The Broken Land: beware the green-eyed monster

Chapter three of The Broken Land continues…

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

Our three rogues ‘still in the game’ are Binye the resilent wielder of Blood Spear, Borer the wryly witty Dwarf and sometime tank, and Elyn who relies as much on her diplomacy as her backstabbing skills.

Fortune’s many twists have them now as caravan guards for nine entrepreneurial goblins riding on a goods wagon drawn by four great dray horses, bound for the Broken Land. Their immediate goal, and one that is within sight, is Scarlet Heroes.

Episode 2: The village of Scarlet Heroes

Rumours can be discounted but maybe not

“What do you know of Scarlet Heroes?” Elyn asks politely of Bosz, leading light of the goblin matriarchy.

“Human settle after dark times. Then go. Some come back. Supplies, small trade. Maybe sell, maybe buy.”

The rogues compare notes.

LOC: Complex description time – all three rogues may have heard of the tale of the lost grandson, or other rumours. 62/47, lazily horrible. Yep, what they’ve heard isn’t good.

“So, full gear, ready with everything.”

“Agreed!”

Mythic: Has Elyn been able to prep with mortar and pestle yet? (Unlikely) 08 Yes.

Poison and antidotes are shared out, obviously without making a big deal of it in front of the goblins. Borer and Binye see to their crossbows and Elyn carries two darts along with her spear.

Just a note on spears vs darts here: DCC features the missile known as ‘javelin’ with impressive range and damage. The spears my rogues have been hurling ever since the Temple of Issoth are light spears with decent range but I don’t rate them as far-distance weapons. The darts looted off the kobolds I’m leaving at d4+1 with the longer DCC range.

 

On the main trail, an odd conversation

It’s a moment when Gus and the rogues are helping goblins back onto the wagon after one of the more difficult obstacles. Suddenly Bosz and the sour-faced one, Runban, are facing off. It’s something about seating positions in relation to the rogues’ treasure.

Though they all strain to understand what’s going on, all they get out of it – before spreading back out to guard – is a dirty look from Runban. Bosz does not explain and seems distant. The other goblins take their cue from her.

Elyn catches the eye of the other two and tilts her head back to where the lower-ranked goblins are sitting. Maybe Tarkar or Xmugz will spill the beans later.

This is a monster cascade of all sort of events:

Chaos check results in Shift, focus NPC negative (which is nice not being PC negative for a change!) I roll the goblins as the subject. Event meaning attainment [of] magic.

Mythic: is it a fight over the grimoire? (50-50) No!

Runban is specifically a scroll trader. With a result like that, maybe the event is ‘negative’ in that he wants the scroll (that the rogues held onto) and can’t have it?

Mythic: is it the rogues’ scroll? (50-50) Yes.

Both goblins (Bosz as leader and Runban as protagonist) make an initial PRS check, both are OK. Time for a complex description!

LOC: ‘propose illusions’. Hmmm. However that cascaded to another event because a double was rolled: ‘communicate emotions’. OK I’m beginning to see a scenario here.

Runban’s backstory also links him to Dolem’s Spire, but let’s not go crazy yet, so I check the rogues’ following what’s going on here: PRS checks are all failed!

Time to check what’s developed, using

CRGE: to conflict

Chance of Bosz falling out with Runban (high is true) Yes. Surge 2.

Chance of Bosz allying with characters (high is true) No. Surge 4.

Chance Runban has a secret plan (high is true) Yes. Surge 6.

CRGE: To endings

Chance the secret plan involves Scarlet Heroes (high is true) Yes. Surge 8.

Chance the secret plan is linked deeper into Broken Lands (high is true) Yes. Surge 10.

Does Runban attempt to trick the characters? (high is true) Yes. Surge 12.

Chaos rises to 5.

 

After some indecision and impulse shopping I’ve decided Scarlet Heroes village is to feature the introductory module for Swords and Wizardry, a village named Grimmsgate, but with a couple of additions if the characters end up chasing down threads. Those extras are generated out of Wizardawn (naturally) and still using D&D 1981 edition. Apart from that I’m probably reducing all monetary values by a factor of 10.

