The characters for this session:
Fennec, L2 Dwarf wizard (Background, wanderer, which permits the odd ‘lore’ check)
Cauleigh, L3 Dwarf warrior (Background Townsman)
Crompton, L2 Dwarf rogue (Roguery talent, Background Rune-bearer)
A couple of likely lads
The furbishers have just been winched back up to the new wall out of the shatterzone, and are sharing coins out to the five ‘tag-ends’ who made it back alive with them. Three of them seem to be interested in something Jotunn has to say while Quest, a herdsman with an easygoing manner, and Vojun, a smith with the muscles of his trade, ask Cauleigh where the Adventurers Guild is?
As they head to the north end of the wall and down, Fennec tags along while Crompton excuses himself:
“I need to follow up a couple of purchases…”
Crompton heads across New Wall lane, and into his awl-pricker’s building, nodding to the various families setting to their meager breakfast. His awl-pricker is in, and knows a tailor, which is what Crompton wants this time. He gives Crompton general directions, complaining about the sheer number of families crowded into buildings.
“Well quite a few lads are dying out there, and looks like the survivors will live in the Adventurers Guild,” replies Crompton.
“Bless her ladyship! A grand plan to turn the tide, is what I hear,” the awl-pricker replies, glancing uneasily at the doorway in case someone is listening.
“The Guild seemed pretty empty, newcomers will be good,” comments Crompton and heads over the next block to begin enquiries.
Business as usual in the Guild
As usual the upper floors of the Adventurers Guild echo hollowly. Fennec looks about vaguely.
“Let’s follow our noses,” he decides and turns south to the stair down. Sure enough the heady smell of brewing ale can now be detected.
A round-bodied individual bustles up from the stair and along into the four heading that way. Cauleigh intercepts him.
“Ah, one minute, young fellow, what’s your business?”
A sharp scent of hops comes from the chap. “Delivering hops” he replies, as a second hop brother trots up stairs and catches him up. Mother Hobb has just paid them for their hops.
Thoughts of a council
Kindly Mother Hobb is about to brew afresh. As she did with the Dwarves, she performs a simple induction session for the two newbies. They admire their copper token and study the Mission Board (which is down here these days) and are too busy to notice Cauleigh heading away to talk to the senior Guild members, especially Two. Mother Hobb stops he and Fennec long enough to ask where the “ranger” Jotunn is – she has a mission to find good malting barley for him.
“He’s with three of the newbies,” Cauleigh explains.
“These halls will be lively! We really should hold a Guild Council to decide who should do what mission. We used to do that quite often. Although… perhaps only representatives of each group,” Mother Hobb suggests. The other pair think of Mizva and nod.
Meanwhile Crompton has slogged through a lot of human households and at length finds the tailor’s stall, up two floors on Whitehorse street. There’s a tailor, and a ‘prentice, and it’s pretty obvious from the girth of the tailor and the boniness of the ‘prentice that the tailor is eating all the food rations.
He’s delighted to help someone that wants a suit of fancy clothes (based on an Esgaroth Truerunner outfit) and will recommend a belt-maker friend of his as well. Licking his fat chops in anticipation he settles on the agreed food token price.
Crompton stands patiently being measured…
Heavy hitters catch-up
The Heavy Hitters are exercising, as Mother Hobb supposed. Sharp and Damper are currently going at it, two completely different fighting styles. Two is watching, and Gnat is standing in attendance beside him. Cauleigh heads towards Two, with Fennec trailing along. Princess moves to intercept them, then sees who it is and steps back, taking her hand off her long slightly curved sword. Fennec pauses to congratulate her on her recovery, while Cauleigh joins Two.
“I thank you most graciously for your solicitous concern,” Princess replies. She has an odd accent, easy enough to follow, speaks breathily and very formally.
Fennec notices Bless, the Lefties’ wizard, grab Gnat’s hand and lead her away. He raises an eyebrow and joins Cauleigh, who has also decided not to say anything. (Later Cauleigh mutters “I assumed Gnat had just decided to give in to the inevitable.”)
