The Broken Land: last stage to Briar Keep

Chapter Five of The Broken Land continues…

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

Chaos is 8

Episode 5: At daggers drawn

Elyn Binye and Borer are up with the dawn despite the night attack by a monster cave bear. The weather promises to be milder, with gusting wind. This day should see them on the last approach to Briar Keep, judging by the looming peaks south. Their geographic knowledge is hazy: they know that somewhere off beyond the peaks east is Perrol on the Mount, and somewhere in the peaks is Embercrag.

Day 2

The trail has gradually ascended; here the trees are stunted, becoming more hardy brush than woods. Hardy high-plains grasses take over, and during the morning’s march groups of cattle drift away from them.

The cook-fire of the herders is faintly visible; the rogues call out a halloo and approach peaceably.

“Howdy, travellers,” greets the chief herdsmen. “‘Pears y’all come a far piece. Set an’ share some grub.”

The herders aren’t particularly busy. The cattle aren’t on their way to market, so the main job here is simply to make sure they don’t drift into creek-beds or sumps or into deep brush.

As to Briar Keep, aside from reckoning it’s about another day’s travel at cattle-herd pace, the herders have nothing to tell them. It’s pretty obvious from their clothes these men hardly ever go into town. So, having eaten and drunk, the rogues and teamsters Cy and Zudi rise, thank their hosts and get the wagon rolling once again.

Encounter: Cattle.

Mythic: Are these cattle feral? (50-50) No

PRS check: Good success

UNE: helpful, happiness [of] flaws, curiously rustic

Mythic: I use a series of questions with a cascade to learn that these herders are regular men, based right here, not travelling; have no idea (or say they don’t) about Briar Keep’s situation, and are lying about something that will make the rogues happy.

Chaos drops back to 7 since this is a peaceful encounter


Night 2

This night marks the first time the guards Noregz, Scab and Zab prove themselves useful! There’s a disturbance of some kind but by the time the rogues wake up enough to rise, they are waved back to their bedrolls by the three goblins.

“Big bat, gone now.” Noregz brags.

Encounter: Giant Vampire Bat, 1 appearing, 2HD, ML8

LCK check (for goblin guard) OK. They attempt to scare it away, the bat gets a terrible ML roll, and leaves.

Chaos drops to 6


The second poisoning attempt

Breakfast, and the rogues all notice that Runban is the one that hands them their bowls. They glance at one another, almost unwilling to believe that, after getting on pretty well and dealing fair and square since Bosz’ death, Runban is once again willing to poison them.

But a taste of the beans tells them yes, once again, he really is. There’s a pause as they pretend to eat…

Suddenly Elyn leaps to her feet, swaying, and vomits all over Runban! She falls! The other two rush to her side! Elyn twitches and writhes, and blank-eyed, rises to her feet, clutching a dagger and pointing to Runban:

“You… killed… me…!

Just as she’s about to ram the dagger into Runban’s throat, Elyn realises the three guards are ready with spears!

“No dead! Back off! Talk good, fight pay-boss bad,” Noregz encourages.

The goblin guards seem pretty laid back about the dispute; they just want to keep the jobs they signed up for. Once again the rogues have to choke down their pride, and give up the idea of revenge. For the time being. Elyn checks her remaining scroll-tube: yes, the map is still inside it.

“We push on. Come near keep, we talk,” Runban decides calmly.

“Roll out! Git along!” Cy yells, and the drays strain into the harness. It’s another day on the road, the last before reaching Brian Keep.

“It can’t some soon enough,” Elyn mutters. “Cover for scouting is one thing, taste-testing our food each mealtime is another.”

“Say, come to think on it, they prob’ly gotta tavern or three in Briar Keep,” Binye muses, brightening up.

“Or it’s a wasteland ruled over by a vampire or such like,” Elyn reminds him.

“Taste th’ booze ta make sure it ain’t blood, haw haw,” Borer chuckles.

How this all happens:

Believe it or not this all starts with a successful chaos check, based on the scene: last leg to Briar Keep. Note where I ask ‘more information’ I use the Location Crafter’s tables.

Mythic: Are they close to Briar Keep (Likely) Yes, cascading to: Ruin power.

Mythic: does this refer to Briar Keep itself? (Somewhat likely) No.

More information: ‘Release art’, cascading to: ‘Abuse balance’.

Mythic: Has a goblin faction decided to steal a scroll or painting? (Likely) Yes.

Mythic: Is it Runban? (Unlikely) Yes.

