Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bujilli: Episode 105

Previously...
Their much-needed rest within the upper passages of the Gormenstille disturbed by a prowling Irrlicht, Bujilli and his companions weight the merits of sitting tight and searching-out a better hiding place while the Synchronocitor recharges. But even once the transition mechanism has recovered enough power...will it work in this place? The Gormenstille is a gargantuan prison complex that might have given Piranesi nightmares...

Bujilli slumped back on his make-shift stretcher-cot. He was still tired. He'd only managed a couple hours of sleep before having to deal with the Irrlicht that had taken-over the Eloi and almost drained Leeja to death.

They'd re-built their defenses, such as they could, but it was a shabby bit of work. It would be laughable...if it wasn't him and his friends in this situation. Vampires and pustule-bubbling fungi on one side, a vast labyrinth of twisting passages and countless empty rooms arranged by mad men and degenerates all around them. Only an idiot willingly breaks into a prison. Especially such a prison as this one.

The others referred to it as the Gormenstille. A place of secrets, hidden and denied things, troublesome things, buried things...it was as much a catacomb as a labyrinth, a prison of lost souls where even death was no release. This was no place to linger.

"How well defended or guarded are these archives?" Bujilli looked about himself, carefully examining the defenses they were able to rig-up with available materials. It wouldn't hold against an dim-witted Almas child looking for shiny-bits, let alone any of the nasty things Hedrard claimed were likely to be lurking hereabouts.

"The Central Archive is out of the question. It's one of the reasonably 'safe' places, so it's heavily protected. But there are sub-divisions and secondary, even tertiary caches, vaults, and other places filled with things that are meant to be held apart of the rest of stuff relegated to this place. We could probably gain access to one of the locked rooms, or a sealed library no one has checked in decades, possibly centuries. There are all sorts of secret chambers and shielded or warded spaces scattered throughout this entire place..."

"This is a fool's errand," scoffed the Ignoble; "You cannot seriously be contemplating wandering around the peripheral sectors of the Gormenstille looking for some random collection of illicit papers or dubious documents just to satisfy some perverse streak of curiosity!"

"I admit that I am curious about what all is secreted away in this place...but I am more interested in getting us all out of here. Sooner rather than later. Look at this place--a child would be embarrassed by such a flimsy fort. We need to find a better place if we're going to get any rest." He looked over at Leeja. She was still asleep. The Oneiric Bubble spell he had cast over her and Hedrard had faded-out. It had helped, but it wasn't enough. They had at least another 19 hours before the Synchronocitor was recharged...and then he would find out if it would operate properly inside the walls of this place. If it functioned normally they'd go onward to some other place...but if it did not work...they might be stuck here a while. He did not like their prospects in this current location. Not with vampires, insidious fungi and weirdlight-things prowling through the area.

"They will be waking up soon. We need to decide what we are going to do next."

"I say we sit tight and wait for whatever you expect to happen in the next however many hours to take place. Why go around stirring up more trouble or drawing attention to ourselves?"

"Coward." The roof-runner glared at the Ignoble. Two broken non-people poised on the brink of destruction at every side; it was incredible that they weren't both--

"Insane! This is thoroughly and completely mad!" The Ignoble's eyes were wide with mounting panic.

"You two might lower your voices before you wake the dead with your pointless arguing." Hedrard groaned as she sat up on her cot. "Both of you ought to know better than to waste breath arguing like that. Neither of you is complete, whatever sense of identity you have now is not at all who you once were. Whomever you might have been is irrelevant now. What lives you might have led previously do not matter now. That was all taken away from you, for whatever reasons, for whatever sins or crimes or offenses. You were rendered blank slates...and instead of making use of this opportunity, you both squandered it, wasted it, wallowing in fear and the dim distorted reflections of memories you'll never fully recover no matter how hard you try."

The Eloi and the Ignoble both stared at Hedrard. The Eloi grew thoughtful, the Ignoble balled up their fists and struggled to make words form, words that wouldn't come no matter how hard they tried. Finally their throat constricted from the strain and they choked. Coughed. Sat down with their head in their hands and cried.

"What was done to these two, and hundreds, thousands of others, was cruel and disgusting; extravagantly pointless, much like this whole place." Hedrard slowly, stiffly rose to her feet. She looked impossibly frail and ancient. Her eyes glimmered with deep red highlights. She began to gather-up her iron-gray hair and twist it into some sort of knot at her back.

