by Mark Thornton
The Monster Under the Bed created Mad Roy Cram
[Saving Rolls – all saving rolls are one lower than your level except that L1 is the lowest ever set.]
‘Yes, a good year, all things considered.’ You sit back in the old armchair with the stuffing leaking out at the sides, the one you got from your Pa and he got from his, thinking back over the exploits, the adventures, the flirting with doom. There was the one-eyed dragon of Vonstrule that you slew with the sickle smeared with yaplebark – yes, that was a close shave as your bald head testifies; and the psychotic sage of the Sour Sands – he put up quite a fight before you friend his gizzard in balrog butter. And who get forget the five fat fairies from Fingledell…
But before you get to savour that luscious memory, a cry disturbs your reverie. Your daughter. Five years old and still scared of the monster under the bed. Well, there’s one beast you can’t lay a blade on. A story should do the trick. Why not? Those tales of make-believe still hold the same magic they did when you were bouncing on your wicked step-mother’s knobbly knees (ouch! the memory makes you wince!).
It’s a better house than you were living in last year. Two stories and an inside dunny – luxury at last! The smile spreading over your face broadens as you enter the bedroom to squeals of delight. There in the corner is the book. The book. The treasure trove that never is exhausted. You little daughter snuggles deep under the blanklins as you turn the first page. But something is not right. You rapidly flick through the pages, turning them over in agitation. What has happened? The beginnings have changed and so have the endings. There are no more happy ever afters.
A grey mist passes over your eyes and your daughter’s questioning voice, surprised at your silence, becomes a buzz in your ears. The room spins and you feel giddy. This lasts for but a short time but when it stops, you find yourself standing in front of a wall. You hear voices on the other side. The wall is no more than shoulder height and you easily scale it. On the other side you see a very big mess. The egg-man, Humpty Dumpty lies smashed on the ground, yolk running from what remains of his shell. A man with a crown is telling a bunch of soldiers that they can give up now and remount their horses.
So far, so good, it would seem. But now a man in stiff green velvet robes with tusks pushes imperiously through the ranks of men and waves a tube at the king. ‘This is a job for a magician!’ he proclaims. ‘I shall get the egg-man back on his feet for I am the Walrus!’
You have a choice – you can either help the wizard with his tricky task of sticking Humpty back together again or you can whack him on the back of the head with a big branch you find lying on the ground, while his back is turned. Go to 7 for the former and 9 for the latter.
2 . You stand before a phantasmagorical gingerbread cottage. It oozes charm and is so appealing you rush through the door with something akin to gay abandon (an old fashioned phrase). Inside, the sight that confronts you appals you! Two children, maybe about eleven years old, are shoving a poor old crone onto an oven. They must be planning to cook her and maybe even eat her too!
So what are you going to do? You have to think that if the hag needed to make a L1 SR on CHR to save her bacon she would fail dismally. If you want to use your baking skills to help the children go to 11; if you prefer to save the old woman from premature cremation go to 13 (unlucky for some?).
3. After the long, lonely journey through the woods, clinging to the winding path as if your life depended on it, as it probably did, finding the isolated cottage was a joy. Seeing the door wide open was at first welcoming but then worrying as you thought of the creatures lurking in these forests and their ill intentions towards human folk. With trepidation, you mounted the creaky stairs and looked apprehensively into the sleeping chamber. Would the old lady be all right?
The scene before you is both still and silent. A girl is sitting up in the big four poster bed. The old lady shawl around her shoulders has slipped off to reveal a red robe. She is staring at a large wolf which is ever so slowly backing away from her.
If you would like to attack the wolf before it regains its courage, go to 14. If think the girl is the one who needs treating very roughly and, quite possibly, throwing to the floor, go to 17.
4. You are aware of a whistling sound. No, that’s wrong. It’s stronger than that – blowing would describe it better, a lusty, gusty blowing. You can’t see who is doing this as you are standing at what must be the back of a house. It is a solid house, made from brick. You follow the path round the side of the building and then you see what is going on.
