So, like promised here is my first session report. I am playing 4th Edition D&D solo, using the 9Qs solo rpg engine that you can get at the Solo Nexus blog. I am using the 2012 version however. The version that is up for download at Solo Nexus is the 2013 edition but the basics are all the same.
As a sidenote: John Fiore from Solo Nexus was so kind and posted some articles from me that I send to him to contribute. I am Carsten from Germany on his blog and did some posts about how to play D&D solo and some other articles. So if you have the time go there and check it out.
But back to my solo session:
Like I said, the 9Q engine is used, together with Rory’s Story Cubes as a random idea generator as well as the Mythic Game Master Emulator fate chart when necessary. To generate the adventure hook, I used the Adamantine Fantasy Adventure generator, that you can get at rpgnow.com. Whenever I talk about game mechanics or give behind the scenes information about how I did things, I use ITALIC text.
My character is a young wizard named Keira, and this is her story…
Keira is a beautiful young woman of 22 years and a faithful follower of Ioun. She was a street urchin in Fallcrest when she was discovered by her mentor to be, an aging mage with the name Desmond, who saw her arcane potential. He took her with him, offering her a home in his mansion located in the farmlands just outside of Fallcrest. He was teaching her the arcane arts and the principles of Ioun and she became a member of his arcane society, the “Guardians of Ioun”. The Guardians of Ioun are a secret society whose goal is to battle the followers of Vecna wherever they find them. Keira has long blonde hair, a slender but athletic build, blue eyes and a sharp mind. She wears a fitting outfit made of soft leather, together with a blue hooded cloak with a golden seam. She carries a black, polished quarterstaff and a slender dagger hidden underneath her cloak. A sturdy leather bag holds her spellbook and her adventuring gear.
Adventure Seed (generated by the Adamantine Fantasy Adventure Generator):
Keira must combat a warrior in a tavern while dealing with religion and facing a monster.
Prelude: Keira is instructed by her mentor to undertake a mission for the arcane society. This sets the heroic motivation which is generated by interpreting the adventure seed.
Keira enters Desmond’s study on the second floor of the mansion. It is a large room with wooden bookshelfs lining the walls. A fire is burning in a fireplace, radiating a comfortable warmth. The better part of the room is taken up by a massive oak table. Books and parchements are piled on the table. Desmond is sitting in a comfortable armchair, reading what appears to be a letter. As she enters the room, he looks up.
“Keira my child, do come in.” Desmond looks troubled.
“What is it master? You look disturbed. Bad news?” Keira points at the letter in Desmond’s hand.
“I think so. One of our agents heard a rumor, that a new delegation of Vecna initiates is on their way to the Nentir Vale. That information is consistent with reports coming in from other agents throughout the Vale. It appears as if the church of Vecna tries to strengthen their presence here and gain a foothold in the Vale. The agent reports, that the delegation is headed towards Fiveleague House from outside the Vale. There they are to meet up with a member of their church who will escort them further into the Vale to their final destinations, which are unknown to us at this point.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Well, my child, I think it is time to see if I have prepared you well. I certainly tried to do my best. I will ask the leading order of our society to a secret meeting where we will discuss these disturbing news and hopefully determine a course of action. But first we need to gather some more reliable information and I can’t think of anyone better suited for this task than you.
You have to travel to Fiveleague House. Try to reach it before the delegation arrives. You must hurry. Once there, you must try to gather as much information as you can and relay it to me. Try to travel with the delegation, blend into the crowd and learn as much as you can about their plans and destinations.”
Keira nods. “How am I supposed to relay this information to you master? I mean quick and over such distance?” She looks puzzled.
Desmond smiles, stands up and pulls a large tome out of one of the bookshelves. He puts it on the table and opens it. Underneath the cover, a hidden compartement cut into the book is revealed, containing a small silk bag. He reaches into the bag and pulls out two perfectly smooth, flat black stones. “Do you know what these are?”
Arcana Check vs. DC 15, result 17, success.
Keira looks at the stones and takes one into her hand, examines it closely and closes her eyes. “I can feel the arcane energy running through these stones. They seem to be magically bonded to each other…”, she smiles and opens her eyes. “These are Messenger Stones, linked to each other. I can talk to one stone and my voice will be heard through it’s counterpart.” Desmond smiles. “Looks like you were paying attention in class after all. You are correct my dear. These messenger stones are linked to us and to each other. Only we can activate them by dropping a small drop of blood onto one of them. After that, you just need to talk, not much louder than a whisper, and I will hear your voice in my mind if I carry the stone with me. The same is true if I have to talk to you. I crafted these in a ritual shortly after I took you in. I knew the day would come when you had to leave me and I wanted you to always be able to seek my advice, should you ever need it, no matter where you were.” Keira smiles at Desmond, walks up to him and gives him a warm hug. “That was very thoughtful of you master. I will do my best and try not to disappoint you.” She takes one of the stones and slips it into a leather pouch on her belt.
“Do you know when exactly the delegation is scheduled to arrive at the Fiveleague House?”
(very unlikely, no)
“No, the rumors and the information I have is still very vague. They will probably need a few days though.”
“Do you know who is supposed to meet them there?”
(very unlikely, no)
“Sadly I don’t but I suspect it will be someone who is already operating in the Vale and knows his or her way around.”
“Well then I guess I hurry and get my things packed up and ready to leave. It is some distance to Fiveleague House and I don’t want to miss the delegation.”
Keira smiles sarcastically and turns to leave the study.
Does Desmond give her some money for the journey? (very likely) Yes, 1d6 x 50 gp, 100 gp.
“Wait my child. You don’t think I would let you wander of just like that do you?” He reaches for a small wooden box which is sitting on the table, opens it and throws Keira a small pouch. “I want you to be comfortable and have good food. And who knows, maybe you have to buy your way out of trouble?”
Keira gives him a confident look. “Maybe I try casting my way out of trouble first. Otherwise all those years spent in class and sticking my nose into old dusty books would have been wasted. But thank you master.” She looks into the bag and smiles. “Very generous of you….are you sure you don’t need these coins master. I know I will be fine without them.”
“I know you will….but do me a favor and take them anyway, if only to help an old man sleep without worries.”
Keira nods, leaves the room and packs up her gear. A few minutes later she is ready, says farewell to Desmond and heads out for Fiveleague House.
And we have the heroic motivation. Keira’s goal is to complete the assignment her mentor gave her, finding and infiltrating the delegation of Vecna followers and gathering information about their plans.
Q1: What looming hostility inherent within the setting unexpectedly comes into conflict with the heroic motivation, threatening to worsen over time? Story Cubes “Voyages” are used. A random cube is picked. The symbol rolled is a pill. Interpretation: The pill is interpreted as poison or poisoning someone which immediately makes me think of Drow, so Drow it is. I rolled 1 and 6 which means an enemy is pursuing new goals and taking aggressive action against the hero.
As GM: Hidden in the underbrush a drow scouting party is watching the road, making note of every armed patrol or adventuring group that passes by. The Drow are on a mission to gather information about Fallcrest’s defenses. The group consists of a drow ranger led by a drow priestess of Lolth. As the priestess spots Keira in her arcane robe, walking with her staff, she snarls, her voice silent but sharp with hatered: “An infidel human sorceress. Disgusting! I can feel the arcane energy surrounding her. I will show her what real might is. We will follow her for a while to see what she is up to. When she is farther away from that stinking human rathole they call a town we will strike her down. Maybe she carries a spellbook or artifact from which we can gain some more insight into human magic.” The drow scout just nods in acknowledgement. He would never dare to speak up to a priestess, even though this one was still an initiate.
Gracefully and silent they move through the underbrush, following Keira on her way to Fiveleague House, waiting for the right moment to strike. After following Keira for a while, the road makes a small curve. The priestress nods to the scout. The time to strike is here.
As Player: Keira travels at a fast pace. She didn’t know when the delegation would arrive and she didn’t want to miss them. Otherwise it would be difficult to pick up their tracks again. Traveling between villages and towns in the Vale was dangerous, so she keeps to one side of the road to gain some cover from the underbrush while keeping her senses sharp.
Stealth check of the Drow vs. Perception of Keira (15). The scout has +8 Stealth and rolls a 12 for a total of 20, he is hidden from Keira. The priestress has +6 and rolls an 8 for a total of 14, so Keira spots her. There is a surprise round. The scout can act during the surprise round and take a single action, he has combat advantage.
