Monday, January 3, 2022

Scions of Ziklii

Time to dust off the old blog for a new play report.

Using the Jaws of the Six Serpents roleplaying game (the PDQ system) and the Nine Questions, the story follows standard Sword-and-Sorcery themes and is set in a post-apocalyptic world similar to that in Thundarr the Barbarian.

This actual play was written long ago. I have refreshed and tidied up some language. Sadly, this is not an AP containing much mechanical detail other than a few stat blocks which can be used as examples of character construction and enemies. Given a recent request for me to publish something featuring a PDQ rpg (Prose Descriptive Qualities), Jaws has remained one of my all time favorite table tops in the decade or more that it has been around. In my opinion, it has held up remarkably well of the years. I’m always of a mind that Jaws can always get more love from the gaming community, as can many of the great PDQ titles.

In a nutshell, players roll 2d6 adding the MODs of their relevant Qualities and compare to a static TN or against one another in the case of opposed rolls. The interesting thing is that characters take the margin in damage directly off of each Quality, reducing it in rank. When all ranks are zeroed out, the character is taken out. The first Quality damaged in a conflict generates a story hook which the GM (or solo player) can create additional personal interest, side quests, or additional richness to the story. Jaws characters are quite resilient, making them good candidates for solo gaming. They are killed when dramatically appropriate. Normally, a GM assigns one of three danger levels, meaning PCs are merely incapacitated, receive some lasting scar, or in the worst case (Doom) perish entirely.

The fantastic freeform magic system as well as a number of other great aspects make Jaws of the Six Serpents a great toolkit for all sorts of sword and sorcery goodness. It can model just about anything one can imagine easily. It is a very satisfying and complete game for such a lightweight selection.

Without further ado, meet our heroine:

Doria Nightraven

Dark-haired and pale-skinned, Doria is an attractive yet imposing figure. She hails from the forgotten north, a place few have seen, finding her way by virtue of the sword. She has served as bodyguard, mercenary, and adventurer.


  • Good [+2] People: Survivalist
  • Good [+2] Driver: Revenge Against the Wizards
  • Good [+2] Faculty: Peak Level Athleticism
  • Expert [+4] Swordplay
  • Average [+0] Old Earth History
  • Good [+2] Quick as a Cat
  • Good [+2] Willful as the Devil
  • Average [+0] Charm: A Way with Crows*


  • Poor [-2] Unnerving Presence

Fortune Points: 1
Learning Points: 0
Props: Average [0] dirk, Average [0] broadsword

* This Charm ability allows Doria to have an affinity with these feathered creatures, and may summon a group upon need to confuse, bewilder, or for diversion.


Thematic Anchor: “Survival of the Strongest…”
Heroic Motivation: Track down Amalfus the Many-Eyed


Ziklii, a great city amid a sea of barren waste – a haven for scum of all corners of Earth and a capitol of decadence and villainy. Scions hid ages-long within their citadels twisted by mutations, and self-proclaimed lords entertained themselves with spectacles of blood and gore.

Here was the perfect place for Doria Nightraven of the forgotten north to hunt her prey. Few other locales harbored as many wizards as Ziklii. Here she would finally mete out justice.

She strolled the filthy squalor-stricken streets. Dressed in a harness and rough leathers of black and with knee-high riding boots, she was a formidable sight of predatory prowess and wild beauty. The pommel of a leather-wrapped hilt extended above one shoulder and a dagger at her side foretold of her profession. The few scars on her white skin and fierce preserved beauty vouched for her talent.

She scanned the vermin of the street through hard emerald green eyes. Here she would find a place to hunt and kill, and perhaps she might also find reward. It was said that here in Ziklii, the Jewel of the Seven Wastes, Amalfus the Many-Eyed was said to lair. Doria the warrior-woman would soon know.

1. Procession on the Way of Serpents

An enemy pursues new goals and takes aggressive action against unsuspecting victims.

Doria had made it a habit to haunt the Way of Serpents, a narrow thoroughfare that led through the poorest sections of the city from the south gate to the arena. She observed a steady traffic of travelers, traders, robed priests, and mercenaries. However, today, she observed a procession of unlikely folk – vagabonds, smiths, cart wrights, as well as folk without respectable trades. They were chained and escorted by armed men, following a litter borne by four slaves, its occupant shrouded behind silk screens.

Doria assumed their ultimate destination of the arena. Folk lined the narrow street crying their cheers and taunts. However, those jeers soon quieted as news spread that this poor lot was destined for a different, less glamorous, and gruesome fate.

Doria took a step closer out of the shadows. She tried to descry the occupant in the litter. A fat purplish hand was all she could see, but that was more than enough to confirm her suspicions. The only mutants to be treated as kings were sorcerers. Suddenly, the she-warrior had a vivid scene playing out in her head. A hand strayed to her sword hilt.

None paid her any attention as they all watched the procession in a mournful mood full of pity and loathing. The sorcerer’s escort also paid her no heed. If she were to strike, she would have but a momentary advantage against such numbers. No, it was better to wait and see. Instead, she blended into the crowd and followed at a safe distance.

The procession continued, and Doria remained close.

2. The Leaping Lurker

An encounter features intrigue and pursuit.

As Doria shadowed the train, high above on the rooftops a shadowy shape darted from edge to edge, keenly observing the she-warrior’s progress. A darkened hood shadowed the figure’s features. When it encountered an alley or roadway, it leapt across the gap like a grasshopper, impossibly high and impossibly fast.

Golem (Minion Construct)

These appear as artificial humanoids of any variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Many are given some form of intelligence through sorcery.


  • Average [+0] Intelligence
  • Expert [+4] Damage Resistance*
  • Expert [+4] Leaps Like a Grasshopper
  • Good [+2] Observant
  • Good [+2] Strength
  • Good [+2] Skill with Blades


  • Poor [-2] Aversion To Water

Intent on the group before her as they neared their destination, Doria was oblivious to the threat from above.

The figure continuing to follow the follower, observing her every move. Ahead, the procession turned onto Wizard’s Way and passed into the desolate quarter where the sorcerers of Ziklii roosted. Before them stood a towering monstrosity built from the ruins of Earth’s past — a massive half-buried craft of some sort — a skyship made of metal overgrown with hanging vines. Under its considerable girth the group disappeared.

