In the Trollshaws. Ep04.

Back to the MERP adventure. To tackle the exploration issue I will be using a combination of a hexflower with a known map.

Trollshaws Hexflower

So here, I took the Trollshaws map, and overlayed the hexflowers (with some additions) on top.

  • Each hex represents an approximate one day walking distance.
  • If for some reason the party doesn’t travel, they stay in the same hex.
  • To determine the direction traveled when looking for the lair, the party will roll their tracking skill.
  • If they succeed, they choose the direction. If they fail, then they roll 2d6, with the Intended Direction (6-7) being, the target hex (#5)
  • Previously explored region doesn’t require a tracking roll. i.e. they can always navigate back to the inn.
  • If they end up going to a ‘dotted’ hex, then they spend a day there, but next turn, I don’t roll, and they move to the other non-dotted hex adjacent to it.
  • If they end up going to nowhere, then 1-3 goes to the clockwise dotted adjacent hex, while 4-6 goes to the counter-clockwise dotted adjacent hex.

Since the party was already roaming around, I will roll 2d10-1 to see where they pick up the hexflower (and not at 4): 9

The whole concept is that if they stray too far, they realize it and change direction. If one searches for a hill troll lair in Rhudaur, it’s unlikely that they will reach Rohan and keep going.

Watches/encounters as per standard rules.

Also I’ll start a Secret Clock, to determine if Leddon is still alive. It will be an Independent Secret Clock, triggered at three consecutive Hearts. I’ll draw two cards already for the days spent so far, and a new one.

Drew 3 cards face down.

I also decide to roll up 1d30 for the day, and it’s the 8th day of Hithui (we had established that before).

Going with BOLD again to roll up some connections.

action gerund subject
address lying your nature
proclaim repairing a possession
speculate training friends or family

Day 8, Hithui, 3rd Watch

As the party eats up their breakfast, Dwalin looks into his emptying Backpack.
“We need to replenish our supplies. It’s been two days already, and rations are running low.” He says to his companions.
Leowyn and Camthalion both agree, and they head back to the Inn.

Watch: 32/13: No encounter.

Day 8, Hithui, 4th Watch

Watch: 32/88: No encounter.

It isn’t long before they reach the torch lighted windows of the Last Inn.
As they enter, the Grumms look at them with anxiety.
Dwalin shakes his head, and they turn back to service their guests.
“Will you be staying the night? Shall we prepare the same room?” Rubb asks them while he wipes a mug.
“We will.” Leowyn replies. “Also we’d like some dinner. It’s really cold outside and we could use something to warm our bellies.”

Q: Is everything as expected?
A: No, but, it’s 1d4 on TWINE: 1: Increase Simple Element
I decide it’s the warmth of the place.

“Come then, I’ll seat you by the fireplace. We’ve put more logs tonight, since it’s colder than usual.” Rubb signals for one of his daughters to take care of the party, and soon they are seated.

I roll to see who of the regulars is in the Inn, and find that only Grepp, drunk again is there tonight.

So we’ll be buying one meal for each (3 cp). 1 wk worth of Normal Rations (5 cp), and 2 wk worth of Trail Rations (2 bp). Separate Bedding for each (6 cp) and Stable (2 tp). This amounts to a total of 3 bp, 4 cp and 2 tp.
The party pool is at 9sp, 5bp, 3cp and 3tp.

“There’s fewer people here tonight.” Camthalion states. “I doubt we can glean any information. There’s only that drunkard selling the map to the fort.”
“And he’s probably lying anyway.” Leowyn adds. “You all saw how dangerous it is to be out there. I doubt this man is in possession of a true map.”

