Friday, December 30, 2016

Temple of the Rat God

A Khamen and Candorra Adventure

After being released from prison, Khamen accompanied the priest and Candorra to the Temple. There, the priest briefed the pair. Cultists of the Rat God had stolen the Tooth of St Celene, a sacred relic. It was being held in a reliquary within the Rat God's Temple. Khamen was to sneak into the temple, find the box, and retrieve the relic. Succeed and he would be free; fail and he would find the freedom of death. What of Candorra? She was there to keep Khamen to his task.

The duo traveled to Talmatia, the city of sin, where every manner of vice and corruption prevailed. In this bustling miasma, the Cult of the Rat God thrived and its heathen temple stood proudly.

As night fell, two cloaked individuals slid through the shadows and up the stairs to the entrance of the temple.
A schematic of the Temple
The doors were open and no guards were posted but the duo cautiously entered the foyer (1). There was no door forward so they had to choose another route. Heading right, they entered a room (2) filled with bones. As soon as they entered, the bones magically joined together and a half dozen skeletal rats attacked. They leapt upon the heroes; two bit through their armor. A few choice slashes decapitated half of the skeletal beasts and the others fled.

Finding a dead end, the duo backtracked and entered a room (3) where three priests were engaged in an arcane ritual. Khamen signaled to Candorra to creep quietly past them. 

Game Note: I introduced a mechanic where the characters can try to sneak past the enemy. They need to roll the enemy's level or higher. Rogues get a +1 modifier. If any character fails, the party is spotted.

But as they made the attempt, Candorra kicked a loose pebble. Alerted, the priests attacked. Khamen killed one, but another slashed him. Stumbling back, Khamen made a perfect target. The priest charged forward, but Candorra rushed up, slashed him, spun and parried another attack, and then cut down the remaining priest.

As Candorra bandaged Khamen, he said "I thought you were good at this."

Scowling, she replied, "What are you talking about? I just took out two of them."

"I meant sneaking. Your clumsiness alerted them."

Candorra grew flushed. She tried to stammer a retort but just ended up huffing. Khamen winced as she tightened the bandage a little too vigorously.

In the next room (4), they ran into a horde of rats. Again, Khamen was bitten, but at least the wound did not fester.
An example of my virtual battle board.
The black dots represent rats.

Next (4) they passed a gem-encrusted statue of a large humanoid rat. Khamen hesitated and approached the statue.

"Don't even think about it." Candorra commanded.

Khamen withdrew his hand and headed for the door.

Game Note: Given the nature of the quest, I would choose not to touch the statue (especially because I know it could turn into an enemy) but I figured that Khamen would be tempted. Therefore, I had the characters make a Level 3 willpower roll.

At the door they could hear voices from the other side (6). Cautiously, they opened the door. Four cultists were worshiping at a blood-stained altar. They tried to sneak by but this time Khamen made a noise. The cultists turned and attacked, wielding bloody curved daggers. Each of the heroes took a wound before they dispatched two of the enemy. The others fled.

Another battle board.
This time the token represent cultists
As they left the room, Candorra stated, "I thought you were good at this." Khamen just scowled.

The next room (7) was an armory. Passing through, they turned left and entered a dark room (8) with a throne on a dais. As soon as they entered, a shadowy humanoid figure on the throne stirred.

"Who dares enter my presence?" called the figure. A light shone on its face; they could see the visage of a large rat!

Khamen started to raise his sword but Candorra stopped him. She fell to her knees, pulling Khamen after her.

"Please Lord! We mean no disrespect. We have lost our way. We have sacrifices for your altar.

The rat king stared its beady eyes at them. Then it snarled and ordered "Begone! And disturb me no more!"

With that, the heroes scurried out of the room.

Game Note: I rolled "bribe" for the rat king's reaction. The problem is that I'm not tracking cash! Instead of a bribe, I allowed them to make a persuasion roll (vs. the enemy's level). Candorra passed, and momentarily appeased the king.

Finally, they found the reliquary room (9). Along the rear wall was the object of their search - a large box-like structure covered with grotesque, gilded ornamentation. Khamen began to fiddle with it. He sprung one lock, then another. As he experimented with the final lock, there was a frightening buzz. Suddenly, he felt a shock run through his body. He fell to the floor.

At that very moment, the door behind them opened. In strode a rat-headed humanoid, a large scimitar in its grasp. As soon as it saw the duo, it charged. Its attack was clumsy, however. Candorra easily ducked the slash and drove her sword into its vitals.

"Hurry!" she hissed. "Open that last lock and let's go!"

"I can't" Khamen stated, his teeth still chattering from the shock. As she looked at him, he held up his trembling hand.

"Tell me what to do and I'll be your hands." she responded.

He gave her instructions and she managed to open the last lock.

Game Note: Due to his wounds, I was worried about Khamen making the last roll (which was initially a puzzle box) so I had Candorra do it. I modified and embroidered the story a bit.

"At least I'm good at something." she jested as she pulled out the stolen Tooth. Wrapping it up carefully, she placed it in her pouch. Then she helped Khamen to his feet. Together, they stumbled back through the temple. Fortunately, they were not challenged and were able to sneak out into the Talmatian night.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Khamen's Recruitment

Introduction to a New Four Two* Against Darkness Series

Khamen was lying upon a moldering heap of rags in the dank, gloomy cell. "Well, this is quite a fix you got yourself into," he thought to himself. He should have known better than to try to burgle the home of the captain of the City Watch. But the old man who hired him was willing to pay a pretty penny for that jeweled dagger. Khamen could not resist the offer.

As he pondered his tribulations, Khamen heard the clank of a gate and the echoes of footsteps along the corridor. From the sound, Khamen could tell that two men were approaching. Soon, the flicker of torchlight reached into his cell. The jailer opened the cell door and stepped aside. A man in white priestly robes stood there, gazing upon Khamen. He then turned to the guard and with a gesture dismissed him. The guard hesitated, started to protest, but then thought better of it and retreated instead.

"Am I to be shriven of my sins before my execution?" Khamen muttered sardonically.

"On the contrary," replied the priest. "I am here to offer you a chance for absolution."

Khamen sat up, then suspiciously answered, "How?"

"We hear that you are skilled at . . .acquiring things. There is something that the Temple wants to acquire. We believe you can assist us."

"And what do I get in return?"

"Out of here," the priest replied as he waved his hand about, indicating the cell.

"That's it?"

"Is that not enough?" The priest shook his head as if disappointed. "Ah well. The Temple will need to find another, and you can stay here." The priest turned to go.

"Wait!" called Khamen. "I'll help."

"Then come with me."

Khamen leapt up and followed the priest. As he started down the corridor, he collided with a hooded and cloaked figure that was waiting unseen. Khamen jerked with surprise; he could have sworn that only two men came down the corridor.

"Wha . . ?" began Khamen.

The priest turned his head and answered. "That is Candorra. As you can see, or perhaps it is better to say you cannot see, she excels at silent moving and hiding. She is to be your partner."

Khamen halted and firmly stated "I work alone."

"Ah," the priest answered in that smug tone that was beginning to irritate Khamen. "Well that is not possible. You are not entirely trustworthy, you see. If Candorra is unacceptable, you will need to return to your cell."

"Wait!" Khamen pleaded, waving his hands in supplication. "I may have been hasty . . ."

"Fine," the priest replied. "Come along; there is no time to waste."

Khamen hurried after the priest, with the figure of Candorra following ominously behind.

* OOC Game Notes

  • I wanted to run another dungeon as an experiment but I haven't completed Rowan's next adventure. I thought about using Maudicor but he is a higher level than I wanted. Ultimately, I decided to start new characters. Thus I present the story of Khamen and Candorra.
  • I am experimenting with 2-character adventuring parties (hence the reference to Two Against Darkness). When I ran Khamen and Candorra's first adventure, I halved the enemies and gave them a couple of healing potions.
  • Not surprising, Khamen is a rogue. Candorra is an elf. I used the character classes as is, although the Temple gave each character a potion of healing.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Tomb of An-Makeran

Part 1 of the Quest for the Book
A Rowan Adventure

After defeating the goblins, Rowan and Jacor are given a more difficult task. The Book of the Saints has been stolen by demon-worshiping fanatics. The culprits have fled to the trackless deserts far to the south, in the land of Palmeria. Our heroes must track them down.

Their first quest is to search for clues in the Tomb of An-Makeran. One problem - legend has it that his corpse rises from his sarcophagus and prowls the ancient tomb.

After a long journey, they arrive at the Tomb.

A rough map of the Tomb
The heroes' path is in red
They enter a long, broad corridor (2). In niches along the wall are the skeletal remains of temple guards. As soon as our heroes enter, the skeletons animate and attack. Jacor finds himself surrounded and takes a wound before Rowan saves him.

The next room (5) features a blood-stained altar. Rowan is stricken by a wave of weakness, but Jacor blesses him and the feeling passes. The heroes exit a door on the right (6) and encounter a temple priest. He attacks but our heroes dispatch him quickly.

They return through the altar room and exit left (4). They are suddenly attacked by a group of hyena-men. Jacor uses the power of the "Peace of Heaven" [aka sleep] to take out one hyena-man but the others swarm our heroes, wounding each of them. Rowan soon mows through the enemy.

In the next room (7), they find an emaciated figure that they take to be a corpse, until it speaks to them. "Brothers, your path is difficult. Allow me to help." It is a hermit who provides healing for Jacor.

