Thursday, March 7, 2019

[Actual Play] The Stygian Library [LotFP]

Finally! A test run of The Stygian Library!
Here's a recap, with Referee-side commentary in italics.

The game was ran using LotFP with some houserules (including the deadly wounds system from Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow) and VAM!-style magic. Setting - late 19th century historical Europe.



Two players, with a Level 3 main character and a Level 1 Henchman each:
Johnny Tealeaves, Specialist 3 (all-around bad boy)
Krulo the Goblinboy, Elf 1 (former side-show attraction, current thief's apprentice)
Machteld Mercki X, Magic-User 3 (witchy type)
Ishimura Kobayashi, Fighter 1 (Machteld's bodyguard)

The group entered the library through an old, forgotten wing of the British Library. The goal of the quest was the theft of a book with supposedly true information on lycanthropy.
(I set the difficulty of this task as 25. The players started at 17 due to the highly intelligent Magic-User.)
0: Mausoleum + Treasure Pile
The first room had shelves and shelves full of religious literature. In the middle, one shelf section was instead covered with a yellow curtain. The group carefully pulled the curtain, to reveal a vertical open sarcophagus with a skeleton inside. A small altar before the sarcophagus held artifacts and various offerings (a spearhead inscribed with runes, candles with magic sigils, a bunch of spell scrolls, unknown potion in smoky glass vial).
The characters started looting, but were interrupted as a fight spilled over from the next room. It was a whirling tornado of dust and a strange huge flying thing, a Rust Moth.
The Rust Moth avoided some attacks, then went straight for the biggest metal objects in the room, and ended up ruining Johnny's sword. Finally Ishimura killed it. The Dust Elemental didn't care about the group and swirled out of the room.
Johnny salvaged the Moth's antenna, after seeing that it had the ability to instantly turn metal into rust.
(A lucky start for the group, with a combination of two treasure-heavy elements. And a lucky reaction roll - after the death of the Rust Moth, the Dust Elemental wasn't interested in them.)

1: Auditorium + Candles
The group entered the horseshoe shaped stepped lecture hall from below. They instantly noticed a big rusty looking nest attached to the wall, which they carefully avoided. A quick search turned up a book, perhaps left behind by the lecturer? The books was locked, but Johnny used the Rust Moth antenna to "pick" the lock.
Their investigation was cut short by the emergence of another aggressive Rust Moth from the nest! Johnny tried to squash it with the heavy book, but missed. The moth ruined Ishimura's halberd blade, but the bodyguard managed to kill the creature with the blunt end.
(I added a Rust Moth nest on the wall, to explain the fight in the previous room. Then when the encounter roll gave an aggressive monster... I rolled Rust Moth again! Nice coincidence.)

1: Tearoom + Oriental Rugs
From the auditorium the group retreated back to the entrance area, and decided to explore an alternative path. They found a cozy little chamber with soft rugs, comfy armchairs, and food and drinks set up on tables. Kurlo the Goblinboy went straight for the food, rather incautiously... but turned out everything was perfectly edible and drinkable. The group stole some cutlery, and found a second potion in smoky glass vial under the floorboards.
They continued their journey deeper into the library.

2: Chapel + Fireplace
The next space was quite unusual: the interior of a sizable church without any windows. The chapel also had a fireplace, with a roaring fire. Johnny, the experienced burglar, assumed that although there are no windows, the fireplace's chimney MUST lead somewhere - but it's for a future expedition to find out where. Johnny also replaced his rust-eaten sword with a poker from next to the fireplace.
On the altar lay an extraordinary book written in Arabic or Persian - something the characters couldn't read just yet, but decided to take.
At this point, a figure entered, clad in black clothes: the first Librarian! The Black Librarian was neutral, didn't notice that the book was gone from the altar.

3: Reading Lounge + Phosphorescent Lamps
The room adjacent to the chapel was a reading lounge, illuminated by weird glass spheres. The players climbed up and cut down one lamp to use as lantern. They browsed through some of the books, but found nothing of interest.

