The Broken Land: New Taskmasters!

Chapter two of the Broken Land continues…

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

Episode 7: the hireling

GME information:

Active threads: Infected comrades; Aurelon’s Keep (investigate, maybe clear it); Briar Keep; Uruk lord.

No change to lists.

Chaos is 6.

Day 2

Dawn. Elyn has been tending Dag and Riba. She stretches, turns to Win:

“Walk with me – I’m hunting some remedies…”

Win eases into his wooden scale and brings both spear and sabre. He paces after Elyn, watching the near distance for danger.

Elyn is searching for medicinal herbs. She gets a +d3 since this is her background and the weather has been fine. She makes a fine INT check!

Elyn has been searching in shaded areas, closer to the river. She finishes cutting herbs and rises:

“Let’s get back to camp – I’ll get poultices going.”

Win steps a little further towards the trail and levels his spear ready to throw:

“Hold! Speak up there stranger – and keep ya hands high!”

“I’m friendly! I mean no harm and need help! Can you spare some water?”



To the surprise of the other three fit rogues, a weary stranger, clothes in utter rags, stumbles into camp ahead of Win, Elyn following. The latter wastes no time explaining but sets about boiling the herbs and organising a makeshift mortar and pestle. Dag and Riba groan and toss. The weather is already hot, and if the herbs don’t work these two will probably die from dehydration. As Elyn works, Win briefly explains and turns to questioning the stranger.

His tale is not too outlandish: a caravan guard, he survived an illkin attack, hid up, skirted the keep they seemed to come from, and was lucky enough to strike the trail again. His name is Mathias Castillon.

He believes the caravan was captured not stripped on the spot, and is probably inside the keep, which lies not far up the road. From what he saw, entry inside the walls is easy – there’s a shattered section and a sort of earth ramp to it.

SPOILERS! – Don’t read this section if you want to fully enjoy the story’s twists!





Encounter: Werewolf. It is Win’s turn for the LCK check and he makes it. Range 50 yards. Now to frame the encounter using Events: I get “separate jealousy” which is unclear! 

Mythic: Is a seduction being attempted? (Likely) No.

Mythic: Are characters being tempted some other way? (Likely) Yes.

I use both UNE and DCC’s Occupation table to determine that this is a caravan guard, much weaker than the party, a ‘jovial hero’ whose PRS score is 11 and who makes a good PRS check to be convincing. (I also generate his name using a free name-generating app.)

DCC caravan guard profile: Init+0, Atk+1 for d6, AC14, HDd8, MV25′, Act1d20, F1 R1 W0. Special: weakness to silver.

Finally, Elyn gets to make a PRS check to counter Mathias’ good one, and she fails.

Chaos rises to 7.

A lone scout is chosen

The rogues are much heartened by this piece of news and as Mathias, now seated at ease and sipping water, continues his tale they grow bolder.

“I got the feeling, from what I see of these raiders, there be more’n one clan. Taken us by surprise they did, but any o’ you be more’n a match fer any one o’ them.”

“How’d’ja like to hire on wi’ us, Castillon?” Borer asks bluntly. “We got us a few coin tucked away, an’ headin’ back ta Dunn wi’ gold at yer belt be a sight better’n beggin’ th’ villagers fer alms.”

“Say, that’d be swell,” Mathias agrees, “Eight be better’n seven any day, an’ a sight better’n one man on th’ trail. Put ‘er thar! An’ call me Mathias.”

New character added: Mathias Castillon.

“How are our patients doing, Elyn?”

“Better. The poultice is definitely helping. With rest and water they’ll recover.”

“Grand! Let’s make some rough plans. We’ll need to scout the place out of course, and that will give Dag and Riba a chance to get back on their feet. Who’s up for some scouting?”

Eyes turn to Tadiko. She stands, and nods.

Scene setting begins with “scout the keep.” 

Chaos check: alteration. Focus: PC negative. Rolling a d7 I get Tadiko, who is the most logical single scout. I double check using an Event roll and get ‘befriend wishes’. The Event roll triggers a random event, for which I get ‘arrive vehicle’. This seems fairly clear to me. Mathias has simply ‘read’ the rogues and encouraged them along the lines they were already thinking. And the caravan wagons and maybe dray-beasts may well be inside the keep.

New characters: Goblin factions, NPC/monsters.

A stray breeze betrays Tadiko!

Tadiko lies flat, peering from the ramp into the keep. As Mathias thought, it’s a clear run in. The area ahead seems near-deserted, a mix of damaged original structures and lean-tos. But over to the left a wagon is being loaded – by goblins!

Then luck deserts her. A breeze blows over her shoulder right into the keep. She edges back and for a minute thinks she has gone undetected… then two orcs show themselves up top and from behind her, five goblins surround her. One of them makes a ‘put down’ gesture and, grim-faced, she lowers her longbow and raises her hands.

Knowing that things are not what they seem, I step through the scouting mission as follows:

LCK check: Tadiko fails.

Aurelon’s Keep outline is that goblins live in the bailey but leave much of the donjon area alone. I’m using Dyson’s ‘goblin market’ from Dodecahedron 2015 for the goblin-occupied area but a Wizardawn generated ‘dungeon’ for the other part. 

Mythic for the following sequence:

Has Mathias split Tadiko out deliberately? (50-50) No.

Does Tadiko spot a wagon from the caravan? (Somewhat likely) Yes! (Meaning: there is a fully intact wagon)

Are goblins loading it for shipment  upriver? (Somewhat likely) Yes.

Do goblins or their allies smell Tadiko? (Likely) Yes.

I roll a d30 to see which area Tadiko is closest to, to see what type of NPC/monster does the honours. The result is two orcs. I roll 2d7 for number of goblins on call and get five.

Is Tadiko captured? (Likely) Yes.

Do the orcs speak common? (50-50) Yes.

New thread: Hostage to the goblins.

Chaos rises to 8.

Surrender – or the chibi gets it!

From the brush near the camp comes a rough-accented hail:

“Ho the camp! We got yer pint-size! Come in with ya hands high pardners – or she gets it!”

Crestfallen, the rogues (and hireling) surrender and are led into captivity. Once again they endure the indignity of seeing their weapons stacked in a pile. Dag and Riba are allowed to sit. Sensing there’s leeway, Elyn steps forward to negotiate.

The talk is protracted: partway through, though still closely guarded, the rogues are allowed the shade and water. There’s no sign of Tadiko and they fear the worst.


Run the gauntlet – or clear that haunted keep?

Elyn’s return is subdued, but she waves down their questions and draws a deep breath. She’s got to sell the team on this, to some extent.

“The good news is, our new potential employers are entrepreneurs.” She pauses for the buzz to die down and continues:

“In fact given a choice of Templars or goblins I’d pick the goblins right away. They say, they have no real grudge against us but we obviously were planning to hit them. So the deal is, we get to prove ourselves.”

“Again?! – Oh for f*** sake! – what’s the handicap this time?” – such is the outcry. Again Elyn waits.

“They say… Tadiko chose the gauntlet. If she lives she’s good. But for us, can I recommend the other option? – We get to clear the keep out for them. If we make it, we get to hire on as caravan guards, all the way into the Broken Land!”

And to further questions she supplies:

“Yes, we get to use our weapons, and they’ll even let us shop in their market first, one at a time under guard. The keep’s supposed to be haunted, which is why they don’t want to do it. But what say? Better the seven of us do what we wanted to do anyway, and with a chance of getting safe through to where we want to go, than run a gauntlet.”

And the vote is ‘aye’.

As the seven filter out to signify their agreement and find out the order in which they can shop, the rising moon, still a discoloured disk, can be glimpsed in the afternoon sky.

This section is mostly adjudicated by two checks for the ‘chosen spokesperson’ Elyn. She makes both a PRS check and a LCK check. The main mission, given how I’ve sectioned off Aurelon’s Keep, suggests itself. Just one thing to check:

Mythic: Do the orcs or goblins already know Mathias? (Very unlikely) No.

The reward for clearing their keep is that the goblins (who obviously, are not great fighters and don’t function well in daytime) will hire the survivors as caravan guards, since the party wants to go to the same place the goblins want to sell to.

Altered thread: Clear the haunted keep to win favour with potential employers.

New characters: Two orcs, at least one speaking common.

Chaos falls to 6.

Next: Shopping the goblin market… and into the ruin!

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The Broken Land: Aurelon’s Keep – The first day and night

Chapter two of the Broken Land continues…

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

One of the issues with solo play overland travel is, how do you fairly run it, still keep the game interesting, and not bog it all down?

There has to be some random element(s) so that you can’t just run an encounter by the numbers. For example: ‘Dear Diary: This morning, we encountered 4 hyenas at a range of 30 yards. Our volley of missiles put down two of them, and our axes slew the other two. Is hyena meat edible?’ There’s a lot of rolling to generate that, and the interest is limited to finding out if anyone dies.

I began this section by referring to an encounter table I wrote for ‘west of Atharva’. I rolled three encounters, then had to decide which system I’m using. dT&T is simple but leaves things like creature morale and speed of encounter to the GM.

I decided since I have DCC attributes, to use a ‘D&D Clone’ set of rules. I put a few parameters into Wizardawn’s Labyrinth Lord page using World Builder generator. The result is more satisfactory, and includes weather for the day.

However, I decided since I did generate the encounters, to keep them, but use DCC to adjudicate, as well as emulators of course. For the first time in the mini-campaign they include Universal NPC Emulator (UNE).

