The Broken Land Chapter Eight: Into the Wilds

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

Welcome back! The three Ironbridge Rogues Guild survivors Elyn Binye and Borer have experienced many a strange twist of fortune since the Templars press-ganged them into becoming scouts. They are currently experiencing the strangest yet!

Episode One: Escape from Ignorick’s Halls

A special forces elf

“We’re going to need to open the door, sneak very quietly down to where the alchemist pots are stacked among the gear, locate the right powder, throw it over the guards, deal with any survivors, wear their armour, set the captives free, negotiate with Gorgun, and somehow… sneak out.”

“Are you serious?!?”

“These are all individual tasks that can be dealt with one task at a time. Don’t think about the entirety, focus on the immediate.”

Borer shifts impatiently:

“Lookit Elyn, Binye, I dunno how come Zudi hyar’s th’ boss but she makes better sense than Gorgun. Fust thing is, git me outta this dump. Once I latch onta Harken I’ll back me agin’ them Red Guard.”

“I’m not the boss. But I’m telling you, this is a no-way-out death trap, unless we get out together. And so far, I count one plan.”

By this time the rogues have a feeling for the layout. Their cell has two gates, one leading to the narrow passage they were pushed down, the other a connecting gate to where a couple of uruks are prisoner. Some of the voices come from a point more or less directly out the passage gate.

Elyn and Binye easily undo the lock – it was never designed to resist a lockpick – but now comes the hard part. They work carefully on the hinges. Time passes. Zudi has plenty of time to explain herself.

Zudi is a special forces elf, transformed into a uruk, come to find and rescue a trio of elf nobles who, by the sound of it, tend to get into trouble. (And her name isn’t Zudi, it’s Winda, but they tend to forget that over the next hours.) The withered corpse in the shaman’s bed was one of the three. The other two are locked up here.

For their part, Borer fills in any missing pieces of their own strange story, while Binye and Elyn focus on doing things to hinges, quietly.

“Right, done,” Elyn announces. “Boys, lift real careful.”

Binye and Borer very carefully brace and lift the entire gate off its hinges. There’s a sharp metallic squawk, but nothing loud and long enough to draw guards.

“We’re gonna need th’ slippery oil fer another lock,” Binye breathes. “This on’y worked as we’s inna inside.”

Borer concentrates and leads the way out into the passage. Zudi taps his right shoulder, he wheels right. The passage twists further right, and light grows – that’s where the guardroom is, with its rushlight. Elyn is passed up along the chain to where she can sneak in using what little light there is to keep to the shadows.

It seems to take a long time, but she returns with two items, one a clay jar from the alchemist’s work-table, the other the vial of oil.

There’s a certain amount of very quiet muttering as the four decide what is best – to try to take out four massive uruk guards armed only with sleep powder, or to free a couple of potential allies first.

Common sense wins!

 

Avengers – assemble!

Borer once again leads the way. They were hard by an opening on his left and this time Zudi taps his left shoulder. He turns that way and works his way down to two cells. One contains a nude well-muscled elf, the other a scant-clad human woman. Zudi pats his shoulder. A good place to start! Elyn gently eases oil onto hinges and a spot on her lockpick, and the gate to the elf opens easily. Zudi – speaking what they now know is elven – has explained what is afoot, and the elf, Elberna’i, joins them. Soon, the human, Bethany, is added to the tail of the party. Next, while Borer and Elberna’i stand guard with Bethany, the rogues and Zudi make their way past their original cell and to the far end, where a very weak elf is un-manacled (thanks to the oil) and freed. Zudi struggles to support him, and slips the ring of regeneration onto Helmit’a’s finger. Next, back and right around to where they locate a malnourished-but-sturdy dwarf. Perrin joins the group. He can tell them the ‘new big uruk’ is right nearby. So Gorgun and Zudi have a ‘conversation’ about being freed, but under parole. And about Gorgun’s plans.

Finally, they locate the wee folk – a hobb and a gnome named Waldo and Gotovest respectively. And now for the assault on the guards!

 

Combat is swift and certain

Surprise round: Two of the guards hold their breath, the other two go under almost as soon as Elyn shatters the jar on the roof.

Initiatives: Binye, Waldo, Zudi, Borer, Gotovets, Elyn, Gorgun twice, uruk guards, Elberna’i, Perrin.

Binye swoops on a cloak, and whips it, part-muffling the nearest uruk. Waldo latches onto it. Zudi’s eyes glow green as she clutches the shaman’s staff: soft white clouds shimmer around the other uruk’s head, and he slumps, snoring. Borer delivers a king hit up under the muffled uruk’s chain fauld and with a choking cry his knees give way. Gotovets selects a suitably heavy-looking drinking mug, eyeing up the bash target, but is overtaken by Gorgun who seizes the helpless uruk’s head in two hands and rotates it 180 degrees.

