The Broken Land Chapter Six: Briar Keep

Chapter six of The Broken Land begins!

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

The surviving Ironbridge rogues: Binye Borer and Elyn, have finally reached the outskirts of Briar Keep. Just as they are about to begin posing as wandering traders, along with their new teamster/cook/healer Zudi the uruk, Borer realizes he has left the mithril-bladed broadsword back with the wagon. The others agree it’s worth the quick trip back, so they hasten back to the campsite – and realize that it’s about to be attacked!

Character lists: the rogues (below), two goblin factions (the majority with no clear leadership, the minority with Runban) the two teamsters Cy the ogress and Zudi the uruk. New danger thrown up by last scene: kobolds with wolves. Briar Keep factions currently unknown.

Threads open: guard the caravan into the Broken Land, scout Briar Keep, scout the Uruk Lord, get word back to the Templars to fulfil the quest, maybe get revenge on Runban?

Chaos is 8

The rogues as L3 DCC characters:

Binye: STR14 STA14 AGI12 INT17 LCK16 PRS09; +1Attck/Dmge with club. Currently on full 20hp

Borer: STR13 STA14 AGI11 INT08 LCK14 PRS09; +1 vs corruption. With heavy armour, treat as Dwarf class. Currently on full 21hp

Elyn: STR10 STA09 AGI10 INT12 LCK13 PRS11. Currently on full 13hp

Episode One: Into Briar Keep

Arriving in time for the victory lap

At first, as Borer gleefully votes for action and the other two rogues agree, they hear only small creatures in some number, then wolves howl!

“They’ll be after the horses! We have to hurry!” Zudi urges.

Zudi is less well-armed than the other three and stays behind them as Borer, Binye and Elyn, in rough formation, hasten back upstream and to the wagon, where Cy is trying to calm the five massive dray horses, and stand off any marauding wolf. Atop the wagon the goblin defenders are wielding bows to good effect: two wolf carcasses lie further out. It looks as though even Xmugz and Xmab have seized up bows. Tarkar the smith is trying to stanch bleeding on one fallen goblin.

Although I game this out, the rogues arrive in round 3 by which time the shortbows have pretty much won the battle.

Binye and Borer shout fiercely as they lunge forward and as another wolf falls the last pair turn tail and flee!

“Well that was a lot easier than I thought” Elyn gasps.

“You came back! Good timing!” Cy grins.

“There’s someone hurt? Who?” Zudi asks, unbundling her kit of healing herbs.

“Runban!”

 

Introducing an inexpert guide

As Zudi checks for signs of life Beareen the banker excitedly takes the rogues through the defence. Somewhere out there in the rapidly-dimming twilight a war-party of small two-legged creatures with crossbows let drive. It was that first volley that caught Runban and Gbus, though the latter is only wounded. The goblins gave as good as they got and the creatures fled. But half a dozen wolves raced in…

Borer confidently, and Binye less-confidently, head out to search for any fallen, and see what they were and loot them. A couple of minutes later a cry is heard from them:

“We got a live one!”

The still-staggered, still-surviving wagon defenders are merely grasping at the idea of Runban’s scheming forever stilled – and here is another shock! The wretched bound miscreant Borer drags in is a halfling!

“He wuz a’ready tied up mind,” Borer supplies, “so I guess it ain’t likely he fired off no crossbow with them hairy toes a’ his!”

“So what’s the damage?” Binye asks, looking hard at Elyn.

“We lost one, our chief employer Runban,” Elyn replies, staring equally hard at Binye.

“Waal say, now, thet’s jest too bad,” Borer drawls, setting the hobb upright.

“Yep, I’m plumb poison sad ta hear it,” Binye agrees, earning another hard look and frown. But Elyn confines herself to saying:

“We’re running out of evening. Let’s find out what this is – what’s your name, let’s start there?”

 

An inexpert guide to Briar Keep

The halfling’s name is Dan Springbird, and his story is strange. He has ties to an odd-sounding bunch in town, but unnamed troubles made him head out for his health. He claims to have headed for Joetown on his own, in order to get help for his folk in Briar Keep, and was promptly caught by kobolds. They roughed him up quite badly but for whatever reason – possibly fresh meat – kept him alive as they headed through the brush. Then for whatever reason they threw him down – “bound as you now see me gents, ladies,” and shot crossbows, then after a couple of them got hit in reply, they grabbed up their wounded and ran.

“OK, we got us a insider, are we calling off the scouting or what?” Binye wants to know.

Partly using Zudi as interpreter and partly on her own, Elyn has a quick round of negotiation with the seven surviving goblins. She’s frowning as she reports back.

“Untie Dan, he’s going to be our guide. But, we’re not carrying trade gear any more. The wisdom of old mother and others is, have a quiet sneak in with the expert guide talk to his people, report back.”

Later as the three, Zudi, and Dan file quietly along the stream, Elyn elucidates:

“As best I can tell, some are of the opinion we can’t be trusted to take gear, because we might cut and run. There are quite a few different opinions.”