3. Confrontation with a Construct

An encounter features revelation and combat.

Doria was watching and waiting and weighing her options, when a dark shape dropped not far from her side. A figured swathed in a dark cloak rose to slightly taller than man height. Its form had gangly proportions. In a bound, it leapt to arm’s length from the warrior woman, and the hood fell to reveal a gaunt inhuman face fashioned from metal or some other pliable substance. Glowing yellow eyes evaluated her coldly.

“None are to enter the warrens of the sorcerers,” it said with a cold metallic voice. Then it lunged forward to grasp the warrior.

The fierce independence flared in Doria’s heart as the threat made itself known. She rolled away, coming clear and sweeping out her longsword with a steely skirl. She eyed the inhuman thing, repulsed by its unnatural appearance.

“You will not take me!” she promised.

The creature leapt forward again, drawing out its own blade, and battle was joined. Doria brought her guard up. She was quick as lightning, and after a few exchanges, she took advantage of an opening, slashing through the creature’s abdomen. The blow should have felled an ox, but the attacker became jarred from hitting something solid. The thing’s eyes flashed in momentary astonishment. She had obviously hurt it, but she wasn’t sure she did more damage than the hurt she felt in her arm.

The two fought like wildcats, exchanging places in the blink of an eye and moving like perfectly synchronized dancers. Where the creature moved with effective but stiff motion, Doria moved with sinuous grace. She found a few more openings, and each managed to pierce the thing’s exoskeleton, though it should have slain a veteran warrior thrice over. The creature managed to score a minor touch, and a cut bled about the warrior’s left shoulder.

The animation leapt back several strides. It made strange whining and whirring sounds. It was clearly agitated by its nervous movements and the flashing of its eyes. It looked up, and vaulted impossibly high, disappearing about the rooftops.

4. A Way Into the Fortress

Doria took a moment to catch her breath, watching for signs of the leaping construct. Seeing none, she returned her eyes to the hulking Old Earth vessel draped with growth. By now, her presence must have been noticed.

Sword still in hand, she stood poised ready to charge ahead. She looked to the air. Not far, several crows roosted around the square bickering noisily. Doria put a hand to her mouth and called out in a shrill voice. Immediately the birds stirred and took to the air. The squawking mass of birds circled and then darted in the opening after the procession that had disappeared. Doria was no longer where she had been a moment earlier.

In the shadows under the ruined aircraft’s girth, Doria crouched and allowed her eyes to adjust. She scanned the surroundings as the noisy ravens circled above. She saw no sentinels. Instead, there stood a massive seal of metal that led to the interior of the citadel.

Doria needed little confirmation to know that the massive portal was locked. She was learned in some issues of Old Earth History — the thousands of years before the coming of mutants, the sundering of the seas, and the breaking of the moon when humanity was at its height. Much science came from this early time, though few, except the sorcerers and cult orders, knew their operation or secrets.

She stood and approached the door. Examining it, she realized science clearly was the mechanism, but its operation or trigger was beyond her ken. She backed away. She would need to find an alternate entrance.

She left the fortress’s threshold and circled around, seeking another point of entry. She found another place — a sheer climb among hanging tendrils of orange and red vegetation. Among these she began to climb hand over hand. High up she clambered. At the top, she found a terrace of sorts and crept in.

5. An Alarm Triggered

An encounter of betrayal.

As soon as Doria set foot within, a loud blaring scream bleated at even intervals with red and yellow flashing lights from old refurbished instruments. Down a corridor from her present chamber, she heard the approach of footsteps and yells by sentinels.

Rather than run, Doria again drew her blade from behind her back and set herself ready to meet any challenge. She set herself against the wall beside the corridor and listened for the enemy’s approach. She waited until their panting and boot steps were close, then she leapt out, sword at the ready.

  • Good [+2] Mutant Guards (eight in total)

Furiously, Doria slashed and hacked, dropping one purple-skinned mutant and then another. There were eight in total, and they were relentless. The warrior-woman parried a jarring blow that numbed her shoulder, and another opened a nasty wound high on her left thigh. She kept fighting, and now the guards had to climb over three bodies to get at the intruder. Doria had to give up ground, and the remaining five warriors swarmed in around her. Yet, she kept them at bay.

She spun and whirled in her circle, striking and parrying. Sweat matted her dark hair to her face, and now there was blood along her arm — she had no idea if it was hers or not, but she fought on. Now, only three remained.

“Go warn the wizard!” one called out.

The two remaining cornered the wildcat to allow their companion to retreat. Doria was further enraged, and pressed her attack in an unbridled display of reckless fury. A growl of sorts escaped her lips as she leapt forward.

Two fell back and couldn’t defend against the ferocity and went down with screams. Doria leapt over the bodies and slashed at the remaining guard before the fool had a chance to turn and flee. The warrioress took in gulps of air as she surveyed the carnage around her. However, she delayed herself no more.

6. Battle in the Throne Room

A do-or-die encounter featuring combat.

The corridor led along a dimly lit grated way. Ahead, it opened to a wider area. As Doria traversed it, she realized that the passage continued to become a catwalk above some larger storage area. She came within a few steps. Suddenly, a steel door slid shut behind her and more warning sirens went off.

She was trapped in the open, and numerous bright lights were aimed in her direction. There was nowhere to go but forward. When she stepped in the open space, she heard warning shouts. Looking down, she was in some large place of congregation. Dozens of guards stood in a circle around the shackled folk that had been recently ushered within. All eyes were on Doria.

Near to them was a throne of sorts. Atop it sat a robed figure. He wore strange multi-colored robes. He was bald with long blue whiskers hanging from his jowls to his lap. Looking up at Doria, she swore she could see what appeared to be red glowing dots about his eyes. There could be no doubt that this was Amalfus the Many-Eyed.

The sorcerer yelled an order and the guards immediately turned to Doria with crossbows at the ready.

Doria thought quickly. Ahead, the catwalk continued to another corridor system. That, too, was closed. On the opposite wall, numerous cables and counterbalances hung to the floor below. There was only one escape — to the floor below.

