AP: The Moon of Radomenus

It’s been… a while… since I wrote up anything on our Torchbearer game.

In between times, they took on The Ghost Tower near Holtburg (aka The Ghost Tower of the Illmyr Fens).

Being higher level, they did that one in one solid run, albeit with some comedy (for me) provided by Tösk “disarming” the scythe trap with his body (aka triggering the trap), when they had to flee back out of the cellar, being ambushed by a group of undead just outside the tower, where they made camp, and (having cleverly saved a number of books), having them drop into the muddy swamp on the way home.

They did manage to to save (and re-equip) Arnulf, and they have further leads on their enemy Plodinus Kest (who was Merofled’s student in our world).

Bricks’ (water) drinking problem

There’s a whole thing about how Bricks’ people won’t drink “ground water”, relying on “sky water” (rain), or brewed liquids. Bricks accidentally drank ground water (which started affecting their memory) and, shortly afterwards, they’ve been drinking ground water regularly (since around our time with the the Tree of Yðunn).

On the way to the Tree of Yðunn, Bricks had met their enemy (and brother) Marcus the Shield, who was horrified with concern that Bricks had forgotten so much, and now thought of him as a friend. Ah! The complexities of Difficult Family Relationships. Still, that instilled in Bricks the idea that Something Was Wrong, and that they should get back to their (home town) caravan to find out more.

After the Tree of Yðunn, when they met Marcus the Shield again, it seems that Marcus had now also taken to drinking ground water, and had also forgotten their enmity (that’ll be their hidden enemy the Cave Stitcher messing with the people in their lives).

Bricks and their brother are both under oath not to go back to the caravan together, but they have both forgotten all about that. Bricks makes Marcus promise to return to the Hendri caravan as soon as possible, whilst Bricks and their fellow adventurers head there now, to prepare the way (also, signs point to Plodinus Kest being somewhere in the area).

The party heads to the Sakki Downs to meet with Bricks’ caravan, the Hendri. The reunion there is painful and difficult: Bricks is starting to realise how much they have lost or forgotten, and what oaths they have broken, and how asking their brother to join them here further violates other promises made.

Aubry, the caravan leader, and Bricks’ other brother, is Not Happy with the situation, especially as Bricks no longer knows the secret of why they drink sky water, nor can our adventurers hear the secret: any time they are told, their minds fail to hear it or retain the information.

(Wonderfully, the player doesn’t know the secret either: not drinking ground water was a fun initial detail during character creation that @EnohIO happily embraced, but there was no need to find out why.)

Still, Aubry offers them a way forwards.

If they undergo a rite and then, for the next adventure, provided they drink nothing but a special tea (brewed with rain water), they will be able to hear the secret, and retain it.

Everyone is on board with this, especially as there’s this Cool Secret Knowledge that they will then acquire. That, and certain characters have Beliefs all about knowledge being more valuable than coin.

Still, we should get onto their latest adventure, right?

Their enemy Plodinus Kest is (apparently) in the area, and he might be associated with a cult known as the Children of the Moon, who carry octahedral lanterns (shaped like a d8).

They also discover that there is a strange octahedral moon floating high over the sea nearby. A dwarf they meet at the caravan tells them that there is a strange small boat that skims over the sea and land, heading to this moon and back, and that there might be a way for them to get onboard said boat…


Voyages to the Moon
Onto the main part of this, given that we’ve now completed the adventure, having spent (IRL) from mid January to late March of weekly sessions working through it all.

A blow-by-blow might not be of interest, but I think it fair to give some edited highlights.

This is a (fairly untouched) run of “Lantern of Wyv”, one of @Fuseboy 's (system agnostic) 1-page / 2-page adventures.

A few weeks prior to us getting to the adventure, I’d printed it out (double-sided), and scribbled a couple of notes.

  • What Denizen is my stand-in for the wyverns? - Manticores seemed to fit.
  • How do I represent Radomenus? - a Creeping Ooze… but with human-like sentience.
  • What page can I find the stat block for Giant Bats on?
  • Is this treasure cool? Is there something I want in place instead?
  • What am I seeding here?
  • Where is the vial containing (part of) Osric’s soul / personality being kept?
  • etc.

Still, the work of a few minutes, and the stage is set.

Enter the PCs, who have to improvise to get onto the flying boat, and are spotted by bandits in the woods. This turns out to be a major turn in fortunes. Furthermore, they manage to drive off the wyverns that give chase, so arrive unmolested at this huge octahedral moon.

The main challenge of this adventure site is that it is a multi-level “dungeon”, but the levels are only connected by a large open shaft, open at the top and bottom.

They arrive at the bottom of said shaft, and, when they stepped off the (soon-to-be-leaving) boat, they are precariously balanced on a ledge over a multi-thousand feet drop to the sea far below. This gave an immediate sense of the challenge they faced.

They spend a lot of time being clever… and cautious about Weird Magical Tables and the like, which is great.

Also, now that the bandits know people have used this boat to get to the moon, they are going to do that too!

The PCs manage to ambush the first group of three, and capture them. Then, they negotiate with them, and reach an understanding: the PCs (with Oddbjorn’s companion Radulf) and these three others (Spira, Bol and Axel) are going to explore the site together, and split the loot equally.

This ends up working out very well for them, as the Help Dice from these extra 3 greatly help (even if climbing / cooking / etc. difficulties are higher, due to the size of the group).


Well, startling a huge number of Giant Bats, and Fleeing from them, using the map and their knowledge of choke points to get clear.

… and then engaging in a Kill Conflict with a smaller group of them that are now trapped in the “map room” to secure the map and a safe(ish) camp site. Said map in said room being a Great Prize for Bricks and Tösk.

From my (evil GM) perspective, ambushing 2 of them with a pair of wyverns, as they are climbing up the shaft (Flee conflict!), during which their rope broke.

… followed by Bricks and Tösk searching for a rope… in the room where the Creeping Ooze then manages to ambush them.

… but this leads to Oddbjorn, hearing the sounds of chaos above (and with these 2 PCs about to be in solo Kill Conflicts), Demanding of their new companions that they do the heroic thing, and scale up to the level above, without rope, and with wyverns likely to return.

… which leads to an incredible Drive Off Conflict against the Creeping Ooze, and saves Bricks and Tösk from the fate that awaited them.

There’s also Tösk’s quick thinking, when the needed to get to the top of the moon, and they had found a potion Effervescent Tonic (Scholar’s p162). Bricks was about to drink it until Tösk reminded them that this would break the rite they had all undergone, to retain the Secret that Bricks used to know. Lucky escape, there! (I would have laughed about that rather a lot, I reckon)

Some things, though, are pure beautiful moments of stacked consequences and played out effects.

The best example of that, in this adventure, is the cascade that means that my Clever Plan that might allow Plodinus’ familiar to escape does not… go to plan.

I, the Cunning GM, have Thought This Through, oh yes.

Plodinus Kest, their enemy, is not here, but there is his (magical) fishbowl on the roof of the moon, by the shaft. Contained in said fishbowl are 2 eels (one of which is his familiar), and a small treasure chest.

Unbeknownst to the PCs, things placed in the fishbowl are magically shrunk (the magical effect of the fishbowl), so this is really a real-sized treasure chest, and 2 giant eels. Should the fishbowl break, then the PCs have 2 giant and very angry eels and several tons of water to deal with, and given that this is over a shaft over the sea, there’s an easy out for the familiar, right?

Clever GM, I think to myself, what could possibly foil such a dastardly scheme? What indeed…

So, now we play “the dominos fall”. Firstly, the PCs manage to trigger the teleportation effect of the moon, accidentally moving the entire place from over the sea by the Sakki downs to over the slopes of Fjalar, the highest mountain in Middarmark.

When they are on the top of the moon, they clear off all of the bird muck and debris, clean up the runes they find there, and the shaft now has a (magic) lift in it (similar to what was in Bridge of the Damned).

Then, when they find the fishbowl, and realising that Plodinus is not here, they are keen to leave their enemy with nothing of his treasures. Osric the Shaman uses his (level 6) Vow to the Lord of Endings to break the fishbowl, when he’s holding it above his head.

I mean, of course it’s chaos, and one of the NPCs is thrown off the side of the moon by the force of the water (Bricks and others manage a desperate rescue there). However, the resulting Kill conflict on the top of the moon is everything. Between the retaining walls and lift, the water is contained and deep enough for the eels to make good use of.

I use the stat block for the Gruxu (LMM p253) for the eels, which turns out to be Such Fun. But the PCs are clever, and they make use of the environment.

For instance, Bricks Manoeuvres to drop the lift down, which first bunches the water together in the lift shaft… but then it spills out when they get to the next level, leaving the eels thrashing.

The PCs win, without (serious?) Compromise (good use of Defend in there)… but given their Slow Blood (p253), the familiar escapes! Down the shaft, off the moon into the… sea? Nope: into the snow covered side of Mount Fjalar!

Beautiful. No notes.

Radomenus, the Clever Creeping Ooze

Radomenus, the Creeping Ooze is moving around the outside of the moon, as well as inside, which means that she shows up wherever they don’t want her, and vanishes out of their reach.

An intelligent foe who knows the terrain is an incredible gift to have, as a GM.

Some packs that they leave behind are destroyed by her (Oddbjorn loses his beautiful harp, and Bricks loses their waterproof backpack… and contents). Ouch.

Still, the PCs are really ground down, and Conditions keep acumulating. They have what they wanted, and Are Done with this place… maybe if they negotiate with Radomenus, they can all get out of here, and nothing worse need happen to anyone else?

But then, things go Differently. I forget the cause, but Radomenus manages to seize an NPC they had rescued, and drags him out of a window, through the metal harp strings she’d placed there as a trap (thanks for the harp, Oddbjorn!).

They, though, know where she will be heading, and (on map!) rush there ahead of her, preparing a maybe-ambush, maybe-negotiation.

Tösk uses a scroll of Apotropaic Circle (a set of words we, as players, are incapable of saying correctly) to protect (most of) them, but his skin blisters and bubbles from the searing magics (Injured).

Oddbjorn, then, uses Tösk’s scroll of Somnific Trance, in a longshot attempt to stop Radomenus from (further) harming her hostage.

It works.

The party considers. They are not out-and-out Murder Hobos. They value life, theirs and others, and Tösk’s Creed is about all entities having a right to thrive.

There is a short while as they all consider.

Then, using bits of wood, they carefully manoeuvre the sleeping ooze out of a floor-to-ceiling opening, dropping her hundreds of feet into the ice of Fjalar.

The Grind

For the adventure as a whole, a major factor is that caused issues is that they rather quickly they are out of water, out of food (barring some leftover butchered bat), and the Grind is relentless.

By the time the adventure concludes, they are all Hungry & Thirsty, Angry and Exhausted (having dealt with multiple Sicks and Injureds), and they make it to the Hendri Caravan (where they are going to have their Town Phase), with 1 turn before they all become Sick.

… and then, they roll poorly on the Town Event: a Bjorning cavalry unit / retinue are here to harrass and drive off the Hendri.

They remain in Adventure Phase.

This Friday, we find out what they are going to do about this.


That town event roll is absolute gold. Nothing is assured in Torchbearer and this is a perfect example.