Leeja stirred, awoke with a start. Her hair flared about her like a white hot corona then her green gold eyes fixed on Bujilli and she smiled.

"I thank you for releasing us from our would-be executioners up above."

"You are both welcome, all of you, actually..."

"But you were a fool to rush into such a place as this all unawares." Hedrard shook her head ruefully.

"What were you both doing in this prison?"

"We were not 'in' prison. Not exactly. We were both captives of the Purple Horde. They took us to one of the roof-top sanctuaries built by one or another of the cultists cast down into this place by whichever rivals or ecclessiastical authorities had access to a Black Key or made a deal with one of the Faceless...or the Soulless...or the Nameless..."

"But why did they bring you here?"

"They intended to sacrifice us to a Purple Cloud in a ritual they expected to give them power in this place." Hedrard looked about the room they were in. She clearly did not approve of their present accommodations.

"Them again?" Bujilli still wasn't entirely sure why the Desert Fathers of the Purple Horde had some sort of vendetta against him, but now he decided it was well past time he found out.

Leeja struggled to rise from her stretcher-cot. She was still wobbly, weak from the Irrlicht's draining attack.

"They've certainly taken an interest in you, but they're far more interested in something...or someone...locked-away within this place. They took advantage of the turmoil and chaos in Wermspittle to nab poor Lemuel and myself and bring us here. At first I thought they were only going to try to use us against the Academy, there is a long history of antagonism between them and the various schools, colleges and institutes gathered together under the banner of the Academy. Diametrically opposed forces. We are dedicated to learning, knowledge, rekindling what meager light we can in the midst of such overwhelming darkness and destruction; while they are barbarians, ignorant locusts who plunder cities left stripped of life by their masters, those aerial horrors that have killed entire worlds one after another, extinguishing all life save those few who become their slaves and servants..."

"Why haven't they overrun Wermspittle already?" Leeja sat back down.

"The Academy wasn't always a great power in its own right, not like the Medical School or the Unthedral. The Academy grew out of the old Institute for Apocalyptic Studies. They came to Wermspittle for the same reason most others shunned or avoided it--the place is surrounded by myriads of dead worlds. However anyone tried, whatever means was used, the overwhelming majority of the worlds accessible from this place were--are--dead. and not just simply devoid of life. No. They were once living worlds, populous worlds filled with living, breathing beings...before something happened, something terrible."

"The Clouds? Did they kill everyone off?"

"No. The Purple Clouds were all but unknown up to three hundred years ago. They were considered works of fiction. Then one all but killed off the Fourth World, the Adjacent World accessed from the South East Gate of the Inner Ramparts. We drove off the Purple Cloud, or at least we thought we had. The Privy Council and the rest hid behind propaganda and political wrangling, as always. Vigilance waned, budgets were cut, the old horrors were forgotten in the face of fresh terrors, immediate concerns and the ongoing mess we've made of the place...and in the meantime the Clouds have returned to Wermspittle..."

Bujilli remembered the Smog Shelter he and Leeja had taken refuge in, the Leech-monger who had saved her life even if he had stolen her tainted blood doing it.*

"How? How could it get like--"

"We can debate that until the vampires round us up like cattle. Or we can discuss things when we're somewhere more defensible, more survivable."

"These two have been telling us about the Archives--"

"The Central Archives are heavily defended..."

"Yes. So they've said; but there are less well defended secondary sites that we might be able to use--"

"Fine. Do you have a better suggestion? Any alternative?"

"No."

"Then we ought to get moving before whatever lurks or prowls through this section notices us, or the scouts from below catch our scent. I have no interest in being taken by Bannerworth and his Comprachico friends, not to mention the fungal colony you left behind us in the Calotte-Passage."**

"Do either of you know which way to go?" Leeja got back on her feet.

"Certainly not." Huffed the Ignoble as though offended at the very thought.

"I have an idea, if you're willing to try something unorthodox..."

"We're listening."

"We go back upstairs--"

"Absolutely not!" The Ignoble dropped their Iron Mask and slumped against the wall in terror.

"Up? Why?"

