TI2.04: Level 3 Mission!

The Characters for this session:

Fennec, L2 Wizard

Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)

Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Apprentice Hunter; Tracking)

Crompton, L2 Rogue (Roguery, Rune-bearer)

Important NPCs in this session:

QMGLC Saundra: As Quartermaster-General, Countess the lady Saundra is the final authority on who is allowed what inside Fingold. She has approved spell tuition for Fennec and Crompton and this session approves magic item appraisal.

The Fingold archmagi: A Dwarf of significant age, he works out of the citadel and on a daily basis contests with the fire-mage.

The demon in glasses, birth-name Two. Level 4 human wizard, equipped with staff, punch-dagger, and a range of items and spells. Demon in glasses is the leader and tactician for the heavy hitters adventuring group. He has agreed to help the Dwarves take down half the zombies, using a Slush-Yuck spell in Level 3 of Fingold’s shatterzone dungeon.

Gnat, birth-name Rue. Level 4 human rogue, equipped with a hand-crossbow and twin short swords, and a range of items and gear. She’s along as demon in glasses’ bodyguard.

Burnley, Whitey, Mizva and Mother Hobb: Collectively known as the survivors adventuring group. Up until very recently they were doing rear-echelon duty in the Guild, except for Mizva who was trying to pour himself into a bottle. They have returned to front-line work, though Mother Hobb’s job is still mostly ale-wife/healer. Burnley and Whitey are half-Elf rogues, Mizva is a human warrior, and Mother Hobb is a Hobb rogue with potion specialty.

 

This session is unusual in that it is pretty much all dungeon, apart from dungeon prep. I’ve decided to cover it as played, but without descriptions for light, smell and sound. Assume feeble light comes from Fennec’s Will-o-Wisp, the general smell is dank stone and earth, and far-off dripping, and nearer scuttling of small creatures, can be heard. In terms of physical feel, the level is mostly stone, reasonably level though somewhat tilted. Doors have been rebuilt in situ by the current inhabitants. They are very sturdy and require a strong kick.

The initial half-hour is spent on prep and strategizing with me playing the demon in glasses. The detail of Slush-Yuck dimension is critical, as is how to deal with zombies not caught by it. The plan is to throw down a 4′ wide 5′ deep trench.

 

Final preparations are made

Examining demon in glasses’ sketch of known areas of Level 3, and the area he indicates is his favored zone for casting the spell, the Fingold furbishers decide they will bring bill-hooks, two, zombies the tipping in for. [Zombies are clumsy and the plan is to make it a DEX:DEX contest] Crompton will stick with his ancestor-axe, since heads still need to be whicked off and Gnat can’t be expected to do all of that. Fennec’s job will be artillery support back with demon in glasses, who in turn will be guarded by Gnat. They’ll be tackling the northern tunnels, trying to work around to the known muddy cavern.

As a final measure they ask the survivors for missile support for the first stretch, because the monsters typically guard the first stretch up on a missile platform. Whitey and Burnley agree, though Mizva (with a scowl for Crompton, who lost his dear dead comrade’s staff) wants to go further and offers to go in with them. They turn him down, since he’s not a good fit for their plan.

 

The tantric dungeon I

Sure enough there is a missile-using guard, out at medium range. And it’s about the toughest missile-user the Level could have: an Ogre with a ballista-size crossbow! Fennec (optimistically) announces that a wizard has entered by slamming a TTYF into it, while Cauleigh and Jotunn fire their pieces, Crompton harmlessly fires his light crossbow, and Burnley and Whitey loose arrows (Whitey is a good archer, it turns out; Burnley not so much).

Much more of the same follows and eventually the Ogre (who has missed everything) topples and the ground shakes at the impact.

Pausing merely to loot the coin-pouch they push on up a right-hand, left-curving tunnel. Ahead, a suspicious choke-point and odd smell allows a little strategizing. Cauleigh and Jotunn hook their bills around the arched choke-point, not quite tripping a pair of snake-men guards.

Using Fennec’s favorite OGA tactic the lead Dwarves deal with one snake-man but the second, retreating back into his guard chamber, is incredibly hard to kill. He wields a poison spear and both Fennec and Crompton end up poisoned. The poison is disabling Hellfire Juice! Gnat has a remedy… but it’s Fennec’s old friend, a hallucinogen, so Fennec and Crompton are led babbling happily back to safety and the mission re-sets.

 

They rest up, and are fit to fight zombies again at the usual hour.

 

 

The tantric dungeon II

This time, the guards are hobgoblins with bows, but are much more easily dealt with. The Dwarves head confidently to the first choke-point, expecting snake-men. They are not disappointed! Cauleigh and Jotunn carefully spread caltrops then Fennec lures the guards with a tossed coin. As he cracks off an OGA and retreats the second snake-man hurls a javelin accurately, it penetrates Fennec’s backpack and right through Fennec!

The snakemen are both slain (again, with great difficulty) and before toting Fennec back, the exit to the guard-room is checked. It’s a larger chamber and seems to be a nest of snake-men!

Thanks to his backpack [and a LK SR] Fennec is not quite dead. While he recuperates the others keep the usual appointment with zombies.

 

The tantric dungeon III

Discouraged by the thought of an entire nest of lethal snake-men the expedition tackles the southern passage, initially along what was once an important service tunnel below temple street.

Although they resist the lure of the first trapped room they find, they encounter a patrol of Dark Elves and devil-dogs out in the main passage. It’s the first time Gnat gets into the action, chasing down a fleeing Dark Elf. She obviously uses something that doubles her speed. For the Dwarves, it’s a close fight but taps Fennec’s mana out, and given he’s announced their presence with a spectacular L2 TTYF, they pull back to safety.

 

And another zombie fight.

 

Spells and seercraft

The good news waiting for them is that the archmagi has lined up spell training and an ID parade for the magic items.

Fennec and Crompton both learn Vorpal Blade.

There are a number of items collected over the road trip. The most intriguing is the fiery-looking liquid in the spherical bottle: three doses of dragon breath! Yes, we can use that against snake-men! The fancy elf dagger (or hunting knife) that was found along with the Elf corpses has a once-a-day Whammy on it. The poison scimitar taken off Fishface the boss Goblin is perma-poison, probably dragon venom. The snake-men spears are also perma-poison but daylight removes the effect permanently.

 

The tantric dungeon IV

Equipped with a cask of flammable oil, the Dwarves once more press into the northern passage. The survivors chip in as before, the missile platform is cleared, then using combinations of OGA and gunnes the snake-men guard-post is cleared. Without giving the nest time to ready javelins the Dwarves hurl their cask and breath fire onto the oil!

Once the fire has died down and all snake-men are thoroughly dead, they examine the one exit, another choke-point archway. The evil eyes of a Dark Elf are glimpsed: it’s in a guard-niche further up the tunnel, ready to shoot and scoot. Fennec rolls out his trusty OGA and the Dwarves come off winners in the melee.

The tunnel, which is too curved to be useful for dropping zombies into a Slush-Yuck, leads to a larger cavern of broken stone flags and rock. One of the four possible exits off it turns out to be a guard niche and its resident, a huge gargoyle, attacks while Jotunn is somewhat isolated.

Jotunn saves his life by pressing into the corner of wall and floor and shielding himself, but is unconscious as the gargoyle tries to get down the passage and into the other Dwarves. It’s a tough fight, because it can only be hurt by magic. Crompton loves his new spell! Vorpal on his ancestor axe does a lot of damage!

This is the first time demon in glasses takes part in any action, hoisting two glowing spheres, one of which does damage each round.

The Dwarves cleave enough space for Gnat to escape past the gargoyle and get above it, and between them and the attack sphere, they kill it.

 

Jotunn is dragged back for healing, and the others attend the usual zombie battle.

 

Jotunn’s armour is completely wrecked so another day lapses, and another zombie battle, before the next expedition.

 

The tantric dungeon V

The removal of the snake-men has had a lasting effect. Only scavengers are encountered, scuttling away from the expedition. They get all the way to the cavern without incident. A Dark Elf shoots and scoots, leaving them uncertain whether to pursue or check a side-tunnel for safety’s sake. The side-tunnel isn’t on the sketch map, so they explore that.

Sadly it leads merely to the temptation to open a heavy door preventing an alarmingly poisonous giant spider from wandering the dungeon! Fennec decides to burn webbing and is bitten. He collapses, taking another of Gnat’s doses to prevent death.

 

And as he is led happily babbling to the exit the session ends.

