TI3.43: Untouchable three plus one

The characters in this session:

Fennec, L3 wizard

Cauleigh, L3 warrior

Jotunn, L5 warrior

(and trying not to be found)

Crompton, L3 rogue-in-hiding

ably assisted by the Herbal Teas:

Sage, L3 wizard

Trefoil, L2 warrior

Heartsease, L2 warrior

Wolfie, L2 wulfan

 

Our four heroes, allied with the Herbal Teas, are back in Ironbridge. The party has split in an unusual way. Crompton, fearing Adrok the mercenary captain will make him marry his daughter Jorgagu of the matrona, is hidden in a crate (30gp bribe to the bargemen). Fennec, who still has snakebite damage, has found night rest in a druid-glade type shrine. Cauleigh and Jotunn have spent a much more enjoyable night at the Easy Hostess, and have been summoned by a messenger from Lord Orctooth. At Orctooth manor gatehouse they find Marshal Lytera seated waiting with cups of what smells like wine. He bids them seat and drink and tell him all about their adventures – and as the gatehouse clangs shut – that someone else is also eager to hear…

 

Crompton in a crate

Last session’s huge tiny mistake was not to work out what would happen to Crompton’s crate once it got to the docks. So there it stays, unless someone opens it, friend, foe or father-in-law.

Crompton kicks off with SRs: LK L1 and L2 to see if anything untoward happens (a fail would be Adrok happens); the third is L4 CON as he moves from 12 hours in a crate to 18 hours in a crate.

With no apparatus to relieve himself he is in a sea of pain, but he makes L4 CON and grits it out. It is now day and the midsummer sun will start heating his crate up…

 

Cauleigh regales and resents

Lytera notices the tension. “Ease up lads,” he says, gesturing to the wine. Sage, standing about table height, sips some wine. Cauleigh and Jotunn ease onto seats and – since Sage hasn’t keeled over – sip wine. Trefoil, a strapping six foot man, looms and sips. Until Lytera quite forcefully insists he sit. Lytera explains that he’s keen to hear details about what the four of them experienced, but he’s waiting for someone else… just give them a couple of minutes. No point repeating yourself. “I’m hoping to kill two birds with one stone,” he continues. “It really concerns these two” – gesturing to Sage and Trefoil – “but I’d like to hear from all four of you.”

Lytera seems to have another plateau site in mind for the Herbals – a dig of some kind, with goblins – but the meeting is derailed when Master Wonnram, dressy, intent to the point of being overbearing, a templar out of Dolem’s Spire, joins it. Though Lytera tries to steer the meeting back on its tracks – and Cauleigh and Trefoil impress the listeners with their raconteuring – Wonnram’s attitude and plan puts the adventurers’ back up. His plan – which may even be his main plan since he presses it while Cauleigh and Jotunn have stepped out – is that the Herbals, not the Dwarves, continue to investigate the hyena-man dungeon while Templars back them up. At the same time he wants to press the Dwarves to a trek into the wilds on behalf of the prince’s forces, scouting against the illkin and in particular, locating a hill giant steading.

Eventually the four excuse themselves to “prepare for the mission” and walk back along riverside on Gilt Street. One of Wonnram’s coat-holders, Neghed, a Dwarf armed only in a quilted habergeon, follows them back to the Rusty Rapier in order to brief them further. Sage uses the spare minutes to quickly brief the Dwarves on the prince’s claims to hegemony – in a word, historic.

[There’s a few good SRs in all this, including a L9 ‘intuition’ type CON roll for Jotunn sensing the other Dwarf may be listening in on them when they retire to the courtyard to speak privately. Trefoil DAROs and gets L5 CHR recounting the Herbals’ journey. Sage gets within 3 of L5 CHR (DAROs up to 22 on dice) which is decisive in politely leaving Wonnram’s “offer” on the table until they can prepare. He takes a fail-forward which in turn leads to Neghed’s approach and a decision, by Wonnram, around the Trader Guild.]

Fennec leaves a surety

Fennec finds his leg healed and the tree weeping poison. The elderly tree-priest reassures him that all is well and asks for a donation. (“This is the green shrine. We do not need money – except that I need to eat.”) Unluckily, money is in Fennec’s other trousers and feeling a debt, he leaves his staff as surety and sets off, slit boot flapping, for town.

Immediately outside the grove Heartsease waits, hands behind back, idly scuffing pebbles. She checks his leg:

“Ooh! Healed!”

“There’s a sick tree in there but he won’t let me help it”

“Want to have breakfast with Wolfie? Or… shoe shopping?”

“I need to pay my debt – so I need to visit the safety box in the merchant guild” he explains.

“Fennec! You have money?! You’ve suddenly become ten times handsomer!” Heartsease laughs, and they wander back down Sarnas Road to Quay Street. He is nearly the first customer and withdraws a substantial sum. Then he bustles to the better part of crafts and wares businesses, finds a cobbler, gets measured for boots, and – now very hungry – returns to the Rusty Rapier intending late breakfast.

As we role play through this I briefly note Fennec to have not only done the cobbler thing but also withdrawn funds and retrieved his staff. In later play Fennec’s player does not believe these to have happened, so I play along with that. Good for me and tension-building, not so good for Fennec. Later when it comes time for randomising how much everyone has, I make sure he actually does have a substantial sum.

 

Romance? Fennec!?

By the time the four returning from the manor reach the tavern, they find Heartsease; Wolfie’s out the back and Fennec’s off ordering a boot.

“Do you know,” Heartsease says dramatically to Trefoil, “I have a new beau! Fennec is wealthy!”

There’s a moment of silence. Then Cauleigh and Jotunn burst out laughing.

“New beau?” Jotunn chuckles, “did you get arrows as well?”

“Wolfie will have to be told,” Trefoil says dryly.

“He’ll just have to whine and howl at the moon,” Hearstease giggles.

 

The Rusty Rapier: not a luxury inn

Cauleigh crosses the few steps over to the bar.

“Is there a private room? A private nook? A smoker’s chair in a quiet spot?”

“You can see the room…” the barkeep deadpans, glancing around, wiping the bar. “Something wrong with your own room? You have rooms, right?”

“Oh fine. Can we have breakfast sent up thanks”

“Another breakfast?”

“We didn’t get breakf… I got wine and apparently, nuts.”

“You telling me this? I don’t need to know your troubles”

“Me telling – !?! Oh fine yes, another breakfast thank you”

“We’re expecting a document,” Sage explains, remaining in the common room.

“Yes sooner that arrives the better,” Trefoil’s laugh booms, “I need to visit the privy!”

“Second breakfast” Jotunn chuckles as the pair make their way up.

 

A brash young Dwarf riles crusty old Cauleigh

Dwarf Neghed arrives before the breakfast does. The room is snug. Neghed, young for a Dwarf warrior, brave to the point of foolhardiness, diplomatic for a Dwarf, warns them to do what they are told.

On wall with chalk, he sketches a simple diagram of the local waterways away from the Spire, with the Spire at base and Briar Keep at apex. Forest and two mill towns lie between the two.

“And Briar Keep is in the middle of this fucking illkin thing ye’re talking about. Tis the one thing the ruling families care about. And when I say ruling families, ye haveta know… Dolem’s Spire… there are jealous factions. I’d like ta think I’m on the side of right na wrong but if th’ master tells us, go fuck them Dwarfs over, well we fuck you over.”

He looks around at the two Dwarf faces glaring at him and adds:

“And if he says, go to Briar Keep I don’t want ta be hearin’ any ‘a you saying no sorr, I’ve got adventurin’ ta go on sorr.”

“Yes… you’re reminding me of some butchers boys…” Cauleigh retorts then adds: “So, what do they want from Briars Keep?”

“Spare me yer pity party,” Neghed says coolly.

At this point, Cauleigh casts about for a window. This seems like a good time for a defenestration. But this is a cheap room in a cheap tavern. He speculates what it would take to drive the younger Dwarf through the wall, but persists with his line of questioning.

“What is it they want? Because this is a suicide mission so far! There’s no point scouting if no word comes back!”