The she-warrior charged across as arrows rained about her from the floor below. She was struck twice, one missile grazing her shoulder and one sticking painfully in her thigh. She fought stoically through the pain and took cover across the way behind a blind. She sheathed her sword again behind her back and broke off the shaft of the arrow feathering her leg.

Next, she vaulted over the catwalk rail, grabbed a handful of hanging line, and swung down. She landed hard, but on her feet in a crouch like a cat. Standing, she drew her sword again and waded into battle.

All at once, the score of guards drew their own axes and spears and descended upon Doria in droves. From behind, Amalfus got up from his seat and made a hasty exit down a darkened rear passage.

Bleeding with the wicked and terrible mask of the angel of death, Doria choreographed a sinuous and deadly dance. Wherever her blade flashed, screams and spraying blood erupted. The screams of the terrified captives created a panic and all chaos broke loose.

  • There are 11 Average [0] Warriors

Doria waded in. Those wielding bows could no longer make effective use of them. In close quarters, the she-warrior’s broadsword and her honed skill cleaved through the ranks until there were none left standing to oppose her. Any remaining fled along with the captives despite their encumbering chains. Doria hefted her blade, but faced no new challenge.

Suddenly, more sirens blared and more guards approached. Doria fled, covered in blood and possessed with a vengeful blood rage that could no longer be quelled.

7. The Wizard’s Demon

A scene featuring pursuit.

Doria ducked down the narrow corridor through which the wizard fled. Her pain, fear, and weariness were all gone, hidden behind a screen of revenge and bloodlust, fueling her with an endless well of energy. Her goal was near at hand!

Doria stopped midway along the dark corridor. The air felt close and something unseen threatened with unknown and unreasonable terror. She felt that something was in the passage with her.

Ahead, she could descry nothing in the darkness. There was only a deeper black in the deepening shadows ahead. Something blotted out all light, and all hope with it. She heard a snort through large lungs. The breath of something caressed her blood-caked cheek, smelling of death itself. Then she felt the thing step and the floor trembled. It was followed by another tremble and another in increasing tempo. The thing charged her and let out a hideous roar like the chorus of the damned.

Guardian Demon (Demon Ape)

This is a relatively modest threat from the nearer reaches, suitable for a sorcerer to call forth from behind the wall hangings when confronted by fairly new player characters. (It’s based on the giant ape in Fierce beasts.) It appears like a huge ape with night-black hair and red eyes.


  • Master [+6] Strong
  • Expert [+4] Tough
  • Good [+2] Fierce
  • Good [+2] Keen Senses
  • Good [+2] Climbing
  • Good [+2] Camouflage in Darkness
  • Average [+0] Shocking Appearance*
  • Average [+0] Darksense*

Doria turned and ran again with all her former vengeful ire turning to fear. She heard something terrible coming up behind her impossibly fast and unstoppable. She could almost feel the thing’s ghastly heat.

She returned to the great room, again teeming with guards. She leapt to her hands and knees at the foot of an exultant guard poised to strike. However, the mutant noted the approaching horror and the expression on his face melted from joy to terror.

Leaping over Doria and slamming into the guard, a huge muscular black shape exploded from the tunnel with a terrifying force and a bloodcurdling scream louder than an army’s war cry.

Panic scattered the folk in the room again with even greater effect than Doria had achieved before. Guards and slaves alike trampled one another to get free of the charging fiend. A monster stood in the center shrieking and spreading great arms as thick as tree trunks which ended in muscular talons. A black devil stood there exulting in its tremendous dark power. It looked like a great black ape, but larger, bulging with exaggerated corded muscles. Its fur was blacker than jet or any known color known by mortals as black. Its eyes were red like burning brimstone — pinpoints of light that looked into the depths of hell.

[after a contest of chasing, Doria resists the thing’s shocking appearance]

The thing turned toward Doria who was momentary frozen by fear. The thing charged, scattering furnishings in its stampede. Doria sucked in a breath and readied herself, girded in honor and courage that somehow welled to the surface at the moment it was needed.

The she-warrior slashed with perfect timing, and rolled to avoid massive limbs that could fell an old oak. She straightened up as the thing rushed past to explode into a furnace, sending pieces of metal and ash through the air. A trail of oil-like liquid marked the horror’s passage.

Doria quickly readied herself for another charge, taking a stance and gripping her sword hilt two handed and shading her eyes with its dripping naked length. She set herself in grim anticipation. The thing appeared beyond the settling debris and charged again.

This time, the sword was batted aside and the monster bore down on its singular and seemingly overwhelmed prey. Doria strove with the unholy beast, tangling like two beasts. She danced with it, striking with hot steel while deadly strong talons slashed in return.

Neither was able to score the final death blow, until Doria gave up ground. With an opening between them, the ape demon pressed for one last charge. This time, Doria did not rely on cat like agility, but instead braced for the attack. She set her blade against an iron girder ultimately impaling the beast through the heart. Knocked back by the force, she was awed as the creature backed away, bubbling with gouts of black viscous fluid. It screamed a mighty challenge, but the fight was not yet fully beaten from it.

Again it closed, but its energy was lessened. Doria was the quicker and finally scored the final touch. The creature fell with a scream, and its form melted away to nothingness.

Stunned, Doria examined herself to find that she was uninjured by the experience, though highly wearied.

8. The Fall of Amalfus the Many-Eyed

A final showdown in which the enemy nears completion of his goals and takes aggressive action against unsuspecting victims.

Amalfus the Many-Eyed


  • Expert [+4] Genius Intellect
  • Good [+2] Arcane Knowledge
  • Good [+2] Seeks Unimaginable Power
  • Expert [+4] Sorcerer*
  • Good [+2] Old Earth History
  • Good [+2] Disciplined


  • Poor [-2] Insane
  • Poor [-2] Arrogant

Props. Expert [+2] Ruby, Good [+2] Sack of Gold, Average [0] Dagger

Doria flew down the darkened corridor. She came to a medium-sized round room. The middle of the room sank with a few steps. A grate of steel with a single door screened the inner portion from the outer. The door was closed and locked.

