Chapter eight of The Broken Land continues…
A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)
Episode Two: The Ruined Village
Chaos stands at 5
Threads: Scout the uruk lord’s base, report back
Not-quite-closed thread: Is the white urukin the same as the uruk lord? – the rogues received some elf history about the white urukin that have helped them considerably, but without definitely closing it.
At first I thought that there are no NPCs, but in fact there are a number: the first four have a known reason to actively intervene, the second four don’t.
- Ignorick (and his minions)
- Lady Danforth (and her minions)
- The white urukin (and his minions)
- The uruk lord (and his minions)
- Goblin traders
- Goblin guards
Locations used here
Dyson’s 2014 and 2015 Dodecahedron both contribute heavily to the map I ended up with for this region. Certain locations are overlaid with more appropriate sources. In this episode, Barrataria Games’ Hamlet in the Gloaming takes centre stage, but with a more badlands vibe. Dehydration is the chief danger for those caught in the open without drinking water.
As usual I’m converting to DCC where I can, including factoring any wealth down.
And now, hoping to close at least one thread, we begin!
The bones of this country
While they are afoot and burdened by stores and equipment, the three Ironbridge rogues are far from despairing. As long as they don’t walk in the midday heat, shade among the crags offers some protection, and there are natural rock cisterns of water to be found. Nor is this a blistered wilderness with no resources. Although the secret exit from Ignorick’s halls is in a rock-girt canyon, woodlands are to be found nearby.
For the first hour they concentrate on gaining distance, trusting to the rock to hide their passage. Little do the three fugitives know that Ignorick, realising that Gorgun must have learned of his plans for invading Joseph’s inlet, has put those on hold, and seeks reconciliation(1). At length Borer points down a shallow valley:
“Lookit th’ way th’ rock ledges slope. I c’n pick th’ way this country’s bones lie. Runoff’d be like ta gather end of woods thar. Let’s check th’ timber out.”(2)
- The plan for invasion, and Joetown being the target, is something that was generated ‘way back when I set up chapter seven. It fit in with BHS02 remarkably well. So I decided it is part of a wider conspiracy around recovering the bone-hilt sword!
- I use nature lore here. A high result means entering the village from the east, where water is more potable, and a low result means west, where there’s a quagmire. Borer makes an excellent nature check. (Each has something in their background that might help, but nothing that I could call a d+. I call it a wash and go with a raw d20.
Chaos drops to 4
The ruined village
Encounters in the village are 1 in a d6, each hour (and extra triggered by conditions such as ‘kick door in’) while outside the village they are 1 in a d10, per 8 hours travel.
Having refilled canteens through a cloth filter, the three wanderers are able to form some kind of judgement about the scattered buildings they can see up ahead. They’ve worked their way round a rocky shoulder and stand at the east end of a small tree-enveloped clearing. Or, what used to be a clearing. Second-growth trees are sprouting here and there, and what may once have been foot-tracks are leaf-blown and largely lost to view. A main path is visible, and a bridge across the stream. There’s a ruin of buildings north and south, trees growing through a barn in the north group. The more tempting, in this near-noontide, are the south stand, where a real copse has formed, including an oak and vines.
“Let’s head there,” Elyn indicates, “we might find some millable acorns, or early berries.”
“Dang!” Binye suddenly sighs, “I c’d do me with some lovin’! Ain’t had me any fun since before we was arrested.”
“Ya’ll bett’r not be lookin’ at me with them cow-eyes, now!” Borer growls.
“And just in case I ain’t said it before, I’d rather run back out in th’ wilds an’ overtake Zudi!” Elyn assures him. “Hell – I’d rather hike to Joetown and see how’s Cy doin’!”
“It was jest a passin’ thought,” Binye protests as they make their way under the trees. “Near death does thet t’a body.”
“Yeah well I don’t ‘member Perrin nor the two mites mentionin’ no Hostess Parlour out this way. So keep it in yer pants.”
This exchange comes from an Ambiguous result on scenes. Meaning ‘fight love.’ I dutifully check if this particylarly involves the rogues and get a no for each, emphatically so for Borer and Elyn.
Binye makes a nat 20 on nature to deal with the water. Encounter checks are clear. The scene following the weird ambiguous result is clear – or in other words it passes its chaos check.
I do not, in fact, deal with whether Perrin Waldo and Gotovetz may have mentioned something about the region. I find it’s best to deal with information or gear when the immediate need arises.
Chaos is 5
Rest relaxation and what’s that sound of voices?
The three sip water in the shade of the oak, thinking of getting a fire going. Elyn has a quick look for berries (ripening, a few showing enough colour to nibble) and acorns (too green). Then tired out, they all rest and let the water do its work.
Level four gains: Binye rises to 26hp, Borer rises to 25, and Elyn is lucky and moves to 19hp. Crit is now d16. Luck is d6.
Time and the immediate danger of noon passes, and they stir. Was that the sound of voices? And from nearby?
Gingerly keeping to cover, they skirt the stone-built ruins inside the copse, and stare roughly south at a part-ruined corral and farmstead. Sure enough the sound of careless harsh laughter and brag, very familiar to them from time among ruffians, comes from over there.
I use tracking/listening checks here. Binye has the right background, his +d takes him over 20. The rogues have time to make plans.
Mythic: Did the rogues bring bows, crossbows or nothing? Nothing! Cascading to pursue prison. So they set traps up? (Likely) Yes.
Sneaking: adding their current bonus they make an adequate approach, which is all the module calls for.
Is this a problem? and what resources do we have to bear on it?
Some cautious scouting later, the rogues have worked out that there are perhaps four men, probably with a youngster or perhaps wee kin to make five, relaxing inside the main house, and a mule stabled on the property. One of the men is obviously a boss – just the tone, and the way the others defer to the voice, make that clear.
“How do we want to deal with this?”
“Say, these ain’t no miners. Ain’t no soul out hyar ‘cept bad men.”
“Yeah, killin’s got ma vote. Safer. Mebbe keep one fer questionin’.”
The crossbows were all used setting traps in the escape tunnel. They didn’t bother keeping even one short bow, which now looks like an oversight. That leaves throw knives and main weapons.
“OK let’s at least shorten the odds. One’s gonna set foot outside for somethin’, if we wait.”
“Sure, seems about right ta me. If’n we c’n knock ’em out, swell.”
Mythic: do the rogues want to negotiate? (50-50 – I kind of feel they are honed and lethal and unwilling to waste time now) No! So I skip the PRS checks and move directly to combat.
Hiding: Elyn burns LCK and gets a maximum 6 out of her shiny new d6. It pushes her up to adequate, and the other two make adequate without the boost. The part-ruined dwelling the bandits are laughing it up in has one logical exit to the mule/shitter so that’s what they stake out.
Bandits: One leader (Thief 6, Init+2, 23hp) and four bandits (Thief 2, Init+1, 6-8hp)
Backstab: success. DCC backstabs provide that a crit roll is added to normal damage, the victim takes a lot more damage than he has hp, and dies.
Surprise round: The bandits look up in surprise as a fully-armored dwarf wielding a two-hander leaps in, followed by a chainmail-wearing man wielding a spear. The latter, Binye, thrusts poorly and the bandit’s light armour saves him. Borer makes no such mistake: Harken cleaves through the intended victim and he topples sideways. As the bandit leader measures his exit options and opens his mouth to order the others to attack, a short sword cuts at his neck, paralyzing his vocal chords.
Initiatives: Rogues, bandit leader, remaining bandit crew
Borer moves straight on for the leader, cutting backhand: the leader’s eyesocket shatters and that eye bursts. As Borer moves past, a smooth-cheeked youngster lashes out in what would have been a telling stab had Borer not been wearing his organic plate armour! Binye wounds his mark and avoids the counter-stab. He boxes the bandit into a corner and waits for the bleed-out to take effect. From behind the leader Elyn yells commandingly:
“Drop the weapon son! Ya got this one chance ta live!”
The youngster obeys, looking scared and very alone.
“Set right down agin! Let’s fetch us rope an’ git ‘quainted.”
“Urrgh! S- stop me bleedin’! Ya cain’t jest let me bleed here!”
Binye looks sourly at the bleeding bandit. “Any r’ason ah sh’d he’p ya?”
The bandit leader, with his hand clapped over his ruined eye, groans:
“Keep me ‘live – I’m Black Brad an’ worth more ta ya livin’ then daid!”
As the rogues begin sorting out fact from fiction – the kid agrees that the boss has a price on his head – Blood Spear’s victim dies.
Chaos rises to 6
With Black Brad tied and roughly bandaged, and the kid sitting scared and quiet, it’s time for some leisurely looting. Brad has a very sketchy map of the area, a potion of healing, a vial of poison, five merchant-marked gems worth 100gp, and some coins. Between them the other bandits have less than 20 coppers. But the mule-ready chest in the room has hundreds of coppers!
Binye decides it’s time to get acquainted with the mule tethered outside the back door. He pats it, feeds and waters it, and names it Muley. Muley seems fine with this attention!
Back in the bandit’s room Binye finds Elyn sitting alone with the youngster. He looks as though Elyn has roughed him up. Elyn looks smug and flushed as though she’s put some real effort in.
“He took Brad away, so’s ta keep th’ stories sep’rate,” Elyn explains, then continues:
“So, soon’s he’s ready, we gotta get us out. Lucky here tells me there’s a patrol of three more bandits out there somewhere.”
“Well, we got us a mule. I’m callin’ him Muley. We oughta git loaded. So ‘Lucky’ – anythin’ ya wanna tell us ’bout whar th’ trail leads?”
“There’s a big minin’ an’ delvin’ place yonder, name of Gold Hill” Elyn relays. “Th’ constable there should be th’ one as rewards us. Borer’s findin’ out as much more’s he can.”
“Gold Hill? I like th’ sound ‘a thet,” Binye comments, idly casting his eye around a little wider afield, and continuing:
“I allow ta find me some better duds. Couple these hyar ’bout ma size.”
“Well Lucky’s about my size, but I ain’t changing, I like him dressed the way he is.”
Questions about how much the bandits know about the uruk lord’s camp lead me to them bargaining to be kept alive, but not actually knowing anything. Then looting and mule-befriending lead me to check which bandits clothes fit which, and that in turn leads me to some surprise information about Lucky.
AP gain: I doubled the level of each bandit, they still weren’t much opposition since the rogues achieved surprise. 3AP. Possibly a bonus lies in the future if keeping bandits alive pans out well.
New NPC added: Lucky Kincade
New NPC faction added: The Constable
Chaos rises to 7
Episode Three: Gold Hill Trading Post
The trail to Gold Hill
Muley suffers the chest, spare gear, water and food to be piled high, and Brad lashed to a tether behind. Lucky knows a certain amount about the ruins – enough to tell them to steer well clear of a certain earth mound where huge carnivorous flies nest for example – and to avoid the trapped bridge.
Fording the stream – easy enough at this dry time of year – brings the little procession close to a grazing flock. Up on the slope above, watching from the late afternoon shade, a weatherbeaten shepherd and his lad.
Elyn waves, gets a cautious wave back, and walks up to talk. She returns with the useful information that the men are of a shepherd clan, which holds itself to be ruled by a uruk lord, not by the local constable. But they don’t travel into the uruk hold.
Ahead, the land rises, though still bearing scattered copses or stands of upland timber, and the trail leads to a well-rutted area, from which a few smoke plumes rise.
The trail leads them past a fixed encounter, Elyn makes her PRS check and the shepherd doesn’t, she gets a pass-by since that’s what she wants. If and when the story leads me to a trail into the uruk hold I can find out if she learned anything specific.
Chaos falls to 6
Pass on through!
Muley stops in front of a simple storefront, set in a natural cavern. Two armed men guard the storekeeper: they look pretty similar to the bandits that fell victim to the rogues. Behind them, as far as Binye can see, are a wide variety of stores. And two more guards.
“Howdy,” one of the up-front pair remarks, obviously determined not to react to the sight of Brad. “What’s yer pleasure, folks?”
“Howdy! Say… we got us a ring-tail polecat name’a Black Brad here, allows he’s got a price on his head, an’ we might be able ta fetch us that reward here?”
“Brad?” The guard walks around Muley warily and grabs a hank of Brad’s hair, tilting the ruined face to catch the evening light. “Waal I’ll be double-damned! Say – Brad – ya’ll’s gonna love th’ ‘commodation here!”
“Best ya’ll head ta th’ stables round left thar,” the other guard furnishes. “Tha stables let onta lodgin’s. Lemme jest ‘scribe ya names down fer th’ constable – he or mebbe th’ dep’ty gonna wanna talk ta ya, not jest hand ya th’ re-ward.”
The ‘at the trader’ scene passes its chaos check and there is no encounter. I check LOC to get any extra information about the camp. Elyn scores a nat 20 on her PRS check, which I deem will give her a bonus on future interaction.
Chaos falls again to 5.
The entire inside of the hill seems to have been quarried out into branching tunnels and rooms. The passages are lit with fire-beetle glands. Muley seems to like his quarters well enough, and the rogues’ non-valuable gear is dumped in the same stable. All four walk through to the spacious cavern – its roof a good 20′ above – wherein the trading house Inn lies. It’s mostly a makeshift tavern with quite a number of patrons, including shepherds and miners. Borer dumps the chest of coin down loudly enough to tell all paying attention these are paying guests! – and there begins a little dispute about rooms, and who is making sure Lucky doesn’t just wander off. There’s a choice of a common room or small individual chambers.
“Well, let’s have a look,” Elyn urges.
Some of the small chambers would be very snug if shared, but some are comfortable. The rogues, having slept under a wagon, or in nooks in caves, find them all good.
“I’ve bedded down in much worse,” Elyn opines. “Lucky an’ me’s got one, up to you two if ya want to share.”
“Oh no ya don’t! Jest ’cause ya found some milk-tooth lamb don’t mean ya get t’enjoy yaself – an’ me without a piece ‘a skirt. Lucky’s beddin down with one ‘a us. Borer – flip ya?”
Lucky looks a little bewildered at being treated like an object – but maybe he’s used to it, for he makes no protest. Elyn looks darkly after them as she readies her own room.
I’m not sure what they might do, so go with a meaning, inspect trials, cascading to ruin tactics.
The inn’s tavern will provide the rogues with quite a number of rumours. I check if the rogues actually do head to the tavern:
Mythic:Do they meet anyone in particular before the deputy meets them? (50-50) No.
Chaos rises to 6.
Framing the interview – Spoiler Alert!
Up to this point there have been only mild spoilers around Hamlet in the Gloaming, but around here, if you plan to play it, be advised that I’m revealing some behind the scenes stuff!
Prior to the interview I have to organise information a little. The interview is not set by the module, it’s called for because the module tells me the constable faction will look favourably on a party turning the bandit leader in. Elyn made a top-notch PRS check when doing that, and the rogues need to find out if they can get either information here, or at least find a trail beyond.
What I want to learn is, how much does the constable know about lady Danforth’s secrets? (I’ve ruled that she is the ‘baroness’ who gave him his authority – simply based on conservation of dramatic arcs.) And secondly, will he care overmuch about three rogues in these circumstances?
Interestingly I get ‘trick power’ and ‘oppress advice’ on these points. I leave them to one side, since although they do kind of suggest he’s working on his own behalf, they don’t force anything.
I also determine, based on the way the module frames responsibilities, that it will be the deputy who meets the rogues.
Deputy constable Stedd Hardy, Lvl 5 Thief.
Early morning shopping with Lucky
The rogues are awake very bright and early – they did catch a siesta yesterday, after all! There’s plenty of time for them to spend most of the coppers on useful gear, replacement boots, hard-wearing clothes and durable packs, and some fresh herbs and poisons. Prices are ridiculous but as Borer says, it’s like spending someone else’s money.
They also learn the whereabouts of a herder who keeps fast horses for sale – there’s a trickle of such as various outlaws arrive, apparently.
Binye shows he and Borer are aware of Lucky’s real nature when he – kind of fawningly, Elyn thinks – offers to buy her some proper dress for a woman. Lucky smiles and points to Elyn, not unreasonably.
“Waaiiittaminute,” Elyn protests, “you sayin’ ya found out about Lucky an’ still kep’ her?”
“She likes bein’ kep’, get me?”
“Huh yer ownself!”
This round of petulance is ended when one of the constables steps into the store:
“Ya’ll bin called fer. Y’all c’n lay yer gear onna store, safest place fer it.”
“Yep, rent’s purty cheap,” the trader, a grave-faced devotee of some kind of local variant of Bal-Uarda explains.
“Jest a donation ta th’ chapel?”
“Nope, good copper, right hyar. Ya c’n tell her wuship th’ chaplain she c’n cer-leck it fr’m me. An’ thet’s about all.”
Apologies – this is really just side drama but I do need to show where a couple of rolls vis-a-vis Lucky went, and introduce the trader. I use UNE straight for him, but grab the module’s deity.
Chaos is 5 – the Lucky effect has already been introduced earlier
Not someone she wanted to meet
“Ya name ya ownself’s character!”
“Uh, Elyn? Want ta ‘splain ta us what th’ hell?”
“Ah, right, Binye, Borer, this’s Stedd. Prob’ly as pleased to see me as I am to see him. Stedd, this here’s Binye an’ Borer an’ Lucky, Ironbridge Rogue’s Guild. Which same ya orter know, ya shit.”
“Hey! You walked out on me, as I recall!”
“S’prised ya can remember, with yore face buried in that whore’s tits all th’ time I was packin’!”
“Yeah, well… anyhow, th’ agreed re-ward’s here. 250 silver, less a handlin’ fee an’ goodwill bond, leavin’ 125 silver.”
Let us draw a veil over what follows, and simply sum up: the rogues leave with silver, Elyn reminding Borer, once away from other ears, that had it been the goblins, they would be leaving with 25 coins, not 125.
From where we sit
The four find seats in a noisy-enough-to-be-private corner of the tavern and confirm how things stand. But first what Elyn’s story is.
“So, Stedd… I gotta say Elyn, ya ain’t know fer bein’ man hungry. That is ta say,” Binye adds diplomatically, “I ain’t never seen ya womanisin’ either.”
“Present comp’ny excepted,” Lucky smirks. Drawing an old-fashioned look from Binye.
“That scum’s th’ main reason I stay away from low-down rogues an’ vagabonds. I get me a man, he’s gonna be a stand-up type.”
“Ya mean, like some dumb meat-shield?” Borer wants to know.
“I mean like a normal, decent guy as doesn’t wander an’ rob for a livin’.”
“I hear they exist,” Lucky encourages her.
“So whadda ’bout you Lucky? What’s yore fam’ly do?”
“I’s a smuggler from a younker. Larned me th’ best ways ta take goods up ‘n down…”
“Younker! Ya barely hatched an’ sayin’ thet!”
Binye yawns, feels as though that’s enough, rounds the talk up:
“Lemme summarise, an’ tell me I miss a thing. We ain’t like ta find no trail in fr’m hyar, ‘least not fr’m jealous Stedd thar. An’ his boys seems ta be rogues guild renegades, or thieves fr’m all over. We c’n git us another mount or two, but prices here are like ta clean us out if’n we stays too long. An’ finally – these old tunnels we ain’t s’posed ta wander round – couple things ta think about, while we’re here!”
Most of this comes from the interview-with-Stedd material. There are a lot of cascades, and I ask a number of direct questions using Mythic, to clarify a few points. The key piece of information, that Stedd is someone Elyn knows, is triggered by her getting a nat 1 on PRS check.
There’s one piece of information left hanging, which is ‘refuse a path’ and this point, my clarification does not enlighten me on, so I leave it. Quite possibly Stedd simply told them not to wander round the complex – that’s standard in the module – so I drop that into the summary above.
NPC added: Stedd Hardy, Elyn’s ex and deputy constable
Chaos rises to 6