“Is Briar Keep still in the hands of the good?” Neghed summarises, “and, can they really be trusted?”

“Who holds it, by rights?”

“Just the townsfolk… and a knight… supposedly… we been hearin’ odd things and puttin’ two and two together… well let’s just say we have our concerns whose side he’s on. And secondly, where the fuck is this hill giant steading.”

And as the Dwarves bristle he adds:

“You’re saying giants. We agree with you. We’ve seen them, seen tracks. They go off to the Badlands.”

“The only thing is,” Jotunn havers, “our agreement is that we don’t go into their territory.”

“Aye, that’s the beauty of it! Ye won’t be goin’ into their territory! It all belongs to the prince!”

“I imagine they’ll accept that explanation” – here a perceptible note of sarcasm creeps into Cauleigh’s voice – “when we stop for a chat with them”

“Then don’t be seen, would seem to be the best course for ye”

“So… don’t do it, you’ll do us over; do it, and risk death. You have a good-size force in town: why don’t you do it?”

“We’re waitin ta strike when the iron is hot an’ that would be, when we get good scoutin’ about how we get through. We’re not aimin’ ta take the lot of them, we’re aimin’ ta kill the leader. We’re no asking ye to assassinate anyone – and I know that’s ye speed, that’s ye ticket, ye’re adventurers, ye do assassinations!”

“And as adventurers, we don’t have to take orders. You heard us tell your master” – here Cauleigh breaks off, reddening in anger as Neghed clicks his fingers and snorts disdainfully. “You’ll – you can be more civil – you can put a more civil – tongue in your mouth!”

[Cauleigh asks for a ‘beatdown’ CHR contest and gets L6. Neghed gets L3 and while not cowed is no longer provoking.]

Neghed grins cheerfully, nods and taps his nose. And again tries to get the unspoken message across.

“You are adventurers, and ye have th’ right of it. But I’m here to tell you, the master, and some of the other factions in Dolem’s, are dead set on this. Ye may as well go with the flow. Now, if ye start bargaining, then ye’d be speakin’ a language we can all speak.”

Seeing this has some effect he adds, “Don’t start in on the high principles of adventurers – it’s contradictory on its own terms!”

Perhaps this is not the most diplomatic note. Once more, Cauleigh looks longingly at the solid wall.

The sound of a boot and a loose flapping boot are audible in the stair outside the door. Neghed nods and casually salutes farewell and departs.

 

Let’s make a move! In which direction?

With Fennec now in attendance, Cauleigh now advocates a quick removal and warns them they may not be able to return. So, all goods out and away on the ponies!

“This is our last day here. The story of the three Dwarves has spread. We can’t afford to be seen as four.

“We’re being strong-armed by them out of Spire,” he continues, “for fucking suicide scouting.”

Fennec and Jotunn are both interested to know if there is anything “in” this mission for them. Since Jotunn attended Neghed’s words but Fennec was absent, Cauleigh merely waves off the question by referring to Wonnram. Fennec unconsciously confirms Neghed’s opinion by entertaining thoughts of assassinating Wonnram, then instead moots an amusing plan of letting Crompton stew for the full course of the midsummer day then rescuing him at some stage at night and leading him to safety at lady Ezra’s. Neither of the others see any issue with that. Good luck, Crompton!

Cauleigh hands over his locket so Fennec can get lady Ezra to take a look at it – he offers no logic or reason for this, nor cash. “We take the Herbals, get supplies and get out,” he urges. He looks at the sketched-on wall again. “I’ve never wished for a window so much in my life!” he groans.

Jotunn again brings up the issue of reward. Cauleigh refuses to be further drawn on potential reward but, perhaps because he already holds a vast wealth in friendship, holds up the dungeon as the only objective. “We know it’s a special kind of evil,” he insists.

Defeated in the issue of reward, Jotunn herds the conversation back to practical matters. How do they actually get supplies for the dungeon mission under the noses of the Templars?

“We just say, they are for the information gathering mission,” Cauleigh suggests.

Maps are studied and Neghed’s sketch compared. “Where the hell did that youngster learn his runes? This is appalling” protests Fennec. But there are one or two points in agreement with his own map in particular, so – should they have paid attention – they now have more information on an area from Dolem’s Spire to Briarwood Keep.

 

We don’t know what we’re doing, so let’s tell the others

“Let’s go get the Herbals” Cauleigh votes, now he has convinced the others, as usual, to follow along.

Heartsease is alone, picking over second breakfast crumbs.

“Is Sage and Trefoil about?” Cauleigh wants to know.

Heartsease looks hurt. “They’ve stepped out for a minute,” she explains.

“Umm, it’s just that we got some mansplaining to do,” Cauleigh says, digging that hole deeper, “and we didn’t think Wolfie would contribute much.”

By good fortune the two non-female, non-shaggy Herbals are directly outside the Rusty Rapier, bargaining for supplies. Something about oil-flasks.

“As far as we are concerned, we still have a contract with you,” Sage proclaims. “For example” – looking pointedly at Fennec – “should we have a moment…”

 

Speaking of half arsed planning, where’s Crompton?

Sage, Heartsease and Trefoil now join the other three in their room. It becomes even snugger. And Heartsease is the only one with a pleasant scent.

The plan is not so much a plan as a deconstruction of why Cauleigh doesn’t want to work for the Templars, but Sage for one is keen to get spells. Trefoil promises to see to buying horses. Cauleigh, bare minutes after celebrating integrity, sketches out a plan to swindle the Templars. But the overview is, leave, go to the dungeon, preferably with the Herbals. And never return to Ironbridge.

“I kind of want to,” Fennec objects.

“Well you probably could, but the rest of us four…”

“Where’s Crompton?” someone interjects.

“Four! Ack!” Cauleigh squeaks.

“I told you hours ago,” Fennec hyperbolises, “I should smuggle him out to lady Ezra’s.”

“You didn’t check overnight? I thought the plan was to smuggle him somewhere overnight?” Sage asks, surprised.

“Well we did,” Cauleigh lies, “into a barrel… still better sort that… now, the mission, ponies, supplies, roll off, you’re with us, dungeon…”

“You’re on the edge of your bed,” Sage observes,”You really can’t wait on this, can you?”

“Whole bunch of timing, we could… a certain person’s going to discover a certain Dwarf… we may have to go into this half-cocked.”

“Right well packs on, boots away, you have things to do, spells to teach,” Sage says, sticking gamely to what, from his wizardly perspective, is the main point.

The warriors return to active duty (Jotunn reassuring Cauleigh that at worst the crate has been shipped to Edoras) while Sage remains behind with Fennec, to finish up learning the spell. But Fennec goes blank. [Rolls a fail]

“I’m sorry Sage, I don’t have my staff yet and I can’t concentrate without it.”

I resist ED jokes

 

Crompton’s mighty wee

The day has grown hot and the crate hotter. Crompton, trapped, has sipped enough water to empty at least one waterbottle and his kidneys are on fire.

In desperation he draws a dagger and begins trying to bore a pee-hole at about groin level.

“’ere, that’s no rat!” he hears.

“Naw, that ain’t rats,” a local voice agrees. “Let’s us lever up that lid.”

“Hang on a sec!” hollers Jotunn, for it’s at this point that Cauleigh and Jotunn reach the wharf. Cauleigh slaps a handful of coins into the hand of one of the docksiders and they agree they didn’t hear or see anything.

[At this point Crompton realises he could have peed into the water bottle, and says so.]

Dreading what they will find, Cauleigh and Jotunn cautiously lever the lid up and behold! Crompton with his wang in a bottle, slowly relieving himself.

“Don’t stop me lads! Don’t stop me now!!!”

It takes a half hour in this horizontal position with an overstrained bladder.

[LK SR and Crompton makes L3, the other two have sufficiently screened him.]

They tack the lid back on. But the crate is not something they can safely lift, themselves.

 

Templars? Can’t be helped! We’ve got to move this crate!

