Friday, July 31, 2015

The Key Districts of Enharza

Tavern Alley and the Red Light District (upper right corner of city map)
Map by Santiago Luis Oriá
"The Alley" is actually a large winding street which is home to most of Enharza's taverns, inns, and eating establishments for the commoners. Street vendors also sell various exotic food items and tavern keepers try and convince folks in off the street. Occasional City Watch patrols. Located just to the NE of Tavern Alley, the Red Light District provides Enharza with ample gambling parlors, houses of ill repute and other dens of iniquity. Pickpockets abound, and after dark the chance of being accosted by street thugs is real. Street urchins infest this area.

Temple District (middle right of city map, below Tavern Alley and the Red Light District)
Enharza is a diverse city, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Temple Quarter. Various temples, shrines, and churches to all manner of minor deities and lesser-known demi-gods are packed into this section of Enharza. Healing and other clerical services can be obtained here for a donation or other service rendered to the providing sect. 

The Arena (middle right of city map, below the Temple District)
Slaves, prisoners and free men foolhardy enough to risk their lives for gold and a modicum of fame fight each other as well as captured or conjured monsters in the Arena. Large crowds come to see the fights and gambling on the outcome is popular. Weapons  handlers, armorers, and other services for the 'common man' can be found here.

The Bazaar (upper left of city map)
All manner of strange and exotic items can be found for sale in the colorful booths and tents of the Bazaar. Open from sun-up to late in the evening, the Bazaar is always filled with the sights, sounds and smells of a dozen lands. 

The Docks (middle left of city map)
Another rough part of town, the docks see ships coming in from all over the Imperium. Small, private sailing vessels can be hired here, but the price can be steep. And beware, tentacled monsters and other slimy beasts from the deeps have been spotted in the dirty waters of Enharza's harbor and canals!

The Merchant District (middle left of city map, below the Docks)
Shops of all sorts, catering to many needs. Most types of gear and provisions can be found here, including Enharza's best Armorer and Weaponsmith. The Merchant Quarter is continually patrolled by the City Watch. 

The Slums (top left of city map, outside the city walls)
Those too poor to reside within Enharza live in this shantytown outside the city walls. Aglana the Witch-Oracle lives here and many come and visit hoping to gain answers to questions. On the right day, and for the right price, valuable information can be obtained.

The Noble District (lower third of city map)
The Noble District is home to Archon Fezaar's palace, the barracks of the Black Guard, as well as the Mages Guild. The finer shops of Enharza can be found here and the homes of the wealthy and privileged. Adventurers wandering these streets should be prepared to be stopped by the City Watch.

The Sewers
A maze of dark and dirty passages lie beneath Enharza. The sewers can be accessed from numerous locations across the city. Foul creatures, living and undead, roam these tunnels. But that doesn't prevent those on the run from using the sewers as a hideout. The Thieves Guild  and its many splinter factions are also known to use the Sewers to move through the city unseen and to gain secret access to numerous buildings. The sewer system runs through the ruins of the Old City at numerous points.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What are the Meatshields up to?

Art by Toren Atkinson
I have posted before about how I handle PC actions when the party is back in town. I made a basic list of activities and just select from the list what I think makes most sense for the character at the time. In short I play them individually as if each were my own character in a 'normal' game. So far this has worked out well, but I also wanted something for the retainers. Meatshields are people too, right?

But whereas I 'play' the PCs and determine their actions myself, for the retainers I wanted to ensure the element of randomness which would potentially take the emergent story into unforeseen directions. And of course to help with this, I needed some tables!

The table below represents the base percentages for each activity, but I will likely adjust  the various weights based in the NPC in question. Some may be more inclined to go drinking and gambling while others may be more demure and unlikely to get wild.

%       Activity
30      Resting up for the next mission
20      Dealing with personal stuff (I will play off any personality quirks or traits)
20      Gambling (use PC gambling table)
20      Carousing (use Retainer Carousing subtable)
10      Disappears for d6 days (see subtable)

I'll post some of the sub tables later on.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Quiet Halls

Thowin Four Fingers, a fighter, and his torchbearer, Boarface
Imorfin the elf
Durik the cleric
Fretta the Dark, a thief
Balork the Medium, a magic-user and Bursus, his man-at-arms

We rejoin our brave adventurers making their way towards the Quiet Halls, having just left the kobold party…

Boarface lit a torch and passed it to Balork before lighting his lantern. With an apprehensive Fretta bringing up the rear, the party retraced their steps towards the entrance.

(After a couple fruitless random encounter rolls…) The party soon reached the entry chamber. This time they took the north exit and soon entered the refuse chamber. All were on guard for any sign of the snakes from before, and Thowin gave the order that none of the trash was to be disturbed.  With Fretta practically pushing the party along, they passed quickly through and entered another chamber.

The new chamber was empty of contents but the walls were covered with sooty, man-shaped silhouettes. In addition they saw a number of old inscriptions carved into the stone walls. Balork handed his torch to Bursus and then turned his attention to the carvings.

Art by Ed Heil

Q: Can Balork decipher the ancient inscriptions? (Unlikely)
Mythic: (90); Big Failure which I interpreted as leaving no chance for anyone in the party to understand the meaning behind the inscriptions.

Balork eventually gave up, claiming the inscriptions to be indecipherable and the party moved on. They headed down a passage to the east and through another empty chamber before finally reaching the entrance to the Quiet Halls, exactly as the kobolds had described.

They encountered a large, stone double-door with etchings of the dead, dancing and cavorting. After steeling themselves Thowin and Imorfin put shoulders to the door, and after a bit of a struggle, it opened with a deep groan.

The adventurers moved through the open doors and into the chamber beyond. A cold chill was in the air and the place smelled of old death. The light from Bursus' lantern revealed a large, rectangular hall. Two rows of columns stretched from the floor to the ceiling above. The place was dusty and fallen masonry covered with lichen littered the floor.

Something moved at the edge of the light and a reddish glow appeared. A number of large beetles could be seen munching on the lichen. They turned their attention to the intruders and hissed menacingly. (Reaction roll: Territorial, hostile)

Q: Does the party fight? (Unlikely)
Mythic: 75, No

Not wanting to tussle with the angry beetles, the party looked about for exits from the chamber. Open passages left the chamber in all directions, but the party headed north to the closest.

They followed the passage until it turned to the east. There they found a closed door on the west wall and to the north, a man-sized hole in the wall. Numerous pieces of stone and brick were scattered about the floor as if someone or something had broken through from the other side. At Thowin's direction, Bursus poked the lantern into the opening, his arm shaking all the while. The light revealed a small space where the smell of death and decay was strong, but otherwise appeared empty. The thought of something breaking out from the inside was unsettling.

The door nearby was opened and beyond lay another, larger chamber. Therein they found rotted wooden tables and names and dates etched on the walls, obviously from a time long forgotten. Thowin led them to another empty room down the hall and after a fruitless check for hidden doors, they turned back to the entry chamber and the beetles.

Q: Are the beetles still there? (Very Likely)
Mythic: 51, Yes

What does the party do? D4: 1-3 try and pass cautiously by, 4 attack
Result: 4, attack

(I decide that Balork will use his Nuke Sleep spell while the others will be ready with ranged weapons to try and pick off any survivors. All but two of the beetles fall asleep, and the remaining pair are dispatched without ever having a chance to attack.)

Satisfied at having handled the beetles so efficiently Thowin and Imorfin waved the party on, heading out of the room via the eastern passage. The passage soon reached an intersection and Thowin chose the way to the north. The light from the torch and lantern revealed a dusty, cobweb-filled passage. The entered cautiously. After a short distance the hall turned to the east and the party saw a long hall running east as far as the light shone. They saw at least four doors, two on each side of the passage until the hall disappeared into darkness.

Q: Does party try one of the first doors? (Likely)
Mythic: 89, No……hmmm, I guess something wasn't quite right about the first doors

After a short, whispered conversation Thowin and Imorfin signal for the party to move on past the first set of doors. Just as they reach the next set, the second door on the south wall explodes into a mass of wooden splinters and the door fragments begin to swirl violently about, picking up small stones and bone fragments from the passage floor. A roughly human-shaped figure forms from the swirling mass of wood, stone, bone and dust.

The party is not surprised. Given the confines of the passage I rule that only Thowin and Imorfin in the front rank can attack this round. The party loses initiative and the swirling mass strikes Thowin and the fighter is pierced by numerous wooden shards and splinters. He takes 8 points of damage, leaving him with just  1 hp!

Art by Dave Kendall
Imorfin swung his battle-axe at the shade and was relieved to feel his weapon bite into….something. Bone and wood splinters exited the swirling mass and the form diminished. The heavily wounded Thowin raised his great sword and brought the blade slicing down through the mass. Suddenly the shade dissipated, the wind stopped and a low wail trailed off until all was silent.

Durik stepped up and placed a healing hand on Thowin (3 hp). "I cannot heal you further today and I'm afraid your wounds are still quite serious."

Q: Does the party  investigate the crypt? (Near sure thing)
Mythic: 20, Yes

While the cleric tended to the fighter, Fretta and Balork peered into the room beyond the shattered door. They found piles of dusty bones in the small chamber along with a small, rotting sack. The albino thief sliced open the rotting burlap and platinum coins spilled out. Her eyes lit up at the princely sum and she hurriedly picked them up. After she was done transferring the coins to her pouch, she had counted 400 - a fortune!

Q: Does the party consider leaving Stonehell? (I rule 'Very Likely' given Thowin's injury, the fact that the Sleep and CLW spells had been used, and the recent find of 400 pp)
Mythic: 30, Yes

So after two failed random encounter checks the party exits Stonehell and heads back to Enharza.