The Broken Land Chapter Nine: Desperate measures

A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)

Characters:

  1. Binye, level 2 Thief
  2. Borer, level 2 Dwarf
  3. Elyn, level 3 Thief

NPCs in play:

  1. The chaplain, innkeeper for the renegade rogues guild in Gold Hill
  2. The goblin traders, seeking to make a buck
  3. The goblin guards, serving their own hidden agenda
  4. The constable, head of the renegade rogues guild
  5. Stedd Hardy, deputy to the constable and Elyn’s ex
  6. The broker, priest playing middleman between Lady Danforth and the constable
  7. Lady Danforth, instigating the uruk lord to attack Joseph’s Inlet
  8. The uruk lord and various deputies and minions

Threads in play:

  1. Finish scouting the location of the uruk lord
  2. Pick up any remaining details clarifying the white urukin’s status
  3. Report back to the Templars of the Holy Father

Chaos is 5

Mild spoilers: I’m mixing two very similar set-pieces from BHS03, the Bone Hilt Sword campaign, and Hamlet in the Gloaming. Reading what follows may affect your enjoyment of playing either.

Episode one: How th’ hell did we-all git hyar?

A blasted heath, before an ominous graveyard

“I gotta say – I off’n sez ta m’self, why th’ hell do these dumb humans keep on a-burryin’ theer dead? A body knows they jest a-gonna be rizzed up as a zombie or su’thin’… y’all about done that gate thar?”

The chaplain, a striking woman dressed now in martial attire, gestures to Borer for patience as Elyn and Binye exhaust their tricks on the gate.

“It’s ‘raised up'”, she corrects Borer gently. “And in them long-ago days of gold-minin’ profit, this here boot hill was founded on th’ beliefs of th’ Moon Virgin… burning was ehhh… well it weren’t agreed upon.”

“Waal let me ‘spostulate fer jest a minnit,” Borer retorts agreeably, “y’all’s done us a fine favour by ‘greein’ ta ree-store us our um, thingy whut’s bin took off us, but what-all’s th’ rayson y’all cain’t cee-reck that li’l problem afore we git our asses whupped by some more life-drainin’ types?”

“The ceremony ain’t somethin’ a body c’n jest snap her fingers an’ have done,” the chaplain reminds Borer. “‘Leastways, outside of a cathedral. Let’s use th’ time gladly an’ well, then we all know we’s friends an’ friendly like.”

Borer subsides into a mutter. Elyn looks over:

“Ain’t workin’. Trapped t’hell an’ back. Looks like we gotta get us over th’ wall, armour an’ all.”

“Y’all sure they ain’t some broke-down portion?” Borer asks.

“We could walk us some more. Ain’t likely them constables be ’round this way,” Binye offers. Not that he’s a bad climber, but Borer has his heavy armour back and the chaplain is an unknown quantity in the climbing-in-chainmail department.

 

A blasted heath, also round the side of an ominous graveyard

“This’s ’bout as good as we gonna git,” Binye decides, looking dubiously at Borer. Who sighs.

“Lemme shuck sum a’ this here armour, an’ I’ll climb better’n y’all.”

“We use the branch, get onto the roof a’ that shrine, lower a rope, an’ y’all won’t have to,” Elyn suggests.

“I c’n see a heap ‘a problems with that plan,” the chaplain worries. “I reckon climb th’ wall as all four, then deal with what’s beyond as a body.”

Eventually they do it this way: Borer sacrifices his plate armour temporarily, and they use that to prevent the wall-spikes (it is 9′ tall, with shards set atop) from stabbing or snagging them. Binye and the chaplain boost Borer, who is strong enough to haul Elyn up to sit facing him. Then those two shuffle back on the armour and help Binye and the chaplain, until they are all sitting:

“Like sittin’ ducks,” Borer mutters uneasily, rubbing his arms. The interior of the walled graveyard is somehow dim and colder by many degrees than the sweltering exterior. The lack of clear line of sight is bothering him. Not that they have any missile weapons, beyond a number of holy water vials.

Binye leaps down, making virtually no noise in his chainmail, and catches Elyn as she jumps, then they catch the chaplain (no heavier than Elyn) and Borer toses as much of his amour to them as he’s not sitting on, then drops down from a hang-down position bringing the last piece with him.

Luck’s on their side, and the sheltered spot under overgrown trees near the shrine help. A huge overgrown Elm tree provides complete shade. But indeed, inside the graveyard, the air seems thick and dim: no sun seeps through the murk.

Borer re-encases himself, and draws Harken. It glows brightly in the dimness.

“Aw great, a big glowin’ ‘git some hyar sign,'” Binye complains nervously.

 

Regrets, we had a few

“Pity them goblin’s ain’t about ta sign on fer stoopid undead-huntin'” Borer comments as the thieves steal around the shrine.

“Shh! Too smart f’r that. Guess we shot with luck meetin’ up agin’ with them,” Elyn retorts, “an’ having us an agreement fer later. Though I gotta say I was sure Binye guessed right, an’ Noregz is a agent of them Templars. Still, he d’nies it.”

Binye turns back, gesturing for quiet, but chips in: “If we’s gonna pine about our luck, throw in th’ goblins – Beareen’s tough fer a quiet wee type. Y’all tried ya best, Elyn. Best we c’n hope fer is Noregz gits his buddies ta send our message thru, an’ ta have chaplain here ree-store us, and mebbe hijack them weapons outta th’ old mine with her along of us. Huh, sister… or mother, or whatcha like.”

“Call me chaplain, like ever’one, an’ we’ll git along fine,” she retorts, “an’ like I says, I’m thinkin’ ’bout th’ deal. Let’s git us some con-see-cration, git you ree-stored, an’ see, shall we?”

 

Obviously the team are doing so much exposition here they should go act on any of the popular American crime shows. Let me break down how the emulators have brought this about.

It comes about as a confluence between two meetings with goblins, the rogues dealing with the chaplain, and what Elyn overhears when spying on the constable-broker meeting.

Goblin meeting 1: As we discovered, the goblin (traders) want to get a piece of the action here.

Broker meeting: Haggling about weapons. A complication later means that the constable delays the deal. Elyn overhears a lot of what the broker says.

Goblin meeting 2: After escaping, the rogues seek the goblins out, even though they don’t have their gear back. This is terribly risky,  but in this case I get NPC action, goblin guards, and find that Noregz has recruited 18 more goblins from the boatmen-tunnels back towards Ignorick’s realm and is neutral to somewhat helpful towards the rogues. He even agrees to carry a message.

In the background of this, I’ve rolled both threads being moved towards (hurray!) and have dealt with the broker’s faction in a little more detail to try to flesh out what’s going on with the weapon deal. Obviously the idea of moving weapons from Dolem’s Spire up into the Broken Land, after an attack on Joseph’s inlet, is far-fetched, to say the least. So digging around with the modules I locate the weapon cache with the remainder of the broker faction, in the abandoned mine that Brad had marked on his map. (It all sounds simple when you put it like that!) And it happens that the goblins know secret ways into that mine.

Finally, of the goblins I ask: If presented with a scheme, would they join in to hijack the weapon shipment, and thereby enjoy all the profits? (Unlikely) Yes.

Will the guards join the hijack? (50-50) No.

But if the rogues present them with the chance, will they join the shipment? (50-50) Yes.

So they’ll act as guides for the rogues’ attack? (Likely) Yes.

I throw in some results from dealing with the chaplain. Yes, she does want to restore them, but there’s a delay. (d12) 6 days. Is the attack on Joetown already happening? No.

Partly because it’s in the BHS03 path and partly because of the chaplain needing a proper shrine to restore them – and her own objectives – the scene becomes the graveyard. As mentioned it’s a composite of both modules and more than one location.

Is the chaplain also here? Yes!

Is this why she got their gear released? Yes.

 

Shrine of the moon maiden

Time to meet the chaplain:

C5, Init+1, ACT1d20, knows 2 L3 spells, 5 L2 spells, and 6L1 spells. In DCC terms her god is Daenthar, but in Vale terms I have decided she is of a variant of Bal-Uarda, almost the antithesis of the Templars.

Attributes: STR10 STA11 AGI15 INT8 PRS13 LCK11: Turns at d20+6, needs to score 20+ to be particularly useful. Hope she packed a holy mace!

Using the cover as best they can, the four creep around to the shrine door. It is chained shut, as though someone really doesn’t want what’s on the inside to get out! Borer holds Harken near and Elyn and Binye work carefully on the lock.

[Encounter check is clear, both rogues get an OK lock pick check]

“They ain’t too much I c’n do fer ya, not bein’ congregants-like,” the chaplain says quietly, “but I’ll git me an enchantment up. An’ anythin’ y’all c’n do, do it.” She concentrates and a pale light plays about her. Elyn draws her whetstone-enhanced sword and recites a cantrip that will make its first cut count [good spell check]. Binye readies Blood Spear and nods, and the two scouts ease the doors open.

The air within is as foul as though a hundred devils had smoked a hundred souls for a hundred years. Even Borer has trouble breathing. [STA checks aren’t too bad, not enough to stop anyone] The lead two waver but walk on, deeper into a well-like blackness…

Binye’s reactions save him! [LCK checks from Binye and Elyn prevent surprise] As a grinning, flesh-blackened thing leaps at him out of the choking dark he presents Blood Spear[burns 2LCK], and the fearsome wight impales itself. He still suffers! Impaled or not, the wight slams a grisly claw onto his neck and Binye moans as yet more of his vitality is leeched away. [5dmg from Blood Spear, wight inflicts 2dmg and drains a level – Binye drops to L1]

Careless of any other danger Borer raises Harken high and smashes it down onto the wight’s skull. It caromes off, leaving open bone [7dmg]. The chaplain attempts to extend her own protection onto the rogues, but her voice is thin and cracked in the foul air and nothing happens [weak roll, normal fail].

Elyn has moved around behind, and tries to ram her sword behind a shoulder-blade. It’s not the best of her attacks [although I can’t find anything specific in the rules, I’m assuming you can’t crit an undead] and the shoulder-blade takes the blow [4dmg].

It’s enough to weaken the wight’s grip enough for Binye to tear himself away: he throws himself back behind the chaplain, trying to stab with Blood Spear going backwards, and failing. As the wight lurches forward Borer ducks under its grasp and this time swings Harken up under the wight’s short ribs: the impact throws the wight back, past Elyn’s sword, which now simply bounces off [her blade enchantment is a one-round affair] and onto the edge of a stair: its weakened spine breaks in two! [9dmg from Harken, just fancied-up]

“Take care not to let her touch you,” the chaplain cautions. “See th’ fancy chain she’s wearin’? Give it me hyar an’ I’ll let her rest f’rever.”

A couple of hefty whacks from Harken removes the wight’s hands, and Binye uses Blood Spear to relieve the still-aware wight of its silver chain, decorated with the moon-symbols of her cult.

As the chaplain ends the wight’s time of torment, she explains that, as parish lore has it, this was once the priestess.

“They do say, thar’s a mighty pow’ful weapon hyar, weak’nin’ her power.”

The rogues look about with renewed interest. The shrine is mostly transept, four short wings in shadow. The steep stair rises to a mighty female statue on a mezzanine level.

Binye gestures up, Elyn nods, they walk carefully up using the sides of the steps to reduce noise. The statue has been seriously damaged: a titanic arm lies beside it and there are scratches and cuts on it: but its head is still atop, raised towards the night sky visible through some expensive crystalline panes above. They begin searching…

Meanwhile, the chaplain grabs Borer’s shoulder as he steps past her deeper into the transept area. She points to a shadowed wing:

“Ain’t jest shadders thar… thet’s web, thick web.”

“Fuckin’ spiders! Lost me some good buddies thet way. Whar’ y’all hidin-out, ya sumbitches!”

“Now th’ wight’s down, reckon I c’n perteck y’all from pizen.” So saying, the chaplain again focuses, extending her hands over Borer, and seems satisfied. [Makes a good Neutralise Poison spell check]

Borer walks forward, thoroughly protected but with visor up so as to be ready for the attack! But even so, not one but three huge black widow spiders drop on him, and one stings his exposed face [crit – but minimum dmg]. Perhaps thanks to the chaplain spell Borer fights on, cutting the spider’s thorax deeply [9dmg, and makes DC15 FORT SV].

Above, the two become aware of the danger to Borer. They grab the huge marble arm and stagger over to the balustrade, trying to match where a spider might be below…

Borer wields Harken mightily and is bitten in the face again, by the same huge spider. [nat 20 on FORT SV] This time his return blow severs legs as well as sunders thorax and sends it twitching in its death-throes away! [11dmg]

The remaining two continue to leap at Borer, as though enraged. From above a huge marble arm plummet squarely onto one, squashing it – followed by a squeal of alarm and the toppling Binye, who lands very heavily! [fumbles his check on ‘topple statue arm’, fails refl SV, takes 2d6 fall damage, burns LCK, damage reduced to 6]

The last spider now has two targets: then with a shout of defiance – or terror – Elyn jumps onto it, sword first [surprisingly little damage, doesn’t quite kill the spider]. As her weight bears it down Borer smashes its head in.

The chaplain hurries to Binye…

“He’s alive!”

What else is there to tell of the mighty deeds of the rogues? They make sure the shrine doors are secure then as the chaplain begins her re-consecration, make a detailed search. They find:

Loot

Chain of the goddess, given to chaplain

Mace of undead smiting (normal +1 against others)

Documents dealing with shrine business from back in the day, including a map.

Mythic: Is this the map they need for the location of the uruk lord’s tower? Yes!

Over the next few days ALL LEVELS ARE RESTORED!!

AP: Surprisingly low, because having a L5 cleric tips the odds in the rogues’ favour – but the big quest-related bonus for ridding the wilds of the wight, and finding the map, push them up to +30 above L4.

Chaos falls to 4 for the next scene.

 

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The Broken Land: Into the wilds – obliged to ya, ma’am

Chapter eight of The Broken Land continues…

A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)

 

Episode Four: Secrets of Gold Hill

Strange barely begins to describe events surrounding the Ironbridge rogues Binye, Borer and Elyn. Here at the Gold Hill Trading Post, they’ve seen through the facade of ‘rough wilderness trading post’ and are wondering how far to push their luck against what seems to be a renegade rogues guild.

Enter the chaplain

Next mealtime, things change. An empty plate is set in front of each of them. Obviously, they’ve crossed someone. But who? Stedd seemed OK. Elyn doesn’t think telling the innkeeper not to serve them is his style.

So far, they haven’t paid much attention to the innkeeper, just noticing in passing she’s a striking woman and seems popular with any number of patrons.

The other three elect Elyn to speak to the innkeeper. So she does, and learns something that both makes perfect sense and is hard to believe, all at once. But for the meantime…

“We’ve just signed on to do a couple of jobs for the innkeeper – and she’s also the chaplain here.”

“How’s thet work?”

“I guess they’re not big on praying much?”

Food is duly issued and they spend the remainder of the day innocently getting the lay of the land. Their missions (as far as Elyn knows) involve finding some fungi deep in the caverns, and maybe sorting out some evil.

“She was pretty vague… do well with the first mission, then we’ll see, sort of thing.”

“Aside fr’m not havin’ ta roust out our own grub, any r’ason we sh’d he’p her?”

“She does seem ta know quite a lot about th’ area, trails and such.”

“Waal I guess that means we just b’come good l’il parishonners then.”

A good size section of the hill is occupied by constabulary, and they don’t allow normal travellers inside. Some other parts are walled off, leading to monster-riddled depths. In the inn sections, there’s a couple of well-appointed chambers for visiting swells, and at present there’s one such party. Noone that knows, is saying who they are. It’s Elyn’s understanding, or intuition, that the chaplain isn’t happy about this party.

Outside, not far away from the hill, there’s an overgrown, fenced-off Boot Hill. It’s rumoured that insane necromancers (plural) roused undead and they haunt the place to this day.

 

A kiss goodbye

Lucky sneaks into Elyn’s room that night.

“Elyn? I got yore signal.”

“Lucky! I can’t sleep. C’mere…”

Lucky makes her way into Elyn’s bedroll and easily grabs Elyn’s wrist as she attempts a knife-stab. Then pins the other wrist. Lucky’s eyes glint greenish yellow in the dark.

“Did ya really wanna see me go thet badly? Silly girl!”

Lucky focuses her eyes on Elyn’s and whispers some instructions. Then she stoops her neck and kisses Elyn deeply. She lifts her lips from Elyn’s and the rogue’s eyes widen with fear. Lucky shakes her head in gentle negation.

“I ain’t drunk no more of ya vitality. B’lieve what-summever that chaplain sez if ya want – I like ya, Elyn girl an’ I don’t mean ya no harm.”

“But you did drain us, right?”

“Yeah… I guess th’ boys kinda couldn’t let me be. But with you, it wuz jest thet one time in th’ cabin, fust time we met. T’ain’t thet I do it special… s’just a nat’r’l fact.

“Waal, guess this’s g’bye.”

Elyn feels her wrists released and Lucky vanishes.

How all this happens

Way back as soon as they met Lucky I started getting strong sexual readings on Mythic results. At first I assume Lucky being a girl accounts for it. But the dice are telling me all three are attracted to her.

At this point the general introduction to Gold Hill, the ex-boyfriend and so on all happens. All through this I check if Lucky is still around and it seems all three rogues are still happy with her presence (and getting jealous of each other). In fact, they see her as their property. 

With the new day, things (as far as rolls go) seem to have intensified if anything. Then it strikes me:

Mythic: Is Lucky a succubus? (Likely) Yes, and cascades to trick friendship.

LOC: What are the succubus’ plans? This triple-cascades. It  gives me quite a lot to work with, but I’ll let that come out later. The main point at this stage is that it’s not immediate.

The chaplain, who is described in broad strokes in Hamlet, enters as ‘Introduce a new NPC’. She, too, has her own plans. A number of rolls, Mythic and LOC, point me to gathering some fungi from the forbidden caverns, and also ridding the rogues of their succubus. She does not plan to destroy the succubus, just drive her away. Elyn takes matters into her own hands with results as seen.

Mythic: Have Binye and Borer lost 2 levels? (somewhat likely) Yes.

Did Elyn lose a level in that last scene? (50-50) No.

Does Lucky quit? (50-50) Yes.

Chaos is 7.

 

Careful as you go

The chaplain hands torches down to the rogues once they find firm footing in the underground stream that runs swiftly through the rearmost passages of the inn complex.

“I ain’t sure how hard it’ll be. Y’all seem real resourceful. Some miners once met critters that rusted their picks, so watch out for that. An’ may the Lady protect ya.”

Each rogue must make at least STR or AGI as they fight the current. Binye makes both, and leads the way upstream. 

Chaos falls to 6

 

The tracks in the stream

It’s stiff going, especially for Borer, but his raw strength keeps him steady. A few minutes upriver, the current becomes easier to manage: the stream here is broader, and runs over a sandy bottom. Left and right, a broad passage can be seen. This then is a natural ford.

“Tracks,” Binye comments, as quietly as he can over the stream.

The others join him and try to guess what the marks in the sand might have been made by. But the stream’s swift pace has made that impossible.

Binye’s d+ is not enough to make up for his nat 1.

“I guess… other people?”

“If we turn right, that will be into the complex kind of area.”

“Sounds okeydoke. Let’s go.”

Chaos falls to 5

 

Harvest and a hidden message

Their guess proves inspired. A branch or two later the rogues enter a large cavern where the damp walls grow abundant fungi.

Elyn guides the other two, they all fill sacks up. Mission accomplished!

“Say…” Elyn drawls casually, “the job’s so easy I guess th’ chaplain ain’t expectin’ us back fer a whiles.”

“So?”

“Whyn’t we explore a mite? Reckon I’d like ta know if there’s an escape tunnel.”

Instead of heading back downstream to safety, they ford across, set the fungi down where they can  pick it up on the way back, and head deeper into the unknown.

Chaos rises to 6

 

That hidden door

Almost immediately, Binye spots something about the right-hand rock wall. He passes his torch close to it, then runs his hand over it.

“This hyar’s a door.”

Borer agrees and the two manipulate the rock open. A cunningly-concealed rock passage leads to an impressive set of double valves, with a massive relief of an skeletal scythe-wielding deity.

“Yeah… let’s jest leave this, OK?”

“Sounds good. Mebbe if’n th’ chaplain’s keen ta join in…”

The three head away, close the rock door and make a tiny mark to show where they can find the pressure point that opens it.

I check if they can notice this extremely well-concealed secret door with a ‘no way’ and get a yes. Binye gets to 21 on find trap. The decision to leave the temple of evil alone is a ‘has to be’ and I get a Yes!

Chaos rises to 7

 

Old frenemies

Although Borer and Elyn notice signs of something rigged, and Binye leaps nimbly back out of the way of the falling net, the warning noise gadgets tied to the rope have jangled and a dozen goblins rush out ready for battle! But several of them look familiar:

“Elyn? Binye! Dwarf Borer!”

Noregz? Zab? And’s thet Gbus back theer?

It’s not exactly old home week back on the simple bedding of the goblins. For one thing, they didn’t part exactly weeping on one another’s necks and vowing to see each other again! For another thing, there are a couple more new faces, local goblins apparently, who know the waterways and tunnels between this and Ignorick’s halls.

Beareen is once more the spokes-goblin. She explains the current scheme:

Gold Hill is the obvious profitable market here – even used and looted goods are being sold off well above normal prices. But the constables deal with only two types of customer – ‘official’ customers from the uruk lord’s stronghold, and wanderers. The goblins want to set themselves up as middlemen, moving goods between here and Ignorick’s halls, making money both ways.

“So ya want us ta negotiate, on commission,” Elyn suggests.

“Aye, the best deal gets the best price. And we still have many things to sell, if the humans will buy. Some things we could offer, to get a deal agreed.”

Beareen points to a variety of loot that they patiently packed out of Ignorick’s halls. Most of it, stuff the rogues looted for the goblins.

“And if we get a straight-up no?”

“Maybe… the next in line, has a broader view of commerce? Bad things might happen to the boss.”

Goblins, and hobgoblins, are part of the Hamlet backdrop. This is a set-piece as the caves are explored. But it makes sense that goblin traders would try to get a piece of the high-priced sales here, before they go deeper into the broken land. I ask:

Mythic: Are our old goblins among these goblins? (Somewhat Likely) Yes. 

LOC: What do they want? Stop legal, block masses – which I read, and confirm using Mythic, as disrupting the existing trade status quo to get their own piece of the action.

Mythic: So the goblins see the rogues as a threat? (50-50) No

As employable? (50-50) Yes

Will the goblins ask the rogues to act against the constable? (Likely) Yes

And bargain for the deal? Yes.

Chaos rises to 8

 

The arms dealers

The scene, the constabulary’s well-appointed assembly-cave. Although the bare rock can be glimpsed here and there, the constables have made efforts to make the chamber seem a genuine lodge-hall, with raised dais and broad assembly floor.

The constable, a senior thief beholden to Lady Danforth for this lucrative position, hosts a visiting priest, intermediary for Lady Danforth. Stedd is the constable’s second, and they are served by two pretty female constables, apprentice rogues to the renegade guild.

For his part, the priest has two trusted fellow-traitors with him, one the caravan captain, the other the weapon-master.

They have approached the constable direct, because Lady Danforth needs a crisis in the principality, and her previous plan for an attack on Joseph’s Inlet has fallen through. The current proposal is for a fair deal: high-quality weapons supplied in exchange for an attack by uruk forces. The constable will have to be go-between, since he’s in position here.

“Make sure they understand that the attack on Joseph’s Inlet is a show of goodwill – then the weapons will be released,” the priest concludes. The constable shakes his head, but he’s not really in a position to decline.

“I ain’t sure I got th’ kinda bargainin’ power y’all think ah do, but I guess if’n her ladyship is willin’ ta see ever’thin’ go ta shit over some pig in a poke deal, I ain’t got no say.”

This is a scene shift, remote event, and the meaning ‘haggle weapons’ allows me to pull out more of what’s happening behind the scenes. The priests’ definition comes later in the story but I’ve added him back in here.

Chaos rises to 9

 

Cavern of the chaos beasts

It’s some time later. The rogues, fungi delivered and with a restoration ceremony agreed on, are heading upstream once more.

As the light from their torches illuminates a natural cavern right, two monstrous forms rise onto hind legs, screech horribly from beaks like huge owls, and lumber on bear-like bodies to the stream – and into it!

Owlbears: Init+1, Attck+6 beak or +4 claw, ACT2d20, 5HD, 23hp each.

Initiatives: Owlbears, rogues, owlbears

Round 1: Do the owlbears advance into the stream? (unlikely) yes. Both owlbears miss, one fumbling, though not in any serious way. The rogues do not panic! Borer drops his torch to use Harken, but Borer and Elyn keep their torches. Binye slips as he slices up with a silver axe, but aside from getting wetter, recovers and falls back. Borer slices one deeply with Harken and Elyn immediately stabs that one, then [crits, extra attack, crits on that] jams the sword blade right in, killing the beast outright! Then she and Borer fall back too. The remaining owlbear seems to not care [ML fine] and follows.

Round 2:  Its next slicing claws also miss, and Borer and Elyn hit again. The three rogues pull back, the owlbear follows.

Round 3: Again, the owlbear cannot connect. Borer and Elyn once again strike with telling blows [Elyn burning LCK] and it dies.

Rounds 4-: the rogues guide the carcasses to float or tumble down to the goblin landing. Binye and goblins that have relevant skills skin the two carcasses.

Chaos falls to 8

 

Do we pretend to be owlbears?

Once regaining the owlbear cavern, the rogues search warily. It seems as though the beasts were let out through a cage door here.

There’s nothing of value to be found.

“So… I don’t see no good comin’ a’ waitin’ hyar.”

“Yeah, I cain’t think of none neither. Let’s head on upstream.”

Chaos falls to 7

 

The constabulary are not amused

It all goes well until Elyn gets confused about Stedd. Binye sighs and looks at Elyn across the prison cell:

“Jest ’cause ya used ta bump pelvises, ain’t no good thinkin’ he owes ya none.”

“Yeah, whaddya thinkin’ yelling out Stedd, Stedd, whar are ya ma darlin’,” Borer growls.

“I did not!! All I did – an’ I didn’t notice you sayin’ not ta – was call softly, ta see if he was around.”

“Anyhoo, rackon we git outta hyar, report no dice ta Beareen, see if we c’n claim somethin’.”

“Well… can ya wait for a couple hours? I got me an idea, jest take one person ta creep quiet-like. Pretend I’m still here, if anyone goes by.”

A number of secret doors are navigated as the rogues make their way past the constable’s secret getaway on the stream, and into the back portion of the constabulary halls. Unluckily they miss the vital secret door, to the constable himself. They reach the same well-appointed reception/assembly hall we saw above. Since Elyn also spoke to Stedd here, I ask: does Elyn yell out for Stedd? Yes. At this point, I use UNE to generate how the constable approaches the break-in. Surprisingly he would advise harmony. So Elyn takes a d+ into her PRS check. She gets a good roll. She then takes the advantage to a negotiation, on behalf of the goblins. Possibly Lucky’s secret instruction is at work here, but Elyn rolls a total of 3. The constable scores 12. No deal! 

Are the rogues imprisoned? (50-50) Yes.

Chaos rises to  8

 

Under a watchful eye

The warders are watchful but courteous. It’s more of a house arrest than prison cell. The rogues take advantage of this and soon, the warders are sleeping soundly.

“I got it from here,” Elyn reminds the other two. “Just snore loudly and look a lot.”

“‘Member, th’ constable come out b’hind us,” Borer reminds her as she slips away into shadow.

Some time later, she returns.

“I got some good news, an’ some bad.”

“Whut’s th’ bad news?”

“We prob’ly still gotta slip inta uruk territory an’ scout a path.”

“An’ whut’s th’ good news?”

“I overheerd a lot of what’s really goin’ on here. Seems like one of them Dolem’s Spire factions is tryin’ ta start a war – somethin’ like Gorgun found in th’ shaman’s letter. This Lady Danforth is behind it all.

“Oh,” she continues, “an’ I poisoned th’ constable’s secret door. Happ’n he falls fer it, Stedd might step in, or happ’n he don’t, we ain’t gonna be blamed.”

How this happens

Chaos check is fine, for a change. The rogues plan to slip out. 

Mythic: have they kept the poison from the bandit, Brad? (50-50) Yes. This is a sleeping potion. Elyn makes her handle poison check. 

She gets a great stealth check – for a change – and slips past the assembly room into the rear passage the constable had to have come from. 

Mythic: Does she ready a trap? (50-50) Yes.

Mythic: Is the constable ever watchful? (V Unlikely) No.

However, he does easily make his spot trap: he’s a L10 Thief after all! 

Mythic: Does he get paranoid? (Likely) Yes.

LOC: Who does he blame? Coolly powerful cascading to delay legal. He blames the Danforth cleric, and delays the uruk-weapon deal.

This is the stage I actually generate the Danforth spokesman, and find out about the conversation. The focus of the conversation is the last scene, so Elyn hears the terms of the deal rehashed. 

Chaos falls to 7.

 

The reckless prison break

The three rogues decide to take the opportunity to exit in the confusion, taking any of their gear that they could find to hand. But the alarm is raised as they leave.

“Shit! We’re not gonna get a second pass! Let’s git th’ hell out!”

Luck is with Borer. As they frantically look about for any kind of weapon, he sees a heavy mallet.

“Foller me! I got me a ruse!”

They pound through the passage to the escape boat, and Borer levels a mighty blow at the door.

“Borer no! That’s a trap!” Elyn shrieks.

“Shuddup an’ ack like we run down it!”

The door open, Borer whips left and opens the secret door they emerged from originally.

“We go through an’ th’ deadfall on the other passage falls…”

He throws the mallet through into the false passage, the three head through the secret door and close it as a mighty thumping signals a deadfall in the false passage.

“Let’s git!”

“Shall we take th’ boat?”

“Don’t be stoopid! If we leave even a trace, they gonna know we ain’t flattened and daid.”

Away they head, downstream afoot and virtually weaponless.

This escape scene starts off fine, then Binye fumbles his very first sneak roll. 

LOC: What’s to hand? Aggressively dull. It’s a mallet.

LOC: What can Borer do? Deceive portals, cascading to block pain. 

Mythic: Do they make the pursuers believe they are squashed in the fake escape passage? (Likely) Yes.

Mythic: Do they slip away leaving the boat? (50-50) Yes.

Mythic: Do they reach the lair safely? (50-50) Yes.

Chaos falls to 6, since they escaped.

 

Will the goblins help?

Within minutes they creep across, tired from the flight, to report to Beareen. They haven’t quite thought this through – but the goblins will expect a report. Elyn does her best, but even the best gloss on it is “there’s a big weapon deal going on, and we delayed it.”

The goblins aren’t specially pleased – but on the bright side, they aren’t vindictive. Perhaps they had no great expectations. Noregz suggests if the rogues do want to get out, they can use the passage back to Ignorick’s halls the goblins used to get here. He points two passages out, both useful.

But as for getting a share of treasure – that wasn’t the deal!

Lacking any brilliant scheme to turn things around, the rogues slink back to report to the chaplain, and ask about restoration.

There are no rolls required here, other than using LOC to see what Noregz (or any other sympathetic goblin) might suggest, and get: coolly lonely. I already checked the goblin attitude in the previous meeting so leave it at ‘you go your way, we go ours.’

Chaos falls to 5

Threads open:

All three threads are still more or less open. The rogues have reported back, in part; they’ve learned quite alarming news about the danforth plot which really is more urgent than scouting a location, and they’ve learned enough about the white urukin to rule him out as being identical to the uruk lord.

AP: Since finding their way into the wilderness, Binye and Borer dropped to level 2 (I slipped and fell into a succubus) and Elyn dropped to level 3 (I only fell into a succubus once, what was your excuse for the second time?)

But they have gained 11AP since.

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SB1.06: Temple + elements + evil

Threads in play:

  1. Investigate the hidden temple, bringing any normal equipment
  2. Seek 2,000 reward from Edensor
  3. Sort out which valuables are Edensor’s and send Celric’s remaining wealth (and spellbook once Edgar has finished with it) back to Celric’s kin; and claim the remaining coin as loot
  4. Continue to seek leads for future adventure or acts of errantry against Hextor

 

The characters for this session: 

Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert  

Edgar, wizard  

Barky, southron  

Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous  

With their NPC allies:  

Oswald, fighter  

Meeker, delving specialist scout 

Heading down

The team plus new-hired specialist Meeker assemble and check their kit under the eye of various warehousemen and temple officials such as Fr Sup Spearhavok. And Palfrey, who is minding Vert, Edgar’s little green dog. There’s a fair bit of kit, and some redistribution goes on – everyone carries a few torches, for example. Belmont is fairly heavily encumbered before he begins – or so he tells them – while Edgar volunteers to carry quite few extra things.

Barky is lowered the 10′ or so to what appears to be the head of a steep flight of steps, and with the aid of his quarterstaff and some not-very-nimble footwork, Edgar joins him and by the light of Edgar’s bullseye lantern the others follow.

 

The sandy chamber + fire element

Almost immediately, Barky takes the crowbar off Edgar and probes the steps. They seem solid enough. Meeker takes over and begins scouting, a little ahead of the others.

 

Two landings later the party pause, the last few steps above what sounds like something fairly magical in the way of chambers.

There’s a fairly long and broad rock-cut chamber, sand-floored and with what must be a magical brazier burning steadily about midway, centre. The bullseye picks up the start of steps back up, at the other end.

 

Sifting sand

Very conscious that this is the VERY FIRST dungeon they have attempted, the party takes this one step at a time.

Meeker probes the sand with the crowbar and finds the sand is deepish. He begins probing carefully in; then Thomas concentrates:

“I sense undead”

Edgar and Oswald encourage Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous, to get to the front.

“Thomas is the useful one against undead, not me” – Belmont

“I think of you as the holy one, based on his behaviour” – Edgar

“Good is not nice, such is the word of Saint Cuthbert” – Thomas

As the others wave Meeker back to the steps, Thomas detects specific undead locations such as a trio right nearby, below the sand. Perhaps ten more are scattered throughout.

“We should mark each” – Belmont

“I was going to suggest urinating” – Edgar

“Okeydokey” – Barky, hauling out his mighty hose

Barky changes his mind. He swaps to his two-hander and rams it down where Thomas says the trio are clustered. He triggers a trapdoor-trap, but does not fall into the narrow stone tube, or small well, where a trio of skeletons dumbly scrabbles below. The trapdoor resets itself and loose sand begins sifting over it. Barky scrapes some chalk over the area to mark it.

Then the party slowly makes its way across and around the brazier and to the far end, marking undead nests out as they go.

 

The water + stone chamber

The steps up on the other side ascend only a short way. Then they descend, to another chamber. This is unlit, but water can be seen, according to Meeker. The party advances, the bullseye brought to play, and it is found to be around 60 feet long, having a central path about ten feet broad, with a similar breadth of water on either side. There seems to be an open arch at the far side.

“I’m sensing an elemental theme” – Edgar

“Certainly a plumbing theme” – Belmont

“I heard the phrase, plumbing the depths, but I didn’t realise this was what was meant” – Thomas

“You’re all very witty” – Meeker

Examining the stone path in minute detail, and with a rope secured, Barky [nat 20 on search] realises there are loose stones here and there. They may topple the unwary into the water, or be for some more sinister purpose.

“Tell you what, use chalk nearby, to mark each dubious one” – Thomas, handing chalk to Meeker

As Meeker works, Belmont reaches out with his senses to sense evil. It seems clear.

Foot by foot, each is found and marked with a chalk arrow. The party move past to the far arch.

 

Precautions against evil airs

More steps, leading down this time, then up.

“Wait, Meeker. Take a lit candle…” – Edgar

“Time to see if the canary sings” – Meeker

Despite the wizard’s fears the candle merely gutters a little, and Meeker makes his way further, ahead of the others, and finds the steps descend again, this time to a lit chamber.

 

The chamber of evil

The chamber is venturi-shaped, the arch being the funnel tip, and more natural than the previous pair. Light comes from another brazier, again in centre. A large shape bulks up beyond, at centre of the wide end. It too has a sand floor.

Edgar explains what a venturi system is.

“Looks more of a shooting gallery” – Belmont

“Sounds like big temple to me” – Barky

The bullseye shows this shape is a vertical altar of significant height, and lashed to it is the desiccated corpse of a man.

Barky probes the sand, finding it deep.

Thomas again reaches out to sense evil and finds the whole chamber is faintly evil, but the figure lashed to the altar is very evil.

“I think it’s worth me doing a Detect Magic” – Edgar

Nothing immediately dreadful happens as the wizard concentrates, and he reports only the obvious – the brazier is magical, everything else is faintly magical.

“Barky, without touching it, see if the metal of the fire-pot is hot” – Thomas

“Yes, that would be worth a lot of money to an archive or bank” – Edgar

“Or, if the thing at the altar can only be defeated by magic, that’s magic” – Thomas

 

Preparations

Edgar and Oswald organise that if the opportunity is here, the quarterstaff and halberd can be used to stretcher out the brazier.

Edgar keeps his bullseye on the altar as Barky looks around, then more enter. The light [and a nat 20 on spot] picks up Nerull’s regalia atop it. This motivates Thomas [who makes the Religion check to identify the regalia] to Bless the group, then ward the southron. Barky scouts behind the altar: it’s fairly close to the wall and has a smooth curved back.

It seems time to either leave with the brazier, search for hidden cavities, or interfere with the evil dead. Thomas and Belmont vote the latter.

There’s some chitchat about dealing unpleasantly with the bound creature, but they really only have the “smash it up” option. The four (Thomas, Belmont, Oswald and Barky) prepare. Thomas hands Edgar his potion of healing. Edgar looks keen, and loosens the top, ready for trouble from the steps in. The four walk around the brazier, up to the altar, and ready weapons…

“1,2,3, smite!”

 

Combat

Smitey round:

As the thing is attacked, a tremendous scream issues from the thing. It’s hard to reach and incurs very little damage. [In fact they are just poor rolls, there is no athletic requirement]

Edgar casts Truestrike, just in case it breaks out of the circle.

Round 1: The wight slides down the altar and attacks. It hammers one iron-hard fist into Belmont, but the paladin resists its deadly draining ability. In reach properly now, a solid mace-blow from Thomas ends its career.

Barky comes out of his rage.

“Meeker – take the bullseye and head back to keep an eye on the water room – just in case” – Edgar

“Righto…” – Meeker

Highly pleased, the others work in the light cast from the reserve lantern, while Edgar waits with lit torch.

The fighting types knock the regalia off and smash it. The bits of wight-corpse do not react.

 

More evil

But the screech has done its work: and back up where Meeker went, a horrid scream echoes!

“They’re coming!” – Edgar

 

Edgar hurries up the steps to see if he can help Meeker (or that’s what he claims) only to see skeletons barreling down towards him! Casting Expeditious Retreat he rejoins the main group and reports.

Thomas arranges the formation, defensive, over the objection of Belmont who would prefer to advance, by Hieroneous! The group fighting formation changes from “shapeless blob” to “able to stand next to one another around steps!” – This is a major step forward!

As the last few steps through the arch descend past it into the chamber, there is room for three or four to surround them. Edgar stands behind the others, in a purely support/encouragement role, managing light and casting uneasy glances behind.

The other four smite skeletons, a lot, in two main waves (water-room then sand-room) and receive a few scratches but nothing that requires any intervention. Maces are found to work well, and Thomas’ magical mace proves extremely effective. The last skeleton is at last dealt with. Then the two braziers are carted out laboriously on at a time, and enough bits of Meeker are scraped up to make a funeral’s worth, and the session ends.

 

Threads closed: investigate the hidden temple

Threads in play:

  1. Seek 2,000 reward from Edensor
  2. Sort out which valuables are Edensor’s and send Celric’s remaining wealth (and spellbook once Edgar has finished with it) back to Celric’s kin; and claim the remaining coin as loot
  3. Continue to seek leads for future adventure or acts of errantry against Hextor

NPC removed: Meeker

AP: characters are very close to Level 3 now. 

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The Broken Land: Into the wilds – Lucky strike

Chapter eight of The Broken Land continues…

A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)

Episode Two: The Ruined Village

Chaos stands at 5

Threads: Scout the uruk lord’s base, report back

Not-quite-closed thread: Is the white urukin the same as the uruk lord? – the rogues received some elf history about the white urukin that have helped them considerably, but without definitely closing it.

NPC list

At first I thought that there are no NPCs, but in fact there are a number: the first four have a known reason to actively intervene, the second four don’t.

  1. Ignorick (and his minions)
  2. Lady Danforth (and her minions)
  3. The white urukin (and his minions)
  4. The uruk lord (and his minions)
  5. Goblin traders
  6. Goblin guards
  7. Cy
  8. Templars

 

Locations used here

Dyson’s 2014 and 2015 Dodecahedron both contribute heavily to the map I ended up with for this region. Certain locations are overlaid with more appropriate sources. In this episode, Barrataria Games’ Hamlet in the Gloaming takes centre stage, but with a more badlands vibe. Dehydration is the chief danger for those caught in the open without drinking water.

As usual I’m converting to DCC where I can, including factoring any wealth down.

And now, hoping to close at least one thread, we begin!

The bones of this country

While they are afoot and burdened by stores and equipment, the three Ironbridge rogues are far from despairing. As long as they don’t walk in the midday heat, shade among the crags offers some protection, and there are natural rock cisterns of water to be found. Nor is this a blistered wilderness with no resources. Although the secret exit from Ignorick’s halls is in a rock-girt canyon, woodlands are to be found nearby.

For the first hour they concentrate on gaining distance, trusting to the rock to hide their passage. Little do the three fugitives know that Ignorick, realising that Gorgun must have learned of his plans for invading Joseph’s inlet, has put those on hold, and seeks reconciliation(1). At length Borer points down a shallow valley:

“Lookit th’ way th’ rock ledges slope. I c’n pick th’ way this country’s bones lie. Runoff’d be like ta gather end of woods thar. Let’s check th’ timber out.”(2)

 

  1. The plan for invasion, and Joetown being the target, is something that was generated ‘way back when I set up chapter seven. It fit in with BHS02 remarkably well. So I decided it is part of a wider conspiracy around recovering the bone-hilt sword!
  2. I use nature lore here. A high result means entering the village from the east, where water is more potable, and a low result means west, where there’s a quagmire. Borer makes an excellent nature check. (Each has something in their background that might help, but nothing that I could call a d+. I call it a wash and go with a raw d20.

Chaos drops to 4

The ruined village

Encounters in the village are 1 in a d6, each hour (and extra triggered by conditions such as ‘kick door in’) while outside the village they are 1 in a d10, per 8 hours travel.

Having refilled canteens through a cloth filter, the three wanderers are able to form some kind of judgement about the scattered buildings they can see up ahead. They’ve worked their way round a rocky shoulder and stand at the east end of a small tree-enveloped clearing. Or, what used to be a clearing. Second-growth trees are sprouting here and there, and what may once have been foot-tracks are leaf-blown and largely lost to view. A main path is visible, and a bridge across the stream. There’s a ruin of buildings north and south, trees growing through a barn in the north group. The more tempting, in this near-noontide, are the south stand, where a real copse has formed, including an oak and vines.

“Let’s head there,” Elyn indicates, “we might find some millable acorns, or early berries.”

“Dang!” Binye suddenly sighs, “I c’d do me with some lovin’! Ain’t had me any fun since before we was arrested.”

“Ya’ll bett’r not be lookin’ at me with them cow-eyes, now!” Borer growls.

“And just in case I ain’t said it before, I’d rather run back out in th’ wilds an’ overtake Zudi!” Elyn assures him. “Hell – I’d rather hike to Joetown and see how’s Cy doin’!”

“It was jest a passin’ thought,” Binye protests as they make their way under the trees. “Near death does thet t’a body.”

“Yeah well I don’t ‘member Perrin nor the two mites mentionin’ no Hostess Parlour out this way. So keep it in yer pants.”

This exchange comes from an Ambiguous result on scenes. Meaning ‘fight love.’ I dutifully check if this particylarly involves the rogues and get a no for each, emphatically so for Borer and Elyn.

Binye makes a nat 20 on nature to deal with the water. Encounter checks are clear. The scene following the weird ambiguous result is clear – or in other words it passes its chaos check.

I do not, in fact, deal with whether Perrin Waldo and Gotovetz may have mentioned something about the region. I find it’s best to deal with information or gear when the immediate need arises.

Chaos is 5

Rest relaxation and what’s that sound of voices?

The three sip water in the shade of the oak, thinking of getting a fire going. Elyn has a quick look for berries (ripening, a few showing enough colour to nibble) and acorns (too green).  Then tired out, they all rest and let the water do its work.

Level four gains: Binye rises to 26hp, Borer rises to 25, and Elyn is lucky and moves to 19hp. Crit is now d16. Luck is d6. 

Time and the immediate danger of noon passes, and they stir. Was that the sound of voices? And from nearby?

Gingerly keeping to cover, they skirt the stone-built ruins inside the copse, and stare roughly south at a part-ruined corral and farmstead. Sure enough the sound of careless harsh laughter and brag, very familiar to them from time among ruffians, comes from over there.

I use tracking/listening checks here. Binye has the right background, his +d takes him over 20. The rogues have time to make plans.

Mythic: Did the rogues bring bows, crossbows or nothing? Nothing! Cascading to pursue prison. So they set traps up? (Likely) Yes.

Sneaking: adding their current bonus they make an adequate approach, which is all the module calls for.

 

Is this a problem? and what resources do we have to bear on it?

Some cautious scouting later, the rogues have worked out that there are perhaps four men, probably with a youngster or perhaps wee kin to make five, relaxing inside the main house, and a mule stabled on the property. One of the men is obviously a boss – just the tone, and the way the others defer to the voice, make that clear.

“How do we want to deal with this?”

“Say, these ain’t no miners. Ain’t no soul out hyar ‘cept bad men.”

“Yeah, killin’s got ma vote. Safer. Mebbe keep one fer questionin’.”

The crossbows were all used setting traps in the escape tunnel. They didn’t bother keeping even one short bow, which now looks like an oversight. That leaves throw knives and main weapons.

“OK let’s at least shorten the odds. One’s gonna set foot outside for somethin’, if we wait.”

“Sure, seems about right ta me. If’n we c’n knock ’em out, swell.”

Mythic: do the rogues want to negotiate? (50-50 – I kind of feel they are honed and lethal and unwilling to waste time now) No! So I skip the PRS checks and move directly to combat.

 

Murder hobos

Hiding: Elyn burns LCK and gets a maximum 6 out of her shiny new d6. It pushes her up to adequate, and the other two make adequate without the boost. The part-ruined dwelling the bandits are laughing it up in has one logical exit to the mule/shitter so that’s what they stake out.

Bandits: One leader (Thief 6, Init+2, 23hp) and four bandits (Thief 2, Init+1, 6-8hp)

Backstab: success. DCC backstabs provide that a crit roll is added to normal damage, the victim takes a lot more damage than he has hp, and dies.

Surprise round: The bandits look up in surprise as a fully-armored dwarf wielding a two-hander leaps in, followed by a chainmail-wearing man wielding a spear. The latter, Binye, thrusts poorly and the bandit’s light armour saves him. Borer makes no such mistake: Harken cleaves through the intended victim and he topples sideways. As the bandit leader measures his exit options and opens his mouth to order the others to attack, a short sword cuts at his neck, paralyzing his vocal chords.

Initiatives: Rogues, bandit leader, remaining bandit crew

Borer moves straight on for the leader, cutting backhand: the leader’s eyesocket shatters and that eye bursts. As Borer moves past, a smooth-cheeked youngster lashes out in what would have been a telling stab had Borer not been wearing his organic plate armour! Binye wounds his mark and avoids the counter-stab. He boxes the bandit into a corner and waits for the bleed-out to take effect. From behind the leader Elyn yells commandingly:

“Drop the weapon son! Ya got this one chance ta live!”

The youngster obeys, looking scared and very alone.

“Set right down agin! Let’s fetch us rope an’ git ‘quainted.”

“Urrgh! S- stop me bleedin’! Ya cain’t jest let me bleed here!”

Binye looks sourly at the bleeding bandit. “Any r’ason ah sh’d he’p ya?”

The bandit leader, with his hand clapped over his ruined eye, groans:

“Keep me ‘live – I’m Black Brad an’ worth more ta ya livin’ then daid!”

As the rogues begin sorting out fact from fiction – the kid agrees that the boss has a price on his head – Blood Spear’s victim dies.

Chaos rises to 6

 

Lucky

With Black Brad tied and roughly bandaged, and the kid sitting scared and quiet, it’s time for some leisurely looting. Brad has a very sketchy map of the area, a potion of healing, a vial of poison, five merchant-marked gems worth 100gp, and some coins. Between them the other bandits have less than 20 coppers. But the mule-ready chest in the room has hundreds of coppers!

Binye decides it’s time to get acquainted with the mule tethered outside the back door. He pats it, feeds and waters it, and names it Muley. Muley seems fine with this attention!

Back in the bandit’s room Binye finds Elyn sitting alone with the youngster. He looks as though Elyn has roughed him up. Elyn looks smug and flushed as though she’s put some real effort in.

“Where-all’s Borer?”

“He took Brad away, so’s ta keep th’ stories sep’rate,” Elyn explains, then continues:

“So, soon’s he’s ready, we gotta get us out. Lucky here tells me there’s a patrol of three more bandits out there somewhere.”

“Well, we got us a mule. I’m callin’ him Muley. We oughta git loaded. So ‘Lucky’ – anythin’ ya wanna tell us ’bout whar th’ trail leads?”

“There’s a big minin’ an’ delvin’ place yonder, name of Gold Hill” Elyn relays. “Th’ constable there should be th’ one as rewards us. Borer’s findin’ out as much more’s he can.”

“Gold Hill? I like th’ sound ‘a thet,” Binye comments, idly casting his eye around a little wider afield, and continuing:

“I allow ta find me some better duds. Couple these hyar ’bout ma size.”

“Well Lucky’s about my size, but I ain’t changing, I like him dressed the way he is.”

 

Questions about how much the bandits know about the uruk lord’s camp lead me to them bargaining to be kept alive, but not actually knowing anything. Then looting and mule-befriending lead me to check which bandits clothes fit which, and that in turn leads me to some surprise information about Lucky.

AP gain: I doubled the level of each bandit, they still weren’t much opposition since the rogues achieved surprise. 3AP. Possibly a bonus lies in the future if keeping bandits alive pans out well.

New NPC added: Lucky Kincade

New NPC faction added: The Constable

Chaos rises to 7

 

Episode Three: Gold Hill Trading Post

The trail to Gold Hill

Muley suffers the chest, spare gear, water and food to be piled high, and Brad lashed to a tether behind. Lucky knows a certain amount about the ruins – enough to tell them to steer well clear of a certain earth mound where huge carnivorous flies nest for example – and to avoid the trapped bridge.

Fording the stream – easy enough at this dry time of year – brings the little procession close to a grazing flock. Up on the slope above, watching from the late afternoon shade, a weatherbeaten shepherd and his lad.

Elyn waves, gets a cautious wave back, and walks up to talk. She returns with the useful information that the men are of a shepherd clan, which holds itself to be ruled by a uruk lord, not by the local constable. But they don’t travel into the uruk hold.

Ahead, the land rises, though still bearing scattered copses or stands of upland timber, and the trail leads to a well-rutted area, from which a few smoke plumes rise.

The trail leads them past a fixed encounter, Elyn makes her PRS check and the shepherd doesn’t, she gets a pass-by since that’s what she wants. If and when the story leads me to a trail into the uruk hold I can find out if she learned anything specific.

Chaos falls to 6

 

Pass on through!

Muley stops in front of a simple storefront, set in a natural cavern. Two armed men guard the storekeeper: they look pretty similar to the bandits that fell victim to the rogues. Behind them, as far as Binye can see, are a wide variety of stores. And two more guards.

“Howdy,” one of the up-front pair remarks, obviously determined not to react to the sight of Brad. “What’s yer pleasure, folks?”

“Howdy! Say… we got us a ring-tail polecat name’a Black Brad here, allows he’s got a price on his head, an’ we might be able ta fetch us that reward here?”

“Brad?” The guard walks around Muley warily and grabs a hank of Brad’s hair, tilting the ruined face to catch the evening light. “Waal I’ll be double-damned! Say – Brad – ya’ll’s gonna love th’ ‘commodation here!”

“Best ya’ll head ta th’ stables round left thar,” the other guard furnishes. “Tha stables let onta lodgin’s. Lemme jest ‘scribe ya names down fer th’ constable – he or mebbe th’ dep’ty gonna wanna talk ta ya, not jest hand ya th’ re-ward.”

The ‘at the trader’ scene passes its chaos check and there is no encounter. I check LOC to get any extra information about the camp. Elyn scores a nat 20 on her PRS check, which I deem will give her a bonus on future interaction.

Chaos falls again to 5.

 

The inn

The entire inside of the hill seems to have been quarried out into branching tunnels and rooms. The passages are lit with fire-beetle glands. Muley seems to like his quarters well enough, and the rogues’ non-valuable gear is dumped in the same stable. All four walk through to the spacious cavern – its roof a good 20′ above – wherein the trading house Inn lies. It’s mostly a makeshift tavern with quite a number of patrons, including shepherds and miners. Borer dumps the chest of coin down loudly enough to tell all paying attention these are paying guests! – and there begins a little dispute about rooms, and who is making sure Lucky doesn’t just wander off. There’s a choice of a common room or small individual chambers.

“Well, let’s have a look,” Elyn urges.

Some of the small chambers would be very snug if shared, but some are comfortable. The rogues, having slept under a wagon, or in nooks in caves, find them all good.

“I’ve bedded down in much worse,” Elyn opines. “Lucky an’ me’s got one, up to you two if ya want to share.”

“Oh no ya don’t! Jest ’cause ya found some milk-tooth lamb don’t mean ya get t’enjoy yaself – an’ me without a piece ‘a skirt. Lucky’s beddin down with one ‘a us. Borer – flip ya?”

Lucky looks a little bewildered at being treated like an object – but maybe he’s used to it, for he makes no protest. Elyn looks darkly after them as she readies her own room.

I’m not sure what they might do, so go with a meaning, inspect trials, cascading to ruin tactics.

The inn’s tavern will provide the rogues with quite a number of rumours. I check if the rogues actually do head to the tavern:

Mythic:Do they meet anyone in particular before the deputy meets them? (50-50) No.

Chaos rises to 6.

 

Framing the interview – Spoiler Alert!

Up to this point there have been only mild spoilers around Hamlet in the Gloaming, but around here, if you plan to play it, be advised that I’m revealing some behind the scenes stuff!

Prior to the interview I have to organise information a little. The interview is not set by the module, it’s called for because the module tells me the constable faction will look favourably on a party turning the bandit leader in. Elyn made a top-notch PRS check when doing that, and the rogues need to find out if they can get either information here, or at least find a trail beyond. 

What I want to learn is, how much does the constable know about lady Danforth’s secrets? (I’ve ruled that she is the ‘baroness’ who gave him his authority – simply based on conservation of dramatic arcs.) And secondly, will he care overmuch about three rogues in these circumstances?

Interestingly I get ‘trick power’ and ‘oppress advice’ on these points. I leave them to one side, since although they do kind of suggest he’s working on his own behalf, they don’t force anything. 

I also determine, based on the way the module frames responsibilities, that it will be the deputy who meets the rogues.

Deputy constable Stedd Hardy, Lvl 5 Thief.

 

Early morning shopping with Lucky

The rogues are awake very bright and early – they did catch a siesta yesterday, after all! There’s plenty of time for them to spend most of the coppers on useful gear, replacement boots, hard-wearing clothes and durable packs, and some fresh herbs and poisons. Prices are ridiculous but as Borer says, it’s like spending someone else’s money.

They also learn the whereabouts of a herder who keeps fast horses for sale – there’s a trickle of such as various outlaws arrive, apparently.

Binye shows he and Borer are aware of Lucky’s real nature when he – kind of fawningly, Elyn thinks – offers to buy her some proper dress for a woman. Lucky smiles and points to Elyn, not unreasonably.

“Waaiiittaminute,” Elyn protests, “you sayin’ ya found out about Lucky an’ still kep’ her?”

“She likes bein’ kep’, get me?”

“Huh!”

“Huh yer ownself!”

This round of petulance is ended when one of the constables steps into the store:

“Ya’ll bin called fer. Y’all c’n lay yer gear onna store, safest place fer it.”

“Yep, rent’s purty cheap,” the trader, a grave-faced devotee of some kind of local variant of Bal-Uarda explains.

“Jest a donation ta th’ chapel?”

“Nope, good copper, right hyar. Ya c’n tell her wuship th’ chaplain she c’n cer-leck it fr’m me. An’ thet’s about all.”

Apologies – this is really just side drama but I do need to show where a couple of rolls vis-a-vis Lucky went, and introduce the trader. I use UNE straight for him, but grab the module’s deity.

Chaos is 5 – the Lucky effect has already been introduced earlier

 

Not someone she wanted to meet

“You!”

“You!”

“Shee-it!”

“Ya name ya ownself’s character!”

“Uh, Elyn? Want ta ‘splain ta us what th’ hell?”

“Ah, right, Binye, Borer, this’s Stedd. Prob’ly as pleased to see me as I am to see him. Stedd, this here’s Binye an’ Borer an’ Lucky, Ironbridge Rogue’s Guild. Which same ya orter know, ya shit.”

“Hey! You walked out on me, as I recall!”

“S’prised ya can remember, with yore face buried in that whore’s tits all th’ time I was packin’!”

“Yeah, well… anyhow, th’ agreed re-ward’s here. 250 silver, less a handlin’ fee an’ goodwill bond, leavin’ 125 silver.”

Let us draw a veil over what follows, and simply sum up: the rogues leave with silver, Elyn reminding Borer, once away from other ears, that had it been the goblins, they would be leaving with 25 coins, not 125.

 

From where we sit

The four find seats in a noisy-enough-to-be-private corner of the tavern and confirm how things stand. But first what Elyn’s story is.

“So, Stedd… I gotta say Elyn, ya ain’t know fer bein’ man hungry. That is ta say,” Binye adds diplomatically, “I ain’t never seen ya womanisin’ either.”

“Present comp’ny excepted,” Lucky smirks. Drawing an old-fashioned look from Binye.

“That scum’s th’ main reason I stay away from low-down rogues an’ vagabonds. I get me a man, he’s gonna be a stand-up type.”

“Ya mean, like some dumb meat-shield?” Borer wants to know.

“I mean like a normal, decent guy as doesn’t wander an’ rob for a livin’.”

“I hear they exist,” Lucky encourages her.

“So whadda ’bout you Lucky? What’s yore fam’ly do?”

“I’s a smuggler from a younker. Larned me th’ best ways ta take goods up ‘n down…”

“Younker! Ya barely hatched an’ sayin’ thet!”

Binye yawns, feels as though that’s enough, rounds the talk up:

“Lemme summarise, an’ tell me I miss a thing. We ain’t like ta find no trail in fr’m hyar, ‘least not fr’m jealous Stedd thar. An’ his boys seems ta be rogues guild renegades, or thieves fr’m all over. We c’n git us another mount or two, but prices here are like ta clean us out if’n we stays too long. An’ finally – these old tunnels we ain’t s’posed ta wander round – couple things ta think about, while we’re here!”

Most of this comes from the interview-with-Stedd material. There are a lot of cascades, and I ask a number of direct questions using Mythic, to clarify a few points. The key piece of information, that Stedd is someone Elyn knows, is triggered by her getting a nat 1 on PRS check. 

There’s one piece of information left hanging, which is ‘refuse a path’ and this point, my clarification does not enlighten me on, so I leave it. Quite possibly Stedd simply told them not to wander round the complex – that’s standard in the module – so I drop that into the summary above.

NPC added: Stedd Hardy, Elyn’s ex and deputy constable

Chaos rises to 6

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The Broken Land Chapter Eight: Into the Wilds

A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)

Welcome back! The three Ironbridge Rogues Guild survivors Elyn Binye and Borer have experienced many a strange twist of fortune since the Templars press-ganged them into becoming scouts. They are currently experiencing the strangest yet!

Episode One: Escape from Ignorick’s Halls

A special forces elf

“We’re going to need to open the door, sneak very quietly down to where the alchemist pots are stacked among the gear, locate the right powder, throw it over the guards, deal with any survivors, wear their armour, set the captives free, negotiate with Gorgun, and somehow… sneak out.”

“Are you serious?!?”

“These are all individual tasks that can be dealt with one task at a time. Don’t think about the entirety, focus on the immediate.”

Borer shifts impatiently:

“Lookit Elyn, Binye, I dunno how come Zudi hyar’s th’ boss but she makes better sense than Gorgun. Fust thing is, git me outta this dump. Once I latch onta Harken I’ll back me agin’ them Red Guard.”

“I’m not the boss. But I’m telling you, this is a no-way-out death trap, unless we get out together. And so far, I count one plan.”

By this time the rogues have a feeling for the layout. Their cell has two gates, one leading to the narrow passage they were pushed down, the other a connecting gate to where a couple of uruks are prisoner. Some of the voices come from a point more or less directly out the passage gate.

Elyn and Binye easily undo the lock – it was never designed to resist a lockpick – but now comes the hard part. They work carefully on the hinges. Time passes. Zudi has plenty of time to explain herself.

Zudi is a special forces elf, transformed into a uruk, come to find and rescue a trio of elf nobles who, by the sound of it, tend to get into trouble. (And her name isn’t Zudi, it’s Winda, but they tend to forget that over the next hours.) The withered corpse in the shaman’s bed was one of the three. The other two are locked up here.

For their part, Borer fills in any missing pieces of their own strange story, while Binye and Elyn focus on doing things to hinges, quietly.

“Right, done,” Elyn announces. “Boys, lift real careful.”

Binye and Borer very carefully brace and lift the entire gate off its hinges. There’s a sharp metallic squawk, but nothing loud and long enough to draw guards.

“We’re gonna need th’ slippery oil fer another lock,” Binye breathes. “This on’y worked as we’s inna inside.”

Borer concentrates and leads the way out into the passage. Zudi taps his right shoulder, he wheels right. The passage twists further right, and light grows – that’s where the guardroom is, with its rushlight. Elyn is passed up along the chain to where she can sneak in using what little light there is to keep to the shadows.

It seems to take a long time, but she returns with two items, one a clay jar from the alchemist’s work-table, the other the vial of oil.

There’s a certain amount of very quiet muttering as the four decide what is best – to try to take out four massive uruk guards armed only with sleep powder, or to free a couple of potential allies first.

Common sense wins!

 

Avengers – assemble!

Borer once again leads the way. They were hard by an opening on his left and this time Zudi taps his left shoulder. He turns that way and works his way down to two cells. One contains a nude well-muscled elf, the other a scant-clad human woman. Zudi pats his shoulder. A good place to start! Elyn gently eases oil onto hinges and a spot on her lockpick, and the gate to the elf opens easily. Zudi – speaking what they now know is elven – has explained what is afoot, and the elf, Elberna’i, joins them. Soon, the human, Bethany, is added to the tail of the party. Next, while Borer and Elberna’i stand guard with Bethany, the rogues and Zudi make their way past their original cell and to the far end, where a very weak elf is un-manacled (thanks to the oil) and freed. Zudi struggles to support him, and slips the ring of regeneration onto Helmit’a’s finger. Next, back and right around to where they locate a malnourished-but-sturdy dwarf. Perrin joins the group. He can tell them the ‘new big uruk’ is right nearby. So Gorgun and Zudi have a ‘conversation’ about being freed, but under parole. And about Gorgun’s plans.

Finally, they locate the wee folk – a hobb and a gnome named Waldo and Gotovest respectively. And now for the assault on the guards!

 

Combat is swift and certain

Surprise round: Two of the guards hold their breath, the other two go under almost as soon as Elyn shatters the jar on the roof.

Initiatives: Binye, Waldo, Zudi, Borer, Gotovets, Elyn, Gorgun twice, uruk guards, Elberna’i, Perrin.

Binye swoops on a cloak, and whips it, part-muffling the nearest uruk. Waldo latches onto it. Zudi’s eyes glow green as she clutches the shaman’s staff: soft white clouds shimmer around the other uruk’s head, and he slumps, snoring. Borer delivers a king hit up under the muffled uruk’s chain fauld and with a choking cry his knees give way. Gotovets selects a suitably heavy-looking drinking mug, eyeing up the bash target, but is overtaken by Gorgun who seizes the helpless uruk’s head in two hands and rotates it 180 degrees.

Even with the guard chamber captured, there’s still no time to waste. As quietly as they can, the fit among the escapees arm themselves. A few cautious peeks down the tunnels tell them that they are very close to a main antechamber, guarded by a even stronger detachment of eight.

The red chainmail of the guards is pressed into use. Gorgun strains his, but Zudi Elberna’i and Helmit’a make extremely unconvincing guards! As for the shorties, they attempt to look as much like goblins as they can.

The question is, do they assault, or try to talk their way past?

 

Therefore, combat once more!

The decision is: they assault! The red guard gear will only be useful for further on, to get past lesser uruks.

 

Overwhelming shock and firepower work wonders!

Surprise round: Crossbow bolts from all three rogues slam home and a guard topples. Zudi focuses power through the staff again and a fearsome mask forms around her features. Two of the guards flee – and a few seconds later there’s a crackle and a squishy thump as they run headlong into a concealed pit. Gorgun charges, his axe cleaving chain and eviscerating a fourth guard. Elberna’i dances in, spearing the mithril-blade longsword through the mouth of a fifth guard. Perrin, Waldo and Gotovetz run in at an angle, tripping a sixth guard and slamming his head onto the stone floor. Helmit’a, only part-recovered, shoots the second-last guard with another crossbow, then finishes him off with a second crossbow Bethany hands him. One guard remains. Gorgun swings in his patented reverse heelspin and chops him; not a mortal blow. Elberna’i spins in a sweeping graceful thrust and finishes him. All eight down!

 

Gorgun’s delivery service

The eight were guarding massive double doors. Gorgun nods at them.

“I just have to deliver the message. I gave my word on it.”

“Cain’t ya jest slip it unner th’ door?”

Gorgun thinks for a time, then grimaces and shrugs. He fishes out the recovered scroll, mashes it flat, and slides it under the doors as far as he can.

“Where to?”

“Let’s see where those two ran to…”

A huge centipede is already investigating the dying uruks in the pit. It is dealt with and the party eases around the pit and away along a looping passage that inclines down. The red-chain wearers lead the way, attempting (successfully, for Gorgun) to swagger like captors.

At length, the passage opens into what appears to be an ossuary, or possibly a death-chamber. There are three exits, and Gorgun chooses the one that seems to lead most directly lower. He reaches a four way junction, glances right and chuckles.

“I recognize that passage. Kobolds! This is where it all started to go wrong…”

Reminded of that, he swings and looks menacingly back at Borer. But Zudi gestures at him with the staff, just in mild admonition, and Gorgun heads away from the kobolds, skirting another pit, and into a vast cavern of common uruks and uruk-wives and uruk brats. Confident that he knows his directions from here, his pace quickens. It’s all the ‘goblin’ wee folk can do to keep up. Lesser uruks clear the way. Gorgun reaches a stream, running away right out of the cavern. He turns upstream and pauses. A series of deep natural arches seem to lead out…

“Trapped, here… scouts forward”

Binye probes forward with Blood Spear and finds a pit covering an exit. Elyn probes across the stream, quite deep here, and finds a gap between a pit and an exit. She beckons.

None too soon! For despite Gorgun’s menacing glower there are a few lesser uruks watching and wondering.

The wee folk are lifted across and the weaker folk helped, then they all slip through and away.

 

So long, Gorgun!

Miles later, the passage surfaces. No guard has been set. The dirty dozen filter out and sniff the clean high-country air with delight. Sage, upland pine and cedar can all be detected. It’s evening and the first few stars can be seen. Sense of direction returns, for those used to be above-ground. But this is a crazed and riven country. Mountain peaks thrust up at odd angles. The ground they stand on is rock, and no trail shows at all.

“We part ways here,” Zudi offers, looking at Gorgun more than anyone.

“Aye, I must report this treachery to my lord. Ignorick will rue the day! As per parole terms, you are free to make best speed out of uruk territory.”

“Say buddy, what’s with th’ ‘you are free’ act? We got yore sorry ass outta…”

“This ain’t the time!” Elyn reprimands Borer. “Gorgun saved us time after time, we are grateful, I will certainly tell my children stories of his amazing adventure.”

Gorgun nods – the female has always been the least-stupid one – and lopes away, axe at the ready.

“Swelp me Borer me old china! Yer don’t ‘arf tike chances!”

Borer grins at Waldo. “Waal, say pipsqueak, ya got balls ya ownself!”

 

Call for a ride?

“Now how do we get our sorry selves out to safety?”

The elves are struggling out of red guard chainmail at this point. Various clothing items are shared around, enough to keep everyone decent and protect from night chill.

“We can stick together for safety’s sake. Looking at those peaks, I’m pretty sure we’re west of Embercrag now, so north-west is Seever’s Mill. If that’s still standing, we can easily get a ride down the Bigmoss.”

“Nah luv, yer lookin’ at them peaks th’ wrong way. Us miners bin uphill an dahn’ill ‘ere, eh Perrin.”

“Aye Waldo, but see you, th’ uruk-lassies na wrong. Seever’s Mill is a gey far step, but so’s Joetown – but wha’s wrong wi’ Briar Keep?”

They explain what may be wrong with Briar Keep, and Perrin, Gotovetz and Waldo accept this.

“But lissen, any how ya cut it, we gonna be dead in two days,” Gotovetz observes. “Sorry ta set it out thet way miss.”

“Hon, I know, I know,” Bethany agrees. “I ain’t like ta walk back down ta orc-town though.”

“We can help,” Zudi hastens to assure them, “animals are to be found here, and if we summon them now…”

The three elves (counting Zudi as an elf… and she’s not shown any sign of transforming…) form a ritual and wild asses walk out of the night and stand as though patient donkeys.

“No wonder ya never had no trouble with them dray-hosses,” Borer observes.

 

The stage is cleared

“I have a reward for you, Elyn, Binye, Borer,” Zudi announces. “Noble Hamit’a and Elberna’i learned quite a lot about the white urukin before they were caught, and I got some details off Gorgun about the lay of the land.

“Not enough that you can send a map back to those templar people you reported to,” she adds to prevent the rogues exploding with joy. “But we will drop a message back on our way north.”

“So ya’ll be takin’ Bethany and th’ miners… or whatever Waldo is?”

“Sure, no problem. Blessings of our kin go with you!”

“Like I said before… Zudi, you are the best-natured person on the whole wagon,” Elyn jokes, “how come no Elf Prince ever married you?”

“Just lucky, I guess,” Zudi deadpans.

 

Final farewells over, the Elf party, with Perrin Waldo and Gotovetz acting as guides, and Bethany safe mounted, heads north-west, bound for Seever’s Mill.

The three rogues are alone, for the first time since they began this enforced mission.

 

How all this happens

This all begins as the party is arrested, right after I determine that the goblins are sent away. 

Mythic: Can the rogues speak? (V likely) Yes

Can they speak with other prisoners? (Likely) Yes

Can they speak with Zudi? (50-50) Yes

Does Zudi tell them anything? (V unlikely) Yes!

Is it a plan they will like? (50-50) Yes!

Is Zudi in charge now? (50-50) No!

Does she still have the staff? (50-50) Yes

Is she planning to rescue Elves? (50-50) Yes

Others? (50-50) Yes

Is she actually an elf? (50-50) Yes

And?

LOC: Control the physical. So, a spell?

LOC: Assist the innocent

Chaos is 8

Have the rogues managed to keep any gear? (Likely) Yes

Did they keep the oil of slipperiness? (Likely) No! 

(And this cascades into a chain… which tends to follow along with the previous moving away from each thread. Basically, the truth comes out, and they’ll have to kill their way out of here.)

Thieves tools? (Likely) Yes! (And in order of how many, Binye and Elyn.)

Chaos is 9

Next, a scene shift for NPC action lights on Zudi. Pursue good. Zudi locates the elves.

Chaos is 8

Next, a scene alteration, NPC positive. We are now in a sequence of DCC tasks and combats. Things are going as planned. I still roll out all the sneaking and lock-picking but for easing out of the manacles I take as read with the oil. The alteration I read as Zudi’s spell succeeds, the regeneration is shared with the elf noble. This increases the number of attackers, so is very handy.

Chaos is 7

Next the actions give me starting dispute, and imitate the environment. 

Initiatives and attacks on the four red guards, and their saves, are rolled here. 

Chaos is 6

Mythic: Do the party disguise as guards? (Somewhat likely) Yes!

LOC: Anything else? Very bizarre

Mythic: Are the others disguised as goblins? (Likely) Yes!