I really liked the DCC based idea found in Shrouded Fen of using a LCK check for each encounter to decide if there is a positive consequence. I will attempt to use that for each encounter.

Episode 6: The first day and night

GME Information: Chaos stands at 5. No new NPCs. No new threads.

Chaos check: all proceeds without changes

Day 1

The seven rogues travel south-west towards the Spire in their first leg, then cross the Golden River and work their way up low cliffs to the overland trail that runs around the fens and south. The day is sunny, but mild, and they make good time. Fresh water is not guaranteed, since for parts of the journey the trail is well above the river. The fierce heat of late summer is not their friend!

The wild dogs

Encounter check: Riba (LCK 12) makes it. Range 50 yards.

“‘Ware to front! Beasts ahead!”

Mythic: Does this pack have pups? (50-50) No. ML=-1, otherwise as standard wolf or feral dog.

Wild dogs can be lethal: they do not fear man-smell. These dogs are simply resting and conducting normal pack behaviour. As they scent or hear the oncoming rogues they make enough noise that the rogues have at least one shot (at 50 yds then point-blank) before the pack gets to bite range.


Long range: Tadiko, with the longbow, misses but four of the hurled spears hit solidly! Two dogs are put down. 

Morale check: Surprisingly the dogs press their attack!

Charge range: Tadiko hits and three flung knives hit. Two more dogs are down; the remaining seven rush the rogues, leaping and biting!

Initiatives: rogues, dogs.

Melee: Five of the seven rogues hit with some really good rolls, and three more dogs are out! The remaining four dogs are very effective, despite attacking armoured opponents and three rogues are (lightly) wounded.

Morale: this time with more than half down the dogs flee.

Since the rogues were successful but had to fight and took some wounds, chaos moves to 6.

A cautious parley with travellers

Encounter check: Win (LCK 13) makes his LCK.

Win, whose turn it is at point, holds up a hand palm out. An oncoming hunter, leading his woman and mule heaped with skins, does likewise. Behind those, half a dozen buckskin-clad roughs straggle to a halt. The two parties are no more than 20 yards apart, and there’s an uneasy pause as both calculate the dangers!

Travellers are generally friendly but may be disguised bandits, or for that matter, may decide to indulge in opportunist mayhem. The LCK check means they are disposed to be friendly, so I pull out another emulator, the Universal NPC Emulator (UNE).

UNE: “Kind sniper” – power comparable, motivation “hunt the trackless wilds”

PRS check for Binye and Dag, since their backgrounds (animal trainer and woodcutter) are somewhat relevant. Both fail.

“So, ye be bound south… aye, mebbe I heerd about powers an’ dangers, mebbe I ain’t. I c’n promise ye one thing, there be a mess o’ trouble ahead fer ye.”

UNE: The best I get based on friendly but guarded is “promise power.” There is a fabled powerful treasure south-east but I can hook back to this if the rogues wander that way.

Since the encounter has no effect at all, Chaos remains at 6.

Vultures are omens?

Encounter check: Elyn (LCK 13) makes it. Range 400 yards.

Mythic: Are the vultures stalking something living? (50-50) No.

Mythic: Are they preying on a valuable corpse? (50-50) No.

Mythic: Is this a mess the hunters left behind? (Likely) No.

Mythic: Is this a good water source? (50-50) Yes.

“Shoo! Beat it! That inlet looks clean… let’s get some fresh water while we can!”

The rogues keep an eye out in case the vultures – which look enormous even from a distance – decide they are tasty morsels, and fill up canteens before making away from the river again to find a good defensible campsite.

Since the vultures proved to be a good omen signalling where water is, chaos drops to 5.

Night 1

There is no change in the weather.

Encounter check: Riba (LCK 12) makes it! Yay! 

The rat swarm

Mythic: Is the rat nest accessible? (50-50) No.

Range 50 yards, rats and rogues have equal init (give or take lousy or good  AGI) but Riba’s LCK check mean the watch is alert and as the cry goes up rogues seize brands from the fire and defend themselves!

Note: DCC does not have ‘swarm’ attack per se but it is the simplest way to adjudicate. Everyone is hit (1 dmge) and everyone must make a save against disease.

Everyone: DC5 FORT: Riba and Dag fail. They are diseased! Five of the seven rogues manage a hit with torches.

Morale: Critical failure! The rats flee!

Wounds are washed out and bound as best they can be, but by morning Riba and Dag are sweating and feverish!

Chaos moves to 6!


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TI3.22: Decisive Seconds

Wizard and warrior down!

When we left our combat en tableau last session, the Restorers and their allies the Herbal Teas had unleashed a volley of flung weapons at Samuel of the Loam in his snakey, gliding-along-the-ceiling form. Seven missiles had got close enough to be shot down by the wizard’s protective spell, and then when Jotunn roared for one more, Sage had shot the wizard with his light crossbow, then screamed: 

“Get him, Wolfie!” 

[As Crompton is currently out of the combat, I get his player to roll for Wolfie: first a STR SR to see how close his jump will be, then a DEX SR to target the wizard with his bladed chain. It’s the beginning of a good night for Wolfie and he makes two fine rolls.]

Cauleigh Jotunn and the two Herbals warriors see the Wulfan appear from off right of the passage, leap high, and near the top of his arc cast his blade unerringly into the wizard! Samuel gives a great cry and his staff drops to the ground below.

The warriors of course have not halted to see the outcome! Jotunn and Cauleigh keep their momentum and clear the grisly pile of corpses near the passage mouth. But nor have the black Dwarves halted their momentum! Fennec sees the pair that Jotunn and Cauleigh had been fighting off, looming out of the pitch dark and rushing him! Bellowing a warning he flees and leaps and lands clumsily thigh-deep in bloody corpses, on the ‘safe’ side of Heartsease and Trefoil: those two swing their polearms back ready to defend him. There’s a tremendous flash [L7 CON for all out to Cauleigh and Jotunn; L5 will be adequate; secondary check of L3 for Crompton] – Trefoil and Fennec cry in pain and fear – grunting and clashing as polearms and swords are wielded and screams of pain – then Heartsease is yelling:

“Trefoil’s down! Sage! Where the hell are you!”


An unexpected reversal and fire-breath

Where indeed? Sage has instinctively re-hidden and is cowering in a different corner lest the pistolier swing his way.

Meanwhile Cauleigh hands Jotunn a bolus from his locket, takes one himself and – despite throats being dry – they swallow. And look to where the pistolier was.

But the pistolier has decided retreat is the best option. Giving up his chance for a shot he gets back out of the door and is lost to sight. At the same time with a <PHOO> sound Samuel’s body is vomited out and a vast serpent barrels at Jotunn and Cauleigh!


Flame erupts from their throats and bathes the mighty form as it crashes through the warriors and along the passage, knocking all aside including the black Dwarves, and away north into blackness.

[The pair chooses to protect the less-armoured characters and share some spite, their excellent armour takes the rest]


Fennec secures the scene

Fennec picks himself up, finishes clambering over the bodies, as the warriors reverse course again and leap past him to pursue the huge snake. He rushes to where Wolfie is ravening into the wizard’s body: kicks the staff well clear: keeps his foot on it as he commands:

“Wolfie! Stop!”

The Wulfan looks up, startled. Shreds of fabric armour cling to his tiger-claw and a large chunk of the wizard’s throat drips blood down his muzzle.


Sensing that Samuel won’t need to be subdued, Fennec kicks the staff out of harm’s way and hastens back to the passage. By this time Sage has managed to tiptoe his way through he blood and slime and is working on Trefoil, Heartsease distractedly leaning over the pair. Fennec pats the Gnome’s shoulder:

“He’s gone lad, leave him be.”

But with no leisure to see the outcome he gets to the corner in time to see:


The fight in the east passage

A furious fight ensues as the black Dwarves collect themselves after being barged through, the black Dwarf women north of them attempt to deal with Crompton, and Jotunn and Cauleigh arrive on the scene.

At first the black Dwarves believe themselves to have the better position. Crompton spoils this for them! Alone in the dark, he’s smeared Blindsight paste on his eyelids and has hunted into the black Dwarf women. They are relatively ill-armed but in such numbers that soon, Crompton is in danger! But they do not lend their numbers to their king and war-leader and Jotunn – using his strength – and Cauleigh drive that pair back into their womenfolk. The fighting becomes general along the passage around the eastern guardroom. Wolfie – though not Heartsease – joins at the tail of the melee and uses his bladed chain as a missile.

[The players choose to use their slight advantage to keep the group penned up rather than letting them retreat. It does have the effect of isolating Crompton to some extent, he survives but gets in trouble as he tries to skirt the fight.]

The Dwarves are not fooled a second time by the king’s blinding radiance gadget, and the king and his henchman are not fooled by Cauleigh’s dodging and sweeping. The latter has his mace kicked away, and sweeps up the frostbrand sword. Now on the scene and bringing his Will-o-Wisp to enable him to see, Fennec, staying tucked in cover back at the corner, throws in a Glue-You: it’s aimed at the king but he’s already shifted, and his henchman suffers its effect. Jotunn with axe and knife and Cauleigh, now two-handed, turn on the king. They see, like a dark shadow, Crompton driving south around the melee – then there’s a clong and he falls. Unable to help, they hammer at the king’s weird blank-faced helmet until with a cry he stumbles and nearly falls. His women drag him further north, back over the bodies of two of their number that Crompton felled in his first attack. Cauleigh sees an opening and yells:

“Bound Wolfie!”

