TI2.10: Scouting level four

The characters for this session

Fennec, L2 wizard (combat mage)

Jotunn, L5 warrior (hunter, with tracking talent)

Crompton, L2 rogue (roguery and runebearer)

At the guild council the Dwarves ponder what to make of it all

The adventurers guild council meets again, late the next day. During that day a number of rewards have come back and new missions posted. Equally importantly Fennec and Crompton are both fully shod and clad. At the top of the table Mother Hobb is perched on the table taking notes and Two and Bless are unfolding a piece of silk that has been turned into a gridded outline of the city.

Other adventurers present, by group in alphabetic order:

City boys: Danain and Hely, to make a case for help;

Dwarves: Fennec, with Crompton and Jotunn, to hear about further missions;

Fleeburns: Gena, wearing a mourning flash of silk;

Hathlisveit: Ausecur, to make sure their interests are promoted;

Heavy hitters: Two’s other party member Gnat, for her scouting expertise;

Lefties: Bless’s other party member Panic, for his opinion on where the seniors need to concentrate;

Survivors: Burnley and Whitey to hear what the newbie groups have to say about needing help;

Tags: the locksmith pair Balda and Gontre (all the others are injured);

Wanderers: absent.

Fennec has a small update for the council:

“I’ve taken the trouble to talk to a few of the soldiers out on the battery. A sergeant-type spoke of finding ‘bodies clove in two’ and ‘strange black arrows in others’ and ‘huge boot-prints’ so I think we’re safe to say that the ogre, his go-between, and maybe whoever they wanted with them, really did escape and cut through the defenses.”

“By the way,” Fennec adds, “the captured gunnes – five big ones though one probably ought not to be fired – are being shifted around to bear on the other enemy works, and our comrade Cauleigh is out there to help negotiate.”

The sudden change in fortune for the besieged city has created new considerations to set before the council. The map helps explain factions and the remaining leader, Kimelas Sinister AKA Kimelas the Elder, is given a vague outline. Alongside these the count-down to the harvest (three to four days) and the urgent need to get the vampiress mean the need to find a route to Level 6 is top of the mission list.

The route should ideally be both secret and direct enough for Two and Bless to combine their powers and lower Righteous Filbard easily. Which means sink-hole are much preferred to stairways that monsters will be patrolling.

Given the progress on the grand tunnel barrier, scouting across the great cavern for other Level 4 entrances is the focus of the seniors and the Dwarves need to keep scouting their find.

The council, or at least the Dwarves and seniors, still needs to agree on the order of battle in Level 6. It will definitely be a combined effort! The elements that will – most likely – be there are:

Heavy hitters and Lefties combining their fighting powers;

Righteous Filbard, possibly with his veteran Dwarf bearers;

The Dwarves, possibly acting as Filbard’s bearers or guard;

The Sveltes, possibly supporting the Dwarves and Filbard as scouts.

All manner of other combinations are possible; for example Gnat could run interference for Filbard, or Jotunn could join the seniors to help take the aggro. Fennec makes an interesting suggestion about using the overwhelming force that Chion’s regiment would bring, but that would involve finding regular passages down through 4 and 5 and fighting the whole way.

The other key matters before the council are the new instruction from the QM-General’s office, and the appeal from newbies for support in Level 1.

Two and Bless explain the silk map:

“The QM-General’s office has supplied this map, with instructions that the shatterzone and enemy camp are to be sifted for treasure and coin, and those rendered to the QM-General’s office.

“This council needs to come up with a position to reply to the instruction.”

Turning the situation over to the table allows a surprisingly quick reply. It won’t be a problem – provided the QM-General’s office is not putting those areas up as missions. Most everyone is more than happy to concentrate on the dungeon levels and the missions already in train.

Gena, with a nod to Danain and Hely, indicates they should speak:

“Level One has been tackled and some of us have done better than others. Natty Paray is dead and his group the fleeburns and his sister Mithril of the wanderers is mourning his loss. The healing station is down on Level 2 of the Guild halls and well away from the entrance to Level 1. But Level 2 is all sealed up and it seems there’s no need to worry about it now. What we are getting at is, we seem to be spending lives here and some help would be good.”

The table – barring Ausecur – discusses this and the opinion of the survivors is particularly important since they are the ones that would help. Fennec asks about what kinds of monsters are being encountered and the answer is a mixture of Goblins and lesser of the shatterzone topside type – brownies for example – and the occasional larger in-situ thing.

The decision is that Level 3 scouting is still too important to move the healing station. The survivors will stand patrol and groups finding themselves under attack from numbers need to holler for help and pull back cautiously. This is the guild life.

As to the side-suggestion that where fireplaces are encountered a fire be lit to help clear bugs and the like out of the topside and Level 1, that leads to a discussion on firewood and the scarcity of timber, and how it would be really useful to get big timber struts from the enemy earthworks before the QM-General’s office confiscates it all.

[Post-meeting the Tags ask Jotunn’s advice, he realizes they need to make their own mind up and gives advice both ways (Elf style!) and gets bonus AP.]

They return to business as usual

In terms of their need to keep scouting a Svelte will be very handy and Ausecur agrees to stay with them and help. He listens to what they have to say about limiting noisy gear and spells, and heads back to his quarters to assemble gear.

The Dwarves have two items identified now. These are the two they picked up in the dead kobold bosses table, a nice bracelet and a short-bow arrow. Tentatively Crompton agrees to use both. The bracelet is of very limited use and he’ll need to get his gambeson sleeves re-cut. Jotunn suggests he can slot the arrow through his gambeson’s breast and after a bit of experiment he does manage to tuck it behind the breastplate but with enough touchable that he can activate it. It will protect him from normal missiles.

Feeling good in his new boots Crompton rejoins the other three who are admiring, or listening to the seniors admiring the new barrier. Rickety scaffolding reaches right up to the ceiling and stone blocks make most of a crude barbican-like exit. Firing slits off a fighting platform are included.

Two wants to hang a gate-door kind of access out, since he doesn’t want to seal the guild away from all the rest of Level 3. Fennec agrees that a few Hathlisveit Dwarves will probably have some mason expertise and a message should be sent. Here, he thinks of Ausecur, but the Svelte seems to have forgotten that he originally came as representing the regiment’s interests, so a message will be relayed direct or via Cauleigh.

From the barrier the seniors and Dwarves walk through to the great cavern.

“Lefties will clear the side-rooms over right, Dwarves clear the side-rooms down the gully, heavy hitters stand support near the gully.”

The Dwarves quietly discuss ways of safely moving across the sinkhole or fissure they found blocked the way forward; and what to do about the dark pool and steps beyond. Crompton outlines a wood frame and sliding sabot-like ladder to get across, and the semi-competent carpenters take that on as their next task once the scaffolding work is done. Jotunn advises taking stone blocks from the pile and quietly blocking the side-hole that Crompton squeezed through (to get to the pool) and they do that right away.

[Some bonus AP for the various good ideas.]

Jotunn scouts forward

It is late that same day but they are well rested. Ausecur has not rejoined them, and since all they are doing is scouting the chambers and passages, the trio set out over the scaffold bridge. The sliding sabots, though not at all what Crompton first thought of, work fine.

Party order: Jotunn scouting (using his tracking talent where possible) then Fennec with WoW up but off to one side to see past Jotunn, then Crompton but off to the other side to be able to use his heavy bow.

Jotunn confirms that the glittering that could be seen in the dust from the other side comes from small gems, not specially valuable. He moves forward and studies the rubble that seems to have been caved in from the other side of the chamber. Beyond, a tunnel swings left sharply.

As he sets foot carefully over the rubble, a large snake – which looked a lot like stone until it struck – sinks its fangs right through his boots! [L3 CON SR no problem]

Crompton reacts immediately, loosing his bow at the snake. By happy chance he has accidentally nocked one of his remaining Sheeting Arrows of Claes and a storm of flechettes hammers the snake, and Jotunn. Luckily Jotunn is well armored and only the snake takes damage.

A wight takes a hand

The tunnel seems to broaden, left, perhaps into a chamber. As Jotunn cautiously approaches the corner a bony hand reaches out and seizes his axe hand in an icy grip! Jotunn smashes his magical sopok shield into the wrist and Crompton doubles past Fennec, activating his hourglass – “Tempus Fugit” and vorpalling his axe gets in to help. The undead creature’s eyes glow red in deep black sockets! Fennec throws in a Glue You and they smash it to bits, though not before Jotunn feels himself weaken. [-1STR]

“Righteous Filbard’s probably the one to contact to restore that,” Fennec advises.

There is a chamber but it lacks treasure. A rusty iron bowl lies dry and empty against one wall. A heavy iron chain stapled into the rock rusts on the far wall. Near it, a bony foot lies gnawed off. The undead creature was not very mobile as it lacked a foot.

Beyond, a frosty reception

The tunnel seems colder and slopes up. Then up and around, shallowly. Then as Jotunn sees a couple of branches left, including to an opening, a huge Troll, protected with a glittering layer of ice, advances purposefully on him!

Fennec is quick on the draw: “Glue You!”

This gives the Dwarves breathing space. They pull back, and back, always making sure the Troll wants to keep chasing them. At the corner that leads to the ladder-bridge, Fennec throws his trusty OGA and the Troll pursues him as fast as it can! Crompton emits a shrill alarm-whistle, to alert the heavy hitters.

They dash across the bridge and heave its parts back onto the safe side. Then Jotunn and Crompton grab one of the beams as a ram, for the Troll, undeterred by the leap, strides up, rams its right hand against a wall, freezes that in place, and swings towards the near side!

Jotunn and Crompton slam the timber’s end against the Troll’s torso as Damper, the true tank of the heavy hitters, rams his tower shield against the end. Fennec throws a powered-up TTYF directed at the Troll’s hand where it is frozen onto the wall… and the Troll falls into the depths.

They rest a few minutes and receive congratulations [and 70 bonus AP, ice trolls are scary] then reassemble the ‘bridge’ and loot the Troll’s lair. Fennec finishes off the map he’s been sketching.

Looting the Troll’s lair provides injury and gems

The lair connects to the steps Crompton saw across the pool. Another branch seems to go to a Troll privy. Another branch swings right and seems to head up. A short way along, just where steps up begin, it is blocked by solid ice. Jotunn wipes a sleeve across the ice and in the limited light, can just see a very annoyed looking goblin, frozen solid inside the ice.

The Troll’s own chamber holds some not-very-comfortable stone benches. As Crompton explores a wall and detects a panel, the stone flops down on him! He is saved by his armor, but will need plenty of healing.

The Troll favored ice-themed gems, and they pick up two small blue diamonds and three very nice large star sapphires.

The seniors compare notes and maps are updated

Over cards and tea, or ale and odd-tasting stew (“maybe Catoblepas isn’t the best ingredient”) the Dwarves, Lefties and heavy hitters compare maps and Two tides up his master map.

The Lefties cleared the side-chambers, finding a minor boss and yet more nice stuff to add to their pile.

The Dwarves cleared the gully chambers, leaving the fissure down to explore.

Sharp, the heavy hitters’ quick-moving warrior, offers the use of a wand for the fissure. “It will stop one undead,” he explains. “Point it and yell ‘fight for me!’. There are some other words but those ones work for me.”

Jotunn scratches his head. “Might be a bit hard to use…”

“Yeah, we found the same. It’s hard to find a gap in a fight to haul it out. But you never know.”

“Gift horses and all that,” Fennec counsels and Jotunn ties it inside his sopok with some twine.

Down dangles Jotunn, on down in the dark

The following day, strength restored to normal, [and after spending APs boosting DEX to 22] Jotunn is lowered by sturdy rope off the makeshift bridge. The Cateyes spell cast by Crompton allows him to see, in monotones, that the fissure is not a comfortable round chiney, but stretches off to either side into real blackness. Creepy crawlies of large size and irascible nature occupy small lairs all the way down.

After estimating that he has been lowered more than five fathoms, Jotunn sees the fissure broaden below his feet. He reaches up to where he has pre-knotted the rope and jerks it twice, and his descent pauses.

