The Broken Land: Aurelon’s Keep – meet the opposition

Chapter two of The Broken Land continues…

A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other rules and emulators as required)

Episode 9:  Headlong to a third surrender

Character lists:

The PCs: Binye 9hp, Borer 8hp, Dag 7hp, Elyn 3hp, Riba 5hp, Win 6hp

Goblins of Aurelon’s Keep: at least two factions, one planning to drive a caravan through to the Broken Land

Orcs of Aurelon’s Keep: a small number performing gatekeeper duties

Threads:

Explore the secret passage behind Aurelon’s Keep, clear Aurelon’s keep of ‘haunts’, find out what has become of Tadiko, become caravan guards to cross the Broken land, scout Briar Keep, scout the Uruk lord, possible revenge.

Chaos stands at 6

Hunters become prey

The six rogues are now ready to head north through the secret panel they have found in the north end of the inner bailey wall, and explore a passage carved into the cliff.

Dag and Win are carrying a burning torch each.

On the reverse side of the panel are details of what this passage leads to. The tunnel or passage is dry, but seems hard to see very far along. About as far along as torch-light allows, the passage branches left.

As Riba eases along cautiously he finds he cannot move his right leg. He looks down: it is stuck fast by a thread of spider web! As he attempts to burn the web away, his attention drops – a large black object darts down at him – he attempts to parry but is bitten. As the thing climbs quickly up again it throws more sticky web around him!

Initiatives: Riba, Binye, Elyn and Dag are all ahead of the huge Black Widow spider now she has had her surprise round, then Win and Borer.

Round 1: Neither Binye Elyn nor Riba have a clear line of sight to the danger and can only move, making sure not to be trapped themselves. Binye readies his Blood Spear for a good thrust. [Refl SV DC11 to both avoid webbing and get attack]

Dag weakens as the poison takes effect but stays upright, burning web, but is unable to break clear from the added ebbing. [FORT SV DC14 is made, meaning -1STR temporarily, and fails AGI DC20 check to get clear]

The Black Widow drops again and this time her dab of poison drops Dag stone cold.

Mythic: will Win and Borer retreat now? (50-50) Yes.

“We’ll be back, ye damn’ murderin’ spider!”

Round 2: All characters retreat and shut the panel, and hastily plan.

Mythic: Will they attack at once? (50-50) Yes.

Round 3-4: Everyone lights torches. Binye and Borer plan to drop torches when getting into action.

Round 5: They advance through the panel, along the passage, and to where they last saw Dag.

Mythic: Is BW now in her lair with Dag? (Likely) Yes

Rounds 6-7: Webbing is burned clear enough to get into a chamber down the short left passage. Messy spider-web shows this is the lair. Here and there webbing-shrouded lumps recall past meals.

Mythic: Will BW attack? (50-50) No.

Round 8: Torches begin clearing the chamber. Web-shrouded, dried-out victims burn noxiously.

Mythic: Is there loot? (Somewhat likely) Yes.

Is it flammable (Somewhat likely) Yes!

An oil flask explodes. [d4 for number in radius] Binye [failing his Refl SV] can’t avoid the burning oil which splashes onto him and he screams in pain [4 damage]!

Round 9: Riba can see the spider but misses. Binye is rolling around putting the fire out. Elyn strikes out with her enhanced short-sword and scores a deep wound on the spider. But the Black Widow, dropping Dag’s corpse, springs down, biting Win who falls instantly [Win burns LCK and is on 1hp, but fails his SV vs poison!] Borer slams his two-hander onto the spider’s thorax!

Round 10: Screaming in pain and fury Binye leaps up from the ground and thrusts the Blood Spear through the spider so deeply its head rips out the other side! And superfluously Riba scores a light nick as well. The Black Widow leaps for the last time; its legs contract and it falls limp.

 

“It’s no good, Dag is gone. And Win didn’t make it either.” Elyn’s face is grim as she confirms the double tragedy.

The others catch their breath, coughing slightly in the still-acrid air. Borer straightens and flexes his back.

“Well, let’s retrieve the valuables… and see if there’s any loot to be had here.”

Mythic: Is any loot still to be had? (50-50) Yes.

Mythic: Can Elyn attempt to apply spider venom to weapons? (50-50) Yes.

While the other three retrieve packs, weapons and armour off their dead comrades and pick up 34sp found around the chamber, Elyn carefully lances the spider-venom sac with sword-blades. “Could be just what the ‘pothecary ordered,” she mutters. [Successful INT check]

Borer hands her the spare shield, while he tucks the silver axe into his belt; Elyn also tucks away the bronze knife. Riba has the slippery oil, and pauses as he decides where to put it:

“Ya know, if Dag had tied this ready to hand, he mighta’ slipped out th’ webbin’. Got some thread?”

Returning to the junction they check all is clear (it is) and turn left into the main passage. Riba is now wearing Win’s fancy wooden-scale armour, though not with elan. He carries the second torch.

The four head north.

