Continuing with a solo playthrough of Warlock!, using random tables built to reimagine Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Today they attempt to enter the Spire.
Disclosure - I'm a DriveThru RPG affiliate
Final Thoughts on Warlock!
So..final thoughts on Warlock! It's a system that appears a mash-up of WFRP and Advanced Fighting Fantasy with old school art (I have original book before, the revamped Warlock Traitor's Edition)
However, it has it's own innovations that make it something worth taking a look at. It has gotten rid of any attributes, using only skills, that don't depend on external factors (except how many points you put into them for career etc). Careers each have their own skill letting you cover checks that are sometimes hard to find a skill for, so Ratcatcher +7 is a thing.
The combat is quick and deadly, and probably the thing my players liked most was on a combat roll, someone is getting injured (outside of a draw).
It's been super easy for newbies to RPGs to learn for a one-shot, it's very hackable (simple rules, d20 system), has a certain feel to it (old school British fantasy, grimdark), has evocative critical hits, advanced careers for something to aim for (and facilitate campaigns), simple monsters, a flexible magic system without spell points or spell slots, and flavoursome careers.
It can be used to run old (and new) WFRP modules and is easily adapted to homebrew setttings (I used a Mythic Devon). It's been a major influence in my own RPG (publishing planned in 2024) writing. And my physical book is the best mouse mat I've found when not working at a desk.
For solo it is simple enough to run multiple characters if desired, and assumes theatre of the mind combat.
Lastly it has lots and lots of support in extra books from Fire Ruby Designs, including lots of random tables. Greg Saunders is a prolific writer!
As always not everything is rosy. Some classes get combat, some don't, which can become quite irksome in some campaigns. And shows in last part of this story. One of my players hated the magic system, lots of the careers have strange skill choices and the casual / martial divide of the weapons seemed a little arbitrary.
But also, these are all things that are opinion or easily hacked or ignored.
Final Thoughts on Solo
Nice to have characters slowly falling, and sense of building to final confrontation. However, this was far too long an adventure for the blog posts, and I'm intending to return to the 4-part format used in Troika.
I'm happy with the way having random tables for the adventure and a structure worked for the adventure(dungeon with a Warlock and their treasure, "keys" to collect for the treasure, three distinct sections of the dungeon, with a river).
The tables need tweaking and some guidelines on how to use them
I was also happy with my own d20 Solo Engine / Emulator, covered in another blog post. But I'll still be using Mythic / more solo engines in future.
Most of my inspiration ideas / rolls were from Rory's Story Cubes when I needed them, and these worked well too. I think I prefer images to words here.
On a personal level, I think I add in too many threads and storylines when playing solo, but that's maybe a personal preference and experience thing.
I would also like to keep a record of a few more things, to give readers a sense of how resources are being used. That's quite game-dependent though.
Adventures of the Seekers of Tenstones
The characters left from Tenstones up to the mountain, restored an oracle to Nua, found way through Outer Complex, rescued dwarves and acolytes, crossed the river and entered the cursed area. Along the way they've lost several party members and gained others.
A quick reminder that the current characters are...
- Hakgan (dwarf miner, warm-hearted, grouchy, generous)
- Nadra (human wizard's apprentice, independent, eager, cold hearted)
- Rolik Harginsson (dwarf noble, independent, legacy-builder, out for revenge)
- Balna Fimaborasniz (dwarf roadwarden, sacrifice, redemption, burn the witches)
Scene 20 - Find Way Through the Cursed Area (Risky Situation)
Leaving behind Guhn and the boathouse, Hakgan leads way through cracked temple chambers and dusty hallways, using the advice they gained from the seer at the river. Down old steps they come to a large temple with the stone statue of a proud woman, which radiates power of the Magician. Beside it stands a undead figure in leather armour, holding a silver spear that pains it. Hakgan recognises description of Majud, the adventurer they were hunting.
Detected, the minds of the group are blasted by visions of the dwarves of group, undead and serving the Magician. Demoralised, group retreats before Majud can engage them. Returning to the boathouse, Guhn lets them rest for longer and they discuss oath and ways forward.