Wolfie bounds away, joins the other Herbals and the trio drag and carry Trefoil towards the secret panel. With a sigh Cauleigh draws his light-cube and follows up north.

The Dwarf warriors – though not Fennec who is well back – realise the black Dwarf women are carrying Crompton’s body away. Jotunn risks a cut sideways at the king as he surges forward against the henchman, while Cauleigh continues to hammer at the king. His shiny helm is smashed off and, guard beaten down, he takes a mortal wound. Jotunn powers into the henchman and he too falls!

Is Crompton alive? Let’s loot!

Jotunn and Cauleigh recover Crompton’s body there, much further north than they last saw him. He’s been carried, then dropped. He sits up and rubs the back of his head. There’s a nice goose-egg lump there. [9 off CON and a weird semi-dream scene where he understands what the black Dwarf women are saying]

Fennec looks back at where the Herbals are retreating. He notices a long fang lying where Sage Heartsease and Trefoil were clustered. He’s down to his last drop of mana, but sees the perfect chance for spending it:

“Keep that fancy light on Cauleigh, I’m casting Detect Magic!”

Looting anything magical and the obvious retail-value stuff, and bringing Trefoil’s spear, the party returns safely to base camp.


A drastic remedy calls for diplomacy

“It was all I could think of – the poison is paralytic – I thought that, if it preserves the body, that’s Trefoil’s best chance!”

So explains Sage. He injected Trefoil with the fang. Thinking “by the Lady – that’s completely bonkers” Fennec strokes his beard and chooses diplomatic silence. The corpse is rigid and pale. No heartbeat can be detected.


The Dwarves have now worked out at least part of the riddle of the snake-bodied. It seems that the huge serpent swallows a man to the waist, punctures the small of the back with their fangs, then uses the man as a thrall. As Crompton points out they had clues quite a long time back and even defeated a thrall-warrior and snake.

As the party winds down, remembers Trefoil’s bravery and good nature and the good times and hard times shared, AP is spent.

Cauleigh is level four!

Loot taken:

Heartsease is given the superior steel Ravenclaw heroic dagger. (Ravenclaw is a Sarn-mark slang term, in the same sense as ‘Arkansas toothpick’.)

Cauleigh keeps the frostbrand sword (Freeze Please as per spell) but hasn’t attuned it yet.

Two non-magic two-hander swords are of good quality and superior quality respectively.

Two beaten-iron daggers are of sufficient balance and quality to replace two of Crompton’s and go to him.

The sword-length, needle shaped gadget that generated light needs some Omni-Eye studying. It comes with a scabbard and baldric.

The faceless helm has a low-level protective charm but cannot be used by the Dwarves.

The wizard’s corpse rendered:

  • the staff (not deluxe, 3d6 in combat)
  • a jade ring that is a battery and
  • a gold ring that appears to hold ‘charges’ – possibly spells – but will need proper Omni-Eye work.

Jotunn will need to get his magic coif to a magic-shaping smith, its power is gone.


Strategy session and a good face-wash for blind Crompton

After a rest of perhaps a day Trefoil’s corpse is shifted away north of the great chamber behind the mirror-wall, and Cauleigh inspires the team to keep moving forward. Plans and tactics are discussed. Mass Little Feets seems a good safe option. The “fire breath pills” are shared out and the activation word learned. Painfully for some. Fennec makes sure Heartsease is given one.

There’s discussion of the Blindsight paste now that Crompton can report on its usefulness. Because of its short range effect versus great use of missile and long-range spells, it’s a last resort. But until he uses water and a cloth to wash his eyelids the paste does not come off – it is durable.


Strategy is over – let’s get down there!

Heartsease close behind them, Jotunn and Cauleigh lead the way to Level Two. Crompton with arquebus and Fennec with staff at the ready are next, and Sage and Wolfie are rearguard.

There’s a hitch in the general strategy of “same route, known path” when the ‘ambush room’ proves to have two scavenging fire beetles in it.

It’s time to navigate the pit! Rope is fetched in a quick return to Level One, and Wolfie uses Jotunn’s stirrup-assist to leap up from the shallow water and out into the guardian chamber. From there it’s easy.


Jotunn finds a trail

This time, bodies lie where they fell though insects have already been at work. The chambers north of the east passage have been evacuated in haste. Here and there rocks or knives have been used to slow pursuit.

It’s in the second or third stage of checking for sign that Jotunn holds up a fragment of wood.

“Crate fragment. And a fresh chip, at that. Haven’t seen sign of the hyena-man gear again, till now.”

Stuffing crude electrum bars into their packs – the only thing of any real value other than some throw-axes and a longbow and arrows – they begin choosing whether to keep pushing north or explore east.


Another ambush survived

As Cauleigh and Jotunn look north to a T-passage the pistolier tries a shot! Crompton falls!

Only to get up again rubbing his chest ruefully: his locket is ruined. [The Blindsight paste can be used this dungeon only.]

[The pistolier is not specifically targeting Crompton, he just gets the lowest LK SR. 3 off CON based on spite damage]

Jotunn reloads his arquebus: he’s tried a return shot but it was stopped by the pistolier’s heavy back-mounted shield. Fennec frowns angrily: he was sure that Oh-Go-Away would work. Crompton picks up his torch again: it hasn’t even gone out.


Fennec rips one off

As far as Jotunn could see, the pistolier-snake went west, so with all firearms are primed and matches lit they follow up that way. The west arm of the passage leads to a door.

And in the rear the ‘Samuel’ giant snake attacks!

“Fall back!!” Fennec bellows, stepping smartly out of the line of charge into safety south. He readies his staff… Crompton, who is next the door, Lock-Tights it to prevent that sneaky ‘double back and snap-shoot’ the pistolier loves… Cauleigh and Jotunn fire their matchlocks accurately past Heartsease who despairingly braces her Demilune:

There’s a huge crimson CONCUSSION that near-stuns everyone. The fanged skull and vertebra of a gigantic snake clatter to the floor at Heartsease’ feet; wisps of snakeskin and vaporised snake-flesh drift away.

Just south of the T, Fennec looks grimly smug. He’s used the second-last charge on his staff and delivered a L5 TTYF!

The party checks the east passage the great monster came from. It looks as though the broad T-shaped chamber that way is a throne-room, but there’s no opposition and they sense they have the momentum and follow up through the west door.

Chase that pistolier! Watch out above!

A much broader gallery runs north-south. This door appears to pierce it perhaps halfway along. Cauleigh ducks and rolls across it ending back-to-wall facing the others. To his right, a great ape-shape rises. Opposite it, another very similar yes – statue – stands.  Beyond them to the south, double doors.

As Jotunn paces carefully across the broad stone floor looking for tracks he’s nearly taken unawares – but his feeling more than any coherent knowledge that the double doors are not fully closed allows he and Fennec to throw themselves to cover. BAM! The pistol ball is wide of its mark.

In the next moment the silent swoop of an enormous winged humanoid catches them off-guard. It strikes at Cauleigh who dive-rolls clear! From the door, Crompton levels his arquebus and lets drive, accurately. Leaping back to his feet Cauleigh fends it off: it flaps back up to clutch a stone lintel. As Jotunn weighs up his options he again senses a winged approach: he seizes Fennec, pitches him through the door into Crompton and dives after him! Coming to his feet he defends the doorway against another equally huge gargoyle-like creature. In the background he can hear Sage protecting the tail with Hidey Hole. Fennec pitches in a Little Feets and Jotunn readies his two-hand mace:


Cauleigh senses movement from the double doors again. He dives across the chamber behind the creature battling Jotunn and jumps up, grabbing a wing. Crompton activates tempus fugit and Fennec LFs Cauleigh.

[ad-hoc, but this is roughly what the chosen strategy was before this foray]

Everything slows down when you are this fast

With such vastly enhanced fighting power the two super-gargoyles are shattered and the double doors gained. As the warriors check in their victory, Fennec follows up and semi-adequate light returns to the broad chamber. Wolfie bounds to the fore with a growl and scrabbles at the double doors. Sage and Heartsease are still unseen somewhere in the rear.

One of the double doors eases open enough for a pistol-shot: Cauleigh speeds forward and pitches his kukri: it whirls through – there’s a hideous scream – and a forearm and hand, still clutching the pistol, drops to the ground. Wolfie is on it! Cauleigh dives, sweeps up the pistol, and snap-shoots! Jotunn is hard on Cauleigh’s heels and wrenching open the door dives through and tackles the snake behind the Elf! Fennec and Crompton are both trying to see a target but the space beyond the doors is in darkness. Crompton tries a shot and his bullet glances off Jotunn’s breastplate.

<PHOO!> A dead Elf hits the floor and in a whirl of Dwarf and giant snake the battle writhes away into pitch darkness. Cauleigh mashes with his mace, Jotunn stabs one-handed and the snake writhes in its death throes!

The survivors for the session:

Fennec, L3 wizard

Cauleigh, L4 warrior

Jotunn, L5 warrior

Crompton, L3 rogue

doubtfully assisted by the Herbal Teas:

Sage, L3 wizard

Heartsease, L2 warrior

Wolfie, L2 wulfan

NPC death: I gather the lads had done some brief thinking about the tacticals over the week and had kept their focus on the pistolier/wizard combo. Extraordinarily this meant running away from their wizard: though as he had deliberately placed himself as close to the oncoming Black Dwarves as possible, the alternative was to retreat fast out of the wizard’s line of fire and stay in the Black Dwarves’ faces. Another perhaps riskier choice would have been to divide up, one Dwarf and one Herbal per flank.

