Or: A short con, a short test, and a short job in Rothway
The session is a quiet one, featuring the play bouncing around among the players as the party splits, combines, splits again, and combines again. Players that look for interesting stuff get AP, players that coast along get less. More of that later!
The characters for this session:
Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)
Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)
Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracking)
Crompton, Level 2 rogue (background: Runebearer; talent: roguery)
Let’s go back to Smith Street!
The four pranksters of Palgwyth are aware of the need to find work. But they would prefer to wait for new armour first, and silver weapons seem like a good idea too. It’s day two in Rothway, and there’s still plenty of daylight. Fennec announces that he wants to visit the Wizard’s Guild – partly to get a recommendation to a smith that can add silver shoes to his staff without ruining it. Cauleigh and Crompton decide to head straight for the smiths’ street and look for weaponsmiths who might work in silver. So Jotunn and Fennec fall in with that idea too. It won’t do any harm to find out prices.
Introducing a short con
Looking for silver to fashion into a mace-head? Gnomefast Hamworth is a Hobb-looking sort of fellow (though possible Brownie or Gnome might be closer to the truth) who ‘just happens’ to be able to lay his hands on three pound of silver this very afternoon.
Cauleigh is suspicious but his own background, as the son of a goldsmith, should protect him from obvious fakery so he agrees. The price will only be four gold, less some change.
Meanwhile let me introduce you to a smith that can and will do that kind of work.
Master Ponderblade, lugubrious, dark-skinned, a Dwarf-like man whose smithy smells to Jotunn of war-hound. Mournfully stroking his short silky beard he agrees he can make a lump of silver into an orb-like mace-head and set a haft to it. The price he quotes Cauleigh sounds reasonable.
Crompton, who really ought to know better, is delighted and asks if an even bigger lump can be found for him, on the principle of bigger is better when it comes to silver-headed maces. Why yes, though not right away, replies master Gnomefast with a cunning grin. And the price Ponderblade quotes for that seems reasonable as well.
Asking about silver-work such as intaglio or damascene, the hunter and wizard receive a shock. That kind of work is in the hundreds, if not well over a thou. Ponderblade eases back into the recesses of his cramped smithy and emerges with a large, cruelly-curved Uruk blade, and hands it to Jotunn for inspection. Its surface is etched: once it had silver inlay. Ponderblade wonders if one of them would like to buy it, but none do.
A short jest
Jotunn wants to find a bow and talk to a smith about silver-headed arrows, but kindly puts that to one side to escort Fennec to the Wizard’s Guild. Using Fennec’s instructions-cum-map the two find their way to a place not far from the southern wall, where a tall building, fashioned of similar masonry to the wall, is accessed by means of a steep flight of stone steps.
Reassuringly, there is a door, but the steps are blocked near the top by an immensely fat, rubicund and jocular fellow.
It seems this is a test!
Fennec correctly picks a modified Hidey Hole as the spell the jester uses to make his kerchief vanish and the fattie promptly deflates to become a Leprechaun.
Jotunn will not be permitted to enter. The Leprechaun challenges him to a drinking match instead. Wary of being slipped a mickey Jotunn declines. He is bespelled and jigs his way back down the stair and away down the road.
Inside the Wizard’s Guild, Fennec finds he is welcome. There’s also a ‘job board’ they keep for members looking to earn. The witch-wolf of Palgwyth is at the low-priority end, Hippogriffs are at the high-priority end, and a ruin with corpses is in the middle. What do they pay, wonders Fennec. It turns out the first two depend on convincing some authority or other to value a job, and a ruin ‘normally pays for itself.’
The wizards warm to Fennec’s company as the good wine flows and they all compare staffs, and give him plenty of advice about where to get a ring on each end.
Fennec gathers other pieces of information, thanks the members and leaves for the time being.
Meanwhile: Cauleigh inspects the silver Gnomefast returns with. It carries the traces of an assay mark. Reassured, he pays Gnomefast, chooses what he wants his haft to be made of and hands over half the payment for the mace. Crompton agrees to return the next day for his silver.
Rumours of work
The Modest Goose is as good a place as any to listen out for jobs. This is the second evening of their stay and they exchange friendly nods with other guests, and sit down with gossiping ale-drinkers.
The gossip about the centaur has escalated, now folks are saying he’s heading for Rothway at the head of a herd (of horses) to liberate other herds.
There is some talk about corpses near a ruin, but it sounds as though they will need to find some ‘northern barbarian’ by the name of Tothras, who reported the find. Being a latecomer to the city that fellow is most likely to be staying over in the north stalls, where widow-women take in extra lodgers.
Later, Fennec confirms that this story is not bogus, so they agree it is worth following up.