I think this covers the speculate lying a possession, for Leowyn.

action gerund subject
address ~~lying~~ your nature
proclaim repairing ~~a possession~~
~~speculate~~ training friends or family

Q: Does the night pass by uneventful? (Likely)
A: No, and it’s something dangerous

So now I’m thinking that it could either be a thief/assassin
Or the trail of orc bodies they left wasn’t left unnoticed and maybe there is an orc patrol after them daring to attack the inn
Also it could be the hillman they let live, maybe his friends are bent on revenge

So to start, I’ll first take a look at the Hârnmaster tables, see if the encounter tables cover the above situations

I think the ‘Lawful Highway Night’ table can lead to any of the above (and more)
75: Forester: To/From Visiting Friends/etc
Q: Is it the same forester from a few nights ago?
A: No

So a lot of thoughts fly in my head. I’ll go with the first idea that pops, and ask the Oracle for verification.
Q: Is it someone who gets insulted by the party?
A: Yes

A nice heartwarming meal, and some mead later, and the companions are talking around the fireplace, sharing their stories about how dangerous the Trollshaws are, how they have killed a dozen orcs so far, and even fell a troll.
It all goes well, and the audience is captivated, until Leowyn opens her mouth.
“The orcs run abound in Rhudaur. And the men around here even if they weren’t self minded fools, caring for nothing but scaring poor travelers, they wouldn’t be a match for them. Bunch of cowards.” She spits out.
Suddenly silence.
A burly man pushes aside his table, making noise on the floor, as he stands up. “Who did you call a coward?!” He asks in a deep intimidating voice, as he puts his arms around his waist.

Now, Leowyn is a proud shield maiden. She won’t be bullied, and stands up for herself. Nevertheless, her cautious Personality means she doesn’t want a fight in the only place for miles where she can rest safely. She’ll try to avoid conflict, while keeping her pride intact.

“The hillmen who thought less of the women of Rohan.” Leowyn says and stands up as well. “I spared their lives. Not sure if the wolves were as forgiving.”

Influence: 17: Failure. You have failed.

The man attacks. It’s going to be unarmed combat. I decide that the party doesn’t wear any armor, and since it’s a fistfight, Leowyn won’t draw a sword either.

Hillman attacks: 43+25-20 = 48: 1
Leowyn attacks: 06+35-20 = 21: –
Camthalion and Dwalin don’t intervene.

Hillman attacks: 50+25-20 = 55: 2
Leowyn attacks: 16+35-20 = 31: –
Camthalion and Dwalin don’t intervene.

Hillman attacks: 12+25-20 = 17: –
Leowyn attacks: 58+35-20 = 73: 8T: 29-50 = -19: Fairly Weak: +0 hits. Zip.
Camthalion and Dwalin don’t intervene.

Hillman attacks: 86+25-20 = 91: 12A: 50-20 = 30: Leg Strike. +4 hits. If no leg armor, stunned 1 round.
Leowyn: Stunned
Camthalion and Dwalin don’t intervene.

Hillman attacks: 93+25-20: 98: 14A: 70-20 = 50: Chest Strike. Knocked Back 3 feet. +5 hits. -10 to activity for 2 rounds.

The man throws a jab at Leowyn, but it’s fast and not strong. It barely shakes her. She tries to hit back but finds only air. He follows up with a left cross and hit her a bit harder this time, as she tries once more to hit back.
Now she has an idea about his opponent, and as he jabs once more, she steps aside and hits him with a strong punch to the side. He rotates his body and kicks her hard in the leg. She screams, and can do nothing but clench her fists in pain. As she lies there, he finds room and follows with a jumping kick right on her chest. The strike knocks Leowyn back 3 feet, and she falls on the floor unconscious.
“And stay down! Hah! Woman of Rohan!”. The man says haughtily, but dares not move any closer as he sees Dwalin’s hand resting on his mace, and Camthalion grasping his sword’s hilt.
The room runs cold. Not even the thick logs burning can warm the chill in their hearts.
In the silence, the two companions take the beaten Leowyn back up to the room to tend to her.