“Dan, we got us a quiet moment here,” Borer checks the halfling, “how’s about ya really say what’s goin’ on in town?”

Dan’s story is that his people are a band of free men, making a precarious living taking ‘toll’ from evil traders and such like crossing the town bridge. There are a couple of factions that are too strong, but traders and lesser folk still pay. There is still a margrave, in the tower. So what’s a margrave? Some kind of boss. With armed men.

“We saw th’ tower. How about that fortress off south?”

“Naw, ain’t rightly sure who’s in charge thar. Town bank’s up thar. Traders gotta combine sorta thing, guess they all gotta share an’ pay fer guards.”

There’s a retired thread from a while back, ‘get rumours of Briar Keep’ but this is so vague it’s hard to justify re-opening the thread. 

A whole bunch of events and cascades and DCC generation give me Dan Springbird, but the most interesting are: he’s lying about his own ability, and pointing the rogues towards his own faction, at the bridge. And he suggests a river-bank approach, not by road.

Chaos drops to 7

To prepare for this chapter, I’ve layered three sources together, and identified eight factions, one of which is very general – ‘traders’ – and will need to be broken down geographically with a d4 for any detail.

Sudden exit of the inexpert guide

The progress of the five along the stream has by this time allowed them to reach a point where Dan warns them:

“Now, ya gotta take real good care. Th’ branch here gets rough an’ deep. Lose ya footin’ and ya be swep’ inta th’ gorge, right smart.”

“Gorge?”

“Aintcha seen how th’ trail is off away frum th’ river? This hyar’s on’y a stream feedin’ th’ main river, goes north through Ironwood Gorge. But we foller th’ river back up hyar, we git t’ th’ bridge. Lookit, ya c’n see it ‘ginst th’ moon. Then ya tells ’em how ya gonna he’p ’em an’ ol’ Dan’s back in business.”

“I think we skipped one or two explanations there,” Elyn begins then has to save her breath for not drowning, as she loses footing along the slick stone of the river edge. There’s a chain reaction: Elyn unbalances Zudi and Zudi slips against Dan –  Binye grabs Elyn – Borer grabs Binye – Elyn grabs Zudi – but with a brief and pathetic splash Dan is gone under the river surface – he’s just too short for any of them to catch!

Refl SV as they progress. I rule that no more than half the rogues+Zudi need to make it. Two do, two don’t. Dan gets a rotten roll.

Checking with Mythic on whether Dan can be helped I get a 00, No! That cascades to ‘move home.’

Just checking: Mythic: Has Dan drowned? (50-50) Yes.

Chaos rises back to 8!

The just deserter

“What now?”

It’s Binye who decides:

“It’s too dark to safely git back, and we’re practically at th’ bridge. Let’s push on to Dan’s base and hope no-one’s got a itchy trigger finger.”

Partly guided by Zudi’s night vision, the four grope along the last stage of the river to where a sturdy stone bridge spans it. Within close crossbow range, they are challenged!

Fixed encounter: Bridge faction

PRS check: Elyn makes it, but the bridge faction get a higher result.

This bridge gang is a bunch of petty criminals making a living, not as doughty resistance fighters, but simply road-agents levying a ‘toll’ on the weaker. As Dan’s explanation half suggested, traders and regular folks are their normal prey.

None of the rogues bother to explain how they knew about the approach. Instead they concentrate on the basics: we have very little cash, we have weapons and armour, it’s not worth your while to pick a fight when we could be allies.

As the night progresses Elyn strikes up a conversation with an oddly proud man, who seems a little out of place. Cautious at first, he opens up little by little…

She learns Lars Stone has but recently joined the gang, from the nearby slum. And before that, he was in service. To who? Why, the Temple of the Father. He used to be a Beadle, but the temple has been thrown down by enemies! He holds a pretty severe grudge against that faction…

“Is there a secret entrance to the temple, by any chance, Lars?”

“Yes!”

New NPC: Lars Stone.

This scene is generated by a scene shift ‘move towards a thread’ and the thread is ‘scout Briar Keep.’ Checking for information on the scene I get ‘take rumour’ and the rumour, rolling a d8 for which part of the town it’s about, is the bridge. 

Mythic: Is the rumour true? (50-50) Yes.

Then I move to the PRS check with the gang, because that much is true. Since both sides clear the PRS check:

LOC: Desert masses

Using a d7 (skipping the bridge) to find out where the deserter is from I get the slum nearby.

LOC: What do they want? Politely mighty; UNE: Discourse experience.

LOC: What experience? Lazily warm. 

Mythic: Is that a temple? (50-50) Yes.

Mythic: Is there a secret entrance? (50-50) Yes.

Then, UNE and DCC for Lars himself. UNE tells me Lars has a prejudice against the last story, which I read as holding a grudge around his previous occupation. He is of similar power to the rogues so I roll a d4-1 to find level and get Level 2. I’ve rolled his stats and they tend to suggest he’s a fighter, but we’ll see.

Chaos falls to 7

 

 

 

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