Two is very much on the same page as Cauleigh. In fact as far as he can see, the Dwarf timetable such as the Barghest mission, are setting the agenda. But a Guild Council would be a good idea. Though – glancing at Sharp and Damper – perhaps just representatives from each group. Then the Council can present the plan to Lady Saundra – with a glance over his shoulder in case someone heard him cutting her titles down – and a proper timetable can be agreed on.
The pair return, in no great hurry – Fennec is healing himself every ten minutes or so – to Mother Hobb’s common room. They find her farewelling a messenger to the citadel, and posting up another mission, this one about protecting the harvest. Cauleigh and Fennec pass on the general agreement about a Council.
By virtue of being the rear-echelon support, Mother Hobb is Guild secretary. She’ll organise the Council for this evening. At the same time the Guild would normally be recovering from zombie fighting, probably.
Crompton finds them there, and they all head back up to the wall to see how later groups fare.
The trio station themselves near the winch and chat about the assault on the fire mage, the plan to locate and kill the vampiress, and what they will need to swat a Barghest, though they have discussed this before and it’s really a matter of agreeing who might carry what. Crompton for example regrets Jotunn insisting he will shoot-and-drop the arquebuss but decides the heavy bow, with Sheeting Arrows of Claes, is a good option.
“We’re going to need all four,” Cauleigh decides and is interrupted by screams from far below and oaths from the guards, calls of “ballista! Can you hit it?!” or “Fucking hell! Dragon!!!”
The Dwarves leap to their feet and see smoke marks the main east-west path through the shatterzone where several adventurers are burning. Just as they are deciding the excitement is over Crompton glances over his shoulder and with a scream alerts the others that the dragon is coming back over the town! He shoots, missing. [L8 DEX SR!]
It’s too fast for them to sight in so Fennec waits until it flashes past, works out it is only about 8′ long, and both he and Cauleigh let drive. As the smoke from Cauleigh’s caliver rolls away they see fresh adventurer barbecue – but the drake is certainly retreating fast towards the Fire mage’s lines.
“Ha! winged it,” they brag and this improbable tale is accepted by the guards.
Thoughts of a higher nature
It seems the burnt group is still bravely moving on – or at least, occasional glints of voulges or guisarmes can be seen in the sunlight. They return to cleaning weapons and checking lacings.
“You know, I don’t see how Two can throw up those two orb spells together. I’ve done some research, they are two separate spells, and he ought not to be able to do that,” Fennec muses.
“Well, you know… Two…”
“He’s just a smart cunt?”
“Yeah, pretty much that. Pretty dumb around women, pretty smart cunt otherwise.”
[The demon in glasses’ signature spell is the twinned effect of the two orb spells. It’s a gimmick not a cheat, pre-casting and delayed activation, which limits what he can cast ad-hoc. Originally it was just a good way of showing Two’s command of spells and suggest what can be done with gimmicks and gadgets once you can empower your own.]
Gentry full of promise set out
It’s now mid-morning and the three survivors of the second group are winched up, bearing massive cuts of pork. They are hailed as heroes! and the third group descends. The Dwarves interest is piqued by a different formation: some four swordsmen have taken the van. The word passed on by the guards is, a couple of them are young squires.
“Sounds promising,” Cauleigh says approvingly, and at about that time the first squire plummets to his death in a spiked pit.
Nevertheless the sound of nervous calling and fighting recedes into the distance, occasional screams marking real alarm. It’s obvious this group is doing relatively well and having swords up front was a good idea.
[The Dwarves have rested, in effect, since the fire-drake attack so now AP spend proceeds. Significant marks – Fennec’s IQ moves to 19, Cauleigh’s STR and DEX move to 25, and Crompton’s CON moves to 19 and DEX to 18. These are much more well-rounded adventurers capable of surviving the odd calamity now.]
A path is sketched out
Well through the afternoon, fully ten of the adventurers return, and they brag that they have located the entrance to the Barghest’s lair! Neither of the squires made it back.