4: Display Case + Stacked Papers
Display cases with minerals.
The players wanted to loot the cases, but 6 Black Librarians entered the room. One of them was injured. When asked, they told about being attacked by a dangerous Ogre Spider deeper in the stacks of the library. They came here to make medicine out of the minerals.
Johnny stepped forth and offered one of the unknown potions to the Librarians. The Librarians accepted it, and the injured one was healed!
As a token of gratitude, a Librarian agreed to lead the party to the Catalogue of Contents.
(For the event, I rolled an encounter with a creature at disadvantage. This became the 6 Black Librarians, one of them injured. I rolled a random creature to see what caused the injuries ( = Ogre Spider), and thought it would make sense that the Librarians came to the display cases to use the minerals as ingredients for an antidote.

Johnny's player did a very clever thing: offered the unknown potion to the Librarians, who are locals, and might know what it's for. Not only did the Librarians identify the potion as a healing serum, but accepted and used it. I thought this was clever enough, and as a reward the Librarian took the players safely 1d6 layers deeper, to the Catalogue of Contents.

In the adventure as written, the Catalogue is actually a rare occurrence - it's #2 on the Locations list, which means it's only accessible on Depth 0 or 1, with a very lucky roll.)

So the players ended up on Depth 7. While traversing the corridors, the Black Librarian also told the group about the various librarian orders.

7: Catalogue of Contents + Chained Books
A majestic, enormous hall, with chained books on the shelves, and the man-sized tome of the Stygian Catalogue in the center. The group engaged in research and learned that the book they are looking for is somewhere two layers deeper.
Then combat erupted: a Hungry Book broke its chains, and attacked a group of unlucky Black Librarians! The players joined the fray, and managed to subdue the book. However, the hungry tome did suck out the brains of one of the Librarians...
(This was the third time I rolled Black Librarians on the random chart!!)

8: Paper Bee Hive + Gas Lamps
The next room was a simple book storage, but with a huge papier-mâché beehive in the corner.
Disaster. The group went in with a lit torch, the bees got agitated and attacked the torchbearer (Krulo), stung him, Krulo went into allergic seizure, dropped the torch on stack of books and woosh! everything went up in flames. Johnny gave the second healing potion to Krulo... Then more bees emerged from the hive, and swarmed Johnny, causing massive poison damage and killing him. Johnny used his last "dead man walking" round for a kamikaze act, grabbed some burning books and threw himself on the hive, setting it on fire, killing the Queen inside. The others fled into the next room. The gas in the lamps exploded behind them...
(Before this encounter, I decided that the paper bees are obviously very much afraid of fire. I telegraphed the dangers of this room quite meticulously, asked the players what they think what might get the bees angry. When they entered with the burning torch, I rolled a reaction for the bees, and the bee soldiers attacked... Krulo's player said Krulo's first reaction was to drop the torch... the rest is history...)

9: Phantom Pump + Negligible Gravity
Not fled - the remaining explorers almost flew into the next room, propelled by the explosion and swimming in zero grav. The room was full of complicated, huge machinery manned by a White Librarian. The Librarian was very busy and very angry: it was trying to counter the consequences of the explosion via complex mechanical means. It gave the players 10 seconds to get out of the room...

10: Printing Press + Smoking
A room with a huge printing press. The room was also filled acrid smoke was from the still burning beehive room. Krulo almost died of smoke poisoning again, so he sneaked back to the machine room and hid behind a giant hydraulic arm.
The printing press was manned by two Yellow Librarians. They were busy creating replacement pages for a book... the very book about werewolves the party was looking for. Machteld risked choking in the smoke, and stayed behind for enough time for the Librarians to finish the work, and managed to sneakily snatch the tome when the Librarians went back to the printing press.
(There are so many coincidences when running the Library or the Gardens of Ynn! When the detail "Smoking" came up, I had no problem weaving it into the story, because it just meant the this was a consequence of the fire and explosion the players caused earlier.

At this point, the players were deep enough in the Library, and their progress meter also reached 25, so I gave them the book that was the object of their search.)

On the way back, they were attacked by the White Librarian, who cast a spell and almost blinded Ishimura (lucky magic save!). There was some more quick backtracking, and finally the three remaining adventures exited the deadly Stygian Library, with their desired book and a nice heap of treasure!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Nice to see you here too :)
      We played some more, here's the follow-up to this session: