I created this Biscuits and Grave-y scenario, as a follow-up to the Skull of the Cyclops Trial, to play in a solitaire let’s play video which you can watch on my video channel. I’ve actually included a number of elements and details from my next video, Yanking on Glorious Leader’s Chain, in this write up, so you’re getting a sneak peek as well.
This is a scenario of several Moments for use in the Alfheim setting of Index Card RPG Core. To play this you will need Runehammer Games’ Index Card RPG Core and may also want Index Card RPG Vol 1, Index Card RPG Vol 2, and the Moldy Banana from Axebane’s Moldy Codex #1 could be handy for measuring distances.
Biscuits and Grave-y
You’ve escaped the labs of the Red Mage during The Grey Hill Fire, managed to steal the Skull of the Cyclops, and now are carrying an annoyingly hard to carry skull across the landscape. Living off berries, bark and mushrooms, scavenged from the woods and bushes; it’s time for a real meal. You’ve found a town where a meal might be had, one way or another, and the burden of a skull might be lifted, one way or another.
Setup: Create or continue a character or characters in Alfheim. You have a Skull of the Cyclops weighing you down, making whomever has it struggle to keep holding it, unable to really do much of anything. At the outskirts of a new town, you find a place to stash the skull, so you can enter the town unencumbered to find some food, and perhaps unload the skull on a merchant for a sweet, shiny stack of coin, not necessarily in that order.
Town: Target 10. The town, whatever it is called, not that it matters, consists of several buildings, as one might expect. Probably the only buildings worth talking about for this scenario are the Tavern (ICRPG v2.26), Blacksmith (ICRPG v2.27), Magic Shop (ICRPG v2.26), Church (ICRPG v1.84), and Graveyard (ICRPG v1.85). The Tavern has all the usual tavern-y things for purchase or soever, including food and lodging. The Blacksmith has all the usual smith-y things for purchase or soever, including new equipment and repairs. The Magic Shop has all the usual magic-y things for purchase or soever, including potions and spells, but also a Merchant who might be interested in the Skull of the Cyclops. The Church has all the usual church-y things for donations or soever, including healing and rituals of faith, including funeral arrangements … wait, whut? (o.o). The Graveyard has all the usual … um, graves? Yeah. Don’t mess with those. You may find Skeletons and Shamblers and Goth Kids, oh my! And if things get slow in town, those may end up messing with you. (Feel free at, any time, to start a Countdown Timer that will trigger a few hors d’oeuvre horrors coming to town up from the graveyard or in from the farther outskirts.)
The Merchant in the Magic Shop: Target 11. The Merchant (ICRPG v2.83) will generally be quite honest in their dealings with the heroes. While they are interested in the Skull of the Cyclops, it’s a pretty special relic for which they don’t quite have enough coin to purchase. However, if the heroes are interested in making a deal, they’ve got one to make. The merchant wants a particular book. The book in the possession of some cultists. The cultists are squatting in an abandoned House outside of town doing cultist things, as cultists are wont to do. The merchant will loan 2 normal and 1 milestone loot items to the party of heroes, which they can distribute amongst themselves as they see fit, for the attempt, holding the skull in pawn, while the book is retrieved, by whatever means necessary, as long is no suspicion lands on the merchant. The merchant can’t do it directly, of course, because they’d be recognized and that would have damaging consequences for their ability to do business in this town. If the attempt fails, the merchant keeps and sells the skull, and forgets the heroes ever existed. If the attempt succeeds, the heroes can keep the items on loan and will also be given an additional sack sagging with weighty coin for the skull and the book, and the merchant might remember the heroes exist. It’s a good balance of risk and reward and necessity for both merchant and heroes.
House: Target 12. There is a nasty old dilapidated House (ICRPG v2.56) on outside of Town. There’s nothing of interest anywhere in this house, except the Basement. There is an inside set of stairs leading down from the ground floor, if the heroes look for it. The heroes may also discover there is a ventilation crawlspace from the outside that heads down. If the heroes are loud, the cultists may hear and come to investigate. If the heroes attempt to listen, they may be able to hear chanting from the basement.
Basement: Target 13. There are three cultists chanting in the Basement (ICRPG v2.53) attempting to summon something (ICRPG v1.64, if the cultists are somehow allowed to complete their ritual) that desires to devour souls or somesuch. Bastards! But, they’re only 1 Heart otherwise unremarkably human bastards, with weak wills, likely to flee if given the chance; though, they do have INT spell Arcane Missile (Core v1.3.4 p35) (which appear as GREEN FLAME, for the connoisseurs out there) with which to defend themselves, whilst running away like fools wisely heading for the nearest door.
As soon as the cultists stop chanting, at the beginning of combat or soever, start a Countdown Timer; upon which 3 Shamblers (Core v1.3.5 p 174) will burst from a previously-secret door in the back wall, that leads to the Crypt, and attack. The un-holy chanting woke the shamblers but was also, conveniently, holding them at bay. There is a book on the altar on the back wall, which the cultists will abandon if they are frightened away but which the Shamblers will attempt to steal if they get a chance to do so during or after combat.