Three pigs, one dressed in red, one in blue and one in green, stand before the front door puffing at it with all their might. After a few more moments of effort, they stop in unison and the one in green bellows ‘Mr. Wolf! R. Wolf! Let us in or we shall huff and we shall puff and we shall blow your door in!’
From inside you hear a muted, frightened voice answering ‘By the hairs on my chin, I shall not let you in!’
The pig in red replies with menace ‘Then we shall blow your door in!’ and the three pigs start blowing again and it sounds as if a hurricane is brewing…
So, how to play this one? You could decide to help these murderous porkers (in which case, go to 8) or you might think saving that outnumbered and lonesome wolf would be the better bet (and so you would go to 10).
5. You find yourself clinging to a great, thick, green trunk. It clearly cannot be a tree and if it were one it would be a king of the forest. You hear noises both above and below you. Something large this way comes from above. Let’s hope that it is not going be something wicked. The sounds from below are that of an angry young man – he is cursing profusely and profanely. The threats issuing from his lips are directed upwards. At you?
The young man reaches you and tries to scramble over you, putting his foot on your ear for purchase. You can either let him climb over and beyond you or stop him from getting to the ‘whatever’ above you (the ‘whatever’ is getting close now and is breathing in great ragged gulps). To help the youth go to 16. To hinder him go to 19.
6. As your eyes clear, you first see an old hag lying in a deep slumber on a marble slab. Then you take in seven short, powerful figures bunched round you. Dwarves! One of them, in a long baggy robe and a tall floppy hat, leans towards you and asks slurringly if you need to be shown what to do. That makes all the others bar one chortle and smirk. The one who doesn’t find this amusing cuffs you again and tells you to do the business. Surely he can’t mean…?
The dwarf grunts as he shoves you in the back. ‘Go on then! Or do you prefer something different?’ What can he mean? Your eyes are still smarting from the two fingered poke someone else gave you a few moments earlier. You collapse unceremoniously in a heap on the ground whereupon strong arms drag you to your feet.
It is clear they want you to kiss the hag. If you go along with (what the heck, she’s not going to bite, is she?) go to 12. If you tell the dwarves to take a hike unless they have something better for you to press flesh with go to 15.
7. He really appreciates the help. Make the best SR on DEX you can. Each level SR indicates the percentage of the work you did. After several hours the egg-man is back on his feet and turns to the Walrus and says ‘Goo goo ga job!’ With this he unleashes a fiendish spell which consigns you to the roll of falling off the wall day after day while he and his accomplice, the Walrus, materialise in your world and things take a turn for the worse like never before. The End.
8. Actually, these pigs haven’t got it sorted yet. The house is too strongly built and they are running out of puff. They gladly accept you help. Make a SR on INT. If you fail, you can’t generate a decent plan and your help is worth nothing. The pig brothers snort in disgust. They decide to sit it out and wait for the wolf to starve – they will jump him when he tries to sneak out.
And you? They feel a bit peckish themselves and eye you hungrily. They have the odds and the attributes stacked against you and easily overpower you before rustling up a top notch pot roast with you starring as the main course. The End.
If you made the saving roll, hurrah! It occurs to you that in all the versions of the story you’ve read, things are the other way round. You get the pigs to wait at the back door silently and when the wolf pops his head out of the window at the front to check if the coast is clear, you lure him outside while the pigs go in. Now everything is the way it should be. Yay, you!
Before much longer, the world swirls before your eyes and when everything settles down again you find you are in very different circumstances. Go to 5.
9. Make a SR on LK. If you failed, the Walrus spins round and casts Hold That Pose on you. His WIZ rating is 200 so I’m going to assume he did not get a bad feeling. With you frozen, he rises and takes his dirk, waving it above his head for dramatic effect, before slitting your throat. The End.
If you made the roll, you club him hard on the base of the skull which explodes into a million tiny pieces. Turns out he was no less brittle than his mate, Humpty. The king and all his men applaud and as you bow the scene alters again. Go to 2.
10. The wolf is not supposed to come out on top! What are you doing!! Maybe you kill the pigs and make lunch for the wolf or maybe you let the wolf out and help him slay the porky boys. Without the wolf you would have had no chance against these lardy lads but together you do the deed. Consuming the brothers pig boosts all the wolf’s attributes and allows him to take who he will wherever and whenever he will. Not here but in your world. When he’s hungry again, he lines you up and gulps you down. The End.
