Sunday, 27 May 2007

Session Narrative

The party was able to get together yesterday for a long overdue session. Much fun was had, as the party concluded one objective and embarked on another, learning that Chaos has many friends in unlikely places.

Added meta-gaming notes for the reader in the form of footnotes and corrected some typos.

When it absolutely, positively needs to be there sometime in the next fortnight

Our heroes1 limped south across the rolling plains of the Kölsa Hills to Dohna. A new friend2 fought the pain and accompanying delirium of a nasty jaw injury. An injury delivered by a goblin’s intended death blow, saved by fate3: the cold, filth-covered, bastard steel striking an awkward angle, landing flat, rendering the young bounty hunter unconscious for an hour. And having fulfilled, at least in spirit, the mission directed by the General of the Talabecland units: cross the breadth of the Great Forest at Lieske, gather information on the size and movement of greenskins, meet a similar party at Taal’s Knobb and return to Dohna to possibly recruit forces for attack on an eastern front at Ossino; any form of comfort was sought. If not for the help of an elven ghost strider and her apprentice, they might have been hauling bodies of friends as well. Instead they were carrying the scalps of 10 orcs and thrice that in goblins. Taking the word of the eleven ghost strider, they scribbled in the crude marks of a hunter4 the approximate size of the greenskin force south of them and released the homing pigeons provided by the Talabecland general.

Dohna would be welcome respite. Three days and nights crossing the forest left the each of them worse for wear. As the friends approached the gates of Dohna, it became clear it was nearly abandoned amidst rumors of Waaagh! by the greenskins. So close to the edge the Great Forest, many left for Gersdorf. Only 4 village guards, 2 of which were drunk, barely useful for opening the gate, a fat innkeeper and his homely daughter provided ale and edible stew, and a fat Sigmar priest offering healing, for a price of course, remained.

The priest’s initiate was one that had previously sought adventure, but returned to prayer after seeing Chaos at work in the Empire. Martin Aulenbach5 immediately recognized the eleven hunter Ravendil Shadowstar. Martin and Ravendil had previously adventured together in the Reikwald Forest.6

Martin had grown tired as an initiate in the village of Dohna and equally tired of the depression inherent of an aging priest of Sigmar relegated to service in a poor Talabecland village, having to beg for offerings against the more appreciated Taal priest in residence. Seeing Ravendil was an excuse to leave for more adventure, and with the newcomer’s injuries, some gold would be rattle the altar plate, easing Martin’s separation.

The innkeeper could only talk briefly of another party that had passed through Dohna three days past. The party carried a bird cage and headed north, out the western gate. No word had been heard since from, what the party could only assume, those headed north. They debated looking for the other scouts, but it was soon decided by the Lieske woodsmen that Gersdorf and travel by the road west would be safer than backtracking through the forest. They, the woodsmen, felt that the mission fulfilled, Gersdorf would be fini, officially.7

Gersdorf was a day hike southeast of Dohna. Easier that everyone was slightly more healthy. Harder, because it had started to rain again.8 At the gate of Gersdorf, they were met by beggers. A large tent and lean-to camp, mostly refugees of Hermsdorf not welcomed at Ossino, had set up outside the western gate of Gersdorf. Mud and rain soaked, the party had little patience for beggars and went straight to plying their way past the gate guards. A dry, and lazy, guard was not going to get his hood wet for less than 2 karls.9 Paid, he pounded a riveted, leather fist on the heavy wood of the gate. The mood of the guard’s companion on the otherside was not one to be tested, but not too surly given the karl he was just handed. The party moved quickly through the gate. The area closest to the gate had been overrun by tents housing refugees rich enough to pay the guard. No beggars provided some sense that the Gersdorf guard might be heavy handed.

The party went to work. Resupply was in order and food was needed. Maybe some news from Hermsdorf or Ossino. The woodsmen, Martin, Erich, a bonepicker from Norland, and Andric, a sellsword from Wissenland, found an inviting tavern and set their collective hinds by the hearth. Ravendil, the elf hunter, and Volkmar, the bounty hunter with a black and purple jaw (though fading at the healing hand of the Sigmar priest), sought out a hunting supplier for arrows and bolts.

In the tavern, Andric was beset upon by a former sergeant of the Konigsdorf Guard. The sergeant had recognized Andric’s cloak as one of the Konigsdorf guard, but did not recognize Andric. Andric however recalled the sergeant. Brave and fearless, Sergeant Felix now drowned himself in ale to num the pain of a near fatal head injury that left a long scar across the level of his forehead. A scar left by the point of a blade so sharp it carved a permanent furrow in scar and bone. Felix had taken to selling his sword, as had Andric in the recent past, and was in Gersdorf to muster with like minded and experienced men to march to Hermsdorf, meeting the ruinous greenskins on the muddy fields.