 

Using L4 NPCs can feel a bit intimidating for a lower level party (average level 3). The guys seemed happy to take on the active role, not trying to lean on the NPC pair at all. Two could-be-dead characters! I’ve actually concatenated attempts 5 and 6 into one (there was a giant constrictor snake in the final guard niche, they survived and pulled out). I felt they lacked maybe one tank for most set-pieces – if two Dwarves are stunting, that leaves only one to protect Fennec – so they may accept Mizva’s offer next session. Stay tuned!

Spell Glossary

Cateyes: see in limited light
Fire at will/Healthy glow: these are separate spells but demon in glasses deploys them together. FaW throws magical fire blasts, HG counter-fires on incoming missiles.
Little Feets: doubles SPD, allows 2 actions per combat round
Oh-go-away: drives weaker monster away, if monster is stronger it attacks caster for 1 combat round
Omni-Eye: the basis for all item assessment
Poor Baby: heals 1 CON per 2 WIZ
Teacher: the teaching spell
Vorpal Blade: doubles base weapon dice rolled for 1 combat round
Whammy: as VB but triple base dice
Will-o-wisp: small light

Props

Dyson’s dungeons (2014 compendium) provide the maps and Wizardawn provides the encounters, rated “challenging”. I did not tweak them much, just checked them over and removed anything that a minor demon could not boss.

Posted in To Ikkutas | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

TI2.03: Level 2 Mission!

 

The characters for this session

Fennec, L2 Wizard

Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)

Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Apprentice Hunter; Tracking)

Crompton, L2 Rogue (Roguery, Rune-bearer)

 

The four Fingold furbishers are far out in Level 1 of Fingold’s Shatterzone dungeon. They have just made an agreement with the Ogre that bosses Level 1. They have been asked to meet up at the same place in an hour before travelling down to assassinate the Goblin boss of Level 2. The Goblin boss is known as Fishface; he has a shaman and a 2-i-c known as Cheesecart.

 

Meet Bryn, key to the assassination attempt

Although they could possibly race back to re-equip, nothing leaps to mind and that would be riskier than just sitting with lantern dimmed. They decide to stay put. Burnley, the cheery half-Elf who scouted their way here, bids them good luck and slips away.

None of them screams like a girl when bats flutter close: they spend an uneasy hour listening, and ducking bats.

The Ogre shows up again bringing Bryn: tall, armed like a ranger, with a suggestion of pointy ears and sharp teeth.

“Trust my hatred if you can’t trust me” mutters Bryn. “My end of the bargain is, I get everything belonging to Cheesecart, and his harem.”

“So, hatred, yeah, but why do you want to help…?”

“I want revenge on Cheesecart.”

Oh, revenge! Yeah, we all understand that, sweet” the Dwarves agree.

“Bryn will collect my final payment,” Ogre-boss adds and leaves them to it.

It turns out, the way Bryn plans to descend needs rope, at least, if they plan to return the safe way. So with Bryn trailing well behind, Jotunn leads the party back through the maze of ruinous walls and tilted paths that form the bulk of Level 1, towards the Guild. There’s a nasty moment when a giant Badger erupts from its burrow and attacks Jotunn and Crompton slips into the burrow while trying to help Jotunn. But Jotunn survives long enough for the others to help and they make it out.

There’s plenty of rope in the spare room where they were looking at trap gear, and the 80’ Bryn estimates is needed is organized. Cauleigh finds the demon in glasses for an update and sketch-map of exit route for Level 2. He learns that a lot of Level 2 is wet. River seepage that trickles straight through Level 1 tends to pool in Level 2. So it’s ideal terrain for Goblins.

 

Traversing Level 1 safely the Dwarves head into a crypt

The five make their way cautiously through Level 1. Bryn seems very keen not to meet anything, though he’s obviously powerful. Light is kept to a minimum and he uses his nose a lot.

Reaching the now-familiar broad chamber where the deal was made, the Dwarves note that the goat-men corpses have been removed. It’s too dark to see how. Bryn gestures south.

“The path down leads through a crypt. Ancient dead going to be a problem?”

“No, we’ve all fought undead. Lead on.”

Judging by the symbology Cauleigh guesses the catacomb or crypt once lay beneath a Zolman temple. The remains are very old but the smell of ancient mortification is still unpleasant. Then Bryn freezes and crouches low. The others crouch or drop.

Across the secret exit out of the crypt lies the corpse of a Lizard-man. When nothing attacks, they investigate. Blood has congealed on the body. The cause of death is a crow-bar that something has rammed through its head. The corpse has been looted.

“We need to move the body so we can rope down.”

Preventing Fennec from tipping it forward into the blackness beyond – “fool of a Took!” – the others drag the corpse stiffly back into the crypts. Bryn points out spikes ancient enough to be part of the crypt, and rope is knotted and paid out. It will be about 40’ down, they estimate. Cautioning Fennec not to do any of “that flash-bang magic” and explaining that he won’t be stopping for folk that slip into pools, Bryn heads down first.

 

The path through Level 2, in haste and with accidents

They land on ashes: they have descended a chimney-like crevice. According to Jotunn’s compass the exits lead north and south. Sound from the south prompts Bryn to run at the door visible to the north, slap it open and dive through. The others follow – wary of tripwires – to find that the chamber beyond is mud, dominated by a pool to the left. Bryn is already scaling a wall to the right. Crompton slips and is in danger of sliding beneath the pool’s surface, while the others must deal with a huge toad that lunges up out of the pool.

Crompton’s lamellar is not as sinkable as mail or plate. He uses his axe icepick-style to keep him attached to the pool’s muddy side, while he ditches mace and pack. He clambers out, cursing his ill fortune, to find the toad dead and Jotunn and Cauleigh looking with horror as Fennec takes a good long lick at the toad’s slimy skin.

When the wizard fails to drop dead or go raving mad the Dwarves clamber up behind Bryn, who crawls north. On their left the wall drops away to a foul smell and glimpses of rotted furniture. At length Bryn finds his mark, a length of twine fastened to something below, an iron shield.

“Drop here. It’s solid stone below. And be silent!” Bryn suits deed to words, dropping and tucking into a roll to take the impact away. The others do likewise – though dangling by their hands first – but Crompton’s axe knocks against the shield as he falls past it. There’s the sound of a pewter tankard dropping onto stone and the five are plunged into combat!

 

Goblins are hard to combat but they survive

The Goblins have been sinking a few quiets around a keg, in an irregular chamber, good footing, no light. One rank of Goblins use missile weapons while another closes.

Jotunn Cauleigh and Crompton form a shield wall to protect Fennec, who lets a WilloWisp into play to provide light. Bryn sidles off right to use his bow.

This is a tough fight, with the Dwarves somewhat overmatched. Each missile Goblin Bryn takes down makes a big difference, but he’s not shooting well. And the Dwarves are pushing right and forward while Fennec tries to stay shielded. There’s a nasty moment when the missile Goblins close on Bryn but he hurdles them to join the shield wall, using the keg as cover.

As the last goblins turn and run Cauleigh and Crompton cut them down. Wounds are checked: not too bad.

“Fishface’s chamber is not far now, down the next stair” Bryn encourages them a short while later. “There’s a secret entrance on the right. But the steps could be trapped.”

He takes the Ogre’s payment at this point, just in case things go wrong from here.

Crompton finds that the stairs have been set to safe, makes his way down and checks the indicated area. This is the non-secret side. There’s a latch that when disengaged will allow the door to be pushed from the other side. But there’s no obvious way of pulling it open from this side.

This puzzle stumps Crompton, and a child’s alert in Urukun (“mummy, the thing moved”) when he unlatches the door makes Cauleigh leap down,and pry it open with his dagger, and entry is gained.

 

The assassination takes place

The chamber is mostly harem: females and brats milling in alarm. Opposite, at near range, a powerful Goblin sprawls in the traditional throne; a shaman sits behind and beside him; and a hulking Goblin stands at close range at the right-hand wall.

The Dwarves close, Fennec slamming the shaman with a L2 TTYF. Crompton goes for the chief, Fennec for the shaman, the other two for Cheesecart. Jotunn loses some equipment getting through the crowd. “Buff me!” Fishface snarls to his shaman. Bryn loses his shot.

At the wall: Cauleigh goes low, Jotunn high and between them force Cheesecart into a purely defensive stance. They overwhelm him; Jotunn grabs the rune-scripted great-axe he bore.

At the throne: Fennec sees the shaman dodging away and turns to help Crompton who has managed to keep Fishface from leaping at Fennec with twin scimitars. Cauleigh leaps over and takes a TTYF – in orange and with crackling – from the shaman but closes and kills the shaman. Bryn manages a reasonable shot at Fishface.