Mythic: Does he sic the guards onto the rogues? (50-50) No.

More information: Intolerance food. 

Mythic: So it’s poison again? (Very likely) Yes, cascading to: Lie nature.

Rogues’ LCK check: all three make it.

Mythic: Can the rogues swap their food out? (Unlikely) No, cascading to: Release tactics.

Mythic: Does a rogue simply go nuts? (50-50) Yes cascading to: Kill ambush.

The ambush: 

LOC: Defiantly disgusting, cascading to majestically creepy.

Mythic: Sounds like up close? (50-50) Yes!

Mythic: Can surprise be achieved? (Somewhat likely) No!

Mythic: Do the other factions know what’s going on? (50-50) No! Does Runban’s faction? (50-50) No. Does Cy? (50-50) No. Does Zudi? (50-50) No. Do the goblin guards? (50-50) Yes, cascading to: Heal dispute.

The guards Init is 17 while Elyn is highest of the rogues with 6. And the guards also win the PRS check.

Mythic: Did ‘art’ mean the map Elyn still has? (50-50) Yes!

Mythic: Has all this delayed the journey? (Likely) No, cascading to: Mistrust fears, cascading to: Decrease travel.

Mythic: Does that mean Briar Keep needs to be scouted? (50-50) Yes!

Mythic: Are the rogues told to scout alone? (50-50) No. Then, a few more questions to end with with: Zudi, cascading to: Delay exterior factors.

Mythic: So, wait for dusk? Yes, cascading to… the next scene.

Chaos rises to 7


The forgotten sword: a fateful decision

“Alright, Zudi, we’re really at the point where if we leave it later, we’ll be shut out,” Elyn prompts. The two women have been gathering herbs in the early eve, when scents are more detectable. They each have a kit-full.

“Yer thinkin’ Briar Keep’s a walled town?” Borer comments from nearby where he and Binye have stood guard. But Zudi the uruk teamster (and cook/healer) glances up at the late-afternoon sky, tucks the kit away under her mantle, and stands ready to go. She carries a sturdy staff useful for encouraging stray cattle or dogs out of the way, and for all the rogues know may have something more dangerous than herbs under her travelling mantle.

The three sling the bags, knapsacks and sacks they took from the wagon. They have brought quite a lot of junk to be valued, including some the more optimistic and trusting members of the goblin traders have passed across. The cover story is that they are wandering traders and perhaps herbalists. They won’t mention a wagon full of trade goods, so if the keep turns out to be a robbers’ roost they can simply write off the junk and make new plans.

But in their hurry, things have slipped their minds. One thing, in particular. Borer checks and curses.

“What’s wrong?”

“I plumb fergot th’ broadsword. Ain’t likely it’d be stolen off’n me an’ I wanna git it valued. Seems as how it oughta be worth a heap. Or if’n I c’n git a good hilt on it, I c’d use it as a spare.”

“Is it really worth going back for?”

Binye agrees with Borer.

“Way I see it, th’ town ain’t walled. Look, ya c’n kinda see a keep up thar in th’ sunset, way over yonder. Then thar’s a tower this side. Ain’t no way no town’s got a wall that big.”


“So no way we cain’t git in. We hike back, pick up th’ sword – which I wanna know about too – an’ we lose mebbe ten minnits.”

“Zudi, you OK with this?”

“Sure,” Zudi agrees readily.

“You know Zudi, you are the best-natured person on the whole wagon,” Elyn comments as they walk back. “How come no Orc Prince ever married you?”

“Just lucky I guess.”

But as they get within bowshot of the wagon, they hear the noise of many small beings rushing to the attack!

“Dammit! We can’t let everyone get massacred!”

“I… guess not?”

“Yeaah! We git ta fight! Let’s go!”


How this happens:

The cascade from last scene: Intolerance food. So poison again? (V Unlikely) Yes. 

Mythic: Is Zudi gathering poison? (50-50) Yes.

Mythic: Is Elyn gathering poison (Somewhat likely) Yes.

Chaos check: alteration, focus ambiguous

More information: Hastily messy

Mythic: Have they forgotten something important in messy packing? (Likely) Yes!

What? More information: Joyfully delightful

Mythic: Is it the mithril blade broadsword? (Unlikely) Yes.

Finally the last part derives from prep work on Briar Keep, where one part of the adventures co-opted in requires an attack on the camp. 

Mythic: Do the rogues return as the attack commences? (50-50) Yes

Chaos rises to 8

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