The Reliques of Tolti-Aph — 26 of 57

Graham Nelson

Release 1

Section S(e) - The Icefinger River

The Gravel Track is north of the Broken Lane. "Even the makeshift paving gives out here, and the lane degenerates into a gravel track, rutted by carts and stamped all over with oddly inhuman prints of bare feet."

Understand "stamp" as jumping. Instead of jumping in the Gravel Track, say "You jump about on the gravel, disturbed to find that your footprints don't look all that human either."

Instead of going nowhere from the Gravel Track, say "Though the humps around the lane - half-masonry, half-tree boles - must once have been public buildings, they are impenetrable now. Perhaps further on to the north."

The rutted gravel stamped by inhuman footprints is scenery in the Gravel Track. Understand "track" or "foot prints" or "prints" as the rutted gravel. The description of the rutted gravel is "You trace circles in the rutted gravel with your toe, but to no lasting benefit."

A hostile goblin called Vish is in the Gravel Track. Vish carries a spear. "Vish, a goblin lookout armed with a spear, hisses in rage at the very sight of you desecrating his realm."

Instead of going to the Ford for the first time, say "Just a warning before proceeding: you might want to exercise a little caution. It looks as if the lane may descend a little into shallow water, and if the goblin encampment has a centre, that will be it."[1]

Icefinger Ford is north of the Gravel Track. "A shallow, rapid torrent washes over the Lane from northwest to southeast here, and no forest creek by the feel of it against your ankles but a mountain spring that must have burst from the ground no more than a mile away. This is goblin-work."

In Icefinger Ford are four goblins, a bundle of kindling and a cracked cooking pot. The kindling is wood. The pot is clay. Instead of burning the kindling, say "The kindling is hopelessly too damp to catch light, even if you had something to light it with. Goblins [italic type]have[roman type] discovered fire, but they do keep forgetting the essential points." Effect of casting mend at the cooking pot: record outcome "but the pot isn't broken, as such: it was just badly made in the first place"; rule succeeds.

The river Icefinger is a backdrop. The river is in the Icefinger Ford, the Divide and the Icefinger Source. Understand "water" or "torrent" as the river Icefinger. Instead of drinking the river, say "It is cold enough that you can feel each separate tooth in your jaw." The river is air.[2]

The Riverbed Course is a region. Icefinger Ford, the Divide and the Source of the Icefinger are in the Riverbed Course.

Rule for calculating combat modifiers of the player: if the location is in the Riverbed Course, modify to-hit roll by -3 for "having your legs in water"; continue the activity.

For calculating saving roll modifiers of the player:

if the location is in the Riverbed Course and we are going south,

modify to-save roll by 10 for "splashing back out the way you came";

continue the activity.[3]

Instead of going nowhere from the Icefinger Ford, say "The lane, of course, runs north to south; the shallow river washes through it from northwest to southeast."

The Divide is northwest of Icefinger Ford. "The Icefinger runs west to southeast through a cutting here which is so deep that the river flows almost underground." The majestic erratic outcrop of rock is in the Divide. The outcrop is fixed in place. "In the centre of the stream is a startlingly majestic erratic outcrop of rock. It must be older than the river, older yet than the city."

Instead of going up in the Divide, say "You would have to climb the outcrop."

Before climbing the erratic outcrop for the first time, say "Warning: you might be able to climb up, but even to try will cost you strength." instead.

Instead of climbing the erratic outcrop:

if the strength of the player < 3, say "You are too physically weak to attempt it." instead;

decrease the strength of the player by 1;

if a saving roll of 15 by the player to "scale the erratic outcrop" is made:

move the player to the Shrine of the Pinnacle;

otherwise:

say "Your attempt fails, and you land back with a jarring splash - the water is shallow and the riverbed unyielding.".

The Shrine of the Pinnacle is a room. "The flattened top of the erratic outcrop is, at once, both severely plain and unmistakeably sacred, and you sense that this must be a place sacred to one of the gods of the old city."

Praying is an action applying to nothing. Understand "pray" as praying.

Carry out praying: say "It would cheapen the appeal to the gods to make it in such a place as this."

Instead of praying in the Sanctum Sanctorum, say "This is where one comes to hide from the gods."

Instead of praying in the Shrine of the Pinnacle, say "You prepare yourself with due solemnity, and yet - and yet - you sense somehow that the proper words must be used, if the prayer is to be answered."

Praying to clouds is an action applying to nothing. Understand "you loose-roaming clouds be with me" or "pray you loose-roaming clouds be with me" as praying to clouds. Check praying to clouds: unless the location is the Shrine of the Pinnacle, say "Nothing could happen here." instead. Carry out praying to clouds: if the player does not know magic missile, award 12 points; now the player knows magic missile. Report praying to clouds: say "Communing in this special place with the swirling clouds - but was this not, a moment before, a clear autumnal sky - you feel seized with a sense of purpose and ability."

Instead of going down in the Shrine of the Pinnacle:

if a saving roll of 15 by the player to "get down safely from the erratic outcrop" is made:

say "You breathe a sigh of relief, then hiss a little as the Icefinger reminds you of the coldness of mountain water.";

otherwise:

say "You fall as you descend, taking ";

let the damage be the roll of 1d6+1;

say " points of damage.";

decrease the strength of the player by the damage;

if the player is killed:

end the game saying "You have fallen to your death";

move player to the Divide.

The Source of the Icefinger is west of the Divide. "The deep-cut channel becomes at last almost a cave, as hollowed walls of long-smoothed stone come abruptly to a halt. You might wade back east, but otherwise all ways are impassible."

A bronze grating is fixed in place in the Source of the Icefinger. "The Icefinger river bursts into existence through a bronze grating very securely fixed right across the rocky cave floor. You had hoped to descend this way - but it is not to be." Instead of opening the grating, say "When I said 'very securely', I had in mind 'more securely than you can break with your bare hands'." Instead of searching the grating, say "Water. Lots of water."

A goblin called Dronsh is in the Source of the Icefinger. "The goblin lord Dronsh, who had been fishing here (perhaps it is reserved for the upper castes?), is enraged by your presence, as goblins are wont to be." Dronsh is carrying a spear. Dronsh is carrying the eight-legged key. Dronsh has strength 12. Understand "goblin" and "lord" as Dronsh.

The description of the eight-legged key is "Whatever was Dronsh doing with this? It's not goblin manufacture. The loop at the end of the key is worked in tempered iron into a sort of eight-legged figure: not valuable, not pleasing to look at, but not easily forgotten either."[4]

Notes

[1]. The reason for this warning is that the goblins are far too tough to take on until the player has succeeded in solving the early rooms well enough to get the "make sanctuary" spell, find something made of clay to use as a focus, and have enough strength left to perform the casting. The clue is meant to signal players that they ought to hang back and work on the early rooms before proceeding.

[2]. In some metaphysical sense. There is an excuse - I don't think we could call it an explanation - in the accompanying spoof magazine.

[3]. This is to protect players who, despite the warning, march straight into the goblins and the middle of a rather difficult battle. Assuming they wish to run away, they need to make a saving roll to get out: failure to roll it means almost certain slaughter. That seems a little rough, so we give them a +10 bonus on this saving roll (making it virtually certain to succeed) so long as they only want to run back to the early rooms.

[4]. We did work out some back-story to do with Dronsh having recently deposed the previous lord and sentenced him to death at the mandibles of the were-spiders, but it seemed neater to leave the explanations to the reader's imagination. Vish was mixed up in the intrigue too, but I forget how.