Mythic: Are the rogues disguised? (Likely) No!

Do they just have to sneak? (Likely) Yes, cascading to release information.

Chaos is 7

I move through the attack on the antechamber here, and fortunately the uruk guards are near bottom init. With recaptured weapons the attackers manage to drop them all. For Zudi’s spells, I’m trying to pick DCC spells that have a dT&T analogy. 

Chaos is 6

The cascade seems to come in later, post-escape:

Have the rogues discovered what Gorgun knows? (Unlikely) Yes

A lot of it? (Likely) No, cascading to carry emotions, cascading to control animals and also dominate nature cascading to travel energy. So the move out of the rocky wastes is easy to see.

Final cascade: Overthrow a plot!

Chaos is  5

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SB1.05: What lies beneath

The characters for this session:

Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert 

Edgar, wizard 

Barky, southron 

Belmont, paladin of Hieroneous 

With their NPC allies: 

Oswald, fighter 

Vert, cute green dog 

Threads in play:

  1. Pursue Hands to seek revenge
  2. Complete Waittes’ transaction with Lia (receive one bargain bin potion each)
  3. Send Celric’s money back to his kin
  4. Determine how cool Celric’s bracers are
  5. Present selves to appropriate agencies (Belmont and Thomas have completed this)

The Cheery Flame has seen more conviviality

The five sworn to take revenge on Hands find themselves gathered up and swiftly following a link-boy up to Rich Hill, and to the Cheery Flame. The inn has its back to the steep descent from Rich Hill, effectively leaving one side with only windows, one side for the from door, one side with a service door, and a desperate drop.

After debating who’s doing what, the team splits up. Oswald stands at the window-front door corner, Thomas stands at the front-door-side-door corner, and Barky stands next to the side door. Belmont and Edgar wander in, looking like a couple of youngsters out drinking. The barkeep, a well-mannered man, suggests a table. As he leads them toward the corner opposite the side-door, Edgar [nat 20] notices Hands sitting behind some well-dressed merchant types.(1) Noticing he’s been noticed, Hands immediately begins departing, though he does fling one phrase back over his shoulder:

“Get them!” – Hands

Initiatives:

  • Hands/Cult rogue
  • Belmont/Edgar/Oswald/Thomas
  • Barky
  • Cult thugs

Round 1: A dagger lands shuddering into woodwork behind Belmont. The paladin draws his sword and moves to ‘prevent’ the rogue from hurling another. His swing misses. Edgar sifts sand down, commands Sleep and runs away out the door shouting “He’s getting away!” Meanwhile Hands slips out the side door and is hit hard amidships by Barky’s axe! (2) Hearing the shout and spotting the movement at the far end of his side, Thomas raises his hand and calls “Bless!” and holds position.(3) Oswald swiftly closes on the front door.

Meanwhile inside the inn one of the rogue’s two drinking buddies has slumped asleep but the second has risen and flanked Belmont. The well-dressed merchants split, one moving fast after Edgar, one readying a mace, and a third setting his back to the wall and buffing.

As Hands reels from the pain of Barky’s first instinctive [max damage] blow, the barbarian rages, chops him in half, and – hearing the fighting – rushes headlong into the inn!(4)

Round 2: The rogue reverse thief-rolls past Belmont. Belmont seizes a stool as makeshift shield, and cuts at the other thug on his feet in front of the paladin. He in manages a good cut, but Belmont catches it on his shield, which breaks. Edgar again casts Sleep at the advancing thugs and dodges out behind Oswald. The lead cultist, who seemed swift on his feet, falls. Oswald now has one fewer to worry about, advances on the mace-armed thug and uses his halberd but the trip is avoided. The thug tries something, but Oswald resists.

Thomas advances into the inn after Oswald but has no enemy in reach, so buffs himself more. Barky now arrives on the scene, rushes the thug Oswald is facing, and delivers a cracking blow that near-levels him. In response the thug against the wall drops Barky with a Tasha’s Hideous Laughter spell.

Round 3: The rogue back-stabs Belmont, but hardly manages more than a minor cut through Belmont’s arming-doublet. In response Belmont himself [using mobility] dozy-dos the rogue, avoiding the blades of both, and stands between rogue and sleeping thug.

“Call out the guard!! The inn is full of murderers!!” – Edgar, ready outside, casting Truestrike

Thomas swings away from the Oswald-thug confrontation and rushes the rogue, missing hopelessly [nat 1]. Oswald disarms the mace-armed thug, who decides to leave. But as he does so, he attempts to lay hands on Barky – he fails, and keeps fleeing.(5) The thug that Belmont outwitted has Thomas in easy range – he cuts and misses and leaves hastily! The cultist against the wall casts Scare on Oswald, who flees!

Round 4: The rogue attempts to leave, but can’t get away from Thomas and Belmont. Thomas belts him solidly.(6) Edgar adds to his woes by ducking back through the door, extending his hand at the rogue, and casting Ray of Enfeeblement.

“Take him prisoner!” – Edgar

Thomas drags the nearest table closer so that the rogue can’t just breeze past him. The thug against the wall casts something at Edgar, then seeing it did not work, flees. Barky continues laughing.

Round 5: The rogue again fails to get clear and the paladin piles onto him, arresting him.

“Stand down and we may not have to kill you!” – Thomas

The adventurers are masters of the field, with a dead Hands and three helpless cultists.

 

Portable property changes hands

While de-briefing the party – following their night in secure cells – Fr superior Spearhavok mentions that the location of a buried temple is included among Hands’ papers. Edgar more or less volunteers the party for it while trying to appear eager to please the church of Cuthbert. It seems it lies beneath the Western Trading Company’s warehouse. Possibly, the company is more of a target than that…

The party has access to Celric’s belongings and to Edensor’s gems, but may have to wait until Edensor arrives in person to sort out whose is whose. But gear that’s obviously Hands or the thugs is available to distribute:

Belmont: Masterwork longsword, steel shield

Thomas: Half-plate, mace+1.

Edgar: Cloak of protection, spellbook

Barky: Ring of climbing, masterwork two-hander, chain shirt. Also, Thomas’ old mace.

Oswald: Potions of darkvision and cure light, and an amulet of misdirection

The church of Cuthbert loans funds enough to identify these. Edgar adds Celric’s bracers of protection (they are +1, as well).

Using the good offices of Cuthbert, Edgar arranges to send money and deeds/notes of hand back to Celric’s kin, but puts a lien on gems (pending sorting out) and spellbook (pending copying everything possible).

Threads closed:

  1. Determine how cool Celric’s bracers are

New threads opened:

  1. Investigate the hidden temple

Altered threads:

  1. Having gained vengeance on Hands, seek 2,000 reward from Edensor
  2. Sort out which valuables are Edensor’s and send Celric’s remaining wealth (and spellbook once Edgar has finished with it) back to Celric’s kin

Remaining threads:

  1. Seek leads for future adventure or acts of errantry against Hextor

The party are now less than 1000 xp from Level 3.

Notes

  1. We re-learn rules as Edgar uses Innuendo (badly) to hint to Belmont that he ought to be ‘scanning’ the crowd. Belmont only thinks of this when he’s surging towards the first thug. ‘What do you mean, slow of mind?’
    Belmont also makes a high Spot – about 17. I can only imagine how awful the set-piece would have been if Spot checks had not been good to excellent.
  2. We have some difficulty here as Barky definitely wants to stop Hands, but would rather not kill him. But as an AoO you can’t Bullrush someone. So it ends up being a full-blooded attack.
  3. And I still don’t know why. Advancing to help Barky would place him at the side-door, and advancing through the (more proximate) front door would help Belmont. This does neither. He basically loses a round. 
  4. I’ve placed this here but in-game, the GM delays him until next round, as though he can only rage and chop in the one round.
  5. Oswald is denied an AoO here – the disarmed cultist does not retreat – he moves to attack, just in an away direction. I blame careless mini placement by the GM, making it seem the cultist is not in Oswald’s zone. A solid strike with a halberd would have finished what Barky started.
  6. The rogue seems to have been born lucky – his escape attempt does attract AoOs but since they are right on top of the character inits, the GM counts them as attack actions, meaning only one round of attacks, not two. Thomas is only permitted to shift a table in his own turn, not attack, and Belmont gets to do nothing.

The interview with Lord Ganly

During the day following the release and debrief, nothing is seen of Edgar – he is secluded with Celric’s spellbook. Belmont buys a horseman’s lance, takes it up the the ‘Tower’ and is summoned to speak to Lord Ganly. Ganly is Albert and Huxley’s superior, so this is an important interview!

Belmont explains what happened – modestly ensuring Barky’s key role is known – and what he intends to do. Lord Ganly is keenly interested in what the three escapees, all Hextor agents apparently, might be doing. Belmont suggests the underground temple might provide a lead.

“Tell me, who might be making the main plan?” – Ganly

“Ehh, probably Thomas, cleric of Cuthbert” – Belmont

“That’s St. Cuthbert. Sound. Well that sounds acceptable.”

They talk more about the cultists and their powers, Ganly bids him proceed but report if anything else occurs to him.

Belmont then makes his way to Lia and chooses his reward potion – Spider Climbing. He very awkwardly insists on donating 20 gold from the party bank to Lia.

 

Other choices

Thomas seeks out Lia and gets his potion – a cure light. Then he finds Spearhavok again and gets a little more detail about the hidden temple and preparations needed. The temple entrance – still buried – is beneath the Western Trading house’s cellar. Spearhavok also mentions that despite the search, the three cultists are still at large.

Barky sees to his new equipment. He buys a longbow. Later, he and Oswald have a private meeting:

“I reckon th’ wizard plans ta just pay us day-wage. I’m thinkin’ shares. You in?” – Oswald

“Er yep, we got shares of loot, but yeah” – Barky

“YOU got shares. I got what was left over” – Oswald(7)

The two make their way to Lia’s and pick their potion. Oswald chooses Hide/sneak. Barky chooses a Jumping potion, since it goes well with climbing. Lia explains how the ring of climbing works.

Then as the day is well advanced, they stow gear at the Laughing Cavalier (picking up funds) and head for the Staggering Unicorn for a good time.

(7) The GM is playing Oswald, and forgets he’s playing him when we divvy up loot by claiming it. This is an elegant solution suggesting that Oswald is away having a jimmy riddle and comes back to find he’s got the stuff no-one claimed.

The wizards guild

That same evening, Edgar, now in possession of the Expeditious Retreat spell, and having updated Snr Aegard of Wee Jas as to the cultists, and having paid 20gp to the others to make up for the paladin’s unilateral spending, finally has a chance to claim his potion (Jumping). Lia brings him up to meet the wizards guild, at the Reasonable Ogre, a temporary venue now the Cheery Flame is closed for repair.

The wizards guild attendees:

  • Bertib, a gnome, chair
  • Biddlesworth, a gnome, secretary
  • Lia, a half-elf, treasurer
  • Baldyr, of Wee Jas
  • Eckhardt, an older man

Edgar manages this small crowd without becoming too shy. He describes the events that brought him there and steers the conversation round to Olidammara and Bilbert, and whether recruiting a rogue is feasible. The difficulty will be getting Thomas and Belmont to accept whichever choice it is. Lia takes pity on Edgar [19 on innuendo to ’emit a please-come-with-me’ vibe] and goes along with him to speak to Bilbert, at the Staggering Unicorn.

 

Wanted: a specialist

Oswald Barky and then Bilbert greet Edgar and Lia. Edgar, with Lia for moral support, feels bold enough to explain his ‘sell the goddie boys on a rogue’ plan to Bilbert. The idea is that if they bring a ‘specialist’ along and all three of them say it’s a good plan, Thomas is quite likely to agree, which means Belmont will agree.

Bilbert signals his understanding of the type needed – finding traps and disarming them – and names the following morning for him to present himself at the Laughing Cavalier. Edgar attempts to shine in Lia’s presence and – totally as he himself expects – comes off as a gauche 23 year old trying to impress a mature woman. He slinks off to consult Oswald and Barky.

 

Honesty and shares

“You keep talking about back-pay, but I want shares” – Oswald

“I was just meaning, the pay up to Pelt-town. I wasn’t planning on paying you” – Edgar

The three agree that everyone is in for shares. Edgar turns their attention to his ‘sell the goddie boys on a rogue’ plan. They all three agree, and that they’ll call him something:

  • Option 1: ‘scouting delver specialist’
  • Option 2: ‘delving scout specialist’
  • Option 3: ‘delving specialist scout’.