I went with what felt right in the vital result – the ‘blinded’ Fennec could still chip in for half his combat total. Trefoil had rolled a fail on CON so I only allowed him his weapon dice. I guess if a player had argued for it I would have added his warrior dice. He kept full armour. I divided the surplus up evenly and beginning with Fennec, who was at the back, asked what portion of the damage he would take. He left himself 6 CON. Had I then thought strategically I would have dropped both Heartsease and Trefoil to minus CON. But Heartsease had made a great CON check and deserved, or so I felt at the time, the 3 CON I left her with. Between those two decisions Trefoil took 82 damage rather than the 78 he could come back from. 

Props: The set-piece dungeon for the season is named Many Gates of the Gann, by Chaotic Henchman Productions. It got a Bryce Lynch commendation and seemed to fit what I wanted out of the season – a dungeon, weird stuff going on, women being stolen and no-one willing to go after the hostiles. I wanted to see how the Restorers would go without same-or-better allies around them. 

The dungeon (as it turns out) is well suited to players that have no special time limit. It is ingenious and fit my sense of why things work they way they work. It offers factions for groups that are alert to them and morally elastic enough to use them. There are some very dangerous things to encounter, which I progressively scaled back as more of each level was ‘conquered’. There are a couple of weaknesses, such as the complexity of the lights-and-whistles gadgets and the progression of events after the evil guys know intruders are making inroads on their minions or level. For example while the ‘army’ factions are set up to defend vigorously, anyone familiar with siegecraft knows that you have to take the battle to the besiegers, or you have lost. I left a lot of that to the d10.



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The Broken Land: the Quest is given

Chapter two of The Broken Land

A DCC/Mythic solo play

(with other emulators as required)

Our heroes – the ones that survived the funnel mission – have no choice but to re-gather in Dunn, on the lip of the fenland. It is literally the only place they can safely exit. And besides that, they all need rest and a chance to swap around loot, which includes many weapons and some armour.  

(Off-scene: en route back to the river, the clearing fog enables Tadiko to spot a part-sunken chest. It contains something useful, which I randomise as a rope and grapnel)

The survivors, in order of Luck (after all they are member of the Rogues Guild):

  • Dag
  • Binye
  • Tadiko
  • Borer
  • Elyn
  • Win
  • Riba

Episode 5: the Quest is given

On arrival in the village of Dunn, the rescued lad is returned to his father and the reward handed over.

The templars are expecting them. Indeed it is no secret that the Holy Father order has placed a mystic “lock” on the rogues so that they are denied the use of spells. Under the threat of extreme violence the rogues hand over all the weapons captured.

“It’s funny there always seems to be a slew of templars – you’d think they’d solve whatever-the-hell issue or curse they’re all so worried about, themselves!” – So grumbles Win.

“You’ve survived, so here’s your chance to serve your Prince… and earn a reward!”  – So says Master Wonnram.

“He doesn’t sound all that convincing about the reward,” Elyn mutters out of the corner of her mouth.

A Dwarf, sturdy, armoured, dark-bearded, takes over from Wonnram. He grins, and bellows:

“Me name’s brother Neghed, and me job is to brief y’all on the wonders we-all’re expect’n ya’ll ta ‘chieve! And in case ya wonderin’ y’all’s ta be granted some – some mark y’all – of y’r arcane powers back! Now lissen up, pilgrims!”

He sketches the bare bones of the mission:

  • Briar Keep lies out on the fringes of the broken lands – who’s in control, are they loyal;
  • A Uruk lord holds sway over illkin in the broken lands – where is his HQ; and
  • Is this so-called White Uruk the Uruk lord?

“Y’all prob’ly know this, but on ya way ya’ll’re gonna strike a slew o’ places bin swarmed over by illkin. Feel free ta clear them out an’ use whatsomanner ya’ll loot. But, we’ ain’t ‘specting y’all ta fight ya way across th’ broken lands. If so be y’all come back safe an’ with th’ real goods on th’ Uruk lord, an’ able to name who’s what in Briar Keep, th’ Prince will be sure ta show ya favour an’ that in-cludes a passel o’ spell-larnin from House Halchos.”

“Oh, it’s a promise on the Prince’s name now,” Binye mutters cynically.

“Halchos… rings a bell. Vizier and arch-mage out of Dolem?” recalls Riba.

“I ain’t finished!” bellows Neghed. “Lissen up! We’ll be trackin’ ya progress, so don’t be thinkin’ ya c’n just slip away! But y’all c’n seek shelter ta rest up… if y’all really need it! Could be there’s some crazy Dwarves out thar, clearin’ a path ta Perrol on th’ Mount – that’s a safe house, of a kind.”

The group is permitted to break off and seek shelter.

“Crazy Dwarves… that Dwarf as pantie-raided the matrona?” Win wants to know.

“Yeah Vern – bad cess to him – would know best, and I’m sure Adini was trailin’ them but she’s gone now.”

“There are but three… the crazy one died… but I did hear that a few other adventurers hired on with them, the day before we were raided.”

“Master Fennec leads them,” asserts Tadiko, in a rare moment of sharing.


This completes The Characters in Play of the setup phase of using Mythic GME.

Chaos Factor is 5.

Threads: Briar Keep, Uruk lord, return, possible revenge


Rogues get ready!

As Mythic is now in full use, not just helping decide questions, I make two d100 rolls to generate what the rogues immediate motivation is.

Mythic: Inspect competition

“Let’s check up on the templar crowd – maybe we can just skip, or at least find out if they will let us have our loot.”

There’s one more check: has the scene altered or switched? (d10 against Chaos factor)

No, it is as read.

I go with two-step method of doing this. The first is a character SR on either Int Lck or Prs (2d6, DARO, higher is better as in T&T rules). The highest-scoring move to the second step, which is an Event roll (d100).

Most of the rogues manage 20+ comfortably, but Dag makes 28 and Win makes 25. So in order:

Dag’s Event roll: 01/100=’Attain info’.

The day passes, uneventfully for most of the rogues.

Dag, who has been creeping around the templars’ temporary command point, reports back:

“I made a sketch map of the route. Looks like we should head south along the Golden River’s east bank to an abandoned Keep. They call it Aurelon’s Keep.”

Win’s Event roll: 15/91 ‘Gratify weapons’.

Win, who has chosen to negotiate directly with Neghed, returns with the assurance that the weapons picked up will be returned just before their departure. That news is greeted with the appropriate level of gratitude. As Binye grumbles:

“What, they’ll let us keep the weapons we picked up so we can do their fighting for them? Who died and made them god-emperor of some dark, heretical universe?”

The rogues rest, some more of their original powers and abilities return to them, and they arrange the various weapons and armour as follows:

  • Binye, who is now stronger, will use the Blood Spear, and a sabre, and wears chainmail.
  • Borer, who is the strongest, will use the 2-hand sword and gets shield and leather armour.
  • Dag gets a silver and a normal axe, and the other shield, and leather armour.
  • Elyn gets a silver axe and a short sword (her AGI is still lousy) and leather armour.
  • Riba is still fairly weak, but will manage a sabre, and leather armour.
  • Tadiko gets the Moon Bow (which has both a boon and a curse on it) and knives, and pint-size quilted armour.
  • Win also takes a sabre, and the special wooden scale armour.
  • All (except Tadiko and Elyn) also carry a spear for flinging.

Chaos drops to 4 thanks to this success.

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TI3.21: No plan survives the first shot

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, combat specialist: “I have three cunning plans all at once. Which one, you ask? Ahahh…”

Cauleigh, L3 warrior: “My cunning plan is to sweep the leg. Again. And be ready to run away.”

Jotunn, L5 warrior: “My cunning plan is to claim whatever works was my plan.”

Crompton, L3 rogue: “My cunning plan… and this is the cunning bit… is to stand still, then shoot.”

ably assisted by the Herbal Teas:

Sage, L3 wizard: “My cunning plan is to be the worst target in the room.”

Trefoil, L2 warrior: “My cunning plan is to stand right behind the tank.”

Heartsease, L2 warrior: “My cunning plan is to stand right behind the two tanks.”

Wolfie, L2 wulfan: “Plan?”

Dwarves with a plan! But first, probe the spell-trap!

Once more on Level 2! And this time, with a plan for taking down the snakey-Samuel and a semi-plan for the Elf pistolier.

Planning and a quick flashback to find out how field surgery on Trefoil went lasts about 50 minutes including some prep, such as building a mantlet for Jotunn. The Herbals signal what they can and can’t agree to. Then we throw to a flashback to deal with searching passages. As expected there’s nothing the Dwarves feel like really delving into, but it does assure us all that there’s no obvious alternative path. And Jotunn extracts a couple of fire-beetle glands which are of value, and Crompton and Sage bodge up a ‘carapace buckler’ using their chiton. Potions/gadgets are discussed but without doing more than clarifying some workings.

Crompton is keen to scout as a group, but highly discourages Cauleigh on using Blindsight paste to solo it round. The mooted idea of scouting west first doesn’t meet with consensus, so the strategy is to follow familiar paths, use the magical alarm to find out what level the caster is, and go to the ‘scrag Sam’ plan after that, depending. The action kicks off 75 minutes in.

Keeping light limited to two WoW they steal across the grand passage and to the nearest door north. It’s not the fastest but it will ensure they are not to be surprised by any stray black Dwarves.

