The characters for this session
Fennec, L2 wizard
Cauleigh, L3 warrior
Crompton, L2 rogue
It is late afternoon, and their final decision on gear is made and all straps and laces checked. The three Dwarves swagger along gallows lane, west past the citadel gate, and to the North Barracks. Having decided to leave early and with no ceremony they are not delayed by quartermasters and marshals, who at this time are mustering the town militia by neighborhood.
At the North Barracks there’s a parliament to hold. The Chion’s Regiment Elect – Dwarves like Twill and Sayer – and the three Sveltes sit down over whatever drink the regiment has and go over the plan.
- The evening mage duel signals the march
- The regiment breaks out due north through the light siege lines following the road
- The Sveltes guide the regiment east then south following a trail they have marked
- The regiment strikes due south at the flank of the siege lines straight at the fire mage’s fort
- The three adventurers are free to kill the fire mage
- Depending on how beset it is* the regiment will stand its ground, roll up the defences, or pull back
*With due deference to Lady Melissa, none of Chion’s Elect count on anything from her diversion.
GM’s eye on this: I prepped for this! These are my ad-hoc and abstract rules for conducting the assault. In terms of dice rolling all MR is divided by 10, for example MR580 becomes MR58. That provides a”swing” factor so that the result is not a foregone conclusion.
- Regiment: Chion’s regiment only fights in a square – something well known to the characters thanks to their force-march from Hathlisveit. 24 members of the square can fight or fire in a Turn. MR40 per dwarf = MR960. If the square is surrounded the entire square operates as MR2560.
- If the characters elect to fight in the front rank I will count an abstract value of MR75 per warrior and MR50 for non-warriors.
- The siege defence’s range of opposition – in other words given how the normal lines operate how many troops can expect to oppose the regiment – I rate as 16 x MR25 troops in daylight, and 12 x MR25 troop at night. That means the daylight base will be 16×25=MR400, and MR300 at night.
- The ability of the opposition to organise a defence off that base will depend on an aggregate Level 9 LK SR by the characters. (That is, if all three of them make L2, that totals to L6).
In daylight the opposition accumulates geometrically. Level 8 SR gains only 5% additional help, Level 7=10%, Level 6=20%, Level 5=40%, Level 4=80%, Level 3=160%, Level 2=320%, Level 1=640%, and Level 0 1280%.
At night however, a slower progression applies, and this is where Fennec’s earlier decision (to head out after the mage duel and hit the fire mage before much of his mana can be restored) really helps the regiment.
Level 9=no help, Level 8=5%, then 5% increments to Level 4. Level 3=30% Level 2=45% Level 1=75% and Level 0=100%.
- Additional clever or dumb stuff will need to be added in as the assault happens. GM’s call.
- This is how I plan for PC heroics: separate PC efforts (for example one player suggested they could begin with the diversion and somehow rejoin the regiment) can sow confusion but will combine with the regiment as follows:
Level SR (INT, DEX, CHR, LK):
Level 0 reduces the regiment by 5%, Level 1 adds nothing, Level 2 adds 1d6, Level 3 adds 2d6, Level 4 adds 3d6…
With this in mind, read on.
Chion’s regiment marches
It is another fine night and Chion’s regiment, all Dwarf, has no difficulty navigating away east from the road at a pace that leaves any bold enemy scout too far behind to worry about. Even so the rear missile corners are crossbows with big pavises that can be used to create a scratch defense against pursuit.
The Svelte guides pick up the mother-of-pearl marker telling them to swing south. The moonlight makes the shell glow like a beacon, to Svelte eyes. They wave the new direction to the skirmishers and the regiment wheels south.
[The players wrestle with the idea of being part of the skirmish line. Fennec’s player sensibly points out that if he sees any action Fennec will be tapped out and unable to help further. So they all stay in the square, and are in the sheltered hollow middle at this stage.]
Keeping up a cracking pace thanks to the easy conditions for Dwarf eyes and the trail of mother-of-pearl fragments, Chion’s regiment marches south. The skirmishers can seldom see the siege lines or larger buildings above the land’s folds and contours, but Fingold’s balefires and the watchfires of the besiegers are good markers themselves.
[And this is where Point 4 above, the aggregate LK SRs, are counted. Fennec gets L0, Cauleigh gets L2 and Crompton L1. The opposition’s ability to “turn” its normal lines of defence amounts to barely 15 troops initially.]
The besiegers aren’t blind, and their pickets have been warned that some kind of assault is expected. Perhaps the word has gone round that the assault is west, and the southern lines are threatened. In any case the Dwarf skirmishers kill the enemy pickets or drive them in and the opposition scrambles to form lines. They seem thin on the ground!
[No character tries anything clever, like racing out ahead or suddenly making the regiment form line. So Point 5 does not need attention.]