In following rooms, they discover a clue (8)  - an ancient parchment - and accept a quest from a troubled spirit (9). Then they get swarmed by a pack of giant rats (12). Jacor uses "Peace of Heaven" to placate the beasts. They battle more skeletons (11), with Jacor taking a wound. After healing, they enter the last room (10).

In the center of the room is a sarcophagus. As soon as they enter, it opens and a mummy crawls out. It is An-Makeran!

Rowan rushes to engage but his attack misses. His shield blocks the mummy's counter. Jacor then hits the creature twice with the Holy Smite [lightning bolt] power. The mummy disintegrates.

The mummy is destroyed and the clue is in their hands, but they accepted a quest to clear all evil from the temple. They check the remaining rooms - there is one more monster (1) but it is a tough one, a chimera!

Jacor heals himself and Rowan, then they burst into the room. The beast's dragon head breathes fire, scorching our heroes. Jacor has no more power so he attacks with his staff, and actually manages to get a hit. Rowan uses his shield to block the beast's attacks, and he manages to get in a couple of solid hits. The wounded beast flees!

With the Tomb cleansed and this part of the quest complete, the duo head for the city of Alatar. There, they can recover their strength and find a sage who can unravel the mystery of the clue they found!

Game Notes
I played this adventure using my card-based modifications for Four Against Darkness. Read more here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Sad End

Being the 3rd Part of Sir Rudy's Adventures
(A Knight of Destiny Adventure)

Sir Rudy's elation at defeating a dragon and finding the Sword of the Fisher King were short-lived. Weakened by his wounds, he collapsed with the Sword in his hand. His companion, Mordret, tended to his wounds. Sir Rudy clearly needed rest so Edric bundled the unconscious knight onto a horse and took him to a nearby inn.

Sir Rudy rapidly healed but he was impatient to continue his quest. Despite Mordret's pleadings, our hero rose from bed determined to press forward. As he rode into the wilderness, he found a wounded paladin.

"Who did this?" Rudy asked.

The dying knight croaked out "Sir Turquine" just before he expired.

Rage filled Sir Rudy's breast. He would make Turquine pay for this outrage!

Rudy started to follow the signs of Turquine's passage, determined to catch the recreant knight. After several days, Rudy stopped near a placid lake. Suddenly, a bright light shone and ethereal music filed his ears. Seemingly out of the lake itself, a grand castle appeared. The Grail Castle!

The drawbridge opened and a shining knight strode forward. The figure spoke to Rudy. "Art thou worthy?"

"Yes!" Rudy boldly proclaimed.

"Look into thine heart. Does thou find hatred there?"

Rudy's face suddenly lost all color. He sank to his knees and began to weep, for he knew that his bold declaration was false.

The shining knight spoke again. "Cleanse thyself and return when thou art worthy." And with that, the knight and the castle disappeared like a mist dissipating in the morn.

Sir Rudy rode on pondering his failure and determined to confess his sin with the next priest. Suddenly, a figure on horseback appeared on the road.

"Another of Arthur's paltry minions. Prepare to die!"

Rudy could recognize the coat of arms. It was Turquine! With a roar of defiance, Rudy spurred his horse and leveled his lance. Turquine did likewise. The two collided with a loud crash. Both flew from their mounts.but they rose, drew their swords, and rushed at each other.

Turquine dealt a number of severe blows to Rudy. Blood gushed from numerous cuts. Rudy could feel his lifeblood and his energy waning away. Yet Rudy refused to yield to the evil foe. He fought back, striking a series of telling blows in succession. He battered Turquine to his knees.

"Yield, you miscreant, and I shall spare thy life." Rudy offered.

Turquine just sneered and leapt from his feet. Rudy dodged and landed a counter on Turquine. Turquine stumbled; Rudy followed and struck another blow. But before Rudy could strike again, Turquine disengaged.

Now both warriors circled each other warily. Their many wounds spouted blood; they only had enough strength for one final pass. Rudy spotted an opening. He lunged, and slipped on a patch of bloody soil. He fell to the ground, losing his grip on his sword. Turquine shuffled over to him and thrust his blade through Rudy's neck.

"Another paladin down." Sir Turquine growled as he stumbled to his horse, mounted, and rode off.


  • I modified the events slightly for narrative coherence. For example, the game did not tell me that Sir Turquine killed the paladin that Rudy found. Instead, it made sense based on later evens.
  • I made a big mistake in this session. I could have chosen to go on a pilgrimage but opted to confront a challenger instead. By ill luck, I ended up fighting Turquine.
  • Nevertheless, I nearly had him. Both were down to 1 life and Rudy had the initiative. Naturally, I rolled a 1 for his attack. Turquine's attack was far more effective.