Chaos rises to 7.

 

Zombies! Are these the haunts?

After twenty or so paces the passage opens to a natural area, perhaps lightly shaped; it seems someone may occasionally doss here, for on the higher, drier part of the space a pallet is spread, and on it an iron bar. The passage, shaped as before, continues north on the other side; to the left of the space another passage curves gently clockwise and upward.

Cautiously checking in case there is something nasty around, they remove the bar. It’s a good two-foot length, a very efficient makeshift bludgeon like a crowbar. Borer tucks it away, as much to keep it out of an enemy’s hands as any purpose.

Mythic: Explore north first? (50-50) Yes.

“I don’t like leaving something behind us, but we have no choice. Either way something can follow us.”

“Keep a rearguard, and carry on straight. Show of hands?”

Another 10 or 15 paces beyond, the passage branches left and torchlight shows that ahead, the passage curves counter-clockwise.

Borer risks a glance left and leans back to mutter:

“A chamber. No light. Doesn’t smell of anything.”

The chamber of the left appears to be a simple but ruinous armory. The dry air has preserved a weapons rack, with a few dust and spiderweb-clogged weapons. An exit right connects north to the curved passage, which at that point runs due west.

Mythic: Is the gear as it appears? (VLikely) Yes.

Not far west the air changes: all four can smell a foul, putrid stench. The passage branches right twice, once immediately ahead and at a second point at torchlight’s edge.

Ducking in-and-back Borer confirms a chamber and in it a standing dead man, but even that quick check causes it to open blood-filled eyes and walk clumsily to attack! Two more jerk into action and follow!

Zombies: Init-4, AC9, 3HD, Attck+3 bite (d4).

Initiatives: Except for Riba, all are ahead of the zombies.

Round 1: Every single participant misses.

Mythic: Do they retreat (Has to be!) Yes. To the stair? (50-50) Yes.

Rounds 2-4: A fighting withdrawal commences as the rogues get their nerves under control. Riba remains vanguard (furthest from the zombies) with torch upraised. The others cut-and-retreat, allowing the zombies no chance unless a sad fumble should change the course of the action. 

Elyn fumbles! But she leaves the sword where it falls and draws her backup, the silver axe.

Two zombies are down by the time they back into the crude open space. Riba encourages the others:

“We’re doing well! We don’t need to retreat forward! Just cut it from all sides!”

Round 5: All three hit and the last zombie falls dismembered. Breathing sighs of relief (but with shallow breath) they make sure the first two aren’t still dragging along on fingers or something.

Mythic: Do the zombies have loot? (50-50) Yes.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good: Returning to the zombies’ chamber, they pick over and retrieve a number of mundane items, including a spare torch, and find 15sp.

Proper rogues’ gear!

The next right-hand branch lies near a 90-degree turn left or south. It appears that the southward course curves down and counter-clockwise. The branch itself lets into another chamber, this one smelling of damp rock.

It may have been a turnkey’s office. The only furnishings are a desk – bulged with damp but with an intact and deep drawer – and a shelf that has been pegged onto the rock wall.

A cautious search retrieves no fewer than four lockpicks off the shelf. The drawer is padlocked. Riba fishes out the key from the padlock he picked up, but the drawer’s padlock does not match it.

The pick-locks give them a fairly easy time of persuading the lock open. The drawer contains a dented bronze helm, an iron-shod club, a blackjack, brass knucks, and the key to its padlock (they take both). Borer also claps the dented helm on. Binye’s very first weapon was a club (and he gets a bonus with it) so he takes that; Borer takes the knucks, and Riba the blackjack.

“Now half of us have proper hideout weapons,” he remarks cheerfully.

Elyn finds a ball of twine in the drawer’s corner and takes that, too. “You never know, we might stumble into a maze,” she comments.

 

A wet change of course

The south passage, as expected, does curve down, but after an initial jig curves down clockwise into a largish and rough natural cavern, cut through mid-cavern by a stream. The air is cold and clean, and a gentle breeze is felt.

“This must connect with the fresh water feeding the market,” Borer decides slowly. He edges down to feel the water. “Aye, it goes downstream left sure enough. Here – what’s this?”

The others react, then laugh in relief as Borer draws a sodden canvas bag out of the stream. The Dwarf jiggles it thoughtfully. “Wonder who dropped that, and why?”

On the far side of the cavern there is a rough, natural passage; it curves away sharply right. However, the stream bed is easily walked and the stream-course can be entered both noth and south.

“So, we’ve got some deciding to do. The obvious thing is keep on our way. Or we could drop south – that’s left – and check if we’re right about going to the market. And finally we can try upstream.”

Mythic: I use a ‘staged likelihood’ again and get the least likely, upstream.

Borer, being the shortest and most able to defend himself in the streambed, takes the lead.

Mythic: Is the stream passage straightforward? (50-50) Yes.

Event chaos check: alteration! Focus: NPC action. Event: Imprison danger.