11. That old hag is putting up quite a struggle. She does not want to be half baked let alone fully baked. Make a SR on STR. If you fail, she surges out and casts Befuddle on you. Her WIZ is astronomical so don’t even ask about bad feelings. You butcher the children in no time at all and then she leaves you, a prisoner of this cottage, as she leaps through a portal into your world and proceeds to trash the place. The End.
If you made the SR, you and the children slam the oven door shut and lock it. She is EVIL they tell you. You have done what should be done. As you savour the rich meaty aroma the scene swirls and resolves into something a little different. Go to 3.
12 . As you daintily apply your lips to the wizened one’s puckered mouth she begins to suck like there’s no tomorrow (there may not be). Make a SR on CON, If you fail she sucks you into her thoat, then her stomach, and you feed her wicked future. The dwarves prance and clap and set off with her at their head to conquer your world. The End.
If you made the CON SR you shuck off her vacuuming and she begins to hoover up the dwarves, one after the other. When the seventh disappears down her gullet she has an unexpected yet violent allergic reaction to at least one of them (could have been Soc or maybe Dumpy) and suffers an immense cardiac arrest. Make another SR on CON as she explodes messily and bonily. If you fail, her fibula cracks you on the skull as it is fired away from her corpse and her metacarpals embed themselves in your soft tissues. The End.
If you made the second CON SR, the gory entrails covering you absorb the impact of bone – you are teleported out of here. Go to 18.
13. Roll your combat dice. What did you get? It doesn’t really matter – the children were so focussed on their cuisine that they heard you not and so you slew them both. Very quickly. The old crone leaps out of the oven and grabs your sleeve, cooing her thanks. Then she casts Spirit Mastery. Her WIZ is so high she doesn’t get a bad feeling. She has no remorse as she orders you into the oven, shuts the door and stokes up the fire. The End.
14. What did you do to the poor wolf? A deadly spell perchance or a simple sword stroke? The wolf has a MR of 30 – he’s quite savage when he’s upset! A Hold That Pose would seem a fair bet if you know it but I shall leave this in your capable hands. If the wolf kills you, don’t fret honey…the girl gets the wolf in this story.
If you kill the wolf, you had better say your prayers quickly. That girl is anti-angelic and casts Death Spell #9 on you (she has an unimaginably high WIZ so don’t even go there). If that fails to terminate you, she moves on to Death Spell #12 and so on, cranking it up in prime numbers until your prime roast. The End.
15. ‘Sure! If you think you’re man (or woman) enough for the job!’ One of the dwarves looks at you mockingly while two others wheel in a very fetching young maid on a trolley. Then they wait for you to start the kissing business (remember, K.I.S.S.). Make a SR on WIZ.
If you fail, no matter how your blood is stirred, no matter how impassioned you become, cannot rouse the damsel. ‘Huh! Not so hot, are you?’ a dwarf grunts and they wheel the trolley away and it’s back to the hag for you. Go to 12.
If you succeed in the WIZ SR, bingo! You wake Snow White and become her prince. Fortunately, she is not at all possessive and will settle for Friday night visits in future. First, though, you must drive a sword through the heart of the hag. Roll your combat dice as for a 3+4 broadsword. If you get less than 22, the hag sits up and drains your life force through the blade before murdering Snow White and going on a rampage through your world with the dwarves making merry mayhem. The End.
If you generated force more than 21, you kill the wicked queen. Good show! You find that this act, coupled with kissing the loveliest girl on the planet, has doubled your CHR. Woot! You are released from this world until Friday night. Go to 18.
16. Jack, for ‘tis he, scrambles up and unslings an axe from his back. The giant (for that it is) hoves into view and tells Jack to get back down or he will snap the beanstalk. Jack snorts and waves his axe in one hand at the giant, while clinging to the stalk with the other. ‘I’ll chop you down, you great streak of gristle!’
