Image by Kunrong Yap
Leif, a gigantic, white-haired true-kin. Escaped servitor. Wields a dyad rifle. Owns a singing crystal that wails in cryptic song.
Faulkner, “Faulk”, a golden-black new-ibis. Believes he is human. Refuses to wear a mask. Owns a nightmare box, but will not dispose of it.
Nullseed, “Null”, a floating drone-companion, known as a troton. Rescued from a lizard lion attack.
To see how this all started, click here. For a list of all my solo plays, click here.
Leif, Faulk, and Null stir within their tent. They gather all of their belongings, say farewell to the ascetics they met the previous day and take off in the direction of Eigin Oasis, which should only be a long day’s march, if all goes well.
The ascetics remind them of the book-bandits, and request that they visit the outlaws at Bent Gully with flashing swords and straight sights.
The morning is dull and they encounter nothing. The weather clears a bit, but is still smeared with an indiscernable haze. By about midday, they discover a corpse lying at the bottom of a funnel-shaped pit. Curiosity overrides shrewdness and they clamber down to the body. It is not a corpse, but only a sleeping figure. Its mask-like head barely moves as it breathes. As they prod the body, calm puffs of ash-coloured spores pour out of its garments. A close inspection tells them that this mycomorph is being held down by gossamer silver wires.
Faulk tells Null and Leif to get out and scrambles up the side of the funnel-pit.
Leif stays, wishing to free the stranger.
[Minigame: Set-Dice used, as he tries to dismantle the trap. d20 Skill Check DEX = 16+2 = 18. SUCCESS!
This success result allows me to set two dice to numbers of my choice. I pick “1” and “2,” natch. Then I grab the rest of the dice (3 dice).
First roll: 1, 2, and 4. I select the 4 and put it into the Set. Second roll: 5 and 5. I select one of them and put it in, successfully completing the Set.]
Leif pulls out a shank from his pack. It was off some old farming equipment he used to run as a servitor. The impromptu blade gnaws through the silver wire, and he snaps it in several places. He hears something shreik, like a shard of viridium being thrown into a rock-bore. The sand erupts around him and an enraged tumblesnare attacks! It wraps around Leif’s leg and starts cutting into his limbs.
Faulk reaches for the EMP grenade latched to his chest. He pulls the safety, cooks it, then throws it at the tumblesnare [disadvantage due to Beasthood]. He misses completely, the grenade landing somewhere in the sand and humming impotently. Null moves towards the enemy but is unaware of the EMP field and drops to the blue sand. The tumblesnare continues to squeeze Leif and roll away. Leif’s lifeblood is leaving a hideous trail.
The spore-shrouded mycomorph stirs, waking up. Faulk shouts for help. It climbs out of the pit, following the noise of battle. The snare is getting away, Faulk runs, grabs the humming EMP grenade, and lobs it again. It lands beyond the snare this time, but as it passes overhead, it whelms the synth’s circuits just long enough for the mycomorph to catch up to it.
Leif tries, unsuccessfully, to free himself. The mycomorph rushes forward, drawing a long, black whip and barely misses the tumblesnare, which wakes and restarts its escape into the desert. They all hear a sickening crack as the snare-wire breaks Leif’s arm and crushes his hand. The white-haired man screams.
Faulk sees the trail of blood and the mangled mess Leif is becoming. He decides that there is nothing else he can do. He must use the Nightmare, even after all it took for Leif to trap it in the box. He fumbles for the container, brings it out and opens it.
Time pauses, seems to reverse, then loop. The metaverse unfolds into reality, the light bleeds black, and all ground seems to melt. The inconsolable wail of a thousand undying throats, choked by one thousand gnarled claws. The sun forsakes the sky and drowns. Faulk’s mind bursts with the weight of past sins. The soul inside Faulk grows thin, feeling as though it might leak from his body. The aura of the EMP grenade radiates like a rotting flower. The putrescence of the mycomorph overwhelms Faulk’s senses. The hot breath of Doom washes over the newbeast with four words: “what do you wish?”
“Kill the synth. Kill… it.” Faulkin’s words barely escapes his lungs.
“What do you offer?” the dark, heavy voice asks.
“I have already… given you so much.”
“Then suffer.” The voice echoes inside Faulk’s head, as if leaving.
“Take… take me. But leave my body behind,” Faulk pleads.
“So be it. For a time and a half a time, your soul shall be mine.” The sickly warmth of the words melts Faulk into a vapour and a violent grasp carries him into another hypergeome.
Afternote: This was a combat-heavy day, which was a nice break from the previous role-play heavy encounters. I would like to see some NPC-driven encounters or even puzzles. Not sure how to do those well in a solo rpg. Battle makes sense. You have target numbers. You roll a dice. You compare and see if you rolled under or over. For this reason, I created the set-dice minigame. To have some mechanic to challenge me and spur the narrative. I enjoy using set-dice so far, but I might try to scrounge for some more solo rpg tools to incorporate, espeically for NPC encounters. Or make one up! If you have any solo challenge/minigame mechanics that you like or any that you’ve created yourself, feel free to share in the comments below.
6 thoughts on “ALONE IN VAARN 6.1 day six”
Woah, that went south quickly!
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Didn’t plan on it! It definitely makes things spicy.
Glad to see you back again! Enjoyed this one as ever, I like the use of the nightmare box and the tumblesnare ambush.
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Thanks, glad to be back. Also glad Faulk finally got a good reason to “open” the nightmare in the story. I always liked Gene Wolfe’s idea to use a nightmare as a weapon.
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Yeah that’s really awesome, I love finding out what players think these objects do.