A Rune Encounter for Three Heroes

By David Trimboli

Type: Cushion Encounter
Hook: Underground
Synopsis: The heroes fall into an ancient dwarven maze designed to study the behavior of men. They must find the way out, overcoming creatures and tests. The exit is guarded by a fearsome beast.


Narration: After a brief rest at the bottom of a chasm that opens to the sky, and in which grow some small trees with round, green fruit, the heroes replenish their supplies and move on, back into the caverns of the Underground. They trot in an almost straight tunnel for half a mile. The tunnel grows dampa dn slippery.


Narration: Without warning, the ground gives way beneath the heroes' feet, plunging them down into the unknown! They slip and fall a long way, until they come to a sudden stop far below.

The heroes must make Jump rolls to minimize the damage.

Standard; roll Jump vs. Difficulty 6. This is not a freefall -- it is equivalent to a 20-foot drop (it's really more than this). Dam rating 10/20, armor-ignoring (see Rune p. 151 for falling damage rules).

Points Spent: 0 (Difficulty 6); 25 (10/20 falling damage).

Narration: When they brush the dust away, the heroes find themselves in another passageway. The chute they fell down gapes above them, loose stones still dropping. It would be impossible to return that way. They must find another way out. Which way? Left or right?

This choice is actually meaningless. The encounter happens the same way whichever path they choose. The choice is included for atmosphere.

Background: This ancient maze was constructed long ago by dwarves as a way of torturing slaves and studying them -- rats in a maze!


Freestanding, singluar, no-fault; roll Lore vs. Difficulty 8 to learn the following:

Closer Inspection: The honored elder warriors of the heroes' village tell tales of endless mazes built by dwarves to study the behavior of men. The stonework here looks like it could be dwarf-make. If this is one of those mazes, the heroes may never find their way out again!

Points Earned: -8 (Freestanding Difficulty 8)


Narration: The heroes have wandered through the twisting, forking passages for days, with no sign of a way out. Their food is long gone, and what water they can find is oily and tainted. If they don't fill their stomachs soon, they will begin to weaken.

Ahead, the passageway becomes filled with a thick fungus on the walls, floor, and ceiling. It looks green and slimy. There's no way around it -- not without searching through miles of more tunnels. Still, it is known that some creatures feed on fungi. Could this be edible?

Background: The fungus is poisonous to humans! The land crabs up ahead can safely consume it though. However, land crabs much prefer the taste of flesh to that of fungus!

Freestanding, singluar, no-fault; roll Survival vs. Difficulty 10. If successful:

Closer Inspection: One of the heroes remembers seeing this fungus before. He doesn't know its name, but he knows it's not safe to eat. It will not harm a person who merely touches it.

If the Survival roll is failed by all:

Closer Inspection: None of the heroes has ever seen or heard of this fungus before. The only way to be sure it's edible is to try it.

Points Earned: -5 (Freestanding Difficulty 10)

If the heroes try to eat the fungus:


Singular, conditionally avoidable (don't eat the fungus), remains in effect; roll STA va. Difficulty 9. If failed, the hero suffers 3d10 armor-ignoring damage shortly before they encounter the land crabs. Until then, it will seem like the fungus is edible.

Points Spent: 30 (Difficulty 9); 20 (Exotic roll, Characteristic only); 15 (3 dice damage); 10 (armor-ignoring); 0 (remains in effect)

Points Earned: -20 (conditionally avoidable singular roll)

Once everyone has chosen to eat or not eat:

Narration: The heroes squish and slip their way down the green, fungus-filled tunnel. Up ahead, they hear a creepy, clattering sound. Far down the tunnel, they see several small land crabs. The crabs appear to be feeding on the fungus, and haven't seen the heroes yet.


Weak Link; roll Stealth vs. Difficulty 8. If successful, the crabs will have -6 to their ATK, DFN, and Engagement rolls for the first combat round, -3 on the second, and -1 on the third. During the second round, the crabs will be able to make Res rolls vs. Difficulty 9 (no action required) to reduce the penalty to -2 and the next round's penalty to 0. See Rune pp. 147-8 for complete rules on Ambush Opportunities.

Points Spent: 20 (Difficulty 8)

Points Earned: -50 (Ambush opportunity favoring heroes)

The heroes must fight the land crabs. Find out who's holding the horde's light source(s). Remember that doing so requires at least one hand!

Event #2 Combat Opponents - Small Land Crabs

Name Type
Threat Category Adjusts Predictable/Self-Willed?
#1 Small Land Crabs
Weak DFN -3, Soak +3 Predictable
#2 Small Land Crabs
Weak DFN -3, Soak +3 Predictable
#3 Small Land Crabs
Weak DFN -3, Soak +3 Predictable

Note that the heroes do receive Victory Points for the land crabs.

Points Spent: 0 (combat opponents)


Slippery ground covers the entire combat area. Full- and half-moves are reduced 50%. Any character who moves more than 2 paces in the course of a single action must make a Balance (or Res) roll to avoid slipping. Any character who takes 10 or more points of raw damage in melee must make a second DFN roll, or fall down. The difficulty of the second DFN roll is the original ATK result of the opponent. See also rules on falling down, Rune pp. 53-4.

Points Earned: -5 (slippery ground, entire area)


When the crabs have been defeated, check to see if hunger has overcome them:

Standard, conditionally avoidable (eat the crab meat): roll STA vs. Difficulty 10. If failed, the hero suffers one point of Impairment for the rest of the encounter due to extreme hunger, which takes effect as soon as they leave the crabs' bodies. They cannot return and eat food later: by the time they do, scavengers will have consumed or removed the corpses.

