Approximate time to read: 2 minutes.
For reference, Wheel of Misfortune is an intentionally short adventure. I wanted to offer something that gave the player characters a chance to get a bit of background, have a chat with an NPC, face off against an enemy – then ponder and question just what happened. It’s all about the aftermath!
Wheel serves as a lead-in to more adventure rather than a self-contained adventure in its own right. As a Zero XP adventure, it should provide sufficient impetus to get the Zeroes to leave their cosy lives and village to investigate further. They might follow the trail north to the next settlement, head back south to learn more about the tinker, or use the map to track his journey.
If you run Wheel as a one-off, you will have time at the beginning to generate Zeroes for the players based on the guidelines offered in The Symbaroum Funnel. You have the chance to give them a little background about the game if they haven’t played before – and the adventure proper should show them how brutal a simple situation might become. You need to get across early that Symbaroum isn’t a fairy tale with cute goblins and aloof elves.
What’s Cereno up to?
Who knows… If the characters don’t intervene, the tinker would have returned to his cart, fought the wild dogs, then been consumed by the Dragoul. The horse would have escaped during the fracas and the residents of the next settlement would have found it wandering and alone the next day.
As a soldier, the Dragoul might have attempted to hold its position, awaiting new orders. Or it could have noticed the horse escape and might march off to attack the next settlement; knowledge of its presence might compromise whatever orders it held from its last position.
I have found I always end up tacking a prologue on to the end of my game sessions, even when they’re convention games and nothing will ever follow. If the Dragoul escapes or kills the characters, tell them that it takes the wild dogs and slaughters the people in the next village to the north – elders, parents, children… all of them. A few arise from the slaughter tainted with the black magic that keeps the Dragoul alive.
What’s with the Dragoul?
I haven’t decided what to make of the Dragoul yet (see page 231-232 in the core book for their basic description and stats).
They’re more than just carrion feeders, but they’re not much more than rank-and-file soldiers given a new lease of unlife and fresh orders. I guess – as here – that specialist soldiers exist and you might get a stronger variety that serve as commanders for Dragoul units.
When they turn up in your game they deserve to be something more than Ordinary challenge encounter. The description suggests that the Dragoul represent a classification of ghast / undead rather than a specific variety. Those the soldiers battled in Alberetor differ from the creatures trickling into Ambria. The latter seem to be plague-carriers, a toxic timebomb of black magic, the rats scattering from the sinking ship.
Cereno might be consorting with the enemy – or he might be something else. Could he be taking the body for research, experimentation, worship or protection? Did he even know the box contained a Dragoul – or perhaps he carried the cargo under threat and panicked because he feared for his own life.