The lair they are headed to is the secret Gnome hideout. There are three Gnomes there, and they include a wizard, his bard flunky and his moll. [LOC is most useful here to build on the stock residents] Their defences are sound, though they did not expect enemy to come at them up the stream.

 

A third surrender to a diehard defence

Borer slushes solid-footed along the stream, Riba’s light close behind, lighting the walls well. Only the normal and expected tiny cave-insects can be seen on the walls. Nothing to fear! He pushes on and finds himself stepping into light. Blinding light!

Mythic: Have the gnomes heard the rogues? (50-50) Yes!

The wizard steps into line with the stream, levels his fingers, and begins shaking as his spell threatens to fail! With a howl he whips out his ritual knife and cuts deeply into the flesh of his left arm! Then his eyes roll up in his head, and as the spray of blinding colour dazzles the rogues below in the stream he faints, bleeding profusely.

[DCC spell check DC12, rolls a 3, +1 for level, needs 8 from somewhere! It’s a 1 on the random chart: he needs to carve 8 STA out of himself! Time to generate attributes… his STA is 7!]

Mythic: Does the spell work anyway? (VUnlikely) Yes.

Borer needs a DC12 Will SV and fails.

Initiatives: Gnomes +4 with readiness, get 21, ahead of all the rogues.

Mythic: Will the Gnomes demand surrender? (50-50) Yes.

“Throw yore weapons up here, an’ we won’t open up with th’ gunnes!”

Gnome Bard PRS check: Yes. Binye PRS check: No.

Perhaps too promptly, the rogues toss all their visible weapons up onto the cavern floor and clamber out, hands high. They have surrendered to a single Gnome, armed with what looks like a wide-bored pistol. Their initial antagonist is face-down and not moving, and a very attractive female Gnome is kneeling down there.

The Gnome beauty looks up tearfully from her man’s side:

“He’s daid! Daid!”

Chaos moves to 8.

New thread: How the hell do we get out of this?

Characters: as above; 

NPCs: Gnome bard, Gnome wizard’s girlfriend, dead Gnome wizard

UNE for Gnome focus: rage/treasure.

Borer is still blinking and rubbing his eyes but Binye Elyn and Riba look surreptitiously about themselves. They can’t see more than three Gnomes and one of those three looks very dead. And the second seems to be a non-combatant and is distracted. The live male Gnome, a handsome type with golden hair and amethyst-purple eyes, is covering them with…

[INT checks: Binye makes a nat 20]

…what appears to be the open end of a scroll tube.

Mythic: Is it a scroll tube? (Likely) 91 Yes. 

But this realisation may have come too late. All of their weapons are – yet again – piled up and out of immediate reach. And their captor is just swapping his ‘pistol’ for a business-like but richly-decorated warhammer.

The ‘gun-artist’ pushes back his hair in a naturally graceful gesture and grins cockily. “OK, that’s jest dandy. Now we can set an’ consider what about’s to do with you.”

The beauty’s bosom heaves with gusting rage and eyes blazing she looks back at him and yells:

“They killed Azertz! Kill them, Grin!”

It is at this moment when the Gnome bard pushes his luck too far.

“Say, don’t you worry your pretty head none Abbie darlin’. I reckon as how once we strip ’em down and send ’em running nekkid back down-stream th’ gobs’ll serve ’em up fer breakfast! Now then! Git nekkid, y’all!”

Elyn nods to the others and a subtle signal passes between them. She starts unlacing her armour…

Initiatives: Binye, Riba, Gnomes, Borer, Elyn.

Binye hurls a hefty iron padlock with stunning force and in the same moment Riba saps Abbie with his concealed blackjack. As Grin staggers Borer jumps forward and plants the brass knucks deep with a sickening gut-punch: Elyn draws a knife from under her now-open armour, leaps on the fallen Grin and stabs him through the throat.

[Abbie misses her Fort SV and is stunned.]

They look at one another then grin.

“I just picked up enough money to shop for decent boots! No way was I letting that slide!”

“Teamwork!”

“Hey – we didn’t suck!”

“Aye, we done well. Na then Riba, good work on th’ pretty lass. She ain’t dead! What we gonna do wi’ her?”

 

Close thread ‘how do we get out of this’ and open new thread, ‘Gnome prisoner’.

Chaos drops to 7.

 

It’s time to see if the four survivors head downstream to rest up in (relative) safety of the goblin market – though remember they don’t know for sure that’s there, nor that it is safe to go there, nor that resting up is part of the ‘clear the keep’ deal.

Chaos check: Scene shift

Focus: 83, Ambiguous. Well, let’s just see what pans out.

66/45, Carry investment.

Mythic: Do they search as they go? (Somewhat likely) No.

Mythic: Do they retrace their steps where they know it’s safe? (Likely) Yes.

The scene shifts to the goblin jail, which is now quarters for the rogues. They take L2 hp and skill gains and assess the loot, and set about either charming or intimidating the prisoner.

And it’s time to find out what happened to Tadiko!

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