Crypt: Target 14. The crypt consists of an entry Passage (ICRPG v1.21) leading to a Room (ICRPG v1.46-47) with two adjacent Chambers (ICRPG v1.23-24) and a further Passage (ICRPG v1.35). The adjacent chambers both contain some nasty permanent patches of fungus (ICRPG v1.15-16) that will release unhealthy spores for Basic damage every time they are disturbed, but can be snuck past. One adjacent room contains a Bookshelf (ICRPG v1.66) with the Book (ICRPG v2.13) the Merchant wants on it.
All remaining Shamblers from previous combat will be distributed evenly across the main room and adjacent chambers, with the odd shambler in the main, but maybe one or two were too dumb to find the door, getting stuck in the corners until now, and so there could be more fresh Shamblers here.
If the Shamblers have been left in the basement with the book, or managed to grab the book during the kerfuffle, they will take it into the crypt and place it on their bookshelf. If they grabbed the book, that’s the book the merchant wants. If they didn’t get the book, then the actual book the merchant wants is a different volume which was already on the Shambler bookshelf. Muahahahahaha *cough*.
When the heroes enter the crypt, start a Countdown Timer which triggers a Skeleton (Core v1.3.4 p103) entering from the further passage to patrol. As each skeleton enters, begin a new timer for the next.
If the Shamblers are not utterly defeated (And why would the heroes know Shamblers re-form unless burned or pulverized? Have they been reading forbidden and accurséd tomes?!), the shamblers from the Basement will eventually attempt to return to the crypt dragging any bodies (ICRPG v1.78) they can with them. Bodies left in the crypt will turn into additional Shamblers, which happens with a new Countdown Timer on each body left in their loving care. This is a new mechanic not mentioned in the stock Shambler description, but adds an interesting Flimes-like escalating twist (Ugh!), and, I believe is possible because of the sphere of influence emanating from the as yet shadowy presence of a Glorious Leader which might be encountered further in the depths of the once hidden crypt.
The Final Room: Target 15. The final room (ICRGP v1.32 & 42) beyond the further passage contains at least two (perhaps more if more than two were spawned and undefeated in the previous room to return to the Final Room) immobile Skeleton (ICRPG v1.59) sentries and a Sarcophagus (ICRPG v2.95). Within the sarcophagus is a slumbering Glorious Leader, a modified Unholy Leader (Core v1.3.4 p174), the boss shambler, which is “immune to ALL forms of harm, save the removal” of its jeweled necklace. This necklace also is the object that controls the Skeletons! The heroes might catch the Glorious Leader and sentries slumbering and unprepared, or they may have been foolish enough to cause them to all wake and prepare.
If the necklace is removed from the Glorious Leader, it will, and only then, immediately die, becoming a mere Shambler corpse with Countdown Timer. If the necklace is somehow recovered by another Shambler, it will attempt to wear that necklace and become a new Glorious Leader. In any case, whatever has possession of the necklace will control any remaining Skeletons by simply commanding them in whatever way is natural to the possessor.
Glorious Leader: An Unholy Leader of Shamblers whose sacred animating jewelry also commands Skeletons, and will cause any corpses in its sphere of influence to become additional newly animated Shamblers. Further, the Glorious Leader can have an appearance that lampoons some real world leader, such as a cornucopious variety of golden medals across its once military chest with a strange flat top helmet or perhaps a paunchy potato-sack body with pursed lips and golden skullcap that looks like a pile of dog poop with tentacles randomly akimbo, and so on, as you like. Here’s a chance to make fun of whatever Glorious Leader you feel needs it.
Conclusion: You survived a visit to Town. Huzzah!
Perhaps you plumbed the depths of the scenario and are truly proven heroes. Or, perhaps you skirted all danger and skulked away from the town like little frightened, but adorably fluffy, rabbits, not having gotten to experience any of the good stuff, or seized any of the rewards.
You may have have gotten the book and brought it back to the Merchant for your reward.
If you have not succeeded in utterly destroying the Shamblers, Skeletons and Glorious Leader; they will be back, build their forces again, and eventually begin to attack the town in even greater numbers. The merchant will detail how Shamblers must be utterly destroyed if asked or told about their existence. If the merchant’s book has been successfully retrieved, the merchant may be willing to loan additional loot for the further and utter destruction of the remaining threat from the Crypt, describing the possible presence of an Unholy Leader, and how to defeat it.
The merchant will try to negotiate for additional loaned loot in exchange for the promise of receiving the jeweled necklace that empowered the Glorious Leader, created the additional Shamblers from convenient corpses, and controlled the Skeletons. That necklace might still retain some or all of those powers for a while after … only time will tell!
If you did defeat the Glorious Leader and the all the other threats in the crypt, and have the necklace to exchange for your reward, the merchant will research in his books the story you tell about the Shamblers, and find out about a long lost record of the Glorious Leader, an even more dangerous form of Unholy Leader of Shamblers, and tell you what he has learned. The merchant will also examine the jeweled and tooled surface to unearth from these some grave and cryptic clue that leads you to your next, new, and bigger glories!
But, first, let’s eat!