The Dwarves collar the lone Hobb. His name is Parda and he styles himself a dyer, though his repulsive appearance – completely colored in odd dye tones from curly hair to hairy feet – suggests he is a lowly mixer and stamper. Using a piece of chalk – possibly looted from a corpse – Parda traces out the path. He warns about centipedes and endures a traumatic flashback, and struggles to explain how you get from the slumped building where a number of paths lead off, around into the kobold tower. They guard the Barghest’s lair entrance, but he’s pretty sure his group cleared the kobolds. And pinched their darts.
The last group in is a particularly large one, and the Dwarves are startled to see three being marched in at sword-point just before they are handed a short sword and buckler. Their lone guard looks experienced to the point of being a geezer, in human years.
“Well, I guess we were wrong. QMGLC Saundra doesn’t just execute prisoners out of hand,” Cauleigh comments. Fennec pulls a face. He prefers the radiant compassion of Duchess Melissa. “This is pretty much the same thing though,” he retorts.
A fourth is called for
“Look, I’m going to head away to find Jotunn or one of the Sveltes. If we do go in right away before the shatterzone can be re-trapped we should have a fourth,” Cauleigh confirms and follows through, heading first to the Guild.
It’s time for evening meal and excited newbie adventurers are all over the Guild building. It’s still disorganized but noise and life have returned to the building. Some of it the sobbing of the traumatized:
“The bugs! The bugs!”
“The smell as they burned alive! O lady of compassion!”
Still the Mission room is cheerfully chaotic and Mother Hobb is still kindly inducting new members and explaining the set-up. There’s no sign of Jotunn, he must have headed out to the countryside. But the third Svelte, Kamerad, is right there looking around at the sights.
“How are you doing? How are things with the regiment?”
“Oh, steady to the point of being boring. They do have a name for the regiment though. Chion’s regiment, it’s called now.”
“So you’re looking for something a bit more exciting?”
“Anything with the prospect of getting loot and new spells. I heard a rumor that in this Guild place you ‘get’ meals and are ‘given’ spells. So what’s the real deal?”
“No, that is the real deal. Do missions for food, do good work and they teach you spells. And it so happens we have a mission and need a fourth.”
“Excellent! I’m in! What’s the mission?”
[Kamerad is the weakest of the Sveltes with only 18 points of spells known. He’s probably the best choice for joining as a pick-up member, being exceptionally motivated to learn.]
Cauleigh leads him over to the board and over the shoulders of taller newbies points to the well-known map of the shatterzone and the word in one corner: Barghest? “We have a path through to that boss and we plan to take him down very soon.”
“I’ll head away and get some gear then. But if you see the others – don’t mention this – OK?”
While they wait, Fennec snaps up a drop from one of the newbies, a healing potion. It leaves him a bit light on food tokens but he plans to gain more very soon!
Into the shatterzone once more
It’s deep dusk to the point of being night especially since the shatterzone is masked off from any setting sun’s rays by Fingold’s walls. The four are winched down and begin tracing the same path as all four previous expeditions.
The noise of the river masks any small sounds but close to the walls, there’s seldom danger.
Kamerad yells “left” and rolls right. Fennec and Crompton duck and roll right, Cauleigh leaps left, jinking and catching one of a pair of bulky dark shapes before they can team up on him. They wield voulges or guisarmes! He smashes his silver-chased axe down and finds he has just slain a uruk. Before he can flank the other, that one is brutally cut down by Crompton’s ancestor axe.
From further in the direction he’s ducked Fennec hears a low mutter in urukhun and the noise of stealthy withdrawal! Probably something like ‘Bob and Tigsy are down! Let’s just pull back and say a requiem for them…’
[These uruks are survivors from earlier uruk fights, not the uruk-boss lair. They are exploring a wild boar’s area now that it has been cleared, and have time to set a quick ambush on what looks like a small group of noobs. They aren’t expecting to meet L2-L3 opposition!]
Adding the small pouch of coins each had to their own belt the four find the path again and proceed across the crude footbridge that lets into the shatterzone’s crazy maze of rubble. Now away from the balefires on the wall, Fennec throws up a Will-o-Wisp.
Off in the darkness, screams. The fourth expedition is still in action. [This is where the uruk boss is taken down in a tough slog]
In their own ranks, all proceeds smoothly. Cauleigh and Kamerad – who is armored in a ‘medium’ fitout – are front rank and Fennec and Crompton are second. Murmured discussion about what is done by who has agreed on missile support. The Dwarves know the Svelte has a Boom Bomb rock, he knows Cauleigh will jump around.
[Which went well, I thought. Kamerad has only seen them in action in the context of skirmishing during the regiment’s forced march.]
Rescue and creepy-crawlies
After perhaps twenty minutes the Dwarves have located Burn Alley, the main east-west path through collapsed streets. Ahead in the darkness, screams and frantic running approaching.
Seeing the friendly light of a Will-o-Wisp two adventurers barely pause, and the Dwarves wave them through:
“What’s after you?”
Three hungry ghouls have chased these last pair, the ageing guard and a strapping youngster, who may have moved faster were he not weighed down with loot! The Dwarves delay not and make short work of the ghouls. Fennec has not even needed to use an attack spell: he now throws up his third WoW.
Burn Alley has been scavenged during the hours that adventurers were not using it, and even the bones of the burnt adventurers are scattered. Ahead the Dwarves see the arch across the alley. This is where they swung left into Brownie trouble and also about the area where, Parda reckoned, centipedes started attacking.
Sure enough as they creep cautiously under the arch, Cauleigh is swathed in centipedes and Fennec has to deal with four more of the giant horrors. He is stung, shrugs off the poison from the centipede bite, and Kamerad and Crompton help rake them off and smash them.
Kobold guards cleared
Another WoW later they reach a confusing branching-off area. Fennec’s excellent recall of Parda’s sketch [L3 IQ SR] pinpoints which side of a slumped-over building they need to search to get beyond to where the kobold lair can be approached. Here, the remains of perhaps a barracks or wall bastion form a ruined tower.
The area outside the tower is marked by the bones and gear of an adventurer, perhaps acid-eaten. Scavengers have picked the area over though; and the kobold lair is not at all obvious. Perhaps it has been disguised again.
After some minutes’ search Cauleigh suddenly disappears down into the side of the mostly-intact tower. [He takes a fail-forward having missed by 1] The others are a trifle slow to react. From the dark below there’s a clang as something hits Cauleigh hard enough to knock his helm off. Fennec advances and pushes the WoW forward: Crompton jumps down. Clang! Something also knocks his steel cap off! [Those are also two fail-forwards on not being hit by flung darts]
Fennec spots the eyes of three smallish creatures using masonry as cover. Neither side is willing to advance. Fennec throws OGA at the two smaller and two kobolds skitter away back up into the tower. The bigger kobold flees, wisely. [Time was, that would have forced a charge. Fennec’s combined IQ+LK+CHR just top the kobolds]
The three were guarding a tunnel leading, so Kamerad says after a quick scout, to a blocked doorway.
Level boss down
Retrieving their gear, the Dwarves advance. Sure enough, at the end of the tunnel – perhaps once a proper stone passage – the kobolds have jammed up a doorway. The Dwarves use axes as jemmies and soon have it open.
Beyond, what may once have been a storage or watch chamber smells rank and damp. An exit left is blocked by another door. Cauleigh has been through and over many a wall in Esgaroth and [L1 IQ SR] believes it could lead to a storage cellar.
Prising the door away – silence being the watchword – they find indeed a shattered store. Remains of tuns and mold growths mark where stores have decayed. Beyond, at an odd angle, rotten shards of a door lead to what was once probably a circular stair up, but which has collapsed into sections.
The support pair attempt to cover the lead pair as best they can, as they clamber across collapsed sections of stone. Ahead the tunnel widens and a glimpse of something large made of wood and iron can be seen on the ground.
It proves to be a large spindle and windlass, lying useless adrift from its housing. Beyond, the part-collapsed chamber widens and forms a V. Nearest the windlass on the wall facing it, a mirror offers the chance to mistake one’s self as an intruder – but it is too dirty and verdigrised to offer much now.
Always cautious of an attack from the other, the Dwarves explore right. A curtain of some heavy fabric covers something on the right wall. Fennec consults with Kamerad who incants, holds his hand on the wall, and a small earth elemental clears away enough of one corner that the curtain falls. [5 Bonus AP to Fennec for thinking of it and getting someone else to spend WIZ]
Shallow steps rise to what appears to have once been a kobold punishment room. The Dwarves prudently ignore a tempting satchel under a crude throne, and the remains of a shackled kobold. “He’s not going anywhere” as Cauleigh observes.
The tunnel curves, then widens and forms a decent-sized chamber. Two doors on the right can be seen; on the left the chamber opens to what is probably a tunnel, and ahead crude steps seem to head down.
Crompton sneaks forward to check the doors while Kamerad watches left and the other pair cover. The first door is narrow and was once latched but the iron latch has rusted to nothing. The second door is broader, made of quality timber that has not completely warped, and bears three gouges where some immense dog-like creature has swiped at it.
From behind Crompton hears a warning “Ffft” as one of the others notices a deeper pool of black seeping up the crude stone steps. Kamerad backs off right into the left passage using cover, screams “Boom Bomb!” and makes a great throw.
“Glue You!“ screeches Fennec triumphantly as the explosion illuminates an immense dog-like creature, 7′ at the shoulder, about to pounce. Crompton fires his Sheeting Arrow then Vorpals his axe as Cauleigh shoots it between the eyes with a silver bullet: the Barghest is slain!
[I don’t tally the numbers – good prep, great spell choice. The combat will go one more round, and the Barghest is slowed so can’t flee.]
The remains of the complex suggests that a high council of kobold bosses decided to summon a Barghest. They sit dead and long-decayed around their table, spoils still before them. The Dwarves loot much coin, and a really nice bracelet that glows magical when tested. The same test also picks up an arrow.
They also lug out a smallish statue probably used to summon the Barghest, and some coin from the trapped knapsack in the punishment room.
The first, smaller door leads to a rift, probably down to Level One. They hammer the door closed again. The second door leads to a large statue of the sun god (Ysel, in Esgaroth) and a permanent Wall of Flame. Possibly something to do with the original destruction, Fennec hazards.
The Barghest’s own resting place, if that’s what it is, is a weird hollow tree whence the noise of wind can be heard.
All these things are duly reported to the Adventurers Guild as the mission is ticked off. There is now nothing to prevent the Ogre on Level One from breaking out when the relief assault begins!
[I do briefly play the retreat, but time is pressing and we are talking MR5 scavenger level here]
Adventurers Guild Council
It’s about the time that, up to a fortnight ago, the adventurers would be unwinding from the zombie attacks over cards booze or tea. The three Dwarves, and Kamerad representing the Hathlisveit contingent, are seated at a long table. Around the table:
- Two, representing the heavy hitters.
- Panic and Bless representing the Lefties – and Bless has a pretty little girl on her lap all dressed in pink and ribbons. Yes, that’s Gnat. [Cauleigh claims 5AP for guessing ie reading the blog] Gnat is poker faced.
- Burnley and Whitey representing the survivors. The Dwarves are a little disappointed that Mother Hobb isn’t there – as secretary she really ought to be – but she has had a tiring day and is still brewing.
- Gena, a serious black-haired Elf with a burn scar on her face, and Natty Paray, white-haired and brown eyed, with a habit of playing with his blade, representing the ‘fleeburns‘ which is the three that survived the second expedition combined with the two that the Dwarves recently saved from ghouls. During the meeting Gena proves to have good insight and ability to keep to the agenda.
- Danain Dyer, brown-haired, with energetic gestures that sometimes leave his hair disordered, and Hely Baker, tall and overweight, one of many red-haired townsfolk. Danain has one of the few valuable drops of the expeditions, a wand. They represent the City Boys, the half of the ten survivors of the third expedition that hail from within Fingold.
- Urn, a golden-bearded purple-eyed warrior who owns his own scale mail and speaks with the accents of the far north, and Khali, an attractive copper-haired Elf whose tight leather pants draw Crompton’s eyes. They represent the Wanderers, the other half of the same ten. During the meeting Khali proves to be a major flirt unable to turn down a chance for some innuendo.
