The Broken Land: Leaves in an autumnal gale

The Broken Land concludes here!

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

Episode Three: Flight to Seevers Mill

Characters:

  • Binye and Elyn, L4 Thieves
  • Borer, L4 Dwarf

Threads in play: 

  1. Now that they have not only located the uruk lord’s base, they have bowed before his very throne: report the location of the uruk lord’s to the Templars!
  2. Minor thread: Scout the hill-giant steading 

NPCs in play:

  1. Uruk lord’s army
  2. Lady Danforth’s faction
  3. The templars

Chaos is 7 as Binye Borer and Elyn, with their pack-beasts Muley and Newboy loaded down with equipment treasure and rations, debouch from the Torn Mountain range into… well, let’s see!

They’re comin’ this way!

Clear of the mountain switchbacks the rogues take stock. And realise they are lost, and have probably been headed the wrong way since they left the uruks, or since Brad started guiding them.

“Th’ one dee-rection I do know is north. Rivers, or at least run-offs, are like ta be found thet way. South, I never heard no good of. East or west – we like ta die a’ thirst.”

Conserving water and keeping the mountains to their right the three lead their mules through a badlands. Though none of them are wilderness-born, they all have something to bring to surviving. Borer’s feeling for rock formation, Binye’s animal knowledge, and Elyn’s herbal knowledge all help.

[They all roll middling to poorly on these knowledge areas; but all roll exceptionally well on STA]

But what really saves them is the sound of a large body of troops, behind them and getting closer.

Binye wakes the other two and starts reloading the mules.

“They cain’t be follerin’ us?” Borer wonders, strapping on his breastplate.

“If th’ gunnes broke down, mebbe th’ goblins shifted blame onta us” Binye offers.

“Less s’posin’, more gittin’ away” Elyn growls, equally at a loss to explain what the horde is doing following them.

“We ain’t gonna have time ta load! Shee-it!!”

“Let’s jest ride th’ mules! Borer – with Elyn!”

Clutching the most valued of their possessions, cursing their ill fate, the rogues leave most of their hard-won loot in camp and flee on mule-back.

+2AP

Because the tentative side-mission ‘scout the hill giant steading’ is still in play, I draft the scene for the Badlands of Slate, which will offer the chance to include the steading. I get an alteration, focus NPC action. The meaning is Punish Technology. Well, one possibility is that the rogues nobbled the gunnes.

Mythic: Are the gunnes useless? (50-50) No

The alternative to that is reading the meaning as the uruks punishing their enemies with technology.

Mythic: Are the uruks invading this way? (50-50) Yes!

LCK fails – they are not going to have time to plan

Will the rogues flee? (Likely) Yes, cascades to abandon business. That makes leaving gear behind pretty definite. I’ll still assume, or let dice tell me, that highly-portable items like gems and vials are kept.

Chaos rises to 8

New thread added: warn the settlements in the uruks’ path

Woods, where trees can’t be seen for them

A beeline away from pursuing uruks appears to be pretty nigh due north, and that brings them – thankfully as the sun climbs – to woods. The mules perk up and the trio push on until darkness makes it impossible to navigate north.

The rogues make a dry and cold camp, and chew young shoots to ease thirst. Muley and Newboy are able to crop undergrowth; but then, the air settles or shifts somehow, and the two mules break free and away!

“I’m guessin’ they smelled water,” Binye opines. “Ah’m a-gonna foller on. Borer, guess yer scout f’r once?”

“Why? ‘Cause all us dwarfs’re legendary tree-huggers?”

“Aw c’mon Borer, we bin through a lot t’gether,” Binye encourages, “hell, ya know Ah’d do it if’n I could.”

[The dice have deserted the rogues, as far as camping stuff and handling animals goes – but Binye makes a good PRS check and Borer scores a nat 20 for ‘scouting in the dark forest with Dwarf eyes’.]

Chaos rises to 9

I know where we might be!

The mules are not dead! Smarter than horses, they seem to have drunk enough then turned to crop from riverside greenery.

The rogues thankfully replenish canteens, freshen in what seems to be an all-year stream, and face some decisions.

It’s evidence of timber felling that suggests where they’ve ended up, and that they should push on.

“OK, yeah it could be Seever’s Mill or Joetown,” Elyn sums up. “I can’t say I recollect much about the woods south of Joetown, ‘cept we were on a rough road, an’ we ain’t never seen Seever’s Mill.”

“We foller th’ stream,” Binye argues again, “an we come ta somethin’ like a town. Then we warn ’em they’s uruks a-hoofin it right smack this way, an’ we keep a-foggin’ outta hyar.”

“Yep, m’ godlike trackin’ powers agree, let’s us git along downstream an’ find whar-all we are.”

Mules properly bridled again, the trio make the best time they can following the stream itself and rough forester trails. The stream broadens and leads to a fork; and there’s a small town at the fork; and by that time, logging activity is obvious. They’ve reached Seever’s Mill!

Chaos drops to 8

Arrival of an inopportune enemy

How do you go about telling a town they are in danger of invasion, when you are three scarecrows with two mules between them?

Logging camps they pass aren’t interested. As they walk tiredly into the town square and look for a marshal or sheriff, Borer picks up on some fancy mounts from out of town, tethered outside the best in-town lodgings.

Binye walks casually over to inspect them and Elyn brushes as much trail-dust as she can off her outfit, and walks into the inn. Borer winds the mule leads firmly round one brawny wrist and sits down on the duckboards, against the inn, closes his eyes, and becomes a dwarf hitching-post.

Some minutes later Elyn and Binye compare notes. The retinue, out of Dolem’s Spire, of one Lady Danforth. With a killing gent included in the retinue.

“We have to git. Roust Borer.”

The scene for Seever’s Landing gets an alteration, focus NPC action, Danforth, meaning attach portals. Which is really obscure until I read it as ‘has entered.’ 

More? Attach enemies. Have the uruks already arrived? (VUnlikely) No. So this is still the Danforth faction? (Likely) Yes.

Mythic: Has Lady Danforth herself arrived? (Unlikely) No, cascading to imprison plans. 

I also use Location Crafter to paint some scenery in, such as the forest, the time of day and so on. I have no pre-generated weather chart for this time of year.

+2AP, the rogues are 30 shy of L5

Episode Four: The bridge to Joetown

This ain’t no deathwatch!

From Seever’s Mill, the Bigmoss takes shorn logs down to the Sourwater past the woods south of Joseph’s Inlet. Locals reckon it to be sixty mile to Dolem’s Spire. Before the Sourwater, the main trail crosses the Bigmoss over a stone bridge, and heads away to Joseph’s Inlet.

But there is a quicker route to Joseph’s Inlet! An overland trail, seldom taken in these dangerous times, runs directly from Seever’s Mill to a fork in the trail not far west of Briar Keep: if they turn north at that fork, they are on the main trail back to Joseph’s Inlet.

“We got choices. If we give up th’ mules an’ take a chance that the Templars ‘r’ expectin’ us, we c’n boat downriver all th’ way ta th’ Spire.

“But, if we wanna keep our options on th’ mules – which same lets us git ta hell away fr’m th’ Templars – we gotta head east across ta warn Joetown.”

“An’ jest sayin’ – another option is ta head west inta th’ badlands agin.”

“Cy’s back in Joetown.”

“I wuz jest speckerlatin’ it’s another option!”

“Let’s us have one more try to roust th’ folks hyar – then git. I ain’t a-gonna burn alongside them.”

This is a framing scene for leaving Seever’s Mill. Which, for once, is clear. Which means the half-possible showdown with Lady Danforth’s top assassin has been avoided.

As usual I use likelihood to determine which way they head. Including west into the badlands!

Chaos drops to 7

To the boats! But wait – Templars are where?

“I warn ya – if’n ya don’t git downriver y’all be dead by tomorrow sunrise!”

So saying Borer goes to swing up behind Elyn, and Newboy kicks him stoutly in the ribs. To the loud guffaws of idling foresters and guards Borer picks himself up painfully and the rogues have yet another conference. Then they turn away from the trail and head to the boat dock.

As they bargain for a trade – mules for boar passage to Dolem’s Spire – their tiredness makes them careless. One of the dockers catches the word ‘templar’.

“Them templars? Yep, I guess ya would wanta steer clear of th’ Briarwood. I hear they bin makin’ life tough fer… some folks… over thet way.”

“Wait! Ya meantersay – th’ Templars ‘r’ over to Briar Keep? Them same templars? Sorta assholes in fancy armour?”

“I dunno ’bout no one character, but I do know they come outta th’ Spire. Ya not… lookin’ fer them?”

“Mister we surely are! Cancel th’ deal – unless – Borer – time ta decide – is this where we split up?”

Borer rubs his bruised ribs and frowns, thinking. Then he decides:

“We’ll give th’ mules one more chance.”

“Sure,” Binye agrees. “We’ll mebbe split up when we git ta th’ bridge, one headin’ ta warn th’ templars – much as I hate ta say it – an’ us other two headin’ ta warn Joetown.”

This will-we won’t-we is generated from Borer getting a nat 1 on ride, then:

Mythic: Will the rogues split up here? (Unlikely) No

Do they take a boat? (Likely) Yes!

Then at the new scene: boat-dock, I get alteration, focus move towards a thread. This pretty much locks in reporting to the templars. You may or may not recall that the templars shifted their forward base to Briar Keep. 

Mythic: Does the dock crew know that the templars are in Briar Keep? (SLikely) Yes.

More? Intolerance of leadership, then heal the innocent. So I read this as the rogues begrudgingly deciding to save Joetown despite the templars. They will need to ride across, then split at the bridge, as Binye outlines.

Chaos zips up and drops back, to 7 again

+4AP across these scenes

Dust spells a broken journey

Borer may have managed to ride pillion, but mules aren’t horses, and he and Elyn are not lightweight. Behind them the growing dust-cloud tells its own story. They are being pursued and if it’s not uruks it must be Lady Danforth’s gentry.

