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Weird stuff from the Historia Meriadoci for an adventure.

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Morien threw out a request on Discord for ideas about an adventure in which the PKs rescue a mad knight.  I’ve been planning for a while to adapt something from the Historia Meriadoci, which contains a creepy and strange otherworld section that combines the faerie with hints of the demonic.  Here’s a rough work-up, adapted to the mad knight situation.  It’s a bit railroady as written, because it’s a series of events taken directly from the source with minimal adaptation — probably best to think of it as a menu of incidents from which to pick, rather than necessarily to play through as written

1) It starts with the PKs going to sleep in a forest, but scarcely have they opened their eyes when it is suddenly morning.  Famously Energetic knights must fail Energetic to continue to rest.  Knights who do not rest further are tired and at -5 to checks later in the day, as the GM thinks appropriate.  However, not resting is very knightly and gets 10 Glory.

2) Then the PKs encounter what at any rate seems like your classic faerie hall, all wondrous and splendid.  The lady of the hall says that she has been longing to meet the most glorious PK [Meriadoc in the original]. She then puts on a feast with a very large number of people.  Get out the feast rules for show, but you won’t be using them.  

3) Whatever the players decide to do at the feast, exactly the same thing happens.  They have the best food and drink they have ever tasted (Temperate/Indulgent rolls to avoid becoming overindulging and becoming drunk, unless they choose to eat and drink nothing — being drunk will affect subsequent rolls).   Also, no-one of the people in the hall says anything at all.  If a PK talks to any of the servants or feasters (in the original it was the dapifer), the following happens.  The first time, the NPC says nothing, but wrinkles their nose and has an insultingly mocking expression.  (Modest/Proud to avoid reacting with anger).  The next time a PK says anything, the NPC waggles their tongue like a mad dog and laughs at the PK (Modest/Proud at -5/+5 to avoid reacting with anger).  The third time a PK says something, the NPC puts their hands to their head like donkey’s ears, they wiggle their fingers, and their mouth gapes horribly, as if to devour the PK.  Their face suddenly changes, and they look more like a demon than a human being.  The lady is angry with the NPC (unless it’s her), and says “Stop, stop!Don’t cause any harm to this noble knight, in case it will bring some mark of shame on our court, for not displaying proper courtesy.”  Meanwhile, Valorous check at -10 for all PKs at the sight of the demonic(?) NPC or leap out of their seats and flee the hall.  

4) 20 Glory award each for any who remain.  What happens to them is up to the GM.  In the original story, everyone flees, and it is hinted, but not explicitly said, that this was an encounter with something very  dark and dangerous, presumably the Devil. It might be generous to allow Religion and/or Faerie Lore rolls for them to realize that it would be best to leave.  Anyone who chooses to leave gets a Prudent check.   Otherwise, perhaps adapt Galloping Devil: evil PKs are never seen again; most PKs wake up the next day with checks to their evil Traits, but no other cost; Religious Knights who pray and succeed in a Love (Deity) roll drive this dark place from the earth and it is never seen again (100 Glory to that PK).

Also, if no PK at all refused to eat, overindulged, reacted angrily to the insults, or leapt out of their seat and fled, then a 100 Glory award is shared among everyone for this heroic display of virtues; they can also rest, removing any -5 penalty.  Skip to 6)  

It’s possible that the PKs simply said nothing, like the NPCs.  In that case, they fall asleep at the end of the feast and wake up the next day.   They did not really behave very appropriately for medieval romance heroes.  They get a Prudent check, but no Glory.  Skip to 6)

5) The odds are that at least one PK failed the challenge in one way or another.  If so, when they leave it is evening, and then it becomes night with unnatural speed.  The night is so dark that they cannot see, and their horses become unnaturally terrified (Horsemanship rolls).  The PKs also feel this terror,  and any PK who fled in fear from the hall must make a second Valorous check or ride blindly in panic.  PKs who either fail to control their horses or panic themselves end up trapped in water up to their saddles and are unable to rest for a second night, putting them at -5, possibly in addition to an earlier penalty, to appropriate checks. Others are able to rest, removing any previous penalty.

6) The next day, around noon, there is the worst and most terrifying storm that the PKs have ever experienced.  They need shelter.  A castle presents itself.  (In the original story, there is a knight who knows that people who enter this castle have something terrible happen to them, and will guide people to the castle, but will not enter himself. Faerie Lore rolls can perhaps be used to give the vague knowledge to a PK that this is a sinister and dangerous place, but it is probably best not to have there be any need for a guide.)  