Cauleigh next hires another longshoreman to operate a dock crane, winch the crate up and have it brought away. [DAROs 19 on dice, L7 LK] He strikes the right casual note. As he’s deciding where to send it, the Templars enter the Trader Guild and have the accounts of the Dwarves frozen. To ease the conscience of the guild, they declare Crompton deceased and that his account, less 10% tax, goes to the guild. All this is overheard by Jotunn, lurking busily.

There’s not much to be done – or at least they choose not to do anything – and turn their attention to moving the crate.

And now the pace of events begins picking up.

 

Fennec saves Wolfie and teaches Tadiko!

Frustrated at his attempt, Fennec bustles downstairs and looks about for Tadiko, the diminutive rogue he owes a spell to. Nope. He half-boots across the market, intending to get to the Traders Guild for his money. [LK SR, he does not make the necessary L7, but does gain some immediate advantage related to other matters]

A persistent sandal-seller tries to sell him on modern comfy sandals as he walks through the market. Trying to get past the man, he notices and recalls the lane to the Rogue’s Guild. As he heads towards it he sees Wolfie, bargaining badly and being beaten with a leather thong.

Resisting any mayhem impulses Fennec intervenes, and looks sternly up at a large red-faced woman. She sees merely a casual Dwarf wanderer, down at heel in a dusty cloak. Wolfie is trying to buy dried strips of meat, it seems. Fennec bargains her down to a mere one silver.

“‘Orsh?”

“I get you. The others are taking care of that. If you don’t mind sticking with me I have a little thing to take care of. It shouldn’t take long if I can find the woman I want.”

“‘oman! Good!”

“Er no not woman like that, other thing.”

A few paces into the lane Wolfie bares his fangs, growls, and a shadow on a rooftop moves back.

Towards the guild building, Tadiko steps out of cover.

Learning there’s just this one chance to finish learning her spell Tadiko drags him into a tiny alley.

“‘oman! Good!” Wolfie endorses as Fennec reemerges. Fennec sighs and sets out once again for the Trader Guild on Quay street.

 

Frozen assets and more troubles looming

Fennec is stopped yards short of the Trader Guild by Jotunn. The brawny warrior explains the dilemma. Cauleigh sidles into the conversation. A barrow with large crate, attended by two longshoremen, follows at a respectful distance.

“I guess we’re going to have to get this crate somewhere, shade first, and now you’re here it could be lady Ezra’s.”

Fennec points back upriver towards the bridge where he can see a wagon driven by a familiar large-shouldered figure. The wizard breaks away and hurries to catch it up.

[Fennec gets a +5 on CHR given lady Ezra’s high esteem]

With money now an issue I check who is currently holding the two fine rings off the skeletal remains and randomise some walking around money plus the value of gems each had withdrawn last session.

Fennec tips the driver-gatekeeper and Cauleigh pays the longshoremen enough that they too develop amnesia. The wagon will remain in market for a time while produce is purchased. Fennec still has only one good boot so has that to do, and still has not got back to reclaim his staff. He bustles off.

Trefoil catches up to Cauleigh and Jotunn as they see Fennec off. The handsome warrior warns them horses might be a problem. The farrier is asking serious coin. [Actually he’s asking book price plus saddlery, but that is serious coin for a warrior earning 15gp/day] And there’s something up with the Rogues Guild. Trefoil gets the 450 owed, and heads away. Leaving Cauleigh and Jotunn debating their decreasing choices.

 

Fennec boots up and away to the Green Shrine

Paying the cobbler above the asking price – and standing over him as he works – gets Fennec his boots in record time. Not wishing to stumble into trouble on the roads he strides purposefully through back-courts to where the Aether Thaumaturge (the Wizards Guild) faces Bow Street. A wizard, robe ash-dotted, staff-cane at a lazy midmorning angle, gossip-ready, recognises him with surprise and hails him cheerily. Fennec remembers his name as something sun-related [it’s Solar].

“Fennec, my dear fellow” he hails, “the sun is over the yardarm! A drink?”

“I would but I can’t stop my staff is at the shrine I must retrieve it…”

“My dear chap, a druid? Tush tush!”