"Your mechanism-thing brought you here at that spot. We don't know if it will work deep inside the walls of the Gormenstille...this being the kind of place that it is, I'm nervous about testing the defenses when we don't need to do that. We go up, not all the way back to the specific place where you let us go necessarily, maybe we can find another spot similar to that one, someplace less likely to be watched over by cultists or whatever."

"Makes sense to me." Leeja sighed, already exhausted from the thought of retracing their steps back up to the rooftop.

"Well young man? Do we look for a way up or down? Unless you have a third option?"

SSSCCRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTCCCCCCCHHHHHHH!

Something wicked was approaching from the direction of the passage leading to Bannerworth's clandestine enclave...


What should Bujilli and company do next?

You Decide!


* Bujilli & Leeja took refuge in a Smog Shelter in Episode 95 where they met the Leech-Monger who did save Leeja's life, even if he did steal the tainted blood for so-far unknown reasons...
** The Custodian turned out to be an infested-minion of some sort of fungus-creature, possibly a Fungal Tyrant in Episode 103.


Now What?

We need to decide which way Bujilli and his group will be going--Up towards the roof-tops, down to the Archives, or in some other direction. Should the group attempt to stand their ground and defend their position against the oncoming critter(s), or would it be better to retreat and look for an escape route? We'll definitely need to know if they are going to try to go upwards or downwards or in some other direction in either case...

Then we need to roll for Initiative: Roll 1d6 for (1) Bujilli and his group, and (2) that wicked something (or somethings) approaching from the passage.

We need 3d4 rolled to determine how many Varn-spiders are coming up through the Calotte-Passage. (I rolled a 1 in response to the raised voices, then another 1 on the Wandering Monster Matrix, so we get some Varn-Spiders...)

Three or four D20 rolls (per spider) would be useful in determining how the combat goes, if things do get violent.

We could also use a Morale check for both the Ignoble and the Eloi prisoners, (as per P. 56) by rolling 2d6 for each of them. The Eloi has base Morale of 8 and the Ignoble has a base Morale of 10. Remember--Bujilli receives no bonus/penalty from his Charisma, however Leeja does gain a -1 modifier that can be applied--lower scores are best in this situation. One or both of them might panic. If they are attacked by Varn-Spiders, they both receive a +2 modifier to their Morale Check, since they know far too well just what those horrid things will do to them, and what very likely follows close after them.

Once we resolve the current situation with the approaching malevolent arachnids, we will most likely need a follow-up Wandering Monster check due to the noise and so forth, if things do get violent: roll 1d6, on a result of 1 there is a wandering monster to be rolled for off of the Wandering Monster Matrix for this section of the Gormenstille. Since we're advised to check for Wandering Monsters every two turns (as per P. 125 of Labyrinth Lord), we could probably do with say two such checks, if someone would be so kind as to roll a couple of six-siders for us.

As always, if you have any questions or want to vote for a particular direction to take or specific thing to do next please let us know in the comments, or via email.

What happens next is up to you, the readers.

You Decide!

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Series Indexes
One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six


About Bujilli (What is This?) | Who is Bujilli? | How to Play

Bujilli's Spells | Little Brown Journals | Loot Tally | House Rules

Episode Guides
Series One (Episodes 1-19)
Series Two (Episode 20-36)
Series Three (Episodes 37-49)
Series Four (Episodes 50-68)
Series Five (Episodes 69-99)
Series Six(Episodes 100-ongoing)

Labyrinth Lord   |   Advanced Edition Companion

8 comments:

  1. I'm not sure I'd disagree with Hedrard backed by Leeja, and the reasoning seems good. It's also reasonable to think that the density of occupation will rise with proximity to the ground, and fall with height. If they think going back up makes sense, Bujilli would have to have a good counter-argument.

    As for the approaching menace, if it's coming from the direction they'd want to travel, they could get ready to jump it, to deal with it as quickly and noiselessly as possible, but if the numbers look like being against them or the menace is quick or capable of moving vertically as well, then ideally with Bujilli and Leeja at a doorway, to remove the advantage and avoid being outflanked. Maybe Bujilli casting Wrathful Facade and advancing could work to drive them back..?

    If they'd want to head in another direction, I'd suggest wasting no time and moving off, with Leeja webbing a doorway as a delaying tactic and the keener of Bujilli and Leeja at the head to sniff out upcoming problems, the other bringing up the rear.

