All In a Night’s Work

The port of Aegegion is well-known for its bawdry taverns and amphora of fine wines. The grubby streets are packed with sweating merchants and curious house servants looking to find a bargain for their mistress. It’s the perfect place for dubious goings-on and it’s where Bakkhos grew up. Now a barely-grown youth with just a few possessions to his name, Bakkhos is seeking his fortune upon the port’s streets.

To begin my solo game with Bakkhos, I have decided to play through “All In a Night’s Work”, the solo adventure designed for learning GURPS and last published in GURPS Third Edition, Revised. The only problem is that it’s designed for the iconic Dai Blackthorn (who is 250 points in GURPS 4e). That’s five times the character points Bakkhos has, so we might be tweaking things as we go. Plus the adventure is written for a nominally medieval world and mine is a little more low-tech.

SPOILER ALERT! There are significant spoilers for anyone wanting to play through the adventure for themselves. That said, as it was first published in 1986 with GURPS First Edition, I consider this less problematic than usual. Your mileage may vary, however, so you have been warned!

The scenario is simple: Bakkhos is breaking into a well-to-do house and seeing what he can steal. In terms of writing this up, I will be paraphrasing the text from the adventure in parts in the hope that this is reasonable fair use.

I begin with my basic gear plus one extra item: a large cloth sack which can hold 50lbs of goods. Bakkhos is prowling the wealthy part of town and has luckily spotted a guard asleep outside one of the rich houses, apparently having taken too much wine. I find a chest-high window with wooden shutters that are not barred, slipping my knife into the windowsill and lifting the latch.

Bakkhos makes a Stealth roll as he comes down into the house… and succeeds. I am in the kitchen. A fire is dying in the fireplace; a heavy lidded pot sits in the embers. Something in that pot smells very good! There is a candle in an ornate candleholder on the table near the fireplace. I decide to skip searching here and go deeper into the house.

I stand at a little landing which leads into several areas. Facing the stairs and going clockwise, they are: stairs going up and to the left, a great hall, a kitchen, and a pantry. I decide to risk going up the stairs. Reaching the top, there is only one door here, right at the top of the stairs. I decide to check out the door. Putting my ear up against the door, I hear only snoring. That’s a little bit scary but the good stuff is surely going to be up here. I decide to slowly open the door.

I am in the master bedroom. There is only one person in here: a white-bearded, heavy-set man in loud silken pajamas. He is snoring loudly. Various statuettes and objects of value adorn the bedroom. There is a bell-pull hanging from the ceiling beside the bed. I decide to search the room for valuables worth stealing. Searching around for a few minutes and giving one or two of the statuettes a test-heft, I decide that nothing here is portable enough to steal. The fat man groans and mutters – I freeze. But soon he is snoring again.

I decide to risk a more careful search. Test Vision… success! Roll a die… score 3… the statuettes appear worthless but I look carefully and notice that the last one is hollow. Inside is an amulet on a chain which look to be made of solid gold! Maybe I will be able to buy more than some sandals with this. I slip the amulet into my pouch. After this, I decide to head back downstairs.

Back at the landing, I decide that I’ll check out the pantry. There are shelves packed with goods in here. Make a Vision roll… success! On one of the shelves, I see many small apothecary’s jars. Most of them are labelled. I hadn’t considered buying off the assumed literacy, so it turns out Bakkhos can read and write. Most of the jars show the names of herbs and spices. I decide to grab the four rare spices and five unlabelled jars. They weigh half a pound each, so that’s 3.5 pounds in the sack. Thankfully they all have well-fitted lids so they don’t seem likely to spill.

I look around again, making another Vision roll at -2… only just succeeded! I notice that a plank in the floor of the pantry seems out of place. I move a barrel to investigate and find a trap door built into the floor! Opening it, I find it leads to a staircase. Swallowing with some trepidation, I decide to risk a peek downstairs.

“Hey! It’s dark down here.” I decide I need some light if I am going to search down there. Back to the pantry – damn, I wish I had a candle. Oh, I have to roll my Stealth on the stairs… success! No problems, it seems. I arrive back at the little landing, remembering there’s a candlestick holder in the kitchen. I head back there. Lo, there it is. I decide to light it and the whole thing weighs about a pound.

From the kitchen, I head back to the landing and then the pantry trapdoor. Down the stairs… I am in a storage room under the pantry. A rack along one wall is filled with bottles of wine. There are perhaps two dozen casks stacked along another wall. A third wall holds a collection of random junk – boxes, statues, and such. I decide to investigate the wine rack first – after all, some people pay handsomely for good wines. They appear to be local vintage and stout, hearty drinks. Make an IQ roll… fail. I reckon they are only worth a few copper coins.

