The characters for this session
Fennec, L2 Wizard (specialist combat)
Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (townsman)
Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Apprentice Hunter, Tracking talent)
Crompton, L2 Rogue (Roguery, Runebearer)
Welcome back for a third season of To Ikkutas! – A road trip along the Vale, with Dwarves, using T&T deluxe edition! Looking around the table I can see 3/4 of my players are ready to go with the right dice in front of them. So I launch in with a recap aimed at reminding them of key events and people from the first two seasons that will link to this session.
About 3/4 way through the recap I break for LK SRs. Cauleigh scores highest and I describe Bergamot, a scout for Sir Cully Lucas, greeting them in a friendly manner. This leads in easily to the first real scene, which takes place in Edoras town.
Sir Cully Lucas delegates
“I was going to send Bergamot and a couple of my younger, meaner lads but here you are, bounty-killers!” – Sir Cully Lucas, hard-drinking rough-voiced warrior
As the four re-founders of Fingold (and the rest of the tavern – Sir Cully not really having an ‘inside voice’) soon learn, Edoras needs some bounty-killer sort of help. Something to do with Earl Maradon’s daughter, but confidential. Sir Cully is bound back east – “to negotiate with Rothway over an expedition” – and takes himself off immediately, leaving a couple more silvers for the next round and some odd gossip about a bard’s tale of a randy dwarf and a Fingold wedding spoiled.
The Earl has a confidential mission for them
So having seen to bathing and tidying the four present themselves at the Earl’s court and soon gain audience with the Earl, his chamberlain and a few equally discreet lackeys.
The Earl married late in life and is much older than his daughter, lady Marda. He failed to note her interest in the dashing paladin, Sir Alintar the Just – until she left town under the paladin’s protection. Sir Alintar – if knight he truly is – has since sent word back that a bargain may be struck…
“I have no intention of paying him for my daughter’s safe return and inviting general scandal. Get rid of him – quietly – and bring Marda back safe.”
Leads are gathered, and reins too
Needing to finish outfitting – hastily-made Fingold gambesons suffer badly in teeming mid-summer storms – fits in well with some light fact-finding. And where would fact-finding be without at least one plot-twist or side-track?
[A number of CHR and IQ SRs are required for investigation. I’m summarising results and roleplay.]
Speaking to their urbane, observant bartender and following a few leads he puts them on reveals:
- A nondescript journalist from the Sarnas Tribune was asking about them; he has left town
- Periwinkle the ex-bouncer and manager of the HoofReady ostlery wants paying for Sir Alintar’s stabling; he gives them a good idea of what the paladin’s horse looks like
- Marda’s BFF Penny, desperately devoted to her ladyship, wants to go with; she is persuaded to wait but gives them a token, in pink
And using the leverage that working for the Earl provides:
- They exchange Jotunn’s scrip [TI2.15] for one good mount apiece and a spare for Marda, full tack and furniture and two days’ training to get them trotting without liking it
[Jotunn confirms his good ability with horseflesh but Crompton’s pony affinity turns out to be a one-off]
- They gain a rough map which is as good as the Chamberlain can do, indicating that Baraloba and Upper Baraloba on the golden river will be worth checking through
Largesse for little
It’s nine days since Alintar left the ferry to Baraloba, sheltering Marda protectively under his cloak. Something amuses the human ferryman but it’s over Cauleigh’s head so he accepts what the urukun ferryman has to say and Fennec tips him.
Is it cool for other players to add their voice to a one-to-one conversation because that fosters group roleplay, or is it frustrating the flow of play? I’ve seen both. When I watch Critical Role it’s one of my pet hates. I’d rather the player with an idea mutter it to the active speaker or push a note to them.
This pattern is repeated in Upper Baraloba over a pie and ale – where Cauleigh and the Hobgoblin pieman share a rapport about human humour – and over a dusty construction site, and a town guard’s post. Silver and even gold coins flow out like water. The 2,000 promised for the kill is beginning to seem modest!
Large for small
Finally at Old Smoak’s tavern on the way out to the Meadwood the Dwarves deal easily with three drunken bravos and (trying not to use their noses) enter the tavern and interview Old Smoak. Except Crompton, who sees the duty barmaid is a Trollbabe
“I like everything I see” – Crompton, leering up
“Taking break early” – Barmaid, glomming hold of Crompton, slinging him over her shoulder, and retreating upstairs
I both encouraged and cracked up over this encounter. Guilty pleasure. Is it cool for the GM to stick some dialogue in to help a situation along? I feel if I didn’t sometimes do that, only one player would get all the lines.
Later, risking a trot, Crompton loses consciousness. He’s had a bruising tryst. Jotunn ties him to his saddle. They have plenty of time left for the journey to the Meadwood, so taking time enough for the ponies to munch on sweet high-summer grass, they follow the cart-trail at a walk and make Meadtown with plenty of evening left.
Small for largesse
Meadtown reminds them of Hopespyre, at least in the way many of the folk dress. It’s sheltered under the very eaves of the Meadwood, is heavy with the smell and business of mead, and is open to traffic.
There seem to be plenty of Hobbs here, and Connie, sturdy Hobb patriarch of a large family, invites them to stay. His kin cram into all or any old corners of a hall-like hostel. Fortunately for Crompton they are extremely hospitable, because when Jotunn cuts the binding Crompton topples off his pony onto his head!
[The ‘loses consciousness’ result is GM diktat after Crompton decides to trot the pony but the ‘lands on head’ was a fail LK SR.]
Connie offers three conflicting yarns of the Witch’s Mansion at the heart of the Meadwood, but good news as well: he deliberately misdirected Alintar towards a different crumbling ruin, one haunted by prosaic bandits.
Confession: I throw in a number of yarns about the ruined mansion because I don’t know how much time I want to spend there and I want to leave myself options.
With good healing broth Crompton recovers as much as can be expected. Fed thoroughly and well rested, the four don armour and boots once more, this time for a night march so as to avoid the giant bees of the Meadwood, and the session ends.
The session ran to time, there were no major player problems, I introduced the key elements of the current adventure, and merriment was had. And the characters are motivated, even though the adventure to hand involves returning directly back. A good start to the season. Stay tuned!
Dyson’s Dodecahedron 2014 and 2015 Compendia will feature heavily in the Golden River arc. Upper and Lower Baraloba and the adjacent Meadwood are pretty much straight out of those. Edoras, its close relationship with Lucas, and its place in the Vale was written by me decades ago and is lightly updated for the current campaign.