    I rolled for initiative and got 2 for Bujilli and friends followed by a 3. Maybe I should avoid these initiative rolls?

    I also rolled the d4s and got 10 spiders, so it might not matter what I'm rolling... The d20 rolls, at 3.5 per spider, were 14, 1, 18, 19, 12, 20, 12, 19, 11, 6, 8, 17, 3, 19, 11, 1, 1, 5, 2, 1, 17, 1, 11, 16, 16, 14, 3, 9, 3, 4, 12, 11, 4, 2 and 3.

    The rolls for morale were 12 and 7...

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    1. Typically, as a sort of 'rule-of-thumb' sort of thing, the Towers get less densely populated as you go upwards, except for a few small pockets of isolated cults, cliques or clans. Going up would probably run less risk of meeting-up with guards, inmates, etc., though it does run the risk of prowlers, animals, etc. Wandering Monster Checks are less frequent going up.

      The Varn-Spiders are coming up from the calotte-passage leading back down toward Bannerworth's enclave with the vampires. All other directions appear free and clear at the moment, so finding a way upward or downward won't be too difficult.

      Wrathful Facade could be pretty useful, more so with intelligent creatures, but it might affect the Varn-Spiders since they have been exposed to Bannerworth...and perhaps they have been trained to respond to his commands...

      Webbing a passage shut behind them is a good idea, unless they have to flee from something unsuspected up ahead. Leeja can rescind/dismiss her (variant) Web spell, but doing so takes time.

      Sending someone out ahead of the main group to scout what is out there is a good idea.

      Thanks for the Initiative rolls--those numbers work fine. There are a lot of distractions and complicating factors at work here, so they did pretty well, at least there isn't a huge difference between the two groups, no really big advantage.

      Ten Varn-Spiders?!? Ouch. that is going to be rough. I appreciate the d20 rolls...looks like the Varn-Spiders have a few 1s and 2s to counter-balance the single 20 and three 19s...might be a nasty little brawl...

      Thanks also for the Morale rolls. That is going to be an important consideration going forward...

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  2. I like the idea of impeding the Varn spiders advance to avoid a fight.

    Possibly it’s my contrary nature or high tolerance for risk, but I vote downwards. Who better than Bujilli to return to the Academy with dark arts from Gormenstille’s lower depths? Any advantage in these direst of times.

    Regardless, Bujilli has knives to pass round and his manticore pistol needs to be reloaded. Lemuel and Nemos 22722 and 112811 ought to be armed somehow.

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    1. Avoiding the Varn-Spiders is very likely a good idea. Those creatures are not just prowlers, they often serve as hunting-beasts for the vampires...so getting caught-up fighting them might draw some unwanted attention...

      Downwards could work--Bujilli and Leeja have both learned to infiltrate dangerous spaces and Leeja does Move Silently better than anyone else in the part. It could work, but it would run a higher risk of running into organized resistance and possibly coordinated retaliation, not to mention all the inter-group politics and shenanigans going on down there.

      Bujilli is certainly tempted by the thought of those Archives and who knows what dark lore lurks in those shadowed halls and dim, forgotten chambers? And you are right--any advantage he can wrest from this place could tip the scales in his favor down the road...and returning to Wermspittle with dark arts recovered from the depths of the Gormenstille's lower depths just sounds really cool!

      Re-loading the manticore-pistol might be a good idea, now that it has been suggested, we'll make it a priority. Lemuel has the Baby Teeth that nearly killed Leeja back in Episode 52 and more fully detailed in Episode 53...so Lemuel has a wicked bite-attack. Bujilli certainly does have some knives he can hand-out to the so-far un-armed former-inmates...if that is something people want to do...

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  3. Quick thought - because the party is fractious and weakened (or not cohesive in the 1st place), someone (perhaps Leeja due to her better morale mod) needs to do the 'we're in this together' speech. Everyone needs to work together to impede the critters to the best of their abilities and probably end up attempting a fighting withdrawal to get them out of this pickle - and into the next one...

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    1. Excellent suggestion. Survival in this place takes more than just stealthiness, especially when there are walking wounded involved.

      Curtailing the ability to sneak up or ambush the group by the local critters is a good idea. That said, any withdrawal has the risk of taking them into someplace worse...so they could definitely benefit from some reliable information as to what is up ahead, down below and all around...

