TI1.13: Beneath the swamp ruin!

 

The characters for this session:

Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracker)

Crompton, Level 2 rogue (background: Runebearer; talent: roguery)

Glossary of spell short-hands:

KK: knock-knock, for opening locks

OGA: oh go away, forces weaker foes to flee or stronger foes to go for the caster

OTIS: Oh there it is, for detecting invisible stuff

PP: protective pentagram, impervious barrier around caster

TTYF: take that you fiend, inflicts caster’s IQ x level cast

WoW: will o’ wisp, 1 candlepower cold light, directable

Zap: zappathingum [or zapparmor] tripling effect

 

Aftermath of the battle for Jake’s town

The justifiers of Jake’s town assess wounds and take counsel among themselves as to striking while the iron is hot, warmish or cold.

Crompton is in low health, Fennec is lightly wounded and Cauleigh and Jotunn have suffered mere nicks. It’s decided then. Some scouting to see if the Lizardman are rallying.

A couple of hours later sees Jotunn, with bow, and Cauleigh, with arbalest, scaling the nearest ridgeback. The Lizardmen split up and regathered but as they travel with wounded, and have toted dead humans on makeshift stretchers, Jotunn has been equal to them. Now, the westering sun lights the swampland below and they glimpse the wake of a group travelling directly to where the ruined temple must lie.

Meanwhile Fennec supervises rebuilding work and Crompton rests (and cleans and puts an edge on his knives) and makes unhelpful suggestions about working a bit harder. And a stranger is sighted!

“Is it a Lizardman?” – Crompton

“Aiehh, could be!!!” – panicked lookout

 

News from the south

But it’s not. Jotunn and Cauleigh arrive back to find Jake’s town is hosting an emissary from Sir Cully. Bergamot, weather-beaten and a stranger to regular bathing, tells them he is a mounted scout or ‘pricker’ for Sir Cully.

Aside from checking on them and having something north to do with Evrard, he passes on a message.

“Seems a couple of Elves might have headed into the swamp, so if you see trace of them their people would like to know” – Bergamot

“Bet I know which Elves? One a spell-slinger?” – Fennec

“Aren’t they all?” – Bergamot

“And the other good at tricky fighting?” – Fennec

“Carries a fancy knife, is what I know” – Bergamot

“I sincerely pray they die horribly and painfully” – Fennec

“Yer, well if you find their corpses there’s important people as would like ‘em returned” – Bergamot

 

The Dwarves pay an earring and travel by punt

Having taken further counsel, the four head off to their friendly fisherfolk headman, Pedrocollo. They pay him a shiny earring (unvalued) from the Ravenwood loot and secure guides and a punt for the water route to the temple.

It’s dawn and swamp mist lies at gunwale level as their guides bid them farewell and Jotunn directs Crompton and Fennec to pole towards where the temple must lie. He and Cauleigh are fully armoured, despite the peril should their punt tip. Silence is the watchword!

With a squamous croaking four flaccid flying creatures swoop! Jotunn manages a near-miss with his bow and the creature is kept at bay but the other three have a flying bloodsucking rat at their neck! Cauleigh bashes himself as he deals with his, and Fennec loses some blood, before they are dealt with. [Players are beginning to realize how hard targeting can be]

Suffering no further incident, they reach a wooded and ivied knoll where ruined columns mark the temple. A huge statue stands in still water beyond. Jotunn ties the punt up securely and they clamber up.

 

They plunge urgently into action!

With due caution the four scout around. There is something for all to find: Jotunn spots a dormant croc; Cauleigh spots an ivy-concealed entrance; Fennec determines that the temple is builded of impermeable stone and may extend far below water level; and Crompton finds a lever concealed with drifted leaves and dirt. [Excellent SRs all round, everyone contributes!]

Still as silently as possible, they assign tasks around. Jotunn baits the croc and as it rushes them, it is dispatched. Then Cauleigh investigates the entrance. Ivy conceals a steep flight of steps down, and faint sounds can be heard: so this is indeed a Lizardman lair!

Once he is sure everyone is ready and not before, Crompton operates the lever. The barking growl of surprised Lizardmen is music to Cauleigh’s ears and he plunges in – and barrel-rolls helplessly down at least 30’ of stone steps, landing on a pair of Lizardmen.

That would be the end of his career, but luckily Cauleigh has loyal comrades! Fennec activates a WoW and by its faint light Crompton dashes down and crash-barges one Lizardman. Jotunn and Cauleigh deal with the other, then all three slay the one Crompton has distracted. Two Lizardmen bounties!

 

Down to the depths: they enter epic battle!

A series of mostly-safe chambers and steps leads to a bending tunnel and a broad galley. The Lizardman hold the galley and can pitch javelins at any Dwarf cold enough to show themselves. By a stroke of misfortune, a javelin finds a chink in Jotunn’s armour and he is sore hurt. Then a pair of Lizardmen attack from behind!

Using stunts and swift thinking they deal with this most urgent threat then charge the galley. It’s at this time that Crompton discovers that his throw-blades are powerfully enchanted! [Each is a Zap weapon.] Crompton slides under the surprised Lizardmen and backstabs them as Jotunn Cauleigh and Fennec deal with their front. Two remain and with an OGA and some good footwork they are felled as well. Eight Lizardmen bounties!

 

The battle tips against the Dwarves: Crompton falls!

Buoyed by success they push on, find the galley turns then widens, with two exits. Here, Lizardmen have a chance to attack on two fronts and do so. One dies immediately as the Arquebus bellows! Crompton makes a bold stunt only to have it go horribly wrong, takes a huge hit, and lies dying.

Fennec and Jotunn have perforce to retreat a little until Cauleigh manages to buy some time, then they fight their way back through three Lizardmen and Fennec gets his 2nd-last potion dose down Crompton’s gullet. [An excellent SR on DEX allows this safely]

They pull back, and it’s time for Fennec to try that Poor Baby he learnt. It doesn’t “take” the first time but if he gets enough tries it will. Crompton regains his feet and all four pull back to the first descent.

 

With guts and greed they resume the assault!

Once Crompton is back to the same meagre health as the rest of them they push back in. By that time they have been attacked by hostile thorns that seem to grow from the roof. The Lizardmen boss is a mage, that’s clear.

Reaching the galley once more they find it ‘walled off’ with more thorns. These they patiently burn away, though not before Fennec loses his pack to the writhing vines.

Once again in the broad chamber beyond, the Lizardmen make a concerted attack but this time the Dwarves’s luck holds and they throw them back and follow up another steep flight down.

Twelve Lizardmen bounties!

 

The boss is a Naga!

Plunging down those steps, the Dwarves find themselves fighting across a four-way path, surrounding a pit where rises the bony form of an enchanted Naga! Jotunn and Fennec try a shot each but the creature has locked down inside a PP.

Dispatching the Lizardmen (by this time they are fighting wounded opponents and each has a magical knife) they push past the pit and rest up in a recovery area – after callously butchering the pair of helpless Lizardmen there.

Counting twenty or so bounties, they prep for the boss. Jotunn uses Lizardmen wire to rig a sturdy noose over the entrance.

Just in time!

The Naga surges in to close with them but is tangled enough in the snare that they kill it quickly without further damage.

Having butchered the last four Lizardmen they are free to loot at leisure.

 

Remains of folk

We must draw a veil over exactly what they find as they search each chamber… no wait! We never do that!

The foul stench of rotting meat alerts them to the corpse of the adventurer the fisherfolk mentioned, back when they got the map. His pack, containing many coins, is soon located.

A rank smell of different odour surrounds the bloody bones of a flensed Elf, manacled to a wall. A bent mirror standing opposite suggests he was forced to watch himself being tortured.

A crystal flask, picked up nearby, may have belonged to him.

Within two rooms of that, they find where the other Elf struggled on wounded gravely until his equipment broke or ran out; and where a brave Hobb died scrabbling about with knife and knucks. Not far from the Elf, they find a fancy fighting knife, swathed in Elven runes. And they pinch the Hobb’s ring too.

Rousting about for something to tip the remains into they find two barrels and a chest, and punt the remains out, along with choice bits and the silver and gold coin.

 

Celebrations and farewells

No trace of armour is found, but cautiously dealing with a web-shrouded weapon rack, they do disinter a fine silk sheet, still good, though dirty.

Other treasure is found aplenty – much of it copper coin. As Bergamot would have told them had he remembered, it is not just one tax official that has gone missing over the years. They pick the silver and gold out as they rest up periodically.

A Detect Magic thrown over the pile later picks out the knife and a spherical glass bottle with rust-red liquid. A brooch and such like are also found.

The punt is returned to the fisherfolk with thanks, and a joyous party ensues. The good folk of Jake’s town are just as grateful though in a quieter fashion, as becomes people who have worked extremely hard for their success.

Sir Cully Lucas returns from campaign and Barad-dur the tax bringer pays out the full bounty. It’s time to bid farewell to Jake’s town and the lands of V’laskas as Sir Cully escorts them north and west. But they won’t be going empty-handed!

“Hitch a cart to your pony and pack the barrels of pickled Elf aboard. You can take them as far as Fingold or even Sarnas that way” urges Cully. “You’ll be helping with diplomacy so it’s going to help you in turn.”

 

That’s the session more or less. It was really fun, and I got a good balance of danger. The well-seeded magic throw knives were decisive, they were shared out once Crompton was down and ensured all remaining Lizardmen could be beaten easily. Perhaps I was a little soft with the Naga – they were supposed to remember the holy water they were all armed with, and didn’t, and nor did I, but I will GM-hand-wave that in future and tell them they used it all.

