The characters for this session:
Fennec, L2 Wizard (Combat magic)
Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)
Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Hunter, Tracking talent)
Crompton, L2 Rogue (Runebearer, Roguery talent)
In the Rusty Rapier the Dwarf heroes gather
For some it has been a long night. Crompton (despite the massage) is a little subdued. He assures the others he’ll catch them up then puts his head down on the pillow again. The other three walk down the alley, into the market and to the Rusty Rapier where decent grub is served.
Jotunn regales the others with his efforts to find hunters (they were all out hunting, I tried to find them, I found their traps, it took me hours to cut myself down) and they catch him up with events, broad brush of course, and then they all three lean over the two maps they now have.
They draw some tentative conclusions then pies arrive and maps are rolled away. Jotunn is still working on restoring his pre-Fingold waistline.
Cauleigh decides to talk to barge-men to see if they can add anything to his guesses about landmarks. He and three men sit to a hand of cards. They know about downriver, but a few wild ideas are offered about upriver.
Crompton arrives and joins the breakfast, still a little tired. Vern walks over and leans in and whispers in a gust of pungent breath that he has a job for the new guy.
Jotunn excuses himself, heads over to a buckskin-clad man slowly working on a jack of something that’s not house ale. On closer inspection this is an older man, affable, time-careless, and Jotunn sits down for a chat about the surrounding area.
Fennec is content to wait – lady Ezra is expecting him to make another visit and there must be some relevant books in that vast library.
The Uruk maiden’s father introduces himself
Then a heavy booted foot falls on the tavern threshold and a massively built Uruk squeezes in. This is Adrok, senior in Lord Fabius’ mercenary guards, well-armored, silver-haired, proud father. He picks out Crompton, sits down with them, and lays a heavy hand on the Dwarf rogue’s shoulder:
“So, you are the Dwarf who robbed my sweet daughter Jorgagu of her maidenhead!”
“I think the snake got there first, to be honest” retorts Crompton.
There’s an uneasy pause. [CHR SR, Crompton uses his BLTG charm to roll on LK] Then Adrok bellows with laughter, slaps Crompton on the back with a blow that would level a human, and roars:
“You have balls, at least! Perhaps you will make a good son in law after all! But the skulls of my ancestors would all pucker up and make pussy lips if that happened! I must think on this!”
He kisses Crompton on both cheeks, levers himself up and heads out.
At this time Fennec concocts a righteous scheme, to make Crompton go through with the match. He will push this agenda to the point of no return, over the next couple of days. But in the meantime he and Cauleigh head to Olfoot manor afoot, Crompton heads to the Grey Cowl, and Jotunn and his new acquaintance Redtooth head to Wrongside, a dingy part of town where the last of the Redtooth fortune secured a sturdy house.
Crompton and Jotunn
To deal with Crompton in brief: he wants to get out from under, especially once he hears the matrona are looking for him as well. Vern has scut-work for him so he turns that down, but Calla gives him good advice, packs his provisions and passes a note on to the other Dwarves. The rest of the day and night following, Crompton hides across the river and downstream a little, uncomfortable but in no danger of being married.
Jotunn has mixed fortune: Redtooth shows him various maps of the region Fort Redtooth once stood in, advises Jotunn to register at the warrior guild, and asks him to look out for any sign of Ralph, his grandson, who went upriver with visions of revving the Redtooth fortunes. [Jotunn learns enough to cancel out any disadvantage he would have from not being familiar with badlands]
As he heads away up Rust Lane Jotunn is warned by a scornful loiterer that Redtooth is gaming him.
The Forgotten Circle gives Jotunn an eye to eye view of Adrok who wants to speak to Crompton again; and a weird experience involving a sleepy pessimist Dwarf and a minor drawback. [-1 on the next LK SR] He gets a reference to the best armourer in town.
Scholarly investigations are complete
Fennec and Cauleigh head up Quay street in time to see the Herbals depart: Trefoil wields a businesslike broad-bladed spear; Heartsease is making a little show twirling her Demilune around as the four cross Ironbridge. Off to the mine! She turns back, scratches a scrawny Wulfan on his shaggy nape, encourages him to keep up and swings out after Trefoil. They can’t see Sage, presumably he’s out of sight below the bridge parapet.
The pair finish their journey in lady Ezra’s household wagon: it has provisioned and brings the lady of the house a fresh book delivery. Once she gets over her initial full-sensory book-lovin’ fangirling lady Ezra shares tea and advice as to which shelves to try for gazetteers. They stay some hours, skipping the noon meal in the excitement.
Towards the end of their stay lady Ezra opens a dusty tome and adds something to what she’s already recollected about a ‘destruction seed’ mentioned on one of the maps.
Then it’s time to head back in time to meet Jotunn, who brings Cauleigh with him to the smithy to buy a new shield. While they wait Cauleigh adds some useful expedition tools.
A few final details and a quick-fire sale
An evening meal at the Rusty Rapier brings Fay, crone of the matrona, who casts a chill on the evening buzz, then not long later (to the accompaniment of ‘I knew it – the mine is doomed! from grieving widow Tuburo) the halting steps of much-battered Herbals. They are all alive but Wolfbane is carrying Sage and Trefoil and Heartsease are supporting one another.
“I thought I was safe in the middle of the party” – Sage, shaking and limp
“Here, have a shandy” – Cauleigh, sympathetically
It seems most of the iron mine is reasonable head-height for a Gnome or Hobb, and the Herbals’ planned tactics are useless. Fennec and Cauleigh counsel Sage how to use OGA and Fennec sends a slap-up meal out to Wolfie.
As dusk brings the wind from the north, Fennec makes his way towards the Grey Cowl. Tadiko, tiny female rogue, dark-dressed, meticulously formal, stops him. She has an opal to trade for a good rogue type spell. Taking a chance Fennec accepts the opal and imprints Hidey-Hole on her.
They are off!
Early on the morrow Jotunn Fennec and Cauleigh are ready at the Trader Hall entry. It’s time to get heavy gear out of storage. They rent an extra week for some remaining gear (such as the Uruk Falchion). Fennec takes the chance to get a price estimate on the opal. It’s lower than Tadiko’s value but above the minimum the spell would sell for. He’s satisfied.
Heavily laden with packs and extra tools, armour protected from the fierce heat by grey canvas surcoats, the trio exchange a quip and farewell with the bridge guards and head downriver. They collect Crompton who stretches, equips himself with the gear they brought, and swings into line, long arquebus over one shoulder.
A danger well avoided
They push hard and though their legs are short my lord they’re sturdy. They give just enough, just enough and by nightfall are well past the ruined fort and wooded islet where a haunting was.
Fennec on first watch hears two men heading upriver, seeking mining work. One worries about the haunt, the other scoffs. Crompton on dawn watch observes their headless bodies floating downstream as he draws water.
Sad remnant of young homesteaders
By mid-morning they have a decision to make, walk all the way in to Jacob’s Spur for more news of hyena-headed raiders, or go with their map and explore up to the plateau. They opt for the latter and keep the plateau hard on their right shoulder, and near noon explore the fringe of a woodland below the plateau. The locals – possibly as far away as Jacob’s spur – have felled and cut lathes here. But Jotunn finds a now-disused path that leads to a wrecked homestead. The skeletal remains of a young man are all that remains of the occupants: a woman’s touch about the ruin and an empty once-hopeful crib speak of shattered dreams.
“So they’ve been taking young women for at least a year,” Cauleigh comments.
A tiny rill of fresh water springs not far from the ruined walls and they top up water and make a noon meal of iron rations.
The gulch and a chance way in
Pushing forward against the wind off the plateau the four Dwarves find they still have most of the afternoon before them with a gulch, invisible behind the woods, forming a natural road up.
Midday heat bakes up off stone as they ascend. Some stone is reddish, some grey, both types are hot. The gulch walls seem here and there to be man-made, and shimmer in the heat.
Cauleigh at length spots a rounded tower rising on an eminence set back a little from the left wall of the gulch. They are all good climbers, and scaling directly upward will probably cut four hours off the journey.
[Crompton rolls a fail but I remind him he can claim a boon from pillow-talk with his Troll girlfriend. It’s a +2 which I rule converts the 3 to a 5. The climb is made.]
Muttering “fists and wedges! I thought that was just dirty talk” Crompton saves himself from a nasty fall and he and Fennec are drawn up to the lead pair, joining them on a ledge.
“There’s a cave, maybe a tunnel in under” Jotunn explains and they use a piton and rope to descend off the ledge down to a small natural cave-mouth. The footing is not good.
The glare of the outside – the silty rock here is whitish-grey – means a WoW will be no use so Jotunn takes the lead with a torch held in his Sopok-shield hand. Just as he is reminded of one of his earliest exploits, the goblin caverns where bats and spiders lurked, a gigantic bat launches out at him. Its mad red eyes and foul odour mean only one thing: bat-ghoul!
Jotunn uses STR to block (meaning only his shield will be used) and Cauleigh uses himself as a living spear, ramming his kukri through the gaping maw and out the back of its skull.
[Between the two the combat total is 200+. I declare the kill without rolling]
The foul thing is an obstacle but Crompton has a nifty idea that turns it into a convenience. They shift it out past them – wincing away from the foul dead fur – and spread its wings out on the silty scarp. Now they can launch themselves back up the rope easily!
And as Jotunn flares his torch into a choice of two passages the session ends.
The “city-game” part of the session felt a bit like herding cats but then, that is part of the fun of city gaming! I think twice I said quite straight-forwardly, “I want to bring the team together now” because information was being pulled out of this or that source and there needed to be time to share it round.
Crompton was a bit cheesed off that Fennec took advantage of the Teacher spell that he has just learned off Crompton, to earn good money. But then if Crompton had spent as much time cultivating rogues in the Grey Cowl as he did following his knob round town, he would have made money as well.
I can sympathise with both Fennec and Crompton about the philandering and the prospective marriage. On the one hand, what goes on tour stays on tour, and on the other hand, a Dwarf settles his debts. They are both worthy. The difference does have the potential to be a team-killer beef and I hope both bear this in mind.
Props: op cit for Ironbridge. Once again Wizardawn’s generators are a marvel, this session they gave me a quick-fire armourer along with goods for sale. As I noted a few session agao I’ve extensively used Dyson Logos’ Dysons Compendia 2014 and 2015, running maps together and mashing up to suit my own idea of the Golden River. The Atharva Plateau and surrounds are to be found in the 2014 edition.