Sunday, 10 March 2019

SOLO EXPERIMENT: INTO THE ABYSS

The following is a play through, of sorts - a solo adaptation of WotC fifth edition module Out of the Abyss. The purpose of this exercise is to attempt an ad hoc adaptation of exisitng content to a homebrew setting, whilst also investigating how much of this resources might be adaptable to my own campaign world. The module is available for sale at here.

Available to buy here 
There's no such thing as solo "play"... it's an exercise in writing, rather than a game, 
but that doesn't mean it can't be fun...


This shouldn't need saying but SPOILERS! RIGHT AHEAD!



****

Bao woke, his head buried in his manacled arms, upon the cold stone flor of the slave pen. How ling had it been? Perhaps four days, maybe more, maybe less. He was counting only the number of servings of broth he'd received, which he'd overheard one prisoner describe as "daily sustenance". He groaned in pain, his wounds from the bruising encounter that brought him were still sore. He wanted nothing more than to die.

<Looks like the pretty one is waking up> said a thick, female voice, speaking the language of the Gizaki.
<Pretty, huh. Maybe. Think the Mistress will take a shine to him>>
<Ha! Think he's skin is too colourful, wouldn't you say? look at that! it's like polished bronze, or gold even! You ever see such a thing?>
<Nope. Must be a southerner, Eldeth>

Bao winced. In spite of his discomfort, his self-pity, and his lingering injuries, he hated to be mistaken for anything other than what he was.

<I am NOT from the south, Gizaki; I am from the east.>

There was a long silence.

<Gods!> said the female named Eldeth <He speaks dwarven!>

There was a round of nervous laughter, first from Eldeth, before being joined by that of her partner, and then a few more chuckles joined the fray.

<He's been listening all along!>
<Hope he knows I didn't mean  any of that!>
<Hope he can take a joke!>

That nervous glee was short-lived, however, as a pale, angry elf rattled the bars of the slave pen's gate with his sabre:

"Quieten down in there, surface-dwelling scum!"

The prisoners obeyed immediately, falling into a hushed silence. As much as a minute had passed before anyone stirred, and again it was Eldeth. She had quietly sidled up to Bao, who had not yet lifted his face up from the dirt.

"You speak the dwarven tongue, boy, and you call us by our True Name. How is this so?"

Bao lifted his tired head and beheld the female for the first time. She did not look like the Gizaki he had met before: with her round, pale face and orange-coloured hair she looked more like a human westerner than. She even spoke their tongue, which they imperiously called "common", much to Bao's chagrin.

"Please," he said, "I speak the common tongue but inelegantly. I much prefer speaking with you as before."

<Very well, although it is odd for me to speak like this with a human. Tell me, do all of your people learn Hizkuntza, or were you taught to speak it by a dwarf?>

<Both, of course! said Bao, after some hesitation. he found the question confusing. It seemed Eldeth found his answer likewise. <That is to say, all my people - well, educated ones at least - learn Hizkuntza... it's the language of our liturgy. And of course, the best teachers are native speakers so->

<There are Gizaki - dwarfs - in your lands?>

<But of course? Why would->

Again, any further attempts at conversation were once again interrupted by the rattling sabre of the wan elven guard. 

"Right! You! You! And.... you! Come, you've got work to do!"

Automatically, Eldeth lifted herself up and headed towards the gate, alongside two even more diminutive creatures. The elf guard led them out, before locking the gate behind them.

Once more, Bao was alone with his thoughts, with his guilt. It was an odd comfort, this blanket of misery, but it was no more or less than he deserved. Had it not been for his own miserable shortcomings, he would not have found himself in such a pathetic situation... and were it not for his own failures, hos three companions might yet live. He rolled onto his back and released a pained groan.

"Don't worry, human. Plenty more pain where that came from."

Bao did not recognise the voice, but he did not care. It continued to taunt him, but its guttural, snarling interpretation of the western tongue could do him no worse injury than he had already caused himself. 

What had become of him? he wondered. What now for the eager apprentice, the disciple of battle, the warrior-poet, now that he was a prisoner, a slave? Better to have died: his critics would have been right about his "fighting style", but at least any doubts concerning his commitment would have been put to rest.

The taunting voice came at him again:

"So you only talk with dwarfs, is it? Don't like how I speak your tongue, ay human?"

This caught his attention. He brought his gaze to bear on the source of the voice, and beheld a hunched, muscular figure.

"Huh, that got your attention, did it boy?"

The creature's voice was a low growl. Bao tried to pick out more details in the dim light of the distant torches, but he new none. Bao was already weakened, and knew better than to pick a fight with an opponent about whom he knew nothing. He turned away.

"That's right, coward! Turn away! Run away just like-"

The words did nothing to Bao, but as he rolled over, he was shocked to hear a sudden, high-pitched squeal being emitted from a large, white mushroom:

"I'm... sorry?" he said, in spite of himself.

It's okay, people haven't been paying me much attention of late.

Bao did a double take. The voice had appeared, spontaneously, inside his own head, in response to his almost involuntary apology.

"I'm going mad..."

"Yeah you are!" said the snarling voice.

"Ten gold says he kills the mushroom before himself!" came another voice from the darkness, though Bao was not sure where. It was followed by laughter.

"I'll take that bet," said the voice who had been chatting in dwarven to Eldeth earlier. More laughter followed, and more voices. Bao merely covered his ears.

Don't be sad, they're just trying to make themselves feel better. Everyone's scared.... you're not mad, by the way.

The large mushroom seemed to be staring at him the entire time. He resisted a strong desire to answer the voice in his head with a direct, audible question to it.

I know, few surface-dwellers get to see my kind. We do live above sometimes, though. Hey, can I show you a secret? 

Bao had not removed his hands from his ears, but the voice ran clear and true in the space in between them. He watched in awe as the mushroom appeared to uproot itself, and walk away from him on two stalks. After a few steps, it seemed to turn around:

Well, are you coming or what?

TBC










 

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