There was a lot of gold and silver. Retrospectively I agreed they could make a job of carting thousands of coppers out and donating them to the locals. Maybe Jake’s town will become a boom town!

All told there was plenty of AP to boost stats with, especially after a generous end-of-season ’rounding up’ from a kindly GM. Everyone has somewhat adequate SPD and there are some good DEX and LK out there too.

And that’s it for the season!

Props

As mentioned the basic set piece comes from OP3, Peat’s Bog (op cit). The pix of temple and statue with the PDF edition are great by the way, very evocative. The temple layout is out of Dodecahedron 2015 (op cit) again, this time it is Beneath Crovet’s Tower. The contents are out of &Magazine’s (op cit) Area Builder again, making ‘Naga’ 100% encounter and with a light rewrite to line some contents up with what people on the outside might say about it.

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Loot from the Ravenswood – not valued yet

Items that were kept out of the Ravenwood

Gems [2 each]: Pink Pearl
Gems [3 each]: Amethyst [Probably about same value as pearls]
Jewelry: Silver Broach [Looks valuable]
Jewelry: Silvery Gemmed Broach [Obviously of great value]
Jewelry: Silvery gold earring
Jewelry: Gold pendant of House V’laskas [I recall as being left with the tax money but may be wrong?]

Brown leather satchel with 305gp, 1,400sp
3 x small leather pouches of silver powder – Fennec has these

Weapons: Polearm – Fauchard (12′)

Armour: chain coif [made of steel; with a wolf symbol on it that is indigo in color]
Armour: hauberk [made of silver]
Armour: [suit] padded armor [it is red in color; with a pegasus symbol on it that is emerald in color]
Armour: [suit] banded mail armor

5 waterskins of holy water [these have been shared round], glass jar of holy water [Fennec has this].

Junk and oddments: Set of wooden teeth, wooden holy symbol of Zolman/Ikvalu [the senior god] [I recall this as being left at Ravenswood?], a spherical, glass bottle of clear liquid, small leather pouch of green powder, bottle of yellow cloth dye, brass knuckles, jar of glue, iron pan, tinderbox, thief tools, dented bronze lamp, small bronze mirror, cloth bag of crushed herbs, bottle of dark hair dye, 40 feet of twine, grapnel weighing 100 wt [Jotunn has this].

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TI1.12: Lizardmen Can’t Jump, or, Battle Beyond the Swamp

 

 

The characters for this session:

Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracker)

Crompton, Level 2 rogue (background: Runebearer; talent: roguery)

and NPC Hazel, their little pony

An introduction to Jake’s town

We rejoin the four restorers of Ravensdown as they recuperate in Jake’s Town, just over the southern border from Burchardt’s demesne. Except for Crompton all are wounded.

Jake’s Town is a cluster of simple huts on the trail south: a few of which could be described as houses. Jake’s house is the ‘big house’ and is a solid story-and-a-half, mostly stone walled. Joe’s forge is partly stone, and a few other huts have some stone in the walls. Otherwise walls are wattle-and-daub or timber-and-lathe. Structural timber is solid. All are sturdily thatched with the local reed. Given the season and the natural dampness of the hamlet it would take a real effort to set any of the huts ablaze.

A few small patches of garden lie between the hamlet of 61 souls, and a stream that runs more or less due south here. Across a sturdy stone and timber bridge lie cultivated fields and a few farmhouses. Beyond those, the ground becomes swampy though two razor-back ridges, also running north-south and surrounded by stony hillocks, separate the fields from the real swamp.

There’s a camp of fisherfolk nearby Jake’s Town, but across the river. Almost everyone distrusts fisherfolk, but even in the first few days the Dwarves have made contact with them and have heard about lizardmen in the swamp, and have the offer of a boat-ride into the swamp or to the River.

 

The defenders await the call

In the meantime, the four are lodging with Joe Smith who repairs their metal armour as best he can. They also buy a whole new set of swamp boots from the fisherfolk, to replace the battered boots they walked in with.

Jotunn cleans the arquebus, and Joe Smith refurbishes the looted arbalest that it can be used normally. Fennec is pencilled in as arbalestier. Crompton makes an effort to befriend the pony they stole from disgraced Mayor Bolton, and announces its name is Hazel. Jotunn makes friends with Hazel more readily.

At that point in their stay, they are approached by Sir Cully of Lucas, who needs bounty-hunters.

 

Don’t call me baron, I work for a living

Cully Lucas, bluff and direct, looks more like a sergeant at arms than a knight; his voice is roughened by drink and shouting. He is called away on campaign across the River so needs the Lizardmen in the swamp hunted down, along with anything that’s bossing them. The bounty will be 5 gold per distinct trophy:

“They don’t have ears, right? But something that only comes one per Lizardman… a left toe or what have you.”

Cauleigh, who is doing the talking, confers privately with the other three. It seems light, but on the other hand if they bargain for free board, food, repair and so on it might be adequate.

Cully agrees and extends the offer to include assistance getting to Fingold – escort across the first leg of Quisinias to the west. But then he assigns the Dwarves the task of getting the village defensible and protecting the villagers. To go with that, he’ll give them authority of corvèe. It’ll be like being taxmen and lords all rolled into one.

Well it’s a big package but they accept. Cully passes over a worn, silver-headed baton, and rides off to join his baron’s campaign, and the Dwarves divvy up responsibilities, and begin meeting villagers.

 

Never volunteer – old jungle saying

Not surprisingly the villagers are hard to convince about following orders or preparing defences. Jotunn helps Cauleigh gain their attention [they share 7 AP each]. Shamefacedly three pikes and a few tatty gambesons are drawn out of hiding, and seven villagers are admitted to the defence army. Three other sturdy men seem fit for it, but they resist the urgings of Cauleigh and Jotunn and Crompton.

Now to see what can be done for defence!

Sprightly, winsome little Siembud (aged approximately 13) tours the Dwarves around the hamlet and they learn what is explained above. The pendulous-breasted matrons of Jake’s town look on and mutter darkly. Siembud lives in the big house, Jake’s house, where dwells Siella the hamlet’s matriarch. Later Siembud organises her friends to go out, picnic-style, to feed the wood-cutting detail.

It seems to Fennec that walls could be fashioned connecting up the hamlet’s huts in a crude barrier. And it seems to Jotunn and Cauleigh that an abatis of sharp stakes could surround Jake’s town to force attackers to pause in range of crossbows. That will quickly run through all of the local wood, so Crompton cheerfully agrees to bring Hazel and help Jotunn and some villagers cut more lengths, suitable for spears.

They’ve decided not to defend the bridge, since Lizardmen can swim the stream easily; and that the further farms will be evacuated when comes the time.

The other major parts of the defence are making spears – Crompton pays Joe for iron supplies and the smith gets to work – and building a lookout onto Jake’s house since that is sturdy enough for it.

 

The wood-cutting party is not without incident

Armed with bow (Jotunn) and axe (Crompton) two Dwarves escort a party of villages west, to cut timber. By all accounts the woods might run into the next demesne. Siembud volunteers to cook the midday bread rolls, along with three friends of hers. Hopefully their mothers will help! The four girls organise a picnic and follow the menfolk. Hazel the pony is there as well, to help drag the timber back.

The spring woods are peaceful and the menfolk busy themselves with bow-saws and hatchets, cutting suitably straight poles. Jotunn can see that mounted men have ridden the area extensively though not very recently. There’s an odour of charcoal, too.

The bread rolls are more akin to damper than muffin, but they are sustaining. But then the picnic is interrupted. Horses can be heard. Five men at arms ride slowly out of the woods and rein in not far away.

The two sides study one another for a time. The wood-cutters are nervously silent and the girls are pale with fear. On their side, the men at arms wear livery that probably began life as a common colour. It has weathered poorly and varies from brown-red to dull purple. Their gear is worn but cared for and their horses are not lathered or blowing. Each favours an open face kettle helm and has an armour-breaking sword – a braquemard, falchion, hand-and-half or estoc hangs at the cantle of each.

“Who’s your spokesman?” asks Jotunn, reasonably. He’s aware of his deficiency as a spokesman.

The riders don’t reply right away but their glances suggest a grizzled veteran might be leader. After a time, the man jerks his chin at the group and asks:

“What’s doing here?”

“Move along” says Crompton in as menacing a voice as he can manage, which is to say, not menacing at all.

“Hey there girls, looking for a good time?” asks one of the youngest men, ignoring Crompton. He knees his horse a little wider so as to get a better angle on them.

“Like I said, move along!” Crompton repeats.

So challenged, the man studies Crompton, swings down off his horse and draws an Estoc. It will punch through Crompton’s Lamellar like a needle into a pincushion.

 

Combat!

Crompton (bravely) decides to tough out round 1 to see what the balance of the fight is, and lull the warrior into a false idea of his tactics. Crompton’s superior weapon (the ancestor axe) allows a draw, both taking a few hits and some damage to armour.

Then Crompton uses his strength and low centre of gravity to get inside the Estoc’s range and overbalance the warrior. It doesn’t quite work, and he takes another nick through his armour.

The third round, he feints to do the same move then shifts to a sweep, and [with a big DARO on DEX] gets right past the Estoc and topples his target. The warrior is severely hurt and surrenders.

“Load Bugel up boys, I reckon the Dwarf made his point,” the grizzled spokesman growls.

Instead of looting, Crompton backs off cautiously and the other four men at arms help their comrade back into the saddle.

“You’re tough… do you ride?” asks the grizzled veteran, preparing to depart.

“Never tried! But I could do…” responds Crompton!

“Ah well…” and so saying the men at arms withdraw quietly.

