The Broken Land: fool’s gold

Chapter 9 of The Broken Land continues

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

Episode Two: The hijack

The Ironbridge rogues Binye Borer and Elyn have a couple of deals going. Let’s put them up as threads:

  1. Help the goblins corner the supply of Dolem’s Spire weapons to the Uruk Lord; and,
  2. Nobble the whole Danforth-Uruk transaction to keep the renegade rogues out of it.

Contradictory? Not a bit of it! At present the weapons are cached in the abandoned mine, and Noregz and his warband have agreed to act as guides there – and to help with shifting the cache – but not with the actual hijack.

The chaplain, on the other hand, has agreed to help with the hijack, provided word doesn’t get back to the constable. She wants to keep the guild the way it is, neutral between the uruks and principality.

Owing to clever delays thrown up by the chaplain, the Danforth deal is yet to go ahead and six days have elapsed since the rogues were originally imprisoned. One unforeseen consequence, or side-effect, of their escape is that outlaw Brad has also escaped. This is part of Lucky’s secret instruction to Elyn. The rogues have no idea of that event. They and the chaplain have stayed in the tunnels behind the inn, and are now following the goblins.

 

I’m re-using Dyson’s [2015] Dwarven Mines last used below Fingold. To help adjudicate guards, I’ve also brought in a rebuild of the same solo wargaming deployment rules last used in GM-free SHC. Thanks to these the rogues have an easy task: the guards are mostly back in their original base (the Magician’s camp, in Gloaming) and are bored and static. There are 24 locations possible for the cache and discounting places 1 and 2 like ‘right in the entrance’ I roll 3d8 and get location 13, first large chamber left of the inner or ‘works’ doors. From an evil mastermind point of view it makes good sense: well back away from the entrance, but practical for pack-mules.

 

Scene: a tunnel, leading down to the mine

Noregz points down:

“Here. When all done, holla holla.”

“Maybe…” Binye responds doubtfully, and eases forward. Borer’s organic plate clonks and rattles behind him. And behind that, Binye can hear the chaplain’s chainmail.

He finds a door left on the tunnel. Listening, he hears nothing, and it doesn’t seem to be trapped. He eases it open, glancing back to find Elyn just a step back with throw-knife ready.

The chamber beyond is rigged as a torture room, with a simple re-purposed wooden chair. Bloodstains show whoever uses these rooms – there’s a door beyond – has used the chair. On the right, there’s a hardwood armoire.

Elyn ghosts over, eases the simple wood door open, and has a quick rifle of the contents; shakes here head – just ragged clothes.

Binye advances to the far door, the other three arranging themselves ready, and after inspecting it, opens it: to see a mean-looking man wielding a spear!

Hobgoblins:

Hobgoblin lieutenant Init+2, HD4d8+4, 25hp, Attack+6

Four hobgoblins: Init+2, HD2d8+2, Attack+2.

Surprise round: Binye makes a nat 20 and is unsurprised by the mirror the hobgoblins have rigged. Instead he strikes at 90 degrees right and kills the waiting hobgoblin!

Initiatives: chaplain, Elyn, hobgoblins, Borer/Binye.

Round 1: The chaplain rushes the nearest hobgoblin and bring down Qwight, her new magical mace, killing it outright. Elyn dive-rolls to take advantage of the mirror’s cover, but does not quite get to it before she’s struck a terrific blow by one of the hobgoblins. [LCK burn attempt fails, Elyn  is down 9hp] One powerful, well-furbished hobgoblin leaps at the chaplain, and swings hard, and a second flanks her, but her sturdy chainmail saves her from both. Binye, seeing Elyn in trouble, spears her attacker, and he drops with a shriek as Blood Spear drinks deep. Borer rushes in but loses grip on Harken for an instant and misses his chance to strike.

Round 2: The chaplain smashes the powerful hobgoblin, but he seems little hurt. Elyn finishes her roll into cover as the dying hobgoblin screens her from the others, and flips back her knife at the powerful one. It sinks in, and he immediately staggers, blinded. His henchman fights on, and again the chaplain’s armour saves her. Binye has by now turned with back to mirror and spears the chaplain’s attacker: he begins bleeding out. Perhaps unaware the big one is blind, Borer powers into him with Harken, smashing through scale armour and deep into the ribs.

Round 3: With a final smash from Qwight, the chaplain ends the big hobgoblin, and a well-flung silver handax from Elyn finishes the bleeding one.

There seems no particular purpose to this chamber, other than being a lair. The rogues know that there are hobgoblins back int the woods, so perhaps this is a forward base. They collect the best shortsword, and 52cp and 2sp.

+2AP.

 

Scene: the same

Elyn gingerly tests the wood scale armour that has served her so long since Aurelon’s Keep. Blood marks her testing fingers.

“Say, chaplain?”

“Yeah Elyn?”

“I got me a good and solid cut. Ya do healin’, right?”

“Waal… if I heals ya, I ain’t gonna be able ta do other things… not thet ah’m sayin’ no…”

“Best a live Elyn than a good clue to a dead Elyn,” Borer decides. Elyn is  helped out of her armour and the cut cleaned. Binye is prompted to a thought:

“We’ve got a safe base. Let’s all shed armour and be real quiet now.”

The chaplain finishes healing Elyn and protests but can’t come up with a good excuse not to. So she, too, is armored merely in an arming shirt. Her order’s holy symbol bounces proud on her chest.

Borer sniffs his armpit and scowls. “Ain’t no joke, a-swelt’rin’ in bug-plate. I swear I boiled myself twice over.”

“Now I come ta look at y’all, yer a fine figger of a Dwarf,” the chaplain says unexpectedly.

“Huh?”

“Waal, my order allus has a good place fer Dwarf makers. Can y’all make?”

“Ya mean, c’n I craft? I wuz brung up a mason…”

“Y’all sh’d join my guild… we’d treat ya right…”

Borer’s blushes are spared by Binye who calls them back to the task at hand.

This exchange is generated by a scene alteration, which cascades into the chaplain being attracted to someone loud and horrible as they shed armour!

 

Scene: A slick descent

They’ve worked their way a short path further down. Here, the wetness  present in the tunnel becomes a slick-bedded rivulet down.

Binye shows the chaplain how to chimney-climb, and with the help of the other three, she makes it down without falling.

The chaplain has no special climb ability but the rogues all make a high enough margin that I rule they help her down.

+2AP

 

Scene: The great cavern

Main inner entrance below and hard left, rift left, wider cavern ahead.

They watch for a while, and though dim lights do pick out parts of the cavern ahead, there seems no movement.

A quick search around detects two possible places to investigate – aside from deeper into the mine.

Binye points down left to where general wear marks show most traffic. The four scramble down further. From here, it’s no surprise the goblin’s tunnel is unguarded – it’s invisible. The heavy double door of a mine workings is shut. Looking right of those, a side tunnel, almost a rift, seems to angle down. Binye turns his attention to the doors and Elyn joins him. After working quietly at them for a while, Binye eases one open. Like this broad cavern, the tunnel beyond is dark but partly lit.

The usual random choice based on likelihood of which way to go; Binye makes a fine pick lock check.

 

Scene: The main shaft

Not far in, they think they’ve made a horrible mistake: there’s a guard chamber just left of the doors! But no-one yells or attacks, and it proves to be unoccupied. It looks as though guards normally do use it, but it has been left unoccupied for some time.

Some 30′ in, large doors face one another across the broad shaft. Binye crouches and looks carefully along the floor. Then he points right: a couple of mounds of horse dung near a door. He gives the thumbs-up and heads there, listens at the door. Then begins studying the door frame and lock.

Elyn helps as required and Borer and the chaplain stand guard. Over the next several minutes the two rogues carefully disarm a trap and open the lock. Despite the delay, no-one troubles them.

The deployment dice really helped out here, with a 1 in 12 chance of being disturbed. Both Binye and Elyn make fine disarm trap and pick lock efforts.

+1AP

At length Elyn taps the pair on watch: ready! Very quietly, Binye eases the door open and peeks through. He gets as good an angle as he can, and counts at least three guards, away on the other side of a large chamber with crates stacked in it.

All this is passed on as best gesture and a scant few muttered phrases allow. Then they charge!

Initiatives: Elyn, Borer, Binye, chaplain, broker’s goons.

Goons: three mercenaries out of Dolem’s Spire, F2, 2HD.

Round 1: The startled guards at first grasp for matchlocks, but as Elyn covers the ground between door and crates in a dash and throws herself into cover, they seize sidearms. As Elyn uncorks a vial and readies her sword, Borer hurtles across, sweeping Harken across into the shoulder of the closest guard. Binye is close behind, stabbing a second guard. there is only one other guard and the chaplain rushes him: but he steps clear. These guards do not seem to expect help, for aside from shouts of pain and reaction, they concentrate on defending themselves.

Round 2: With poison on her blade, Elyn sidles around getting closer to the action. Borer strikes his man again but the other two are parried off. The chaplain’s opponent manages a telling blow into her ribs.

Round 3: Elyn missteps and loses her chance for a lethal backstab. Borer’s next blow is fended painfully by his opponent’s arm. Binye judges the effect of Blood Spear: his man is nearly out so he reverses the spear and stabs the chaplain’s opponent. She also manages to strike him a glancing blow. As Binye has gauged, his opponent falls, futilely trying to stanch the bleeding. The other two fight on.

Round 4: Elyn steps behind Borer’s doughty foe and kills him with a neat stab. Borer swings and deals a deadly blow to the chaplain’s opponent.

I do check whether the guards have missile weapons, but as the rogues have opened the door without being detected, either both or neither will use missiles. Since the rogues have only small, short-range throw blades now, the answer was that we commence with round 1 and the rogues are ahead of the defenders. There is no penalty to the defenders.

+1AP.

Loot: The rogues handle the unfamiliar weapons gingerly and work out how to at least fire once. Matches are snuffed out. 23sp are also found.

The crates are suitable for donkey or mule and are almost entirely gunnes or accouterments of gunnes.

There’s another chamber beyond, that looks as though it has been briefly used as a stable, but is now empty. Choosing not to search further, the rogues reassemble up at their armoury, then armour up and contact Noregz for goblin-packing out the crates.

DCC does not include firearms, but recall that this whole campaign is a spin-off of my Vale-based campaign. The fact that they are firearms actually comes out in a slightly later scene, but makes sense.

There’s a 50-50 chance that pack animals are here, and the other place they would have to be is the magician’s camp.

+5AP mission bonus

 

Episode Three: Those leaving us

Scene: The magician’s camp

Elyn walks in, open hands outstretched, and the surprised crew rustle up the magician himself in short order.

This is how Elyn put, to the other three, the point she wants to make:

“Let’s simply point out they have no reason to fight – they may as well just leave.”

Maybe she exaggerates the numbers of goblins, maybe she implies they are in alliance with the hobgoblins… in around ten minutes she’s back safe with Binye, who dismounts the matchlock and sneaks after her to the other two.

“I don’t reckon thet one’s gonna be breakin’ camp anytime soon,” Binye opines. “He ain’t seem ta be plumb fallin’ fer ya line, Elyn.”

“We’ll see. I guess they gonna be high-tailin’ it back ta th’ mine, an’ check our story. After that…” she turns to the chaplain… “I guess it’s up to you!”

“Yup,” chaplain agrees without sounding pleased about it, “an’ I ain’t aimin’ ta be th’ source a’ discord in th’ guild.”

“Le’s aks Noregz ’bout summore he’p,” Borer drawls, racking his brain to help the chaplain, “or mebbe Beareen an’ Gbus an’ them – they allus wuz a step ‘r two ahead on us.”

This kicks off with some framing questions about whether the goblins will now team up and seize the pack beasts. They will, but the scene to frame up an ambush shifts to a peaceful resolution. Elyn rocks her PRS check and the magician fails. However, I do check whether he will accept this fait accompli, and he won’t. The results of goblin theft are left off-stage, below.

 

Scene: Goblin cavern

Noregz is thinking along the same lines. Twenty goblins, with great straining and with help from the rogues, got those crates up the tunnel and stowed away safe. But taking them further? Now, Beareen and her fellow-entrepreneurs can put their minds to it!

“Where are the animals that packed in the crates?”

“Waal… I guess there did seem ta be a lot a’ ridin’ critters on th’ camp,” Elyn offers.

“Then that’s simple -” she turns to Noregz – “Raid the camp – steal the animals, as you did at Briar Keep.”

Noregz looks at her with disfavour. But after debating something in his own mind, agrees.

 

Scene: trail out of the wilds

The chaplain hugs them all three, and has a special squeeze for Borer. “Don’t fergit, y’all’re welcome any time! Ya saved th’ guild fr’m politics – th’ constable ain’t never gonna hear th’ detail fr’m me, so ya sh’d be safe anyhow.”

“I reckon that’s mighty fine a’ y’all,” Borer drawls, “an’ I guess if things git diff’rent we’ll be back ta say howdy. On’y, I guess from th’ safe side a’ th’ hoosegow.”

“Aw, thet’s jest a adventure, waitin’ ta be recalled in comfort, right? – But say, speakin’ a’ thet, didja know thet badman, Brad, done lit out at th’ same time y’all busted out?”

Her face changes as suspicion clouds it, but all three protest any thought they might have helped the renegade, and she relaxes.

“Well farewell one an’ all, an’ I hope y’all don’t git gypped by th’ goblins. Seems they like a winnin’ hand deal a mite too well…”

The three rogues, and Muley and their new mule Newboy, head away out of the woodland wilds and up to where the goblin convoy awaits.

“Huh, all said an’ done, let’s never squabble over a pretty face agin,” Binye says obliquely but wisely.

Back near the start of the adventure, the rogues learned they can buy a pack animal locally. There are two possible vendors, so I rule that succeeds without needing a scene.

+2AP

Chaos is 5

 

 

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