Instead of stealing the wines, I turn to the junk pile. Make an IQ roll… succeed! I look for a while but realise that it’s all just junk. Nothing worthwhile here either. Let’s check out the casks, as unlikely a prospect as they seem. These smell faintly of ale, being sealed and branded with the Imperial tax seal. Make an IQ roll… success! I notice that one of the seals on one of the bungs on the bottom row isn’t quite right. I pull on it and it comes out, revealing what looks like a key hole. Examining it, the lock is like nothing I have ever seen before. I have no chance without finding the key.

I decide to leave it and sneak back upstairs. Roll Stealth… fail. Damn! As I come up out of the cellar I notice something new: a huge man with a scimitar. “I would give you five seconds to explain what you are doing here,” the man bellows, “but I don’t really care!” He advances towards me.

I decide to try and run past the guard, evading his grasp. Quick contest of Dexterity! I have a -5 penalty because of the big guard standing up above me. He rolls against DX 12… scoring 10 to succeed by 2. I roll… 7 or less needed, scoring… 11 to fail. I lose the contest, the guard gets in my way. I lose a turn and the guard can attack!

This is it – the Big Fight! The guard goes first. He swings his scimitar (which is a large Bastard Sword type thing)… needs 16 or less, rolls… 14 is on target. With bag in one hand and candlestick in the other, I opt to Dodge, needing 9 or less… 16 is a fail. He rolls 1d+3 damage… rolls 1+4 = 5. My cloth armour soaks 1 point, 4 go through and it’s cutting so that becomes 6. Ouch! Bakkhos is at -4 from shock for his turn. It’s not quite enough to inflict a major wound.

I drop the sack and ready my large knife, taking a step backwards to give me a little space. The steps in and swings again… 11 is on target. I retreat 1 yard gaining +3 to my dodge, rolling… 10 to succeed! Hurrah!

Right then. I step forward and spend 1 Fatigue Point to attempt a Mighty Blow with my large knife. Need 12 to hit… 10 is on target. The guard will try to parry, needing an 8 or less… 12 fails. I step in an slash him for 1d+2 cutting… roll 5+2 = 7. The guard has no armour, so that’s 7 through and cutting makes it 10 damage. He has 12 hit points, so that’s more than half in one go making him test Health… 11 or less, rolls… 3. Wow! That said, he’s -4 for shock and now he’s reeling from the wounds (half Basic Speed and Move, lowering Dodge).

The guard is furious and angry, so he’ll swing the big blade again. He’s at -4 to hit, so needs 12 or less… rolls 6, on target. I try to dodge, once again retreating to give myself space… rolling 10 to succeed! Yay!

Once more with fury! I drop 1 Fatigue to do another Mighty Blow, step forward to strike, rolling to hit… 11 is good! The guard tries to parry, needing 8 or less… rolls 4. Holy crap! He swings the scimitar, needing 16 or less… rolls 12. I must dodge, retreating to gain some advantage as I desperately dance back… the roll is 8, to succeed!

I decide to try a deceptive attack, stepping up and slashing wildly with the knife. I take a -2 penalty to reduce his defense by -1. I need a 10 or less, rolls… 5 to be on target. The guard’s parry is reduced to 7… rolls 10 to fail. The damage is 1d cutting… rolls 3, which against no armour makes it 4 damage. He’s down to -2 hit points. He’s also at -4 from shock next turn.

It’s his turn now so we test Health to remain conscious, needing 11 or less… rolls 16 to fail. The guard collapses to the floor, unconscious and bleeding. That’s when I hear a whistle blowing. It seems that the owner is signalling the watch. That’s my cue, grabbing up my sack and dashing for the front door and out into the night. I get back to my hovel safely.

Let’s see how much the loot is worth when I fence it. I get 50 coppers for each of the rare herbs, so that’s 200. The other jars count as empty for no real street value. The amulet and chain is worth 200 coppers. I’ll keep the candlestick holder and candle – might come in handy – plus the cloth bag.

I also gain 1 character point for surviving and an extra one for fighting the guard. I don’t think the guard will have died, so I don’t lose any points there. No bonus points for treasure though because I only scored 400 coppers worth.

I buy some sandals and some leather armour, which can layer over the cloth already owned. Bakkhos has got 280 coppers jingling in his pouch. It seems reasonable to spend the character points on increasing his Knife and Stealth skills by 1 point each. I’m not sure what the next job might be, but I am considering shelling out for a decent helm if combat looks likely. We’ll see. Not a bad first outing, really, but I could do better.

Game on!

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