Chapter nine of The Broken Land concludes!
A DCC/Mythic solo play (with other emulators as required)
Episode Four: Embercrag
A quick recap:
Our Ironbridge rogues Binye Borer and Elyn travelled across part of the Broken Land out of Ignorick’s Halls and into the Wilds, a community largely cut off amid the rugged peaks of the Broken Land, focused around Gold Hill Trading Post. They discovered that its renegade rogues guild was on the brink of becoming the fulcrum for Lady Danforth’s faction to lever the Uruk Lord out of his Embercrag stronghold and into an attack on Joseph’s Inlet.
The chaplain of the rogues guild, a genuine cleric, wished to take her guild out of this knot of infamy, and recruited the three rogues – or they recruited her – to hijack the cargo of weapons that was to be the payoff.
At the same time the rogues formed yet another deal with the goblin entrepreneurs, who by secret underground waterways and tunnels also ended up at Gold Hill, and with the help of an augmented contingent of goblin warriors stole the entire cargo, in order to smuggle it into the Uruk Lord’s stronghold themselves.
The rogues are playing for high stakes. If they double-cross any of the Uruks, the goblin merchants or the goblin warriors they will be outnumbered and far from home! And now, read on…
Bargaining for entry
While none of them are hulking war-tyrants of Gorgun’s order of power, the urukin guarding the path into the Broken Land are competent and numerous.
There’s a long delay while Beareen – with Noregz chipping in – negotiates for the mule-train’s entry.
They are waved through! Borer sweats slightly less.
This is a scene shift on the original trail scene: move towards a thread. Meaning haggle portals. Testing more, I find it’s about failure of technology. This is really the main key that decides the weapons are gunnes. A few questions later I find the ‘gates’ are bargained open based on the new offer of firearms for the uruk lord.
Chaos drops to 4
Can’t we all just get along?
The seven goblin merchants are in high spirits. True, the Gold Hill venture was a bust, but this looks to be pure profit: a hijacked cargo of matchlocks, sold to the uruks for a fortune! Tarkar offers an awkward smile for Elyn and hands across dried cooked rations. But come nightfall, there’s a different air.
“I can’t help but notice, we been covered by a bunch a’ goblins.”
Beareen holds up her hand:
“This is where we say, goodbye. We pay you as agreed, by results.”
“But… don’t take this th’ wrong way Beareen, that ain’t right!”
“Every time uruks see us with you, more trouble explaining.”
“Jest tell ’em we’re drivers!”
“Heavily armed drivers. Yes, they don’t believe.”
Under the massed bows of goblins, two piles of gear are dumped out – mostly the less-valuable belongings of gnomes – and the goblins start marshaling the mules for a further move.
This is the second scene shift and move towards a thread in a row, with meaning struggle mistrust. The goblin – rogue dichotomy strikes again! ELYN burns LCK and makes her PRS check and Beareen makes hers. I need more information and get oppress a project. So although the rogues have got to the trail to Embercrag, they are left to their own devices.
Chaos rises to 5
Valued allies after all
But there’s a problem. The mules decide that they’ve done their day’s march and aren’t interested in getting moving again. Their protests and kicks are more than any goblin can cope with!
Binye steps forward and calls:
“Say, Beareen! Noregz! I’m a hand with mules! Lookit how I druv Muley and Newboy hyar!”
Somewhat crushed by the loss of face Beareen has to bear the sight of the rogues taking their place among the mules again and Binye comfortably driving the whole train forward.
They push on through the front end of night and settle for a short sleep.
A scene shift reverses the previous scene, with focus PC positive, meaning failure of animals. It’s an easy call to ask whether the goblins can handle the mules? And of course, they can’t. Binye is the only person with animal handling, so the rogues step back into the convoy again – and they have a good deal of the original ‘offer’ Beareen made them in Gold Hill.
Chaos drops to 4 again
The stakes are raised again
The rogues wake among red-raw crags, fragmented into dangerous scree slopes here and there. A few green patches where earth has collected, a few hardy high-country trees. The sky is already pale with heat, the day already hot.
And the uruks have sent along an alarmingly large honour guard of a troll, two ogres and half a dozen large uruks.
“Dang! Must a’ sent a runner back.”
“Still an’ all, we must be closer ta’ Embercrag than we allowed.”
Its small comfort that they seem just as suspicious of Noregz and his squad, as of the rogues. All of them are disarmed and march along with the mules, reduced to mere drivers.
No sooner up than down! Scene shift, PC negative: refuse power. I check that this means they are disarmed (which makes good sense from the uruk point of view) and get a cascade for gratify stalemate – so it applies to the goblins as well.
Chaos bounces back to 5
Someone among the uruks knows how to do ceremony! The convoy is welcomed with blaring horns. Banners roll down from Embercrag’s walls. High above, waving to his loyal followers, the uruk lord.
A thousand cruel voices bellow their loyalty and chant hail to the conqueror as the convoy is escorted into Embercrag!
With a chaos check clear for a change I use LOC to get some scene setting for Embercrag.
LOC: Carefully beautiful
LOC: Who’s here? Triumph victory
LOC: What’s the occasion? Cruelty outside
Chaos is 4
The uruk lord giveth
Elyn’s gift of the gab is never as much in evidence as it is here. Her smoothly blended mix of lies and truth leave no seam for the goblins to contradict!
The uruk lord gestures and the brave entrepreneurs, their guards, and most importantly their day-guards-come-scouts are handsomely rewarded!
Beareen and Xmab are ecstatic and the other goblin merchants are joyful. Only Noregz has an evil look in his eyes as he rewards his own followers.
This scene rolls off the last. Elyn makes a nat 20 on her PRS check!
I do check if Gorgun is attending, but he is not. Even if he were, he would have nothing bad to say about the rogues. They behaved themelves around him!
“We’ll be heading away – gotta find somewhere fun ta spend th’ ree-ward.”
As Elyn bids what she fervently hopes is a final farewell to the goblins, Noregz speaks from behind her:
“We too will be going. Perhaps we shall share the dangers of the trail, for a time.”
Chaos is 5 as this chapter ends!