Steel Cage


  • Master [+6] Strong
  • Good [+2] Locked
  • Good [+2] Reinforced

Beyond the gate, five men and women were strapped to chairs, struggling against their restraints. They screamed in horror. Most were attached to some strange apparatus festooned with connecting hoses and cords. One by one, Amalfus attended to the apparatus and each victim. At the very center was some sort of construct that hummed with energy and buzzed with flickering lights.

Doria tried the gate, but it was locked fast. At that point, the sorcerer turned, his red eyes aflame with evil delight.

“The sword wench!” he said. “You’re too late to save these folk. Soon, they will be dead and I will absorb great power and turn back the sands of time!”

Doria looked on the folk from behind the fence with honest compassion. Her true goal, however, was not one of liberation, but one of vengeance. Now, behind the fence she felt helpless.

“You’re mad, Amalfus!” she proclaimed.

“You have me at a loss,” the sorcerer replied. “You know who I am, but I don’t know who you are. It matters little! Soon you will be dead, and I as hale as a young lad!”

“You are wrong, sorcerer! I am Doria Nightraven of the forgotten north, where it was that you and your consortium destroyed villages, killed and enslaved my kin! It is you that shall be dead!”

With that, Doria kicked in the gate with astonishing strength and ferocity. The sound reverberated loudly like a great drum.

By the second hard kick, steel mesh began to give way, and the post securing the fence bent noticeably.

“Impossible!” muttered Amalfus.

The sorcerer interrupted his work and began chanting. His hands worked strange gestures and shapes above his head. Slowly, a mote of light appeared in the air between his hands and began to dance. Something went amiss, for whatever reason. He doubled over in pain.

Doria counted her blessing and kicked again. With her persistence, the lock finally gave way. Doria drew her sword and stalked in, the promise of death on her grim features. Amalfus stepped back in fear as the approaching bloodstained apparition approached.

Then, the sorcerer’s eyes widened in elation. “Ah, Golgon!”

Doria followed the sorcerer’s gaze. She turned suddenly to face the strange leaping robed thing she had battled before entering the fortress. The creature leapt forward with steel in its hand. Doria had but a moment to prepare her defenses.

Steel skirled as the two intertwined in a ferocious melee. The construct countered Doria thrust for thrust. The few openings she had, she seemed not to make a dint in the yellow-eyed thing. In the meanwhile, Amalfus started his incantation anew. Moments passed and still, there seemed no immediate end to the exchange with Golgon.

[here, Doria used the Digging Down Deep option, converting learning points to fortune points and the Hell for Leather option to save the day]

Doria knew her doom was upon her. The sorcerer crescendoed, rising in pitch in anticipation of the powerful magic’s release. In desperation, the warrioress withdrew to the far corner of the cage. In one fluid motion, she drew her dirk and flicked it at the sorcerer. She pivoted back to the creature just in time to parry another blow.

The dagger flew end over end, striking Amalfus square in the chest. His look was open-mouthed, one of complete shock. The hilt protruded from his breast, with a dark wet blotch quickly spreading on his multi-colored garb.

At that moment, the green-yellow magical field above his head collapsed. The light engulfed him and his skin began to smolder and char. A horrified scream escaped his lips, and slowly, his form sank in a convulsing shiver of pain and anguish. No sooner had the sorcerer hit the floor when his form melted, leaving only his bloodied, steaming garments.

Simultaneously, the magical construct collapsed and exploded into miniature metallic parts and gizmos. Doria shielded her face from the blast with her arm.

9. Escape from Jewel of the Seven Wastes

Doria freed the captives of Amalfus and drove off the remaining guards. She found a number of jewels and gold on the befouled remnants of the sorcerer’s trappings. However, Ziklii was one of the few great cities full of many more wizards than only Amalfus the Many-Eyed. Simply ridding the place of one evil magician in a foolishly reckless, albeit equally unpredictable raid would do little to impress lasting change the world. The menace of the city’s rulers arose quickly.

Doria took a disguise and hastened from the city, buying a gray destrier with some of her loot. The city would harbor her no safety. Only in the wilds beyond the wastes would she afford herself a chance of survival — and even then only by her own skill and wit against overwhelming odds. And so she fled, wandering through barrens and old roads, avoiding travelers and mongrel men. Her loot, including a dazzling ruby — worthy of a king’s ransom — was quickly sold, its gold depleted, so that she had almost none remaining within a moon.

But wander alone among the ravens she had to, until the next opportunity to rid the world of another sorcerer presented itself…

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells: A Solo AP

Played this quite a while back. My blog has moldered, but recently I saw some requests to see a Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells play through. I was pleased with this one. I used MiSo as my only oracle, giving me some control over the direction this went.

wherein I play Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells using its generators along with MiSo in an improvised dark sword & sorcery world

Alzara the Blooded

a crazed warrioress of the eastern steppe, Alzara has fought many wars and collected many scars — she is an imposing tall figure with defined physique and dangerous eyes


Mercenary from the Eastern Steppe (Warrior)
Attributes. 12 Physique, 12 Agility, 13 Intellect and 11 Willpower
Level. 1 (1 adventure needed)
HD/level. d10
Hit Points (10). 10 9 6 10 6 3
Luck. d6 d8 d6 d4
Abilities. Combat Superiority, Improved Damage, Weapon Specialization (broad sword), Improved Maneuvers
Complication. Duty to the Circle of Blood Sisters
Gear. broadsword (d8), dagger (d6), medium armor (-1d), medium shield (2 negative dice), pack, 2 small sacks (sack of opals), rations, torches (d6 usage), waterskin (d6 usage), money (1d4 Resource Die)
Encumbrance. 10; Effected? No

Adventure 1. The Errant Knight’s Lady

Adventure Details. to find an important person in a raider-inhabited desert
Play will answer who is the main antagonist and what complication Alzara faces
An errant knight provides a supporting character

A Cold Welcome

The warrior woman tramped through the dusty waste. Though the sun beat mercilessly from above, the wasteland was cold and windy. Her cloak whipped up in the gusts, threatening to strip the shield from her back. Behind her struggled Sir Edel in his heavy armor.