Unexpected pistolier! Change of plan!

About twenty minutes of cautious door-opening later they reach ‘that room we got ambushed in’ and Crompton, just as he’s opening the door, sees a light beyond. He closes it swiftly…

But not so swiftly that the pistolier fails to react! The door is immediately forced open and Cauleigh is once more just quick enough to throw up his buckler: BAM! The shot ricochets off.

Lock Tight” squeaks Sage. Fennec is alert enough to throw LF on Cauleigh.

“Let’s get after him!”

Fennec feels the surge of a mana pool, as Sage works up through the crowd and undoes his locking spell.

“It’s open,” the Gnome murmurs.

Ambush – again!

Cauleigh yells fiercely, leaping into the room – and finding that once more, there are black Dwarves on all sides! Too many to be sure of in the terrible light, but he notices that the Elf pistolier, trailing his large snake tail, is disappearing out of the one-way door south onto the grand passage. He leaps back out:


Fennec throws up a HH and WoW are pushed forward.

“They’re all there! We found them!”

Ambush and the pistolier thwarted and a pile o’ dead

Lights floating in ahead, the warriors charge back in, to find the black Dwarves have arrayed in two flanks. Jotunn leads his shield-wedge forward and Cauleigh decides to sweep the leg on the left-most of that group, while Crompton decides to tangle the leg on the right-most. Of course that leaves nearly half the defenders able to simply charge the rear, catching Wolfie trying to defend the wizards. A potential disaster – averted only by Cauleigh still having LF up and being quick on his feet. Meanwhile Jotunn and the two Herbals warriors wreak terrible damage to the four caught to their front. Two remain standing, more or less cramped with backs to the door.

As the fighting continues, the door to the left is pushed open – and Sage again LTs it before the pistolier can get a good bead.

Shorn of their deadly support and spoiled by OGA the seven black Dwarves are slain to a man. The party forays ahead when ready, finding that there are no immediate enemy, then pulls back to recover from fatigue and re-strategise. About 30gp worth of coin is garnished from the corpses.

Let’s plan again, like we did that time before

The mood is upbeat, in base camp, for the OI cast on the cross-passage Ding says the caster is Level 7. That means when throwing eight daggers or axes at once, the last will get past the Healthy Glow, and Crompton will have his arquebus ready for the finishing shot. And wizards are notoriously glass-jawed, right?

“Yes, except that glass jaw’s right behind his enormous snake body” Cauleigh reminds Trefoil.

A key decision – how long to rest – being made, they set out after barely enough time for Fennec to recoup his mana. Sage reserves his spells so his mana will recoup as he walks [off a low base he healed Trefoil, so starts 12 down].

That means the party walks in very low light. And Crompton no longer has the tempus fugit option for the day.

Bloody corpses have not been tidied, quite

On this foray the party feels bolder and strikes through the more direct passage around to the ambush chamber. All goes well. But on opening the door to that so-named chamber, Jotunn finds that there is an interesting state of change. Bodies have been dragged away north-east, leaving huge blood smears, but two corpses remain, and not all equipment has yet been gathered.

He grunts “keep close on me” and steps along the trail to the door north-east. Crompton checks it briefly and the trio push through, light floating high, finding that the blood smear runs in the expected tight arc south to the secret panel. This panel, they know well, leads to the guard hall, on the enemy side of the water-pit. Fennec casts HH and throws his WoW up to the roof.

Jotunn motions Crompton to check again, but then Wolfie growls:


In the heat of conflict innocents die unmourned

The two Herbals warriors look silently and expectantly at Jotunn. Seizing the initiative – and fearing he will be locked out – Jotunn flings the door wide and the trio see faces, surprised, in front of them.

Jotunn shouts his challenge and in a blur of speed smashes one down – with an echoing scream Heartsease lunges her Demilune blade through the other woman’s throat – “Are we doing this then?” Trefoil screams and the footman’s spear ends any chance of survival.

[I get as far as saying “face to face with two…” when Jotunn signals his attack.]

Jotunn realises too late: these were two pregnant human women, and now he has to deal with the rest of the work gang, female black Dwarves, armoured in ill-fitting corselets and with shortswords belted on. They grunt in shock and horror but draw weapons and prepare to sell their lives dearly.

Black Dwarf women defend in vain

However, they make little impact on the ready-for-battle party. With Cauleigh and Crompton tripping, Wolfie cutting them off from retreat and the “shield wall” of the other trio barging forward the last of them fall in a great pile in the mouth of the passage east out of the guard hall. Cauleigh and Wolfie are to the east, in very limited light, near the passage’s north-turning elbow.

The mortal cries of their womenfolk are not ignored by the last heroes of the black Dwarf folk! Their hasty approach is heard by Cauleigh and Wolfie. Cauleigh sounds the alarm. Sage briefs his fighters:

“They’re coming! The heavies are coming! No no! To your side!”

While the warriors attempt to re-form on Cauleigh, Sage and Fennec find themselves somewhat isolated. Fennec calls Sage into the guard hall (out from the secret panel) and they take cover in Fennec’s HH.

Reinforcements! The Black Dwarf Heroes!

While he can still see him and is in range, Fennec powers LF onto Jotunn. Jotunn makes a prodigious leap over the mound of dead and joins the new front line. Crompton slips along the wall. The other two warriors grimly wade, using polearm as staff. Cauleigh readies his caliver, and it makes a tremendous difference! As the massive-shouldered wielder of the Frostbrand races to the kill he takes another bullet, and again the icy death merely sweeps over Jotunn’s shield. Though their armour chills and they feel the bite, they are fine. [1 spite each!]

[This ends the black Dwarf Champion, Cskurr]

Fennec moves to line of sight, the WoW following on high, and LFs Cauleigh.

Cursing, two black Dwarf heroes – one with a blood-stained shoulder –  leap the falling Frostbrand-hero and call on their comrades to join them. A distant answering cry, from the north!

And in the guardian hall, Fennec and Sage sense something…

The heroes are thrown back or slain

“Aiiee! Hidey Hole!” Sage squeals. Wolfie collects his scattered wits and leaps back past Fennec, and bounds across to join invisible Sage in the corner well out of the line of fire down the passage. The Herbals warriors join Jotunn and Cauleigh and Crompton. The latter – who lucked his way along the bloody passage – uses his bladed chain to tangle the two-hander of the wounded black Dwarf leaving him an easy kill for the warriors.

[This ends black Dwarf leader Saa-Firn-Uuw]

Fennec, feeling isolated, also makes the bloody scramble over the mound, and reaches the space near Crompton. [Makes a sweated-on L3 DEX SR!] The light in the north passage is still inconsiderable. Fennec calls back his progress to Sage and Wolfie.

Cauleigh sweeps and dodges, but fighting defensively the last unwounded hero, also armed with a two-hander, trades space, calling in archaic Dwarven. [It’s a draw and each share some spite] Fennec makes out:

“My king! Save me!”

Fennec casts Shrug. Crompton disengages.

Cauleigh decides not to follow up into the pitch dark. He turns to help the others. He, Jotunn and the Herbals warriors demolish the last two wounded black Dwarves.

By the pricking of Fennec’s thumbs…

Crompton finds himself beside Fennec in his HH, and begins readying his arquebus. Then a thought strikes him:

“How come I can see you?”

“You’re inside my Hidey Hole!”

Then Fennec realises he’s glowing. And from his position he can also see Wolfie, at least in outline, glowing too. Fennec moves east up closer to the warriors!

Jotunn looks north, fronting up with his shield. There’s no light up there. Then he’s joined by the lightly glowing figure of his wizard:

“Enemy caster coming up behind us. Prepare the shield wall.”

Jotunn reverses his position, now facing his mantlet south and west. The other warriors check their throwing items. They’ll need to make ground west, to the edge of the mound o’ bodies, to get better throwing distance.

A bunch of evil this way comes

From over the pit floats a great snake-wizard, easily visible thanks to Healthy Glow floating over his head.

Then the supposedly-locked north door abruptly opens and the pistolier-snake slithers through! [Only Crompton can see this]

[LK SR from Sage]

From the north, accompanied by a mass of armed womenfolk, come two powerful black Dwarves! One’s brow is girt with a simple iron crown.

[Fennec writes down his choice of spell, I write down Sage’s spell. Crompton holds his spell reactively as well. It’s to be Bic Flic so he can fire his arquebus]

Crompton flees! Heartsease throws like a girl?

With a cry of terror Crompton flees north – though [LK SR] he maintains enough self-control to keep hold of his gunne and run across the side-guardroom, not due north.

Jotunn sweeps the mantlet forward and begins casting. Over his shoulders the Herbals hurl daggers – but Heartsease’s is a poor throw and the Glow does not react to it. Cauleigh hurls four well-thrown daggers, all shot down. Fennec throws in his probing/Shrug-cancelling TTYF. He’s not at all surprised when it has no effect.

“One more shot!!” Jotunn roars. [L1 CHR SR]

There’s a thump as Sage – oh, so reluctantly – shoots Samuel with his light crossbow. The bolt strikes home!

Having committed himself, Sage screams:

“Get him Wolfie!”

and the session ends.


As there are a few slightly higher-level spells creeping in, here’s a catch-up glossary:

Healthy Glow: A sphere of glowing energy hangs above the caster shooting down (and destroying) incoming missiles: caster level missiles per round

Shrug it off: The next hostile spell attack fails

Upsidaisy: Levitation spell

Good cliffhanger ending – should they live through this one combat, we may wrap up the dungeon next session. Stay tuned!