Below, probably another two or three fathoms down, there is a pool cutting across a fair-size regular-shaped chamber. He can hear the water running through both walls. Shattered remains of an ice troll lie part-in the pool.

A large snake very similar to the one that bit him yesterday noses out of a stone niche and regards him balefully. He jerks the rope rapidly again and is hauled back up as quickly as possible.

The Dwarves (and Svelte) scout Level 4

Ausecur has come equipped with a broadax light enough to throw, a buckler, and a reserve short sword and dagger. His mishmash of armor looks as though it allows mobility. He may possibly have borrowed it from Kamerad. (Or looted Kamerad’s body, thinks Fennec darkly.)

The Svelte, who seems to be able to see fine in the dark, does the scouting and the other three explore to check doorways and that side-tunnels don’t contain ambushers, in his wake. Wherever he spots or hears danger Ausecur falls back, sometimes at the run.

Jotunn’s instinct is to just follow open pathways because zombies must ascend somewhere and they are not good with door-handles. This guides the Dwarves as they:

  • locate a secret door in the pool chamber, but leave it for later;
  • locate a door off it but proceed to the open end;
  • ambush a mini-boss weird ogre and his bulked-up kobold minion;
  • ignore a side-passage to possible cells and other doors;
  • kill the ogre’s pet giant cat;
  • use his heaped manky rugs to muffle three of four very tough zombies allowing one at a time to be beheaded;
  • polish off a ‘bait’ zombie pretending to be a tempting corpse;
  • scout round a circuit locating stairs going down

Loot there must be, but apart from a hefty coin-pouch, very little has been examined. Fennec has just enough mana to keep powering WoW so they retreat and finish sketching a map up above. And the session ends.

There were two councils that I have run together, and spun part off to a seniors’ confab. It’s interesting to see ideas of a different flavor come through when Cauleigh’s player is absent, I thought everyone did well and the proof was in the pudding of rough-mapping Level 4. Though sure, there could be an entire wing beyond one of the 16 doors ignored. No bonus AP is handed out for the level so far, since it has not been cleared.

Props

Dodecahedron 2014 (op cit) is providing me with the Level 4 map and extra bits such as the small complex of the ice troll, and all monsters and furniture, come from Wizardawn (op cit) Area Builder.

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Jotunn’s L1 mission

Jotunn – off the table – took the Tags at crack of dawn – or earlier – out to escort some honest millers and maybe a gunner.

Their mission: terminate the millers that are working with the enemy, and make ready the ballista (which rides atop the mill – it’s a water-powered mill!)

Rules: DCC and card draw and dice same as the shatterzone, there’s monsters and traps!

Tags group at level 1

Balda, Rogue, human locksmith. STR7 DEX11 CON11 CHR8 INT12 LK14; Attck-1, r1 f1 w-1. Balda has thick golden hair and amber eyes, and a thin beard. He wears leather armor and wields a shortsword and crossbow. Balda suffers a traumatic fear of death. 6 gp
Gontre, Rogue, human Locksmith. STR8 DEX 11 CON 7 CHR16 INT7 LK9; Attck-1 r1 f0 w3. Gontre speaks with a strange accent, and has a tangled black beard. Short sword.  No Talent. 7gp
Larson, Warrior, Human Glovemaker. STR13 DEX9* CON5 CHR14 INT4 LK14; Attck+d3, r1 f0 w1. Talent:+1 to any skill check. Larson is precise and finicky. Crossbow. 8gp
Quest, L2 Rogue, Human Herdsman. STR9 DEX10 CON9 CHR16 INT12 LK10; Attck+0 r1 f1 w3. Talent. Easygoing with tan skin. Short sword. 12gp
Vojur L2 Warrior, Human Smith. STR18* DEX11 CON12 CHR11 INT9 LK7; Attck+d3+3 r1 f1 w0. Talent 1 worse spell dmg. Vojur has messy copper hair and blue eyes, is generous and capable. 15 gp.

Jotunn as L5 Dwarf: Attck+d7 crit d20/IV, r2 f6 w1.

Turn1

Move direct. Card draw clear.

The party order is two scout type thieves up front, then Jotunn and the smith, finally two crossbow-armed men who can fan out and shoot.

Turn2

Move direct. Card draw trap. Refl SV to avoid pit traps 2d6 dmg. Gontre and Quest make it.

Turn3

Move right. Card draw monster. 13 rat-men. Surprise check: light armor, adventurers roll d20+d3 on LK. Gontre does make his check.

Combat

Battle layout: The rat-men are guarding the mill and crooked millers. I have them split into two: some melee rats and some archer rats. Four of the archers fit atop the mill. The others are in cover around the weir.

There is other cover because the mill-island did not used to be an island and ruins are to be found.

Initiative

  • Lights
  • Ratmen archers
  • Ratmen melee
  • Heavies

Round 1

Crossbows fire, both good hits, one foe drops.

Archers volley at the party. Only one scores a hit. Another fumbles, trips over and being atop the mill, dies. Morale. 11, just ok.

Melee: both Jotunn and Vojur Smith are hit once. The short-sword armed lights vault behind the Ratmen and backstab with +1. Quest kills his target.

The two heavies swing. Jotunn has two actions and hits twice. He puts one down and wounds a second.

Round 2

Quest vaults back behind cover, Gontre stabs again. His backstab advantage overcomes his normal handicap. The ratman is blinded for a few rounds  (d10 on crit table II). The crossbows pick off an archer.

The archers have no good targets, but Quest is hit.

Melee is not great for the three Ratmen able to fight, as Jotunn’s armor is heavy. In reply both Jotunn and Vojur cut down wounded ratmen.

Morale: the ratmen will fight on!

Round 3

Quest makes a tough tumble over walls check to rejoin the fight. He misses but Gontre hits, killing the last-but-one ratman in melee. The Crossbows get one archer, leaving three.

In reply, Larson glover is hit hard (drops to negative – Fennec saves him next couple of rounds) and Jotunn takes an arrow deep.

Jotunn and Vojur cut down the remaining ratmen nearby, then Jotunn charges ahead! He makes DC20 for vaulting onto the two low-positioned ratmen.

Round 4

The lights race to climb up against the ratman on high. This is where militia led by Duchess Melissa, and the other three Dwarves, arrive.

Rounds 5-10

Fennec saves Larson. The surviving rat-men are pursued but swim clear. Millers (the crooked ones) are cleared out violently. One of the militia seems to have initiative and smarts, and the Dwarves think he would make a good adventurer.

Neither ratman facing Jotunn can hit him and the sniper misses as well. He leaps away, as do the other pair.

Turn4

Loot is insignificant. Millers and gunner begin their work. Max the newbie adventurer is introduced. Owing to the bonus awarded for heroism beside Melissa he qualifies as L1 and chooses wizard class.

 

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TI2.09.5: Fall of the fire mage!

The characters for this session

Fennec, L2 wizard

Cauleigh, L3 warrior

Crompton, L2 rogue

It is late afternoon, and their final decision on gear is made and all straps and laces checked. The three Dwarves swagger along gallows lane, west past the citadel gate, and to the North Barracks. Having decided to leave early and with no ceremony they are not delayed by quartermasters and marshals, who at this time are mustering the town militia by neighborhood.

At the North Barracks there’s a parliament to hold. The Chion’s Regiment Elect – Dwarves like Twill and Sayer – and the three Sveltes sit down over whatever drink the regiment has and go over the plan.

  1. The evening mage duel signals the march
  2. The regiment breaks out due north through the light siege lines following the road
  3. The Sveltes guide the regiment east then south following a trail they have marked
  4. The regiment strikes due south at the flank of the siege lines straight at the fire mage’s fort
  5. The three adventurers are free to kill the fire mage
  6. Depending on how beset it is* the regiment will stand its ground, roll up the defences, or pull back

*With due deference to Lady Melissa, none of Chion’s Elect count on anything from her diversion.

GM’s eye on this: I prepped for this! These are my ad-hoc and abstract rules for conducting the assault. In terms of dice rolling all MR is divided by 10, for example MR580 becomes MR58. That provides a”swing” factor so that the result is not a foregone conclusion.

  1. Regiment: Chion’s regiment only fights in a square – something well known to the characters thanks to their force-march from Hathlisveit. 24 members of the square can fight or fire in a Turn. MR40 per dwarf = MR960. If the square is surrounded the entire square operates as MR2560.
  2. If the characters elect to fight in the front rank I will count an abstract value of MR75 per warrior and MR50 for non-warriors.
  3. The siege defence’s range of opposition – in other words given how the normal lines operate how many troops can expect to oppose the regiment – I rate as 16 x MR25 troops in daylight, and 12 x MR25 troop at night. That means the daylight base will be 16×25=MR400, and MR300 at night.
  4. The ability of the opposition to organise a defence off that base will depend on an aggregate Level 9 LK SR by the characters. (That is, if all three of them make L2, that totals to L6).
    In daylight the opposition accumulates geometrically. Level 8 SR gains only 5% additional help, Level 7=10%, Level 6=20%, Level 5=40%, Level 4=80%, Level 3=160%, Level 2=320%, Level 1=640%, and Level 0 1280%.
    At night however, a slower progression applies, and this is where Fennec’s earlier decision (to head out after the mage duel and hit the fire mage before much of his mana can be restored) really helps the regiment.
    Level 9=no help, Level 8=5%, then 5% increments to Level 4. Level 3=30% Level 2=45% Level 1=75% and Level 0=100%.
  5. Additional clever or dumb stuff will need to be added in as the assault happens. GM’s call.
  6. This is how I plan for PC heroics: separate PC efforts (for example one player suggested they could begin with the diversion and somehow rejoin the regiment) can sow confusion but will combine with the regiment as follows:
    Level SR (INT, DEX, CHR, LK):
    Level 0 reduces the regiment by 5%, Level 1 adds nothing, Level 2 adds 1d6, Level 3 adds 2d6, Level 4 adds 3d6…

With this in mind, read on.

Chion’s regiment marches

It is another fine night and Chion’s regiment, all Dwarf, has no difficulty navigating away east from the road at a pace that leaves any bold enemy scout too far behind to worry about. Even so the rear missile corners are crossbows with big pavises that can be used to create a scratch defense against pursuit.

The Svelte guides pick up the mother-of-pearl marker telling them to swing south. The moonlight makes the shell glow like a beacon, to Svelte eyes. They wave the new direction to the skirmishers and the regiment wheels south.

[The players wrestle with the idea of being part of the skirmish line. Fennec’s player sensibly points out that if he sees any action Fennec will be tapped out and unable to help further. So they all stay in the square, and are in the sheltered hollow middle at this stage.]

Keeping up a cracking pace thanks to the easy conditions for Dwarf eyes and the trail of mother-of-pearl fragments, Chion’s regiment marches south. The skirmishers can seldom see the siege lines or larger buildings above the land’s folds and contours, but Fingold’s balefires and the watchfires of the besiegers are good markers themselves.

[And this is where Point 4 above, the aggregate LK SRs, are counted. Fennec gets L0, Cauleigh gets L2 and Crompton L1. The opposition’s ability to “turn” its normal lines of defence amounts to barely 15 troops initially.]

The besiegers aren’t blind, and their pickets have been warned that some kind of assault is expected. Perhaps the word has gone round that the assault is west, and the southern lines are threatened. In any case the Dwarf skirmishers kill the enemy pickets or drive them in and the opposition scrambles to form lines. They seem thin on the ground!

[No character tries anything clever, like racing out ahead or suddenly making the regiment form line. So Point 5 does not need attention.]

The skirmishers rejoin the square and the Sveltes tuck themselves safely in the middle. Cauleigh nods to them, and squeezes through to the front left gunners, Crompton (armed with the arquebus) follows and Fennec tucks himself discreetly behind them. Cauleigh utters some brave words to put heart into the regiment.

[This is where Point 6 above is counted. I judge Cauleigh’s actions to be a CHR SR and he gets L3, or 2d6 help, so instead of 10d6+ 48 the regiment rolls 12d6+48.]

