Chapter two of the Broken Land continues…
A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other rules and emulators as required)
Episode 7: the hireling
Active threads: Infected comrades; Aurelon’s Keep (investigate, maybe clear it); Briar Keep; Uruk lord.
No change to lists.
Chaos is 6.
Dawn. Elyn has been tending Dag and Riba. She stretches, turns to Win:
“Walk with me – I’m hunting some remedies…”
Win eases into his wooden scale and brings both spear and sabre. He paces after Elyn, watching the near distance for danger.
Elyn is searching for medicinal herbs. She gets a +d3 since this is her background and the weather has been fine. She makes a fine INT check!
Elyn has been searching in shaded areas, closer to the river. She finishes cutting herbs and rises:
“Let’s get back to camp – I’ll get poultices going.”
Win steps a little further towards the trail and levels his spear ready to throw:
“Hold! Speak up there stranger – and keep ya hands high!”
“I’m friendly! I mean no harm and need help! Can you spare some water?”
To the surprise of the other three fit rogues, a weary stranger, clothes in utter rags, stumbles into camp ahead of Win, Elyn following. The latter wastes no time explaining but sets about boiling the herbs and organising a makeshift mortar and pestle. Dag and Riba groan and toss. The weather is already hot, and if the herbs don’t work these two will probably die from dehydration. As Elyn works, Win briefly explains and turns to questioning the stranger.
His tale is not too outlandish: a caravan guard, he survived an illkin attack, hid up, skirted the keep they seemed to come from, and was lucky enough to strike the trail again. His name is Mathias Castillon.
He believes the caravan was captured not stripped on the spot, and is probably inside the keep, which lies not far up the road. From what he saw, entry inside the walls is easy – there’s a shattered section and a sort of earth ramp to it.
SPOILERS! – Don’t read this section if you want to fully enjoy the story’s twists!
Encounter: Werewolf. It is Win’s turn for the LCK check and he makes it. Range 50 yards. Now to frame the encounter using Events: I get “separate jealousy” which is unclear!
Mythic: Is a seduction being attempted? (Likely) No.
Mythic: Are characters being tempted some other way? (Likely) Yes.
I use both UNE and DCC’s Occupation table to determine that this is a caravan guard, much weaker than the party, a ‘jovial hero’ whose PRS score is 11 and who makes a good PRS check to be convincing. (I also generate his name using a free name-generating app.)
DCC caravan guard profile: Init+0, Atk+1 for d6, AC14, HDd8, MV25′, Act1d20, F1 R1 W0. Special: weakness to silver.
Finally, Elyn gets to make a PRS check to counter Mathias’ good one, and she fails.
Chaos rises to 7.
A lone scout is chosen
The rogues are much heartened by this piece of news and as Mathias, now seated at ease and sipping water, continues his tale they grow bolder.
“I got the feeling, from what I see of these raiders, there be more’n one clan. Taken us by surprise they did, but any o’ you be more’n a match fer any one o’ them.”
“How’d’ja like to hire on wi’ us, Castillon?” Borer asks bluntly. “We got us a few coin tucked away, an’ headin’ back ta Dunn wi’ gold at yer belt be a sight better’n beggin’ th’ villagers fer alms.”
“Say, that’d be swell,” Mathias agrees, “Eight be better’n seven any day, an’ a sight better’n one man on th’ trail. Put ‘er thar! An’ call me Mathias.”
New character added: Mathias Castillon.
“How are our patients doing, Elyn?”
“Better. The poultice is definitely helping. With rest and water they’ll recover.”
“Grand! Let’s make some rough plans. We’ll need to scout the place out of course, and that will give Dag and Riba a chance to get back on their feet. Who’s up for some scouting?”
Eyes turn to Tadiko. She stands, and nods.
Scene setting begins with “scout the keep.”
Chaos check: alteration. Focus: PC negative. Rolling a d7 I get Tadiko, who is the most logical single scout. I double check using an Event roll and get ‘befriend wishes’. The Event roll triggers a random event, for which I get ‘arrive vehicle’. This seems fairly clear to me. Mathias has simply ‘read’ the rogues and encouraged them along the lines they were already thinking. And the caravan wagons and maybe dray-beasts may well be inside the keep.