PS: Not exactly a Prop, but the original-original originator of the misquote I’m using for the title was Helmuth von Moltke (the elder), and his version was a lot less cool. Thanks!

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TI3.20: A game of two halves

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, carrying a couple of weird potions (brains! eyes!)

Cauleigh, L3 warrior, with the wooden block of light-beam and locket with fire-breathing pills

Jotunn, L5 warrior, toting the Soulcube

Crompton, L3 rogue, with the locket with see-in-complete-darkness paste

ably assisted by the Herbal Teas:

Sage, L3 wizard – wears 3pts armour under his robe

Trefoil, L2 warrior – 20 base points armour, reach weapon

Heartsease, L2 warrior – 12 base points armour, long reach weapon

Wolfie, L2 wulfan – armour?

From hot pursuit to cold return, and back

At first inclined to push their luck and press forward, Cauleigh sets out across the guard-room at the hostile end of the water-pit. Then he pauses. “We haven’t checked that door left,” he mutters.

“And we could have missed at least a few Morlocks in the tunnels” Crompton points out.

“And there could easily be a secret or one-way door we haven’t mapped,” Fennec adds.

Jotunn is reluctant. In his mind’s eye he runs back over the scene: he pulls the door open, torchlight reveals womenfolk among the enemy… womenfolk. Definitely human women. And the mission they’ve just agreed on is rescue, right? But, he sticks with the current plan.

A fruitless search back on their tracks commences, and a brief foray back to base camp to tend the ponies takes more time. But the Herbals are still keen and loot remains to be looted so down they go again, back to where they last ended the pursuit.

There is at least one door they have not been through and that black Dwarves have used, but I fear to get bogged down in endless mapping, and like Jotunn I heard that the plan is to rescue the women, so just move them on here.

A cunning trap delays Crompton

Cauleigh feels his way along the wall, creeps forward out of the torchlight. Some minutes later he reappears: his thumb goes up. [L5 DEX to move quietly, and he’s not as heavily equipped as he could be]

Crompton checks the door north out of the guard-room cautiously. Then stiffens! Forty minutes later he signals the all-clear. The others need never know that the ‘trap’ was a cobweb. [rolls a fail on IQ]


Detected! And with a roar the black Dwarves attack!

The passage stretches north. A quick flick of the light beam tells them there’s a 4-way intersection ahead.

However as the party moves quietly up both wizards sense they have been detected in some way. Perhaps as simple as a ‘Ding‘ placed around the intersection. Fennec taps Cauleigh on the shoulder. The warrior glances back and sees not only Fennec looking worried, but Sage looking antsy as well.

The light beam picks out a door not far right, and fairly open passage both other ways. But now, a roar fills the air, and black Dwarves beat their shields and shout:

Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat!


Gaah! Giant lizard above the rear!

Cauleigh’s light beam reaches out north again and finds a squad rushing them. The broad-shouldered leader wields a two-hander sword.

Sage Lock-Tights the door they came from while Fennec Lock-Tights the door right. The Herbals’ warriors take their stand behind Jotunn and Cauleigh while Crompton stands behind them.

Fennec throws Glue-You at the leader and Sage, O-There-It-iS on the general area. Crompton uses Bic Flic to light his arquebus and shoots at the oncoming ranks. [Does not nominate, so the effect simply counts into melee]

As the front ranks are focusing on the onrushing foe they fail to spot a huge lizard walking upside down above their heads – until there’s a scream from behind them!

Cauleigh forces the ranks to break up a little and the first two black Dwarves, unsupported by their fellows, are butchered with scant harm to the defenders.

Now they notice the lizard and attempt to fend off its attacks to prevent their rear four from behind killed outright!

[Play slows down significantly as each of the back four makes a LK SR which provides me with how much damage they are allowed to defer. For example a L4 allows all of the 32 to be pushed onto a fellow defender. Neither Sage nor Wolfie makes great rolls and are left on low single digit CON. I forget to include Sage’s mighty 3-point armour!]


A desperate struggle

“We’re bugging out! Hidey-Hole!” Sage cries, throws a Hidey-Hole as first choice of not-being-killed, and then finds the door is still Lock-Tighted!

Jotunn swings his arquebus off his back, lights it off his torch, drops everything not a gunne, and shoots the lizard. Heartsease uses the excellent reach of her Demilune to good effect. “Be ready to fend it off the others!” Jotunn warns her. He is ready to brace against the lizard himself. But it does not fall! But, its attack is less effective and those below are better armoured – no-one falls.

“Back me up Trefoil!” Cauleigh yells, occupying the leader as best he can and attempting to isolate him. Crompton calls tempus fugit and agilely weaves through to join him. [He decides not to rely on enhanced speed so has double combat effect now] Over the shoulders of the Dwarves, Trefoil wields his footman’s spear to good effect as well. The living stamp on the fallen as they struggle beard to beard.

Fennec, aware he’s in a Hidey-Hole, struggles to focus on a useful attack spell. Then lizard-drool slops down the back of his neck! [He fails on IQ to pick what the front is doing and fails on CHR to focus on casting LF on Jotunn] Sage removes his Lock-Tight and he and Wolfie exit out of reach. Sage heals Wolfie so that the Wulfan can either get back in or flee carrying the Gnome.


An Elven pistolier threatens, and an enemy spellcaster is at work

Cauleigh weighs up the odds. He can now work out numbers in front of him. The leader and two of the half-dozen lesser black Dwarves are wounded, and Crompton is still moving with enhanced speed. Then, a new enemy changes the balance of play! He sees the flash of fire in a flash-pan from far down the passage as an unnaturally tall Elf levels a pistol at him. BAM! For a split second Cauleigh stares right down the barrel – then he swings up his magical buckler and the shot ricochets off, throwing him back. [While Cauleigh is uninjured there’s a shock effect from the bullet strike, lowering his own effectiveness]

Crompton feels the combat speed up to normal time as his tempus fugit effect is countered with GY. The black Dwarves surge forward! The front three are sore-beset! [Armour takes the full damage]


Lizard down! Now the fight can be taken to the enemy!

Fennec finally gets his Little Feets onto Jotunn.


Wolfie leaps high and Fennec uses his staff. They add their efforts to those of Heartsease and Jotunn. The lizard barely harms them. [A few points of spite shared round]

Cauleigh, Crompton and Trefoil are fighting the leader and other black Dwarves including wounded. Two wounded fall.

Behind them there’s a “watch out below!” – and whitish-blue flash as a TTYF from Sage takes the lizard’s life. Fennec dives away past Sage clear of the danger and Heartsease Wolfie and Jotunn manage to avoid being squashed. The corpse completely fills the passage near the door – luckily not preventing it being shut.

With their overhead foe out of the way they can join Cauleigh and Crompton. Jotunn drops Temerity and scoops his other pair of melee weapons up! Wolfie bounds forward! Fennec peers forward and realizes what Cauleigh is going to do, and waits ready for a spell.


Cauleigh kicks for the win, Fennec makes a late play for the bonus

Cauleigh – instead of sweeping – leaps and delivers a massive snap-kick to a black Dwarf’s face and lands with momentum as the Dwarf drops limply behind him. Over his shoulder there’s a huge crimson flash and WHAMM and the black Dwarf leader disintegrates. Small iron plates from the armour and the sword itself clatter to the stone floor.

Heartsease and Trefoil bound forward, following Cauleigh. Jotunn races in too at high speed. But the front line of the black Dwarves has re-formed and the fight is stiff. The rush forward stops on a wall of buckler and blade.

Looking to unpick the defence with an Oh-Go-Away Fennec clambers atop the lizard corpse. Out behind him Sage heals himself. Cauleigh feints and sweeps and breaks the rank up a little. The Oh-Go-Away delivers a pair of black Dwarves onto the polearms: the Herbals are ready and as the black Dwarves are impaled Jotunn and Cauleigh kill them. Wolfie leaps over his comrades and joins Jotunn in the pursuit of the final pair: they too are felled.

Scavenging the two-hander (finely crafted but not magical) and almost 30gp from the eight bodies, the delvers retreat safely to their base camp.


Base camp and a welcome chance to recuperate

The remainder of the day is spent quietly as the three spellcasters finish learning new spells swapped around, exercise ponies, and rig up more comforts. Cauleigh chances upon Sage who is in the ‘junk room’ working on polishing tin plates to help throw light. He points out a curious long cross-piece iron tube the Dwarves noticed before. Now they have more leisure to explore it’s not long before Cauleigh fits the long iron tube into the matching socket just inside the outer doors. It operates the doors and guardian heads! Now, the Dwarves can keep the servitor apes quiet and feral apes out.


[AP is spent. Fennec’s SPD leaps up, Jotunn and Cauleigh inch closer to the next level. Crompton and Fennec each manage learning a spell off two different teachers. ]


At an impasse in the bypass

Well-rested, re-armed and ready for trouble, the eight return to Level Two. But noise discipline is nowhere near as good as the last foray. Perhaps the thought that they may be magically detected makes them casual.

They reopen the door to the passage north and find that strewn bodies and equipment are all gone. Even the giant lizard has been butchered up and taken away, barring a few unwieldy bones and chunks of sloppy goo. Fennec lobs a Detect Magic to the intersection. Sure enough it’s a Ding setup or similar.

“Do you want to do the honours Sage or will I?”

“You think I have Dis-Spell?”