Even with the guard chamber captured, there’s still no time to waste. As quietly as they can, the fit among the escapees arm themselves. A few cautious peeks down the tunnels tell them that they are very close to a main antechamber, guarded by a even stronger detachment of eight.

The red chainmail of the guards is pressed into use. Gorgun strains his, but Zudi Elberna’i and Helmit’a make extremely unconvincing guards! As for the shorties, they attempt to look as much like goblins as they can.

The question is, do they assault, or try to talk their way past?

 

Therefore, combat once more!

The decision is: they assault! The red guard gear will only be useful for further on, to get past lesser uruks.

 

Overwhelming shock and firepower work wonders!

Surprise round: Crossbow bolts from all three rogues slam home and a guard topples. Zudi focuses power through the staff again and a fearsome mask forms around her features. Two of the guards flee – and a few seconds later there’s a crackle and a squishy thump as they run headlong into a concealed pit. Gorgun charges, his axe cleaving chain and eviscerating a fourth guard. Elberna’i dances in, spearing the mithril-blade longsword through the mouth of a fifth guard. Perrin, Waldo and Gotovetz run in at an angle, tripping a sixth guard and slamming his head onto the stone floor. Helmit’a, only part-recovered, shoots the second-last guard with another crossbow, then finishes him off with a second crossbow Bethany hands him. One guard remains. Gorgun swings in his patented reverse heelspin and chops him; not a mortal blow. Elberna’i spins in a sweeping graceful thrust and finishes him. All eight down!

 

Gorgun’s delivery service

The eight were guarding massive double doors. Gorgun nods at them.

“I just have to deliver the message. I gave my word on it.”

“Cain’t ya jest slip it unner th’ door?”

Gorgun thinks for a time, then grimaces and shrugs. He fishes out the recovered scroll, mashes it flat, and slides it under the doors as far as he can.

“Where to?”

“Let’s see where those two ran to…”

A huge centipede is already investigating the dying uruks in the pit. It is dealt with and the party eases around the pit and away along a looping passage that inclines down. The red-chain wearers lead the way, attempting (successfully, for Gorgun) to swagger like captors.

At length, the passage opens into what appears to be an ossuary, or possibly a death-chamber. There are three exits, and Gorgun chooses the one that seems to lead most directly lower. He reaches a four way junction, glances right and chuckles.

“I recognize that passage. Kobolds! This is where it all started to go wrong…”

Reminded of that, he swings and looks menacingly back at Borer. But Zudi gestures at him with the staff, just in mild admonition, and Gorgun heads away from the kobolds, skirting another pit, and into a vast cavern of common uruks and uruk-wives and uruk brats. Confident that he knows his directions from here, his pace quickens. It’s all the ‘goblin’ wee folk can do to keep up. Lesser uruks clear the way. Gorgun reaches a stream, running away right out of the cavern. He turns upstream and pauses. A series of deep natural arches seem to lead out…

“Trapped, here… scouts forward”

Binye probes forward with Blood Spear and finds a pit covering an exit. Elyn probes across the stream, quite deep here, and finds a gap between a pit and an exit. She beckons.

None too soon! For despite Gorgun’s menacing glower there are a few lesser uruks watching and wondering.

The wee folk are lifted across and the weaker folk helped, then they all slip through and away.

 

So long, Gorgun!

Miles later, the passage surfaces. No guard has been set. The dirty dozen filter out and sniff the clean high-country air with delight. Sage, upland pine and cedar can all be detected. It’s evening and the first few stars can be seen. Sense of direction returns, for those used to be above-ground. But this is a crazed and riven country. Mountain peaks thrust up at odd angles. The ground they stand on is rock, and no trail shows at all.

“We part ways here,” Zudi offers, looking at Gorgun more than anyone.

“Aye, I must report this treachery to my lord. Ignorick will rue the day! As per parole terms, you are free to make best speed out of uruk territory.”

“Say buddy, what’s with th’ ‘you are free’ act? We got yore sorry ass outta…”

“This ain’t the time!” Elyn reprimands Borer. “Gorgun saved us time after time, we are grateful, I will certainly tell my children stories of his amazing adventure.”

Gorgun nods – the female has always been the least-stupid one – and lopes away, axe at the ready.

“Swelp me Borer me old china! Yer don’t ‘arf tike chances!”

Borer grins at Waldo. “Waal, say pipsqueak, ya got balls ya ownself!”

 

Call for a ride?

“Now how do we get our sorry selves out to safety?”

The elves are struggling out of red guard chainmail at this point. Various clothing items are shared around, enough to keep everyone decent and protect from night chill.