The ford: through the trees and to the rise

Here, the lack of habitation around the trail means that only the occasional nighted traveler lights a fire, and no-one fells the tall timber. Trees have had years to reclaim the wild. As the trail draws toward a tributary of the Golden River the trees draw in. Save for midday, this will be in shade. A good place for an ambush.

Mythic: Is there an ambush here? (Very unlikely) Yes.

Set-piece Encounter: Ogre. 

LCK check: It is Binye’s turn and he makes it.

Mythic: Does Cy know this Ogre? (Unlikely) No!

Mythic: Is the Ogre looking for toll? (Unlikely) No.

Range 30. 

As the hulking shape rears out of the trees there’s a shocked second then Binye challenges it:

“Stand! If you’re friendly, let’s see those hands!”

And the Ogre charges! They have only enough time to register weird ears and deformed back… and fire!

Both crossbows strike the brute [14 dmge] but Elyn’s spear falls short. She drops back to get some cover from the wagon’s horses.

Initiatives: Elyn Binye Borer then Ogre

Binye feints to wrong-foot the Ogre and veers clear, slicing Blood Spear thinly along its flank. Borer chooses to stand his ground: with a roar he swings the two-hander low, but the Ogre almost steps clear – minimum damage! [3 and 3 from those two!]

“He’ll bleed out – just defend man!” Binye cries in alarm, and Borer is shifting his footing, but the Ogre’s enormous club still catches his shoulder [4 dmge]. 

Round 2: The rogues circle the Ogre as he weaves on his feet and drops. 

The grotesque growths suggest that this area may be infested by corruption or wild magic. Not that the rogues know much about this!

His swag-bag is easily located and contains some real money! A jeweled dagger and ivory drinking horn are also valuable. A couple of trophy skulls, not so much.

The loot goes into the caravan bank, minus 10% finders’ fee.

CRGE: Will Beareen the banker give Elyn some insight into the earlier issue? (High means yes) 91+surge=Yes and unexpectedly [set change].

AP: L3-16.

A first look at Scarlet Heroes

The village, at least at first glance, looks intact. Except for a large stone building, which has partially collapsed. But they can’t see much of the whole, for it is built on a rise away from the ford. The drays are all hitched up and strain up the ramp to where a lone watchman or guard – or possibly a customs inspector – stands atop the gatehouse with crossbow ready. And a portcullis has been lowered, which isn’t very encouraging.

He’s a rough-dressed youngish man, who seems to be a junior guard.

LCK check for Borer this time: OK.

PRS check: OK (burns a LCK)

This is Ralph Redtooth and at Borer’s assurance that this is a trade caravan he lowers his crossbow and calls for the portcullis to be opened. It is done slowly: the hamlet has a volunteer watch and they are pretty amateurish. Ralph doesn’t seem to want to descend.

[PRS check: Ralph succeeds, Binye succeeds.

LOC for complex description: judgmentally juvenile]

“Huh, what a boy – can’t be bothered with his duty,” Binye grunts, pushing away the uneasy feeling.

The village square is weed-grown with few marks of traffic. In all likelihood theirs is the first caravan in days. The ruin appears to be a temple of some sort. There’s an inn right in front of them, a trader’s, and a stable that’s probably attached.

 

An ill effect

This is where the conclusion, or part of the conclusion, of the earlier cascade takes place. The ‘set change’ rolled earlier on CRGE assures me this takes place in the village itself.

The meal is shared, as far as goblin preference for raw and human preference for cooked allows. The innkeeper, tall thin and bald Ralmer Prath, lets them have the run of the common room – there are no other guests but a watchman or constable may come by – and wife Miralda serves a decent stew.

Elyn’s guard is down but Borer and Binye have not forgotten.

Opposing PRS checks again, Runban makes his and the two men make theirs. Complex description time!

LOC: neatly lethal!

CRGE (to conflict): Does Runban poison them? Yes. Surge 2.

Fort SV vs poison: all three succeed, without even burning LCK!

CRGE (to knowledge): Does the local boss expect a signal from Runban? No. Surge 4.

As the drays are tended and Cy and Gus take their places under the wagon, and laughter (some of it forced) sounds from the inn, someone is watching, someone is listening. Binye would be surprised if he could see the ‘boyish’ Ralph now… for in the dimming light his form shifts and grows and becomes striped with tiger fur!

Encounter: Weretiger

Stay tuned!

 

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