Friday 27 March 2015

Madame Desadalie’s House of Wax - Skeleton Encounter #6

I finally get round to getting a sixth 'interesting' Skeleton encounter finished - something other than "Tomb, Skeletons (6), 200GP". This goes with:

#6 Madame Desadalie’s House of Wax

At the edge of the Scholars’ District, where rents are cheap and adventurous students slum it, mixing with artists (piss-, con-, and avant garde), poets, musicians, and other social and political dissidents, there is Madame Desadalie’s House of Wax. A salon, favoured by intellectuals with a taste for luxury, the lounge is opulently furnished. Oppressively so. The walls are lined with extravagantly patterned fabrics, lush potted plants imported from southern jungles loom over the couches on which guests recline, and elaborate, slowly turning, cut-glass lamps create a disorientating flicker of light. And then there are the waxworks.     

Arrayed around the room are six, life-size wax figures. These are sculpted into a likeness of the great and good of Byzantia, particularly those despised as oppressive or vulgar. Prince Geffri, a gambler with bad debts as well as a womaniser and sadist. Guildmaster Hoffenhaus, reputed embezzler. Countess Katterine, rumoured to have unnatural… appetites. Bjorn the Black, public executioner. Chancellor Illantine, whose taxmen are feared even more than the secret police. And the Sage Vorinus, whose pithy, but on reflection empty, aphorisms are treated as the height of leaning by the ‘common’ people. These waxworks are uncanny likenesses of their subjects – uncanny being the word. Their eyes sockets are empty hollows, and their faces are locked in inane grins. They crouch, on all fours, serving as tables for the guests. Hidden within these dummies are animated SKELETONS under the control of Madame Desadalie.

SKELETONS (6) = AC: Special, HD: 1, HP: 6, MV: 60’/20’, ATT: 1 short sword, DAM: 1d6, SV: F1, MR: 12, AL: C, XP 13

These Skeletons are a more difficult proposition in a fight than usual; their wax ‘shell’ protects them from damage. The force of bludgeoning weapons is absorbed, and slashing weapons cut through layers of wax before biting bone. In the first round of combat, these Skeletons have an AC of 0. On each round of combat their AC worsens by 1 as the wax cracks and begins to fall away from their bones, until, on the eighth round of combat their AC reaches 7. If the Skeletons are attacked with fire, or similar, double or even triple the rate at which AC worsens.

Why would the PCs encounter these Skeletons? Madame Desadalie, an attractive, if overly made-up middle-aged woman (who, it must be said, can resembles a waxwork herself) is widely suspected of harbouring agitators and even outright rebels. This is true, and the PCs might be sent on a mission to capture a fugitive or steal incriminating documents. Or they might be interested in a bit of freelance burglary – the party could recover 10d100GPs of bulky objets d’art on a successful raid. Of course, PCs are a rebellious bunch themselves, and may find themselves more directly involved in the ‘occult’ politics of Byzantia. Who supplies Madame Desadalie, no necromancer herself, with her wax bodyguards?

Okay, this one doesn't fit on a 4"x6" index card - and even at this length it doesn't include any real details about Madame Desadalie, her connections, etc. It is about 100 words too long. The index card conceit is a good discipline all the same - and very useful at the table - and I'll try to keep to it as much as possible. 


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