“Give fire! And advance!”

The volley of ten gunnes sweeps away some of the defenders and as the Dwarf square stamps forward the remaining survivors scramble to either side. The square halts within a long bow-shot of the fire mage’s fort. If it advances it will be among supply trenches tha lead from the fire mage’s camp to the siege battery. Far off on its right flank the siege battery is beset with contradictory orders.

The invisible foray

“This is our time. Good luck lads, we’ll try to let you know…”

And with that word from Cauleigh, Fennec drops the Hidey Hole. This is a new spell to all of them and they are heartily glad to find they can see one another.

“As long as you keep near me you’ll be covered,” Fennec assures them.

Cauleigh and Crompton form up a couple of paces apart, Fennec a couple of paces back from both. None of them need extra light, the moon is bright and the fire mage’s fort is well lit by watch-fires and bale-fires.

The two gunne-armed Dwarves begin weighing up the opposition and study the fort. It is a mishmash of buildings, and Crompton draws a tentative conclusion that it should have at least a service gate or door at the rear or east. He’s right! They swing through at a steady pace.

As a secondary line of defense someone has flung a short arc of light crossbowmen in front of them, between the fort’s rear approach and an open door to their barracks or, ideally, the command building. Certainly the doorway they are guarding looks like it belongs to a command area.

Naturally the light crossbowmen can’t easily hear them owing to the battle noise, and can’t see them, until they are right alongside the door. Then two of the crossbowmen are enclosed within the Hidey Hole and give the alarm! Crompton levels the arquebus at a yard’s range and blows one’s head off. The other is cut down by Cauleigh who whips his kukri out and lops through neck and shoulder.

Crompton and Fennec leap to the doorway with alacrity and seek cover while Crompton begins reloading – then realizes that even crossbows firing blind can score a hit, and scrambles to cover as well.

There are passages on that level, and stairs steeply up to the right. Nothing leads down, though Fennec does look around carefully.

On the basis that “up” is where human commanders tend to be, Fennec signals up and they begin working their way up, quietly. Cauleigh checks that the wand Damper loaned him is ready to draw.

The fire drake

Pressed against the stairway wall, they hear the accents of a local man, obviously of some presence:

“They are on the stair!”

All they can see of the man is that he wears the feathered hat (over steel cap) of a marksman, wears a half-breastplate suitable for sniping, and has a beautifully-decorated arquebus muzzle. From somewhere further off comes the call:

“Let my pet play with them!”

Cauleigh is not sure how the wand works exactly but whips it out and calls:

“Abbas!”

The match on his caliver, and the match on Crompton’s arquebus, go out.

There’s a thump of  something hefty landing, a scraaape of scales, and the fire drake scrambles down the stairwell. Although they mentally know it’s only eight feet long it looks a lot bigger with its wings extended and jaws agape!

“Abbas!”

The drake extends its neck and a puff of some warm vapor is expelled.

Crompton and Cauleigh leap to the attack! The kukri and ancestor axe make short work of the drake.

The marksman S’rathra the Enforcer

Up they go! Cauleigh and Crompton athletically, Fennec pragmatically. Cauleigh is first up around a landing and to the next possible exit. The interior wall of a room or series of chambers is on his right shoulder, he’s looking half-right through an open doorway or entry. Again he can see the muzzle of the enemy’s arquebus, ready to shoot whoever tries the doorway.

Crompton dive-rolls across that landing and stands on the opposite side of the entry to Cauleigh, who signals where the arquebusier is. Who clearly knows they are there:

“Come now! You dare to beard S’rathra the Enforcer in his own chambers! On, on you brave Dwarves!”

Crompton signals his plan, gets the nod, sees Fennec is ready: he spins round the frame, catches a glimpse of another entry or open chamber and a wizard’s robes, flings a throw-knife that way, closes with the arquebusier, but the fire mage is ready:

“Glue You!”

Cauleigh yells:

“Abbas!”

and rushes the fire mage, kukri hacking at him.

Fennec hustles behind them as support. He does not have many options that are likely to work. But it’s possible the mage does not have multilevel protections against conformation magic.

“Glue You!”

Looks like it works!

In the next couple of minutes:

Crompton is face to face with a powerful marksman who now wields a longish and somewhat clumsy club, thanks to the fire suppressing wand. He drops it to one side, and grins evilly as he draws an epee – ideal for pricking through Crompton’s fabric armor. The rogue draws his magic hourglass and incants “Tempus Fugit!” and is back in the fight at normal speed! He calls “Vorpal Blade!” and is in full combat with S’rathra.

The fire mage Nyx of Kimelas

Crompton’s knife spins lazily across the chamber at the fire mage who has to take a moment to get out of its way. He can only parry Cauleigh’s kukri. They lock weapons: the fire mage has a steel-headed staff that takes no damage at all from the kukri. At this distance Cauleigh can see he’s wearing a different ring on each hand.

As Fennec races, magic dagger in hand, to help Cauleigh finish off the fire mage, the latter leaps back and yells:

“Protective Pentagram!”

Cauleigh strikes a powerful blow and his blade ricochets off a glistening amber-covered shield.

“Don’t bother – that’s invulnerable both ways – we just need to guard him,” Fennec raps out and stands guard.

Freed from that quarter Cauleigh races back to lock up the marksman.

“So, a second comes to try me! In that case I shall switch to my stronger hand!” S’rathra brags, and the fight is furious.

From behind him, Crompton can hear cries of the soldiery encouraging each other to help. One braves the stairwell. Fennec signals to Crompton and summons very nearly his last reserve of mana: “Whammy!” and leaps back away from the PP and across to help Cauleigh.

Cauleigh locks S’rathra up long enough for Crompton to spin, hide next to the entrance, ram his dagger through the luckless soldier, and get back in time to lock up the epee: Fennec’s dagger kills S’rathra. [Just enough, he is suitably tough.]

But seeing the distraction the fire mage pops his PP! Fennec flings the dagger, accurately, the mage wields his staff like a bat and smashes it but his spell – whatever it was – is incomplete. And he’s still slowed! All three Dwarves gank him!

They begin stripping the corpses and glancing about for loot. This seems to be a luxurious chamber with easy access to S’rathra’s quarters. Fancy pictures on the wall, luxury silver service and a fine goblet and decanter… And not far off a steel strongbox is big enough to hold troop pay!

[I make the IQ/LK SRs to search for loot open ended and aggregate, because there is a lot, and the three score an aggregate of L13 with some of the best rolls of the session! So that makes it easy – they find everything!]

The triumph at the battery

The trio clamber down and out, Cauleigh and Crompton using two paintings like a stretcher with piles of loot heaped on it, Fennec staggering under the 200lb weight of the strongbox. The enemy soldiers give them a respectful distance and then head in to see what loot they can find.

Chion’s regiment is still very much in the same position, having only advanced to the support trenches. The opposition has either not hardened into overwhelming numbers, or has been dealt with. Looking around from that vantage, Cauleigh sees that the enemy battery, at the other end of the support trenches, is in a state of confusion, with some gunners fleeing and some trying to dig their gunnes out.

“This is our chance! Look!” Cauleigh calls, heaving the strongbox down in front of them and opening it. “There’s coin enough to pay for all! Let’s take that battery!”

[Makes a CHR SR with a small but fair bonus from the coin offered. Which is mostly copper coin.]

And seeing the coin, the Dwarves cheer, ready their weapons, and advance to capture the gunnes!

[There is actually downtime during the assault on the fire mage, with Nyx (the fire mage) making the Dwarves an offer for changing sides, but it doesn’t really have a bearing on the fight. They don’t even get to introduce themselves or learn his name. At least I managed to let S’rathra say his little tribute to the Princess Bride!

BTW I know I have the exact order wrong, and probably who did exactly what wrong, but that’s roughly how it happened. Apologies to the character if I stole your great move and gave it to a different character, as if I am Fran+Peter reassigning all the cool lines to Legolas in the Two Towers. Remember, the important thing is you got the AP and the loot!]

Any missions going?

They have piled together a pile of stuff they would like identified, could pay the Guild seniors to do it [possibly they acknowledge most coins have just been given away, possibly they forget that’s an option] but are content to wait for the Arch-magi to have some free time.

Crompton casually returns Jotunn his arquebus with thanks. He plans to hang onto the magical, slightly longer and less-wieldy arquebus looted from S’rathra. He knows it’s magical and time will tell how magical.

“I wouldn’t mind testing it out though,” he hints to Cauleigh.

“Why it’s extraordinary you mention that, I was just thinking to see if there is a small mission suited to our status as silvers but enough to earn another meal token or so.”

[In game-speak, Cauleigh is a few dozen AP shy of a really big buy and I encourage him to wait, because there is a small mission.]

A scouting foray into the dungeon is on offer

At the mission board and common room Mother Hobb seems to have things under control. She’s just formally welcoming that new wizard they met as a militiaman at the mill fight.

“There is something up on the ‘Level Four Trailblaze’ corner” she advises and this leads them down to talk to Gnat. Who is perched up on the killing corner of the barricade, pretending to stand guard but really just watching Two, who is supervising Damper Mizva Sprain and Lardo piling up more stone. Some dodgy-looking scaffolding is being assembled by newbies who know something about working with wood.

Cauleigh thanks Damper for the wand and hands it back.

“No, thank you,” the big guy replies politely and clips it back. “Great work!”

Briefing from a small rogue

“You go through that doorway back there on the right, head straight, go through the mousehole lord demon made that time…”

“Yes he’s a bit keen on new spells…”

“Oh, all’s well that ends well…”

“Ends well? Didn’t you end up having to take one for the team?”

“Meh. That’s done with.

“By the way Fennec wanted me to say he’s happy to PB you any time, no strings attached.”

“Thanks! Anyway through the mousehole there’s a square chamber that points you half-right, out through that short tunnel and you’re in a big sloping cavern, heading down. Any information about exact ways down further is good. There’s a gully on the left we’ve never really looked at, and we have no plan of the side chambers on the right of the cavern. So don’t forget to map. I’ve never seen you doing it, but mapping is kind of the point here.”

“Any word on monsters?”

“It’s been super no-spawn since yesterday.”

Into the gully

Crompton has plenty of light from Fennec’s Will-o-Wisp and decides not to use his Cateyes yet – it does suck most of his mana pool! He can see rough steps have been hacked into the stone leading down, and signals that way.

The Dwarves have discussed this at some length and are going for noise discipline and very limited light as usual. There’s no reward for just attracting monsters, so the plan is to not attract attention.

Cauleigh, who is following the others and mapping, takes a good look around as they descend. Not only can he detect no hostiles in sight, he can see a concealed stone door against the rougher stone of the wall at the gully’s end. [Another great IQ SR from Cauleigh, who has IQ as a dump stat!]

Crompton examines the fine tracery relief on the stone but shakes his head at Fennec.

The wizard is ready for this type of door:

“Knock knock!”

The monster beetle

As the heavy stone door swings open there’s a sound like air pressure shifting:

Puhh!

Cauleigh hurls himself aside and Crompton stumbles against the stone door, but Fennec takes acid gas in the body and frantically wipes his face and strips off his robe and backpack, which are dissolving. Crompton too drops his backpack as the straps are breaking. A clicking as of immense segmented legs can be heard from the chamber beyond.

It’s a huge beetle! Armored and powerful, but clumsy.

The combat involves leaping behind it, then jumping on top of it as it works its way back round. Eventually the carapace surrenders to repeated massive chops, and the beetle stops wiggling.

Crompton has a quick search of its very dirty chamber. Other than a similar stone door on the right, he finds loose coins and an old helm with the skull of a small demi-human still occupying it. He casually tips the skull out and scoops the coins in.

A number of choices

Fennec once more rises the the occasion:

“Knock knock!”

Puhh!

But this time it’s only air pressure. Fennec has not moved: but the other two dust themselves off and peer through. Fennec, who is dressed in not very much now, is conscious of air movement from out in the cavern, moving past them and into the newly-opened chamber.

What begins as small squarish chamber breaks off into a widening and rough cavern, and rock shards lie as though something once forced its way through the stone wall from cavern to chamber.

About a dozen feet along the left wall of the rough cavern, a particularly deep concavity proves to be a small tunnel.

Only a few feet further along the rough cavern is bisected by a fissure or ravine. It is much too deep for Fennec’s WoW to have any effect, and there is a very hollow deep sound or feeling to it. On the opposite side (too far for a laden Dwarf to leap easily) the rough cavern continues, and there are a few glittering shards on its floor. Beyond that, narrowing into what could be a passage.

The cavern of the pool

Crompton casts Cateyes on himself. Now viewing the world in greys and blacks, he peers along the small tunnel. He makes sure nothing will easily snag, and squeezes in and along. The tunnel widens, and he comes to the lip of a moderate size pool, opaque to his eyes.

Sticking his shoulders right out and peering left, he can see another tunnel. Peering right, he can see a rock shelf slopes gently up and away to where steps have been cut leading up, roughly half-right. But he can’t see the start of the rock shelf owing to the way the cavern wall bulges between his tunnel and the shelf.

The pool cavern is currently unoccupied. After nearly nerving himself up to try splashing towards the rock shelf, Crompton squeezes his way backward and rejoins the others.

“We’ve mapped, we found this pool with steps, and a possible deep drop down to lower levels, let’s call it there,” they decide.

[With this chance to rest and spend the bonus from the fire mage, the three Dwarves do so.  Crompton and Cauleigh are pushing DEX strongly, Fennec has to take a more balanced approach across the wizard three but pushes WIZ in particular. 

Briefly:

Cauleigh: best attribute is still CON, his weakness is IQ on 10.

Crompton: best attribute is still STR, his weakness is CHR on 10.

Fennec: best attribute is still CON, his weakness is CHR on 9.

Jotunn’s weakness is CHR as well, on 8, or 11 in Fingold.]

Props

2015 Dodecahedron (op cit) for the last stage. Wizardawn generators for S’rathra and his arquebus, and the various nifty items the fire mage and marksman were using.

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TI2.09: A morning of decisions and danger

The characters for this session

Fennec, L2 wizard

Cauleigh, L3 warrior (with burgher background)

Crompton, L2 rogue (Roguery talent, with Runebearer background)

It is the sleep of the truly weary that our heroes take, after the Adventurers Guild Council breaks up. And an all too short sleep it seems! For at the very first bell of the first watch of the day (and this being summer, think 5.30am in our time) comes the carrying tones of the town crier!

Oyez! Oyez! By this word let hit be k-nown! Let hall those due happointed of the Fingold Hadventurers Guild present themselves hat the citadel fer haudience with er grace the Duch-ess of Fingold hin Igh Council hat second watch! Hand there break their fast!

Crompton tries to shut the guy up then realizes this is not a dream, rises, and sees that Jotunn’s bed is rumpled. The hunter-warrior has slept for a short snatch then rolled out again.

Not troubling to look for a note Crompton dresses, slipping on uncomfortable sandals. He needs boots!

Flashback:

Spotting a small side-tunnel in the summoning chamber of the Barghest’s lair, Crompton leads the other three down. Cautioning Fennec not to lick the weird mushrooms he presses forward round a narrow bend, past crumbled valve seatings and into an ancient chamber where stands a relic-box.

And there he falls into a leg-breaker trap, and ruins his lovely leather calf boots!

Still, the value of the two large diamonds recovered will make up for the pain.

Back to the present:

Crompton makes his way round gallows lane and down Whitehorse street again, in a light morning mist. The watch-light’s glare over the citadel gate draws his eye briefly but he fails to note Lady Melissa out for her regular morning exercise, accompanied by one of her ‘tiring-women and a cudgelman.

Houses are so obviously still shut that Crompton does not bother knocking up his tailor, instead, on a whim, heading for the North Barracks.

Reveille must be early early there, and Chion’s regiment is already exercising. Crompton easily spots two Svelte rogues, obvious given their different build, attire and general air of being wide boys with swag.

Crompton proudly brags all the information Kamerad asked him not to pass on yesterday evening, leaving Ausecur and Ondsop nodding grimly to one another about payback, and chats a while. They too have had the summons and will be there at second watch sharp, and they seem pretty sure their services have been such that spells are on their way!

[Ah well, I say to Crompton’s player, no big deal, it’s the difference between remembering what’s said in the session and reading the blog.]

Horns in the dawn announce an attack

The other two Dwarves have sunk back to a doze but horns wake them. Fennec has a good sense of where sounds come from in the Guild halls [L3 IQ SR] and is first dressed, belting on his robe and tucking knives in it as he seizes his silver-shod staff.

“Let’s head along to the gate, south!”

Armour on and axe in hand Cauleigh jogs beside him along new wall street and they soon emerge beside the south-east gate. There, Lady Melissa, still in her exercise attire of dented iron hem and breastplate, is rallying the militia she exercised with, and leading them out the gate.

“For Fingold! Raise your bill-hooks and carry them against the enemy! Let each man kill a dozen before he lays down his life!”

“What’s the attack?” Cauleigh wants to know as they follow.

“Jotunn led some armed men and some millers to the mill, there’s fighting going on!” calls down one of the gate guard.

The two Dwarves catch Melissa, who is double-stepping, guarded by a lady’s maid and a cudgel-bearing courtier-soldier.

“Cauleigh! Fennec! With me!”

“Agreed! What’s the situation?”

Melissa has only seconds to explain as her tiny troop tramples across the foot-bridge leading to the millpond and mill. She manages something about a mission to re-establish the ballista and make the mill safe…

Then Fennec is peering up through the mist and spotting a pair of ratlike men perched on the mill:

“Oh Go Away!”

To his surprise (and delight) the ratmen utter screams of rage and run at him – and three floors up, that’s not healthy. Cauleigh winces as one crunches down on the weir and the other lands really badly, but follows up to where he heard Jotunn’s war-cry.

The sturdy hunter seems sore wounded, and Cauleigh is only fast enough to see the last item of clothing being dropped as three huge rats plunge into the water on the other side of the islet. That side is the fast-rushing river proper and they are carried rapidly downstream, angling towards the opposite bank.

“Shoot! Bring them down!” Cauleigh yells to the pickets poking their noses up opposite, but the enemy either can’t hear him or know not to fire at their own.

Fennec has paused at a body he recognizes as one of the adventurers, a quietly spoken artisan of some type. He trickles enough healing into the man to prevent death, and heads over to examine Jotunn.

The hunter has taken an arrow between the armour plates, deep through his upper left breast.

“This will take more skill than I have… let’s get you back to the Guild and some specialist care.”

[Jotunn’s player can’t make this session for good reason. I soloed out a little mission to give him some compensation AP. He takes 40 off CON trying to protect his team, Quest is hit seriously and Larson falls to negative CON. All ratmen are driven off or killed, the ballista rigged atop the mill is re-enchanted, and the crooked millers terminated.

Crompton’s player plays one of the militia, wielding a simple polearm such as a voulge or billhook.]

 

Ready for the big occasion

Since it’s now broad daylight Cauleigh looks for Crompton, finds him back at the Guild, and the pair knock up their favorite cobbler. Cauleigh books up a second pair of fine boots and Crompton books a replacement pair.

Fennec is dressed in his finest robe when they get back. “Hurry up lads, the Council – and food – aren’t going to wait our convenience!” The pair start polishing things.

“There’s been a lot of bustle below – missions galore!” Fennec updates them. “All for the same thing – new-fledged wizards and rogues taking a scroll and enchanting a ballista. Easy money! They’ve all gone, of course.”

The other pair finish their preparation and the trio swagger along to the citadel.

 

The High Council

[Protocol, in fact ‘an occasion’, is hard to ‘show’ adventurers. I take my time getting the order of seating clear.]

The food and drink are done with – for now, it’s better quality than they eat on the Guild – and the long table is occupied.

Head of table: Duchess Melissa of Fingold. Unusually (in fact uniquely, in the Dwarves’ experience) she is dressed in finery and has jewels in her hair. Behind her stand both her ladies in waiting and one courtier-soldier.

At her right, representing the spiritual power: Righteous Filbard, High Priest of Ikmal Iron-bringer. Behind him stand all five veteran bearers.

From his right, along that flank of the table:

Ausecur; and dragging a stool in close, Ondsop, representing Hathlisveit’s interests (and their own!) No sign of Kamerad. The two Sveltes are working hard on their swag, way out of their league here.

Two of Chion’s regiment file-leaders representing the regiment, chosen by vote: Twill and Sayer.

Cauleigh representing the Guild and the Dwarves in general; and also dragging stools in close, Fennec and Crompton. Cauleigh has already reminded them about not making penis jokes.

At Melissa’s left, QMGLC Saundra, in finery and bejeweled, as usual. Behind her sit her usual coterie of four or five abacus-men and clerks.

From Saundra’s left, on that flank of the table:

The Arch-magi;

The master gunner;

Bless and Gena representing the Guild, snuggled close so they can share notes. (“Yeah, right” snorts Fennec, but to himself.)

[No-one comments that there is no representative of, say, the gentry, or the townsfolk. I guess that means I’ve got the autocratic nature of Fingold across OK?]

The Dwarves are surprised to see Bless must be short-sighted, she uses a monocle type of eyeglass to read with. She’s got her hair up and is dressed in a fine wizard robe. Gena is wearing a robe too, but can’t have had time to have one made up, and patches of wear on it suggest it’s her old navigator’s attire. It’s embroidered with emerald and turquoise thread, depicting river scenes.

Looking left Cauleigh notices that Righteous Filbard is peering with intense curiosity across and down, at Gena. Or on second thought, [IQ SR] it’s more likely he’s short-sighted and is simply trying to make sure he’s seeing her right. Then Melissa opens the high council.

“My thanks and welcome to you all. Let us open our high council with a prayer from Righteous Filbard, High Priest of Fingold’s new official deity, Ikmal Iron-bringer.”

Filbard seems to be trilingual and says a short prayer in common, then Dwarven, then (fluently, as far as any of the Dwarves know) in Elven.

Melissa thanks him and continues her introduction. The agenda is to agree on an order of proceeding. She quickly outlines the first two points agreed by the Guild and looks around.

“Eet ees zis way, Milady,” Bless explains, poorly [I warn the guys I am shit at generic Latina accents and do a really bad job with this. Bless’s reputation declines even further with them if that is possible. Poor Bless! She’s supposed to be based on a vaguely Spanish version of Marietta from Log Horizon.] “Ze Guild also sink ze matter of getting Righteous Filbard down to Level Six need attention – ‘e being needed, bot not mobile – ees urgent we larn ‘oo team wiz ‘oo.” Much eye-rolling from the Dwarves but it is added at the bottom of the things that need to be decided, as a sub-point to the second major point:

  • Assault the vampiress on Level Six, and throw down the evil shrine churning out zombies
    – Senior adventurers to coordinate with Righteous Filbard how to transport him down!

There is an update from the Arch-magi on the preparedness against ooh, say, Drake attack. “That was a nasty surprise,” he rumbles, “but each ballista has been readied against a fire creature.” He has dark smudges under his eyes – he’s been prepping scrolls non-stop.

Melissa speaks briefly to remind the table of the grand plan – the Hathlisveit regiment will assault the lines!

“And those Mother-of-pearl pieces were fine,” Ausecur tells her, “we’ll have a clear trail to follow!”

“But the assault to break the siege has been put in jeopardy,” Melissa continues, “for the enemy seem to know it is imminent.”

Shocked and angry, Twill and Sayer leap to their feet! Cauleigh (who is wearing his cloak of plausibility) mutters them down, more or less. [Fail-forward CHR SR] But Filbard, seeing they are not about to say anything, creaks:

“I for one would like to know how the strategy came to be revealed.”

“I too would be most interested to know,” Saundra says in offended tones.

[It was Fennec! At the Adventurers Guild Council he spoke about what the regiment was going to do, and everyone there heard him say quite specifically that the assault would begin after next mage-duel.]

Gena stands and bows deeply to the head of the table.

“Do I know you, young lady?” wheezes Filbard. Gena once again bows, saying:

“Righteous Filbard, defender of the Dwarven faith, it has been these one-score year and three since we met by the river. It is the fortune of my folk that we recall each and every shallow and bend, and I plied my trade as navigator there. Happenstance brought me within these walls some score of months since, and here have I stayed.”

Then, she turns to Saundra – and Cauleigh once again mentally congratulates the Guild on selecting this serious and intelligent Elf – and says:

“Most Serene Countess, Lady Saundra, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Quartermaster-General, Defender of Fingold’s Walls, Knight of the West March, my apologies. It is common knowledge in the Guild.”

That seems to be all the explanation there is! But the lady Saundra seems to accept it.

[Flattery – getting all the titles lined up – gets you a long way!

At this point Fennec is curmudgeonly rather than grateful for being bailed out, but I choose not to play it as if he is speaking loudly across the table. I will retain his behaviour for future dealing with the fleeburns though.

Crompton’s player adds that once the newbies at the Council work it out, it spreads across the groups and out to the town.]

Crompton followed by Cauleigh suggests that a diversion come from the town itself, to sow doubt among the enemy as to their intel. [10AP each] Melissa catches fire:

“I shall scrape the walls, I shall leave babes and grandfathers alone, a thousand shall march!”

There’s no so much a wet cloth flung on this, it’s more, well, let’s just parse this out and see what the benefits and dangers are.

There are several options for diversions. Each gate offers a possibility, and the time of evening can be changed too. After discussion in which only the master gunner takes no part (he’s there, but is intent on volunteering nothing) the advantages of the large assembly areas on the city’s west hold sway. A thousand (roughly) can be marched out quickly from the west gate and the west way gate.

Obviously one of the alternatives is to grit teeth and stick it out some more, but Melissa at least is inclined to say, this way if we lose we have definitely lost, and can plead for terms. Perhaps her unspoken thought is, and I’ll be dead and pity the fool who tries to wed Saundra. The table is brought along with her. Saundra for example makes no opposing note to this at all. Bless might privately think, the longer the siege, the more drops, but says nothing.

There are a number of things that such a force can do – for example Cauleigh suggests that Righteous Filbard could act as a mobile fortress with them – but cutting through the west siege lines, swinging south and rolling up the weak southern siege lines seems as much as can be expected, so that’s what is eventually agreed. Marching within sight of the walls, so that they don’t get lost, dictates a lot of the strategy. For its part Chion’s regiment will head north, march slightly east, and loop back south, so as to break through the lines and assault the fire-mage’s headquarters direct.

Should the Fire-mage be removed the assault effort will swing to the Adventurers Guild, who are following promising leads for getting to Level Six. The High Priest has volunteered to help purge the zombie-generating temple, and the Guild is keen to take down the vampiress. There’s some minutiae not understood by any but Bless and the Arch-magi about lowering a hefty Dwarf with his litter down a deep crevasse, then the Council concludes. The Arch-magi signals Fennec. Cauleigh follows Fennec. It is to Cauleigh he turns first.

Tabloid facts!

“I had a recollection of the falchion being mentioned in our Sarn Athrad Archive – but in fact it turns out it was a color piece in the Sarnas Tribune – so now that you have been warned it is tabloid journalism this is what I found…”

(Here, the Arch-magi refers to notes in hieratic Dwarven)

“It’s said that a Uruk-hai, right-hand of a Uruk sorcerer, wielded the falchion in the last days of Tor Tarqol before the Death Goddess arrival. Supposedly, he clove the breast of Maglos the High Elf, rallying his forces and crying Elfblood! Elfdeath! in the common tongue.

“Another tale of later days has it that a Uruk-kin descendant of this Uruk-hai rallied his forces and over-awed the Elves at the river by crying Malindor! Malindordol!

“You could try both command phrases. However I notice that the silver intaglio is new and there’s no potential magic – it could be that the blade needs to be reactivated with the blood of an Elf.”

As Cauleigh ponders this not-so-great news the Arch-magi turns to Fennec.

“I have not had time to identify those interesting items you sent by. Hands full, sorry. A dozen spells to teach every day for some time to come, I think.”

“Speaking of spell-teaching,” Fennec rejoins, rolling a huge white diamond about in his hand, “I’d be keen to learn another.”

Crompton catches up to the little group, gulping down the last extra morsels he grabbed. “I want some of that action too,” he adds, rolling a matching diamond around in his hand!

[I’m still working my way through the new-to-me rules on spell teaching but agree the Arch-mage can fast-imprint Hidey Hole for Fennec and Cateyes for Crompton given how important the assault on the Fire mage is to the city.]

The monsters are breaking in!

The Adventurers Guild rings with cries of alarm and clangor of arms! Hearing that the goblins on Level Two seems to be about to break through, the trio hurry to the entry room, catching up that newbie who distinguished himself beside them in the dawn, and joining some of the Wanderers and City Boys who are armed with a mish-mash of polearms and lighter weapons. Khali hangs back waiting for her chance to use her attack spell. Fennec waits near her, craning his neck to get a view; Crompton readies Jotunn’s arquebus; Cauleigh shoulders his way forward.

“Stand ready lads,” Cauleigh (who is still wearing his cloak) calls. “They may have a Cobblepot but we have the numbers.”

“It’s Catoblepas,” Fennec corrects him from back at the doorway. He will do so again before the day is done. “I have a plan! When it gets to where you can all strike I’ll cast. Then, hit it a lot.”

Sure enough the goblins have cleared enough stone that the Catoblepas can ram its way through! Stone blocks topple into the room and the mighty, bone-armored magical beast powers through.

“Glue You!”

The wizard’s tactics work fairly well, allowing Cauleigh time enough to duck under the low-slung belly and strike up at tendons and less-armored flesh with his enchanted kukri. But a pair of agile goblins leap atop the beast.

WHAMMM!! Khali must have trained at much the same school of magic as Fennec, her powered-up TTYF glows purplish like his. A Goblin is flung backward. Her working day over, Khali pulls back further.

BOOM! Crompton’s shot is accurate and the other goblin is also flung back. Crompton hands the arquebus to the guy his two comrades think is handy. Who looks blankly at it and sets it down carefully.

Polearms and sword blades lance into the great beast’s flanks as Fennec’s spell slows it to a crawl.

“Keep at it lads! This Catball won’t stand much longer!”

“It’s Catoblepas Cauleigh, what did I just tell you?”

As the beast slumps Cauleigh nips clear. But that puts him in close proximity to four bull goblins, bulky with muscle and looking for blood and loot. Suddenly Crompton vaults across the throng, bounds up off the carcass, and lands beside him.

“Vorpal Blade!”

With kukri and vorpalled axe the fight is won, goblins further back decide not to press forward, and the job of rebuilding the stone block barricade begins. The newbies cheerfully toss goblin corpses back out to the goblin side, build the barricade, and look forward to a judgement as to whether the huge bull-like magical beast counts as clean enough to eat.

As soon as they dare, the trio hurry below to see how the senior groups fare.

The grand tunnel has been partially blocked off since Jotunn suggested it be fully blocked, creating a killing zone. It is choked with mighty bodies and the foul stench of dead zombies comes from the piles heaped around the crude walls.

The heavy hitters and Lefties are tired but fit. The Dwarves chat about the assault this evening, help drag corpses away, and wonder aloud about what to do about Drakes, Fire mages and so on. Seeing Crompton generously making sure Fennec has two magic knives, Damper unclips a wand from his belt and offers it on loan.

“It’ll snuff out flame on the command word ‘abbas!’ It does need mana though.”

“I can use it,” Cauleigh assures him. “Thanks for the loan! Say, I don’t see billhooks around here.”

“Thank you, we did think about using them, but, no…”

Shaking his head at their strange insistence on using powerful magic weapons instead of billhooks, Cauleigh pats his powerful magic weapon in its sheath and heads back up for a rest.

Later the Dwarves hear that Level One defense received only a token attack, soon broken off with no losses on either side.

[I don’t quite recall why the newbie militiaman is present at the fighting on Level Two. The Dwarves all seemed pretty keen for him to be inducted as a new wizard, so he was. Good enough reason I guess. He had a good fight too, I didn’t do him justice above. Though it did get quite confusing so best left this way. I seem to recall Crompton’s player names him Max.]

The last part of the afternoon is spent resting (for Cauleigh) and learning spells (for the other two). And the early part of this extra session ends.

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TI2.08: Shatterzone cleared/The Guild holds council

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L2 Dwarf wizard (Background, wanderer, which permits the odd ‘lore’ check)

Cauleigh, L3 Dwarf warrior (Background Townsman)

Crompton, L2 Dwarf rogue (Roguery talent, Background Rune-bearer)

A couple of likely lads

The furbishers have just been winched back up to the new wall out of the shatterzone, and are sharing coins out to the five ‘tag-ends’ who made it back alive with them. Three of them seem to be interested in something Jotunn has to say while Quest, a herdsman with an easygoing manner, and Vojun, a smith with the muscles of his trade, ask Cauleigh where the Adventurers Guild is?

As they head to the north end of the wall and down, Fennec tags along while Crompton excuses himself:

“I need to follow up a couple of purchases…”

The awl-pricker

Crompton heads across New Wall lane, and into his awl-pricker’s building, nodding to the various families setting to their meager breakfast. His awl-pricker is in, and knows a tailor, which is what Crompton wants this time. He gives Crompton general directions, complaining about the sheer number of families crowded into buildings.

“Well quite a few lads are dying out there, and looks like the survivors will live in the Adventurers Guild,” replies Crompton.

“Bless her ladyship! A grand plan to turn the tide, is what I hear,” the awl-pricker replies, glancing uneasily at the doorway in case someone is listening.

“The Guild seemed pretty empty, newcomers will be good,” comments Crompton and heads over the next block to begin enquiries.

Business as usual in the Guild

As usual the upper floors of the Adventurers Guild echo hollowly. Fennec looks about vaguely.

“Let’s follow our noses,” he decides and turns south to the stair down. Sure enough the heady smell of brewing ale can now be detected.

A round-bodied individual bustles up from the stair and along into the four heading that way. Cauleigh intercepts him.

“Ah, one minute, young fellow, what’s your business?”

A sharp scent of hops comes from the chap. “Delivering hops” he replies, as a second hop brother trots up stairs and catches him up. Mother Hobb has just paid them for their hops.

Thoughts of a council

Kindly Mother Hobb is about to brew afresh. As she did with the Dwarves, she performs a simple induction session for the two newbies. They admire their copper token and study the Mission Board (which is down here these days) and are too busy to notice Cauleigh heading away to talk to the senior Guild members, especially Two. Mother Hobb stops he and Fennec long enough to ask where the “ranger” Jotunn is – she has a mission to find good malting barley for him.

“He’s with three of the newbies,” Cauleigh explains.

“These halls will be lively! We really should hold a Guild Council to decide who should do what mission. We used to do that quite often. Although… perhaps only representatives of each group,” Mother Hobb suggests. The other pair think of Mizva and nod.

The tailor

Meanwhile Crompton has slogged through a lot of human households and at length finds the tailor’s stall,  up two floors on Whitehorse street. There’s a tailor, and a ‘prentice, and it’s pretty obvious from the girth of the tailor and the boniness of the ‘prentice that the tailor is eating all the food rations.

He’s delighted to help someone that wants a suit of fancy clothes (based on an Esgaroth Truerunner outfit) and will recommend a belt-maker friend of his as well. Licking his fat chops in anticipation he settles on the agreed food token price.

Crompton stands patiently being measured…

Heavy hitters catch-up

The Heavy Hitters are exercising, as Mother Hobb supposed. Sharp and Damper are currently going at it, two completely different fighting styles. Two is watching, and Gnat is standing in attendance beside him. Cauleigh heads towards Two, with Fennec trailing along. Princess moves to intercept them, then sees who it is and steps back, taking her hand off her long slightly curved sword. Fennec pauses to congratulate her on her recovery, while Cauleigh joins Two.