It looks like they will both be doomed if neither backs down. Make a SR on CHR to calm them down and get them to see reason. If you fail the battle rages, the stalk breaks and you all fall to your deaths. Jack’s mother and the giant’s wife become very bitter, team up and stomp off to your world where they seek to eradicate all humanoid life. And very effective they are too. The End.
If you make it, the pair shake hands, exchange tokens of peace and go back to their respective homes, swearing never to do the other harm again. All is well and as it should be. You faint with happiness…and awake to a new challenge. Go to 6.
17 . Ah hah! A misogynist maybe or just an animal lover? In any case, you going for the girl in a most unromantic way gives the wolf his opportunity. You just have to make a SR on SPD to make the most of the wolf occupying this most dangerous of females (everything should of course be reversed and you can’t let the drama unfold this way).
If you fail, she throttles the wolf mercilessly and then does the same to you (her attributes are phenomenal). The End.
If you made the roll, you get her and, with the wolf’s help, you rid the world’s storybooks of this particular ending. As she breathes her last, the wolf turns into a poodle and licks you happily. Then things go very white and when your eyes adjust you are somewhere quite different. Go to 4.
18. You stand once again in your daughter’s bedroom, book in hand. You note gratefully that all is as it should be in the much loved pages. You have restored childhood to its rightful state and the world is safe. The world may be safe but your daughter? Something stirs under her bed and, to your horror, begins to emerge!
It rises up in a swirl of arms and tentacles, mad marble eyes staring at you in alien fury. The arms pick up books and cherished knick knacks, hurling them at you (DEX SR to dodge or 1d6 damage), then toys follow (SPD SR to prevent your daughter’s precious play things from breaking). The tentacles clutch other objects – your magic vacuum cleaner is sent spinning past your left knee, the abacus just misses your right ear and then, worse still, the other tentacles drop dust particles on to the carpet and dust mites with teeth as long as their legs swarm about this creature of night terror before most charge at you while another deadly group begin climbing the bed covers up to your still sleeping daughter. Its mad crazy paving marble eyes seem to mock you as socks, shoes and other items of clothing torrent out of closets towards you. You only have one chance to save the day. Decide what to do right NOW and write it down, then go to 20.
19. Make a SR on DEX. If you fail Jack shoves you mercilessly and you fall a long way to the ground which hits you very hard – fatally in fact. Jack then slays the giant, gets a taste for dealing death and destruction, finds a portal to your world, uses it and goes on to become the biggest serial killer in Trollworld history. The End.
If you make it, you struggle fiercely and push Jack back down to the stalk. None too happy, he grumps off home. The giant does the same when he sees Jack has gone. ‘Thanks, matey,’ he says matily and gives you a hen which every day lays a golden egg worth 100 GPs. You tuck it under your arm and go back down where you borrow Jack’s chopper and hack down the beanstalk. All is peachy and quite dandy to boot. The hen clucks and this transports you to another place and another time. The hen will prove adept at staying out of trouble and is already very attached to you. Go to 6.
20. Magic won’t save the day. There is no spell which will clean all of the bad guys up. Weapons won’t cut it. Even with the speed of Samos Treek you would be way to slow to get the job done. Somersaults and stunts go the same way – downhill fast. If you wrote down any of these things, that’s it –The End. You do not want to know more than that.
If however, you picked up the magic vacuum cleaner, make a LK SR. If you fail the saving roll, it’s another case of The End.
But if you made it, you suck up all the little suckers and then turn the heat on the big guy from under the bed. This thing really does suck! It rips the arms out of their sockets, pulls the tentacles out by the roots and then the mad marble eyes spring loose and the now blind thing from the Abyss keels over and gives up the ghost. It really is kaput and it fades into memory.
You look down at your daughter, sleeping peacefully, blissfully unaware of the nightmares you have overcome. You see a happy smile flitter over her dear face – she is dreaming of hero, Daddy, defeating dragons and giants, just for her.
Yes, it’s been a good year and may the next one be better yet. Take 700 APs for the seven scenes you have triumphed in – may Trollgod bless you and yours. (Oh and if you are above L1 your AP award is 10% higher for each level above one you had attained.)