- And finally Quest Herder and Vojur Smith, the same two the Dwarves talked to after their own expedition. They represent the Tags group.
The purpose of the meeting is to establish what the Guild’s major missions are and what general timeframe is being worked to. At the end of the meeting these can be presented to the citadel, QMGLC Saundra in particular since she approves missions and is in charge of the supplies.
[I use Two to establish this agenda.]
Cauleigh lays out what he sees are the key missions, at least from the city’s point of view.
- Assault on the lines: take down the Fire mage and break the siege
- Expedition to the deeps: take down the vampiress and consecrate the unholy shrine
[I step away from the scene to bring the other two in. Are they on board here? Do they disagree or have other ideas? It is hard to bring them back to missions per se and away from timeframes, but they do agree these are the keys. Fennec makes the wise observation that it’s more an exploration to Level 6 and not an expedition, since there is not even a line sketch let alone a map.]
The table discusses these. The extra information that missions to protect the harvest, and how the siege needs to be broken before then, are added in. It will be about a week, based on weather expectation.
The general notion of ‘scouting to the underlevels’ is agreed, with the thought that dark-sighted or low-light-vision members might be used in a pick-up group. Crompton startles the newbies by suggesting the Elves are the obvious deep-level scouts. Khali makes an incredibly lewd-sounding request for Crompton’s help gaining experience. Gena makes a very polite case for the newbies to be able to contribute more by first gaining experience in not-so-lethal missions.
“‘Ey, no problem,” Panic responds off the cuff, “pret’ soon ze Ogre, ‘e be gone outta ‘ere, damn’ sure chances to clear level one, level two, bella bella!”
So as a third point, or second from the Guild’s point of view, ‘level one missions to level one’ is added.
The timeframe shakes out fairly naturally from this.
- Chion’s regiment will attack at the next opportunity after the magic duel has taken place. (That means all the Guild that think about it, know that the attack will occur at next dusk.) The Ogre will presumably take that opportunity to leave.
- That will create the space for the Guild to take on protection missions, favorable for newbies, and clear level one dungeon.
- It will also create a working space of less than a week for the more senior groups to probe to Level four and beyond.
There will be no need for the whole Council to turn up at the citadel. After a consensus based discussion the Council agrees that the four Dwarves present will all be needed due to their involvement in the assault or for Hathlisveit; but that only Bless and Gena need represent the Guild and present the mission points. The Council is adjourned.
Kamerad bids them farewell and reminds them not to blab about the details of the day to the other two Sveltes. He heads off to his quarters in the North Barracks, probably to pretend he had a boring time and plan which spells he will get.
Crompton takes Khali aside to follow up on her need for experience but she friendzones him. [misses L1 CHR SR]
It has been another long day and the Dwarves hit the sack, agreeing on getting their two items identified when they head over for the Council.
[As they sleep AP is spent again. Fennec’s LK is now 14 and SPD 10, double figures! Cauleigh moves LK and SPD to 19 apiece. He is a worthy L3 adventurer now. Crompton moves CON up to 20, huzzah!]
In episodic city-gaming it’s easy to account for a character missing. Wise call to bring in an NPC though, just to help soak damage from the centipedes if nothing else.
Some poor rolls (Fennec rolled a couple of 3s and wisely swapped dice out, his replacement pair rolled hot) and some great rolls concluding with 31 on dice for Cauleigh’s shot at the Barghest!
Momentum is picking up in Fingold, I’m looking forward to the Council of War and assault on the Siege Lines!
First, Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics rpg (4th printing) for the backgrounds and survival of the 20 new adventurers.
With so many new NPCs I needed some help with names and personalities and turned to Art of War Games’ Supporting Cast: 64 NPCs you might meet in a tavern. It’s designed for the modern D&D family so most of the NPCs are demi-humans, but it is still useful.
&Magazine’s Wizardawn generators are used extensively for the shatterzone. The Barghest’s lair is interpreted from The Redoubt map, located in Dyson Logos’ 2015 Dodecahedron cartographic review, alongside random room descriptions generated from the above, and spinning it from the theory that kobolds might originally have laired there.