Points Spent: 40 (Difficulty 10), 40 (1 point Impairment for 1 combat sequence, 1 roll to avoid trap, 1 roll to trigger gain), 10 (Exotic roll, characteristic only)

Points Earned: -10 (conditionally avoidable standard roll)


Narration: As the heroes leave behind the fungus-covered area, they see a crack in the tunnel wall. Beyond is a small, safe-looking cavern. It would probably be a good place to rest in for a while.

The heroes may heal in here for up to 12 hours. After that, Wandering Monsters will show up (see Rune p. 199).

Points Earned: -15 (12-hour healing opportunity)


If and only if the heroes enter the hidden cavern, read the following:

Closer Inspection: Far back iniside the cavern, an armored skeleton lies propped up against the wall. Its rusted sword lies broken at its feet, its leather armor almost turned to dust. Beneath it, partially buried in the ground, hides an unidentifiable object.

Background: This was a Viking warrior who died long ago. He had crawled in here before bleeding to death, having fought and killed several land crabs.

No roll required, conditionally available (enter the cavern and dig up the object); Category C treasure.

Points Earned: -30 (Category C treasure)


Narration: The journey through the labyrinth continues. After a few more hours, the horde comes to a large, carven chamber. Passages lead from it in many directions. The center of this chamber is dominated by a 15-foot tall metal statue of a dwarf king.

When the heroes enter the chamber, the statue's head and arms begin to move, creaking and grinding loudly in the echoing chamber. From somewhere in its metal body, a deep, mechanical voice booms, "Seek you a way to freedom? Only he who meets death in the Chamber of Demons may find his way home." The statue's great arm points to one of the walls, where a section slides up to reveal a small, bare chamber beyond.

Background: The Chamber of Demons is a magical room that produces horrifying demonic images for the person inside. These images only appear while the door is closed. The door may be opened and the images stopped at any time by simply lifting the door by its handle, and this is clear to any hero who enters the little room.

The chamber is a test of bravery -- it makes the viewer believe he is being damned and destroyed by demons. Only someone who withstands the full test may receive the reward: a map of the entire maze.


Singular, no-fault, roll either Bravery (to withstand the test) or Divine Awareness (to realize the "demons" are not real) vs. Difficulty 6. If successful, the heroes gain +3 to the next Mapping roll in the encounter.

Closer Inspection: The howling demonic forms vanish, leaving the brave hero alone in the small room. A stone tablet with markings on it lies on the floor. It is a map of the labyrinth!

If the test is failed, the hero panics and opens the door, and is too frightened to try again.

Points Earned: -15 (singular, no-fault roll); -10 (one alternate method); -15 (+3 carrot to Map roll)


The heroes must leave the chamber and try to find the way out of the maze.

Singular; roll Map vs. Difficulty 6. See the rules for Getting Lost on Rune pp. 152-3.


Narration: The horde gets a whiff of fresh air. Freedom! Just down a few passages, and they'll be out of this horrible prison.

As they enter a big, cold chamber, the heroes' eyes are dazzled by the first daylight they've seen for days. As they adjust to the brightness, the heroes become aware of another presence.

A great wendol rouses from slumber and sees the heroes. Ever hungry, the beast attacks!

Event #4 Combat Opponent - Wendol

Name Type
Threat Category Adjusts Predictable/Self-Willed?
Fido Wendol
Exceptional INIT -3, DAM +1 Predictable

Points Spent: 0 (Combat opponent)


The following objects in the combat area may be used as barriers:

Points Earned: -12 (Maximum of 4 barriers @ -3 points each)


The central area of this cave is covered with the debris of snow, ice, and rock from previous cave-in. Reduce full- and half-moves in this area 50%.

Points Earned: -7 (Uneven ground, half of combat area)


No roll required, conditionally available (examine the gate lever); a Category E treasure and 2 oz. of liar's silver is hidden in the gate lever, to be found by anyone who examines the lever beyond "what does it open?"

Points Spent: 2 (2 oz. liar's silver)

Points Earned: -50 (Category E treasure)

Note: The lever may be pulled at any time, opening the gate, but any heroes who leave the combat map are considered to have fled and are out of the combat (and thus the encounter). Pillagers must be informed of this before their heroes leave the area.

Encounter Cost Table

Item Points Spent Item Points Earned
Cave-in: 20-foot fall 25 Maze Lore: Freestanding Difficulty 8 -8
Poisonous Fungus: Difficulty 9 30 Poisonous Fungus: Freestanding Difficulty 10 -5
Poisonous Fungus: Exotic roll, characteristic only 20 Poisonous Fungus: Conditionally avoidable singular roll -20
Poisonous Fungus: 3d10 Damage 15 Ambush Crabs: Ambush Opportunity -50
Poisonous Fungus: Armor-ignoring 10 Crab Combat: Slippery Ground -5
Ambush Crabs: Difficulty 8 20 Hungeer: Conditionally avoidable standard roll -10
Hunger: Difficulty 10 40 Hidden Cavern Healing: 12-hour Healing Opportunity -15
Hunger: 1 point Impairment for 1 combat, 1 trap roll, 1 gain roll 40 Skeleton's Treasure: Category C treasure -30
Hunger: Exotic roll, characteristic only 20 Maze Map: Singular, no-fault -15
Navigating the Maze: Getting Lost 30 Maze Map: 1 alternate method -10
Lever Treasure: 2 oz. Liar's Silver 2 Maze Map: +3 to one roll -15
Wendol Fight: Maximum 4 barriers @ -3 each -12
Wendol Fight: Uneven Ground, half area -7
Lever Treasure: Category E treasure -50
Points Spent 252 Points Earned -252
Balance 0

Rune Main Page

Unknown Armies
Feng Shui
Sundered Sky
Fist of the Wolf