PKs may, of course, choose not to go anywhere near the castle.  In which case, they should be making Hunting and Horsemanship rolls, and if things go badly, Swimming rolls, to survive outside in the storm, which causes terrible floods, lights trees on fire with lightning strikes, and so on.  This is genuinely dangerous, so one can get a Valorous check and 10 Glory for taking this option.  However, it ends the story — they do not rescue the mad knight, who is rescued later on by (you guessed it) Lancelot.

7) Any PKs who enter the castle find it completely empty.  If they look at the stables, they are empty as well, but there is plenty of fodder for their horses.  When they enter the keep,they find that the hall on its ground floor is decorated with tapestries, and there is a fire lit in the center.  By that fire sits the mad PK.  He is unresponsive, and obviously paralyzed with terror.   

8 ) If the PKs do not leave immediately (in which case they deserve Cowardly checks!), then they too feel the same unnatural fear.  It is overwhelming.  Only a critical Valorous roll can prevent one from falling prey to it and being unable to move.   A PK who escapes by this method can immediately lead the others out — they will not resist, and the magical effect ceases once they leave the castle.  This also cures the mad PK, terrified into regaining his wits.  The storm has stopped.

9) Otherwise, after several days, the PKs become hungry and thirsty.  Successful Indulgent checks (at +5 if the PK refused to eat and drink the previous day) allow one to overcome one’s fear.  However, the PK is desperately hungry and thirsty, and feels an overwhelming desire to see if the castle contains any food and drink.  A Temperate roll (at -5 if they did not eat at the faerie/demonic feast) is required not to explore the castle in search of sustenance.  (PKs may decide that they want to explore anyway, of course.)

10) PKs who explore find a room upstairs in the keep in which there is a marvelously beautiful damosel sitting on a couch, who has a table laden with bread and wine in front of her.  A generous GM might allow a Hospitality check to enable a desperately hungry and thirsty PK to control themselves and not grab immediately at the food.  If they ask for it, the damosel refuses and tells them to leave at once — APP rolls may charm her into allowing it.  (I’m making up this part.  In the story, Meriadoc tries to take it back to his comrades without saying anything.  There’s also further business with him going to the kitchen and throwing another servant down a well, which I have cut, although I stole some of the description of that servant for the next part.)  

11) If a PK tries to take food without permission, a servant of huge SIZ and preternaturally high STR appears.  He is beardless and his head appears to have been shaven. and demands of the PK why they have stolen the bread and wine of the lord [sic] of the castle and tries to hit the PK with their fist, which still does a fair bit of damage if it hits.  Small Giant stats, with -2 to SIZ and +2 to STR.  Use brawling rules for the attack, but he is Inspired by his Loyalty.  The damosel accuses the PK(s) of being without courtesy, because they took her food and drink without permission, and, if the PK was Knocked Down by the blow, of being weak, because they could not stand against an unarmed man.  Good opportunity for Modest/Proud checks: PKs who apologise, leave the food and drink alone, and do not fight can still lead the others out of the castle peacefully at this point if they can control their hunger and thirst.

12) Otherwise, the PKs have to fight their way out against the castle servants — while leading their terrified comrades out.  All are hairless, huge and strong, verging on being giants.  None are properly armed.  One uses a spit for roasting, another throws a beam of wood at the PKs, and so on — they are servants, not knights.  For that reason, they are not very skilled, but they are all Inspired, like the first one.  Earlier bad rolls and choices can potentially make this very dangerous due to penalties, so the servants offer the PKs the chance to surrender, and the GM may give them Prudent rolls to realize that it would be a very good idea take it.  Unconscious PKs also have their lives spared.  Any captives are thrown into a dungeon until Lancelot rescues them (of course).  Lancelot also rescues them if no-one makes the critical Valorous or Indulgent check to escape the magical terror.

13) All PKs who make it out without Lancelot rescuing them get 10 Glory.  Leading the other PKs out is heroic, and earns any PKs 100 Glory, shared between those PKs (only).  The servants count as Small Giants for defeating them.  Other awards at the GM’s discretion, but any critical Trait or Passion rolls certainly deserve 10 Glory.

Edited by Voord 99
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Thanks for the nice words.  

Seriously, though, this is where KAP’s design shines — the system is built to give you mechanics for medieval romance.   All I had to do was go through the episode and interpret what happens in Trait rolls.  Aside from that, this was essentially stenography.  

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