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)
Order restored the Dwarves take stock
Crompton decides to make sure the five hyena-headed corpses won’t be coming back as zombies – a good habit he picked up under Fingold – so he and Jotunn lug the corpses away and take the heads off. Treasure is minimal – of the polished rock variety. Jotunn notices each has collar marks on its ruff. But they were healthy warrior types, not mistreated prisoners, that’s for sure.
Meanwhile Cauleigh and Fennec assist in a minor way restoring order and organising bucket gangs. [Fennec tucks the silver metal collar from the boss-Gnoll away] They realise a good part of the village is built over the inflow from the side-stream. After quite a delay, a spokesman boats over from the spur, the villagers note the arrival by saying ‘oh, Polecat’s coming.’ In a resigned tone.
This is Pelagius Ostarin, swart, well-dressed, probably half-redcap. And he smells like he rolled in skunk oil. He’s some type of overseer, acknowledges the Dwarf efforts, allows the villagers a half-day to mourn.
The Dwarves rest up that night and next day and next night, replenish food water and rope and attend the funeral rites. [Jotunn doesn’t feel it’s his thing, he does some early scouting] A little downriver, a little boggier lower ground. Then it’s off up the side-river, which they eventually learn is the Perrol, at crack of dawn.
[Some minor AP spend here]
Set off up the trail up to Perrol
They are bound for a town named Perrol. By chance, the day of rest brought the first replenished ore-barge and a bargee Jotunn and Cauleigh both met. He has a vague story about a cousin of a friend, who went to Perrol and timber country beyond. Trouble was had. It’s slim but Perrol is marked on Cauleigh’s map and might get them closer to the Gnoll lair.
Just beyond the normal bounds of forage, giant magical spiders have spread their webs. A glint of sun on dew warns the Dwarves, two powerful TTYFs from Fennec [one at extreme close range] and a shot from Crompton’s magical arquebus deal with the attacks. Cauleigh is saved from spider venom by the thinnest of margins – that sturdy canvas aqueton makes the difference.
Keeping a very respectful distance from the river seems wise, and this choice is confirmed by a primitive sort of ex-pit-fighter at the bridge over a steep-sided creek. He mimes out lizardmen as he warns them of the path ahead.
Sheering back away from the river takes them by a ruined homestead. A pony or small horse takes fright and gallops away out of wild-grown grain. It’s harvestable grain and this seems a good early camp. They make crude camp bread, and Jotunn lures the young horse in and gentles it until he can throw a halter on it. Later, Crompton names it T-bone. They camp safely, refill water flasks from the still-intact water trough, and push on to find Perrol.
They are welcomed to Perrol!
Perrol’s wooden walls stand proud of a harshly barren brown crag, the first foothill of the broken lands. The fields about the town have been allowed to go fallow and no homesteads remain on the bare plain about. The walls have been made as strong as they can be – there’s a wooden bastion that does the proper things, with a high overset vantage, and a wrong-turning inroad, and plenty of concealed cover fire-points. If it was stone it would be impressive.
Inside, there’s a troubles-are-upon-us feel but optimism too. The womenfolk wear sturdy clothes, some with trews. There are plenty of children, but wearing the same workaday wear as their parents. People are lean, but not gaunt.
A matron directs them to the town rules, and they walk up a crisscross ramp to about midway up the town where three boards stand high and bright. Most scripts are written up, but not Elven. They learn that they have to check weapons with the town marshal.
The town law runs out of a half-barn, and its front right corner is the marshal’s office. Inside, a young woman has her feet up on the desk and a steel hat down over her eyes. This is Molly, blonde, energetic, pretty.
“Howdy folks! Welcome to Perrol on the Mount!”
Molly hustles away to find the marshal and when he saunters in Cauleigh is surprised to see he has a strong resemblance to the pimp, or shill, working out of Easy Hostess in Ironbridge.
Marshal Palweiss, tall, darkly elegant, a cigar smoker, is all courtesy. He rejoins them at the Barley Sheaf (the permitted drinking hall for travellers) and runs through the basics of the town’s plight. Then, he facilitates dinner with Judge Reiner who seems to be able to decide on authority to go to other places. Fennec, lacking decent clothes, treats Molly to a much plainer meal and gets her local knowledge.
The bare facts gathered
About a year ago raids by beast-men began to be reported and outlying homesteads were targeted. These steadily occurred closer to the town. Among the earlier raids, a survivor reported night-eyed Dwarfs who killed everyone. Beast-headed raiders typically seize young women alive.
Also over the past few months, illkin raiders have grown in numbers and boldness to the point where the townsfolk stay inside the walls. They are not just of one breed or another, but include goblins and uruks at the least.
About three to four months ago Samuel of the Loam, accompanied by an older female adventurer and perhaps a guard or two came seeking bold adventurers or guards to accompany him. He only managed to recruit the town’s best guide. Later he is said to have called in on Dolem’s Spire. Dolem’s Spire has a Prince of some kind who notionally holds title to these lands.
As far as can be worked out Samuel’s target was the ape colony below the plateau, where ape heads mark a gate or delve entry, according to what they understood him to say. A beeline across the plain, cutting the headwater of Whitespur Creek, will lead the Dwarves to that colony.
[Recounting their exploits is the second chance to spend AP. Crompton and Fennec are both now on CHR 15. Jotunn lifts IQ to 15.]
And across the burning plain
T-bone is pack-beast for them [tack and horseshoes equipped now] and they slog through a morning made grey by ash-cloud from a distant prairie fire, enlivened only by sighting near two dozen illkin riders on the skyline. Fennec has a feeling one of them, seen up closer, might be a white-armoured Urukin riding a war-pig.
As they cut the Whitespur headwater in the early afternoon, Lizardmen ambush them! But our wary heroes are alert [Crompton and Cauleigh make L4 LK SR, Jotunn L3] and the Lizardmen are shot or cut down well before they can ‘set’. Except for one, which does get around the fighting ranks. Fennec announces his presence to the surrounding square miles with a L4 TTYF. In the fight, Jotunn loses his shield, but picks up the chain-blade that broke it. It has a minor enchantment on it. [+5 to DEX when stunting the blade at a specific target, +5 total adds for quality] And as the Dwarves ponder whether to search the area or press on, the session ends.
Now we are safely past Grey Dagon Hill I can reveal I used Beneath the Lich’s Tower from Dodecahedron 2014 for it. Jacob’s Spur and Perrol on the Mount are localities marked in the Atharva Plateau maps from the same, but I just used my own imagination to describe and populate them. My feeling is that Jacob’s Spur is populated by folk descended from families that got disheartened and decided not to press on upriver. Perrol is full of hardy frontier families. I switched to full western drawl for Molly and Palweiss.
Next week we take a break owing to player commitments elsewhere and those available will take part in a shakeout session of another game. Ya’ll be sure to come back now!