Q: Do the Grumms intervene? I deem that Unlikely since the whole conflict resolved itself.
A: Yes, and they take a strong stance.
Q: Do they side with Leowyn?
A: Yes

Camthalion casts Surface Ways on Leowyn: 89: Success: Heals 10 hits.
Leowyn is at: 29-1-2-12-4-14-5+10 = 1 hit point. She regains consciousness.

“No matter the insult, this is not a place to fight. You are not welcome here.” Rubb tells the man. “Keep your coin I don’t want it. You may spend the night in the stables, since it’s too cold outside, but after that I want you gone in the morning. I don’t want to see your face again.”
The man swears something between his teeth, but seeing as he has no support among the audience, he mumbles and picks his gear and heads outside.

“We’ll have to spend another night and day here, master dwarf.” Camthalion says. “Until she recovers at least. We’re in this alltogether.”
Dwalin has no choice but to agree. “Let’s see if we learn anything more at least, during this downtime.

I deem that Camthalion used the ‘address, repairing, friends or family’ connection.

action gerund subject
~~address~~ ~~lying~~ your nature
proclaim ~~repairing~~ ~~a possession~~
~~speculate~~ training ~~friends or family~~

Day 9, Hithui

I’ll be rolling in the Harnmaster Weather tables, since they’re more appropriate than MERP’s.
The Weather is Cold, it’s Overcast, Snowing, with Calm Winds.

Q: Do any more people arrive in the next day?
A: No

I’ll roll an Influence roll, to see if they learn anything about hill troll lairs in the region.
Influence: 76: Partial Success: 73: Failure. They learned nothing new.

I draw another secret clock card.

Q: Does anything happen during rest period?
A: No, but rumors abound regarding last nights events.

Leowyn spends her day in bed. It still hurts a bit, but apart from some bruises, to remind her of the beating, it’s mainly her battered pride that worries her.
Camthalion and Dwalin try to glean any information regarding hill troll lairs from the guests to the inn, but all they care to talk about, was the fight between Leowyn and the Hillman.

So during extra rest period, they have to pay one more night of lodging and food. This amounts to 6cp + 2tp + 18tp + 3cp = 1bp +1cp. The party pool is down to 9sp, 4bp, 2cp and 3tp.

Day 10, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The Weather is Cool, it’s Cloudy, with a NE Breeze.

In the morning, I draw another secret clock card, and the party continues their search.

Scouting for hill troll lair: 13+30+11: Failure. Can’t roll again for another day.
Hex: 2d6: Towards #7: 7: Going to Hex #7.
Encounter: 37/81: No encounter

Day 10, Hithui, 4th Watch

The Weather stays the same.

Encounter: 30/90: No encounter

Day 10-11, Hithui, Overnight

The Weather stays the same (becoming cold for the night) for the 5th and 6th Watch, but strong winds and overcast skies storm from the North, during the 1st and 2nd Watch.

Encounter: 13/79: No encounter

For a whole day, the party searches the countryside, for any sign of Leddon or any troll that might have taken him. To vain. As the cold of the night sets in, they camp to a decent site. Leowyn picks the first watch, Camthalion picks the second and Dwalin the third.
When Camthalion goes to relief Leowyn of her watch duties he tries to explain about the previous night at the inn.
“We couldn’t have intervened without causing more trouble, or insulting your honor. I apologize if we let you down. We are all in this together.-” Leowyn interrupts him.
“Don’t. If anyone has let you down it’s me. I should have been able to fight it out on my own. It’s my honor and the women of Rohan that I have insulted. This won’t happen again. I will train harder and better. I am set on making them proud.” She says sternly. Camthalion doesn’t say another word.

I deem that with this, the final connection plays out for Leowyn. Proclaim, training, your nature.

Day 11, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The Weather becomes Warm, with Clear Skies and Calm winds.

In the morning, I draw another secret clock card, and the party continues their search.