“We can stick together for safety’s sake. Looking at those peaks, I’m pretty sure we’re west of Embercrag now, so north-west is Seever’s Mill. If that’s still standing, we can easily get a ride down the Bigmoss.”

“Nah luv, yer lookin’ at them peaks th’ wrong way. Us miners bin uphill an dahn’ill ‘ere, eh Perrin.”

“Aye Waldo, but see you, th’ uruk-lassies na wrong. Seever’s Mill is a gey far step, but so’s Joetown – but wha’s wrong wi’ Briar Keep?”

They explain what may be wrong with Briar Keep, and Perrin, Gotovetz and Waldo accept this.

“But lissen, any how ya cut it, we gonna be dead in two days,” Gotovetz observes. “Sorry ta set it out thet way miss.”

“Hon, I know, I know,” Bethany agrees. “I ain’t like ta walk back down ta orc-town though.”

“We can help,” Zudi hastens to assure them, “animals are to be found here, and if we summon them now…”

The three elves (counting Zudi as an elf… and she’s not shown any sign of transforming…) form a ritual and wild asses walk out of the night and stand as though patient donkeys.

“No wonder ya never had no trouble with them dray-hosses,” Borer observes.

 

The stage is cleared

“I have a reward for you, Elyn, Binye, Borer,” Zudi announces. “Noble Hamit’a and Elberna’i learned quite a lot about the white urukin before they were caught, and I got some details off Gorgun about the lay of the land.

“Not enough that you can send a map back to those templar people you reported to,” she adds to prevent the rogues exploding with joy. “But we will drop a message back on our way north.”

“So ya’ll be takin’ Bethany and th’ miners… or whatever Waldo is?”

“Sure, no problem. Blessings of our kin go with you!”

“Like I said before… Zudi, you are the best-natured person on the whole wagon,” Elyn jokes, “how come no Elf Prince ever married you?”

“Just lucky, I guess,” Zudi deadpans.

 

Final farewells over, the Elf party, with Perrin Waldo and Gotovetz acting as guides, and Bethany safe mounted, heads north-west, bound for Seever’s Mill.

The three rogues are alone, for the first time since they began this enforced mission.

 

How all this happens

This all begins as the party is arrested, right after I determine that the goblins are sent away. 

Mythic: Can the rogues speak? (V likely) Yes

Can they speak with other prisoners? (Likely) Yes

Can they speak with Zudi? (50-50) Yes

Does Zudi tell them anything? (V unlikely) Yes!

Is it a plan they will like? (50-50) Yes!

Is Zudi in charge now? (50-50) No!

Does she still have the staff? (50-50) Yes

Is she planning to rescue Elves? (50-50) Yes

Others? (50-50) Yes

Is she actually an elf? (50-50) Yes

And?

LOC: Control the physical. So, a spell?

LOC: Assist the innocent

Chaos is 8

Have the rogues managed to keep any gear? (Likely) Yes

Did they keep the oil of slipperiness? (Likely) No! 

(And this cascades into a chain… which tends to follow along with the previous moving away from each thread. Basically, the truth comes out, and they’ll have to kill their way out of here.)

Thieves tools? (Likely) Yes! (And in order of how many, Binye and Elyn.)

Chaos is 9

Next, a scene shift for NPC action lights on Zudi. Pursue good. Zudi locates the elves.

Chaos is 8

Next, a scene alteration, NPC positive. We are now in a sequence of DCC tasks and combats. Things are going as planned. I still roll out all the sneaking and lock-picking but for easing out of the manacles I take as read with the oil. The alteration I read as Zudi’s spell succeeds, the regeneration is shared with the elf noble. This increases the number of attackers, so is very handy.

Chaos is 7

Next the actions give me starting dispute, and imitate the environment. 

Initiatives and attacks on the four red guards, and their saves, are rolled here. 

Chaos is 6

Mythic: Do the party disguise as guards? (Somewhat likely) Yes!

LOC: Anything else? Very bizarre

Mythic: Are the others disguised as goblins? (Likely) Yes!

Mythic: Are the rogues disguised? (Likely) No!

Do they just have to sneak? (Likely) Yes, cascading to release information.

Chaos is 7

I move through the attack on the antechamber here, and fortunately the uruk guards are near bottom init. With recaptured weapons the attackers manage to drop them all. For Zudi’s spells, I’m trying to pick DCC spells that have a dT&T analogy. 

Chaos is 6

The cascade seems to come in later, post-escape:

Have the rogues discovered what Gorgun knows? (Unlikely) Yes

A lot of it? (Likely) No, cascading to carry emotions, cascading to control animals and also dominate nature cascading to travel energy. So the move out of the rocky wastes is easy to see.

Final cascade: Overthrow a plot!

Chaos is  5

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