New characters: Goblin factions, NPC/monsters.
A stray breeze betrays Tadiko!
Tadiko lies flat, peering from the ramp into the keep. As Mathias thought, it’s a clear run in. The area ahead seems near-deserted, a mix of damaged original structures and lean-tos. But over to the left a wagon is being loaded – by goblins!
Then luck deserts her. A breeze blows over her shoulder right into the keep. She edges back and for a minute thinks she has gone undetected… then two orcs show themselves up top and from behind her, five goblins surround her. One of them makes a ‘put down’ gesture and, grim-faced, she lowers her longbow and raises her hands.
Knowing that things are not what they seem, I step through the scouting mission as follows:
LCK check: Tadiko fails.
Aurelon’s Keep outline is that goblins live in the bailey but leave much of the donjon area alone. I’m using Dyson’s ‘goblin market’ from Dodecahedron 2015 for the goblin-occupied area but a Wizardawn generated ‘dungeon’ for the other part.
Mythic for the following sequence:
Has Mathias split Tadiko out deliberately? (50-50) No.
Does Tadiko spot a wagon from the caravan? (Somewhat likely) Yes! (Meaning: there is a fully intact wagon)
Are goblins loading it for shipment upriver? (Somewhat likely) Yes.
Do goblins or their allies smell Tadiko? (Likely) Yes.
I roll a d30 to see which area Tadiko is closest to, to see what type of NPC/monster does the honours. The result is two orcs. I roll 2d7 for number of goblins on call and get five.
Is Tadiko captured? (Likely) Yes.
Do the orcs speak common? (50-50) Yes.
New thread: Hostage to the goblins.
Chaos rises to 8.
Surrender – or the chibi gets it!
From the brush near the camp comes a rough-accented hail:
“Ho the camp! We got yer pint-size! Come in with ya hands high pardners – or she gets it!”
Crestfallen, the rogues (and hireling) surrender and are led into captivity. Once again they endure the indignity of seeing their weapons stacked in a pile. Dag and Riba are allowed to sit. Sensing there’s leeway, Elyn steps forward to negotiate.
The talk is protracted: partway through, though still closely guarded, the rogues are allowed the shade and water. There’s no sign of Tadiko and they fear the worst.
Run the gauntlet – or clear that haunted keep?
Elyn’s return is subdued, but she waves down their questions and draws a deep breath. She’s got to sell the team on this, to some extent.
“The good news is, our new potential employers are entrepreneurs.” She pauses for the buzz to die down and continues:
“In fact given a choice of Templars or goblins I’d pick the goblins right away. They say, they have no real grudge against us but we obviously were planning to hit them. So the deal is, we get to prove ourselves.”
“Again?! – Oh for f*** sake! – what’s the handicap this time?” – such is the outcry. Again Elyn waits.
“They say… Tadiko chose the gauntlet. If she lives she’s good. But for us, can I recommend the other option? – We get to clear the keep out for them. If we make it, we get to hire on as caravan guards, all the way into the Broken Land!”
And to further questions she supplies:
“Yes, we get to use our weapons, and they’ll even let us shop in their market first, one at a time under guard. The keep’s supposed to be haunted, which is why they don’t want to do it. But what say? Better the seven of us do what we wanted to do anyway, and with a chance of getting safe through to where we want to go, than run a gauntlet.”
And the vote is ‘aye’.
As the seven filter out to signify their agreement and find out the order in which they can shop, the rising moon, still a discoloured disk, can be glimpsed in the afternoon sky.
This section is mostly adjudicated by two checks for the ‘chosen spokesperson’ Elyn. She makes both a PRS check and a LCK check. The main mission, given how I’ve sectioned off Aurelon’s Keep, suggests itself. Just one thing to check:
Mythic: Do the orcs or goblins already know Mathias? (Very unlikely) No.
The reward for clearing their keep is that the goblins (who obviously, are not great fighters and don’t function well in daytime) will hire the survivors as caravan guards, since the party wants to go to the same place the goblins want to sell to.
Altered thread: Clear the haunted keep to win favour with potential employers.
New characters: Two orcs, at least one speaking common.
Chaos falls to 6.