Jotunn leaps at Fishface and the axe and scimitar slam together and explode! Jotunn (armed only with a dagger now) Fennec and Crompton are in close combat against Fishface armed with the other scimitar when Cauleigh heaves the throne over against Fishface’s back and the chief is quickly finished off.

Bryn has missed out on Cheescart’s axe but loots the remains and herds one of the females away, while Jotunn retrieves his own gear and Crompton and Fennec loot a crown and cloak, and scoop coins into a canvas sack. Cauleigh delicately returns the obviously-poison scimitar to its scabbard. Then away!

 

They exit Level 2, but not without incident

The word-of-mouth on exiting allows the Dwarves to guess they are not far from the exit here. They head off, quietly.

All is well until within sight of the rockfall that marks the exit. A bull-like creature, head bowed with bone armour, guards it. The Dwarves decide the best option is climbing up and around. A good plan, except that Fennec falls in front of it!

As Fennec survives its deadly gaze (or breath?) Jotunn drops in and puts it off its charge. Crompton locates the exit… and through they flee!

 

They are all silver plaque adventurers! But there’s no time to waste because the zombies are keeping their regular appointment.

 

Back with the Guild everyone is Zombie fighting

Zombies are strong but slow. Cauleigh, who is on minimal health, rests. Fennec has very little mana left and also rests.  The adventurers ask the other two to stand in as tanks for the “survivors”. Crompton objects but is persuaded.

The battle goes well on that side, allowing the big hitters to exclusively help the other group. The one surviving tank of the survivors stands with Crompton and Jotunn while Mother Hobb, Burnley and the pasty-pale half-Elf use their agility to trip Zombies so the front rank can smash heads.

The following night the attack is repeated, and Cauleigh replaces Crompton, who feels he has learned enough of the dodge-a-zombie business. It doesn’t quite work as he planned it and he gets clear by dropping his loaner mace and cutting clear out of his lamellar. The mace is lost permanently, which is embarrassing.

 

Just about ready for Level 3!

With plans made for replacing equipment and a brief appointment with Quartermaster-General Lady Countess for permission to learn spells all seems to be going well. Crompton trades a meal for fast repair of his lamellar, and trade gold and silver for gems ready for travel or trade. Jotunn visits the citadel master gunner, gets his silver-laced gunpowder, and Cauleigh gets a carbine he can use as a handgun.

The next day will see all equipment ready and the mission to Level 3 begin. With some objections and argument among the other adventurer groups, the demon in glasses decides to bring only his rogue Gnat with him as he heads in with the Dwarves. And with that decision an early end to the session is called.

A good deal of AP was earned and spent with SRs galore as the dungeon levels were traversed. Of note: Cauleigh has enough DEX to make L2 easily, and Crompton finally has enough LK to make L1 easily. Jotunn boosted STR to wield a heavier axe and has enough SPD to make L1 easily.

Props

The dungeon levels and population were generated with Wizardawn’s Area Builder. Zombies are not listed as dT&T monsters but the template is from 5th edition: x2 STR x3 CON; 1/4 LK; IQ and DEX to 3. 

 

 

Posted in To Ikkutas | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

TI 2.02: The fated Tor/Level 1 Mission

 

The characters for this session

Fennec, L2 Wizard

Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)

Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Apprentice Hunter; Tracking)

Crompton, L2 Rogue (Roguery, Rune-bearer)

The towers are looted

Our four furbishers of Fingold are proud conquerors of the pair of ruined towers guarding access to the rocky, forested tangle of trails, gullies and outcrops where the supplies are to be found.

Crompton [STR] clambers up one tower and spots a fleeing ambusher. Jotunn confesses he didn’t manage to drop him, just scared him off. Cauleigh [LK] searches the other tower, finding dried rations, graffito remarks about a mean prick, and a sheet of paper with Dwarven curses and oaths written on it. Fennec examines it and keeps the paper. Jotunn loots the bodies, recovering arrows, coins and a woven-copper ring.

Meanwhile Nesbitt has come out from behind a old round bronze-faced shield, the two guards and tiny girl have popped back up from cowering under the wagon, and everyone is ready to roll on through. And so they do.

 

An ambush threatens as supplies are loaded

The first supplies are easy, and they learn that one of the young guards is there for his expertise with charcoal. Fine-quality charcoal is ready to dig and load into the dog-cart. After that, ready-cut and seasoned ash lengths are loaded into the wagon. The guards do all the work, getting very smutty and sweaty, while the others stand guard.

Jotunn’s wilderness expertise [Hunter] alerts him to movement from the ravine or gulch the fleeing bandit headed into. The Dwarves decide to ambush the ambush, and flank around left, but the poor repair of their gear betrays them [by this time boots are falling apart and seams are coming adrift]. Knowing the ambushers have heard his companions Jotunn dashes forward and makes a superb bowshot at point-blank range into the alerted ambushers!

 

Ambush ambushed: take prisoners!

Crompton follows up and shield-bashes [STR] a knee, breaking it. Only two ambushers remain and one summons a swarm of birds.

Melee with the fourth man is a foregone conclusion: the bird-summoner is “persuaded” to call them off and taken prisoner. His crystal flask of bird-summoning is confiscated.

“I am an officer and my family will pay ransom” he tells them immediately. This is a smart move, even though he’s an NCO and his ransom is probably small, because the Dwarves move from “kill” to “value”. Fennec seems determined to dislike him but the others decide to keep both prisoners alive.

It helps that Sergeant Musger doesn’t mind telling them about his detail. His camp is up by the ruin, which is where the second pile of supplies is. No, they haven’t seen any minotaur, but the last detail he and his men replaced were all dead. So all these men are soldiers, not bandits. No, no tracks of something huge. Musger is hitched to the wagon and walks along behind it, while Stumpy gets a ride in it.

 

At the cult ruin, camp is made

It’s not an easy task getting the wagon to the ruin but there is a trail. The ruin, Nesbitt explains, was once a cult temple of some kind, and saltpeter can be mined from under it. Smith, the other guard, has the expertise to know about mining the right quality.

The next day finds them all at Musger’s camp with plenty of daylight to search and supply. The ruin really is ruin – it would take a Hobb to find real concealment among the time-worn slabs. Not far away, and seeming to loom over the place, another rock-strewn outcrop or tor is marked by what is probably the remains of a watchtower with an ancient stark tree seeming to grow out of the rubble. Jotunn gets a weird vibe from it.

There are more dried rations in the camp, and a brace of little forest deer hung to near-perfection. Looks like meat’s back on the menu! There’s a supply of saddle leather, so they can make running repairs to shoes. And there’s a small pile of silver ingots left where “Skivey” the fleeing bandit/soldier decided they would be too heavy. He’s long gone of course.

Crompton discovers that Moose the enormous dog will only accept meat from Cassie, his owner (or possibly bitch-pup, from the dog’s point of view).

Jotunn examines the area where Skivey had been told to dig graves. The bodies from the last detail are still lying unburied and two weeks’ rotting. It does look as though something big and not sword-sharp killed them.

 

The truth of the Tor

After the meal, the saltpeter is easily located. The soldiers had already begun work on it, and thoughtfully left their digging equipment. Charson and Smith once again do all the work, while the thoughts of the Dwarves turn to the mysterious tree.

Nesbitt tries to discourage them but Fennec’s getting a vibe from the tree so Nesbitt contents himself with volunteering to stay with the prisoners and Cassie.

As they make their way up the tor towards the tree, Fennec can actually see Mana boiling around the tree. The final approach to the tree is marked by regular slabs and a stone circle stands around the tree. So, not the ruins of a tower. Bone-white bits can be glimpsed under the tree.

“That’s far enough lads”

Nesbitt has climbed to an easy distance of them – they didn’t notice him at all. [LK, but L3] As he speaks he unclips a small stick from inside his bronze shield. The stick becomes a massive half-glaive and Nesbitt swells, clothing shredding off him, becoming a huge bull-man!

Cauleigh is inclined to just ease back and see if Nesbitt will let the trespass go but Fennec repositions himself (expeditiously) behind the warriors and Nesbitt attacks!

[It’s that ‘shall I pause and negotiate when the Wizard might kill me with one shot’ question.]