Andric longed for the known battle versus the happenstance of adventuring. And the pay was regular. Taking his leave of Martin, Erich and the woodsmen, Andric returned with Felix to learn more of the muster the next day and reminisce with the sergeant.10

Ravendil and Volkmar left the hunting shop to rejoin the party at the tavern. Still raining, they tried to keep to the eaves, where possible, but found themselves trying to keep out of the mud of the road more often. A holler from across the road caught their attention and a hooded man dashed, jumped and ran across to meet them. Introducing himself as Ulrich, he saw them exit the shop and thought they might be interested in work guarding a shipment of goods to Ossino. If so, they were to meet him and his patron at the Green Cloud tavern near the docks.

The party rejoined, they considered Ulrich’s offer and agreed. Working passage by cart west is better than hiking. They said their goodbyes to Andric and the woodsmen, and went to finding the Green Cloud, in the rain.

The Green Cloud was a riotous tavern, packed with rivermen waiting out the rain and the swollen River Stir. Most were drunk, some were close to fighting, but it was a lively place all around. Ulrich stood, back to the bar, watching the men come and go, waiting to see if anyone he plied for service would enter. And the party of heroes did. Ulrich waved them through the floor, tipped the barkeep and ushered the party to a door marked private. Rapping in a practiced code, he entered and held the door for the party.

In the room, lit by many musky candles, Martin, Erich, Ravendil and Volkmar were greeted by a tall, well-dressed woman standing at a window, hand gently holding the heavy drape aside, watching the rain pour and overflow the gutter just beyond. Ciarra Soliel11 needed guards for her goods being hauled to Ossino this night. It would be a two day job ending at Ossino. 15 gold crowns apiece was the payment.

The party accepted and Ulrich escorted them out of Ciarra’s room, outside into the rain and to the docks. At the docks, 12 porters worked to carry 16 heavy crates off a barge to 3 large carts teamed by four horses in leather armor. The horses were burying their mouths in oatbags overflowing with rainwater. It was hard to keep a firm hand and steady foot in the rain. A porter lost one of the crates and it splashed into the mud with muted sound of steel hitting steel.12 The crates loaded, the porters done, Ulrich paid and dismissed them. The party was assigned each to a cart with a teamster. Ravendil and Volkmar took the lead cart with a teamster named Gustav. Ulrich saw having an elf a fortunate hire; on the lead cart his improved vision would maybe provide an edge in the dark. Martin sat in the second cart with Leopold, and Erich sat with Ulrich and a halfling teamster named Walter.

They drove the carts to the Gersdorf gate. Ravendil was sure he spotted monies changing hands, rain or not, the goods on board would pass, and the guards got wet as larger gates were opened for the carts.

The teamsters and party drove through the rain and mud. The rain made the rutted river road’s dips and pits softer, but no less disturbing to attempts at rest. Dawn came as the rain stopped and the next bend in the road offered real rest, the Inn of the Strutting Cock. The carts pulled into the rear of the inn and the makeshift livery. The teamsters went to work unyoking the horses as Ulrich and the heroes entered the main room of the inn from the rear.

Everyone was greeted with a genuine welcome by Josef, the proprietor. Ravendil and Erich had previously met Josef little more than a week ago, when the rumors of greenskin war unconsidered; the greatest threat then: bandits or Stirland raiders.13 Having departed on good terms, Josef treated them to hot stew and drink. Ulrich charged his hires with setting a watch on the carts with the teamsters, they were to be ready for another night of driving early afternoon. Ulrich retired to a rented room for real rest.

Josef shared with Ravendil and Erich that Lars, a bounty hunter holding ill will towards them, was through the inn just two days prior on his way to Ossino. They both took note of this, judging how to handle their passage through Ossino when the time came.14

The day passed without incident, Josef hosting the usual farmhands and travelers, as well as passing roadwardens. The roads had been heavy with them of late as they could not safely pass through Hermsdorf to the roadwarden operational base in Obelheim. The marching Talabecland army of professionals, flagellants, conscripts, and followers blocked simple passage.

Ulrich, rested and with duty, made ready to leave. The party took their seats with each cart and the teamsters drove the horses back onto the road. The road was thick with mud.

A good pace was made and despite Ravendil’s keen vision, the heavy rope draped across the road, coated with mud, was invisible. Pulled tight with an audible snap, the lead horses collapsed into the mud. Ravendil and the teamster braced and held to the bench with the sudden stop. Volkmar pitched forward, almost kissing the hindquarter of horse, but landed with a splash in the waterlogged road. The heavy crates pitched forward and slammed into the front wall of the cart. The teamster and elf held tightly again. Behind them the calls of the other carts stopping their horses were heard.

The rear carts pulled forward, closing the gaps between them. Roping a road was a trap… where were the bandits? No one waited long for the answer. 8 men wearing kerchiefs step from the sides of the road, swords drawn. No words were spoken at first. Then the obvious call, “Bandits!,” from the halfling in the rear.

