The Broken Land: Briar Keep – wait, the kobolds are allies?

Chapter six of The Broken Land concludes!

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

Fresh from gutting a ruined temple and flushed from the unexpected success of both looting and sending an arcane message, Elyn, Binye, Borer and Zudi follow their local – and unexpectedly competent – guide Lars Stone back through the faction-torn streets of Briar Keep.

Chaos is 7

Episode Three: Unexpected departures

The old chum gets a taste

“Not so fast Lars me old chum, where’s ya takin’ them outsiders? Hey?”

Lars groans under his breath and forces a smile:

“Hey, Darby, great… to see you.. and the lads. Look, we don’t want trouble…”

“We’re just traders, going about setting up in town,” Binye cuts in menacingly. The longsword now buckled to his waist and the swag-sack of loot on his back don’t look particularly trader-like, but it’s still dark. Maybe this small gang of four cutthroats will think twice. They are dressed to impress with flashy silks and furs.

“Traders? Just wot I like ta heer,” Darby Red-sash leers. “Ya knows abaht th’ toll, then, surely me old chum’s tole ya. And wot’s this? Wimmin’? Cor yer luck’s in ladies, Darby’s got a great big present under ‘is sash for yer.”

One of the three Darby has with him snickers, and adds, “Reckon ya bin messin’ with them Temple gang huh Lars?”

Lars shuffles and mutters something about checking it.

“They ain’t up ter much,” Darby boasts, “but if ya done me a favour an’ knocked a few orf, I’ll go easy on ya, maybe make do wiv just one poke.”

Elyn stirs, and glances at Zudi, who looks back at her, in a “who me?” kind of way. Elyn attempts to look cowed and shuffles closer to Darby, then stabs him.

But he’s not caught out by the move, and the blade doesn’t finish the job! In response Darby whips his own short sword up and only Elyn’s adopted leather armour saves her – she reels back, bleeding slightly.

Elyn’s two comrades are half-expecting something and steel screeches as it clears scabbard. As Lars stands uncertain, Binye rams his longsword through one thug’s chest and Borer attempts to end the fight by hacking at Darby. The street boss sways back and the bastard sword doesn’t fully connect. Zudi tries a jab using her staff, but the thug is onto the danger and steps clear. The two thugs left on their feet stand by their leader, but their clubs are slow and the rogues easily evade them.

Lars seems to make a decision: and as Binye spins and back-hands his blade into Darby, Lars smashes his ex-boss in the head! The two remaining thugs flee.

“Let’s move fast, I don’t s’pose that’s the only capo around.” Elyn comments, wrapping a clean pad of cloth over the cut.

“He’s the big boss of the whole goldarn slum!” Lars exclaims. “Why, you-all dealt ta him like, like…”

“He brung a sword ta a sword fight, ‘s’all I c’n say complee-ment’ry ’bout him,” is Borer’s verdict.

“Nice balance, too,” Binye decides, quickly wrapping it with its owner’s red sash and tucking it away. Two belt-pouches follow. “Guess them other two’s still borin’ a hole in th’ horizon,” he chuckles.

“Yeah… ’bout that… ya know, I might jest stay on here, or anyways, this’n’s good a place as any ta say our farewells,” Lars decides. He’s pretty sure he knows where Darby kept his trove.

“Right, guess so. Say, ya bin a buddy, Lars, happen we’ll getcha a discount once th’ traders set up the wagon.”

Lars shakes Binye’s extended hand, nods to the others, and fades off. The other four turn their attention to leaving quietly using the half-light of pre-dawn to navigate back to the camp.

How this happened

Scene alteration, ‘introduce a new NPC’

Mythic: Is it one of Lars’ contacts? (50-50) Yes.

UNE: Similar level or stronger, mood guarded, insane bearing, focus on last scene.

Mythic: Does he want to take over? (Somewhat Likely) Yes.

Mythic: Does he want to rob the party? (50-50) Yes.

LOC: What does Lars make of all this? ‘Happiness of power’

Mythic: Is Lars sticking to the party? (50-50) Yes and cascades to ‘adversity of power’

Mythic: Has this new guy brought reinforcements? (Likely) Yes

LOC: Descriptions: Ferociously magnificent.

One of the sources I’m using for Briar Keep, BHS03, has a red-sash gang led by an appropriate level thief. I port that in as Darby Red-sash and d4+1 gang members. Only Darby has the hp to really stand up to three level 3 thieves. Binye does have to burn 3 LCK during the fight. I randomise whether the enemy thieves burn any. I also check on whether Lars steps up in round 1 using LOC and get ‘refuse success’ so he stays out for a round, which is understandable. Elyn takes an 8-point wound, nasty given her meagre hp.

Finally in a new scene I get another alteration, NPC positive. 

Mythic: Is it Lars? (50-50) Yes

I roll ‘care possessions’ so Lars bids the party farewell and heads  off to loot Darby’s stash.

During these scenes, chaos rises to 8 and falls again to 7.

 

Really, guides

Weary from an all-night mission and some nasty scrapes, the four straggle back into camp, grumpily acknowledging the guards then reluctantly taking buckets down to begin filling for the breakfast and horses. Runban’s grave is not far downstream.

There’s a commotion in camp, though not in a warlike sense. By the time they straggle back with water the camp is half-packed with kobolds!

Beareen is spokesperson, it seems, and her lack of forcefulness comes over. It seems that the kobolds bear no special grudge for the death of their raid leader… or at least, that’s how Zudi interprets for Elyn and Cy.

On the bright side none of the goblins had time to take inventory of the night’s takings, so Binye and Borer stow the gems and gold coins away privately.

Plans change! Instead of trading into Briar Keep, the wagon is going to be led directly into the wilds – into the Broken Land!

Chaos drops to 6, since this is exactly what the rogues need.

AP: It’s been hard to track, but they are halfway through the 80 points needed to get to Level 4. Binye is currently 3 LCK down as he has not had a chance to sleep and Elyn is still carrying an 8-point wound. 

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