Fennec hammers home a TTYF [L2, draining all but 1 WIZ from Fennec!] and Jotunn sends an arrow into the beast. Since he’s going all-out for Fennec, Cauleigh hurls his axe between the monster’s legs and brings him down [this is a fail-forward from a good DEX SR]. Crompton wields his ancestor axe with effect. [Crompton also tries a trip but simply enters combat]

As the minotaur lurches back up to its feet it can’t defend easily. Crompton rushes in close with bollock-daggers, and Cauleigh makes a leap up and smashes his mace-head down onto the great skull. The beast’s skull shatters, shards of bone and gobbets of brain spraying out; and its guts drop out all over Crompton. It falls dead.

The panting Dwarves wait for it to transform back to Nesbitt. Disturbingly it remains a giant naked minotaur corpse. But the half-glaive shrinks back to ornament size, and Fennec clips it back inside the shield. After a little debate, they remove the corpse’s lower jaw as evidence, since it has huge tusks and fangs.

They return down the tor, colored crimson or at least spackled with brain flecks. Neither of the prisoners were on the side facing the outcrop and are oblivious, but Cassie is frozen in absolute horror! She has witnessed the entire scene!

They wash themselves clean, then Cauleigh speaks gently [CHR] and coaxes Cassie into at least accepting that Nesbitt is dead and the evil minotaur is dead. The story “we killed the minotaur but Nesbitt died” is repeated to Charson and Smith, and will be the agreed report back in town.

 

At Fingold pigeons have come home to roost

Late the following day the wagon, dog-cart, prisoners and survivors report in to Fingold’s north barracks. Success! But it will be up to Quartermaster-General Lady Countess Saundra to say exactly what the success is worth. So, at least one Dwarf should report to the citadel.

 

Having reminded Fennec and Crompton of their previous bad behavior Cauleigh appoints himself sole agent for that. The others all have a couple of things to see to anyway. They head to the Adventurers Guild.

In between arranging for repairs and new boots and so forth they learn that trouble has befallen the Guild. Two nights ago, the demon in glasses was fatally slow to react to the battle situation and an entire front-line group fell. Now they are zombies. By necessity the rear-echelon group of a Hobb, two half-Elves and a brooding drunk are now front-line.

“I’m going to have a stern word to Cauleigh about this,” Fennec promises the others.

The Dwarves are expected to pitch in to the defense and over the next 12 hours put serious planning into traps and the like.

 

Meanwhile over two interviews Cauleigh receives the reward for their mission (plenty of food chits) and gains Saundra’s agreement to release Sgt Musger, since his upkeep is more bother than ransom is worth. (He is set afoot with a short sword, out the south-east gate.) Later from Musger, Cauleigh discovers that Stumpy was given a noose and quick hanging – Quartermaster-General Lady Countess cannot afford useless mouths.

The mission Melissa suggested, and agreed to by Saundra – to ask mercenary Dwarves to relieve the siege – is still on, but first, the pressure at the Guild needs to be relieved.

 

A thought of traps leads to thoughts of Level 2

The suggestion about traps leads to a counter-offer from the demon in glasses: if they are willing to take the fight well towards the zombies, he’ll back them up with a SlushYuck, which ought to trap a whole wing of zombies.

Discussing these problems, Cauleigh decides to work on the social angle, while the others learn more about missions.

It turns out, there’s not much to be done with the demon in glasses. But Cauleigh does get to know the largest fighter a bit better, who explains some of the dynamics and assures him that they’ll work out the problems given time.

As for missions, if they are serious about the SlushYuck plan they’ll have to take on a mission to arrange for the Goblin boss in Level 2 to be removed. The goblins are far too organized for any foray to work, as things stand. The goblin hates Dwarves, but the Ogre boss on Level 1 will negotiate and might be willing to betray his rival.

 

But first, talk to the Ogre

They sign up for the mission and get the offer of help scouting, from Burnley the half-Elf survivor they first met as doorman for the Guild. They all prep, wearing a balance of light-enough gear, and carrying not-too-many weapons. And plenty of money in gems. Then off they go!

 

Burnley has a little bad luck with his first foray but [with the help of rolling 17 on dice] evades a minor Goblin ambush and makes it back. The Goblins are far too smart to pursue. Trying an alternative route Burnley finds them a likely chamber, guarded by two Goat-men.

These are tough, but since they have time to plan, the Dwarves are ready. Fennec advances, tosses his trusty OGA, and Cauleigh and Crompton move up to intercept them. Behind them, Jotunn levels the arquebus.

BOOM!

Perhaps lazily, they forget to use any special moves and are bested despite the shot. Their armor handles the damage. Then Crompton ducks low, using his shield to tempt the goat-man onto it, while Cauleigh diverts the other one.

Crompton’s stunt gets him stomped, but luckily for him, Jotunn and Fennec (who has switched to Zapped knife) cope with that goat-man, driving it back. Meanwhile Cauleigh’s stunt wrong-foots his goat-man and he kills it. Crompton returns to the fray to finish off the second one.

 

The noise of fighting has attracted the boss. He’s an Ogre, but willing to negotiate – exactly as advertised.

The two sides sit across from one another and Cauleigh offers a fat reward for offing the goblin boss. Surprisingly the Ogre counter offers: he will take half, but only for setting the goblin up for the Dwarves to kill.

Agreeing to meet again once the Ogre has found a trusted sidekick they pull back, and the session ends.

Glossary of spells used or mentioned

OGA: Oh-go-away, Fennec’s favorite since fail can be used to make enemy attack
SlushYuck: turns earth to quagmire
TTYF: inflicts IQ as damage; Level 2 doubles it.

There were a couple of 3s rolled at different times, but some good doubles rolled as well. The Dwarves were all reminded they have a shopping list of stuff to get through, when boots were found to have split open during the initial fracas. 

  • Both Fennec and Crompton have enough funds to get at least one spell. 
  • There are a number of magical or probably-magical items picked up here and there, that need to be assessed.
  • On order: proper boots, silver-laced gunpowder, sturdy summer clothing, a new gambeson.

Props

Op cit for all. I missed one important prop last week: Cassie/Moose, Melissa, Saundra and even aged doomsaying guard Aldus are all from Fantasy Neutrals (Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game, Engine Publishing – enginepublishing.com
Gnome Stew) 

Stay tuned!

Posted in To Ikkutas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

To Ikkutas! 2.01: You just can’t help staying on here

 

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L2 Wizard, (STR24 CON26 DEX13 SPD7 IQ16 LK13 CHR7 WIZ11)

Cauleigh, townsman and L3 Warrior (STR24 CON34 DEX17 SPD11 IQ11 LK17 CHR13)

Jotunn, hunter and L5 Warrior (STR25 CON50 DEX18 SPD12 IQ13 LK15 CHR5)

Crompton, rune-bearer/thief and L2 Rogue (STR26 CON16 DEX15 SPD10 IQ10 LK11 CHR8 WIZ10)

 

Fingold, city at war

Fingold is a puzzle box that you enter and then, can’t leave whenever you please. It has several pieces to it and the characters do their best to assess these pieces and fit them together.

 

The townsfolk are hungry. A lot of refugees arrived and others moved out, so they live in an unsettled state and more crowded than is comfortable. Child Ken, earnest, inquisitive, proud of his dad, can lead characters to a stable where the four-legged beast might become dinner.

The guards are townsfolk. Sergeant Aldus, pessimistic grizzled veteran, is one of a few survivors who now train the young men to guard the walls. The young guards are loyal and do not take bribes, but one will play a prank if he gets the chance. They police lightly since their real job is guarding the walls.

The walls are guarded against magic, using anti-flight ballistas. The citadel’s ballista operates freezing magic to counter the besiegers’ fire magic. A Dwarf arch-mage lives in the citadel, and can teach adventurers spells, if they earn it. The citadel has other secrets, including a library.

The siege is ritualistic, loose enough to let people in (but maybe not out) and crops be tended. One of two factions (roughly, east) does the siege work, and they have a fire mage. The second faction (roughly, west) would attack the first faction if it looked like succeeding.

The fire mage has an ally below ground. She is a vampiress who raises undead from the men that fall in battle, then sends them up to assault. These assaults all happen below the new wall. Adventurers defend against these sorties. And the old shrines along temple street stopped the undead: now they are part of the wall.

The adventurers are organized into a Guild, and work by a system of missions and privilege ranks. There are four groups: a heavy-hitter group, two less-strong groups, and a take-it-easy group that stays in the background brewing ale and guarding doors. The heavy hitters are helmed by “the demon in glasses” or the cartographer as Cauleigh names him, who is all brain. His group includes two normal tank types, an amazon princess type with unrequited love for him, and a sexy rogue type.

