Ch 1; Sc 1.5 - Enusat's Tale
Jarad, while JJ is out, let’s you and I get to know Enusat a bit better here.
It is a miserable morning in Meskia. The rain, rare in the city inside the Tower, has not stopped for two days, turning streets into veritable rivers of water, mud and refuse. The only escape seems to stay indoors or to head further into the Tower, and toward this destination Enusat the warrior walks, wading through ankle-high water.
The elevator into the Shrine of Tin is loaded with Climbers all headed into their destinies, whatever they may be. For Enusat, this is clearly the room marked with a red X in his map. It should be an easy journey to the Shrine of Lead, one level above the elevator’s landing. From there, the real fun begins: tracking down the Garden of the Chimera and therein the room marked. According to the ramblings of the drunken ex-soldier at the tavern last night, that’s where his squad was wiped out by a young fire dragon the size of three elephants.
Enusat knows well that description. Last time he saw that dragon it was in a different Garden, but it is not improbable that the dragon has wandered away from the Garden of the Scorpion in the Shrine of Iron. With luck, he will find the wyrm and one of them will go to suck on Tiamat’s tits before the month is over.
The elevator grinds to a halt and before he realizes it, Enusat is standing alone on the landing, all the other Climbers having gone off down a myriad of corridors in search of their fortunes. It is time for the veteran to find his.
There are four different tunnels leading into the Tower from here. The third one from the left you know will lead you eventually to the Shrine of Iron, as that is the route your unit took once long ago. The others veer off into the gods-know-where.
Enusat stands at the crossroads, tucks a bit of Hul Gil joy weed into one cheek, and chews it with a sour expression, “Well, Marduk, the most direct route is clear. On the other hand, the last time I trod that path, I experienced nought but suffering. The dung-slurping beast destroyed a squad of seasoned warriors just recently, so it is also clear that I cannot hope to destroy it on my own. And so… I leave the decision to you.”
The warrior turns his back, takes out a coin, and flings it behind him in the general direction of the various corridors. He hears it strike stone against the leftmost corridor’s entrance, and looks as the coin bounces and rolls off the edge of a cliff into the abyss. Enusat walks over to the brink and looks down into the darkness, rubbing his chin, then spits the exhausted weed into the gap, “Not sure how to interpret that sign, Bel Belim.”
Shrugging, Enusat heads down the first corridor on the left, the closest to the edge.
The tunnel winds haphazardly for about… well, you have no idea. There are so many turns and Climber-made detours around cave-ins that you simply lose your sense of distance and direction. After walking for about an hour, you emerge into a small antechamber where a crudely written sign hangs over the exit doorway telling you exactly what to expect ahead: MAZE.
You know there is a maze in the Garden of the Camel, in the Shrine of Tin, which would mean you are still on the same Shrine, but about halfway into the core of the Tower. If this is that maze indeed, you know it to be infested with giant spiders (see first few minutes of Episode 4) and that there is an exit on the other side leading to the Shrine of Lead, one level above.
Take your chances with the maze or head back to try another passage; Enusat doesn’t have that much to choose from.
“A maze, eh? What do you call what I’ve been walking through for hours, eh? A labyrinth? This is a clever sign-maker, designating a distinction without a difference.”
Alert to the dangers of the Garden of the Camel, Enusat enters the maze, looking and listening for signs of the spiders.
[Perception (Seeing) roll 8= 1 + 4 + 2 +1 (Perception)]
As he walks, the warrior tries to remember the turns he made the last time he navigated this maze, and attempts to calculate the most direct route to the core of the Shrine.
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 12= 4 + 2 + 3 +3 (Cunning)]
It doesn’t take long for Enusat to find a somewhat familiar area of the maze from his last time in this Garden, and then to get utterly lost as a wrong turn takes him to a completely different row of twisting hallways. In the distance, the warrior can pick out the sounds of other adventurers shouting to each other as well as some battle far away, but thankfully nothing in his immediate vicinity. As the “day” (as far as Enusat can tell) comes to an close, a dead-end provides the best campsite possible.
We’ll do the maze as an Advanced test. Cunning (Navigation) would be the most obvious test to use, but you are free to use any you want as long as you can narrate its use.
Time Elapsed per test: 1 day
Complications: Dragon Die results of 1 mean you encounter an enemy; results of 6 mean time elapsed is 1/2 day.
Roll as many rolls as you need to clear the Threshold, and based on your results we’ll deal with Complications.
Digging through his pack, Enusat comes across a large ball of twine (“I think I stole this from a tailor’s shop while drunk. Hmm. Handy.”) and fastens it to a spiral-shaped outcropping of stone. By playing out the twine, Enusat moves much slower but manages to avoid doubling back or getting lost in the maze. By the end of the day, he has moved to a new part of the maze and made some progress.
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 16= 6 + 4 + 3 + 3 Cunning. Added 4 to 2 for total of 6 toward Threshold]
Satisfied by the tactic of the day before, Enusat continues using the twine as a means of threading his way through the maze. He spends another slow-paced yet ultimately rewarding day, but his once immense ball of twine has dwindled.