Scene 21 - Taking Care of Majud (Risky Situation)
Returning to where they had seen Majud, Hakgan and Balna find another door in, but it's little better than the first. Nadra then finds a ladder up and they attack with elevated advantage. Their foe Majud the Ratcatcher has been joined by shambling corpses.
But this time they are ready for the visions of the magician's statue, and take out the walking corpses with missile fire, before Balna and Hakgan meet and drop the undead warrior after quick bloody combat, aided by Nua and Moonmourn.
More corpses shamble in from an adjacent chamber, so Balna takess the spear and group plunge on, guided by Nadra to an old boat, sacred to Nua, that Guhn told them of. (random event - group positive). Here they rest for an hour and reflect.
Balna feels a bond with the spear, called Shadowslay, which is potent against undead and fiends, but fills the wielder with ambition. His oath to slay the Magician is always foremost in his mind.
Nadra mulls over magic that might lie at the heart of the mountain. Rolik thinking of returning to his clan in glory, with wealth and allies at hand. Hakgan considers times with Snoranina and checks in with others.
Hakgan leads them creeping along path through halls with mix of Nadra's magic and seer's instructions.
Scene 22 - A Vengeful Wizard (Risky Situation)
Without more trouble they enter a room with a jetty where a couple of boats are moored, but the exit via water is blocked by a lowered metal gate. Also here is a blue stone altar to Nua, beside which is a dead husk in wizardly robes.
A ghost reveals itself, introducing as Anga, a wizard who was former ally of Magician, before being betrayed and left to an undead existence in this room. With Rolik talking, Anga tells them of Runescorch Forge, a place of fire where an artificer works in a hellwrought garden, aided by dwarven spirits. Agree to bring Anga the redstone key guarded by the artificer, in return for magical books the ghost can no longer use and laying the ghost to rest.
Wasting no time, the group follow directions down a muralled passage, hearing singing in dwarven. Following it, they find a large temple chamber where a dwarf smith works on parts of a metal horse. The chamber is dwarf-made, containing charts and maps of a mysterious fiery realm. A doorway leads to what appears to be some kind of warped garden. More importantly, Hakgan spots kegs of a legendary dwarven beer, Nightmaster!
Hakgan goes to take a look at the kegs, when a spectral flaming bull-headed priest reveals itself, at fighting ensues. The miner goes down fast, gored and burnt, Rolik runs to free the smith, Balna engages the creature, Nadra looks for a weapon to use against it. Two animated tools aid the fiend, possessed by dwarf spirits.
The fiend is driven back by Shadowslay in Balna's hands, but directs tools and uses fire from a distance. A bolt slams into it;s back from a still crawling Hakgan, who then take a flaming fist to the heart. A screaming smith with a hammer joins the fray, only to go down, gored by long horns. But Balna steps up, with advice from Nadra who found clues to the creature in the charts. A final thrust sends the creature howling back to the fiery realm it inhabited.
There is a change in the smoky air, as if some connection had been severed somehow in the area.
With his last words, the smith whispers his name and asks to be burned. So once again mourning dead companions, the group take time to build a makeshift pyre by the forge. They cremate Hakgan, the miner who had been the last of three companions who started the quest of the Seekers of Tenstones, and the dwarf smith they had just met.
(As Hakgan was last of original 3, reviewed and removed some Threads and Extras no longer relevant.)
Scene 23 - Runescorch Forge (Risky Situation)
Remembering the words of the seer about "the Garden that was not a Garden", the group go to enter where strange things of red stone are "planted" and seemingly going. Way blocked by line of floating spears, and Rolik tries to negotiate, but rebuffed by a dwarven voice.
Nadra's magic lead them down through a cave and to another entrance, where a stone statue of a dwarf is appears to house the undead artificer. And still refused to listen to dwarven entreaties to give them the key.
Driven by a burning anger, the three make short work of the slow statue and it's animated tool allies, As the undead artificer starts to reform, Nadra douses the fire burning inside a basket-like boat that seems to be linked to the spirit. They quickly find another glowing redstone key of the Magican's treasure and a magical horned dwarven helmet, which Rolik promptly dons.
As they leave, the shades of their two companions, Hakgan and the smith appear, pleading to be freed. They also spot among maps one of this area and marking "the Dragon Room" nearby, possibly the location of the other key the seer told them about.
Probably slaying the Magician will free the spirits of their companions. Rolik finds that the helmet grants him great skill with throwing axes, but forces him to use no other weapons, and won't allow others to remove the helm. So Nadra ends up with the magical mace Moonmourn.
Scene 24 - An Ogrish Surprise (Risky Situation)
Enter large room with coffins, warded with silver. A cadaverous figure lurks around, kept at bay by the wards. Above hangs the skeleton of a dragon. The ghoul retreats, lurking nearby and as group investigating a familiar figure enters, injured ogre with an iron leg, followed by skeletal figures carrying a boat.
Shouting with rage, dwarves and ogre engage, but times have changed since last time the ogre met the group. Armoured, determined and with magical weapons, Ironfoot meets her end at the end of the spear from a former prisoner and pit fighter!
They find a potion, watch the skeletons wander off with the boat, stack coffins and retrieve key from the dragon hanging above. When they have this fifth key, all begin to glow, signifying they maybe have all of the treasure keys together. (event - thread progress - treasure keys).
They return to Anga the undead wizard, who thanks them and can rest now confident that someone can take their vengeance on to the magician. Nadra finds two spells among notes, Blur and Night.
Scene 25 - Into the Maze (Risky Situation)
The last part of Runescorch Rock lies before the group, the Maze of the Magician. They have the magic of Nadra to aid them and the giant rats and gremlins they meet give them little problem. They wander through winding passages, through secret doors and avoiding the occasional trap.
They found a room with a fireplace to rest, burning the remains of another dwarf they had found, a corpse chained to a forge.
Scene 26 - A Final Guardian (Risky Situation)
When they awoke, there was a sense of an ending coming. A few beetles of Nua had come down a chimney, and aided them through the last parts of the maze.
One determined troll gives them a little trouble, until Nadra gets her latest spell off, sending Balna into a blur. It seemed to cause her some strain though, but her dwarven companions don't comment on the two small horns that have grown from her head. There's a magician to slay.
Some dwarf spirits also invite them to stop and gamble, which they do for a quick rest and recovery. They come to a garden of the moon, with more beetles joining them, as they feel some malignant power also building, possibly linked to the ritual they had heard of a few times traversing the Rock.
Finally them come to an old armoury, where the last guardian confronts them, a metal statue of an angry looking dwarf. As they confront it and battle, Nua's glowing beetles start dying, as another battle goes on.
And now Nadra's magic leaves her, possibly due to the power of the Magician nearby (or bad dice rolls). Balna finds that Shadowslay is not potent against this berserk statue, his chest opened up by it's deadly axe. Nadra is next, bleeding out on the cold floor, and Rolik is forced to duck among the weapons racks, throwing axes at the thing.
One finds it's mark, and a gasping, injured Rolik breathes in relief.
He is the last of them. With glowing beetles dying around him, driven on by an oath, he leaves two dead companions and magical weapons he cannot use to confront the Magician, taking one thing from Nadra's bag.
Scene 27 - The Magician and the Gem (Desperate Situation)
(Altered scene - major detail is worse - magician not alone)
Among opulent chamber stands the Magician, her hair streaming down a dead visage kept together by magic of Runescorch Rock. She holds a glowing staff and has been waiting for the adventurers. She expected more than one.
And with her is an undead ogre guardian...
...Which takes the full brunt of a magical gemstone, taken from an animated statue by the river (scene 18), known to be potent against the magician. Nadra had carried it, but Rolik knew its power.
The ogre's husk crumbles, and the magician flees the rays of the gem, shouting curses at the noble. But Rolik is no warrior, and the Magician draws on her magic, using darkness and pestilence to counter the gem. Weighed down by the death of companions, Rolik breathes a last sigh as a rapid sword strike take's him down.
The last of the Seekers of Tenstones falls. The Magician of Runescorch Rock bested them.
But it has weakened her, as glowing beetles drive back the darkness she had summoned to a flaming chasm for where it had been summoned.