“I can’t help it I was poisoned…”

“Poisoned!? Good lord! My dear chap…”

Knowing Solar will now spread gossip about him being at the shrine Fennec hastens across Bow Street and to Sarnas Road. Nothing meets his gaze save for a trio of dusty riders coming up road on horses that are tired and at a walk.

At the Green Shrine, the friendly old druid accepts 100gp, a princely donation, and Fennec hastens back to town clutching his staff.

 

The die is cast! Pony up!

Cauleigh and Jotunn need to get all party gear out of town. After all if they are not coming back, they’ll need everything. They walk to the stables on the Sarnas Road – Market Lane corner.

[Jotunn IQ or LK SR: opts for LK, gets L3]

Jotunn levers Cauleigh back against a wall. “There’s still a man on watch.”

The chap, presumably one of Adrok’s crew, is short. They decide on the old “excuse me meister” routine, Jotunn fronts him and Cauleigh saps him with a coin-filled wallet. They fold him into a ‘just dozing’ posture.

They obtain the ponies in record time when Cauleigh tells the farrier he can keep the month’s advance. The man senses urgency and sells some some minimal fodder in rubbishy sacks. Barnsley nuzzles Cauleigh fondly.

“I could have just asked for our ponies with no fuss,” Jotunn observes, but it’s not his coin so he’s not bothered. Then from behind them comes a whistle.

 

The great get-our-gear-back plan part one

They look back, uneasily. But it’s Fennec, with staff. The three once again catch up, townsfolk easing around the clump of ponies.

“Right! We just need to gather our belongings!”

Leaving the ponies with Jotunn, Fennec races along Quay Street and whips up the alley leading to the back of the Rusty Rapier. In his wake Templars nudge one another and chuckle at this fool and his money, soon parted.

Meanwhile Jotunn looks at the bridge and back at Fennec. Miners are heading over the bridge in dribs and drabs, mine-carts are being wheeled back.

“We have a gunnery problem.”

“I’m not dropping a Hidey-Hole over you if that’s what you’re thinking,” Fennec warns him. He’s planning that for himself.

“I’m not going to do anything fancy, I’m going with the ‘just stay casual’ plan I wanted to try a while back”

The ponies are led to the bridge. Fennec hesitates, then realising he may draw too much attention from nearby Templars, walks upriver as though to look at fire-gutted buildings.

At this stage as we agree Fennec, realistically, has not simply waited for Cauleigh. We also sort out an issue left over at end of last session. Fennec had asked if he could use the druid for gaining healing proficiency. Since he didn’t attempt to do this in game time at the shrine, I rule no, and he takes the CHR boost he had penciled in. His CHR is now 20.

The great get-our-gear-back plan part two

Cauleigh enters Wolfie’s dining room: or in plain language the kennel-and-deliveries yard. [LK SR, he makes L4] A middle-aged man he’s seen in the background a number of times is working there. He grins cheerily.

“The Dwarves checking out?”

Cauleigh explains he needs his belongings moved. The man explains he can ‘arrange’ things so that belongings are just moved across the river without attracting attention.

“For the honour of the establishment,” he adds, “we must make sure you check out safely and securely. 50 gold.”

[Cauleigh asks for a sense motive, although he knows this is most likely the smuggler Lytera mentioned]

Gold promised, Cauleigh asks for word to be sent to Jotunn. The man tells him to wait on the dock steps. It may take up to a quarter-hour to arrange and deliver the goods. He bustles back in and Cauleigh leaves.

 

Ponies across! That’s one!

Jotun’s plan works fine. He’s charged 14 silver – five ponies and one traveller – and the swivel gun crew are signalled the all-safe. He leads the ponies the rest of the way and turns upriver.

It’s even hotter on this side. He passes up and beyond town. In the heat-shimmer, he sees Boot Hill on the slope left, a cool grove or glade of dark trees ahead, and what must be lady Ezra’s manor, darker and lower, right of that.

Fennec’s patience is tested

Does Fennec have much patience? He sets off from his chosen discreet alley or nook and soon gains the bridge. His problem is, there are two guards on duty, and neither is standing still. At any one time either might step into his Hidey-Hole. And any of the miners could move through it. Nothing’s impossible but he’ll need to move from side to side and ease along very patiently.

[CHR SR, he gets L3 thanks to his confirmed new CHR]

He’s patient enough!

He makes the end of the bridge and snaps up a new HH, and walks on more rapidly upriver to Olfoot Manor.

 

The great get-our-gear-back plan part three

There’s a hubbub that draws attention of Templars in the other direction as two urchins push a barrow, with a barrel full of equipment, to the dock steps. [LK SR, Cauleigh makes L4]

“You the old gaffer as needs the stuff?”

“That’s me boy.”

“Sure mister,” pipes the other one, “Boat’ll be here… momentarily.”

A small jolly-boat is poled out from under the docks and lays alongside the steps. The boatman is so anonymous Cauleigh can’t recall his features after looking away.

The four manhandle the barrel into the boat, the boatman steer-sweeps it across in an arc that ends slightly out of the bridge guards’ line of sight on the opposite bank, and he and Cauleigh manhandle the barrel up onto the bank. Cauleigh pays him the 50. By the time the boat pushes out from the bank Cauleigh is already uncertain what race the boatman was, let alone what he looks like.

Gear across! That’s three

He boosts the barrel, with all four packs and a great deal of heavy adventurer gear in it, onto his back. Heavy!

I don’t actually have a weight for it all. I estimate Cauleigh is at his full STR capacity, not at double STR.

Ahead upriver he can see the usual labourers toiling up to the mine on the plateau. He walks to the crossroads. Far away in the distance, so far away it’s not worth calling to them, he can see a tall elegant figure accompanied by a shambling, loping figure.

He trudges on, wondering how the lads got on.

“Best of luck, Cauleigh,” one of the labourers calls. Cauleigh waves and keeps walking.

 

Fennec helps out… eventually

Fennec, still in HH, can see a toiling Dwarf up ahead under a barrel. He easily closes the distance.

“Don’t panic Cauleigh. Let’s just keep moving until the guards can’t see us then I’ll lend a hand.”

Cauleigh struggles on gamely, and at last, halfway to Boot Hill, Fennec decides he’s clear and takes one end. They finish at an easy slow walk.

 

Psst!

Jotunn is watching the road. He sees Heartsease and Wolfie approaching, but as they draw abreasat of Boot Hill they veer off the road, enter the burial yard and disappear.

Time passes. A round blob with a pair of feet under it can be seen through the shimmer. It pauses, then progresses. Now two pair of feet and two hoods can be seen. It’s Cauleigh and Fennec!

As they reach a lane off up to Boot Hill Jotunn steps out of cover ahead. The ponies can just be seen, cropping amid the trees. Cauleigh heads for the shade, sets the barrel down and drops, panting.

About the same time the Olfoot gatekeeper steps out, looks curiously at the trees, and hollers:

“I’ll be tellin’… the mistress… she has a ‘book report'”

“Please do,” Fennec calls back.

“Shall we head across?”

“Psst!” comes from Boot Hill.

Then again, as they pause.

“Pssttt!!!”

“Oh yes, Heartsease and Wolfie are up there,” Jotunn explains.

“Is Sage there in a Hidey-Hole or something?”

“He’s not an idiot you know,” Fennec comments.

“Glad we got that sorted out,” Sage snipes back, “right, well, anyway, all we need is Trefoil… and Crompton.”

“Crompton should be here by now. Where’s Trefoil?”

“Picking up horses.”

 

[I get Crompton’s player to do a little role play for Trefoil at this stage, since there are some judgement calls. He makes a feeble L1 CHR as far as bargaining goes. Trefoil pays 660 total and gets two ponies, two saddles, and a pair of saddle-baskets. The farrier assures him one basket fits one Gnome.

The Templars don’t actually block Trefoil, and he makes it to the bridge guards, and pays silver as usual. The bridge guards are casual and Trefoil is in a hurry. He gets clear as the Templars angrily shout at him to stop. He switches to a canter.]