“That’s another for you to learn. Stand by…”

There’s a pause, long enough for Detect Magic re-cast, then the Ding effect is found to still be there. Fennec exclaims in disappointment.


Poor noise discipline brings the very thing they seek to avoid

Uncertain now, they pull back to think and check Cauleigh’s sketch-map. Just to be safe Fennec Lock-Tights the door. Cauleigh creeps east to listen, while Jotunn continues the discussion (at normal volume) about choices. He wanders over to join Cauleigh, then the two head back to the north door. They load and prime their firearms. Wolfie joins them. The others stand in a defensive circle, exposed to fire from the east.

“Keep noise discipline,” Fennec reminds everyone sternly (and loudly).

Wolfie listens hard.

“Coming” says Wolfie, and Sage drops a Hidey-Hole over the central group.

[No-one tells Sage that torches etc will still mark their presence. The Gnome and Fennec have lit torches and Crompton’s slowmatch is burning.]


War on two fronts!

Expecting a group to burst through the door two at a time, the two warriors flank it. Crompton makes an estimation of range of the Hidey-Hole and moves to cover the pitch-black passage east. He knows there’s a left turn north down there. Regardless of Hidey-Hole, he makes a target with slow-match burning and two lit torches right behind him.

Sage (politely reminded) throws massa-mana up and Fennec gains a mana buffer. [LK SR for Fennec as this makes him a possible target as well]

The glow of a Healthy Glow orb illuminates a floating giant snake, the upper part of which is a mature wizard, staff in hand. He has just floated around the left turn north of the east passage.

BOOM!! Crompton is ready and tries the shot. It’s good: the Healthy Glow shoots the bullet down.

Dis-Spell! Fennec de-buffs – or hopes he does. The wizard-snake pulls back around the corner.


Suddenly things and delvers go south

The north door opens: Cauleigh snap-shoots:

BAMM! And a cry of pain, and – instead of lashing Crompton – a sheet of ice sticks the door open. Crompton is slightly injured.

Jotunn shoulder-barges the door [L5 STR] and Cauleigh leaps through, finding himself toe-to-toe with another broad-shouldered black Dwarf, with another two-hander sword, this one clearly a frostbrand. The freezing death of the sword does smart but Cauleigh drives him back, and leaps back out. He and Jotunn set backs-to-wall and ready for the supposed charge through of the enemy.

Crompton has a breathing space but chooses not to get to cover as he reloads. And the pistolier-Elf nips round the corner: BAM! Crompton is down. [Crompton makes L4 LK to avoid the direct shot] And nips back.

[It’s such a classic dark elf tactic I have to say, no, unnaturally tall but not a dark elf]

Fennec ceases trying to get a bead through the door and flings his torch forward. Now only Sage’s torch is marking the invisible delvers.

There’s a pregnant pause at the north door. Neither Dwarf feels like sticking their head around…

And the floating wizard-snake floats back round the corner. The Glow marks him well:

Take That You Fiend!

A huge blast echoes around the entire level: a massive crimson arc lances from Fennec’s staff to the enemy – and stops short. He’s near out, and the enemy wizard just floated and watched. Uh-oh.

[LK SR from Fennec and the two much taller targets, Heartsease and Trefoil. Neatly backlit by Sage.]

BAM! The sharp cough of a pistol sounds again and Trefoil is out.

Snatching gear and dragging bodies the Dwarves and Herbals retreat!


And as they detect a pulse in both Crompton (1 CON) and Trefoil (pistol ball in shoulder but on positive CON) the session ends.


I knew this would be combat heavy but wasn’t quite prepared for the very long extra time needed to manage the Lizard-Black Dwarf fork-attack. Bit disappointing. dT&T combat can occasionally get just as involved as any other system. 

Some decisions that shaped this session are:

“Spell up” strategy: Over the intervening days between sessions 19 and 20 the Fennec and Crompton players decide that their strategic need to learn spells, so as to maximise both career and chances of winning here, is at least as important as a tactical quick push on carrying injuries. Long breaks are favoured.

“Random preparedness:” I decide during my prep time that the ‘floating snake wizard’ will have convinced the Black Dwarves to use a little-used ‘bypass’ to outflank the Dwarves, on the d10 roll of a 1, and that he will directly intervene on a 10. So I got both. I’m comfortable with that since I don’t believe in BBEGs that just sit writing their secret evil diary while minions are torched around them. I’m looking at you Baur Pett et al.

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TI3.19: The pace picks up on Level Two

The characters for this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard, carrying a couple of weird potions (brains! eyes!)

Cauleigh, L3 warrior, with the wooden block of light-beam and locket with fire-breathing pills

Jotunn, L5 warrior, toting the Soulcube

Crompton, L3 rogue, with the locket with see-in-complete-darkness paste

ably assisted by the Herbal Teas:

Sage, L3 wizard – wears 3pts armour under his robe

Trefoil, L2 warrior – 20 base points armour, reach weapon

Heartsease, L2 warrior – 12 base points armour, long reach weapon

Wolfie, L2 wulfan – armour?

Let’s check around – so many choices!

There’s a minor fray as the four Restorers reach the great double doors to the steps down. From behind and to the left charge black Dwarves!

Our heroes react with speed and nimbleness and slay them. The crushed and broken bodies are the same as before – dark grey skin, sharp teeth, opaque white eyes, beaten-iron swords and simple iron-reinforced armour. And a few gold coins on each.

“Beer money!”

Reaching the great entry foyer to Level Two they fall into discussion as to which way to check. Cauleigh, recalling they had not finished probing a tunnel beyond the ‘tannery’ chamber, wants to do that first. But first first, check east to see what was down there.

Crompton is easy with whatever. Fennec has a side-track of thought. Jotunn has various thoughts. But eventually they do go with Cauleigh’s idea, and find the grand passage east ends at a drop into water some 20 or so feet below.


A casual menace is met and killed

Jotunn explores for hand-holds, Cauleigh experiments with depth and finds it is only a few inches, then Crompton hears a casual gravelly voice behind them:

“Oi, chummy.”

He swings his arquebus around and hears,

“Yer don’t wanta do that, yer wanta shoot that wizard.”

“Enemy spellcaster thataway!” Fennec cries, gesturing with his torch. The arquebus swings his way…

Cauleigh drops his plumb-line and focuses the ‘light cube’ using two hands, picking out a very squat, red-brown chap, massive-jawed, barely-clad. Fennec throws Dispel as Jotunn charges, drawing his axe, and strikes the newcomer in one leg, knocking it – not fully off its feet – well off-stance. Crompton shakes off whatever was suggesting itself to his mind, scuttles sideways out of Fennec’s line, and waits for a shot. Cauleigh hurries closer, as best he can while holding the beam of light steady.

“Give’s a break, throw it away mate,” the shortie suggests to Jotunn, its wound beginning to close.

Jotunn throws his axe away. But he prepares to tackle this creature. Then a huge crimson flash lances past him and the blast of L3 TTYF echoes from the walls. Cauleigh and Jotunn leap atop their foe as it topples – Cauleigh muffling its mouth – and find themselves wrestling with a roughly humanoid-shaped pile of rock.

Jotunn retrieves his axe on the way to dragging and pushing the body to the pit edge, and they push it over. It lands with a mighty splash of shallow water.

Nothing else happens.


Secret door checking is worthwhile

Returning to Cauleigh’s original idea, they next explore north past the ‘tannery’ room, to find that the passage leads north to a simple finish, with a door west.

The small chamber beyond gives Jotunn a start – it almost looks like another smoke-demon jar – but contains merely a single vat, empty this time.

Checking for secret entrances with Fennec keeping guard outside takes another ten or so minutes and ends when Crompton tries the bottom of the vat. With a quiet click a secret door is revealed, west wall.

The small chamber beyond contains treasure, of a kind. A single glass case or coffer sits on the floor in the middle of the chamber.

Much testing and checking for traps later, the Dwarves gleefully carry the case back up to Level One and holler for the portcullis to be opened. Aside from some magic inside, it is valuable in itself.

Sage rubs his hands at the prospect of more ‘interesting’ things. After more checking two whistles (middle C and low-pitched warbling) are set aside and the smoking-pipe unscrewed to reveal another, very small, whistle. This is magic, of the communications branch. Wolfie reacts to the unheard sound (and Heartsease claims she hears something too). Sage’s Omni-Eye reading on it suggests it is a demon-soothing whistle.


Mapping the differences – what’s with the weird doors?

Back to Level Two, and though Fennec has earlier heard stealthy movement and an ambush is expected: without incident.

Now begins an intriguing piece of mapping. The Dwarves learn a lot more about doors that seal off after closing, leaving only wall. The net result is a good sketch map showing a route back from the various passages, to the grand foyer of Level Two. And a possible path east, mainly picked out by Jotunn, following drag marks.

These are marks they spotted some time ago, seeming to have something to do with the Gnolls’ brief retreat.

As they follow the faint marks, Jotunn picks up enough evidence to suggest that a crate caused them, being dragged along the floor.

[Minis! I’m mapping in full 5’ square scale and I hand out a mini for each character. The players put their minis where they think they are.]

Taking the very best of care, the Dwarves move from door to door to door through a number of winding paths and at last find a stone panel which can be opened using a sliding latch on their side. Crompton snuffles around the door: he can smell something reptilian. Maybe snakey.


Black Dwarves guard the inner passages

Once all are ready Crompton opens the panel and swings it smoothly all the way back, keeping it open with one foot. Their light splashes over a deep dark chamber and two pair of opaque white eyes that are seeking the source of the light.