The witch-wolf, being off back east, is something they might look into some other time.
As to the hippogriffs – well, Cauleigh reminds them:
“We are Dwarves! We don’t fly! Picture yourself being plucked up and dropped from a great height and ask yourself is that a job we should be trying!”
The short con concludes
Bright and early Crompton leads Cauleigh back to the smiths’ street. Gnomefast shows up as promised and pats his jerkin where the silver ingots drag the fabric down. They head round to Ponderblade’s and Crompton buys the silver.
Gnomefast smilingly departs and Ponderblade tests the ingots: reports they are mostly lead.
“I could work the silver out…” he speculates.
Crompton seizes on this: it’s better to have gained something as a sop to his injured self-esteem. There’s a debate about what can be done, but Ponderblade is commissioned to try out the ingots.
The pair head west and north, to find the north stalls.
The price of a Prince Albert
The Rothway wizards have provided Fennec with the whereabouts of the smith than can be trusted to work silver onto his staff so that’s the first order of business for he and Jotunn. Outside Parsifal & Esq. young ‘prentices are busy setting up wares. Fennec’s request for an interview leads him to meet master Parsifal – an old half-Dwarf with a very long silver beard.
The consultation provides Fennec with a quote of 200 – he gulps, but declines an option of journeyman-work for half-price.
Lighter by 100 up-front gold, he accompanies Jotunn as that worthy seeks out the bowyer recommended by Parsifal’s. Jotunn has been admiring a gunne on display in Parsifal’s – a very fine and no doubt expensive piece.
En route, they pass a fine public fountain where a group of four clerics are chanting softly. Glancing into the water, Fennec glimpses flames.
The bowyer, of course, is ‘by appointment to the House of Roth’ so Jotunn sensibly keeps walking and not too far away they find a normal bowyer whose target market is huntsmen. Jotunn buys a good ash bow, and discusses arrows.
Hound and travellers’ tales
Meanwhile, Crompton helps Cauleigh navigate the crooked side-streets of Rothway over to the north stalls. They are lean-to’s leaning on shacks and shanties that are little more than lean-to’s themselves.
Before long Cauleigh chances upon Thothras’ stall: a huge hound lunges out!
[Cauleigh reacts immediately, yelling ‘dodge’ so only needs to make L1 SPD or DEX to avoid full combat with this MR50 beast.]
The hound snags Cauleigh’s gambeson sleeve, doing no harm to the warrior but ruining the new stitching and ripping some of the padding out. At length a tiny feeble old landlady totters her way down rickety steps and helps call off ‘Pebbles’ who really just wanted to play, such a good boy.
Tothras has already headed away to the markets so southward the pair go. Their course now intersects the other pair.
Before they meet though, Cauleigh and Crompton do chance upon a tall, fair-haired and -bearded barbarian, studying a cage.
This is Tothras. It seems his people favour soft leather boots, fur-side in, cloth trousers, and woven wool shirts with finely crafted patterns. At his belt he bears a hatchet and long general-purpose dagger.
Doubtfully leaving the man in the cage to eke out his punishment rather than being put to death cleanly, Tothras and the Dwarves repair themselves to an ale-house, and glimpsing them, Fennec and Jotunn join them. Tothras is joined by another traveller from the north, Beorn by name, who testifies the exactness of his witness. Adding this to Fennec’s information the Dwarves piece this together:
It seems that just shy of Nan Roth’s northern border there is a woodland named the King’s Wood, wherein lies a ruin that must date from House Odhenas’ last occupation of the area, near or just after the close of the Wizard Wars. A track would take the traveller off the main trail, just where a marker post, possibly named the Gallows Tree, stands. The travellers saw the bodies of men, recently torn apart. The wounds might have been inflicted by a fierce beast or great weapon. A village, belonging to Nan Roth, lies south within a day of the scene.
Crompton sits, and needs a sign reading “this is a sign” before he acts
With this under their belts the Dwarves’ day is near complete. Cauleigh and Jotunn betake themselves back – once again – to the smiths (and leather-workers), Fennec walks back to the Wizard’s Guild, and Crompton, who is hungry, stays there chowing down a pie.
A slim, confident man clad in armour of padded grey silk slides onto the form next to him, and gives him a tight smile. He checks that Crompton is the Dwarf Crompton from Esgaroth, son of the crime-lord, who travels with three Heroes of Tigley. His boss would like to chat!
Crompton clenches his buttocks and declines. You don’t get to choose, the grey man explains. But yeah, I do, Crompton grits. The grey man slides out again with a chuckle and leaves.
Buttocks still firmly clenched, Crompton cowers-in-plain-sight all the way back to the Modest Goose, sneaking from one group of armed mercenaries to the next! [He succeeds, using the roguery bonus!]