[Later, Cauleigh’s player, who had been biting his tongue, asked why they didn’t attempt recruiting the men at arms. Crompton had plenty of cash on him. On the other hand, any CHR roll would tend to push confrontation into hostile action – as Crompton’s effort showed! So probably the best outcome possible was achieved.]

 

The fisherfolk map shows some possibilities

With work in Jake’s town well under way Cauleigh and Fennec visit the fisherfolk to see if they can learn anything further and if they will ally with the villagers.

Headman Pedrocollo, floreate but dishevelled, strokes his mustachios and regrets:

“We are river folk… we go with the flow. If these Lizardmen come, we move on.

“But hey,” he continues, “you following on the trail of the adventurer? He visit us a while ago, we show him map.”

“Map?” asks Cauleigh alertly.

At this point the GM proudly hands over the player map from Evening Session #2, demonstrating he does prep a little. The Dwarves copy the map and take it back, with thanks.

Although one option is to boat around and hit the swamp direct, Crompton wisely suggests they “clean the trail” so everyone benefits and an escape route is gained.

The trail marked allows the four to plan more than heretofore. The common consensus is that there is an undead menace, really close to the farms, so they ready silver weapons, spells, holy water and pouches of silver powder. And after inspecting and encouraging their trainees and builders, and a few last days of recuperation, they are ready.

 

Cleaning the trail

It’s a fine day, for the season, and the four make good time over the bridge, across the farm lanes (carts, not wagons, are in evidence) and across the barren verge beyond, which in wintertime will become bog. A crumbled stand of rocks that might have once been a barrow stands clearly visible.

As the Wight rises and attempts to close three crossbows snap, and then various silver weapons are wielded. Fennec snaps off a minor cantrip that enchants Jotunn’s axe, and the fight is over.

Fennec exclaims, “Stone! My wall-builders have been short on stone since day one! I’ll just shoot back and tell them….”

While Fennec trots back to Jake’s town, the others heft stones aside and dig down. The Wight guarded a cluster of throw-knives… and nothing else. They are filthy with mud and damp and have lost their edge but are undamaged by time and rust. Crompton tentatively calls dibs on them, since they are lighter than a crossbow – and 200% cooler. When Fennec returns, he checks them for magic, and confirms that they are.

 

A trail over the ridges is found

The next landmark is a Lone Grave. But before they reach it, Jotunn’s wilderness eye picks out an older trail branching off from their own old trail, southward. It runs to the closest ridgeback, suggesting an alternative route.

“This is perfect weather, we have maybe six hours of clear daylight. We might not get such a chance again. Let’s try it,” Jotunn suggests.

 

They follow him along the faintest of trails, up through hillocks and knolls, onto the ridge. He cuts sign of reptile life, and they are all bothered a little by midges. With around two hours of full daylight left, they make a notch on top of the ridgeback, allowing an easy path to the descent.

Looking north and east, beyond a ridge line, they can see the swamplands laid out before them. The swamp trees and flax grow too thick to pick out the ruined temple that’s supposed to be in the midst. But it doesn’t look as though there’s a dry path in.

Pressing on down, they cross the lower slope of the second razorback ridge and reach the edge of the swamp. It’s a scramble down more than a steep drop, but it confirms that this is not a great escape route and that there is no easy path. The hills are blocking the sun now and it’s time to find camp before it gets fully dark.

They camp up on the notch, munching their waybread in a cold camp. One Dwarf guards per shift and they tiredly head back next dawn.

 

Back on the main trail: the first bounties are taken!

It only takes an hour descending swiftly, now they know the trail. Again, Jotunn cuts sign of a few large reptiles but nothing tackles them. The lowlands are still fog-bound.

Swinging hard right they soon meet the lone grave rising up through the mist, an obelisk or similar, wherein runes are deeply carven. Crompton spends a few minutes trying to decipher them, then gives up with a shrug.

But a very short distance east of that, Jotunn and Crompton are swept off their feet by two crocodilian beasts!

Combat!

Cauleigh instinctively crashes his axe onto the croc bearing Jotunn away, and that sturdy Dwarf wriggles clear.

Crompton is in deep trouble, but he uses his Bic Flic inside the Croc’s gullet, and the reptile vomits him out and flees. [40 bonus AP for a life-saving reaction!]

Cauleigh then must needs take the brunt of two Lizardmen, since Fennec (wisely) tucks in behind. He survives, thanks to his sturdy breastplate. Then Jotunn joins him, and to prevent the Lizardmen “setting” Fennec hits one with an OGA. He’s now nearly powerful enough to drive one away, but it still works as intended and it takes terrible damage trying to get to Fennec. Crompton joins the fray, casting Bic Flic onto his mace-head (mainly for effect). Then as the remaining two Lizardmen retreat, Fennec uses another OGA to draw them back, and they kill those as well!

 

Loot, and Jake’s town militia grows

Feeling that the 15-minute working day has been well-spent Fennec suggests a rest back at Jake’s town so they retreat after taking trophy feet and looting the Lizardmen ambush-site of a spool of good wire, and one sturdy spear. In fact any and all Lizardman weapons are looted since the villagers have so few.

 

The success of their hunt draws one of the three sturdy shirkers onto the militia. Two other villagers admit to being able to use hunting bows. The militia number ten! And just as importantly Joe Smith has finished adding spear-heads to shafts and with eight pike- or spearmen drills look more realistic.

 

A purple-clad taxbringer arrives

“A stranger approaches! South!”

The lookout system is working, and militia are hurried to posts while women and children stand ready to rush into Jake’s house, the one defensible strongpoint.

Things are tense although the stranger is alone and afoot, for he wears purple livery. Doesn’t that sound like the men at arms? But there is no danger.

“I am the tax-bringer for Sir Cully, serving House V’laskas. My name is Barad-dur.”

“An ill-omened name!”

“Could be worse, could be ‘Mordor’” quips Fennec.

“I bring bounty, and I’m also to see how you are getting on with your power of corvèe.”

Barad-dur admires their defence efforts – “splendid, splendid” – and less fulsome about the bounties. “Hmm, fifteen gold,” he mutters, flicking the coins off a much larger stack.

He bids them good-day and heads south into the river mist again.

“If only I had more iron, I could be makin’ more’a them spear-heads” Joe comments.

“Crap!”

Crompton runs to Hazel, clambers onto her back, and [with an excellent DEX SR] trots after the tax-bringer. He orders the iron. Then he returns to Jake’s town and the 15 gold bounty repays him for the earlier payment to Joe.

 

 

The Lizardmen attack!

With barely a pause for breath, or so it seems, an alarm goes up! Lizardmen, three bands of them, are swarming to the stream and bridge! They have overrun the farms and it is too late to save anyone!

“Pikemen with me! Archers to the walls!” Cauleigh hollers.

One group of Lizardmen has the bridge and is speeding over. They can cover ground faster than  Dwarf. A second group is north of the bridge and a third group is south of the bridge and slightly closer to the village than the second group.

Fennec sees a bold chance for encouraging the defenders. He rushes out of the one village entrance left, towards the abatis. As the Lizardmen get within a dozen paces of it he gestures and casts:

Oh Go Away!

Two Lizardmen impale themselves, trying to get to Fennec. But of course, the others in the bridge group break the abatis down and rush after him vengefully.

BOOM!

In a roil of smoke Jotunn’s arquebus claims another Lizardman – he can’t miss against such a mob.

To Cauleigh’s alarm the militia are upset by the noise rather than emboldened and he struggles to keep them with him. The bows and crossbows let fly uselessly. Leading from the front Cauleigh lets Fennec rush past him and to safety, and stands at the point of a wedge of pikemen! It’s enough to firm the militia up and three more Lizardmen die on the pikes. Spears stab, then Jotunn and Crompton join the fray and the Lizardmen are thrown back behind the corpses of the first wave.

Then the second group of Lizardmen arrive at the walls. They can’t jump, so the wall, low though it is, has stopped them: and they begin breaking them down.

There are moments to decide: Crompton and Jotunn pull back out, to switch fronts.

It’s a moment that brings a rolling crisis!

Jotunn ducks and weaves out successfully [L2 DEX SR] but Crompton is smashed by a Lizardman [takes what he missed by off CON].

Their retreat panics the militia!

Cauleigh fails to keep the men together!

[Opts to fail forward]

He flings his shield accurately at the furthest man’s knees, bringing him down. With a roar of aggression, he cries on the militia and they form up again.

 

Fennec has switched as well, using an OGA to force two more Lizardmen to try to clamber over the wall instead of breaking it – they are easily dispatched by Crompton and Jotunn. Then he repeats the exercise and is done for the day!

Cauleigh’s gate group slays several more Lizardmen who are having to clamber over a Cauleigh-high pile of dead. As the third group arrives on the village north wall, the other two groups give up and flee.

“Quick! Up to the platform! Count the number fleeing!”

Fennec sprints and vaults and climbs in time to count 24 retreating.

All told 15 dead Lizardmen are accounted for.

“So with that many slain, I don’t think they’ll be attacking any time soon!” Cauleigh concludes. The villagers agree: the last two sturdy shirkers join up.

So with 75 gold all but received, it’s time for the four defenders of Jake’s town to rest, polish and sharpen and plan the next foray.

 

Props

This session had an increasingly Seven Samurai feel to it. So I should give props to Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven and Battle Beyond the Stars, all of which I own and enjoy. But we didn’t go fully down the tribute path. Jotunn’s player thinks the Three Amigos should also be given props.

The village and swamp concept is from Frank Schmidt, OP3, Peat’s Bog – an adventure in Filbar, a reworked 1-page dungeon. I down-graded the village concept to be a bit more Seven Samurai-like, and as usual all NPCs were my own creation.

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TI1.11: Restoring Ravensdown!