The skirmishers rejoin the square and the Sveltes tuck themselves safely in the middle. Cauleigh nods to them, and squeezes through to the front left gunners, Crompton (armed with the arquebus) follows and Fennec tucks himself discreetly behind them. Cauleigh utters some brave words to put heart into the regiment.
[This is where Point 6 above is counted. I judge Cauleigh’s actions to be a CHR SR and he gets L3, or 2d6 help, so instead of 10d6+ 48 the regiment rolls 12d6+48.]
“Give fire! And advance!”
The volley of ten gunnes sweeps away some of the defenders and as the Dwarf square stamps forward the remaining survivors scramble to either side. The square halts within a long bow-shot of the fire mage’s fort. If it advances it will be among supply trenches tha lead from the fire mage’s camp to the siege battery. Far off on its right flank the siege battery is beset with contradictory orders.
The invisible foray
“This is our time. Good luck lads, we’ll try to let you know…”
And with that word from Cauleigh, Fennec drops the Hidey Hole. This is a new spell to all of them and they are heartily glad to find they can see one another.
“As long as you keep near me you’ll be covered,” Fennec assures them.
Cauleigh and Crompton form up a couple of paces apart, Fennec a couple of paces back from both. None of them need extra light, the moon is bright and the fire mage’s fort is well lit by watch-fires and bale-fires.
The two gunne-armed Dwarves begin weighing up the opposition and study the fort. It is a mishmash of buildings, and Crompton draws a tentative conclusion that it should have at least a service gate or door at the rear or east. He’s right! They swing through at a steady pace.
As a secondary line of defense someone has flung a short arc of light crossbowmen in front of them, between the fort’s rear approach and an open door to their barracks or, ideally, the command building. Certainly the doorway they are guarding looks like it belongs to a command area.
Naturally the light crossbowmen can’t easily hear them owing to the battle noise, and can’t see them, until they are right alongside the door. Then two of the crossbowmen are enclosed within the Hidey Hole and give the alarm! Crompton levels the arquebus at a yard’s range and blows one’s head off. The other is cut down by Cauleigh who whips his kukri out and lops through neck and shoulder.
Crompton and Fennec leap to the doorway with alacrity and seek cover while Crompton begins reloading – then realizes that even crossbows firing blind can score a hit, and scrambles to cover as well.
There are passages on that level, and stairs steeply up to the right. Nothing leads down, though Fennec does look around carefully.
On the basis that “up” is where human commanders tend to be, Fennec signals up and they begin working their way up, quietly. Cauleigh checks that the wand Damper loaned him is ready to draw.
The fire drake
Pressed against the stairway wall, they hear the accents of a local man, obviously of some presence:
“They are on the stair!”
All they can see of the man is that he wears the feathered hat (over steel cap) of a marksman, wears a half-breastplate suitable for sniping, and has a beautifully-decorated arquebus muzzle. From somewhere further off comes the call:
“Let my pet play with them!”
Cauleigh is not sure how the wand works exactly but whips it out and calls:
The match on his caliver, and the match on Crompton’s arquebus, go out.
There’s a thump of something hefty landing, a scraaape of scales, and the fire drake scrambles down the stairwell. Although they mentally know it’s only eight feet long it looks a lot bigger with its wings extended and jaws agape!
The drake extends its neck and a puff of some warm vapor is expelled.
Crompton and Cauleigh leap to the attack! The kukri and ancestor axe make short work of the drake.
The marksman S’rathra the Enforcer
Up they go! Cauleigh and Crompton athletically, Fennec pragmatically. Cauleigh is first up around a landing and to the next possible exit. The interior wall of a room or series of chambers is on his right shoulder, he’s looking half-right through an open doorway or entry. Again he can see the muzzle of the enemy’s arquebus, ready to shoot whoever tries the doorway.
Crompton dive-rolls across that landing and stands on the opposite side of the entry to Cauleigh, who signals where the arquebusier is. Who clearly knows they are there:
“Come now! You dare to beard S’rathra the Enforcer in his own chambers! On, on you brave Dwarves!”
Crompton signals his plan, gets the nod, sees Fennec is ready: he spins round the frame, catches a glimpse of another entry or open chamber and a wizard’s robes, flings a throw-knife that way, closes with the arquebusier, but the fire mage is ready:
and rushes the fire mage, kukri hacking at him.
Fennec hustles behind them as support. He does not have many options that are likely to work. But it’s possible the mage does not have multilevel protections against conformation magic.
Looks like it works!
In the next couple of minutes:
Crompton is face to face with a powerful marksman who now wields a longish and somewhat clumsy club, thanks to the fire suppressing wand. He drops it to one side, and grins evilly as he draws an epee – ideal for pricking through Crompton’s fabric armor. The rogue draws his magic hourglass and incants “Tempus Fugit!” and is back in the fight at normal speed! He calls “Vorpal Blade!” and is in full combat with S’rathra.
The fire mage Nyx of Kimelas
Crompton’s knife spins lazily across the chamber at the fire mage who has to take a moment to get out of its way. He can only parry Cauleigh’s kukri. They lock weapons: the fire mage has a steel-headed staff that takes no damage at all from the kukri. At this distance Cauleigh can see he’s wearing a different ring on each hand.
As Fennec races, magic dagger in hand, to help Cauleigh finish off the fire mage, the latter leaps back and yells:
Cauleigh strikes a powerful blow and his blade ricochets off a glistening amber-covered shield.
“Don’t bother – that’s invulnerable both ways – we just need to guard him,” Fennec raps out and stands guard.
Freed from that quarter Cauleigh races back to lock up the marksman.
“So, a second comes to try me! In that case I shall switch to my stronger hand!” S’rathra brags, and the fight is furious.
From behind him, Crompton can hear cries of the soldiery encouraging each other to help. One braves the stairwell. Fennec signals to Crompton and summons very nearly his last reserve of mana: “Whammy!” and leaps back away from the PP and across to help Cauleigh.
Cauleigh locks S’rathra up long enough for Crompton to spin, hide next to the entrance, ram his dagger through the luckless soldier, and get back in time to lock up the epee: Fennec’s dagger kills S’rathra. [Just enough, he is suitably tough.]
But seeing the distraction the fire mage pops his PP! Fennec flings the dagger, accurately, the mage wields his staff like a bat and smashes it but his spell – whatever it was – is incomplete. And he’s still slowed! All three Dwarves gank him!
They begin stripping the corpses and glancing about for loot. This seems to be a luxurious chamber with easy access to S’rathra’s quarters. Fancy pictures on the wall, luxury silver service and a fine goblet and decanter… And not far off a steel strongbox is big enough to hold troop pay!
[I make the IQ/LK SRs to search for loot open ended and aggregate, because there is a lot, and the three score an aggregate of L13 with some of the best rolls of the session! So that makes it easy – they find everything!]
The triumph at the battery
The trio clamber down and out, Cauleigh and Crompton using two paintings like a stretcher with piles of loot heaped on it, Fennec staggering under the 200lb weight of the strongbox. The enemy soldiers give them a respectful distance and then head in to see what loot they can find.
Chion’s regiment is still very much in the same position, having only advanced to the support trenches. The opposition has either not hardened into overwhelming numbers, or has been dealt with. Looking around from that vantage, Cauleigh sees that the enemy battery, at the other end of the support trenches, is in a state of confusion, with some gunners fleeing and some trying to dig their gunnes out.
“This is our chance! Look!” Cauleigh calls, heaving the strongbox down in front of them and opening it. “There’s coin enough to pay for all! Let’s take that battery!”
[Makes a CHR SR with a small but fair bonus from the coin offered. Which is mostly copper coin.]
And seeing the coin, the Dwarves cheer, ready their weapons, and advance to capture the gunnes!
[There is actually downtime during the assault on the fire mage, with Nyx (the fire mage) making the Dwarves an offer for changing sides, but it doesn’t really have a bearing on the fight. They don’t even get to introduce themselves or learn his name. At least I managed to let S’rathra say his little tribute to the Princess Bride!
BTW I know I have the exact order wrong, and probably who did exactly what wrong, but that’s roughly how it happened. Apologies to the character if I stole your great move and gave it to a different character, as if I am Fran+Peter reassigning all the cool lines to Legolas in the Two Towers. Remember, the important thing is you got the AP and the loot!]
Any missions going?
They have piled together a pile of stuff they would like identified, could pay the Guild seniors to do it [possibly they acknowledge most coins have just been given away, possibly they forget that’s an option] but are content to wait for the Arch-magi to have some free time.
Crompton casually returns Jotunn his arquebus with thanks. He plans to hang onto the magical, slightly longer and less-wieldy arquebus looted from S’rathra. He knows it’s magical and time will tell how magical.
“I wouldn’t mind testing it out though,” he hints to Cauleigh.
“Why it’s extraordinary you mention that, I was just thinking to see if there is a small mission suited to our status as silvers but enough to earn another meal token or so.”
[In game-speak, Cauleigh is a few dozen AP shy of a really big buy and I encourage him to wait, because there is a small mission.]
A scouting foray into the dungeon is on offer
At the mission board and common room Mother Hobb seems to have things under control. She’s just formally welcoming that new wizard they met as a militiaman at the mill fight.
“There is something up on the ‘Level Four Trailblaze’ corner” she advises and this leads them down to talk to Gnat. Who is perched up on the killing corner of the barricade, pretending to stand guard but really just watching Two, who is supervising Damper Mizva Sprain and Lardo piling up more stone. Some dodgy-looking scaffolding is being assembled by newbies who know something about working with wood.
Cauleigh thanks Damper for the wand and hands it back.
“No, thank you,” the big guy replies politely and clips it back. “Great work!”
Briefing from a small rogue
“You go through that doorway back there on the right, head straight, go through the mousehole lord demon made that time…”
“Yes he’s a bit keen on new spells…”
“Oh, all’s well that ends well…”
“Ends well? Didn’t you end up having to take one for the team?”
“Meh. That’s done with.“
“By the way Fennec wanted me to say he’s happy to PB you any time, no strings attached.”
“Thanks! Anyway through the mousehole there’s a square chamber that points you half-right, out through that short tunnel and you’re in a big sloping cavern, heading down. Any information about exact ways down further is good. There’s a gully on the left we’ve never really looked at, and we have no plan of the side chambers on the right of the cavern. So don’t forget to map. I’ve never seen you doing it, but mapping is kind of the point here.”
“Any word on monsters?”
“It’s been super no-spawn since yesterday.”
Into the gully
Crompton has plenty of light from Fennec’s Will-o-Wisp and decides not to use his Cateyes yet – it does suck most of his mana pool! He can see rough steps have been hacked into the stone leading down, and signals that way.
The Dwarves have discussed this at some length and are going for noise discipline and very limited light as usual. There’s no reward for just attracting monsters, so the plan is to not attract attention.
Cauleigh, who is following the others and mapping, takes a good look around as they descend. Not only can he detect no hostiles in sight, he can see a concealed stone door against the rougher stone of the wall at the gully’s end. [Another great IQ SR from Cauleigh, who has IQ as a dump stat!]
Crompton examines the fine tracery relief on the stone but shakes his head at Fennec.
The wizard is ready for this type of door:
The monster beetle
As the heavy stone door swings open there’s a sound like air pressure shifting:
Cauleigh hurls himself aside and Crompton stumbles against the stone door, but Fennec takes acid gas in the body and frantically wipes his face and strips off his robe and backpack, which are dissolving. Crompton too drops his backpack as the straps are breaking. A clicking as of immense segmented legs can be heard from the chamber beyond.
It’s a huge beetle! Armored and powerful, but clumsy.
The combat involves leaping behind it, then jumping on top of it as it works its way back round. Eventually the carapace surrenders to repeated massive chops, and the beetle stops wiggling.
Crompton has a quick search of its very dirty chamber. Other than a similar stone door on the right, he finds loose coins and an old helm with the skull of a small demi-human still occupying it. He casually tips the skull out and scoops the coins in.
A number of choices
Fennec once more rises the the occasion:
But this time it’s only air pressure. Fennec has not moved: but the other two dust themselves off and peer through. Fennec, who is dressed in not very much now, is conscious of air movement from out in the cavern, moving past them and into the newly-opened chamber.
What begins as small squarish chamber breaks off into a widening and rough cavern, and rock shards lie as though something once forced its way through the stone wall from cavern to chamber.
About a dozen feet along the left wall of the rough cavern, a particularly deep concavity proves to be a small tunnel.
Only a few feet further along the rough cavern is bisected by a fissure or ravine. It is much too deep for Fennec’s WoW to have any effect, and there is a very hollow deep sound or feeling to it. On the opposite side (too far for a laden Dwarf to leap easily) the rough cavern continues, and there are a few glittering shards on its floor. Beyond that, narrowing into what could be a passage.
The cavern of the pool
Crompton casts Cateyes on himself. Now viewing the world in greys and blacks, he peers along the small tunnel. He makes sure nothing will easily snag, and squeezes in and along. The tunnel widens, and he comes to the lip of a moderate size pool, opaque to his eyes.
Sticking his shoulders right out and peering left, he can see another tunnel. Peering right, he can see a rock shelf slopes gently up and away to where steps have been cut leading up, roughly half-right. But he can’t see the start of the rock shelf owing to the way the cavern wall bulges between his tunnel and the shelf.
The pool cavern is currently unoccupied. After nearly nerving himself up to try splashing towards the rock shelf, Crompton squeezes his way backward and rejoins the others.
“We’ve mapped, we found this pool with steps, and a possible deep drop down to lower levels, let’s call it there,” they decide.
[With this chance to rest and spend the bonus from the fire mage, the three Dwarves do so. Crompton and Cauleigh are pushing DEX strongly, Fennec has to take a more balanced approach across the wizard three but pushes WIZ in particular.
Cauleigh: best attribute is still CON, his weakness is IQ on 10.
Crompton: best attribute is still STR, his weakness is CHR on 10.
Fennec: best attribute is still CON, his weakness is CHR on 9.
Jotunn’s weakness is CHR as well, on 8, or 11 in Fingold.]
2015 Dodecahedron (op cit) for the last stage. Wizardawn generators for S’rathra and his arquebus, and the various nifty items the fire mage and marksman were using.