This is where I try my ‘concealed domino’ effect. It creates a sense of uncertainty, to help with the ‘complete darkness’ vibe that is so hard to convey.

There’s an uneasy pause, perhaps just a second, then some muttering in archaic Dwarven tongue and a pair of feet moving urgently. Then two more pair of eyes join the first pair. Iron-reinforced bucklers lock down.

Crompton senses there could be something above the doorway and gestures to the others. Cauleigh attempts to blind the ‘Morlocks’ with his direct light: they don’t react.

Up to this point, and even beyond, my players are referring to the black Dwarves as Morlocks, because they are very similar to the Fingold Morlocks.

There’s a mild (for Fennec) crimson flash and blast and a low-level TTYF rattles one of the black Dwarves back.

“Give fire!”

All three pieces bark and two black Dwarves fall.

[For the record the damages are 72 for TTYF, 103 from Crompton, 113 from Jotunn and 130 from Cauleigh]

The remaining pair run and are gone left (further east) faster than the Dwarves can bring any light to bear.

As Cauleigh and Jotunn advance the roof-hugging giant lizard attacks! Cauleigh’s speed is so good [L9] that he rolls back up with his light aimed directly at the right spot. Fennec throws Glue-You and though the lizard does rend and bite it’s an easy fight from there. [The three non-wizards share 20 damage] Crompton wastes an Alakascram as Fennec puts the kill in with another low-level TTYF.

Fennec, who has prudently stayed back out of the range of angry lizard, scuttles in before the secret door swings shut.

“I wonder if lizard tastes good,” wonders hungry Jotunn. Trail rations aren’t really what his girth demands.

A brief search of this large chamber determines:

  • Black Dwarves were at guard in niches either side of the grand passage’s water-pit
  • There’s a door north
  • The black Dwarves fled east down another fair passage, which turns north a short way down
  • Almost all track marks go that way, and the dragged wooden object Jotunn has tracked went that way too.


Onward! Let’s go for broke!

“Do we get the fuck out or do we charge in?” Cauleigh demands as alarms drum in the deep.

Crompton and Jotunn are confident.

“Right we’re going with crazy. But some choices will change – we can’t take too much time on any one thing”

“No need to move fast – my guess is they’re moving fast towards us,” Fennec doomsays.

“That’s why we have to move fast!”

A quick move up the passage: a chamber opens right. It is empty – some sort of guard-room – and they cluster into cover there. Pausing to listen, they catch a deep commanding voice speaking in archaic Dwarven. At random odds, Cauleigh plays the beam down the passage and Crompton places his arquebus on its monopod and tries a shot:


“Pretty sure I got him,” Crompton announces, reloading. Fennec tries a long-reach OTIS but nothing lights up. Whatever the voice was roaring, he’s now saving his breath. There’s a heavy slam, as of a door.

Two doors, one either side of the passage, lie between the four and that retreating foe. Both doors open into the passage, and Jotunn indicates the right-hand one shows signs of traffic. Both are jammed using knife blades.

“Since it’s a trivial amount, I’m going to make sure of this,” Fennec says, throwing a Lock-Tight on each.

[With a L2 tracking roll Jotunn can’t be too definite about what went where]


Missing the leader – time to flee!

Fennec protesting at the speed of advance, they push on to the end of the passage and a door. It appears to open away from them. Jotunn pushes it open:

A large group!

[L11 IQ check to gauge what’s happening, when Fennec asks for the IQ roll. He gets level 6 and spots the ‘important’ one with a two-hander sword, and womenfolk, among the general group of Black Dwarves.]

Fennec tries a L3 TTYF but as it happens a regular black Dwarf steps in front at that moment, and dies.

Crompton shoots: one staggers.

Jotunn hauls the door closed again and yells:


Fennec attempts to Lock-Tight it but isn’t quick enough: Jotunn grabs him up as black Dwarves boil out! Cauleigh is far ahead by this time. Jotunn, Fennec more or less carried, runs past Crompton and into the side-chamber. Two fleet-foot black Dwarves catch Crompton.


Cauleigh swings back, wrenching Crompton free and dragging him away from the pursuers. Crompton’s pack straps tear.

“Pull back on me – Hidey Hole!” Fennec calls, dropping the Hidey-Hole over all of them as the two black Dwarves rip away Crompton’s pack and stumble back.

As the black Dwarves follow up, torches are hastily doused, leaving the black Dwarves with the smell of extinguished torches! They rush past, and hard on their heels go the bulk of the other black Dwarves. Jotunn presses his ear to the ground and guesses about ten.

I ask Fennec’s player to remind me to reward him later. The LT on the side doors was decisive. 


Herbals armour up! Let’s get back down there!

A game of blind man’s bluff commences as the Dwarves feel their way to the secret door and the black Dwarves try to distinguish them from any other black Dwarf.


At length they gain Level One. They’ve killed one guard further back, hauling him into the HH and slitting his throat. And they’ve decided not to tackle the leader as he’s surrounded by others.


“Let’s rest up, bring the Herbals, and at least take out a half dozen or so more,” Cauleigh suggests confidently. “I think we should hit them now, not later,” he continues.

“I’ll be low in mana,” Fennec warns

“But you’ll have Sage’s store, or whatever,” Cauleigh prompts.


The Herbals are keen for action! A day of exercising ponies or standing guard will do that. They seem fairly confident that they know what to expect in combat now.


Luck stands with the eight-strong party: they catch another patrol of four, isolated at the pedestal. Firearms are levelled and two fall. Before the other two can run, Fennec cracks an OGA over them. One, wounded, charges dying on his feet straight onto Heartsease’ Demilune, and Cauleigh trips the other and he is done to death immediately.

“Reload,” Jotunn reminds them all.


Ambush – let’s turn the tables!

They push through the weaving course of passage-chamber-passage and are ambushed in a chamber with three doors: or more precisely two doors and a disappearing door.

Cauleigh jumps for a barely-glimpsed group, finding it is but a single foe, and sweeps his feet out; Sage calls his warriors to cover the rear and he and Fennec follow Cauleigh. Jotunn, with a good surge of strength, overbalances a group coming at them from the side, allowing the Herbals to get clear. But he drops his torch, and Crompton decides not to shoot into that pile-up. He swings the barrel to cover the Herbals’ warriors, seeing only their backs. He swings again, seeing a flurry of bodies at an open door. “We’re falling back!” cries Sage. Crompton changes grip and checks the black Dwarves pressing the Herbals with an Alakascram! Trefoil and Heartsease back up, Crompton and Jotunn leading.

Cauleigh’s opponent is still full of fight and both he and Fennec are slightly wounded by the time Cauleigh wrestles him over the door threshold. Wolfie leaps past or over them into the grand passage, scanning for enemies: it’s clear!

Fennec and Sage stop mid-retreat for a chat about possibilities to shape the dungeon stone.

“No hurry Sage, we’re only fighting for our lives!” Trefoil bellows. They are taking some damage despite having the best of the fighting withdrawal.

Cauleigh, under a Little Feets, leaps back into the chamber to help the others retreat. With another sweep, four enemies pile up. Hopelessly enmeshed, the black Dwarves begin fighting one another: the warriors laugh and slay them!

They realise victory is at hand and pursuit speeds them after the remaining pair of black Dwarves. Wolfie and Cauleigh prevent their flight and they too are slain.

Rifling the seven corpses turns up about 100 gold coins. The path lies clear back through the guard chambers and to the black Dwarves’ inner chambers! And as they pause to decide their next move the session ends.


Whew! Some good decision-making on when to force the pace. Must try to reflect that when handing out dungeon level bonus.

I wasn’t surprised that in each “quick decision” encounter the lads have gone for violence. I’m sure I’d do the same if I was playing a fully geared-up tank in a dungeon. Let’s face it – I did the same when I was playing a slender scholar in the Dark Heresy universe. Violence is the simple solution.

We’re nearly at the point where I can do a mini-review of the dungeon. What I’d like to do here is note a difference I decided on when planning out adapting for dT&T. The black Dwarves are based on a dT&T illkin race, more than they are on the AD&D original. If I changed the balance of the module by doing that, it’s my fault, or to my credit, depending. Since it had a huge effect on escape back up to Level One it proved crucial. Basically, you can’t ever hide from the original short of polymorphing into them, and you can from this version. 


Dominoes! (Those Disney-themed plastic things your kid drove you nuts about a year or so back.) Lucky accident really. I pasted paper Grimlock pix on the dominoes, leaving the dotted side visible on the flip side. One domino covers about two inch squares on the battlemap. Then I thought, ‘why don’t I use the dots to create uncertainty as to how many are in each group?’ It worked really well, and partly prevented that ‘we can see everything’ issue that you get using a battlemap and minis. Neither I nor players knew exactly how many would be in any group, until the domino was flipped. In one excellent moment, Cauleigh’s player correctly guessed which domino to go for – the number was one. It really felt like that ‘I can see something moving – or is that several somethings?’

Chessex Battlemaps! We’ve got three between us and at 1″=5′ all three are now in use. Make sure you use water-soluble markers, not dry-erase.

Minis! I’ll try to take a picture next time. Two – Crompton and Fennec – from Reaper Bones, Cauleigh from Gamezone, and Jotunn from Darcy Perry’s (who is a long-time T&T fan) Star Hat Miniatures. The Herbals, as befits “also starring” are much more generic and makeshift. 


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