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 17= 4 + 4 + 6 + 3 Cunning. Added 4 to 6 for total of 10 toward Threshold]
In the mid-morning, Enusat feels a sharp tug on the length of twine and something begins yanking it from the other end. Realizing that a creature is using the twine to hunt him through the corridors of the maze, Enusat tosses the ball down a random passage and flees, quickly losing his way. Within a matter of minutes, he hears sounds of pursuit and realizes that his adversary is hot on his trail…
I will break exposition here, since the combat may affect how I describe the next three days
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 13= 5 + 1 + 4 + 3 Cunning. Added 1 to 10 for total of 11 toward Threshold, but encountered an enemy]
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 11= 1 + 5 + 2 + 3 Cunning. Added 5 to 11 for total of 16 toward Threshold]
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 13= 3 + 1 + 6 + 3 Cunning. Added 1 to 16 for total of 17 toward Threshold, but encountered an enemy]
[Cunning (Navigation) roll 12= 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 Cunning. Added 3 to 17 for total of 20 toward Threshold, and gained 3 Stunt Points for Exploration- spend 2 on Speedy Search to complete Maze in half the day and 1 on Advantageous Position, so that if there is a guardian on the way to the next Shrine, I am in an advantageous position to observe it without being seen]
I love how you did this!
You manage to avoid whatever is following you after cutting off the twine for a couple of days. The Tower must be smiling on you, you almost think, until you reach the exit to the maze and realize it opens onto a large circular arena, a forgotten field for blood games that somehow was swallowed by the maze and the Tower. The sounds you hear as you approach the exit make your heart sink just a little: the din of dozens of chitinous legs moving over gravel. You risk a peek and indeed, the arena is filled with at least twenty Tower Spiders. Opposite them you see a large archway and beyond, ancient stairs you hope lead up to the next Shrine.
The only way is through…
You have surprise advantage and initiative on these spiders. I assure you I am not going to make you fight all twenty over PbP, but you DO have to make it through. Form a plan and when you’re ready for battle, charge in and we’ll take it from there.
Crouching above and behind one of the two entrances into the arena, among the stands, Enusat quickly and quietly opens his worn leather backpack and begins sorting through the contents. What was once a full pack, brimming with supplies, has been exhausted over the last week. The warrior removes a few tools and tucks them into his tunic, and then stuffs the backpack with a torn cloak, an empty clay jug, and some metal cups and utensils. He tests the heft of the bag and looks out over the arena, estimating the distance between the spiders and the exit on the far wall, and trying to imagine how quickly he can cover the intervening ground.
After securing his great sword and crossbow, Enusats draws his morningstar with his left hand and readies the stuffed backpack in his right. Leaning far back, he swings the backpack over his head twice and lets it fly, “If Marduk smiles on me, this’ll make enough of a clatter that it’ll cause those blasted ticks to scurry off after it and pay me no mind.”
[Communication (Deception) roll 11= 2 + 5 + 2 + 2 Communication. Generates 5 Stunt points, which I spend on Enrage]
The bag arcs over the spiders’ heads and smashes against the far wall with a loud crash. Several of the metallic items spill over onto the stairs and make a clatter as they tumble from step to step. The sound, so much like the heavy boots and clattering weapons of the Meskian heavy infantry, causes the spiders to erupt in clicking hisses, and many of them surge toward the source of the disturbance in a mass.
Enusat sprints toward the exit, trying to tumble past the confused arachnids.
[Dexterity (Acrobatics) roll 17= 5 + 6 + 4 + 2 Dexterity]
The warrior rolls under the wriggling legs of one of the spiders, leaps over a smaller one, and vaults onto a fallen pillar, running along its length until he reaches the far end of the arena. Suddenly, what he took to be a piece of collapsed masonry rears back, splaying its albino limbs as it prepares to pounce, its hairy mandibles dripping with a viscous green bile.
Please feel free to modify or expand on any of the above. I took some liberties by interpreting my own die rolls, but I left the details vague
Nope, no problem there. I mean, you’re making me a lazy GM, but that’s ok. ;-)
The alpha spider does not fall for Enusat’s ruse and greets the warrior right at the foot of the stairs away from this maze with hungry viciousness.
[Alpha Spider Initiative: 17 = 4 + 6 + 5 + 2[Dexterity]
It opens it’s petal-like mouth wide, the glowing gem-like orb that is its brain red as a roaring fire, showing its intentions. As Enusat skids to a halt on the loose gravel, slipping a little from the momentum, the alpha spider slashes at him with one of its wicked legs.
[Alpha Spider Attack (Claw): 15 = 6 + 3 + 2 + 2[Dexterity] + 2[Claw focus] / Damage: 9 = 6 + 6 + 1[Strength] – 4[Armor]
The jagged chitinous spikes on the spider’s leg slash across Enusat’s chest, pushing the warrior back a pace or two. The hardened boiled leather plates on Enusat’s chest armor absorb some of the slashing damage, but the spikes are long and penetrate in parts all the way through to the flesh, sending penetrating daggers of pain.
Roll Initiative and make your move.