In the armoury a robed figure pauses, knowing the chosen of Nua had been overwhelmed. Yet the magician's power had been drained, and the River Seer has time to gather weapons and trinkets from the Seekers, fleeing into the complex before she is noticed.
Throughout the Complex, rainbow coloured beetles have taken root, watching and exploring everything, waxing and waning in numbers with the moon.
And so it is that a few months later, under the light of a full moon, a group of misfits gathers. Sufeen has taken up the mantle of guide once more, determined to succeed where her cousin did not, aided by a pair of former acolytes from the mountain, and a trio of dwarves, who have sworn to avenge their kinsfolk.
And this time they have the blessing of Nua and a bloodstained map. Lastly they are armed with a silver blade which whispers of glories yet to be, and a moon-blessed mace that brings fear to it's foes...
Plot Threads and Character List
Final list of unresolved Plot Threads, I had...
- Find out more about the treasure said to be in the heart of the sanctuary. Maybe library
- Find out about ritual Magician wants to complete, linked to a dark power
- Slay the Magician, who is prepared for them
The Character List / Extras is...(updated partway through to remove Extras after death of Hakgan)
- Coscana Sweet, mayor of Tenstones. She is gaunt and cunning, drinks alot, worshipper of Nua
- Sufeen of Tenstones, younger cousin of Erasmus, desperate for work, hired as torchbearer by group but to afraid to enter the spire
- Sadie of Nua, Oracle of Nua, and former quartermaster of Runescorch Sanctuary, keeps beetles. Rescued by Seekers of Tenstones
- Magician of Runescorch Rock, a woman who befriended the leadership of Runescorch Sanctuary and then took it over with help of goblins and other creatures. Has some kind of treasure at heart of sanctuary
- Acolytes and Priests of the Rock
- Nua, Goddess of Magic, Moon and Mystery. Beetles holy to her
- Osric, veteran guard from Tenstones. Loyal to Coscana, follower of Nua
- Beetle Cave of Nua, blessed bool and fountain of Nua. Area protected by guardian spirit of the mountain.
- Alina, old frail artificer of Nua, respected by Rolik and Balna
- River Seer, oracle of Nua who knows river area very well. Shapechanger, pet hellhousnd, foe of the Magician
- Guhn, ogre mage, former adventurer, sworn oath to work ferry for 5 years, spells include Invisibility and Sleep. Lively conversation.
- Artificer of Runescorch Forge, a dwarf ghost who forges a strange stone garden, aided by dwarven spirits
Seekers of Tenstones
They bought some equipment and supplies and I gave them 1 xp each too, to get things moving.
The Fallen and Fled (in order to leave group)
- Sufeen of Tenstones, the torchbearer and cousin of Erasmus who (wisely) decided it was too dangerous to enter Runescorch Spire
- Erasmus of Tenstones, human Tomb Robber and founding member, from nearby town, who was slain by an undead dwarf champion.
- Eramina Meganasdottir, dwarf Thief / Tomb Robber, rescued by party from the Spire, but also slain by an undead dwarf champion
- Snoranina Durgellasdottir, dwarf mercenary who formed and lead the group, cut down by a wight after crossing the river
- Pike the Pack Horse, given to Guhn as payment for the ferry.
- Hakgan Darunsson, dwarf Miner one of founding members, slain by the fiend of Runescorch Forge.
- Balna Fimaborasniz, dwarf roadwarden who wielded Shadowslay, rescued by party from the Spire. Slain by an iron berserker statue, the last guardian of the maze
- Nadra, human wizard's apprentice and follower of Nua, who joined just before group entered the Rock. Grew in magical power, but also slain by an iron berserker statue, the last guardian of the maze
- Rolik Harginsson, dwarf noble who was rescued by party from the Spire. The last surviving member of the group, who faced down the Magician and wielded the magic gem that was her bane. But was slain by the undead magician's sword nonetheless.
Well that was quite an undertaking!
Learnt lots about solo and Warlock and writing blog posts of actual plays! And using random tables for adventures and in solo.
Back to standard length of hopefully four parts next with Ironsworn. Will also be updating the tables used to create the dungeon and publishing them in digital format.