The characters for this session
Fennec, L2 Wizard
Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)
Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Apprentice Hunter; Tracking)
Crompton, L2 Rogue (Roguery, Rune-bearer)
The towers are looted
Our four furbishers of Fingold are proud conquerors of the pair of ruined towers guarding access to the rocky, forested tangle of trails, gullies and outcrops where the supplies are to be found.
Crompton [STR] clambers up one tower and spots a fleeing ambusher. Jotunn confesses he didn’t manage to drop him, just scared him off. Cauleigh [LK] searches the other tower, finding dried rations, graffito remarks about a mean prick, and a sheet of paper with Dwarven curses and oaths written on it. Fennec examines it and keeps the paper. Jotunn loots the bodies, recovering arrows, coins and a woven-copper ring.
Meanwhile Nesbitt has come out from behind a old round bronze-faced shield, the two guards and tiny girl have popped back up from cowering under the wagon, and everyone is ready to roll on through. And so they do.
An ambush threatens as supplies are loaded
The first supplies are easy, and they learn that one of the young guards is there for his expertise with charcoal. Fine-quality charcoal is ready to dig and load into the dog-cart. After that, ready-cut and seasoned ash lengths are loaded into the wagon. The guards do all the work, getting very smutty and sweaty, while the others stand guard.
Jotunn’s wilderness expertise [Hunter] alerts him to movement from the ravine or gulch the fleeing bandit headed into. The Dwarves decide to ambush the ambush, and flank around left, but the poor repair of their gear betrays them [by this time boots are falling apart and seams are coming adrift]. Knowing the ambushers have heard his companions Jotunn dashes forward and makes a superb bowshot at point-blank range into the alerted ambushers!
Ambush ambushed: take prisoners!
Crompton follows up and shield-bashes [STR] a knee, breaking it. Only two ambushers remain and one summons a swarm of birds.
Melee with the fourth man is a foregone conclusion: the bird-summoner is “persuaded” to call them off and taken prisoner. His crystal flask of bird-summoning is confiscated.
“I am an officer and my family will pay ransom” he tells them immediately. This is a smart move, even though he’s an NCO and his ransom is probably small, because the Dwarves move from “kill” to “value”. Fennec seems determined to dislike him but the others decide to keep both prisoners alive.
It helps that Sergeant Musger doesn’t mind telling them about his detail. His camp is up by the ruin, which is where the second pile of supplies is. No, they haven’t seen any minotaur, but the last detail he and his men replaced were all dead. So all these men are soldiers, not bandits. No, no tracks of something huge. Musger is hitched to the wagon and walks along behind it, while Stumpy gets a ride in it.
At the cult ruin, camp is made
It’s not an easy task getting the wagon to the ruin but there is a trail. The ruin, Nesbitt explains, was once a cult temple of some kind, and saltpeter can be mined from under it. Smith, the other guard, has the expertise to know about mining the right quality.
The next day finds them all at Musger’s camp with plenty of daylight to search and supply. The ruin really is ruin – it would take a Hobb to find real concealment among the time-worn slabs. Not far away, and seeming to loom over the place, another rock-strewn outcrop or tor is marked by what is probably the remains of a watchtower with an ancient stark tree seeming to grow out of the rubble. Jotunn gets a weird vibe from it.
There are more dried rations in the camp, and a brace of little forest deer hung to near-perfection. Looks like meat’s back on the menu! There’s a supply of saddle leather, so they can make running repairs to shoes. And there’s a small pile of silver ingots left where “Skivey” the fleeing bandit/soldier decided they would be too heavy. He’s long gone of course.
Crompton discovers that Moose the enormous dog will only accept meat from Cassie, his owner (or possibly bitch-pup, from the dog’s point of view).
Jotunn examines the area where Skivey had been told to dig graves. The bodies from the last detail are still lying unburied and two weeks’ rotting. It does look as though something big and not sword-sharp killed them.
The truth of the Tor
After the meal, the saltpeter is easily located. The soldiers had already begun work on it, and thoughtfully left their digging equipment. Charson and Smith once again do all the work, while the thoughts of the Dwarves turn to the mysterious tree.
Nesbitt tries to discourage them but Fennec’s getting a vibe from the tree so Nesbitt contents himself with volunteering to stay with the prisoners and Cassie.
As they make their way up the tor towards the tree, Fennec can actually see Mana boiling around the tree. The final approach to the tree is marked by regular slabs and a stone circle stands around the tree. So, not the ruins of a tower. Bone-white bits can be glimpsed under the tree.
“That’s far enough lads”
Nesbitt has climbed to an easy distance of them – they didn’t notice him at all. [LK, but L3] As he speaks he unclips a small stick from inside his bronze shield. The stick becomes a massive half-glaive and Nesbitt swells, clothing shredding off him, becoming a huge bull-man!
Cauleigh is inclined to just ease back and see if Nesbitt will let the trespass go but Fennec repositions himself (expeditiously) behind the warriors and Nesbitt attacks!
[It’s that ‘shall I pause and negotiate when the Wizard might kill me with one shot’ question.]
Fennec hammers home a TTYF [L2, draining all but 1 WIZ from Fennec!] and Jotunn sends an arrow into the beast. Since he’s going all-out for Fennec, Cauleigh hurls his axe between the monster’s legs and brings him down [this is a fail-forward from a good DEX SR]. Crompton wields his ancestor axe with effect. [Crompton also tries a trip but simply enters combat]
As the minotaur lurches back up to its feet it can’t defend easily. Crompton rushes in close with bollock-daggers, and Cauleigh makes a leap up and smashes his mace-head down onto the great skull. The beast’s skull shatters, shards of bone and gobbets of brain spraying out; and its guts drop out all over Crompton. It falls dead.
The panting Dwarves wait for it to transform back to Nesbitt. Disturbingly it remains a giant naked minotaur corpse. But the half-glaive shrinks back to ornament size, and Fennec clips it back inside the shield. After a little debate, they remove the corpse’s lower jaw as evidence, since it has huge tusks and fangs.
They return down the tor, colored crimson or at least spackled with brain flecks. Neither of the prisoners were on the side facing the outcrop and are oblivious, but Cassie is frozen in absolute horror! She has witnessed the entire scene!
They wash themselves clean, then Cauleigh speaks gently [CHR] and coaxes Cassie into at least accepting that Nesbitt is dead and the evil minotaur is dead. The story “we killed the minotaur but Nesbitt died” is repeated to Charson and Smith, and will be the agreed report back in town.
At Fingold pigeons have come home to roost
Late the following day the wagon, dog-cart, prisoners and survivors report in to Fingold’s north barracks. Success! But it will be up to Quartermaster-General Lady Countess Saundra to say exactly what the success is worth. So, at least one Dwarf should report to the citadel.
Having reminded Fennec and Crompton of their previous bad behavior Cauleigh appoints himself sole agent for that. The others all have a couple of things to see to anyway. They head to the Adventurers Guild.
In between arranging for repairs and new boots and so forth they learn that trouble has befallen the Guild. Two nights ago, the demon in glasses was fatally slow to react to the battle situation and an entire front-line group fell. Now they are zombies. By necessity the rear-echelon group of a Hobb, two half-Elves and a brooding drunk are now front-line.
“I’m going to have a stern word to Cauleigh about this,” Fennec promises the others.
The Dwarves are expected to pitch in to the defense and over the next 12 hours put serious planning into traps and the like.
Meanwhile over two interviews Cauleigh receives the reward for their mission (plenty of food chits) and gains Saundra’s agreement to release Sgt Musger, since his upkeep is more bother than ransom is worth. (He is set afoot with a short sword, out the south-east gate.) Later from Musger, Cauleigh discovers that Stumpy was given a noose and quick hanging – Quartermaster-General Lady Countess cannot afford useless mouths.
The mission Melissa suggested, and agreed to by Saundra – to ask mercenary Dwarves to relieve the siege – is still on, but first, the pressure at the Guild needs to be relieved.
A thought of traps leads to thoughts of Level 2
The suggestion about traps leads to a counter-offer from the demon in glasses: if they are willing to take the fight well towards the zombies, he’ll back them up with a SlushYuck, which ought to trap a whole wing of zombies.
Discussing these problems, Cauleigh decides to work on the social angle, while the others learn more about missions.
It turns out, there’s not much to be done with the demon in glasses. But Cauleigh does get to know the largest fighter a bit better, who explains some of the dynamics and assures him that they’ll work out the problems given time.
As for missions, if they are serious about the SlushYuck plan they’ll have to take on a mission to arrange for the Goblin boss in Level 2 to be removed. The goblins are far too organized for any foray to work, as things stand. The goblin hates Dwarves, but the Ogre boss on Level 1 will negotiate and might be willing to betray his rival.
But first, talk to the Ogre
They sign up for the mission and get the offer of help scouting, from Burnley the half-Elf survivor they first met as doorman for the Guild. They all prep, wearing a balance of light-enough gear, and carrying not-too-many weapons. And plenty of money in gems. Then off they go!
Burnley has a little bad luck with his first foray but [with the help of rolling 17 on dice] evades a minor Goblin ambush and makes it back. The Goblins are far too smart to pursue. Trying an alternative route Burnley finds them a likely chamber, guarded by two Goat-men.
These are tough, but since they have time to plan, the Dwarves are ready. Fennec advances, tosses his trusty OGA, and Cauleigh and Crompton move up to intercept them. Behind them, Jotunn levels the arquebus.
Perhaps lazily, they forget to use any special moves and are bested despite the shot. Their armor handles the damage. Then Crompton ducks low, using his shield to tempt the goat-man onto it, while Cauleigh diverts the other one.
Crompton’s stunt gets him stomped, but luckily for him, Jotunn and Fennec (who has switched to Zapped knife) cope with that goat-man, driving it back. Meanwhile Cauleigh’s stunt wrong-foots his goat-man and he kills it. Crompton returns to the fray to finish off the second one.
The noise of fighting has attracted the boss. He’s an Ogre, but willing to negotiate – exactly as advertised.
The two sides sit across from one another and Cauleigh offers a fat reward for offing the goblin boss. Surprisingly the Ogre counter offers: he will take half, but only for setting the goblin up for the Dwarves to kill.
Agreeing to meet again once the Ogre has found a trusted sidekick they pull back, and the session ends.
Glossary of spells used or mentioned
OGA: Oh-go-away, Fennec’s favorite since fail can be used to make enemy attack
SlushYuck: turns earth to quagmire
TTYF: inflicts IQ as damage; Level 2 doubles it.
There were a couple of 3s rolled at different times, but some good doubles rolled as well. The Dwarves were all reminded they have a shopping list of stuff to get through, when boots were found to have split open during the initial fracas.
- Both Fennec and Crompton have enough funds to get at least one spell.
- There are a number of magical or probably-magical items picked up here and there, that need to be assessed.
- On order: proper boots, silver-laced gunpowder, sturdy summer clothing, a new gambeson.
Op cit for all. I missed one important prop last week: Cassie/Moose, Melissa, Saundra and even aged doomsaying guard Aldus are all from Fantasy Neutrals (Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game, Engine Publishing – enginepublishing.com