Edgar takes one more magnificent and ill-starred shot at charming Lia. She suggests they should discuss it back at the shop… the next day. Tail between legs he rejoins the other two and they roam slightly carefree back to their own inn.

Future plans and the delving specialist scout

Meanwhile at the Laughing Cavalier, Palfrey mentions the Cheery Flame will be closed for a few days. Thomas and Belmont offer different estimates of numbers involved.

They speak of more distant plans – both Belmont and Thomas have ideas about crushing Hextor – and Palfrey reminds them that Law and Good should go hand in hand. He promises to think about possible places for their future efforts.

Oswald broaches the idea of needing an extra hand with the exploration. Wrenching himself away from his soul-burning thoughts of what a cock he just made of himself Edgar explains the shares principle. Thomas agrees it needs to be formalised. He certainly has no objections. A drink to celebrate!

With the iron hot Edgar follows up by explaining the rogue matter as a fait accompli:

“We face definite peril… Evil temple of Hextor… we’ve opted to go with a delving specialist scout, using the good offices of Bilbert…”

“Who the fuck is Bilbert?” – Thomas

“He’s a master of one of the temples here” – Edgar

“Not Nerull?” – Thomas

“No of course not! Death to Nerull! And death to Hextor!” – Edgar

“Death to the enemies of good and law!” – Thomas

“It’s a team effort –  a toast to us! Success!” – Edgar

 

Meeker joins us for the spading-in

A lanky individual introduces himself the next morning. He knows the basics of the job going, and agrees he’s a technical specialist in delving.

As for remuneration, Meeker sets a base pay of 100, a half of a regular share (meaning 1/10th) and good references by both Belmont and Thomas.

Before long the party is in the Western Trading House basement watching workmen unearthing the hidden temple. Several senior clerics already known to the party are observers, The picks break through, then spades clear it more. The air beyond smells stale but strangely dry. A stair leads down.

“Stand by for nastiness” – Thomas

 

Threads in play:

  1. Investigate the hidden temple, bringing any normal equipment
  2. Seek 2,000 reward from Edensor
  3. Sort out which valuables are Edensor’s and send Celric’s remaining wealth (and spellbook once Edgar has finished with it) back to Celric’s kin; and claim the remaining coin as loot
  4. Continue to seek leads for future adventure or acts of errantry against Hextor

 

NPCs in town:

Father Superior Spearhavok, of Cuthbert

Palfrey, innkeeper at Laughing Cavalier, and his staff

Senior Aegard, of Wee Jas

Lord Ganly, Senior Albert and militant sergeant Huxley, of Hieroneous

Brother Nuku (of Xerbo) and Sister Meda (of Osprem) at Osprem Gate

Father Bilbert of the Temple of the Staggering Unicorn (Olidammara)

Lia (1/2-elf), Bertib (gnome), Biddlesworth (gnome), Baldyr, Eckhardt, wizards guild members and mostly trading house members as well

Meeker, technical specialist in delving

 

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The Broken Land: Ignorick’s Halls – the depths of deception

Chapter seven of The Broken Land concludes!

A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)

Episode Six: Arrest  us – please!

A letter found in the shaman’s chest refers to a ‘blayde’ and seems to  imply that a powerful faction led by a noble house Danforth is backing Ignorick to invade, possibly Briar Keep. It’s quite obvious to any of the party bothering to look, that this is news to Gorgun. For how that affects his diplomatic mission, read on…

A little plotting and planning as Gorgun thinks

Gorgun lolls in comfort on the bed looking over the letter, the others arrange light and cushions to suit. It seems as though another rest may be in order. Borer has a chance to take his ease wearing only under-padding. He, Elyn and Zudi find themselves conversing, while Binye uneasily dozes through the pain.

“This hyar’s gettin’ too crazy fer my likin’. I ain’t signed on ta jest hack ma way thru uruks.”

“We have to pick a time,” Zudi concurs.

“It’s gonna be impossible to… you know, let someone know we’re safe,” Elyn broadly hints to Borer.

“Elyn – did you forget? I watched you talk to the templars,” Zudi reminds her calmly.

“Oh – right! I sure did forget!” Elyn realises with a shock that they all took Zudi’s help and complicity for granted! And – they were right to. She’s stuck by them and been in the fight, as far as a lasso and a broken staff permit. “Well sure, we figure to send out word again. If we find out what’s going on, that is.”

“I’m not sure if anyone knows, now.”

Thread moved away from: ‘report back’ – in fact Elyn and Borer have just got distracted and mission creep has appeared.

Health has not recovered further: this ‘rest’ is no more than is needed to treat Binye and let Gorgun study. 

 

Chaos falls to 5

 

A quaint little doom

Gorgun seems restless. He fiddles with the shaman’s staff then tosses it to Elyn. “Magic – obviously – see if there’s something in it that sucked all the life from the she-elf.”

Zudi winces away, but Elyn has always liked puzzles. It’s not long before she unlocks a section.

She walks over and shows Gorgun:

“It’s not demon-possessed, there’s a charm or some such inside. Probably evil.”

“You mean, that sucked the life out?”

“It could well be.”

Gorgun looks at the staff again, seems interested, then keeps it by his side, looking well pleased, but mulling something over.

This is an alteration of ‘on the trail again’ and results in moving away from a second thread: ‘is the white urukin the Uruk Lord?’

Results of ‘dominate magic’ and description of ‘coolly dry’ suggest the magic that sucked life out. I check this, and it is so. 

LOC: What form does this take? politely quaint.

So not a deluxe staff? (Likely) Yes

Does the shamans staff have power? (50-50) Yes

Is Gorgun aware of this? (50-50) Yes

Does he intend to use it? (somewhat likely) Yes!

Chaos rises to 6.

 

The baton of diplomacy passes to Zudi

It seems it’s time to make a move. Binye and Elyn check the look-behind mirror.

“There’s a new guard. Four each side.”

Gorgun is interested in the gadget, which they explain in guarded terms. “Good. Let me think…”

With due precautions against any residual slime the entire party negotiates the stair down again. On the river ledge once more, Gorgun peers up and down. Then swings back, and holds out the shaman’s staff.

“Your staff is broken – this will work better. More convincing. Lead the way back. Talk us through.”

Surprised is hardly the word. But Zudi has never been voluble, and takes her time looking upstream and downstream, herself. Perhaps Borer can see what she can, perhaps not – certainly Elyn and Binye are only able to see a suggestion, in the phosphorescence, that the guard on both other bridge platforms has been renewed.

Zudi leads a shambolic wedge of Gorgun, rogues and goblins across the bridge and is duly halted by a four-strong guard. Another four cover them from the flanking bridge. This ledge leads back to the torture chamber and alchemist lab. Zudi leans on the staff and tries her hand at diplomacy.

It doesn’t go well.

“A Red Guard is over for a check and not pleased to find the alchemist and ogre dead, now you’re here – let’s go see him – he’s bound to be a hit with the ladies!”

The other uruks laugh loudly at this witty sally, and make a few of their own.

“Let’s getcha checked in. Will ya be stayin’ wid’ us long?”

“Aww… maybe a day fer th’ girls, he’s a beast!”

Zudi eases back towards Gorgun and murmurs:

“I have a plan. But we have to play for time.”

This begins with, believe it or not, a successful exit scene. The random roll for which way leads them first to the guarded ledges.

Just to clarify what Gorgun is doing with that staff I ask:

Mythic: Does Gorgun use the staff as a rod of authority (Likely) No! Cascading to ‘fight fame’.

So is Gorgun giving the staff to Zudi? (Somewhat likely) Yes

Chaos is still 6 as Zudi stays in the scene to make her PRS and LCK checks. It’s time to find out what Zudi’s stats are:

Zudi: STR11 STA12 AGI13 INT10 LCK09 PRS18.

She fails LCK and makes PRS, no surprise there! Guards get a ‘meh’ result of 11. 

LOC: Awkwardly disagreeable. That sounds quite unpleasant, especially for the women.

Mythic: Is this especially unpleasant for the women? (50-50) No, and cascades to ‘cruelty benefits’.

Mythic: Are they just nasty? (50-50) Yes, and cascades to ‘carry bureaucracy’ cascading to ‘dominate pain.’

Chaos rises to 7 

Then the new scene has an alteration, which I’ve begun to cover above.

 

Little goblin eyes look up in hope

The official is one of Ignorick’s red-chainmail-wearing Red Guard. He looks as powerful as Gorgun! Zudi glides to the front, and there’s a lot of rapid-fire dark-tongue. Beareen seems to perk up a little, and look quite hopeful.

“Goblins are free to go,” this Red Guard decrees. “Traders are welcome in Ignorick’s realm.”

Bowing thanks the nine goblins are ushered out. Was that a splash? Probably not. But maybe Binye rethinks claiming that he’s just a guard, like Noregz and Zab.

“As for you… by the time you’ve sat and howled in the dungeons for a few days, you’ll be begging for a little exercise on these machines!”

The rogues, Zudi and Gorgun are disarmed. Zudi leans on the staff convincingly, and they leave it with her. No-one else has that much luck: especially when they are marched over the next bridge and into a dank, winding tunnel that leads to foul cells. Their equipment is stripped off them and piled in a guard chamber, and catalogued in by the Red Guard. The other guard uruks are similarly armoured – perhaps these are an elite? Then they shove the party along again. Gorgun gets his own cell; the others are shoved into another together. They get the impression that all other cells they pass are occupied.

And with Gorgun’s angry diplomatic protest ringing down the tunnel, the burly guard-uruks take away the light and leave them all in dark and misery.

“Perfect,” declares Zudi.

There are a great many questions used to get me here, using CRGE because they all seem to me to be 50-50.

I begin with a scene at torture chamber, but it is altered. Focus: move away from [locate the uruk lord’s lair] thread. Meaning delay new ideas. That’s where Zudi’s PRS check comes into play. I check if she is bluffing, saying they are working for Ignorick, get a resounding No! then begin the 50-50 CRGE questions, nine of them, which remove the goblins from the NPC lists, and moves the others to prison; and in the next scene I find they have also lost most of their equipment.

Chaos rises to 8

Episode Seven: Prison Break

Wait, this was a plan?

Time ticks by and Zudi seems quite comfortable, just listening and resting. She hasn’t followed up her comment.

Then she snuggles next to Elyn and passes over a ring.

“This doesn’t mean what I think it doesn’t mean does it?” Elyn asks, confused and blushing suddenly.

“Wear it, feel better, pass it to Binye next,” is all Zudi says, shifting back to her original spot.

Elyn feels her mana activate! And her beaten-up feeling fades. After an hour, she feels better than any time since Red-sash nearly got a mortal wound on her. She hands the ring on to Binye.

“Ma… ma arm! I c’n feel th’ skin growin’ back! Damn! Itches!”

It takes more than an hour for Binye, but eventually he too feels fully fit. Flexing his arm with pleasure, he finds Borer and presses the ring into the dwarf’s palm.

“Healing,” he mutters.

For Borer it’s two full hours or more.

“Say, that’s slick, Zudi,” he mutters as he feels the cuts healing.

“Quiet now, I need to find out something.”

To the rogues’ surprise Zudi calls low out into the prison tunnel, in a language they don’t know. It sounds lilting and pleasant.

A hoarse male voice, weakened by ill treatment, calls back softly in the same tongue. There’s a conversation in short phrases. Then Zudi switches to common.

“Anyone else alive, and wishing to feel the sun on their face?”

“Yer, reckon there is missus! Jus’ wot I wos sayin’ ter me old chinas ‘ere, any minnit naow th’ ‘tendants’re gonna tike us aht fer a bit o’ sunbathin’ – I don’t think!”

“Hobbs,” Zudi mutters, calls back softly: “Feel free to join us, if you don’t mind a little excitement with the chance of good cooking at the end of it.”

There’s general agreement in as many voices as might make four small kin.

The rogues feel rather than see Zudi shift back towards them.

“Ready to exercise your own skills? I’m sure at least one of you managed to hide a lock pick.”

There’s a bit of uncomfortable squirming and both Elyn and Binye produce thieves tools. And the inevitable question:

“Zudi, not to look a gift horse in the mouth – but who are you?”

Chaos is 9

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