his effective Will is 12. Well, here goes – this roll matters so very, very much, since it could well be the end of Temian Fell! (Rolling…) 7! Success! I’m breathing a big sigh of relief here – I was having visions of having Temian die, just when his second adventure is starting… But he survives again!
…. “No!” Temian shouts silently. The pull of the Runes is strong, so strong… he feels it tugging at the very essence of his being… “No!” he shouts again, and this time the shout echoes loudly in the hollows of the crevasse. “You cannot have me!”
Temian feels the dark force, whatever it was, losing its grip on him. Quickly, he deciphers the runes, as best he can…
Alright! Temian earns a Plot Element toward his second personal plot: his attempt to bring the Dunmoss Witch to justice. What does he find out about her, I wonder? Let’s use the Solo 6 to help us come up with something fun.
Let’s start with an obvious idea. Given that these runes turn out to be connected with Hidden Lore (Demons), does Temian find out that the Dunmoss Witch acquired her powers as a result of a pact with a demon? (Rolling…) 4: “No, but…”. Ok – no, the Dunmoss witch didn’t make a pact with a demon – but she is associated with demons somehow. Hmmm… Is she perhaps part demon herself? (Rolling…) 5: “No.” Hmmmm…. did she steal her power from a demon prince? (Rolling…) 3: “Yes, but…”
Ok, so the Dunmoss Witch stole her power from a demon prince, but she wasn’t able to steal all its power. Is the demon prince now out for revenge? (Rolling…) 3: “Yes, but”. Ok – so, yes, the demon prince is out for revenge, but it’s currently unable to get it. Why? Did the Dunmoss Witch perhaps manage to banish the demon prince to an other-dimensional prison? (Rolling…) 5: “No.” Hmmm – why can’t the demon prince get revenge? Is it just that the Witch is too powerful? (Rolling…) 3: “Yes, but”. Ok – yes, the Witch is too powerful for the Demon Prince to attack directly, but it keeps trying to work against her through its agents, because it wants its infernal power back.
Hmmm… okay, last question. We already have one powerful demon prince in the story – Narnuilakh, the Lord of Starless Night (first discovered in Episode 5). Do these particular runes indicate that the Demon Prince we’ve been talking about is actually Narnuilakh? (Rolling…) 5: “No”. Ok, so these runes don’t say that at all. Fair enough! In any case that’s probably enough information for one Plot Element.
… and soon learns that centuries ago, a woman named Juliana Darkhound managed to steal the power of a Demon prince, and thereby became the dreaded Witch of Dunmoss. However, she was unable to steal all of the Demon prince’s power – instead, she was forced to leave the Demon alive, though in a weakened state. Ever since, the weakened Demon Prince has worked against her in secret, trying to get its power back.
As he pieces all this together, Temian shudders – it appears he’s become caught up in story much older, and darker, than he’d thought. He now knows that the runes on the entrance to Murdfane Temple are infernal wards, designed to keep out the agents of the Demon Prince – and that’s a scary thought. But luckily, he is not one of those agents, so he can enter, if he wills.
Taking a deep breath, Temian steps inside the Temple…
…and that seems like a great place to end the session. It started a bit slowly, with lots of background color, and not a lot of danger, but then got very risky indeed towards the end.
A quick reflection on the session: Man, I’m glad Temian has Luck! When I critically failed that defense roll against the orcs, having already been wounded in the thigh, things looked pretty grim. Solo adventuring is very touch-and-go, compared to group adventuring – one bad roll, and the whole thing can be over, because there’s no-one else around to take up the slack. Added to this isthe fact that combat in GURPS is pretty touch-and-go at the best of times. The moral of the story? I’d strongly recommend Luck to anyone who is planning to try solo adventuring, and who is unwilling to fudge dice rolls in some other way!
A second reflection: once again, a high Will really saved Temian’s life this episode. Points well spent! I very much like the way this is working out – our plucky hero keeps getting saved by his luck and his determination, more than by anything else. That seems very much in-genre, to me.
By discovering something significant about the Witch of Dunmoss’ power source, Temian managed to earn a Plot Element towards his second Personal Plot, as well as a character point. Nice!
He’s now earned a total of two Plot Elements toward that plotline. Once he gets to three, he can resolve it, if he wants.
He also has one unspent character point.
Well, that’s it, Temian fans! Stay tuned for the next session, when Temian braves the darkness of Murdfane Temple itself…. (“Coming soon” for real this time, I promise!)