“I thank you most graciously for your solicitous concern,” Princess replies. She has an odd accent, easy enough to follow, speaks breathily and very formally.

Fennec notices Bless, the Lefties’ wizard, grab Gnat’s hand and lead her away. He raises an eyebrow and joins Cauleigh, who has also decided not to say anything. (Later Cauleigh mutters “I assumed Gnat had just decided to give in to the inevitable.”)

Two is very much on the same page as Cauleigh. In fact as far as he can see, the Dwarf timetable such as the Barghest mission, are setting the agenda. But a Guild Council would be a good idea. Though – glancing at Sharp and Damper – perhaps just representatives from each group. Then the Council can present the plan to Lady Saundra – with a glance over his shoulder in case someone heard him cutting her titles down – and a proper timetable can be agreed on.

Mission thoughts

The pair return, in no great hurry – Fennec is healing himself every ten minutes or so – to Mother Hobb’s common room. They find her farewelling a messenger to the citadel, and posting up another mission, this one about protecting the harvest. Cauleigh and Fennec pass on the general agreement about a Council.

By virtue of being the rear-echelon support, Mother Hobb is Guild secretary. She’ll organise the Council for this evening. At the same time the Guild would normally be recovering from zombie fighting, probably.

Crompton finds them there, and they all head back up to the wall to see how later groups fare.

The trio station themselves near the winch and chat about the assault on the fire mage, the plan to locate and kill the vampiress, and what they will need to swat a Barghest, though they have discussed this before and it’s really a matter of agreeing who might carry what. Crompton for example regrets Jotunn insisting he will shoot-and-drop the arquebuss but decides the heavy bow, with Sheeting Arrows of Claes, is a good option.

Panic stations!

“We’re going to need all four,” Cauleigh decides and is interrupted by screams from far below and oaths from the guards, calls of “ballista! Can you hit it?!” or “Fucking hell! Dragon!!!”

The Dwarves leap to their feet and see smoke marks the main east-west path through the shatterzone where several adventurers are burning. Just as they are deciding the excitement is over Crompton glances over his shoulder and with a scream alerts the others that the dragon is coming back over the town! He shoots, missing. [L8 DEX SR!]

It’s too fast for them to sight in so Fennec waits until it flashes past, works out it is only about 8′ long, and both he and Cauleigh let drive. As the smoke from Cauleigh’s caliver rolls away they see fresh adventurer barbecue – but the drake is certainly retreating fast towards the Fire mage’s lines.

“Ha! winged it,” they brag and this improbable tale is accepted by the guards.

Thoughts of a higher nature

It seems the burnt group is still bravely moving on – or at least, occasional glints of voulges or guisarmes can be seen in the sunlight. They return to cleaning weapons and checking lacings.

“You know, I don’t see how Two can throw up those two orb spells together. I’ve done some research, they are two separate spells, and he ought not to be able to do that,” Fennec muses.

“Well, you know… Two…”

“He’s just a smart cunt?”

“Yeah, pretty much that. Pretty dumb around women, pretty smart cunt otherwise.”

[The demon in glasses’ signature spell is the twinned effect of the two orb spells. It’s a gimmick not a cheat, pre-casting and delayed activation, which limits what he can cast ad-hoc. Originally it was just a good way of showing Two’s command of spells and suggest what can be done with gimmicks and gadgets once you can empower your own.]

Gentry full of promise set out

It’s now mid-morning and the three survivors of the second group are winched up, bearing massive cuts of pork. They are hailed as heroes! and the third group descends. The Dwarves interest is piqued by a different formation: some four swordsmen have taken the van. The word passed on by the guards is, a couple of them are young squires.

“Sounds promising,” Cauleigh says approvingly, and at about that time the first squire plummets to his death in a spiked pit.

Nevertheless the sound of nervous calling and fighting recedes into the distance, occasional screams marking real alarm. It’s obvious this group is doing relatively well and having swords up front was a good idea.

[The Dwarves have rested, in effect, since the fire-drake attack so now AP spend proceeds. Significant marks – Fennec’s IQ moves to 19, Cauleigh’s STR and DEX move to 25, and Crompton’s CON moves to 19 and DEX to 18. These are much more well-rounded adventurers capable of surviving the odd calamity now.]

A path is sketched out

Well through the afternoon, fully ten of the adventurers return, and they brag that they have located the entrance to the Barghest’s lair! Neither of the squires made it back.

The Dwarves collar the lone Hobb. His name is Parda and he styles himself a dyer, though his repulsive appearance – completely colored in odd dye tones from curly hair to hairy feet – suggests he is a lowly mixer and stamper. Using a piece of chalk – possibly looted from a corpse – Parda traces out the path. He warns about centipedes and endures a traumatic flashback, and struggles to explain how you get from the slumped building where a number of paths lead off, around into the kobold tower. They guard the Barghest’s lair entrance, but he’s pretty sure his group cleared the kobolds. And pinched their darts.

The last group in is a particularly large one, and the Dwarves are startled to see three being marched in at sword-point just before they are handed a short sword and buckler. Their lone guard looks experienced to the point of being a geezer, in human years.

“Well, I guess we were wrong. QMGLC Saundra doesn’t just execute prisoners out of hand,” Cauleigh comments. Fennec pulls a face. He prefers the radiant compassion of Duchess Melissa. “This is pretty much the same thing though,” he retorts.

A fourth is called for

“Look, I’m going to head away to find Jotunn or one of the Sveltes. If we do go in right away before the shatterzone can be re-trapped we should have a fourth,” Cauleigh confirms and follows through, heading first to the Guild.

It’s time for evening meal and excited newbie adventurers are all over the Guild building. It’s still disorganized but noise and life have returned to the building. Some of it the sobbing of the traumatized:

“The bugs! The bugs!”

“The smell as they burned alive! O lady of compassion!”

Still the Mission room is cheerfully chaotic and Mother Hobb is still kindly inducting new members and explaining the set-up. There’s no sign of Jotunn, he must have headed out to the countryside. But the third Svelte, Kamerad, is right there looking around at the sights.

“How are you doing? How are things with the regiment?”

“Oh, steady to the point of being boring. They do have a name for the regiment though. Chion’s regiment, it’s called now.”

“So you’re looking for something a bit more exciting?”

“Anything with the prospect of getting loot and new spells. I heard a rumor that in this Guild place you ‘get’ meals and are ‘given’ spells. So what’s the real deal?”

“No, that is the real deal. Do missions for food, do good work and they teach you spells. And it so happens we have a mission and need a fourth.”

“Excellent! I’m in! What’s the mission?”

[Kamerad is the weakest of the Sveltes with only 18 points of spells known. He’s probably the best choice for joining as a pick-up member, being exceptionally motivated to learn.]

Cauleigh leads him over to the board and over the shoulders of taller newbies points to the well-known map of the shatterzone and the word in one corner: Barghest? “We have a path through to that boss and we plan to take him down very soon.”

“I’ll head away and get some gear then. But if you see the others – don’t mention this – OK?”

While they wait, Fennec snaps up a drop from one of the newbies, a healing potion. It leaves him a bit light on food tokens but he plans to gain more very soon!

Into the shatterzone once more

It’s deep dusk to the point of being night especially since the shatterzone is masked off from any setting sun’s rays by Fingold’s walls. The four are winched down and begin tracing the same path as all four previous expeditions.

The noise of the river masks any small sounds but close to the walls, there’s seldom danger.

Kamerad yells “left” and rolls right. Fennec and Crompton duck and roll right, Cauleigh leaps left, jinking and catching one of a pair of bulky dark shapes before they can team up on him. They wield voulges or guisarmes! He smashes his silver-chased axe down and finds he has just slain a uruk. Before he can flank the other, that one is brutally cut down by Crompton’s ancestor axe.

From further in the direction he’s ducked Fennec hears a low mutter in urukhun and the noise of stealthy withdrawal! Probably something like ‘Bob and Tigsy are down! Let’s just pull back and say a requiem for them…’

[These uruks are survivors from earlier uruk fights, not the uruk-boss lair. They are exploring a wild boar’s area now that it has been cleared, and have time to set a quick ambush on what looks like a small group of noobs. They aren’t expecting to meet L2-L3 opposition!]

Adding the small pouch of coins each had to their own belt the four find the path again and proceed across the crude footbridge that lets into the shatterzone’s crazy maze of rubble. Now away from the balefires on the wall, Fennec throws up a Will-o-Wisp.

Off in the darkness, screams. The fourth expedition is still in action. [This is where the uruk boss is taken down in a tough slog]

In their own ranks, all proceeds smoothly. Cauleigh and Kamerad – who is armored in a ‘medium’ fitout – are front rank and Fennec and Crompton are second. Murmured discussion about what is done by who has agreed on missile support. The Dwarves know the Svelte has a Boom Bomb rock, he knows Cauleigh will jump around.

[Which went well, I thought. Kamerad has only seen them in action in the context of skirmishing during the regiment’s forced march.]

Rescue and creepy-crawlies

After perhaps twenty minutes the Dwarves have located Burn Alley, the main east-west path through collapsed streets. Ahead in the darkness, screams and frantic running approaching.

Seeing the friendly light of a Will-o-Wisp two adventurers barely pause, and the Dwarves wave them through:

“What’s after you?”

“Ghouls!”

Three hungry ghouls have chased these last pair, the ageing guard and a strapping youngster, who may have moved faster were he not weighed down with loot! The Dwarves delay not and make short work of the ghouls. Fennec has not even needed to use an attack spell: he now throws up his third WoW.

Burn Alley has been scavenged during the hours that adventurers were not using it, and even the bones of the burnt adventurers are scattered. Ahead the Dwarves see the arch across the alley. This is where they swung left into Brownie trouble and also about the area where, Parda reckoned, centipedes started attacking.

Sure enough as they creep cautiously under the arch, Cauleigh is swathed in centipedes and Fennec has to deal with four more of the giant horrors. He is stung, shrugs off the poison from the centipede bite, and Kamerad and Crompton help rake them off and smash them.

 

Kobold guards cleared

Another WoW later they reach a confusing branching-off area. Fennec’s excellent recall of Parda’s sketch [L3 IQ SR] pinpoints which side of a slumped-over building they need to search to get beyond to where the kobold lair can be approached. Here, the remains of perhaps a barracks or wall bastion form a ruined tower.

The area outside the tower is marked by the bones and gear of an adventurer, perhaps acid-eaten. Scavengers have picked the area over though; and the kobold lair is not at all obvious. Perhaps it has been disguised again.

After some minutes’ search Cauleigh suddenly disappears down into the side of the mostly-intact tower. [He takes a fail-forward having missed by 1] The others are a trifle slow to react. From the dark below there’s a clang as something hits Cauleigh hard enough to knock his helm off. Fennec advances and pushes the WoW forward: Crompton jumps down. Clang! Something also knocks his steel cap off! [Those are also two fail-forwards on not being hit by flung darts]

Fennec spots the eyes of three smallish creatures using masonry as cover. Neither side is willing to advance. Fennec throws OGA at the two smaller and two kobolds skitter away back up into the tower. The bigger kobold flees, wisely. [Time was, that would have forced a charge. Fennec’s combined IQ+LK+CHR just top the kobolds]

The three were guarding a tunnel leading, so Kamerad says after a quick scout, to a blocked doorway.

Level boss down

Retrieving their gear, the Dwarves advance. Sure enough, at the end of the tunnel – perhaps once a proper stone passage – the kobolds have jammed up a doorway. The Dwarves use axes as jemmies and soon have it open.

Beyond, what may once have been a storage or watch chamber smells rank and damp. An exit left is blocked by another door. Cauleigh has been through and over many a wall in Esgaroth and [L1 IQ SR] believes it could lead to a storage cellar.

Prising the door away – silence being the watchword – they find indeed a shattered store. Remains of tuns and mold growths mark where stores have decayed. Beyond, at an odd angle, rotten shards of a door lead to what was once probably a circular stair up, but which has collapsed into sections.

The support pair attempt to cover the lead pair as best they can, as they clamber across collapsed sections of stone. Ahead the tunnel widens and a glimpse of something large made of wood and iron can be seen on the ground.

It proves to be a large spindle and windlass, lying useless adrift from its housing. Beyond, the part-collapsed chamber widens and forms a V. Nearest the windlass on the wall facing it, a mirror offers the chance to mistake one’s self as an intruder – but it is too dirty and verdigrised to offer much now.

Always cautious of an attack from the other, the Dwarves explore right. A curtain of some heavy fabric covers something on the right wall. Fennec consults with Kamerad who incants, holds his hand on the wall, and a small earth elemental clears away enough of one corner that the curtain falls. [5 Bonus AP to Fennec for thinking of it and getting someone else to spend WIZ]

Shallow steps rise to what appears to have once been a kobold punishment room. The Dwarves prudently ignore a tempting satchel under a crude throne, and the remains of a shackled kobold. “He’s not going anywhere” as Cauleigh observes.

The tunnel curves, then widens and forms a decent-sized chamber. Two doors on the right can be seen; on the left the chamber opens to what is probably a tunnel, and ahead crude steps seem to head down.

Crompton sneaks forward to check the doors while Kamerad watches left and the other pair cover. The first door is narrow and was once latched but the iron latch has rusted to nothing. The second door is broader, made of quality timber that has not completely warped, and bears three gouges where some immense dog-like creature has swiped at it.

From behind Crompton hears a warning “Ffft” as one of the others notices a deeper pool of black seeping up the crude stone steps. Kamerad backs off right into the left passage using cover, screams “Boom Bomb!” and makes a great throw.

Glue You! screeches Fennec triumphantly as the explosion illuminates an immense dog-like creature, 7′ at the shoulder, about to pounce. Crompton fires his Sheeting Arrow then Vorpals his axe as Cauleigh shoots it between the eyes with a silver bullet: the Barghest is slain!

[I don’t tally the numbers – good prep, great spell choice. The combat will go one more round, and the Barghest is slowed so can’t flee.]

 

The remains of the complex suggests that a high council of kobold bosses decided to summon a Barghest. They sit dead and long-decayed around their table, spoils still before them. The Dwarves loot much coin, and a really nice bracelet that glows magical when tested. The same test also picks up an arrow.

They also lug out a smallish statue probably used to summon the Barghest, and some coin from the trapped knapsack in the punishment room.

The first, smaller door leads to a rift, probably down to Level One. They hammer the door closed again. The second door leads to a large statue of the sun god (Ysel, in Esgaroth) and a permanent Wall of Flame. Possibly something to do with the original destruction, Fennec hazards.

The Barghest’s own resting place, if that’s what it is, is a weird hollow tree whence the noise of wind can be heard.

All these things are duly reported to the Adventurers Guild as the mission is ticked off. There is now nothing to prevent the Ogre on Level One from breaking out when the relief assault begins!

[I do briefly play the retreat, but time is pressing and we are talking MR5 scavenger level here]

Adventurers Guild Council

It’s about the time that, up to a fortnight ago, the adventurers would be unwinding from the zombie attacks over cards booze or tea. The three Dwarves, and Kamerad representing the Hathlisveit contingent, are seated at a long table. Around the table:

  • Two, representing the heavy hitters.
  • Panic and Bless representing the Lefties – and Bless has a pretty little girl on her lap all dressed in pink and ribbons. Yes, that’s Gnat. [Cauleigh claims 5AP for guessing ie reading the blog] Gnat is poker faced.
  • Burnley and Whitey representing the survivors. The Dwarves are a little disappointed that Mother Hobb isn’t there – as secretary she really ought to be – but she has had a tiring day and is still brewing.
  • Gena, a serious black-haired Elf with a burn scar on her face, and Natty Paray, white-haired and brown eyed, with a habit of playing with his blade, representing the ‘fleeburns‘ which is the three that survived the second expedition combined with the two that the Dwarves recently saved from ghouls. During the meeting Gena proves to have good insight and ability to keep to the agenda.
  • Danain Dyer, brown-haired, with energetic gestures that sometimes leave his hair disordered, and Hely Baker, tall and overweight, one of many red-haired townsfolk. Danain has one of the few valuable drops of the expeditions, a wand. They represent the City Boys, the half of the ten survivors of the third expedition that hail from within Fingold.
  • Urn, a golden-bearded purple-eyed warrior who owns his own scale mail and speaks with the accents of the far north, and Khali, an attractive copper-haired Elf whose tight leather pants draw Crompton’s eyes. They represent the Wanderers, the other half of the same ten. During the meeting Khali proves to be a major flirt unable to turn down a chance for some innuendo.
  • And finally Quest Herder and Vojur Smith, the same two the Dwarves talked to after their own expedition. They represent the Tags group.

The purpose of the meeting is to establish what the Guild’s major missions are and what general timeframe is being worked to. At the end of the meeting these can be presented to the citadel, QMGLC Saundra in particular since she approves missions and is in charge of the supplies.

[I use Two to establish this agenda.]

Cauleigh lays out what he sees are the key missions, at least from the city’s point of view.

  1. Assault on the lines: take down the Fire mage and break the siege
  2. Expedition to the deeps: take down the vampiress and consecrate the unholy shrine

[I step away from the scene to bring the other two in. Are they on board here? Do they disagree or have other ideas? It is hard to bring them back to missions per se and away from timeframes, but they do agree these are the keys. Fennec makes the wise observation that it’s more an exploration to Level 6 and not an expedition, since there is not even a line sketch let alone a map.]

The table discusses these. The extra information that missions to protect the harvest, and how the siege needs to be broken before then, are added in. It will be about a week, based on weather expectation.

The general notion of ‘scouting to the underlevels’ is agreed, with the thought that dark-sighted or low-light-vision members might be used in a pick-up group. Crompton startles the newbies by suggesting the Elves are the obvious deep-level scouts. Khali makes an incredibly lewd-sounding request for Crompton’s help gaining experience. Gena makes a very polite case for the newbies to be able to contribute more by first gaining experience in not-so-lethal missions.

“‘Ey, no problem,” Panic responds off the cuff, “pret’ soon ze Ogre, ‘e be gone outta ‘ere, damn’ sure chances to clear level one, level two, bella bella!”

So as a third point, or second from the Guild’s point of view, ‘level one missions to level one’ is added.

The timeframe shakes out fairly naturally from this.

  1. Chion’s regiment will attack at the next opportunity after the magic duel has taken place. (That means all the Guild that think about it, know that the attack will occur at next dusk.) The Ogre will presumably take that opportunity to leave.
  2. That will create the space for the Guild to take on protection missions, favorable for newbies, and clear level one dungeon.
  3. It will also create a working space of less than a week for the more senior groups to probe to Level four and beyond.

There will be no need for the whole Council to turn up at the citadel. After a consensus based discussion the Council agrees that the four Dwarves present will all be needed due to their involvement in the assault or for Hathlisveit; but that only Bless and Gena need represent the Guild and present the mission points. The Council is adjourned.

Kamerad bids them farewell and reminds them not to blab about the details of the day to the other two Sveltes. He heads off to his quarters in the North Barracks, probably to pretend he had a boring time and plan which spells he will get.

Crompton takes Khali aside to follow up on her need for experience but she friendzones him. [misses L1 CHR SR]

It has been another long day and the Dwarves hit the sack, agreeing on getting their two items identified when they head over for the Council.

[As they sleep AP is spent again. Fennec’s LK is now 14 and SPD 10, double figures! Cauleigh moves LK and SPD to 19 apiece. He is a worthy L3 adventurer now. Crompton moves CON up to 20, huzzah!]

In episodic city-gaming it’s easy to account for a character missing. Wise call to bring in an NPC though, just to help soak damage from the centipedes if nothing else. 

Some poor rolls (Fennec rolled a couple of 3s and wisely swapped dice out, his replacement pair rolled hot) and some great rolls concluding with 31 on dice for Cauleigh’s shot at the Barghest! 

Momentum is picking up in Fingold, I’m looking forward to the Council of War and assault on the Siege Lines!

Props

First, Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics rpg (4th printing) for the backgrounds and survival of the 20 new adventurers.

With so many new NPCs I needed some help with names and personalities and turned to Art of War Games’ Supporting Cast: 64 NPCs you might meet in a tavern. It’s designed for the modern D&D family so most of the NPCs are demi-humans, but it is still useful.

&Magazine’s Wizardawn generators are used extensively for the shatterzone. The Barghest’s lair is interpreted from The Redoubt map, located in Dyson Logos’ 2015 Dodecahedron cartographic review, alongside random room descriptions generated from the above, and spinning it from the theory that kobolds might originally have laired there.

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Fingold Adventurers Guild welcomes you!

This post is to tidy up the detail of what Fingold has gained (other than clearing most of the path to the Barghest in the shatterzone) by running 64 militia and volunteers through the shatterzone.

There are 20 survivors of the four expeditions, not counting the furbishers who took place of four volunteers in the first. The 20 are broken down as follows:

Five ‘tags’ who trailed after the furbishers, without seeing any action;

Three ‘burns’ who survived a drake attack, mainly by not being hit;

Ten ‘gentry’ who fought their way into the kobold lair giving access to the Barghest’s area; and

Two ‘revenants’ who cleared a full uruk lair but fled from ghouls.

The survivors in order (no attribute mods for kindred yet): The attributes are still DCC and in order they are STR AGI STA PRS INT LK. For conversion to dT&T TAROs are asterisked. If a survivor has a particular LK effect it is listed after the occupation.

  1. 7 11 11 8 12 14; Locksmith, +1 languages known
  2. 8 11 7 16 7 9; Locksmith
  3. 13 9* 5 14 4 14; Glovemaker, +1 any skill check incl thief skills
  4. 9 10 9 16 12 10; Herdsman
  5. 18* 11 12 11 9 7; Smith, -1 spell dmg (i.e. worse by one step)
  6. 11 12 9 13 13 13; Elf navigator, +1 mtd attck
  7. 16 10 12 16 15 14; Moneylender, +1 find/dsbl traps
  8. 12 8 18* 10 9 11; Fortune-teller
  9. 10 7 10 15 11 5; Elf forester, -2 melee attck
  10. 8 8 7 8 9 7; Armorer, -1 Will SV
  11. 14 11 13 10 9 12; Mendicant
  12. 11 14 7 11 13 5; Dyer, -2 SV vs Traps
  13. 10 7 17 8 8 11; Mercenary
  14. 12 7 11 11 13 12; Baker
  15. 8 12 7 7 7 11; Forester
  16. 9 8 7 13 9 13; Minstrel, +1 Will SV
  17. 7 16 11 9 4 9; Glassblower
  18. 11 10 13 12 11 14; Hobb dyer, +1 unarmed attck
  19. 9 11 5 17 9 6; Guard, -1 SV vs Poison
  20. 15 11 15 12 11 8; Wizard’s prentice, -1 dagger dmg

The move to Level One

At this stage each member is handed a copper Guild token, and may choose their class. ‘Elf’ and ‘Hobb’ are a given, those are separate classes. For the other 17 the choice somewhat depends on LK effect, if any, and mainly on attributes.

  1. Thief (rogue), based on reasonable AGI and INT and good LK. Under dT&T conversion this locksmith can roll a known spell.
  2. Thief (rogue), but not one that is likely to see spell use until that 7 INT becomes 10.
  3. Warrior owing to terrible INT, but that equally bad STA is going to be an issue… Note in dT&T the TARO on AGI finishes at 17, still Level One.
  4. Thief (rogue) since there’s nothing much going for the warrior option
  5. Warrior. Note in dT&T the TARO on STR finishes at 25, so Level Two.
  6. Elf. In dT&T terms, Elf wizard, meaning not entitled to L1 spells as of right.
  7. Thief (rogue) to take advantage of the bonus for trap finding.
  8. Warrior. Note in dT&T the TARO on STA finishes on 34, so Level Three.
  9. Elf, see above.
  10. Warrior, refuge for the useless attributes.
  11. Warrior.
  12. Wizard so as to hide in the middle and shield that awful STA.
  13. Warrior as befits a mercenary.
  14. Warrior where lack of AGI is not such an issue.
  15. Rogue because AGI and LK are the only double figures.
  16. Warrior, really wishing DCC had a Bard class.
  17. Warrior, light gear only!
  18. Halfling, in dT&T terms a Hobb rogue.
  19. Warrior, better up that STA quickly…
  20. Wizard, it’s funny to have a strong sturdy wizard. Will know at least one L1 spell.

 

Groups formed

Pending other decisions, the groups now re-combine or divide as follows:

The tags stay as they are, with two front-line fighters (one of them Level 2) and three support types (one a L2 rogue);

The gentry split into two groups of five, the Elf (L2 wizard), forester (rogue), minstrel (warrior), mendicant (warrior) and mercenary (warrior) becoming a team known as wanderers, and the armorer (warrior) dyer (wizard) baker and glassblower (both warriors) and Hobb dyer (L2 rogue) becoming the city boys.

Finally the revenant pair and the burns trio unite to form the fleeburns, a superficially powerful team of Elf wizard, Human wizard, moneylender rogue, fortune-teller warrior (L3), and guard warrior.

DT&T notes

The rules as written apply to rogues and demi-humans. For warriors, the “armor use” applies, but the only two individuals that qualify for the full warrior specialization weapon bonus are the guard and mercenary. The others may only claim specialist bonus for their starting weapons.

If a TARO has been rolled it signifies a talent. If possible it will be based on the DCC LK roll.

Backgrounds apply under dT&T from the DCC occupation.

Equipment

Now that each of the 20 funnel survivors have chosen a class and group, they move to equipment selection. Much of this would ordinarily be a process of exchanging hard-won coin for gear, but as they are in Fingold where food is more important than gold, they each keep the heavy dagger the city issued them with, a personal tool should they choose, the brigandine and kettle helm as issued (or lighter armor if they prefer), and any odds and ends they picked up. For a main weapon, and better footwear clothes and gloves, they are permitted to purchase at book value.

 

Most but not all groups have spare items or gear they might trade for more practical low-level items or gear. For example there are two vials of holy water, and a convenient-size mirror. The only unique item is a red target shield with an amber unicorn set in it, ideal for a weak warrior or combat-oriented rogue, currently in the hands of a warrior, Hapenny of the wanderers.

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Shatterzone funnel #4

This is the third and final playtest of how a DCC funnel works, using DCC rpg rules in Fingold’s shatterzone.

During the course of the day, three attempts have been made on the shatterzone. [Time estimate: furbishers 80 minutes, run #2 200 minutes, run #3 260 minutes.] The latest and most successful foray has located what is likely to be an entrance to the Barghest’s lair. The entrance is guarded by kobolds but many were slain and their missiles pinched.

For this run an additional four citizens are crammed in, since the furbishers usurped four places. It so happens these extra four are criminals or wasted mouths.

The 20 citizens: servant, ropemaker, woodcutter, ditchdigger, healer, cutpurse, ostler, trapper, farmer, mason, armorer, smith, wizard’s apprentice, farmer2, barber; and beggar, smuggler, two outlaws and a guard. The last three all have a short sword, and the previous groups advises them to go as front rank.

 

Rules in addition to any previous

Should a trap be rolled in a beaten trackway  (not ruins) it will be checked, a 5 or 6 on a d6 confirming that monsters have managed to set it.

No pit traps can be rolled on beaten tracks.

Turn1-Turn4

The beaten path is followed with no encounters.

Turn5

Move left. Card draw treasure.

This is where the furbishers were ambushed by Brownies, and pulled out. The smuggler cutpurse and beggar all claim skills for the search. Success. A nice sack of coin is unearthed.

Turn6

Move direct, ie continue. Card draw monster. Six uruk attempt an ambush. Note the uruk are at a disadvantage in daylight. (Ten hours have elapsed since dawn, but it is summer.)

Combat

Surprise: Int or LK checks, for the first two squads only. Four are successful.

Initiative

  • Voulge squad 2 (cutpurse, ostler, trapper, farmer, mason)
  • Voulge squad 1 (servant, ropemaker, woodcutter, ditchdigger, healer)
  • Uruks
  • Voulge squad 3 (armorer, smith, wizard’s apprentice, farmer2, barber)
  • Short-swords (beggar, smuggler, outlaws 1 and 2, guard)

Round 1

Voulge squad 2 are not fully deployed, so AGI or STR checks are required to take advantage of their initiative. The first three deploy and attack. These uruks are quite tough and have some armor and cover. Despite that two attacks drive home, killing an uruk.

Morale: adding 2 for turf, the uruks get a monster 18.

Voulge squad 1 may all attack, and auspiciously four chop home, one doing a crit. Three more uruks fall.

Morale for losing 1/2: still ok. The remaining pair of uruks attack the short-sworders, missing comfortably.

Voulge squad 3 are well out of the action, so merely close in.

Sworders get three hits, killing both remaining uruks.

The remainder of the turn is spent looting and searching for a lair.

Loot is merely silver copper and an earring, though the uruks do have fair weapons.

The lair entrance is located. This is around one of the standing towers.

Turn7

The uruks have been using the more ruinous part. I use a Wizardawn generator, Area Builder, for a simple 3-tier tower. Should a decision generator be needed I will use the Conjectural one.

Extra rules: Polearms are useless in the rubble-choked tunnels, and at a disadvantage in rooms.

Entry room: perhaps this is the remains of a cloakroom or barrack. Searching the broken wooden shelf turns up a canvas knapsack full of coins.

Trap: the smith needs a Refl SV to avoid losing a foot in a bear trap. He has +0, makes 9, loses the foot. The shock kills him.

Two doors lead away, the one on the right to a watchman or concierge cell, with shattered furnishings. A strong downdraft suggests the floor might crumble. A bunch of cobwebs in the ceiling corner suggests they not prod around too much. The left exit leads upstairs.

Passage up: leaving enough room for a standing jump, there is a hole! On the other side, a hefty plank is placed. But there’s no need to take risks, since they have a ropemaker and plenty of rope. Voulges are lashed together, the agile trapper and farmer nip across, and place the plank across.

Naturally the guard uruks are waiting for the surprise and let fly!

Combat

Surprise round: six good hits, all of voulge squad 2 fall and the armorer from squad 4 is wounded.

Initiative

  • Squad 3
  • Squad 2
  • Sworders
  • Squad 1
  • Uruks

Round 1

The prentice rushes forward and cuts one deeply then (crit) kicks its kneecap, dropping it down the hole. The wounded armorer drops back. Farmer2 sweeps up a hammer and races forward, flailing uselessly. The barber slices his razor across a uruk’s bristles.

The sworders have a chance to turn the battle. Easy test to cross the plank (only the short swords, the other two use slings). Even the clumsy outlaw succeeds but the guard falls. Refl SV-2 to grab a handhold. Success! The four in action attack. Three succeed. A second and third uruk fall.

Squad 1 can join the two outlaws. The sturdy healer helps the guard backup, the other four attempt the crossing. Three succeed, the ropemaker topples in. The three attacks are terrible.

Morale: with +2 for defending their lair the uruks make their morale.

Uruk attacks are mostly poor, but the ditchdigger is killed.

Round 2

The prentice and farmer2 team up, killing a fourth uruk. The barber fumbles with no extra FX.

The smuggler slings accurately and another uruk falls. Outlaw2 wounds a uruk, the guard recovers, runs across and rams his dagger into the wounded uruk, killing it.

Squad 1’s three members push to the final two uruks but merely wound one.

Morale: no problem!

The uruks respond to squad 1, failing.

Round 3

The remaining pair of uruks fall.

Bodies are looted. Note that bodies fallen down the hole cannot be.

Turn8

The uruk post lies up one more flight. Beyond, collapsed stair must be scaled to the next room.

Trap! Refl SV for squad1. The servant falls onto spikes and is killed.

The upper room is a makeshift uruk armory, there are two types of slings and some spare crossbow quarrel, and a broken short sabre.

It leads straight through to a bedchamber, with stairs in one corner and a side-chamber. A slight updraft can be felt. A couple of useful things are looted, candles and a mirror. A search of moldy clothes (skilled) finds a small pouch of gold coins.

Before the stairs or side-chamber can be searched the boss uruk and his remaining seven leap down the stairs and into combat!

Combat

Surprise: in this case Int or LK checks are permitted, other than the beggar who has found the coins. Two hear some noise, so we go to…

Initiative

  • Uruk boss
  • squad 3
  • sworders
  • uruks
  • squad 1

Round 1

The boss kills the healer.

Squad 3 target non-boss uruks, the barber slits one’s throat (crit). The sworders kill a second.

Morale: with a +4 for boss and lair the five remaining uruks fight. They focus on squad 3, killing all save the prentice. He and the surviving squad 1 woodcutter will form up next round.

Woodcutter misses and forms up with the prentice.

Round 2

The boss orc misses!

The sworders two slingers wound a powerful uruk, then the outlaws and guard kill it and two more.

Morale: the uruks lose their nerve and race back upstairs.

The woodcutter and prentice both miss.

Round 3

The boss orc’s powerful cut is foiled by light armor. In reply both slingers get max damage, two sworders get min damage,  the prentice also gets a good hit in.

Round 4

A clear miss, and the guard rams his short sword up into the boss’s innards.

Loot!

The boss orc has a vial of holy water, and two eye agates. Each uruk has a pouch of coin.

Turn9

The side-chamber has a silver goblet, hidden among moldy cloths. The stairs may be trapped, so care is taken. They are safe.

Turn10

A loom shows this chamber was the ladies’ room, it is unoccupied and two passages lead away. One smells rank, and zombies shamble out of it!

Morale: presence of mind is required. A fabulous 19 says they rally, and organize voulges.

D6 rolled for how many rooms back-track. This is the entrance hall.

The voulges are used to hold the zombies off and disable them to the point where their heads can be removed.

Combat

Initiative

  • Voulge squad  (4 members)
  • Sworders (3 members)
  • Zombies

Round 1

Two good hits by voulgers and two average hits by sworders and two zombies are down.

The zombies are kept at bay.

Round 2

The voulgers chop another zombie down, the sworders cannot though their target is wounded. It seizes the outlaw2 and STR:STR holds him fast.

Round 3

Owing to the pin, the voulgers cannot strike at the wounded zombie. They do put the last one down. The two unpinned sworders cut at the wounded zombie, not quite effectively and not enough to rescue the outlaw2, who dies.

Round 4

The zombie is hacked apart.

Turn11-Turn17

The two uruk survivors have escaped elsewhere. The loot of the tower is of a mundane sort, just gear that could not be scooped into a uruk helm.

With night approaching the 6-strong squad departs.

Turn 18

Move direct back, through Ruins: Card draw monster. 3 ghouls have been feasting and react by attacking!

Surprise: Ghouls are very silent, and the gloom makes them hard to spot. They get surprise.

The smuggler has his throat torn out!

Initiative

  • Voulge squad
  • Ghouls
  • Swords

There are three voulge-armed survivors, and once again the powerfully built prentice does the job, chopping a ghoul down.

Morale is valid for ghouls,  the remaining two flee.

Turn19

Move onto path. Card draw monster. The ghouls got a buddy and came back.

Surprise: the guard and prentice are alert.

Initiative ghouls then adventurers

Round 1

The woodcutter and beggar die horribly.

The guard and prentice flee.

They do not meet any monster over the next three rounds flight, and are safe. And on LEVEL ONE!

Since both of the survivors are command or smart, I rule the holy water made it back.

The next post will deal with the choices the 20 survivors make as they claim copper tokens and enter the Adventurers Guild.

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