I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around Heroquest. I don't think I'm much of a fan of its resolution mechanics. Character creation feels Fate-ish but has the strange Masteries. So, I’m going to new school old school gaming: 5e Basic D&D as played through Index Card RPG Core (or try the free quickstart) with Swords & Wizardry Continual Light optional classes in place of class archetypes. And Karameikos from Mystara. With Ravenloft for Halloween. I’ll include the Session Based Advancement (increased per session for optional classes per Sword and Wizardry Continual Light) from DMG pg 261 and Hero Points from pg 264.
Thanks to Sophia Brandt, I came across the Dungeon World Adventure Builder and Aladdin Technique. I think I will finally break down and try the Mythic Game Master Emulator with Mythic Variations because I need a little more dark in my gaming. I may as well make it Word Mill themed and use The Location Crafter while I'm at it…
Feeling kind of warrior-ish, I place my highest scores in Strength and Constitution. Add some Charisma to make a New Basic version of an Eldritch Knight. I envision them as being like Warlocks but with more fighting prowess. Which I’ll write up as:
Eldritch Vanquishers are Fighters that draw power from the eternal struggle and victories of battle. They may bond with up to two weapons, using them as a focus, and can summon them at will. Vanquishers function as Fighters but may cast spells as a Wizard two levels lower.
Then it's just a matter of race, class, equipment and background. For added background, I roll dice from GAZ1, The Grand Duchy of Karameikos, and find out she’s (odds were male, even female) from a penniless Traladaran family. That’s even more incentive to go dungeon delving in search of loot.
Petra Sergeinov, Human Vanquisher
Story From a penniless background, Petra served in the military for money to help her family. After an eight year tour of duty, she left to find wealth and fame by adventuring.
HP 10 / 10
Basic Effort +0
Weapon Effort +3
Magic Effort +0
Ultimate Effort +0
Background Soldier (Infantry)
Personality I am full of inspiring and cautionary tales from my military experience.
Ideal My family is all that matters.
Bond Those that fight beside me are those worth dying for.
Flaw I have little respect for anyone who is not a proven warrior.
Bastard sword (bound), heater shield (+2 Armor), light crossbow (bound) with 20 bolts, mail hauberk (+1 Armor), supplies pack, weapon kit (+2 Weapon Effort)
CHA Power (Summon one of your bound weapons to your hand at will)
Character built, on to Adventurer Builder: a random mix of the Enchanted, Fright, Medieval and Mythic Rory Storycubes reveal a caped person, labyrinth, gate, frog, warrior on a pile of skulls and a path leading to a tower. So I come up with, “I am exploring a [labyrinth] that lies in a [ruined tower] seeking an [alexandrite frog]. I am here to [close the gate] guarded by [cultists] and their [champion].”
Now we apply the Aladdin technique: rolling a d6 to see what’s changed, 3, and roll one random Story Cube which shows a cyclops. Then another d6 to see what’s added to, 1, and the random Story Cube shows a black cat. Finally, another random Story Cube creates the intrigue beyond the Adventure Builder, a bindle. Which leaves me with:
I am exploring a labyrinth that lies in a ruined tower seeking a cyclops. I am here to close the gate guarded by cultists and their champion. What did the cyclops take that was so important to Petra?
Finally, I find a random song on YouTube that feels like mood music and character inspiration. Today, it’s choosing Trending Music, briefly scroll down and come across Whatever It Takes by Imagine Dragons. Actually seems pretty fitting for a penniless soldier. On to the first scene…
** GM sets Chaos Factor to 4 and rolls event action and meaning (100, 07) for the first scene. “Change Allies” with an 8 against Chaos Factor. Scene loads normally. GM rolls a 4 on the d4 for Timer. Because… **
Scene 1: Unexpected Allies
Whatever it takes… plays in the back of my head. Over and over. It’s become the driving force taking me from Luln up into the mountains a couple days away. Since the cyclops came down from the foothills and attacked a village of a few thousand people. For what? A trinket?
At least it was gravely, if not mortally, wounded. Otherwise, I would never have embarked on this foolish journey. Whatever it stole from the village had better be worth risking its life. Because when I catch up with it…
The tower is little more than rubble and ruin. Funny, how these ruins are never really marked on any map. This one was just a short trip on foot from the village and, yet, no one bothered to note not to go there unless you asked. There aren’t a skull and crossbones marking places not to go on many maps. Few, at any rate.
It’s late afternoon. Overcast. That’s most days in Karameikos. Kind of grey and dour like most people I’ve come across. Serious until there’s a reason to celebrate, then it’s loud and boisterous. After my time campaigning across the country, I’ve learned to be a little more festive: I wear an ash blue scarf to go with my utilitarian dark greys. When you’re surrounded by dust, especially around these mountains, it pays to dress smart.
My boots crunch loudly across the gravel and rocks as I complete the long weary walk to where the tower’s door would be. Not much of a door left. More like a stone arch. Ish. The upper most parts has fallen to the ground. The brass hinges are still intact, if not a little tarnished, so that’s something.
A quick glance around, through, rather, the tumbled mess of what remains of the wall just shows me wooden beams and a clutter of broken furniture. As strangely polite as it sounds, I enter through the front door. Knock, knock.
“Leave,” I hear from the air surrounding me. It wasn’t ominous and foreboding, but it was a little disconcerting.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Leave,” it repeats in an airy tenor. A pair of chalk colored hands rise from a patch of dirt, using it for leverage to pry its spectral body from the earth. Rising from its knees to its, his, full height, he seems like a portrait from another generation. Black hair, like mine, with a heavy moustache. His clothes were, what, from 300 years ago or so?
** GM counts Timer down to 3. **
You know, if there wasn’t this one time where I had to battle with undead, I would probably be more intimidated. That’s another story.
“I can’t, Sir…” I begin, waiting for him to fill in the blanks.
“Mikhail. I’m Petra,” formalities out of the way, I continue. “There was a cyclops severely wounded after attacking Luln. Did you, um, happen to see where he went?”
** GM counts Timer down to 2. **
Mikhail nods, exactly one time, pointing through the ruins of the temple. “Behind the tower, there is an entrance to the maze below. This is why you should leave.”
Now I’m curious. “What’s in the maze? What does this have to do with the cyclops?”
** GM counts Timer down to 1. **
“Sorcery,” he replies, “Dark magic. They think they can join this place with another. I don’t understand.”
Now I’m very curious. “Did you hear when this happens?”
** GM counts Timer down to 0. **
“Yes, it-” and Mikhail’s response is cut short. Another pair of chalky hands erupt from the earth and grasp him by his ankles. Mikhail’s body is pulled halfway back into the ground, his elbows and fingers digging, kind of, for purchase against the floorboards and dirt.
“It-,” he tries to continue, but his response is abruptly cut short as four hands grab his arms, hair and neck. With the briefest gasp, Mikhail disappears beneath the tower.
I take a deep breath to steady myself. I may be a soldier, but soldiers can experience fear, too. We just work through it, doing what needs to be done. Whatever it takes...