Why was she here? Why had she agreed to help the foolish lovesick knight was beyond her comprehension…ah yes! She was a sister now, and blind luck had brought the forlorn banner man to her native Hreskania, seeking the very soul she was bound to find on behalf the sisterhood. The problem was that The Great was a vast no-man’s land that was not actually completely devoid of life. The Tusek Raiders haunted its windy vastness, and were likely the culprit of the unfortunate absconded maiden. How Alzara would take the girl from Sir Edel once they found her, she had no immediate answer.

Luck die increases by 1 step


  1. They find cryptic tracks in the dust that defy immediate explanation
  2. They are paid a visit by Raiders

Choice B

Alzara stopped abruptly. A cloud of dust in the distance approached. She knew what it foretold. She warned Edel that raiders approached.

“Good!” the knight said doggedly. “We can ask for their help. You there! Over here!” he shouted.

“Fool!” snapped Alzara. “They will flay your flesh with your heart still beating. You’re in their world, and you have no leave to be!”

The riders in the distance fanned out seven abreast. Their spear tips gleamed and as they drew nearer, their bloody war cries defied the winds.

“By Hala!” said the knight, fumbling for his blade. Alzara could see that there were no words to appease the men.

These will be mobs; 3 HD (1, 5, & 8 hp) worth on Edel and 5 HD (1, 4, 6, 7, 8) on Alzara.
They gain initiative for the first turn.
With Edel and his mob, they will strictly exchange damage each turn. Edel has 8 hp.

Alzara dodges with a +4 penalty, but advantage, succeeding.
Alzara attacks with a +4 penalty, but advantage, succeeding and doing 4, and taking out 1.
Edel gives 1 point, dropping the lowest, but takes 3 (assume he has heavy armor).

The Hreskanian dodged their deadly throws, hewing off the leg of one rider as he passed, dropping him in agony. Edel was hard pressed behind her, but slew one of his three antagonists.

Alzara dodges with a +3 penalty, but advantage, hitting her Agility.
She strikes, doing 5, and taking out another and harming a third.
Edel takes 4 and does 5, taking out another.
He’s reduced to 1 hp.

Alzara dodges, but misses.
Edel takes 2, does 4, and is down.

The fighting intensified, several of the savages dismounting to attack at close range. Alzara turned their blows aside, methodically exploiting their openings when they presented them and making good work with her trusty blade. Edel fought, but bled from numerous wounds. He staggered after a club clocked him over the head.

The mob gangs up on Alzara, becoming 4 HD.
She dodges and hits for 7.
2 remain with 7 hp each.
Morale check — continue to fight.

The last of Edel’s enemies joined the three, and Alzara fought hard. However, she was a formidable foe, and soon two fell, clutching hideous wounds and leaving only two. These continued to fight zealously.

Alzara dodges and does 3.

Alzara takes 1 and does 2.

Alzara dodges and does 6.
One goes down, the other has 3 hp remaining.
Continues fighting.

Alzara takes 3, gives 8.

The last two were tough, giving Alzara more than her fair share of challenge. She took a glancing blow and was winded. She abruptly changed her tactics to more offense. With a spin to close the distance, she impaled one and squared off with last. There were many exchanges between she and her last opponent, but finally the Hreskanian mercenary defeated the last Tusekan.

Luck roll — reduced to d6.
Edel gains 3 hp restored, and gets a penalty die.
Alzara takes a short rest, and succeeds, restoring 4 hp.

The mercenary attended the fallen knight. He groaned and came to consciousness but didn’t look well. He had lost blood and taken a severe blow to the head, but he would survive. Alzara took a drink from her skin and sat. They had defeated all seven savages, and they had their pick of horses.

Intellect test succeeds.

  1. They find a token of Sara among the riders. (d10)
  2. They find a rough map of the raiders’ domain. (d8)

Choice B

While Edel recovered, Alzara rummaged through the warrior’s scant belongings. Most were worthless trinkets, but on one she found a rough drawing on a folded skin. It was a map and clear enough by her knowledge of the area that she surmised its purpose and value. It likely directed to the camp of the savages. Fortune shined despite the beating they had taken.

She knew that in the raiders’ camp would she find lady Sara. Whether she was still alive or not, she wasn’t sure if fate would continue to shine favorably. When Edel had recovered some of his strength, she told him to take a horse back to the border town from which their expedition began. He refused vehemently. She could not change his mind.

She shared the map with him and her guess that it was where they might find the Lady. There was an inaccessible gully they could climb by foot if they left their horses behind. It would grant them the best opportunity to take the raiders by stealth.

“They’ll hear you coming with that armor,” she commented.

Edel ignored her, mounted up, and cantered off. Alzara followed.

The Jackals

Encounter check, negative.

  1. A complication makes itself known.
  2. We learn more about the Blood Sisters.
  3. We learn about the main antagonist.

Choice A

Complication: a sect wants to keep the status quo.

  1. This is a rival tribe of savages. (d12)
  2. This is a wholly alien or weird race of beings that coexist on the steppe. (d8)

Choice A

  1. This tribe makes a pact with Alzara that is impossible to fulfill.
  2. Alzara encounters them when they are making a plan to attack the encampment, thus ruining their plan.

Choice B

Intellect test with +4 penalty, succeeded.

The two rode in silence that day until the dusk. A few more hours would take them to he ridge indicated on the map. With luck, they could complete their task that same night. However, movement to the south caught her keen eyes.

“Stop!” she hissed to her weary but determined companion.

She leapt off her horse and knelt.

“What? I see nothing!” Sir Edel said.

“A war party,” she summarized. She could see low shapes moving in single file. Several dozen warriors moved stealthily under the hazy moon.

“The savages?”

“Another tribe. The ones we encountered always attack by horseback.”

“Have we been spotted?”

Alzara answered at length. “Most likely. But they are not concerned. They make for the encampment. This will get ugly soon, and we may miss out chance. The fighting will be fierce. But unless they are taken completely by surprise, the Dawn Dancers will repel them and move their camp. They will be wary and it will be harder to take your Lady,” she said matter-of-factly.

“What can we do?”

“If we foil their attempt, they will turn their wrath on us, and only then can our borrowed horses save us.”

  1. A small band approaches them. (d8)
  2. The group takes warning shots with arrows. (d12)

Choice B

Agility test with +2 penalty, failed.