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, L2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracking)

Welcome back! After a couple of weeks absence we are back with our heroes, as they investigate the Ravenwood for traces of a missing taxman (and more importantly, 10% bounty on the tax). Having survived a Lizardman ambush they head deeper into the woods on the trail of something big with hobnail boots which retreated into the nearby stream.

They find a tunnel by being shot from it

The first burst, so to speak, along the steep-banked and slimy stream takes our heroes deeper into the Ravenwood where the outside world can no longer be seen, though raven cries still sound. Jotunn takes a couple of minutes to charge the arquebus and he, Fennec and Cauleigh hand their packs, cloaks and other spare gear to Crompton, pack pony for the time being.

Jotunn then explores cautiously along the stream [forgets to ask for his hunter bonus, misses L1 INT SR] until he takes a crossbow bolt under his left arm! Cauleigh and Fennec leap to the edge of the stream’s bank and catch a flicker of movement in what appears to be merely shade under an overhanging tree. Cauleigh steps back, and makes a running leap across and down into a wet-floored tunnel mouth! But whatever fired the crossbow has retreated…

Meanwhile Jotunn has the bolt removed [24 off CON!] and after some minute of debate the Dwarves agree to pursue into the tunnel. Gear is tossed across, then Jotunn and Fennec follow, and with torches lit, and Crompton safe up on the opposite bank, they set out.

 

There is a defence!

The first issue to solve is what to defend with, and what to have ready. Jotunn elects to keep his spike shield for offense-defence, with a torch in that hand; and his broadaxe. Behind him Cauleigh follows up with torch and Dwarf Axe, shield on back. Fennec brings up the rear juggling a crossbow and his wizard staff, both two-hand weapons. Luckily he is strong enough to fire the crossbow one-handed.

Jotunn catches a glimpse of a pair of eyes, which withdraw right, so he is ready for an ambush-point. The footing is slimy and the water is knee-deep, so he needs to move carefully. But he probes forward too carefully! The Lizardman tackles his axe, pulling it down, while another rushes him from the front – and he is stuck using his shield alone!

This is a tough combat, but eventually Cauleigh scrambles up tree-roots on the tunnel side and drops around on one flank, evening the match. The two Lizardmen flee, wounded.

 

The Dwarves push forward through fire and iron

Pushing forward in pursuit the Dwarves find themselves on stone footing, but still sloshing water. Jotunn flings himself aside as an iron javelin is hurled from a far passage. Three Lizardmen use the chance to rush forward!

In the ensuing melee it’s a contest between the sturdy Lizardmen, who are able to brace their tails to get better impact, and the canny Dwarves, who use desperate stunts to turn the tables. The unseen commander flings an oil-bomb over his Lizardmen, but it is safely avoided. Finally Fennec lures one Lizardman away [OGA again], Cauleigh ties up an unwounded one in an uneven match, and Jotunn finishes the most-wounded. Once he is free to rescue Cauleigh, that decides the fight – but all three have been hammered to weakness!

 

Up a stairwell without a firing solution

Using the javelin or dart as a probe, the Dwarves explore in search of the leader. A scraping noise alerts them, and they push through a ‘throne’ room where he has dragged something hefty off a ledge, then to a tunnel he must have gone to. Jotunn narrowly avoids a deadfall, then they scramble after the retreating leader.

Distant sounds of hobnail boots lead them down a long tunnel to a wider room with a stone stair leading up. But at the top, the Ogre awaits!

He pushes his heavy chest down, disrupting the advance, then hammers at Jotunn and Cauleigh, breaking more of their armour and forcing them down. As things look desperate, Fennec advances past them, and hurls his trusty OGA again, and the Ogre rushes him, leaping the chest! Fennec runs down the stairwell at full pace and Jotunn and Cauleigh take a free hack at the Ogre’s legs as he emerges. With all three able to fight on good solid stone, they take a few more nicks to armour but slay the Ogre. Cauleigh lops the fearsome Ogre’s head off with venom: those repairs to armour are bound to be expensive!

 

Rescuing Ravensdown’s people

Hoping to find a captive taxman, or at least what happened to him, they wearily explore that top level. They find evidence of the taxman’s death, along with his guards. But they also liberate a small number of Ravensdown folk, including John Johns and his surviving daughter and Boss Hobb, Jenn’s husband.

The top level also offers a view over part of the Ravenwood. Crompton is summoned and the rescue proceeds. The burial of remains of villagers and guards killed and left in meat-storage is attended to, as well.

 

Restoring Ravensdown

The evidence suggests that the Ogre, along with his Lizardman minions, had an accomplice in the village. As the Dwarves lead their survivors to the village, the strangely young crone tells them that she has warned Mayor Bolton they would succeed. Amid the joyful reunions and tears for the slain, Mayor Bolton congratulates them fulsomely.

They are too important to be left at the Johns’ shack, so by common consent they stay at the Mayor’s house. They meet Mrs Bolton, an acidulated matron full of everyone’s affairs.

Crompton is detailed off to watch the Mayor to see what he does…

The old mill, and a new twist

The following day, rested and with their boots and clothing dry if not clean, the trio begin the chore of looting. Crompton trails the Mayor, who journeys a short distance to the nearest hill-stream where sits an abandoned mill. After a short time the Mayor emerges and heads back to his village.

Amidst counting over the loot and gifting the less-portable, less-exchangeable items to the village, the trio hear of this development, and head over to the mill.

There’s little to see. Cauleigh checks the millstone and sure enough, in one of the grooves is a rolled twist of paper:

“Adventurers have succeeded. What do I do?”

Cauleigh proposes buying some time by changing the note. With a piece of Fennec’s paper and Crompton’s forging skill, a new note is left reading:

“Adventurers stumped. They will leave soon.”

 

Leads to a change of admin in Ravensdown

Detailing Crompton to keep watch for who the message is intended for, the trio head back and confront the Mayor. It could go horribly wrong but Cauleigh is convincing [L1 CHR] and the gifts and freed prisoners have the village on his side. Mrs Bolton clinches the deal by hissing “I told you you wouldn’t get away with it!” and no-one bothers backing the Mayor [L1 LK all round].

Boss Hobb seems to be the next most senior figure, as leader of the Hobb community.

 

Misfortune leads to a hasty departure

The old temple, if that is what it was, gave up many treasures and a variety of near-useless oddments. Chief among the treasures is the taxman’s takings, along with his authority on behalf of House V’laskas, and his gear and the armour of his guards.

Crompton stumbles miserably in, full of cuts and bruises, to announce that he saw the blackmailing guard from Burchardt’s keep slip into the mill, but the guard also saw him! And he was lucky to get away with his life.

Cauleigh hastily readjusts the original plan, which was to claim the 10%, keep all the rest of the loot, and buy at least one horse from the baron.

“He’ll have worked out that the note is fake, and be off telling the baron some new story blaming us for everything! So let’s leave all of the tax money here and head in a different direction!”

They claim the Mayor’s pony for transport and no-one seems inclined to stop them. Boss Hobb suggests they head south, towards the next demesne, and use the fringes of the woods to avoid leaving tracks. There’s a small village just on the other side of the border named Jake’s Town, they could rest up at.

 

So with pony laden with a couple of nice pieces of armour, and a number of odd items not fitting inside their own kit, they bid farewell to Ravensdown and leave the bastardly baron Burchardt to his own devices.

 

I think everyone racked up quite a lot of AP, because each combat needed stunts to survive. (Remember, monsters aren’t worth anything per se.) Wherever the Lizardmen would get ‘set’ I would add a bonus equivalent to another lizardman. Crompton’s help (or at least share of damage) was sorely missed. Everyone was down to single digit CON by the time the Ogre died.

It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened if I hadn’t allowed Crompton to stay on watch at the mill. It’s one of those gilding the lily cases where putting two overlapping plans into effect goes wrong.

There was time to spare so I announced, as I do here, that there are only two more sessions left before I head off for an extended holiday.

Then we closed play with a short piece establishing Jake’s Town, which is hard against the swamp those Lizardmen came from… and there’s a local knight that needs adventurers doing bounty hunting.

 

Props

The dungeon stock, including Ogre, come from &Magazine’s Wizardawn dungeon generators (I had to use Troglodyte as the monster, removing their spit effect and stench) while the dungeon itself is Return to the Lair of the Frogs, Dyson Logos, 2015 Dodecahedron Cartographic Review. The deserted mill is a random draw from the Rural Locations deck of Concept Cards (Coffey and Hensel). NPCs are my own creation, as is the Vale.

 

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TI1.10: Delving the debatable

The Characters for this session:

Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracking)

Crompton, Level 2 rogue (background: Runebearer; talent: roguery)

 

Converting loot into spending cash can be fun, and Rothway is a safe environment where the lads don’t have to operate as a fighting team just to get their money. So, the bulk of the session is spent in citygaming converting the loot, and in spending it on useful stuff. I’ll summarise.

  1. Caskets of money: These two sturdy caskets endured the century or more of damp dungeon easily. Crompton makes a good L3 DEX SR (with roguery) and opens them without wrecking the locks. Total cash immediately: 1060 gold, 20 silver. Later, Cauleigh is offered 50 silver for the pair by one of his traveller friends from the Modest Goose, and accepts the deal.
  2. The book: Fennec’s book is one of the Travels through the Vale volumes but the endpapers have some notes about Ikkutas. This is the first Ikkutas ‘clue’ found in the wild. He hangs onto the book, or possibly leaves it at the Modest Goose, we didn’t discuss it.
  3. Silver plate: Most of the satchel of silverware is House Othenas plate, worth more to a collector than for intrinsic value. (Fennec’s sketched floor designs are also House Othenas.) Cauleigh invests 25 silver in taking one of Rothway’s assayers to lunch, and gets a referral to a Changer who collects that stuff. He gets an excellent price, 1000 gold. The Changer also helps identify the tankard.
  4. Dwarf Tankard: Unlike the Othenas plate, which takes a lot of polishing, a tankard of Dwarf design and bearing small Dwarf runes still gleams untarnished. It has a vague magic aura. Crompton identifies the runes as most likely Gira Dwarf origin. The Changer identifies the metal as mithril, and suggests offering it to an armorer if they don’t have a Gira Dwarf buyer. They offer it to Parsifal & Esq. and trade it for an off-the-rack Arquebus.
  5. Rings: These are run of the mill rings. Cauleigh makes a good bargaining CHR SR and the assayer gives him 15 gold.
  6. Arm-rings: More than one person identifies them as Northern Barbarian origin. The four delvers of Destone decide to hang onto them. Unluckily they do not meet Tothras or Beorn, who went home by a different route than the Troll-haunted Destone path.
  7. Eight garnets: This is an easy one, because Cauleigh’s own background allows him to spot the tiny merchant mark etched into each. Merchant-marked gems used to be common in Esgaroth and are still in use. Each garnet has a standardised value of 10 gold. The four split them evenly.
  8. Hobgoblin reward: Aside from the ten gold, which is spent getting back to Rothway, the grateful villagers of Destone hand over an heirloom, a globe-type bottle. It is magical, of communication school. Fennec makes a good CHR SR among his Wizard Guild colleagues: they recognise the item as being something that one of the Death Goddess’ commanders would have used to speak remotely to his Hobgoblin minions. They recommend Fennec sell it to an Alchemist, and he does so, for 135 gold.
  9. Silk: A mercer is recommended and buys the bolt of silk for 50 gold.

Gearing up in Rothway is complete

Rothway’s horse fair concluded before they got back, and they hear a yarn about a Hippogriff attack and the amazing actions of two Elves who turned the attack back.

Jotunn gets his breastplate completed and hands back his rented coat. He also test-fires the Arquebus, strikes up a conversation with mercenaries at the targets, and gets a nice deal on powder, shot and a monopod stand.

Fennec brings up the matter of buying spells: the others agree to chip in 200 gold apiece, if the spell is Poor Baby. And that’s what Fennec buys.

Our delver heroes are detained four days in all – because Cauleigh is paying Ponderblade to inlay that Ork-blade with silver and Fennec is learning the spell – and tensions begin to build around them. On the one hand, Sasha has goodwill towards them (or at least that’s what Crompton’s rogue acquaintance says) but they are now a tempting target. On the other hand, a merchant factor named Vasily would like to speak to them…

Cauleigh pays top price for a Parsifal journeyman to wire-wrap the sword’s hilts and Ponderblade offers to escort them out of Rothway and around to the west where they can set out on the River Way once more… for 20 gold. Ponderblade keeps a gigantic dog named Snuggles, which helps explain why he can’t afford a much better smithy. Snuggles is as big as a large pony: they leave with no problem.

And with no regrets about missing the chance to play Sasha vs Vasily factions, it’s time to move on.

 

Baron Burchardt, bastardy, and the missing taxes

It takes the Destone delvers about a week to traverse broad and rich Nan Roth using the River Way and they learn little more about the lands immediately west than they did in Rothway. There are two ancient estates, V’laskas being a minor presence and Quisinias covering the majority of the land to the Fingold border. Quisinias is riven with internal strife between up to four house septs, and it sounds as though V’laskas is much the same. “Look poor, pay the tolls, don’t get mistaken for spies” is the friendly advice. Bounty-type jobs might be on offer: there are all kinds of illkin filtering in from the north.

This is the period immediately before first shearing, and from all over western Nan Roth flocks are being gathered. The adult sheep have survived all winter and are impressively woolly. Wool-buyers’ carts roll towards Rothway.

Nan Roth’s western border is marked with vigorous patrolling by Rothway’s mounted troops and exercising by Rothway’s pike and shot bands. Bidding farewell to by far the best-regulated land they have ever known, the four trudge on in indifferent, drizzling weather, along a River Way that is no longer so well-maintained.

An unwalled hamlet offers a midday stop. A wagon wheel signals cart repair, a green frond a place to sleep, and a barley sheaf an ale-wife. It’s the ale they make for. The ale-wife tells them that they are in V’laskas lands, and gossips, slightly nervously, about the strange obsession of the local baron, Burchardt.

“He’s got a bee in his bonnet about bastards! He was born on the wrong side of the blanket, so they say. Everything’s the fault of bastards and if you are a bastard, I don’t fancy your chances. Though they do say he’s got no umm, patenty thingy and might not be a real baron!”

“But he’s got men at arms?” Cauleigh asks cynically, “So he’s real enough.”

By this time, three of the four are low in cash, especially Fennec, so are on the watch for chances to earn money. The ale-wife has more to say.

“They say the baron’s missing someone, or there are people going missing down south.”

Following her direction they walk along an inferior road south, in misty rain that cuts visibility. The lands outside the hamlet seem unpopulated, but the path rises towards a ridge-like series of hills at the peak of which stands the baron’s keep. Flags can be seen on the towers, signalling that the baron is home.

Taking wise precautions to not get mistaken for spies or attackers, the four first meet Edvard, sergeant to the baron and apparently a Horsebrother by descent, and then the household Burchardt. The baron’s features are strongly marked, one eyebrow twitches, and his eyes are dark-rimmed from lack of sleep. His wife is subdued and seems nervous of him, and his daughter may be getting slapped around.

The baron’s issue is not missing peasants, it’s a missing taxman. His riders searched the village hard by the woods just south, but found nothing. It will take people that can search the forest. He offers a ten percent bounty and estimates the taxman carried 1500 gold.

Crompton’s leer costs him coin

At the sight of the baron’s daughter Crompton’s eyebrows twitch into leer position. During the meal one of the baron’s men at arms leans in and tells Crompton he noticed that! And to prevent him passing that on to the baron, he’ll take a cut of the loot.

After dinner Crompton ‘fesses up and Cauleigh and Jotunn pooh-pooh the idea of splitting the reward.

“Take six gold to him, offer him three and let him bargain you up to six if you have to,” Cauleigh advises.

This works like a charm, the blackmailer takes three greedily, and laughs, and tells him he’ll be seeing him again.

 

The village at Ravenwood is almost hospitable

After a secure night’s rest, during which Crompton does not try to rescue nor seduce the daughter, the four delvers set out in heavier wet weather. The chill reminds them that shearing season has its risks.

A six-hour push south through land once fertile but now ill-tended, with unpolled copses and orchards turned wild, takes them to a walled village hard against a larger and deeper woods. They judge the stone wall to be higher than Palgwyth’s, but not by much. The gate-keeper, strongly eyebrowed and proudly nosed, bends to examine them and pronounces them Dwarves, with some surprise.

As to lodgings, after some thought the keeper suggests the Johns’ house, empty since the family left. He walks them no more than thirty paces down cramped lanes, kicks a leather-hinged door open, and ushers them into a bare one-room hovel. As to fire, for two silver he will bring them a bundle of wood. As to food…

“Do you object to Hobbs?”

There’s a Hobb widow, named Jennie Hobb-wife, who could do with the silver for cooking, or… other duties.

“Just cooking,” Cauleigh responds firmly, glancing at Crompton.

The four begin shedding sodden cloaks and armour, but next have to contend with a blocked chimney flue. Cauleigh manages this [L1 Dex SR] from the rooftop, using twine and a mace.

As the smoky interior clears a large cauldron, carried by a small Hobb-wife, appears at the door.

 

Jen the Hobb-wife has gossip to pass on

Fennec shows a gentler side of his nature and soon makes friends with Jenn. She uses the fresh vegetables she brought, and two waybreads, to produce a nourishing evening broth. To the smell of the delicious broth and stinking damp clothes she passes on all she knows.

  • The taxman left the village, as far as she knows
  • The village is known as Ravensdown, and the woods are known as Ravenwood
  • In old times, the Ravenwood was guarded by two tree sprites, but in one of the last raids of the Great War, an Ogre and his warband slew one of the sprites
  • The village well-water is pure thanks to the sprites. It rises in a spring and runs under the wall back through the Ravenwood
  • People do go missing, including her own husband, but also just move away seeking a safer better life
  • Gilg Dinckel says his wife went missing but she probably ran away
  • Mayor Bolton’s word is not to be trusted.

Once Jen has departed the Dwarves strip off and the warmth dries their clothes overnight.

 

The following day is brighter but promises occasional rain. Almost immediately they are out of doors, the four delvers are accosted by a screeching weirdo, a surprisingly young crone, who asks for her palm to be crossed with silver but says she knows about the raiders. She claims to have seen huge lizard-like creatures using the water-course.

And as they make their way to the gate, Mayor Bolton greets them preceded by his stomach. His eyebrows are large and dark and his nose large and prosperous. He is a smooth talker, but has little to offer aside from bland assurances that the missing taxman could not have been waylaid near here.

 

They follow the water-course to an ambush

All this talk of streams takes the four delvers over to the water-course that marks where the village waste-water heads into the woods. The banks are steep and slick, and once in it they would have a lot of trouble getting out. Although the wet land ought to carry scent well, Jotunn smells nothing out of the ordinary. Tracks there are a-plenty, but they are of the baron’s riders searching and not dismounting.

The only other thing of note is the unusual number of ravens to be seen, perched on the wall and the trees.

The best course seems to be to simply trace where the stream goes. Once under the canopy, only the occasional drop of rainwater disturbs them, and the footing is dry but a little slippery.