Time for some stats made up on the fly using the “Monster Manual 3 on a business card” formulas.
Drow Scout, Level 1 Minion Skirmisher, 25 XP:
Init +5, AC 15, Fortitude 13, Reflex 13, Will 13, HP 1, Speed 6, Stealth +8.
Hand Crossbow: standard action, ranged 10, +6 vs. AC, 4 poison damage
Curved Scimitar: standard action, melee 1, +6 vs. AC, 4 damage
Combat Sidestep: move action, the scout shifts 3 squares
Drow Priestress Initiate, Level 1 Artillery, 100 XP:
Init +1, AC 13, Fortitude 11, Reflex 13, Will 15, HP 22, Speed 6, Stealth +6, Religion +8, Arcana +8.
Venom Bolt: standard action, ranged 10, +6 vs. Fortitude, 1d6+2 poison damage and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends)
Lolth’s Grip: standard action, ranged 10, +6 vs. Reflex, 1d6+4 force damage and the target is slowed until the end of the initiate’s next turn
What was that? Movement in the underbrush? A crossbow bolt shoots out of the underbrush, fired by an unseen opponent. Keira doesn’t have time to react. The bolt hits her in the shoulder and the impact causes her to stumble backwards. She feels dizzy, drow poison runs through her veins. In front of her, a drow priestess steps on the road.
Since I have my netbook up and running, the encounter is resolved using the 4th Edition combat rules and the VASSAL DDM 2.0 module on the King’s Road map.
Keira catches her senses and looks around. There! The hidden attacker crouches in the shadows, hand crossbow already reloaded. In front of her, the priestess starts to make a gesture. She has to be quick. Staff in her hand she stretches her arms outward and shouts with a powerful voice, carried by arcane energy. “KAL VAS FLAM!” The arcane energy flows through her, channelled by her words of power and a searing blast of arcane fire and flame erupts from her hands. The drow scout is caught in the brunt of the flames and is instantly incenerated, together with the bush he was hiding underneath. The priestess screams out in pain as the arcane heat washes over her, burning her severely.
But she too pulls herself together and makes a complex gesture, chanting in an unspeakable language. A green bolt of venom shoots out from the palm of her hand and engulfs Keira, making her sick and causing pain. Poison. Keira feels weak and sick. She knows she has only one chance left to kill the priestess, which is severely wounded. With all her resolve she draws upon her inner strength, channelling the arcane energy through her once again. Raising her hand towards the priestress, who took cover behind a large rock, she shouts the arcane words of power again. “IN POR YLEM! IN POR YLEM!” Two magic missiles shoot forward, unerringly striking the priestress in the chest and head, killing her.
Keira collapses and falls to the ground, gasping for air. She concentrates and casts a minor healing spell upon herself, neutralizing the poison.
For fluff I used the spell syllables from the Ultima line of computer role-playing games. Keira survived the encounter by using an encounter power (Burning Hands) in the first round after the surprise round which caught the scout and the priestess, thanks to a blast 5 area of effect. She then burned her daily power Wizard’s Fury in the next round, which allows her to cast Magic Missile as a minor action. The power itself is a minor action so Keira used one minor action for the power, one standard action to cast magic missile once and traded her move action for a minor action to cast magic missile again, killing the priestess. The ongoing poison damage reduced her to 2 HP by the end of her turn but since the encounter was over Keira could burn a few healing surges in a short rest. All in all it was a very close call. Had Keira rolled poorly on the Burning Hands damage roll or had she missed she would be toast and the adventure would have been over pretty quick. Keira gains 125 XP for the encounter.
After catching her breath Keira gets up. What are Drow doing on the surface so close to Fallcrest in the light of day? That’s strange. She looks around, making sure that no other hidden stalkers are near and examines the bodies.
As GM: On the body of the dead priestess Keira finds a leather bound book with notes in a script she can’t decipher (Nature vs. DC 15, failure) and which she doesn’t recognize, as well as 30 gp. Other than that the Drow have nothing of value. Keira takes the money and the leather bound book, hides the dead bodies in the underbrush and moves on quickly.