Suddenly, the whistle of arrows overhead cut he eerie silence. Their horses screamed as deadly barbs sliced into them, throwing their riders.

“Stay down!” Alzara warned as Edel struggled to get up. Their horses collapsed, and their agonized whinnying was hard to hear.

Eventually, the war party moved stealthily out of sight.

When it was safe, Edel lamented as Alzara ended their beasts’ misery. “What will we do now? We will lose Lady Sara!”

Intellect test with +4 penalty, succeeded.

“Not so fast. We still have the map!” The mercenary unfolded the skin and held it up to the pale moonlight. “You see? The Jackals, as they call themselves if I’m not mistaken, need to cross this shallow gorge. But over here, a single person can run along the dry riverbed and beat them there.”

She told Edel he was too slow and injured to make the run. “You wait here on this bluff, and I’ll bring your Lady Sara.”

“It is my task!” Edel protested.

“Do you wish your Lady to die, and you with her?”

“Better than to allow the savages to have their way with her!”

Willpower with disadvantage, succeeded.

The errant knight was as obstinate as they came. “Look, the longer we argue the sooner your Lady comes to death. You can’t run as fast as I — I’m your best chance for Sara to live. You are sealing her fate now with your bullheadedness!”

With all her effort, she made him realize their predicament, and he finally acquiesced.

Leaving him more of her heavy items, she left at a jog along the almost imperceptible dry riverbed.

The Death-Striken Camp

Encounter check, negative.

  1. We learn more about the Blood Sisters.
  2. We learn about the main antagonist.

Choice B

Uncontrolled Golem — I’ll take this to mean she is watched over by an animated thing.

  1. The camp lies where shown on the map.
  2. There are signs of some other struggle there; many are dead.

Choice B

Alzara climbed the gully and crept on her belly to the edge of the site. She spied through dry scrub and peered over the high heath. The place was eerily quiet.

She waited. The Jackal war party was a godsend. She hoped at the moment of their attack, it would provide the distraction she needed to find Sara. However, the wind carried the sickly stench of death.

She crept closer. There were no lights, voices, or even the sound of rhythmic snores within the tattered pavilions of the Dawn Dancers.

She spied a body. A fallen warrior was bludgeoned into a messy pulp. Flies buzzed over the remains. He had died within the day.

She stood and wandered freely among the alleys between the huts. Many were torn open. Bodies littered every open space. There was no sign of the living.

She hastened to the center of the camp where a more permanent mud and wood structure would have housed the chief and any guests or prisoners. Two guards lay dead, the chieftain was decapitated. A beam dangled with severed twine. Around the beam were pillows. Here they had kept a prisoner, likely a feminine one. A large hole had been punched through the sod, leaving a very peculiar riddle.

Alzara followed this way out of the chieftain’s hut. She knelt to the ground. The riddle deepened. Here, she spied a strange depression in the ground. Several wide-spaced footprints might have belonged to a veritable giant. What deviltry transpired here?

A sudden war cry came from the eastern side of the camp. The Jackals has come!

Agility test succeeded.

Alzara took her leave by the opposite end of camp in the direction of the mysterious tracks.

Sister of Blood

Encounter check, negative.

  1. We learn about the Blood Sisters.
  2. Alzara catches up to her quarry.
  3. Alzara is tracked by Jackals.

Choice A

Alzara was a sell-sword, not a tracker. However, even in the dark in the dry packed earth, these tracks were hard to miss.

The swordswoman had been among the ranks of several mercenary companies, including the Reavers of Stenh and the notorious Black March. She had even once briefly been the leader of a small band of highway robbers.

Random Life Events: An old enemy becomes an ally. What happened?

Alzara had crossed blades during one of these episodes during her tenure among the Black March with the warlord, Telebris, who went by the Hand. Although the Black March was defeated, Alzara maimed him in single combat, nearly bleeding out from her own grievous wounds. She would have surely perished, but for a woman in disguise among Telebris’s war party gave her an elixir in exchange for her service.

Alzara agreed without knowing what into which she unwittingly became conscripted. She was miraculously saved, but the elixir had other properties, and her blood was used in some sort of ritual, binding her into his service for a mysterious group. Scarlet was the name she was given of her recruiter.

Since, she had undergone numerous quests on behalf of her faceless puppet masters, some exceedingly dangerous, and most nefarious, including assassinations. She felt the burn of agonizing pain whenever she refused to comply, something she needed try only once — at least until she could discover who exactly was pulling her strings.

She was a pawn, a puppet, a dancer. She found herself even working along side the Hand, her bitterest enemy, but there was nothing she could do to resist.

Even now, her errand to fetch Lady Sara bore unknown ramifications. Would her bloody sorority murder this innocent woman in a confounded blood ritual or use her as leverage in some elaborate political plot? Alzara’s missions rarely resulted in anything altruistic, nor did she see the final ends or motivation that resulted in or drove her gory demands. She did not enjoy crossing Sir Edel. Even though he was pompous, annoying, and exceedingly obstinate, she did not hate him. Rather, she pitied him that his trusting virtuous ways made him easy to manipulate. Nonetheless, until she found a way to cut her strings, Alzara had to comply, even if it meant her certain death.

She followed the puzzling trail.

Battle at the Standing Stones

Encounter check, negative.
Physique test, failure.

Alzara pressed through the night until the pale gleam of grey light on the horizon heralded the new day. She was tired and thirsty, having left her provisions with Sir Edel. However, her mission demanded she press on or perish. She buried her thirst and her agony to be free, focusing on the only avenue of self-preservation. Despite her bodily protests, she loped into a run.

Press the roll succeeded.

  1. She spies only the girl staked to the earth. (d12)
  2. The kidnappers rendezvous with a war party. (d12)
  3. The camp is empty with no sign of how they left. (d6)

Choice A

I’m going with the certain notion that this is indeed a trap.
I’ll roll some on the Addendum charts to get some inspiration — chaotic obelisk.

Within a couple hours the sun had risen. Exhausted, Alzara stopped in her tracks. Vultures circled overhead in the distance. Far ahead, jutting up out of the barren steppe was a small forest of upward thrusted rock like the great rotted teeth of some forgotten titan. Something was dying within their midst.