Fennec has a brush with death and the law
Fennec has a near-escape: he is nearly struck by the hurtling body of a woman which smacks bloodily into the street next to him. Glancing up he sees a hooded figure move nimbly from the roof to the next roof, then it is gone. He is delayed two hours explaining to the watch that being near a body doesn’t make you the murderer!
But he does eventually get back to the Wizard’s Guild, where he finishes researching the Odhenas estate. He’s also given a bit of a clue about Ikkutas information. Sarnas, which is a crossroads with the river and Aunor, is a great place to look. But he also might find odd information in editions of Travels Through the Vale, a drivelling and once-standard travelogue of a few centuries ago.
Cauleigh and Jotunn decide honest labour ain’t worth it
Cauleigh and Jotunn pass by a man dressed in a cheap padded jack, who asks if they are looking for work as watchmen. It’s steady work, though not great pay, he explains, providing them with an address near the municipal centre. Tell them Todd bill sent you – yeah, it does sound like two names, but I favour the bill.
Cauleigh gets his gambeson patched up, Jotunn consults a couple or so smiths, and with daylight to spare the pair decide to find out how much the watch pay. The head back to the centre.
Jotunn changes some money for a silver ingot, ready for the smith to try to make serviceable arrow-heads. The changer hall is emptying out smartly, with the younger men meeting girls dressed up nicely for a local festival.
Cauleigh, who is attuned (or thinks so) to the factional ebb and flow of a city, believes the ‘watch’ must be the city admin trying to hire men it can afford, in competition with the well-paid mercenaries supposedly paid for by the Brotherhood.
Their job interview suggests he might be right: a Cratchit-like city officer offers them 5 silver, but only if they can provide references.
And so all four end up working for free drinks
They are all back at the Modest Goose by nightfall of their third day. It is raining by this time. The local barkeep hires them to hold a canopy over he and his girl as he takes her out to the festival. Showing promise as a capitalist he convinces them to take the gold out in drinks.
A tale of Sasha Orc-slayer
This is the story Ponderblade shares about his Uruk-blade. According to him, this happened to him about 12 years ago. But his tale goes back years earlier to when young Sasha decides to be an adventurer, then gets sick of hanging out with guys bragging they are adventurers. She decides to do something about it. Around 12 years ago Sasha reappears from south of the river and trades in this weapon. It used to have silver on it. She carries the name ‘orc-slayer’ and says she took the sword from the Uruk that killed someone she cared about. She wears black armour, he wore white armour, something like that.
A quiet session as I said. City-gaming can be as dangerous as you want to make it. Some players looked for interesting stuff and jobs, some didn’t. Fennec and Crompton both experienced something interesting based on an early, failed L1 LK SR. Neither did anything with the interesting thing, but that’s their choice (and lack of AP). After the game, Cauleigh’s player asked Crompton’s player why Crompton didn’t head out with the grey man (apart from ‘he looked dodgy’ which is a given). ‘He would have given me a sign if he was a rogue like me’ Crompton’s player replied. Hence my sub-title on that section. J But in fairness to Crompton’s player he did suggest to the others that Crompton can seek the local Rogue’s Guild and ask about work. He hasn’t followed through as yet but tomorrow is another day.
At present the plan seems to be: ‘finish getting armour and head out to the ruin.’ Then there’s the ‘environment’ plot point, ‘Sasha is powerful and there is a link between Tigley’s Uruk in white armour and her back-story’. But this is a sandboxy format, they might do nothing with either and that’s fine too.
I should add, in case it’s not clear, Cauleigh has a sturdy silver-headed mace now, with a fine black-maple haft with superior grip. Crompton hasn’t finished getting his larger version, and Jotunn is going to test-shoot silver tipped arrows to give the smith an idea of what won’t fly.
Background Vale stuff learned:
Elves as travellers appeared in the city-wandering – acting hoity-toity as they put up at the Blue Boar Inn I think – but at present they don’t form anything like a plot-point. Elves tend to hail from the northern forests. The ‘northern barbarians’ are from a mixed people that resulted when the ice-lands folk swept through Aunor (north of the Vale, separated by forest and mountain) and were thrown back from the Vale itself, with the help of the forest Elves, back in the early days of the Wizard Wars. Most of the remnant settled in Aunor, because, not ice-bound. ‘Tothras’ is an Aunori name while ‘Beorn’ is not. They did mention their fear of the fey folk.
I’ve cited EPPC previously;
The ‘ruin in the forest’ comes from the Evening session maps series (Forge Studios);
I’ve also pitched in with 650 Fantasy City Encounter Seeds (Johnn Four, roleplayingtips.com) for some of the sights and events around Rothway