Missions can extend outside the walls, for things like supply-gathering. Missions are assigned importance and reward by Quartermaster-General Lady Countess Saundra. A nasty rumor of bastardy follows her and she insists on at least those titles being used. Rubies gleam in her hair and her dress is costly. Despite her vanity and plump appearance her logistical brains are excellent.

The ruler of the city is Saundra’s half-sister Duchess Melissa: or “her ladyship” since while she is training with the townsfolk she dislikes titles. Some two years ago her husband’s disastrous campaign left the city in her hands and without any effective army. Hawk nosed, black haired, blue eyed, with a face that was probably pudgy before hard physical training and hunger thinned it. Adoring prostitutes work for her, smuggling meat in from enemy lines.

There is a small rump military in the north barracks, mounting supply missions. Nesbitt, humorous but close-mouthed, possibly just a driver, seems to organise that side. There’s an armourer who will fix gear, if Quartermaster-General Lady Countess says so.

 

How the players reacted

I probably should have expected this, because three of the players have just, over a full season, been playing amoral rogues on the make. So the “reasons to help” hooks, like: it could add to their rep, or lead to spell-teaching, or be a good thing to help townsfolk beset by undead horror, were low-rated. The “reasons to leave” levers, like everything being rationed, or there being no obvious way to make money, loomed very large.

 

What the characters do with all this:

Two tables, different cliques

They register at the Adventurers Guild. The door is guarded by a friendly half-elf who leads them in, tells them they have a good-ale-wife here, and introduces them to the ale and company. He explains the system: registering is free, you begin with a copper disk and work your way up through missions to better ranks. There’s plenty of room – there’s only 18 adventurers and room enough for 60. Food is better than outside. Oh, and that’s the usual zombie attack coming up…

The alewife is a motherly Hobb. She speaks encouragingly, as though to mere striplings. There are four groups in the Guild, we all work together and get along. She – and a friendly but pale and thin half-elf – explain more about missions. The land outside the wall here used to be city, but fell away in an assault, burying parts of the city, and there were tunnels below as well. The shattered zone on top is the easiest area to explore. Missions can be as easy as mapping, or as hard as killing one of the known dangerous monsters. She posts the missions up on a mission board. The one for the shattered zone is marked out on a rough map, with a dog-like shape in one corner with one word scrawled under it:

Barghest?

Cauleigh meets the cartographer and gathers information in exchange for a future unnamed favour. He also plays cupid, with who knows what consequences.

 

Two sisters and two missions

They all meet Melissa. She explains that there’s a town of Dwarves not too far away to the west who might be convinced to relieve the siege. The city has just enough wealth for one big chance, so it can’t be a force to just man the walls. Neither faction would permit the Dwarves to just march in.

In the meantime, there’s a small mission north to fetch some supplies. There’s a report of a minotaur in the woods so adventurers are needed – but it might turn out to be just a cow, with horns.

They all meet Saundra, as she vets Melissa’s offer and insists on surety; but Fennec and Crompton begin making cock jokes, and trample all over any rapport building, and Cauleigh gets no further.

Fennec meets the arch-mage but fails to make much impression. But he doesn’t disgrace himself, unlike he and Crompton in front of Melissa and Saundra. He also browses the citadel library and finds another Ikkutas clue.

 

The supply mission

Jotunn’s player steps away at this point. Jotunn scouts off-road and is not included in the action.

Nisbett tells them cheerfully that trouble will start at a pair of busted-up towers. That’s where the last lot were ambushed. Aside from themselves there’s a pair of guards, equipped adequately but lacking experience in action; Nisbett driving a large wagon; and an enormous dog pulling a dog-cart (and ridden by a very small girl).

 

Fennec realizes that his normal battle tactic won’t work. He explains he’ll use the range of his TTYF in support, and Cauleigh (arquebus) and Crompton (sword and shield) will do the forward fighting.

The ambush kicks off with arrows arcing down. The two guards are suppressed. The three Dwarves work well together to turn the tables and get to one-on-one combat. And with the ruined towers captured and yet to be looted, the session ends.

Props

Fingold has existed on my old Vale maps for a long time, and I did once choose a general lozenge-shape layout for it. This is the first time I needed detail, and I based the layout on Dreamworlds’ Medieval Market Town map 3 (Cornelius Clifford, Fantasy Floorplans). The shatter zone is partly from my own thought process of what would happen to Fingold during a serious sorcerous war, and partly from &Magazine’s Area Builder. Some elements, including the way adventurers interact with it and the dangers below, come from Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, an anime series I highly recommend. The “samurai beauty besotted with oblivious nerd” is an anime trope, but the “demon in glasses” comes from another anime series, Log Horizon. The supply mission setting is out of  Forge Studios’ Evening Session Map 3.

If this session write-up format seems a bit odd, apologies. I was well into writing it all up in my usual Ikkutas style then felt it wasn’t working well. This session is written more in a GM summary format.

I rate the players a “could do better” for the city gaming. They mentally flushed away most of the ‘why we are here’ points I ran over with them at commencement. I found that I had to remind individuals of some objectives. I haven’t described details of the “pickled elf” thread which began earlier and may extend beyond Fingold. Fennec didn’t forget it and it did get discussed with Melissa. Stay tuned!

 

Posted in To Ikkutas | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lankhmar season finale: Crimson tide of plunder!

 

The characters for the finale:

Rogar, a mariner [L2 Warrior, sword and shield]
Snorri, a northern barbarian [L1 Warrior, axe and shield]
Dokrah, a Keshite [L1 Rogue, talent = cat-burglar]
Pras, a freeman scribe [L1 Rogue, talent = fraud]

Important NPCs:

The Black Skull, pirate vessel the characters sign aboard
Captain Senric, commander and leader
Bosun Trenchie
Quartermaster Berkly
Ship’s carpenter Chippie
Ship’s cook Cookie

Archer captain Fang
Mercenary halberdier Hogard
Mercenary arbalestier Arst
Mercenary duellist Subrey
Mercenary Mingol Grits

This adventure continues from where the last session paused: Having signed articles for a pirate foray aboard the Black Skull, our four marauders have just succeeded in boarding the Shark Tooth, out of Illthmar and carrying rich swag.

Comprehend Senric! No?

The Shark Tooth’s sails are afire as Captain Senric joins the ten-strong assault party on the wheel-deck. Fang and his archers climb up after him. Senric takes the scene in at one sweep and shouts:

“Mr Fang, direct fire into the tops and rigging! Mr Pras?”

“Ye-es sir?” squawks Pras, noting the promotion.

“Take your crew for’n’starb’d to for’deck! You others – with me!” And so saying Senric marshals about half the assault team, leaving Grits and a no-name Slayer with the four PCs.

“You heard him!” screeches Pras wildly [failing L2 CHR SR], “get forward and do it!” And hoping the others understood what Senric had said, steps nimbly back behind Grits and begins applying poison to his blade.

Defend that deck!

Not having paid any attention the other three are happy defending the starboard top of the wheel-deck from another wave of Ducal defenders!

Dokrah decides to run behind Senric’s team and swing out portside, land behind the opposition and surprise them! [Luckily the GM judges this has something to do with cat-burgling and lets him add that +5, and Dokrah makes L3 SPD SR.] This turns out to be very helpful, but not for the initial contest as a squad of defenders rush the steps.

shark-tooth-fight

Dokrah on left (outside gunwale!) and Senric to left with his four; Snorri and Rogar can be seen defending the steps right, with Grits to their left and Pras behind Grits. Fang’s archers and captured ballista occupy the foreground.

Snorri tries a sweep-move [fails L2] and flounders a little, while Rogar is pushed back, fighting gamely. [In this first round, Snorri and Rogar roll poorly but their armour takes the damage] At the same time, other defenders boost a pair up on shields and they vault up into combat with Grits and the no-name. Grits is also forced back while the no-name falls unlamented.

In the traditions of trapped rats Pras rolls under the swinging blades to back-stab one of the defenders at the rail, while Dokrah slices them amidships. Snorri and Rogar get the best of their side, and the fighting tramples back to the edge of the steps.

[Hellfire juice, the poison Pras is using, adds a dice of damage if the round is won, then another dice for two more rounds.]

The boot is on the other foot! And on the port side Senric is clearing the way to the fore-deck. Judging the moment to show bold, Pras vaults down to stab the last defender as Dokrah continues cutting them up.

“Mr Pras! Clear aft cab’n!”

“Aye sir! You can rely on me!”

The after cabin usually belongs to the captain of a vessel so is the most natural place for treasure to be found, at least in Pras’ estimation. He’s about to kick the cabin door in when Rogar shoves in, and Pras willingly steps out of the line of fire.