 

Crack!

 

Fennec is somewhat muffled by the leafy twigs of a fallen branch [makes L1 LK SR] and he is unable to help as four Lizard-folk charge two-legged at the others.

Combat!

The three Dwarves in the fight are encumbered by cloak and gear [-5 each] and the fight goes poorly at first, though their sturdy armour absorbs the damage.

A barking command sounds from the rear and the Lizardmen brace themselves using their tails and hammer down on the Dwarf shields. Jotunn, who has no shield, has his dagger knocked out of his grasp. But they manage to divest themselves of extra gear.

WHAM! With a flash of purple, Fennec joins the fray, sending a TTYF into the nearest. Cauleigh dives around it, taking a mighty swipe to his flank and losing his helmet, and swings his axe around, cutting its leg deeply. A second TTYF puts that Lizardman down, and the fight’s outcome is secured.

In the heat of the fight, Cauleigh is just able to glance sideways as whatever gave that earlier command rushes away. He glimpses a bulky form entering the water-course.

After the remaining Lizardmen fall – they fight bravely and to the death – Jotunn tracks around where Cauleigh saw the figure and identifies hobnail bootprints. Big ones.

“My powers are low,” Fennec warns the others.

But this is not one of those situations where they can rest up in the village, so they gather their belongings and set out in pursuit.

A good session, I enjoyed both legs of it, including creating random colourful NPCs on the fly. The road trip is working as hoped. Money runs low, look for jobs. In this session the Dwarves hear about likely bounty-killer jobs, therefore are primed for the type of job the baron offers.

I nudged a little to get talk started about pooling resources for a spell but they all happily chipped in. And they all understand that at Fennec’s power, it’s just to prevent death.

Props

This was a no-prep session aside from the treasure, most of which was simply assigned by me as appropriate. The Hobgoblin globe and the Dwarf tankard (though not the specifics) come from a treasure generator.

I mixed in, virtually at random, ideas and people from my own brain, ENSider’s Hamlet of Varseldorf, TheSkyFullofDust’s Curse of Ravenmere, and Goodman Games’ War-Lock.

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TI1.09: A ruin pays for itself!

The characters for this session:

Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracking)

Fear not the Hobgoblins, just be precise

We rejoin our heroes in the small but perfectly-walled hamlet Haislithveit, as they chow down at the local. Fennec realises he hasn’t taken his powders yet, and does so. Cauleigh is making good time with Baubri the dimpled and pretty serving-wench, and just as Fennec is about to say something cutting to ruin Cauleigh’s fun, the drug kicks in and the wizard face-plants into his pie. [Rolls a 3 on CON]

This creates a three-hour pause. Cauleigh learns that the Hobgoblin village near the northern border of Nan Roth is home to the charcoal-burners who service Rothway, so there is no need to circle round it. But be precise! Hobgoblins are very literal and need exactness in speech. [This relevant piece of information allows Cauleigh to pick up his L4 CHR SR AP!]

Once Fennec is mobile again (headache aside) they hit the road in blustery and occasionally wet weather. It’s well past noon so they overnight in another village a few hours later, choosing to get to the Hobgoblins in broad daylight thanks.

Something Crompton drinks there makes him very abstracted – almost as though he’s not there. Fennec takes him under his wing and pushes him gently along the road when he slows.

Destone, where Hobgoblins are what they say they are, literally.

Destone is a tiny place, dominated by a monstrous oak tree. Its few dozen buildings favour the dome, an unusual choice for these parts. Few Hobgoblins are in evidence: just some gaffers sitting in the morning sun. Dark, broad shoulders, slant dark eyes, short and silky beards. Ponderblade is of similar size and beard, and they wonder if he is a Hobgoblin. The mighty oak tree is at the hamlet’s centre and the buildings form a rough square around it.

The only active place to be seen is a tap-room, open to the square. Once they are seated on one of the clean benches there, a pot-boy (of middle age) finishes dealing with his three customers and greets them.

Fennec recollects the need to be very precise, saving some time. (Cauleigh tends to ask open questions, which can lead off anywhere.) They decide on various bits of cooked pig and a couple of different ales. Jotunn chooses double helpings of both. (Jotunn’s player has chosen to play up to his enormous CON, which is fun.)

As they ask as to the path north, Emren the hamlet’s elder introduces himself. He is human, and they learn a little of the circumstance that brought a small community of Hobgoblins here to replace folk who fled.

More practically, they also learn a small amount about the ruin and the danger there. Hobgoblins have stopped burning charcoal for Rothway, because of the dead men seen on the trail into the King’s Forest. The only sign of what may have done the terrible damage was a footprint left on a broken charcoal mound – a footprint as long as a short sword.

They decide that the first pass at the ruin will simply be a scouting mission. They ask Emren about accommodation, and he tells them the only accommodation is with Accommodation Girl, in Rose Cottage.

Accommodation Girl is, as far as they can work out, the hamlet’s prostitute. Her name is Rose, possibly because she lives in a house completely swathed in roses. Inside, tendrils of rose sway gently over the several beds. Crompton is put to bed – he seems quite pleased – and they stow armour or packs. Rose talks softly to her roses and they descend to cover the gear. Fennec is intrigued!

Freed from packs and extra weapons the trio make good time north and then north-east, and find the main marker, known as the gallows pole. A trail leads north-west off the path, into the thickets of the King’s Forest. Jotunn takes the lead, but the trail tells him nothing.

After some quarter-hour they reach the edge of a clearing and look north to see the remains of a defensive gate. The wall on either side is so crumbled that it could be clambered over easily by any fit agile Dwarf. Trees have grown up here and there across the clearing, but a mound and ruined keep can be seen beyond the gate. There’s also a suggestion of a very ruined building half-right, above where the ground drops away.

Scouting the ruin finds a guard

The trio skirt the clearing, staying within the treeline, hearing nothing of note above the gusting wind in the trees. They get a reasonably clear picture of the ruin. There are two other ruinous buildings below the keep. The best place to infiltrate out of sight of the keep is left of the gate, where trees have grown up on either side of the crumbled wall.

Jotunn is elected for this and scouts the interior, while Fennec and Cauleigh keep him covered. Jotunn learns little more, except that there’s a foot-trail off the path that runs between gate and keep-mound.

It’s quite late, so he heads back. As he bundles himself over the wall he’s slam-tackled by a gargoyle that dislodged from the nearest gate-pillar!

Combat!

All the combats in the ‘dungeon’ can easily be won by the Dwarves fighting united. I jazz them up with specific challenges. In this case, only ‘shock-effect’ replies can count against the gargoyle’s one-on-one damage.

Fennec throws down with a L2 TTYF, which saves Jotunn, who decides not to count double armour as is his right. (He’s wearing a rental!) 31 off CON nonetheless.

Cauleigh arrives with a nimble vault and leap (first use of magic gloves!) to smash down on the gargoyle, and the fight is quickly over. Cauleigh’s nifty silver-headed mace fits so well in his grip that while using it he cannot fumble while stunting, which is very cool. The mace-head is a little bent out of shape though.

They make swift time back to Destone, and rest up. Fennec shrewdly suspects Rose has some ability beyond moving rose vines, and asks. Sure enough, she can use her roses to trade their vampiric power for healing. Jotunn has a choice of losing STR or losing WIZ and chooses WIZ. It is slower but safer for a warrior. [It is 1:1, since I’m interested in the story not in penalising characters that get hurt.]

A second pass clears the upper works

Two dawns later all four Dwarves set off for a first real attempt, fully-geared-up. Crompton will be baggage-minder. The other three drop packs and spare weapons off with him at the gallows pole and head in.

Alert to a second gargoyle – they paid attention to Emren’s opinion that gargoyles are often found in pairs – they set up well. Fennec’s OTIS reveals the second gargoyle but its cover, the gate pillar, prevents them hurting it. Cauleigh goes in as decoy…

Combat!

This time Cauleigh’s fine steel breastplate saves him from any damage, and with a TTYF, a successful bow-shot from Jotunn, and his own readiness, the gargoyle is neutralised then slain.

They extend their search further, and as they near the mound’s stair – an easy climb where some previous baron has decided a proper military ramp is inconvenient – are attacked again!

Combat!

This challenge is about toughness. The two Tigran are very similar to Wulfan, but bigger and stronger. Failing a CON SR allows the Tigrans to knock a character over and fight with an advantage.

Jotunn is rammed off his feet by the pouncing Tigran [rolls a 3] but Cauleigh and Fennec deal with the second then come to Jotunn’s aid before he can be hurt.

However, this has nearly tapped Fennec out, so rather than heading in further with a no-spell wizard they declare his 15-minute working day over and head back to Destone.

Hobgoblins are willing to offer gold, so let’s do it!

Emren visits them as Cauleigh polishes his scarred breastplate back up, and talks to Fennec. The Hobgoblins are concerned about the days lost, and Rothway has sent him a note as well. Destone is prepared to go as far as a 10 gold piece reward! As Fennec seems hesitant, Emren throws in an offer of something the Hobgoblins brought from their ancestral lands. Unnamed, but valuable to a Wizard. Evidence is required though – a head of something huge enough to sunder bodies for example.

Jotunn makes the acquaintance of Lizard Hunter, the only Hobgoblin that does not use established paths around the forest (and the source of a non-pig option on the pub menu!) Jotunn gets a valuable tip on a simpler way to get to the north end of the clearing.

Back once more at the ruin on the morrow, the trio bring Crompton up with the baggage. [This happens repeatedly: assume Crompton is within hailing distance from now on.] Exploring cautiously again, and down the side-path, they next meet a small community of brownies or similar illkin of that size and disposition. Cauleigh negotiates with them but is not entirely successful. One slips away towards the mound…

Wasting no time the trio hastily ascend the mound by a decayed side-ramp and are in time for Cauleigh to hark by a broken gap in the keep wall and hear the brownie’s feet tapping down a stone stair. [L4 LK SR on an open ended roll!]

Fennec bravely proposes the old OGA bait trick, and as the Troll squeezes its shoulders out of the stair, he and Jotunn scramble over the rubble, and the spell is thrown. Jotunn acts as his shield and Cauleigh vaults into action at the same time!

Combat!

The question for this combat is whether the Troll can be prevented from its single-minded attack on Fennec. It is big enough to punch a Dwarf off his feet unless thoroughly beaten.

A little spite damage is suffered but the Dwarves get into action in a coordinated defence-attack, and Fennec is unharmed. Two more rounds and the Troll lies in pieces… which begin regrowing.

Fennec uses a Bic Flic (the fire part of It’s Elemental) to scorch the neck flesh of the troll’s severed head, and all that remains is to loot the ruin!

The dungeon, in summary

Well, not quite. The ruin above-ground has nothing at all of interest, but below ground there are a number of interesting features.

Feature 1: Troll leavings

The Troll seems to have preferred a comfortable clay bed with no ornament, but in a chamber opposite lie remains of people it ate. The Dwarves pick up three arm-rings and a few rings.

Feature 2: Curiously clear font with family crest

A T-junction has at its head a font set in the wall. The water in it is clear, and a family crest can be clearly seen through it. Testing it shows it is neither flammable nor acid.

Feature 3: Runes are bait for a trap

The left passage leads to an arch through to a chamber where a plinth and pedestal’s remains can be glimpsed but large runes are set in the stone passage below the arch. None of the Dwarves recognise the runes. Suspicious minds spot chip-marks around the plinth where a heavy circular iron cage has slammed down repeatedly. With little effort the trap’s lever is located and the trap switched off, but the room holds nothing of value.

Feature 4: A second font

A very similar T-junction has a very similar or identical font at its head.

Feature 5: Pit chamber

The left passage from that T-junction opens to a chamber whence can be sensed a darkness. Fennec detects something, and his spell is enough for the Wight to attack! However all three are ready with silver weaponry and the Wight does not get to contact range.

The pit the Wight has guarded for who knows how long contains an ancient perished leather satchel. Cauleigh is lowered and raised, bringing it back up. It holds a book, and clinking silver. Fennec retrieves his backpack and stows the book and silver there.

Feature 6: Troll store

The Troll stored meat taken on the road. The chamber is not cold enough to preserve the bodies of men and half a horse, so a putrid stench hangs over it.

Feature 7: Mysterious chamber of silvered design

At the far end of the same corridor that contained the Wight’s pit, a silvered inlay can be seen in the floor of a partly-collapsed chamber. One side of the chamber is covered in a great web.

All three react as a giant spider jumps but Fennec is not quite quick enough [misses L1 DEX SR]. Luckily this spider is a smaller, weaker type than the one they fought in Dudney Chasm, and he shrugs off the poison [L2 CON SR].

Feature 8: Pool of the Hydra

Something slithers back into a large chamber. In it can be glimpsed a dark pool, as well as the other half of that horse, and though the hour grows late they make plans for what might come out of it. Fennec moves a Will-o-Wisp in to hover over the pool and Cauleigh ignites his lantern oil and successfully lobs it to float burning atop the water.

Combat!

This challenge is about delivering enough shock damage to prevent the Hydra activating its breath weaponry. The Dwarves manage to do this and Fennec sears the Hydra necks again to prevent regrowth.

Feature 9: Bombed-out summoning chamber

One side of the Hydra’s great chamber is pierced by a broad archway. Beyond is a pillared circular rostrum or plinth, but whatever was at the centre of it has been obliterated at some distant time. Fennec speculates that a Hellbomb may have caused the damage.

Feature 10: Treasure with a nasty little trap

The far end of the Hydra’s chamber is littered with ancient crates and chests. The metalware has corroded beyond value but some baled silk’s inner core has remained undamaged enough to salvage.

These chests and crates cover a small niche-entrance and two sturdy caskets can be seen beyond. Suspicious minds think that is too convenient and detect the presence of a trapdoor that has to be crawled over to get inside the chamber. The trip-latch is found and made safe, and the two casks recovered. They are heavy enough to contain plenty of coin.

And feeling extremely pleased with their first ruin, the four Dwarves retreat bearing:

  • Troll head
  • Hydra head (just one)
  • Two hefty caskets
  • Remains of a bale of silk
  • Silver, various, plus rings and garnets
  • Book

It was worth going to full-session time, the Hydra chamber was a fun challenge with real treasure. These are very experienced players who took full advantage of a passive dungeon – one where they could take a quick dab then retreat back to a safe base. It was a shame Crompton’s player wasn’t there to enjoy it, but I’m sure now the others have a taste of a ruin-style dungeon there will be many more opportunities.

Props

Destone comes from Towns and Villages III though Accommodation Girl is inspired by a random draw from the Rural Encounters deck. I used the vampiric roses creatively as a way to supply healing. The monsters of the ruin come from &Magazine’s Dungeon Builder randomiser, though the brownies are my idea. The forest, clearing and ruin itself comes from and is a remarkably close version of the Evening Session Map 1.

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TI1.08: With streets so clean, and rule so fair [not sarcasm!] Armour up! We’re out of here!

 

Welcome back! We resume the adventure the dawn of day four in Rothway.

The characters for this session:

Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Crompton, Level 2 rogue (background: Runebearer; talent: roguery)

 

Fittings are taken and final smithy work booked

Day four in Rothway finds Crompton still a-bed after some sleepless hours worrying, Jotunn already off somewhere (silver arrows perhaps) and Cauleigh and Fennec breakfasting at the Modest Goose. Neither are too sure of their schedule, but a smith’s ‘prentice arrives to tell Cauleigh his first fitting is ready. They decide to saunter over to the smith’s street together, start at the armourer’s then walk up to Parsifal’s.

Their morning is enlivened with the spectacle of the local girls who took part in last night’s festival dates ritually lashing their boyfriends, using rushes.

But, the pair reach the smith’s without hindrance. The back-plate is finished save for rivets, and a close fitting of Cauleigh’s shoulders arms and neck takes place. With a ‘probably early tomorrow’ to cheer him along Cauleigh heads off.

Since they are close to Ponderblade’s alley Cauleigh proposes they stop in. Then, Crompton catches them up. He’s hoping Ponderblade will have finished up the lead part of his club. Cauleigh’s reason is less prosaic: he’s curious to know how much that orc-blade would cost for silver to be worked back onto its etching.

More than you can afford,” Fennec prognosticates.

Ponderblade eases back into his narrow smithy, brings the blade out, and lets the feeble light of the alley play on its etched surface. He strokes it lovingly. After musing on silver and difficulty he estimates at least 150 for the work, “more if you want the silver to stay there,” as he puts it. He’s referring to the options of pure silver or tin-silver allow and how much effort would be needed.

Cauleigh admits he doesn’t have that kind of money but hopes to, soon. “It’s not as though I’m getting offers on it,” Ponderblade comments and eases it back into wherever he keeps it.

Crompton is delighted with the club, or maul. The rough cherry branch has been transformed into a shiny black haft with red leather grips and as the lead head is still shiny silver, it looks amazing. [+2 to CHR when carried.] Ponderblade takes him through the signs of wear and tear to watch out for but says the cherry wood will last a good long while. Crompton tips him 10 gold bonus and tucking the crude silver ingot away heads for the silver-smith.

Meanwhile Fennec has been welcomed and hands over his staff. Since the work is booked in, he should expect to pick up the same evening.

Crompton catches them up again, having negotiated with the silver-smith and paid his fee. He is very hungry by now, having skipped breakfast, and munches two seed-cakes the ‘prentices hand guests.

Well pleased with these successes the trio think of other things to do.

 

An information broker implies what?

A stranger politely hails Cauleigh and seems interested in buying some information. This is Demūlan, dark and suave, nearing middle age, an information broker. But he gives Crompton the cold shoulder.

Uh-oh.

Agreeing that he will be at the Modest Goose that evening, Cauleigh bids him good-day and moves on.

 

Elves aloft, and diplomacy

As they turn into a main thoroughfare, a pair of Elves glide effortlessly past the trudging three Dwarves. Their Elven feet barely seem to touch the ground, their clothing is immaculate, and one lifts a haughty eyebrow at Fennec. He saw them on a previous day, at the up-market Blue Boar Inn.

Following their course with his eyes, Cauleigh notices the two northern barbarians, Tothras and Beorn. As the Elves pass the pair, one laughs a light rippling laugh. The barbarians react by grabbing their hatchets out!

“Stand easy lads, no need for blows!” Cauleigh tries, but his words seem to make things worse. One Elf whirls and a silent lance of light hammers into Fennec! He staggers, nearly out cold. [TTYF, 21 off CON]

Crompton hears rushing feet behind him: whirling round he finds two angry Horsebrothers rushing past him, yelling. A Horsebrother woman rushes to Fennec’s aid.

A melee is about to ensue when Cauleigh tries appealing to the Elves:

“Run for it! There’s no call for blood to be shed!”

Luckily these particular Elves have no chivalrous tradition. [Cauleigh makes his LR CHR SR] One takes to the air, the other dodges nimbly between the barbarians and darts away into an alley.

Once he is sure Fennec is alive, Cauleigh introduces the two sides to one another. The Horsebrothers have horses for sale, though they are here to buy in breeding stock, and the northerners aren’t fussy, so they head west.

Cauleigh and Crompton see that Fennec is under care of the woman, who will take him to ‘her camp’ so cheerfully head west after the barbarians.

 

Horse trader, and uh-oh again.

Although the horse-fair has not officially begun, deals are already being done. Cauleigh notices a horse-trader selling three mounts to an officer. The officer wears better gear than the hard-bitten riders they’ve seen outside Rothway; and carries a pistol at his waist-sash.

Cauleigh waits for the deal to conclude then admires the mounts and talks to the trader. Who again, cold-shoulders Crompton.

Privily, Cauleigh learns that word has gone around that Crompton is not to be trusted.

Well, there are ways of mending fences and Cauleigh advises Crompton to do just that.

From this point on, Crompton is on the look-out for a rogue, or at the very least an urchin who will know a rogue. His proactive attempt towards that falls flat, as he tries a crass gold-piece advance to an urchin, who simply runs away with it. [A near-miss on L1 SPD SR. As a fail-forward I offer Crompton the option of catch, but have clothing muddied. He opts to lose the gold.]

Crompton then tries the ‘sit in that place I was first approached in’ but apart from enjoying the pie, gets nowhere.

 

Rumours and cards and information-broking

With a bit of time to kill Cauleigh returns to the Modest Goose, plays cards with a few other travellers, and picks up word of the road west. He learns a little about Fingold, the next great estate, or realm, west. It sounds more medieval and draconically-run than Rothway. There are other options, such as travelling south of the river and around.

A steel-breasted soldier, not young, approaches him. This is Salk, a veteran of foot. He’d like to buy Cauleigh and Jotunn’s story about Tigley, if that’s all right. Cauleigh proposes instead that Salk introduce him to the person that really wants to know, and collect a finder’s fee. Salk says he’ll bring another soldier back with him, and conclude the deal, this evening.

 

A Horsebrother shaman, honour and shroom powders

Fennec stumbles south, out of Rothway’s walls, to the camp of the Horsebrothers. Hundreds of horses and dozens of individual campfires! The woman – who as far as Fennec has ever learned, is named Sky over rim – heads for a large, bleached, well-decorated tepee. A shaman, she explains in her terrible Vale-common, will help Fennec.

The wizened shaman has a near-colloquial grasp of Dwarf-tongue and explains the debt the Horsebrothers have to the Gira Dwarves. But all Dwarves are given honour. He breaks out some powder, tells Fennec to take some each half-day, and warns him it is powerful.

Fennec enjoys watching his fingers then passes out, waking up about three hours later with his head in Sky over rim’s lap, and her fingers stroking his forehead. And a monster headache. She brings him a Horsebrother version of a painkiller draft, and he soon feels well enough to walk back to the Modest Goose.

 

 

Meet Sasha Orc-slayer, boss of the Brotherhood

Demūlan calls in, and sells Cauleigh 6 gold coins’ worth of information about the Brotherhood – very much what he’s heard before – and 6 more about the basics of Guild power. Apparently a merchant factor named Vasily – who is foreign – has built a network of merchant houses with links to a number of cities. Vasily plans to portray Sasha as such a threat that she will lose Lord Roth’s trust. Fennec comes over all xenophobic and suggests a number of sinister reasons for Vasily plotting, but Cauleigh is more sanguine. Neither can see any immediate gain for themselves.

In good time, Salk and his younger comrade-in-arms Parro arrive. They have a deal, and escort Cauleigh and Fennec across Rothway. They chat amicably for the most part. It seems the brotherhood mercenaries are ready for any action west, though north east or south might also prove to be the trouble. If Cauleigh’s looking for work, the Roth docks, not far south, are always looking for good watchmen.

Their path has taken them to the south-west quarter, into streets that Cauleigh and Fennec can’t help noticing have more than their share of fully-armed mercenaries just chancing to lean against corners, and urchins in top stories idly dangling their legs and watching below. The streets open to a common court, and an old sturdy wood-built great-house or manor house. They are nodded through, passing outer chambers where women are cleaning and seeing to normal chores, then into a rush-strewn great hall.

Here Sasha holds court, so to speak, with her lieutenants. A great dark table, a lord’s seat beyond, and Sasha, brunette and still striking despite her forty-something years, sits on the seat’s arm and toys with her matched curved blades at the table, spinning them on their points. An old scar cuts a fine diagonal line across her brow and down her left cheekbone, but doesn’t harm her looks, and she has both her eyes.

“Orcs were my sketches… since then I have learned master-strokes. But one took from me a man I had just come to love, and though I took that Orc’s blade I can’t forgive him!”

Obviously, she wants word of the white-armoured Urukin they saw in the Deep near Tigley, and between them Fennec and Cauleigh do a good job of recalling all they can.

In return, they gain better, clearer word of Fingold the next great place, and Sarnas the key river-city where Fennec can expect to find some word of Ikkutas.

 

Crompton gets his silver-headed maul and Fennec his staff

Tiring of watching for someone who won’t appear Crompton has since returned to the Goose, and agrees to walk over to smith’s street with Fennec at his convenience.

En route, they hear a scream, just after Fennec glimpses a hooded figure gliding along rooftops and out of sight. Murder!

Ignoring that, they push on and Crompton is soon armoured again in his well-repaired lamellar, and collects his fine silver-plated maul from the silver-smith.

 

Fennec calls in on Parsifal’s again, pays the remainder, and collects his staff. They head back.

 

Rogues and apologies

The murder scene has been warded off, and a crowd has built up. Crompton watches for a pick-pocket. And spots one. He taps his shoulder politely.

“GAAH!!”

The thief jumps with shock, and runs, and those nearby check their wallets. Two are grateful for Crompton’s interference and the third wishes he’d got his wallet back before the thief fled.

Crompton has had an inspiration! He heads back to the dodgy gambeson-rental man, and asks for his help apologising to the powers that be. It works!

The rogue leads him to the manor house Fennec and Cauleigh have already visited. Crompton is admitted to see Sasha. She allows an apology as long as it is profound, so Crompton gets down and knocks head – after all none of his comrades are watching!

 

Silver arrows sorted – we’re ready to go!

Day five dawns. Fennec has had a good sleep after taking yester-eve’s powder, and is merely a tad morose.

Cauleigh picks up his back-and-breast, quality armour and ready in a shorter time than estimated. The smith tries to up-sell him on pauldrons, but he resists.

Jotunn has been about his silver-arrow testing and has a sheaf of them. Crompton reminds him that he’d like to take over the silver-head bolts, and Jotunn generously sets a very low price on them.

They make final plans for the journey north, to the ruin. Jotunn has been too busy to get armour fitted so he buys (or rents) a sturdy brigantine jack to go over his gambeson. All of them purchase a number of days’ worth of waybread, since there’s no guarantee they won’t be stuck in bad weather at some point. Speaking of that, they decide to buy a cloak each, to keep the rain off.

Boots and clothing and weapons are inspected. Crompton, with a great axe and maul and belt weapons and crossbow is feeling a little overloaded, but reassures himself that he can always ‘drop some of it’ as he gets into action.

They pass through the north gate, spotting a pair of ponies there. This is a topic they’ve discussed, but as Cauleigh reminds them, if they did buy some then travel to the ruin,

“Who’s going to mind them?”

 

A Dwarf wench has dimples, not a beard

The remainder of the morning, under clear grey skies, gets them to a walled village amid the usual well-tended, well-drained Nan Roth fields. This is Haislithveit, essentially a Dwarf place. There is but one tap-house, where a bustle of wagons, carts, dray-horses and the like allows the four adventurers to find a bench without remark.

A pot-wench finds them and Cauleigh immediately strikes up a pleasant rapport. Curse you Cauleigh and your 11 CHR! Her name is Baubri, which as she points out nearly rhymes with Cauleigh. She dimples charmingly as she tells him she’s sure she can see to whatever Cauleigh needs. [Cauleigh is allowed an open CHR SR but with no AP. He gets the best roll of the session, getting to L4, so I rule that if he can parlay that into something relevant he can take AP.] But before he can move to asking Baubri for anything further, the session ends.

 

Fennec’s player is most aggrieved at being zapped with lethal magic when not even involved. Death to Elves! Or at least that Elf. The powder’s effect (apart from +5 to CON for a successful rest after taking) was handed me by Fennec’s player who on hearing it was powder said ‘magic mushrooms!’ so that’s the way we played it. He played up to the idea, good stuff.

I had a couple of ideas about how to deal with Crompton’s last-session encounter. I’m glad I went with this one, it could have gone horribly wrong but good for Crompton to solve it, 20AP well-deserved.

I’m not sure which compass-point the mercenaries claimed they were most ready for war on, but it makes no difference, except to Cauleigh’s perception of whether he was lied to or not in the event. There’s some debatable ground between Nan Roth and Fingold so I’m thinking they said west.

So far Rothway has been very much a diary-based game, in spite of my original plan to make everything episodic. But I’ve changed my mind, and here’s why: the only AP being earned is from SRs and small bonuses for quick or clever thinking. This session I handed out a couple of 20s which is exceptional. The bonus is usually 5AP. Since SRs are driving experience, it’s appropriate to let players decide how much they want to concentrate on the local, low-level scene and how much on adventure. If they are happy to keep ticking over on L1 SRs and the occasional open-ender, that’s fine.

 

Props

Cities & Towns III from Art of War Games is the source for most if not all the little hamlets and villages the Dwarves will enter. It seems to fit the Vale backdrop better than the first two in the series, so expect to see it mentioned again.

Benjamin Gerber, Encounters-plots-places (http://trollitc.com/) once again provides some NPCs. Vasily, suitably shifted to Rothway, comes from it, and I’ve mentioned Sasha already.

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