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  4. I suggest they head back up as well (and away from the vampires), being alert along the way for any decently defensible resting places or knowledge caches. This is not a group to do in-depth treasure hunting (Leeja and Hedrard are not fully healed and the Ignoble is a mental-state liability), but from the sounds of things stuff could be anywhere in the Gormenstille, regardless of where it was originally deposited.

    Also, Bujilli does need to learn more about the Purple Horde, not just to protect himself but now Leeja, Hedrard, and Lemuel as well. ("They intended to sacrifice us to a Purple Cloud in a ritual they expected to give them power in this place." Hedrard looked about the room they were in.... "Them again?" Bujilli still wasn't entirely sure why the Desert Fathers of the Purple Horde had some sort of vendetta against him, but now he decided it was well past time he found out.... "They've certainly taken an interest in you, but they're far more interested in something...or someone...locked-away within this place. They took advantage of the turmoil and chaos in Wermspittle to nab poor Lemuel and myself and bring us here." --from above.) The Horde may have been looking to utilize Bujilli to unlock something or gain some advantage here at the Gormenstille. When Bujilli was hard to acquire I think they took Lemuel as a substitute, since he shares some of Bujilli's biological make-up ("Bujilli; I can cut you both apart, but a part of each of you is now inextricably caught-up within each other. You've been co-mingled."--Episode 25). Leeja is also a potential target ("He placed his hand on Leeja's hand. Something shifted. The two patterns of energy meshed. Bujilli watched the energies intermingle, joining into a stately dance of complimentary forces that knitted a cocoon over them both." --Episode 39).

    Can Counsel give Bujilli a map, current or archival, of where they are and their route options?

    To wrap up the rolls, I did 2d6 for the Wandering Monster Checks and got 2 and 4.

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    1. Upwards seems to be the majority opinion. There is no guarantee that the Synchronocitor will function up there, but it is worth a try. Getting into this place is never a problem; it is the getting out thing that tends to be the hard part.

      Healing is an issue right now, however Hedrard can manage some healing spells once she is more fully recovered from the effects of what was done to her and Lemuel in order to get them here. Hedrard is far from happy with the current predicament and now that someone has broken one of the old accords...she's no longer under any obligation to respect the established boundaries...so things are only just getting started along those lines.

      Lemuel is fully healed and functioning at his usual level, so that's something.

      Defensible resting places and abandoned caches of documents and so forth are all over the place...if one knows where to look and how to access them. Perhaps Leejas' Thievery and the Eloi's Roofrunning skills might come in handy for that, and Hedrard probably knows a thing or two that might prove useful.

      Learning more about the Purple Hoard might require going deeper into dangerous territory...if the group is not ready to delve into the depths of the Gormenstille, they might not be much better off traipsing around through dead worlds and ruined cities left in the wake of the Purple Clouds and their servitors. The real sticking point seems to be recovery from exhaustion, and healing, so maybe there might be some way to seek out some assistance with this sort of thing, or maybe now that Hedrard is conscious and walking around, perhaps she can lend a hand, offer some instruction, pass along a few tricks...

      You have a good idea of the situation--the Purple Horde were up to something nefarious and villainous up at the topmost peak of the Central Tower of the Gormenstille and it most certainly did involve unlocking something they want very badly...and if they do get hold of it, this will be a very bad thing for everyone else.

      Lemuel's bond with Bujilli made him an ideal stand-in for Bujilli, or so they thought...it didn't turn out that way. they did not know then that Lemuel is immune to the Purple Cloud toxins now due to his mostly gellid-form, and worse for them, the physical bond between Lemuel and Bujilli means that Bujilli himself has the capacity to become immune to the Purple Cloud toxins as well...and that could lead to a chain of developments to which the Desert Fathers vigorously and strenuously object.

      Counsel can only provide a very minimal idea of the lay-out of this place as it does not lend itself to typical mapping methods as a sort of defensive measure; the architecture was designed to defeat scrying, remote viewing and so on. There are wards embedded in the walls, floors and so forth that scramble maps, schematics and so on--all of which must be sealed away in special protective cases when stored here, or else they are rendered useless.

      Thanks for the additional rolls--I will use them!

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