The fight lasted 2 minutes. Swords slipped from hands in the mud. The elven bow delivered swift death twice. Martin’s hammer smashed shoulder and face. Volkmar and Erich’s swords landed with a butcher’s precision, cleaving flesh from bone. Ulrich left one bandit mortally wound and beset another unarmed. In the closing moments, Ulrich’s bandit unharmed, but subdued, Ulrich groin kicked him, letting a familiarity slip as he readied his dagger to dispatch the bandit with no mercy. “Gottfried, you fool!”

Quick to question, Martin stayed Ulrich’s dagger, and joined by Erich. The bandit wasted no time choosing his saviors. Kicking away from Ulrich, and coughing from the sharp pain in his groin, the bandit Gottfried spilled the reason he and his men beset the party. The crates were filled with weapons for the greenskins! Ulrich’s patron was in league with Chaos and profiting from the greenskin raids. Helping the greenskins win at Hermsdorf would be windfall to her trading in the spoils of war. All the heros had to do was inspect the crates and he would be shown right. Ulrich vehemently denied the accusations, calling the heroes to inspect the crates. Suddenly, the halfling teamster, hiding in the cart between the crates during the fight, jumped from the rear cart and bolted east down the road. Volkmar gave pursuit. Ulrich saw this opportunity to run to the wood. If he wasn’t guilty, he was guilty now.

Ravendil loosed an arrow, only to miss. Martin and Erich gave pursuit. Martin’s hammer missed and slipped from his fingers. Erich delivered a grave blow with the swing of his sword, nearly cleaving Ulrich’s arm at the shoulder. Ulrich pitched forward into the wet ground, going white as his life drained from his arm. Martin and Ravendil caught up to Erich standing over Ulrich, ready to deliver the coup de grace. Ravendil quickly suggested a tourniquet for the wound. Ulrich and the crates needed to be delivered to Ossino at once to the roadwardens. His patron, the woman named Soliel, must be outed as corrupted by the ruinous powers of Chaos, and hung, or burned, or both!

Pale with blood loss, the heroes pushed Ulrich back to the road and the rest of the party. The teamsters, along with Volkmar, had pushed two crates to the ground. Opened by the fall, the contents spilled across the road. Orc choppas, short swords, and small shields for goblins. All crudely and cheaply fashioned by those in league with Chaos, but deadly still. These weapons were bound for the fields of Hermsdorf and would have spilled Talabeclander blood.

The halfling teamster had revealed himself just a coward, running at the mention of Chaos. The teamsters dispatched the injured horses, helped shift the crates, and re-teamed the carts. Gottfried had removed some personal effects from his compatriots before helping the teamsters load the empty cart with the bodies. Ulrich was laid atop the dead, uncaring and nearly Funconscious. His arm, covered in dried blood, otherwise white below the tourniquet. The teamsters fashioned a hitch and teamed the cart to the other now pulled by six horses.

Next stop: Ossino.

meta-footnote-1=The heroes are: Ravendil Shadowstar, elven hunter; Erich, bonepicker from Nordland (GM/NPC); 2 Leiske woodsmen (NPCs); Volkmar, bounty hunter; Andric Vogt, Wissenland mercenary meta-footnote-2=Volkmar, a new PC. During a night in the forest, Volkmar was “deposited“ with the party, having been caught by an Elven ghost strider, foolishly tracking a bounty too deep in the forest. meta-footnote-3=Fate, or fate points, is a game device to give PCs a second chance when dealt a death blow. They are limited in number by race. meta-footnote-4=No PC can read or write, but the elf has the skill of ranger symbols, an almost universally understood code, at least by anyone having hunted for food. meta-footnote-5=Martin is a new PC that is being introduced by a player to replace, i.e., “sunset,” Andric, the mercenary. Martin is a Sigmar initiate that will bring much needed skills of reading, writing, and magic to the party. meta-footnote-6=This was briefly discussed in Session, party of one, ... meta-footnote-7=I used the woodsmen as reluctant swords for the PC party. Done with their service to the Empire, as simple men, they just wanted to return home. meta-footnote-8=The environment was well played by the PCs and added depth to the session. meta-footnote-9=Karls are the gold coin of the Empire at large. meta-footnote-10=This encounter was crafted to provide a roleplaying opportunity to the player to sunset his mercenary in a natural way. meta-footnote-11=Ciarra is an NPC introduced by the Orc Evil Overlord. meta-footnote-12=This was a plot device on my part to have the PCs question to themselves what was in the crates, and given that they were traveling at night, the mystery was ratcheted a little bit. meta-footnote-13=Pretty Things, mini-adventure from the Game Master Pack. meta-footnote-14=Lars is an NPC nemesis from Pretty Things. His reputation tarnished by the PCs, he has sought to have them hung or killed since meeting them at the Inn of the Strutting Cock, only 7 game days past.
Posted by caffeinated at 11:38 PM in d10
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