Scouting for hill troll lair: 24+30+11: Failure. Can’t roll again for another day.
Hex: 2d6: Towards #5: 3: Going to Hex #12.
Encounter: 36/02: Sighting by (wild beasts): Track: Reptile: Ordinary Reptile/Lizard: Sleeping/Hibernating/Dormant.

In the morning, they return to their search. The strong winds from midnight have calmed, and the sun rays warm their bodies. Will they find Leddon? Wil they find Dwalin’s hammer. Sometimes it all feels futile, searching in the trollshaws.
Leowyn’s mind is hovers back to her lost love. Will she ever find his killer? The still morning floods her thoughts and feelings. A hibernating lizard in the dirt, under a big tree, doesn’t help take her mind of things. But then, Dwalin’s deep dwarven voice snaps her out of it.

So the hex #12, contains the ruined castle! Here’s a chance to get away from the hexcrawl and do some dungeon delve! But first things first. I must ask the Oracle.

Q: Is everything as expected?
A: No, but: TWENE: 3: Add Simple Element.

I roll up a portent: Break the Ice. So I deem that the simple element is Ice. Maybe the stream running in the ruined keep has frozen.

Q: Is the stream frozen?
A: Yes, but, still running underneath

Before them, at the top of a hill, lies a stone keep with several stories. A once sturdy structure, fallen in ruin.
“Come and see! It must have been the castle the drunkard was talking about! We don’t need no map!” Dwalin tells them. Leowyn seems worried, because if the existence of the castle was true, then so might be the traps.
“We must be careful, there could be traps.” She tries to calm him down.
“And riches!” Dwalins eyes glimmer with greed. He calms down. “I know my way around traps. Plus, we can’t pass the chance that maybe the relic I look for has ended here.”
Leowyn finds it far fetched, but she can’t deny a dwarf his treasure hunt. “Let’s go then, carefully.”

I decide to stop here. Going into this castle is going to require at least one session dedicated to it.

Bookkeeping

Name Days Rations
Camthalion 7
Dwalin 7
Leowyn 9

Arrows: Camthalion is at 28 arrows.

Hit Points: The party is at full hit points.

EP: Leowyn has gained 238 EP from the beating she received from the Hillman. Camthalion, with Spellcasting, has gained 100 EP. The party has traveled 30 miles, giving 60 EP to each since this is a moderately dangerous region. This gives 259 Idea EP. Camthalion gets 86 EP more for a total of 246 and Leowyn 173 for a total of 471.

Adding up the previous session’s EP.

Name Experience Points
Camthalion 2609 EP
Leowyn 2132 EP
Dwalin 3093 EP

Money: The party pool is 9sp, 4bp, 2cp and 3tp.

Session Summary

Another grand example of how this old school system, is not suited for well rounded gameplay. The chances of a successful influence roll were low. Around 15%. If one takes a look at the classes and pregens, they will see that there is almost no focus on secondary (I’d say tertiary) skill, like influence.
This is another testament to the old-school roleplaying style. All the interactions between characters were roleplayed and there were minimal in-system mechanics to resolve them.

Next, I’d like to focus on the one-to-one combat between Leowyn and the hillman in the Inn. Even though Leowyn had a small advantage, the swinginess of this d100 system, is such, that she got her ass handed to her. This is not a game that can be played with one character. It is deadly. The swinginess is reduced by adding more characters in the mix. A party is necessary.

Now in this particular scene, I decided it would be best if the rest of the party wouldn’t intervene. It was a one on one unarmed combat, and it wouldn’t be honorable for Leowyn or the group to gang up on the hillman. Thankfully the consequences in unarmed combat, usually aren’t dire.

I enjoyed how the hex flower overlay starts to play out. I may have not found the hill troll lair, but I fell upon the castle which is so interesting! and it makes so much more sense to see my party moving around the map.

I know this is a starting adventure, but looking at the combined stats of the enemies and the lethality of the system, I’m well aware, my party might not make it out alive. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

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