The warrioress proceeded cautiously. The wind howled through the broken crags and sharp corners of ancient stone. It gave off a very unwholesome feeling. As Alzara advanced through the labyrinth of chaotically placed standing stones, ahead in the distance upon a table of rock, the Hreskian spied a single feminine figure staked spread eagle to its surface.

She advanced as close as she dared within several long strides. She sensed a lurking danger there. She drew her blade and slowly made a circle just outside of the perimeter of the small clearing.

Intellect test at +2 penalty, succeeded.

  1. She spies the hidden automaton.
  2. She finds the automaton’s controller.

Choice A

From the corner of her eye, Alzara spied a giant form, which might have been nothing more than misshapen rock. Before she could recognize what it was she had espied, the massive humanoid form lumbered out from its camouflage. A towering lopsided giant consisted of tightened dull brown mottled skin stitched together in a hideous mockery of humanity. As it loomed above the warrioress, a familiar smell wafted over her — the smell of old leather. The creature had no face to speak of.

This is a leather golem with 5 HD and 11 hp.
Scare: Forces targets that see the creature to make a Willpower test or suffer a Negative Die on all tests against it.


Alzara rolls a willpower test at +4 penalty, failing.
Her shield cancels out disadvantage when evading.
She takes 4 and gives 8.

The massive abomination struck with a powerful arm thrust, knocking her hard against a standing stone, and sending motes of dust down on her head. She retaliated in an almost reflexive manner, driving her blade deep into its hard leather bulk. It showed no sign of pain.


Alzara downgrades luck to evade, and misses.

She pressed on, even though she gasped for air. She pried herself away from her compromising position, forcing herself to move. By luck, she stumbled, and avoided getting her head knocked off. A massive first scattered shards of rock in a cloud, nearly knocking down a massive monolith. Alzara countered, but her hasty lunge was cast aside as if she were nothing more than a child’s doll.


She takes 3 and does 0.


Alzara downgrades her last luck die to evade, and does 5, killing it.

The Hreskian was cast into another stone and barely escaped another killing blow. She reminded herself to control her breathing, trying to buy time by distancing herself and using the stones for cover. Then, waiting for the opportunity, she struck at the seams, slicing along its jagged length. The thing split in two, falling apart by its own immense weight. It quivered a few moments before whatever sorcery held it together faded into the ether.

She sagged to catch her breath, but an anguished cry erupted above the howling wind.

I rolled “Frozen King” on the tables.
Sounds like an undead of some sort — I’ll say a corporeal with white eyes and pale skin.
This is a 1 HD creature with 3 hit points.
This dead Sorcerer can cast putrid cloud and arcane blast.
Reaction at -2 penalty — neutral.

“You killed my creation!” wailed a pitiful wretched who presently made himself known. Alzara continued to gasp for air, but put up her guard.

Around a corner a bent shape with pale skin, bony fingers, lanky black and grey hair, and strange milky white eyes lurched within view. Alzara did not like the sight of him.

“You killed him!” he repeated in a thin voice.

“Who are you?!” she asked between gasps. “What do you want of Sara?”

  1. He’s paying off a debt to a greater power. (d8)
  2. He withholds telling. (d10)
  3. He needs her for his own ritual. (d8)

Choice A

“There is one greater than I practiced in the black arts who would have her!” the decrepit man said. “…and lift his curse on me. So as you see, I need her! And you have destroyed my greatest creation! For that, you shall pay!”

Alzara was weakened. Her only play was to fool the man long enough that she could clock him on the head when he wasn’t looking.

“Then let me repay my debt by replacing your abomination. Treat me as you would it, and I’ll guide you to where you need to go, and see that no harm comes to Lady Sara…” she lied, then continued. “I see that you are a powerful sorcerer. I have no wish to test my mettle against the likes of you…” she did her best to portray fear. “I can be of service to you.”

Intellect test at +4 penalty succeeded.

The repellent man cocked his head appraisingly. “Yes, perhaps you will be my new pet.”

A wave of relief swept over Alzara.

“Do as I bid now…” he continued. “Untie the girl. We make ready to travel. I’ve already lost time laying this trap for my pursuer.”

“The Jackals may still be on this trail, magician,” she said. “They were not far behind me.”

The sorcerer turned toward the camp from which he had taken the girl. Alzara saw her chance.

Attack at advantage does 5, killing the man.

With a bound forward at astonishing suddenness, she put all her sudden might into the blow that severed the man’s head when he looked the other way. No blood poured from the corpse. Alzara had no love of sorcery. Her relief was palpable as she slumped to the ground despite the whimpers of the gagged girl.

Alzara fails her short rest Physique roll, and so gains no hit points.

She found the strange sorcerer’s supplies and rummaged through for useful provisions.

  1. She finds supplies. (D12)
  2. She finds supplies and reward. (D8)

Choice B!

Among the wizard’s supplies was food and water for their journey, several other tools, as well as a small leather bag full of polished opals. Alzara gathered up the choicest items and pocketed the loot.

After a moment, she stalked doggedly over to the girl and cut her leg restraints. “Thank you! Thank you!” the girl said when Alzara pulled her gag away.

“You needn’t thank me, girl,” she replied flatly. Sara’s face turned to a quizzical frown. “Come,” Alzara said with a tug of her wrist restraints.

“What are you doing!?”

“I’m saving you,” she said. “Your knight in shining armor awaits. But for your own good, you must appear to be my prisoner, do you understand?”

Intellect test at +2 penalty failed!

The taste of captivity and the fact that Lady Sara was not used to being treated this way backfired. “You let me go this instant!” protested the young pretty noblewoman.

Alzara smacked her hard with the back of her hand. “You will die here, do you understand?! You have no choice if you are to live and see your beloved Sir Edel again.”

The Hreskian yanked her cord mercilessly, nearly dragging the girl along.

Horde On the Road To Hresk

Encounter check, positive!

  1. Trap
  2. Hazard
  3. Barrier
  4. Monster (encounter)

Choice B

Alzara traveled through the day wordlessly towing her indignant noblewoman behind. The girl was nearly as obstinate as her beloved, but easily tenfold more talkative. The Hreskanian had to threaten to cut out the girl’s tongue out to get any reprieve whatsoever.