Crash!

Clear the captain’s cabin!

Luckily for Rogar the guard beyond, in a small passage aft, is merely ready for trouble, not ready with an arbalest! Rogar keeps his forward momentum and gets to close combat, joined by Snorri. The defender trades ground and they find themselves in the captain’s cabin, flanked by two more defenders! [Again they take damage on armour] Things are going from bad to worse [taking real damage] when Dokrah and Grits vault athletically through the aft window and the fight becomes four to three. [Snorri is hopelessly confused at this point and the GM is VERY kind allowing him to contribute without an IQ SR.] Dokrah and Grits help significantly and the defenders fall in a round or two.

Pras, acting as though he has been helping, swiftly begins picking on likely-looking chests to be freed up. Snorri and Dokrah duck back out, Snorri to check for other chambers and Dokrah to check on the action.

Snorri’s sniffing down into a possible larder is interrupted as Dokrah screams a warning:

“Berserkers!”

“You three warriors – use that same tactic and let them come in to you,” urges Pras, “meanwhile we’ll get these chests across to the ship.”

To understand Pras’ scheme you must recall that the Black Skull had harpooned the aft planks of the Shark Tooth, and winched it close, so anything cast out of the aft windows will land on the Black Skull – given a modicum of skill!

Pras is strong but Dokrah is not and the GM requires three real levels of STR between them (meaning you can’t simply roll 15+ twice). But with a fail-forward or two, and a chest dropped on Dokrah’s foot, two chests are pitched out.

Meanwhile the berserkers stand no chance in a three-on-two matchup and the warriors sweep out and amongst the lesser defenders, and the fight is over.

Finish plundering, scuttle the ship!

In a more orderly fashion the remaining three chests are lowered to the Black Skull and costly muslin and silk bales plundered and sent across as well. Ducal defenders’ bodies are looted – Snorri picks up an excellent axe and Dokrah a composite bow while in the cabin Pras finds some highly useful paperwork – and pitched into the sea. Then the Shark Tooth is scuttled.

A minute’s silence: now plot furiously!

These orders are all relayed by bosun Trenchie so it’s not fearfully surprising when he announces that first mate Teavis (Illthmar arrows) and Captain Senric (stabbed below-decks) both tragically passed away. [I mention the cause of death because it colours my assumptions] Berkly stands beside Trenchie to lend moral support in the name of the partners, and Trenchie follows this announcement up by promoting himself to captain, Chippie to bosun, and Cookie to bosun’s mate.

Berkly calls Pras to a private conference. Buttocks firmly clenched, Pras follows him. Berkly wants a spy in the foc’s’le and a contingency plan for the Illthmarts.

[Now I have to explain my own thinking here or things will just look silly. I guessed that Berkly was on the back foot, on behalf of the partners, and might look for allies. I guessed Trenchie was on the front foot, and purely based on the death of Teavis, had allied with the Illthmart archers. I knew Trenchie was just as ambitious/greedy as I was. These are purely guesses and may be wrong but decided my options. I should add, as Pras I had no special preference for staying true to articles or betraying them.]

Pras agrees, then mingles as inconspicuously as he can with his fellow marauders. In effect he puts two proposals:

  1. Stay true to their articles and on the right side of the partners, get the ship back to Lankhmar (possibly without any original officer); or
  2. Sell out the partners, say good bye to their investments in Lankhmar, and throw in with Trenchie and a foreign port.

[The GM lets us just discuss all this face to face, avoiding a great deal of confusion.]

The marauders agree to stay true to articles, and moreover Rogar is fairly sure he can navigate the ship, and a sequence of tasks takes place:

  • Pras settles the new terms with Berkly: two full officer shares.
  • Dokrah mingles with the crew to sound out their loyalties: misses L1 CHR SR
  • Rogar sounds out the Illthmarts: L1 CHR SR and nods sympathetically to their complaints about more shares going to those doing the real work
  • Snorri brings grog to the foc’s’le and proposes a full share split among those throwing in with his team. Arst signals that he’s aware of the prospect of treachery while Grits throws in immediately. Hogard seems convinced so Subrey falls in behind.

Poison those inconvenient archers!

It’s not long before the Illthmar archers’ shipmate Rogar brings a cask of grog to share with them. After all, it ain’t right that the Slayers are the only ones to get some! While they are distracted, Dokrah pours Pras’ remaining seven doses of Hellfire Juice in the midship water.

Waking with a raging thirst, the Illmarts stumble to the water-butt and drink heavily – and are quickly murdered.

“And you said this wouldn’t be fun” Dokrah chuckles, smothered in blood.

“I did say there’d be deck games,” Rogar protests, wiping his falchion

“Don’t forget, loot properly before we sling them,” Pras reminds them as bodies are pitched over.

Shortly after, Pras bargains with captain Trenchie, hinting heavily that there are shares enough, the partners have a long reach, and Lankhmar is an ideal destination. As a sweetener (and to give himself a lifeline) he mentions that he can now provide Trenchie with genuine-looking captain’s papers. But he wants half a share off Trenchie. An officer’s share. And this proves a little too high a price…

Like the rats you are, turn at bay!

Inevitably a storm blows up and Pras feels very queasy [rolls a fail on CON]. Trenchie asks him to check below, in case some cargo has shifted. Meanwhile all able bodies are ‘way hauling away’ and ‘tailing aft ho’ and so forth.

In a quiet dawn all hands are ordered to deck and the sad loss of Mr Berkly overboard is announced. The Black Skull must needs haul for the nearest friendly port. Captain Trenchie orders Mr Pras to his quarters. Pras follows, but not before nodding to his mates to prepare for action…

[Obviously our original plan, to simply be loyal, keep Trenchie in line, and take an extra share or two, has fallen through. Trenchie’s final coup while I was ill has made all this irrelevant. So I have to make a decision on the fly to throw in with Trenchie or play big for a partnership-size share by bringing the Black Skull home. Here, the earlier conversation with Rogar about navigation is highly relevant!]

Trenchie clearly has the upper hand and specifies that he does want those captain’s papers and the price will be 500 flat. Pras agrees[L3 CHR SR with fraud bonus to sell this], turns as though to fetch the equipment, then flees flinging a dagger wildly behind him! Sarong flapping wild and free, he sprints up the deck towards the foc’s’le screeching for help!

“I recognize that terror-stricken screeching!” Snorri rumbles, “Time to kick ass or die boys!”

Buckling the last of their armour on they roll out. Then things start going wrong. Well, more wrong.

CHUNGGAKK!!

With a surprised look on his face Hogard drops his halberd and topples to the deck, dying. Rogar realizes that an arbalest bolt has plunged from the fighting top into Hogard’s chest. He jumps back, and sweeps up his own bow and quiver.

Dokrah dodges close-in to the mast, then starts scrambling up the rigging, twisting around the mast as the arbalestier Arst tries to sight in on him. Arst settles for a more available target and swings back to where Snorri and Grits, Subrey behind them, are passing Pras who slows his flight and begs for a blade.

“A blade? Yes, I have one for you….” Subrey murmurs. Pras leaps back [L2 CHR SR to read the sitch] as the duellist turns on him.

“Traitor!” protests Pras, which is a bit rich really.

“Traitor? I’m just differently loyal!”

CHUNGAKK!!

Grits was ready but it makes no difference, the Mingol falls full-length, dying.

[Early crossbows could not fire steeply down – the bolt would simply slide out – but I’m assuming the Lankhmar world has the more advanced type with a locking nut and trigger]

Dokrah clambers up to where he can vault into the fighting top. Snorri realizes he will be alone against Trenchie, but charges into the captain’s cabin and fights breast-to-breast against the captain, getting the best of it until Trenchie is joined by Cookie!

Up aloft, Dokrah [L2 SPD SR] gets into combat, and [L1 CHR] fakes the arbalestier out, saps him off-balance and throws him down to the deck.

Amidships Rogar comes sweeping into combat with Subrey. Pras recalls that Rogar is the only warrior the duelist had trouble with in sparring bouts, so dodges in behind the mark, but Rogar tries a fancy move and is caught one-on-one for a round. Then Pras succeeds [L1 SPD] in getting the right station and between them they easily defeat and kill Subrey.

“We’re winning! More shares for all!” Pras yells loudly, more in the hope that none of the crew will attack him, than gaining actual numbers. Rogar rushes aft towards the captain’s cabin, and Dokrah swings down from aloft. He lingers to point boastfully to Arst’s corpse, and Pras lingers because he’s not stupid, but Rogar joins the fray and soon Cookie is down.