 

Unboxing: the Crompton revival

Inside Olfoot Manor an odoriferous Crompton is uncrated. He is given access to the gatekeeper’s privy. A fine tight-bodied little maid brings him water and dryish cake, but doesn’t invite him anywhere.

I lead a round of applause. This is about a quarter-hour from pack-up time and Crompton’s player has patiently either played Trefoil or just watched adding the odd comment.

The others, however, are invited inside (barring Wolfie). Most are allowed no further than the parlour. A light noon meal of wine and baked goods is brought out.

 

Indignant Lady Ezra makes reference

Fennec is invited through to the library, where lady Ezra greets him warmly.

As he sips good wine and nibbles good cake from an occasional table, he describes what happened. Also, explains and shares a giggle over the Herbal Teas’ identity. He wishes he could return. At which lady Eztra flushes a little.

“It makes me so angry!” she fusses, “You, a brave adventurer, doing noble deeds, conquering evil, to be treated with such poor manners! I’m going to write to lord Orctooth!”

“Not so much Orctooth, it’s some fellow named Won-Ton throwing his weight around.”

“Is he from the mystical east? And this order of Templars…?”

“That I don’t know. Probably not. Full of his own self-importance. Allegedly working hand in glove with the Spire.”

She heads to the bookshelf, references a book, apparently some guidebook to Dolem’s Spire, and reads:

“Dolem’s Spire. House Dolem, current scion Prince Leafloch. A Hobb house…

“The prince has advisers… you may not have heard this, but there’s an Arch-mage in the Spire. You should take care to be on good terms with him, for learning spells.”

“Yes, of house Harchos or some such title. I don’t think he’s anything to do with templars. Unless he’s manipulating Won-Ton behind the scenes.”

After explaining their choices further Fennec courteously bids adieu and joins his fellows, and they prepare for departure.

 

All together! Goodbye Ironbridge!

The players have a last chance to spend AP here. This is Crompton’s first chance since Perrol.

Given average rolls: Fennec and Crompton can both make at least L3 with four attributes, Cauleigh can make L5 with four, Jotunn has a wider spread having a CON that makes L9 on an average roll, STR at L5, LK DEX and SPD shooting for L3.

Of the Herbals, Trefoil can make at least L2 with average rolls on five attributes, Heartsease on 6 of hers, Wolfie and Sage have a much less even spread with a couple that may strike L4 and the rest at L1 or worse.

Props

Ironbridge is an enlarged version of Summerford [op cit]. Lord Fabius Orctooth and his attitude to the town, Sir Titus Lytera and his desire for peace and law, the Green Shrine (the druid of which sounds like he is pinched out of a certain well known AD&D adventure so I left him unnamed) and the Rusty Rapier and its smuggling, hot-goods-dealing proprietor are lifted direct from the supplement. The Trader Guild is somewhat altered so as to better act as a banking facility. The other guilds and crafts are either made up ad-hoc or generated from Wizardawn. The matrona began as three random female mercenaries out of a generator but their relationship, and Adrok’s relationship with Jorgagu, are out of my own twisted mind.

Since this is probably the only space I’ve got for a mini-review of Summerford, I rate it as fair, the principle elements set out well, but with a very small range of time-related sequencing which over anything other than a short stay falls over. It can obviously form the base for a good deal of adventuring so really needs some dynamic relationships that will springboard into ongoing events and schemes, not a passive ‘on a d6 score of n Lytera raids the Rusty Rapier’. 

A non-fighting session (barring one sapping) full of pressure to make a decision. I was a little surprised, I guess, as to the full extent that Cauleigh overrode Jotunn and presented Fennec (whose player of course had been playing Sage and had his own prejudices) with only one view leading to few options. No-one headed off to their own guild to seek other options. I wasn’t particularly surprised that the lads didn’t use the guilds, though I did literally block Fennec’s path with a friendly wizard, towards the end.  My job was to ratchet up time pressure to force their hand, moving them ill-prepared either back to the dungeon, or on to Fennec’s original goal (which he had, as I guessed, forgotten about by this time). Of course, fighting the Templars, or taking the scouting job, were also perfectly valid options, and still are.

 

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