By dusk, they had covered a number of miles though a circuitous way southward toward the trading city of Hresk. Alzara had doubled back and kept a close look over her shoulder as they went. However by day’s end, they saw a large encampment of raiders.

Who were they? Alzara was at a loss. Their numbers defied her immediate understanding, but she soon had a strong guess. There were perhaps a thousand warriors camped in the depression. That comprised the majority of all the tribes that roamed the Great. A new warlord must have risen, and a charismatic one at that. Tusekans upheld their dangerous rivalries, which is why the raiders were not a great threat to the few populations on the north trade way.

Going back would add perhaps fifty miles, and they didn’t have enough supplies as it was. Furthermore, Alzara risked running into Sir Edel or the Jackals. No, forward was her only course.

She pulled the noblewoman along. “No!” the young woman protested. Alzara didn’t care. No amount of noisemaking would change her course. The more, the better, she thought. She continued to drag the girl.

Naturally, the noise drew the attention of outlying sentries. Soon a handful of light riders bearing torches sped to investigate and intercept the strange disturbance. Their light fell upon the Hreskanian warrioress. Alzara held her arms out in peace, but held onto Lady Sara’s cords. The noblewoman shrank and finally corked up. They issued a challenge and leveled their spears.

“I am here to meet the warlord,” Alzara responded. “I bring a prize and offer my services.” Lady Sara shrieked and tried to crawl away. She was stopped. “He will find I have much to offer.”

Intellect test with advantage succeeded.

Lady Sara was separated from her captor with a shriek, and Alzara surrendered her arms voluntarily. She was ushered to the tent of the warlord.

  1. She finds a friendly face from the past.
  2. She finds Scarlet.
  3. She finds the Hand.
  4. She finds someone wholly new and unknown.

Choice D

Rolls on title generator for inspiration.

Alzara was thrust within. Inside the pavilion were lavish rugs and throws, incense and burning braziers. Seated on a throne within was an exotic man of Tusekan heritage, long mustaches, and dark hair under a skull cap. Heavy shadow limned his eyes in a way that struck Alzara as unnatural. Various tribal chiefs were collected within, and all turned to greet the intruder. The captain of the sentinels barked a brief, and likely unflattering introduction in their tongue.

Intellect test at +7 but advantage to know the language, fails.

The chieftains looked hungrily down at the mercenary. Alzara straightened, then relaxed to play on the allure of a singular woman.

“I am Alzara, a Hreskanian,” she said. “No doubt you have no one to offer you insight on your enemies’ tactics or advise you of their treachery in dimplomacy. I am that woman.”

Reaction check at +2, Affinity.

With her words, the warlord cocked his head with amusement. “Our goal is conquest, Hreskanian, not diplomacy,” he said in a deep baritone voice and thick Tusekan accent.

“All the better to crush your enemies by treading upon their customs.”

“The Khagan doesn’t need these things, woman! All will be crushed…” said one of the chieftains before the warlord silenced him with a hand.

She was in, she thought. If perhaps she could be close to the Khagan, she could monitor or even control what happens to Sara, or even direct some of his tactics so she could be free during a time of distraction.

“What else do you have to offer?” the Khagan asked.

“You have my sword, and an offering — the girl is a noblewoman of some import from the west. I slew her knight in waiting. Surely she’ll bring you much luck and leverage when bargaining with the kings of the west.”

“We do not bargain!” repeated one of the chieftains, again to be silenced.

“It would be unwise to waste such an important captive. She will bring opportunity…”

  1. Alzara is placed under guard alone and weaponless. (D8)
  2. She is given a pavilion of her own within the chieftains’ circle and a place in the war council. (D8)
  3. Something in between with a trial of some sort later. (D12)

Choice C

Alzara was told to meet them in the morning, but she was placed under guard to sleep among the few slaves that accompanied the United tribes.

  1. Lady Sara is there. (D10)
  2. Lady Sara is not there. (D12)

Choice B

However, she noted Lady Sara was nowhere to be seen. She worried that her compulsion might soon agonize her, driving her to complete Scarlet’s task. With nothing to be done for it for the moment, Alzara drew her cloak around her and did her best to find rest.

Short rest failed.

An Early Summons

  1. Alzara is allowed a long rest.
  2. Alzara is not allowed a long rest.

Choice B

Encounter check, positive!

  1. Trap.
  2. Hazard.
  3. Barrier.
  4. Encounter.

Choice B

Rolling for inspiration, the slaves carry disease.
Physique test at +3 penalty to avoid disease, failed.
Note: treat like a PL 3 pestilence spell.
Willpower test #1 passed; no attribute points suffered.

Sleep was impossible to obtain. The slaves were poorly cared for, and many hacked throughout the night with a gurgling cough. Alzara was exhausted when she was rudely awoken by a warrior who spoke nothing of the trade tongue. In the early morning, Alzara’s throat felt raw and painful, but she buried those feelings under a facade of strength.

  1. Alzara is challenged to single-combat.
  2. Alzara is tasked with a small quest.
  3. Alzara is interrogated.

Choice B

She was nudged roughly. Obviously, the Khagan wanted to see her…

This marks the end of adventure #1.
For the purposes of this game, subtract 1 from the number of adventures required to advance.
Thus, Alzara advances to level 2.
New Hit Die roll, 10 (current hit points will be set at 13, since there’s no rest).
Attribute advances: Physique, Agility, and Willpower.


Mercenary from the Eastern Steppe (Warrior)
Attributes. 13 Physique, 13 Agility, 13 Intellect and 12 Willpower
Level. 2 (2 adventures needed)
HD/level. d10
Hit Points (20). 13
Luck. d6
Abilities. Combat Superiority, Improved Damage, Weapon Specialization (broad sword), Improved Maneuvers
Complication. Duty to the Circle of Blood Sisters
Gear. broadsword (d8), dagger (d6), medium armor (-1d), medium shield (2 negative dice), pack, 2 small sacks (sack of opals), rations, waterskin (d6 usage), money (1d4 Resource Die)
Encumbrance. 8; Effected? No
Notes. During each of next 2 days, succeed in a Willpower year or lower Physique and Agility each by 1