“I c’n see th’ tree-line gittin’ near,” Binye shouts back. “I’m gonna fog Muley hyar up t’ th’ bridge an git set up. Ride past me as if I ain’t thar an’ drop off outta sight, come back. Got me?”

The scene of road-to-the-bridge gets an alteration: ambiguous event. Meaning expose a project.

Mythic: So the cat’s out of the bag? (Likely) Yes

More? Arrive enemies.

So these are the faction they just left in Seever’s Mill? (Likely) Yes.

Chaos rises back to 8

A killing gent ends his travels

Helmut Hartman: T6, STR09 STA09 AGI14 INT08 PRS10 LCK10, F+2 R+4 W+2

Helmut is confident – his prey is tired and riding not even one mule per person. They may have gotten a good start but he and his bounty killers will haul them down before they can reach Briar Keep.

An arrow arcs down and sinks through his sturdy hide armour. He wrenches it out angrily and shouts:

“We have them! They’re at the bridge! Rush them before they can shoot again!”

He reins his horse back a little. A man should not keep dogs and bark himself! Then his vision seems to haze over, and as Helmut’s eyes clear he finds himself in desperate melee with any number of ferocious illkin!

“Ware left! Ware behind! They’re on us from the trees! Strike you fools – or we are dead!”

Helmut kicks his fine steed forward among his men, or where they should be – and realises they have become lost in the heaving mass! Only one chance – cut his way clear and flee over the bridge!

Cutting left and right he rides partway clear, but the blades of the enemy sink in and as his horse clears the far end of the bridge, he falls, bleeding out.

The bounty killers halt, confused. Two hastily begin stanching the cuts he gave them. One swears:

“Damn him ta th’ hells! Y’all think he wuz in th’ vizier’s pay all along?”

“He went crazy, started babblin’ about someone back behind us…”

“Well that’s our pay. Ya wanna try fer them thieves on th’ bridge or mebbe parley fer loot shares?”

The battle is a bit of an anticlimax because in checking what the rogues salvaged and what Noregz had on him I get an hallucinogen, and that Binye does have a goblin shortbow. Looking back at Shrouded Fen I see that the hallucinogen makes you relive a past scene at the location. I mix this effect with a typical confusion spell.

Helmut makes an 02 on SV, and though his ride and attack rolls are good, the first five bounty killers all hit in response to his attack.

Chaos drops to 7

Binye’s bluff

“Yep, we c’n talk. On’y thing is, them templars know’d we about ta be hyar an’ I guess ifn ya lissen hard y’all c’n hear th’ first scout.”

The bounty killers do not wait: abandoning their pay the turn tail!

Binye grins as Elyn rides Newboy up, points to the dead body by the horse:

“Ya late! Let’s do us some lootin’ then I’m a-gonna ketch me thet horse!”

Binye makes his PRS check, the bounty killers roll an 01.

Chaos drops to 6

+4AP and +10AP for fouling up Lady Danforth’s plans

Episode Five: and Finally

We part ways here – for now

Borer straddles Newboy and grumbles:

“If’n them templars kill me, I’m a-comin’ back ta haunt ya.”

“You’ll be fine,” Elyn assures him. “We’ll head to Sidewinder Creek an’ hole up… we’ll see ya there.”

Binye, pleased to bursting, paces his fine new horse up and down. He waves a jaunty farewell as Borer clumsily guides Newboy west and south to Briar Keep:

“An’ don’t fergit, Borer, we agreed livin’ rich an’ handsome is th’ best revenge!”

Elyn mounts up and mutters:

“Two of us with our heads screwed on Muley, let’s stick together.”

This is an alteration to ‘leaving the bridge’ with ambiguous focus. Meaning expose the public. 

Mythic: Let the public go hang or sound the alarm? I get sound the alarm, cascading to neglect a plot.

Mythic: Do the rogues toy with that revenge again? (50-50) Yes.

Chaos drops to 5

The Uruk Lord is at the gates! Gitalong!

Perhaps the good folk of Joseph’s Inlet would pay scant heed to two wild-eyed riders who arrive yelling about doom and destruction. But a powerful, red-headed ogress, one of the teamsters, seems to believe them and soon wagons are being piled high with valuables. Seeing wagons being loaded for evacuation, naturally some prudent citizens hire boat passage as well. Very soon there’s a mass panic, and the townsfolk flee north!

As Cy whips the team onward over the Bigmoss bridge some few hours later, Elyn and Binye crane back. Uruk outriders are already on the rough trail beside the Bigmoss! Cy snorts confidently:

“Pay them no mind! Ain’t no scabby orc can outrun ma team! Next stop Sidewinder!”

And with the cracking of Cy’s whip, Elyn and Binye can relax and reckon Borer’s chances.

Bonus AP for saving Joseph’s Inlet and warning Briar Keep takes the rogues to L5

The end!

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