“Now lads, looks like we are in an interesting place. A place to bargain anew. Seems as how you need a good navigator,” Trenchie bargains.

“Nah, she’s right” Pras calls from well behind the action and the warriors kill the erstwhile captain.

And sail home on the crimson tide of plunder!

Yet another deck meeting is called as blood is yet again swabbed away. Mr Pras is apparently the new captain while the others hold other officer posts. [L1 CHR SR] The crew seem unconvinced but not mutinous. After all, the only fighting crew left are the new officers.

Over the next week or so a series of SRs decide:

  • Snorri and Dokrah are quite intimidating [L2 CHR each] and the crew sullenly keep working
  • Rogar navigates the ship to where a foul smudge on the horizon signals Lankhmar [L1 IQ SR and a random d6]

Not long after, the sick sewer-colour of the Hlal river mixes with the cleaner ocean, and the Black Skull becomes the Seal once more. Local pilots bring the ship into dock and the new officers prepare to receive representatives of the law and partners.

It takes a little selling [L2 CHR SR from Pras] but all is well and the riches of the plundering expedition are shared out lavishly!

 

AP is spent at this stage. Dokrah and (I think) Snorri join Rogar on L2, giving Snorri his second warrior-bonus dice in combat with axe, and Dokrah another talent from the Rogue list, to be decided. Pras is still on L1 – and I have not decided how much to push IQ up. Probably to 18 if I aim to take a shot at remembering a spell. The other option is to buy scrolls, which is an attractive one since in Lankhmar real magic-users get warped faster than a Dark Heresy Psyker.

 

That may be the last of Lankhmar, although we would all be happy with another season. SM has a couple more ideas bubbling off his draft table, so we’ll have to wait and see.

We had a great time, SM was virtually screaming with laughter at some of Pras’ antics, especially the cowardly type. There were a couple of grumbles about GM choices of SR but not too bad. Rolls were nothing to be amazed at, unless you count the GM because SM rolled 27 and 35 SR on dice alone at different times. 

Pitching the options reminded me strongly of Widow and the Bad’n’Ruin crew, which is not so great from a roleplay point of view; but of the four, Pras is clearly the slippery guy working the angles. The phrase “you can rely on me” with a big insincere grin became a catch-phrase after Snorri’s player remarked on it. So I’m happy working this new type of character if we do go to a second season.

Posted in Lankhmar | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lankhmar 1.09: Yo ho!

The characters for this session:

Rogar, a mariner [L2 Warrior, sword and shield]
Snorri, a northern barbarian [L1 Warrior, axe and shield]
Dokrah, a Keshite [L1 Rogue, talent = locks & traps]
Pras, a freeman scribe [L1 Rogue, talent = fraud]

Important NPCs:

The Black Skull AKA the Seal, pirate vessel the characters sign aboard
Captain Senric, commander and leader of the Seal
First Mate Teavis
Bosun Trenchie
Quartermaster Berkly
Archer captain Fang
Mercenary halberdier Hogard
Mercenary arbalestier Arst
Mercenary duellist Subrey
Mercenary knife-artist Neem
Mercenary Mingol Grits

This adventure begins as the princess heist four are feeling the heat from Mingols searching Lankhmar, thirsting for blood! (By luck, the word on the street is that the escapees were eunuchs, so nothing specific points to our lads.)

Rogar contacts the other three to say that, as he previously hinted, his contact Orik does have a work offer. Best of all it is away from town!

A chance for a bracing sea voyage, with treasure

The four all check out of their accommodation and sign articles with Captain Senric of the Seal, the name the pirate vessel Black Skull is using in port.

Senric explains to Rogar [we do this the wrong way round and commit before all the details are known] that the prize is a treasure ship out of Illthmar and bound for Ool-Hrusp, far across the inland sea. There must be no survivors, for the ruler of Ool-Hrusp is the notoriously mad and vicious Duke Lithquin. He entertains his folk with death-match arena fights.

After partners and captain get half, and officers take their share, 30% of treasure captured will remain to be divided. Aside from sailing crew, the fighting crew includes the four characters, about half a dozen Slayers Guild members, some dockside scum, and a complement of Illthmart archers who follow the shark cult.

The Black Skull, AKA the Seal, is a sleek lateen-rigged three-master disguised to look more like a normal trader. A couple of decks have been reinforced for ballistae, and oarlocks suited for 8 sweeps per side allow for movement in calm.

Making friends and influencing people

The four characters aren’t automatically assign one role or another. For example three of them carry aboard missile weapons, so are given the chance to slot in with the Illthmart archers. They bunk in a marine deck, amidships. Then, front-rank fighters have their own pride, and bunk in the foc’sle. Snorri easily slots in with the latter, meeting Hogard, Neem, Arst and a couple of other Slayers. Dokrah is more inclined to use his bow and makes efforts to be seen scaling the fighting top. Rogar is actually competent with his bow and ends up practicing under captain of archers Fang.

Pras is least suited, but even before boarding buys a gross of fire-arrows (specially made) then tries to talk his way into a partnership. It doesn’t succeed [merely makes L1 CHR SR] but he does get a full share and is assigned to work under Berkly, who is quartermaster but not in a command role. Pras passes a basic test Berkly sets him.

As the Seal rolls under a gentle swell Dokrah experiences the fighting top and manages to keep his breakfast down [L1 CON SR].

Senric addresses the assembled crew and explains the general shape and length of the voyage and establishes sparring sessions for the fighters to adjust to their places.

Sparring is just like real combat, with AP being handed out for stunts (because failing might have a real cost, like shares of treasure) but damage is not real. The four all participate. Pras is by far the weakest, Rogar is the best of the four. It’s pretty clear Hogard is the strongest fighter aboard but Arts Subrey Neem and Grits the Mingol are probably not far behind.

An ill omen?

The only event of any real note in that first week is the loss of likeable cabin boy Walt overboard one night. Senric is upset enough to order his ship put about, and most of 12 hours is wasted in a fruitless search. Snorri theorises that the shark cultists sacrificed the boy but there is no evidence of it.

Plans for the assault

In the second week as the Black Skull sails east searching for the Shark Tooth’s profile, it becomes known that the target ship is taller-built and an assault will be up, not across. Pras has an idea for making the climb up safer, and Rogar pitches it successfully.

Sparring is repeated, and as sail ho! is shouted, volunteers are sought for the assault.

Ten desperadoes

Snorri steps forward even before Senric can add any incentive! Once “extra share” is announced, Pras Rogar and Dokrah, Hogard, Subrey, Grits and three more Slayers volunteer. Dokrah will begin in the fighting top then work his way down, so Hogard asks him to pitch the halberd across to the enemy deck.

“I’ll just drop it,” Dokrah replies uneasily

“That’s fine, drop it on the deck and I’ll pick it up,” Hogard agrees heartily. A man who hears what he wants to hear.

Then all fighting complement hide, and the sails are trimmed to appear a regular trader.

Fire and Assault!

Sure enough the ship sighted is the treasure ship, Shark Tooth. The ruse of sailing “casually” gains enough proximity for a real chase, then sails are adjusted and the fighting crews make ready and ballistae bolted in. Trenchie the bosun makes his ready. He will fire a harpoon into the stern boards, then the ship’s capstan will winch the two vessels together.

At 100 yards the tacking battle begins, and the Black Skull wins it comfortably. Ballistae shots are exchanged. Then the Illthmarts fire all fire arrows not used in practice, with some effect on the Shark Tooth’s sails and rigging. The cable harpoon slams into the Shark Tooth’s stern and the assault spar is swung out. It is basically the spare fore-yardarm; but with handy amounts of rope tied over it to make quick climbing practical.

It’s still not an easy climb and only the good, strong climbers make the assault look easy – Subrey in particular! Dokrah tosses the halberd more in hope than conviction, and by good fortune [L3 LK SR] it lands perfectly as Hogard clears the enemy rail. Dokrah swings down and speeds up the great spar, joining the others.

[The GM gives each player the option of attribute to SR with. Pras includes his roguery bonus of +3, Snorri his northern barbarian bonus of +3, and Dokrah once again finds cat-burglar is relevant at +5.]

It’s time to hold! The ten need to buy enough time for more fighting crew to gain the enemy wheeldeck.

[The GM rolls a lot of dice, there’s no special need to stunt so it’s a straight combat.]

Since they include the toughest fighters, and all ten made it over, they make short work of the enemy ballista crew and the first waves of fighting crew. And as we pack up the session, victory looks certain!

