Because I wanted to keep trying solo dungeon runs separately from some urban adventure, I rolled up a character specifically for delving and finding gold. In the Red Tide setting, the stereotypical dwarven lust for gold is explained by their “religion” or at least their metaphysical views about using it in the afterlife to attack a goddess or something.
STR 14 (+1)
CON 13 (+1)
DEX 8 (-1)
Monster slayer(2), Hard to intoxicate, Knows many thieves, Dwarven senses
Goal: Gold and glory
Hit Points: 9
Armor Class: 5 (Chain)
Attack: +2 melee
Damage: 1d8+1 (1-handed axe)
Fray die: 1d8
Equipment: Backpack, Lantern, 2 flasks of oil
Type: Cavern (beast lair), 2d12 = 16 locations
Inhabitants: Infernalists (M=Hell cultist, E=Red Jade Templar, B=Hell Cult Priest, M=Underpriest, C=Sacrifices & slaves)
Threat Level: 1 ((I didn’t bother with adjustments))
Goal: Find & rescue some sacrifices & slaves, clear out Hell Cultist lair (hence “The Scarlet Caverns”)
The dungeon type rolls are a bit confusing to me. I roll three times: once for the general type (Temple, Cavern, whatever), once for the specific type (beast lair), and another time for the size. But re-reading later, I think the original intention was to roll twice: once for the general type and once for the size, which corresponds to the specific type. Anyway, I like “my” way better because it results in more variety.
Ivan sharpened his axe quietly. He’d learned of a nearby cave where, it was said, a vile Infernalist cult had taken some victims to sacrifice them to their disgusting devil gods. Rescuing them would not only gain him glory with his people (both now and in the afterlife), it was likely to result in a bit of treasure as the Infernalists loved their bloodstones, garnets, and other red jewels. Leaving his lantern behind, he made his way to the cave entrance with nothing but his axe, his treasure bag, and his beard.
Enter pit ledge. No encounter, treasure, hazard, or feature. No wandering monsters.
Inside the cave entrance, a pit yawned in front of him. A natural rock bridge curved out over it. His dwarven eyes noticed movement below, but he chose to move quickly before anyone saw him. Surprise would be one of the few advantages he had if the Infernalists were present in strength.
Exit northeast onto a natural bridge. No encounter, treasure, hazard, or feature. No wandering monsters.
Ivan scurried over the bridge, thankful that no one seemed to notice him yet.
Exit southeast to a tunnel intersection. Hidden treasure, but no encounter, hazard, or feature. Treasure: no encounter treasure, but M2 (Substantial Cash Amount) worth of room contents. 2d4=5×100=500gp. Room contents: jewelry, bloodstone brooch. No wandering monsters.
This is another area where the Scarlet Heroes solo rules confuse me slightly. When rolling for encounter, treasure, hazard, and feature, the instructions refer to increasing different types of rolls based on previous rolls (e.g. a bonus to the hazard roll if there’s treasure but no encounter). I am unsure if these bonuses should apply to the first roll determining the presence of something or to the roll determining what type of “something” is there. In other words, does a treasure with no encounter increase the chance of a hazard, or the severity of the hazard? I decided to go with the former, because otherwise I think I might be inflating the probability of bigger treasures.
The bridge came down to an intersection, with tunnels winding out in many directions. One of them led back west to the pit he’d seen under the bridge. A red glint caught his eye. When he knelt down to examine it on the stone floor, he found a piece of jewelry.
Exit west to a circular chamber. Encounter: 2d4+1=4 HD worth of Minions and Elites. No treasure, hazard, or encounter. 3 Cultists, 1 Red Jade Templar.
Hell cultist: as commoner. HD 1, AC 9, Atk +0, Morale 6, Treasure H2, damage 1d2 (fist)
Red Jade Templar: As unstatted Elite foe. HD 1, AC 5, Atk +1, Morale 10, Treasure H2, damage 1d8 (sword).
When I later looked in the Red Tide sourcebook for Labyrinth Lord, I found that the Templars should be way more intimidating. But for Scarlet Heroes and for these results in particular, I decided to stick with more generic stats since they aren’t in the bestiary.
Round 1: Attacks Templar. 1d20+Atk(2)+AC(5)=1d20+7=12, miss. Fray die: 1d8=2 -> 1 point of damage, kills Templar.
Morale check: 2d6=6 -> wavering but stay.
Hell cultists (3): 1d20+Atk(0)+AC(5)=1d20+5=13, 10, 12, miss.
Round 2: Attacks a cultist. 1d20+Atk(2)+AC(9)=1d20+11=28, hit! Damage 1d8+1=7 -> 2 points of damage, 2 cultists in one swipe! ((Forgot fray die.))
Morale check: 2d6=10, resolute for their Hell Kings.
Hell cultist (1): 1d20+5=17, miss.
Round 3: Attacks a cultist. 1d20+11=29, hit! Damage min is 1 -> Cultist is dead.
4x H2 (Scruffy Bandit’s Purse) treasure = 13 gp. No jewelry.
Ivan took the tunnel west, into the pit he’d seen from above. Sure enough, several cultists were engaged in some foul ritual. Unsheathing his axe, he decided to send them to meet their Hell Kings. The bloody work ended quickly.
No wandering monsters.
Exit south to a dead end. Treasure and feature, but no encounter or hazard. Treasure: ¼ of C-type that fits dungeon type, plus check for encounter again. Still no encounter. C1 (Minor Hidden Treasure): 1d6=4×10=40gp, 1d6=4 cheap gems, 1d6=2 cheap jewelry, no costly gems or jewelry. 4 red garnets (4 @ 60gp each), 2 anklets (2 @ 90gp each). Feature: a piece of original artwork, a relic of the locals’ atrocities. No wandering monsters.
Turning to the south, he found a small extension from the pit that he couldn’t see from above. He found a disgusting wooden idol covered in blood and rotten viscera, probably used in their rituals. The grim-faced dwarf destroyed it with his axe and, among their other belongings, found a small amount of gold and jewelry.
Exit north back into circular chamber, east back to tunnel intersection. Wandering monster encounter. 2d4=5 HD of Minions plus 2 HD worth of Elites, Mages, or Boss enemies. 5 Hell Cultists, 2 Templars.
Round 1: Attacks Templar. 1d20+7 = 11, miss. Fray die: 1d8=3 -> 1 point of damage, 1 Cultist killed (4 left).
Templar (2): 1d20+Atk(1)+AC(5)=1d20+6=11, 20, hit! Dmg 1d8=2 -> 1 point of damage (Ivan @ 8 HP).
Hell Cultist(4): 1d20+5=21, 15, 13, 21, 2 hits! Dmg 1d2 twice = 2, 2 -> 2 points of damage (Ivan @ 6 HP)
Round 2: Attacks Templar. 1d20+7=23, hit! Dmg 1d8+1=2 -> 1 point of damage, kills Templar. Fray die: 1d8=4 -> 1 point of damage, kills another Cultist (3 left).
Templar: 1d20+6=13, miss.
Hell Cultist (3): 1d20+5=9, 13, 18, all miss.
Round 3: Attacks Templar. 1d20+7=22, hit! Dmg 1d8+1=7 -> 2 points of damage, kill Templar and a Cultist (2 left).
Fray die: 1d8=8 -> 2 points of damage, both Cultists killed.
No treasure found. ((I forgot the Morale rolls, oh well.))
As Ivan returned to the tunnel intersection he’d discovered earlier, he found a group of cultists who must have been attracted by the screams of their dying friends earlier. The dwarf leaped into battle without so much as a battle cry. Unlike the previous group, he had to work in this fight.
Rest to heal 2 HP of damage (Ivan @ 8 HP).
I’d actually forgotten to track this resting as a separate turn, so I didn’t make wandering monster rolls here like I should have.
Exit north to water-smoothed cave. Encounter and treasure but no hazard or feature. Encounter: 2d4+1=4 HD of Minions and Elites.
3 Hell Cultists, 1 Templar.
Round 1: Attacks Templar. 1d20+7=nat 20, hit. ((No critical rule -> Sad Kyle!)) Dmg 1d8+1=6 -> 2 points of damage, kills Templar and Cultist (2 left). Fray die: 1d8=8 -> 2 points of damage, both cultists killed.
Treasure: Standard treasure trove for whatever encounter is present. H3 (Minor Intelligent Monster): 1d6=2×10=20gp, 1d6=2 cheap jewelry: necklace (2 @ 60gp each), 1 costly jewelry: necklace (400gp).
No wandering monsters.
Ivan chose another tunnel and headed north. The cave walls smoothed out and he could smell water somewhere. As he rounded a corner, he spied another group of cultists eating. His axe glinted in their torch light as it separated their heads from their bodies. The dwarf didn’t bother to check what sort of meat they’d been eating, but he did find a few necklaces as they slid off the decapitated corpses.
Exit north to stalactite maze. Treasure and hazard but no encounter or feature. Hazard: Dangerous object, save or take 1d6 damage. Difficulty: 9+3=12. Save: 2d8+Dex(-1)+Dwarven Senses(1) = 8, fail. Take 1d6=5 damage, Ivan @ 3 HP. Treasure: 1/10th of C-type trove appropriate, C3 (Overlooked Trifle): 1d6=6×10=60gp, cheap jewelry: toe ring (10gp). No wandering monsters.
Just as the floor under his feet became a bit rougher, a stalactite fell from above. At the last possible second, Ivan felt (rather than heard or saw) the spear of rock and twisted before it impaled him. Feeling foolish, he took a few more minutes to get his head together before making his way through the maze of larger stalactites that, in some cases, reached so far down they connected with stalagmites to form columns.
Rest to heal 2 HP of damage, Ivan @ 5 HP.
Exit north to underground pool. Hazard but no encounter, treasure, or feature. Hazard: Triggered danger. No encounter, thus no save required.
Wandering monsters! Unusual foe, roll on Bestiary encounter table, using Ruins. Ghoul, HD 2, AC 6, Atk 2 claws +2 & 1 bite +2, Morale 12, Treasure H2, number 1d6=5. Run away!
I gave him this escape for free because he was not engaged in combat to allow the normal free round of opportunity attacks.
Past the stalactites, Ivan saw a pool of water and thinks a sip might be a good idea. As he gets closer, however, five undead ghouls rose from the pool. Realizing that he could very quickly join them, the dwarf turned about and fled back to the maze to lose the ghouls.
Exit back to water-smoothed cave and back to tunnel intersection. No wandering monsters.
Exit northeast to pit ledge. No encounter, treasure, hazard, or feature. Wandering monsters: 2d4+1=3 HD worth of Minions and Elites.
2 Hell Cultists, 1 Templar.
Round 1: Attacks Templar. 1d20+7=17, miss. Fray die: 1d8=5 -> 1 point of damage, kills a Cultist (1 left).
Templar: 1d20+6=20, hit! Dmg 1d8=2 -> 1 point of damage, Ivan @ 4 HP.
Cultist: 1d20+5=16, miss.
Round 2: Attacks Templar. 1d20+7=20, hit. Damage 1d8+1=8 -> 2 points of damage, kills both enemies.
The dwarf found himself overlooking another pit. As he peered into the darkness, shouts from behind warned him of an ambush. With practiced ease, he finished them off (though he missed one parry). However, this seemed like a bad place to rest, so he pressed on.
Exit north to circular chamber. Hazard and hidden treasure but no encounter or feature. Hazard: Entry trap. Save or take 1d4 damage. 2d8+Wis(0)+Dwarven Senses(1) vs 10 = 2d8+1=16, avoid damage. Treasure: No encounter treasure but M2 worth of room contents. M2 (Substantial Cash Amount): 2d4=4×100=400gp. Room contents: Toe ring, encased in spinel. No wandering monsters.
As Ivan descended a small ladder into the pit, he felt small vibrations inside the pit walls. The vibrations felt regular and mechanical – a trap! He dropped himself down just in time to avoid a pair of deadly spikes that extended out from small slits. Among the cultist supplies at the bottom, he found a bit of jewelry in a case made of red spinel (probably more valuable than the jewelry itself).
Exit north to wide gallery. No encounter, treasure, hazard, or feature. No wandering monster. Passage to water-smoothed cave found.
Exit north to spiral tunnel. Encounter and feature, but no treasure or hazard. Encounter: 1d4+1=2 HD worth of civilians, minions, or possibly an elite. Feature: A prisoner or victim of the dungeon inhabitants.
Success! Ivan found victims to rescue! What’s their reaction (stranger): 2d6 + Charisma(0) + Monster Slayer(2): 10, Full agreement (“let’s get out of here!”) Are there more victims (likely)? No.
Descending into a spiral tunnel, Ivan finally discovered what he had come all this way to find: victims, chained to tunnel walls (possibly waiting for some infernal demon to consume them). His axe made short work of the chains. The “tributes”, traumatized as they were, took a minute to understand what was happening. They’d lost all shreds of hope for rescue. After they confirmed that no more victims remained, he quickly led them back towards the exit.
No wandering monsters.
Exit back to gallery and back thru passage to water-smoothed cave. No wandering monsters.
Exit back to tunnel intersection and back to natural bridge. No wandering monsters.
Exit back to pit ledge and outside. No wandering monsters.
Result: Success by rescuing the intended demonic tributes (sacrifices). Also recovered 1983gp worth of gold and jewelry in a little more than three hours of exploration.
This worked a lot better than my previous solo dungeon romps. Even without the back-and-forth with other players, I enjoyed rolling the dice, consulting tables, and generally imagining the scenes as the system guided me through it. I’ll probably continue this character for a bit when doing these sorts of adventures, in fact. At least, assuming he doesn’t lose a “save or die” roll in the third room of the dungeon like another cleric I played!
One thought on “Scarlet Caverns”
Thanks for the write-up–it’s always interesting to see what others are doing with Scarlet Heroes.
I hope there is more to come! You write excellent session reports.