Pacing this kind of session with its plethora of NPCs, and tasks no PC is involved in, is difficult. Our GM did a good job but I think we all still felt it was a quiet session for AP.

There will be a longer than usual wait for the next instalment, it will be a weekend game. Stay tuned!

Posted in Lankhmar | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Lankhmar 1.08: The Disturbed Duke, part three: Princess heist!

The characters for this session:

  • Rogar, a mariner [L2 Warrior, sword and shield]
  • Snorri, a northern barbarian [L1 Warrior, axe and shield]
  • Dokrah, a Keshite [L1 Rogue, talent = locks & traps]
  • Pras, a freeman scribe [L1 Rogue, talent = fraud]

When we left our sewer slickers (part two) Rogar had just heard a feminine voice calling behind a barred door, and the other three were killing a Mingol guard serving Duke Danius, but not before the guard had raised the alarm! Can they spring the princess (Lessi, the Duke’s daughter) and bring her to their client, Avish, the Duke’s son?

This episode includes a number of combat flurries, so for those not familiar with T&T:
Combat rounds are flexible, from a flurry of a few seconds to two minutes. Both side amass damage and compare, then the winner’s surplus is applied to the losers. Stunts are often vital inside combat, because they can change an attrition fight to a decisive one, or avoid severe injury.

A perilous situation

As he checks the west-wing tunnel towards the voice, Rogar notices an unmapped tunnel that leads north off it… and a pair of Mingol guards are already advancing down it! He draws himself into cover at the tunnel mouth.

Meanwhile the other three finish the guard, ending near a closed door that according to their rough map accesses a large chamber.

“There are so many doors to guard: I shall get the northerners” Snorri rumbles.
“Before you go, pass me a couple of spikes,” Pras asks.

Snorri hands the pitons over and heads back. He allocates three northerners to doors outside this wing and brings three back as forward support.

Mingols arrive: Fights for all

Dokrah and Pras spot Rogar’s position (they are very close and the tunnels are lit) and hurry to help. Pras achieves a surprise attack [on SPD] but Dokrah and Pras merely meet he Mingols head on. One Mingol falls.

As Snorri arrives with three northerners the east door opens and two Mingols begin emerging! Northerners vs Mingol: a melee erupts around that doorway!

Meanwhile:

“We need to get the Princess away!” yells Pras, looking at Rogar.
“Don’t look at me, the door will be locked!” he yells back.

Dokrah decides to finish the fight quickly. He stunts [L2 SPD SR] behind the surviving Mingol and he is swiftly killed.

Pras loots the bodies [beginning a sequence of sub-average rolls] and shoulders their bows, Rogar hurries to lend his martial skill to the ongoing melee behind him, and Dokrah hurries to the barred door readying his lock picks.

But another pair of Mingols approach down the north tunnel!

Princess heist

Reading from west to east:
• Dokrah [L3 DEX SR with +5 talent] picks the door then tries to convince the “princess” he is a friend and she needs to go with him. He does throw in “your brother sent me” but [his CHR is so nebulous, misses L1 SR] she wavers. Dokrah pulls back to try a sneak attack at the north tunnel mouth.
• Pras sounds the alarm with a shrill scream of fear then draws forth his fire-pot and menaces the approaching Mingols:
“Beware! I am a mighty warlock! Flee lest my hell fires consume you!”
Then, he flings the fire-pot [ineffectually except for the morale effect] runs to the “princess” grabs her arm and rushes her around the fighting.
• The eastern melee is joined by more Mingol guards: though the large chamber is not full of Mingols they do seem to have easy access to it! Rogar Snorri and their support use their combat success to force the Mingols back into the chamber, and can then swap out injured defenders.

The expeditious retreat

How things went:
• Dokrah’s ambush nearly costs him his life! [Hoping for a major stunt he merely gets L1 SPD] He swings into action, bounces off the nearest Mingol and takes a pile of hurt [drops to 1 CON]. He flees after Pras.
• Pras successfully navigates the eastern melee thanks to Snorri and Rogar having the upper hand, and tows the princess out into the escape corridor.
I am a warlock and my arcane powers can seal the door,” he yells, readying the pair of pitons.
Then a scream makes the hairs on the back of his head stand up:
Flee you fools” he screams and grabbing the lantern-pole – but dropping the bows – ushers the princess back to the now-empty entry room where the escape tunnel awaits. He pauses at the door, watching down the corridor.
• Dokrah stumbles along close behind and easily makes the same room. He makes a grab at the bows but realises he can’t risk being encumbered.
• Snorri gallantly makes sure his trio of northerners are protected. He attempts an axe move [rolls a fail] and takes some serious damage. Rogar and the three northerners fight at the door then withdraw along with Snorri. Then as they move back to the corridor, Snorri fails to keep up [misses L1 SPD SR] and the injured northerner dies. Snorri hurls his axe at the Mingols, then he, Rogar and the northerners flee to where Pras is waiting.
• It’s obvious that the other northerners posted around the wings have been slain, as Mingols now fill the corridor. As Snorri and Rogar brace the door Pras crouches and shouts the arcane command:
“Lock Tight!” – while actually sliding the pitons into place under the door!
“That should hold until they bring up a sorcerer of greater power than myself” he brags. Mingols hammer on the door and it shudders ominously.
Dokrah lowers the princess down to the scaffold and clambers down, followed by Pras with the lantern, two surviving northerners, Rogar, Snorri and once they breach the “warlocked” door, the Mingols!

Avish is waiting in the mansion, and as planned, whips away with the princess. Dokrah is soon joined by Pras, then the others. Owing to Snorri’s slower speed the Mingols are close behind! Once the rope ladder is drawn up, Pras hurls the lantern at the horde [it does nothing since he only manages to hit the bricks beyond them] then Rogar and Snorri push over basement rubbish to help block the tunnel. The Mingols begin a sonorous nasal chant and all accomplices flee the mansion, the northerners possibly bringing “the missus” with them.

Away laughing

Pras and Snorri help Dokrah, who is very tired [open SR all round, on current CON: Snorri gets to L4, Rogar and Pras are comfortable] down the city streets and across the Street of Gods and into the cheaper areas. They all four hole up at the Rat’s Nest, lowest of low taverns. Snorri plunks down a coin and they eke the bad booze out through the rest of the night…

The following morning Dokrah exchanges Avish’s token for 5,000 gold. The surviving northerners receive the pay promised, though Snorri wants to cut them an even share.

100 bonus AP for the caper and 100 bonus for Snorri for recruiting the northerners. The four cronies rest up (Dokrah pays for faster recovery) and AP is spent. Snorri moves STR to 18, Dokrah moves DEX to 19. Rogar shares AP round some of his weaker stats. Pras moves DEX and LK to adequate 13.

Plans for the rest interval

• Find a job: Rogar has a couple of leads already and this is in his hands
• Find accommodation: In the end only Snorri moves, into the Golden Lamprey. Pras sets up shop in “document support” at the grill opposite the Goosedown Inn, handy to the Great Library.
• Gear up: Dokrah receives the lamellar he ordered and repairs other gear, and buys new clothes;  Snorri orders full plate and a knight’s shield; Pras contacts the Thieves Guild to acquire poison and put out word for a spell.
• Ship comes in: The investors receive word that the grain shipment got back safely.

I commented previously about being required to make a roll after role-playing. Dokrah fell victim to this, this episode (has a line to feed the princess then needs an SR) but I felt this was OK. The L1 requirement was a reward for the effort to convince her.

There were a few fail-forwards, mostly equipment loss as we retreated. For example Rogar went to grab a throw knife and found it wasn’t there any more.

The episode also saw a couple of “specialised weapon” attempts. These are supposed to represent a warrior being better, by a bonus on roll, with his favoured weapon. Snorri’s luck was not with him so these went sideways, but were interesting.

Dokrah’s player asked a very good question during AP spend. ‘What is the advantage of increasing level, for a rogue?’ I’d like the GM to come back with concrete information on this. The rules offer a number of options for rogues and we do not know what this campaign is using.

Afterword: Mingol bow bounty

During the rest period the cronies’ lives are in danger: although Duke Danius leaves town (“My impenetrable defences weren’t strong enough!”) the Mingol guards seek to recoup lost face by exterminating the miscreants. Luckily, rumour has it that the break-in was effected by eunuchs, so there is some breathing space!

After discussing options the vote is to handicap the Mingol efforts by putting up a small bounty of 18 gold per Mingol bow, payable by the Thieves’ Guild. But, it’s a good reason to look for an out-of-town caper, and soon…

Posted in Lankhmar | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment