In the Trollshaws. Ep05.

Spent some time reading and re-reading the sample adventure text, since there’s some mix ups in the descriptions.

I’ll be going with the same way I’ve been dealing with pre-written modules. Will have to be asking a lot more questions, once for each new room…that is if I get too far inside!

My party is lucky to have reached the keep early in the day. Orcs are nocturnal, and this might be an important advantage.

Now I need to consider the approach. By definition, we’ve reached the keep from S-SW. This means that the party might try searching for the entrance clockwise or counter-clockwise.

I’ll be rolling randomly.
Q: Does the party search clockwise?
A: No.

We’re adventurers not fools. Though someone might call adventuring foolish. Nevertheless they have met orcs, trolls, and hillmen, all hostile. It’s likely they will go forward silently. I won’t roll for that choice. I will roll though for their skill. Orcs are supposed to have keen hearing.

Crouching, Camthalion and Leòwyn, reach Dwalin in height, and pacing each step carefully, reach the side wall of the keep. The two south towers are crumbling, and the party doesn’t consider climbing them, in case they collapse. The earth mounds higher on the southeastern tower and the party feels exposed for a minute before they descend.
The collapsed gate lies before them, the frozen stream passing through it. They hug the wall, as they see that they are in sight of the lookout window of the northeastern tower.

Let’s roll. There’s no rules for party rolls that I have seen in MERP so far, so I’ll roll for each and every one.
At least I found the stalking rules. I’d expect them in a specific chapter, but they’re under the skills chapter. Thankfully there is a decent index at the end of the book to guide me.

A quick measurement on my side shows that the party needs to go 80′ to get inside. I’ll be using the subterfuge skill bonus for the orcs against the stalk/hide skill of my party members.

Round 1:

Camthalion: Stalking: 75+40-12=103: 90: 85/2×90%: Camthalion moves 38′ and doesn’t get noticed
Leowyn: Stalking: 12+5-12=5: 10: 35/2×10%: Leowyn moves 2′ and doesn’t get noticed (barely)
Dwalin: Stalking: 98+39+2-12=127: 100: 45/2×100%: Dwalin moves 22′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 2:

Camthalion: Stalking: 75+40-12=103: 90: 85/2×90%: Camthalion moves 38′ and doesn’t get noticed
Leowyn: Stalking: 92+5-12=85: 60: 35/2×60%: Leowyn moves 10′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 87+2-12=77: 60: 45/2×60%: Dwalin moves 11′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 3:

Camthalion: Stalking: 94+40-12=122: 100: 85/2×100%: Camthalion moves 42′ and doesn’t get noticed
Leowyn: Stalking: 12+5-12=5: 10: 35/2×10%: Leowyn moves 2′ and doesn’t get noticed (barely)
Dwalin: Stalking: 83+2-12=73: 60: 45/2×60%: Dwalin moves 13′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 4:

Camthalion is safely inside the courtyard.
Leowyn: Stalking: 98+23+5-12=114: 90: 35/2×90%: Leowyn moves 16′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 25+2-12=15: 10: 45/2×10%: Dwalin moves 2′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 5:

Leowyn: Stalking: 28+5-12=21: 20: 35/2×20%: Leowyn moves 3′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 94+2-12=84: 60: 45/2×60%: Dwalin moves 13′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 6:

Leowyn: Stalking: 12+5-12=5: 10: 35/2×10%: Leowyn moves 2′ and doesn’t get noticed (barely)
Dwalin: Stalking: 27+2-12=17: 10: 45/2×10%: Dwalin moves 2′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 7:

Leowyn: Stalking: 82+5-12=75: 50: 35/2×50%: Leowyn moves 9′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 85+2-12=75: 50: 45/2×50%: Dwalin moves 11′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 8:

Leowyn: Stalking: 41+5-12=36: 20: 35/2×20%: Leowyn moves 3′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 21+2-12=11: 10: 45/2×10%: Dwalin moves 2′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 9:

Leowyn: Stalking: 43+5-12=38: 20: 35/2×20%: Leowyn moves 3′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 87+2-12=77: 60: 45/2×60%: Dwalin moves 11′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 10:

Leowyn: Stalking: 34+5-12=27: 20: 35/2×20%: Leowyn moves 3′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin is safely inside the courtyard.

Round 11:

Leowyn: Stalking: 94+5-12=87: 70: 35/2×70%: Leowyn moves 12′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 12:

Leowyn: Stalking: 70+5-12=63: 40: 35/2×40%: Leowyn moves 7′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 13:

Leowyn: Stalking: 72+5-12=65: 40: 35/2×40%: Leowyn moves 7′ and doesn’t get noticed

Round 14:

Leowyn: Stalking: 52+5-12=55: 30: 35/2×30%: Leowyn moves 5′ and doesn’t get noticed

The entire party is inside the keep and hasn’t been noticed.

Again, this is some really old-school tactical grid management. Success dictates how much you move. It took Leowyn 14! rolls to get inside.

Camthalion, swiftly with elvish agility, moves on the frozen ground, without leaving a trace. The heavyweight dwarf follows, but his training as a scout compensates, and not long after, he’s inside the walls. It takes Leowyn more than 2 minutes to cover the distance silently. She hears her boots sink in the ground, and does her utmost do stay silent.


Now we’re inside. Do we search the towers or go directly for the keep?
First of all, let’s check the scene.
Q: Is everything as expected?
A: No, and, roll 1d10 on TWENE: 9: Wild Positive!
No clue, what this can be, so I’ll roll on the d144 Idiom Portent Table.
2,11: Straight Arrow

The party sees a corpse of an armed man lying down, sitting next to the tower to their left. There is an arrow straight through his skull. It mustn’t have been more than a few days old. The arrow feathers are black Crebain feathers. Dwalin recognizes it for what it is. “Orcs.” He whispers and draws his mace. “We should search the place before going inside, or we risk ending up like this poor soul.”

Let’s see if the party realizes where the arrow came from:
Camthalion: Perception: 05-94+35+20+20=-14: Absolute Failure
Dwalin: Perception: 26+23+20+20=89: Partial Success
Leowyn: Perception: 26+5+20+20=71: Failure

So much for realizing where the arrow came from. Therefore I’ll roll randomly 1d4 to decide which tower they will investigate first: 3: Tower 3.
Lucky me, this is the tower with the Orcs.

Weapons drawn, the party decides to enter the north eastern tower, next to the gate, with the window overlooking the entrance.

Q: Is everything as expected?
A: No. Roll 1d8 on TWENE: 8: Remove major element.
So the sample adventure dictates there are 5 orcs here, and an extra 1-7 orcs at any time of the day.
Now, this is a very important part and may change the entire adventure so I’m going to roll. 1-2: All the Orcs are missing. 3-4: The extra 1-7 Orcs are missing. 5-6: The secret passage isn’t there.
5: The secret passage isn’t there.
1-7 extra Orcs: 3.

The party enters the tower, from the stairs, and the orc stench immediately fills their nostrils. Have they seen them? they are about to find out.

Camthalion: Stalking: 48+40-12=76: 60: 85/2×60%: Camthalion moves 25′ and doesn’t get noticed
Leowyn: Stalking: 41+5-12=34: 20: 35/2×20%: Leowyn moves 3′ and doesn’t get noticed
Dwalin: Stalking: 7+2-12=-3: 5: 45/2×100%: Dwalin moves 1′ and doesn’t get noticed

I decide that the party enters the tower unnoticed, and have surprised the orcs.

Going through Herubar Gular in the Sample MERP adventure. Considering the odds I really wonder how did starting parties survive.
I have a party of 3 1st level adventurers, and entered a tower of 8 3rd level orcs with chain armor, handaxe, shield and short bows, equivalent to strong orcs.
Should I tone them down to weak orcs? It feels like cheating, but it doesn’t make sense to have those odds.
Maybe I can draw them out in the open daylight and take advantage of their activity penalties.
I’ll stay true to the deadliness of the adventure.

Reading through the example actualy play report of MERP, I can see that the GM rolls a 1d100 activity roll for the Orcs. In general, the GM rolls 1d100 many times, to decide. So, since it’s day, I decide that the orcs are not active, and will only move around on a result of 80 or more, unless disturbed.

Activity: 56. The Orcs are still snoozing around.

So since only Camthalion moved this great distance, I deem that he managed to reach the 2nd floor and peek to see the orcs. Dwalin and Leowyn have only managed to enter the ground floor.

Camthalion, silent as a cat, walks up the stairs, and peeks his head off the staircase. He counts eight vile orcs, wearing chain armor, their wicked axes and bows next to them, at the ready. He turns to his companions and gestures them to be silent. Then he makes the number eight with his fingers.

Despite Camthalion’s stalking skills, he’s no good at Ambush, which is the skill required to backstab and kill those orcs without knowning what hit them. So here comes some intra-player talk. Talking to myself, I decide that the best tactic would be to draw them out, and maybe kill a few of them in the process. The party will try to light a fire with lots of smoke to make the orcs come out of the tower and pick them out one by one.

Camthalion: Stalking: 62+40-12=90: 70: 85/2×70%: Camthalion moves 30′ and doesn’t get noticed
Activity: 44. The Orcs are still snoozing around.

Camthalion walks back down the stairs, and the party decides what to do.
“Let’s light a fire. I’m good at fire starting, but there’s a chance it might wake them up.” Dwalin says. “Leowyn, you stay next to the doorway, and Camthalion, you ready your bow, aiming at the opening. Let’s smoke them out.”
The party takes positions, and Dwalin begins working on lighting a fire with flint and steel.

So I’ll reduce the chance for Orc activity to 70% considering the noise, but only for the first few rounds. Afterwards, it is just blowing air to make the fire grow. It will take Dwalin 1d3 rounds to get the noisy part out of the way.
Striking flint and steel rounds: 3

Round 1:

Activity: 33. The Orcs are still snoozing around.

Round 2:

Activity: 57. The Orcs are still snoozing around.

Round 3:

Activity: 27. The Orcs are still snoozing around.

It takes Dwalin a bit longer than usual to light the fire, but eventually he manages to do it without rousing the sleeping Orcs. 3 minutes later he has a fire going on. He only needs to move inside the tower to place it in a suitable rag or cloth to burn it down.

Q: Is there combustible material in the ground floor? (Likely, the Orcs are not known for their clean living environments)
A: Yes

The tower is 50 ft in diameter. Since I got a plain ‘Yes’ result, I deem that the combustible material is going to be inside these 50′ with a bell curve. I will roll 5d10: 40′ away.

Dwalin looks to the far end of the ground floor to find a good pile of hay, rotting wood, old rugs and torn rags. He knows it’s too far for him to get in a few strides. He fears his heavy steps might alarm the Orcs. He gestures to Camthalion. “Take the embers and place them in the pile next to the stairs. You elves are light footed, right?”
Camthalion thinks for a moment then rips a bandage, tightens it around an arrowhead and lights it on the fire. “I’m a better shot.” He says and aims at the pile.

Camthalion: Shoots: 64+58: 122: Success

The arrow flies true and within a few minutes, the pile is on fire. The party covers the doorway, waiting for the orcs to come out. Dwalin and Leowyn wait on each side, while Camthalion has his arrow nooked, overwatching from a distance.


So now I have three different aspects to monitor. Fire, Smoke and Orc Activity. I will roll 1d100 for each, each round. On a 80+, the Fire will increase in intensity, delivering an A/B/C/D/E critical to anyone passing through them in the ground floor. It starts at A. On E. The Tower will collapse. On 80+ the Smoke will increase in intensity, delivering a -10 to activity for 1 round(s). On 80+, one Orc will become aware something is wrong, and start rousing the rest of his friends. Each increase in Fire or Smoke intensity will increase the Orc activity chance by 10. Each increase in Fire intensity will increase the Smoke chance by 10.

Round 1:

7/16/92: An orc, picks up the faint smell, and starts to raise a ruckus.

Round 2:

41/47/86: The orc, picks up his gear and goes downstairs to investigate. One more orc starts looking around.

Q: Is the orc within Camthalion’s LOS?
A: Yes, and Camthalion has a clean shot

I deem that the Orc isn’t ready for combat, and won’t be able to use his DB.

Camthalion: Shooting: 19+58=77: 2 hits

As the fire starts to spread slowly, Camthalion keeps his gaze in the staircase, which is visible from outside. His keen elvish vision doesn’t miss a thing. He sees a crouching figure moving downstairs, and immediately he lets go of his arrow. The arrow finds the orc, but gets entangled in its armor, only barely scratching him.
“Goth! Nalt!” He screams in his black speech.

So the rest of the orcs will spend one round picking up their gear. And then start descending. The hit orc continues his descend to get out.

Round 3:

87/11: The fire has spread, reaching a B critical status.
Camthalion nooks another arrow.
The Orc already inside receives a B critical: 80-10=70: Knocked down by fiery blast. Any organic foot and calf covering destroyed. +10 Hits.

The flames suddenly lit ablaze, and the clothing on the orc’s leg catches on fire. It screams in pain and drops down, tumbling down the stairs.

Q: Do the rest of the orcs fear being burned, seeing the misfortune of their friend?
A: Yes

The orcs in the second floor pause and stop mumbling, seeing their member burn and fall down. Leowyn and Dwalin block the exit downstairs.

Round 4:

8/56: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
I decide that the flames and smoke rolls will be open ended. Meaning a roll of 01-06 will bring the intensity down one level.

Camthalion shoots the Orc1: 42+58 (won’t give the Orc a DB since it was knocked down)= 100: 8A: 93-20=73: Strike to lower leg. Tendons torn. +3 hits. -25 to activity. Stunned 1 round.

I will roll again for Orc activity, in order for them to decide to risk going down the flaming stairs: 24: They stay put.

Camthalion takes another shot at the advancing orc. His arrow strikes the lower leg, tearing the orc’s tendons apart.

Round 5:

32/26/30: Fire, Smoke and Orc activity stable.
Camthalion nooks an arrow.
The Orc is stunned.

While the orc tries to recover from the fire and the arrow hail, Camthalion nooks another arrow and Dwalin and Leowyn wait patiently, in the advantage of the tight doorway and the daylight.

Round 6:

78/87/83: Fire remains at B and Smoke increases and the Orcs decide to move out.
Camthalion shoots an arrow to the orc: 17+58-5= 70: 0
Dwalin and Leowyn set up on defensive stance waiting for the orc to exit.
The Orc moves to the exit, attacking Leowyn.
Dwalin flank attacks: 45+51+15+15-5=121: 17C: 59=59: Blow to shield shoulder breaks shield.
Leowyn attacks: 11+38+15-5= 59: 1 hit.
Orc1 attacks Leowyn: 161+63+5-25-40-60=104: 10A: 54-20=34: Blow to upper leg. +5 hits. If no leg armor: +3 hits & 2 hits/rnd.

So I decide that 1d100% (round up) of the remaining orcs will brave the fire.
05: 1 orc2: B critical: 12-10: Hot Air. +0 hits.
The orc passes through the flames and will suffer -10 to activity for 1 round due to the smoke.

Camthalion shoots another arrow on the burned orc, but misses. The orc tries to exit the flaming tower and comes face to face with Dwalin and Leowyn. It aims for Leowyn, but Dwalin strikes from it’s flank, his mace crushes the shield. Leowyn tries to hit it, but only manages a flesh wound. The orc turns to her, and hacks his handaxe to her leg, gashing a wound open, blood spewing out. With the fire getting stronger, only one orc dares to brave the staircase, and manages to get downstairs without being burned. Just some smoke in his lungs.

Round 7:

69/28: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
Camthalion loads his bow.
Dwalin attacks the Orc1: 37+51+15+15-5=113: 15B: 96-10=86: Blow to weapon arm. +8 hits. Stunned 2 rounds. If no arm armor: tendon damaged, arm broken and useless. He has lost 64/79 hit points.
Leowyn goes back to bandage her leg.
The Orc2, drags the stunned orc back and attacks: Dwalin: 43+63+5-30-60(daylight)= 21: 0 hits.
1d100% orcs brave the flames: 45: 3 orcs. Each takes a B heat critical:
Orc3: 57-10=47: Blinded by hot smoke. +12 hits. Stunned 1 round.
Orc4: 59-10=49: Blinded by hot smoke. +12 hits. Stunned 1 round.
Orc5: 02-10=-8: Hot Air. +0 hits.

Camthalion readies his bow, while Dwalin follows up with a strike to the orc’s weapon arm, crushing it to the bone. Leowyn steps back to bandage her bleeding leg. The other orc comes from behind, grabs his friends shoulder, and pushes his back, taking his place against the dwarf and the shield maiden. Three orcs brave the stairs, and two are burned by a gash of hot smoke as they go to the ground floor.

Round 8:

02/62: Fire goes back to A and Smoke remains at the same intensity.
Camthalion shoots Orc2: 14+48+10-5=67: 0
Orc2 attacks Dwalin: 56+63+5-30-60(daylight)=34: 0 hits.
Dwalin attacks Orc2: 24+51+15-30=60: 4 hits.
Leowyn moves back and puts aside her sword, drawing out her composite bow.
1d100% orcs brave the flames: 90: All four remaining orcs.
The two stunned orcs and three new orcs all receive a B heat critical.
Orc3: 17-10=7: Strong heat, little effect. +3 hits.
Orc4: 26-10=16: Strong heat, little effect. +3 hits.
Orc6: 24-10=14: Strong heat, little effect. +3 hits.
Orc7: 02-10=-8: Hot Air. +0 hits.
Orc8: 70-10=60: Knocked down by fiery blast. Any organic foot and calf covering destroyed. +10 hits.
Orc1: stands aside tending to his wounds.
Orc5: nooks an arrow.

Camthalion aims and lets of an arrow to the orc at the doorway, and misses. It tries to attack Dwalin, but the daylight is blinding, and it fails aimlessly as the dwarf parries the blows. Dwalin hits back the orc, as his companion, with the broken arm moves to the rear. Five more orcs brave the flames and fill the ground floor, screaming shouts at their enemies as the fire burns the staircase. One orc falls down by the fiery blast, remaining at the staircase.

Round 9:

89/60: Fire increases in intensity to B.
Camthalion readies an arrow.
Dwalin attacks Orc2: 30+51+15-30=66: 6 hits.
Leowyn readies an arrow.
Orc5 shoots at Dwalin: 62+40-60-5=37: 0.
Orc2 attacks Dwalin: 47+63+5-30-60(daylight)=25: 0.
Orc3,4,6,7 take out their bows.
Orc1: disabled.
Orc8: 91-10=81: Fire engulfs back. Knocked down. All organic material on back is destroyed. 2 hits per round. Stunned 1 round.

Dwalin faces off the orc in one to one combat. These are not the weak goblins they met in the forest. They have skill and armor. Dwalin barely manages to score a flesh wound while parrying successfuly the enemy. The orcs in the back of the tower draw their bows and arrows and load them. The orc trapped in the stair case is burned further as he fell on his back, burning further, it screams in pain.

Round 10:

04/46: Fire decreases in intensity to A.
Camthalion shoots Orc2: 41+48+10-5=94: 7 hits.
Dwalin attacks Orc2: 73+51+15-30=109: 14B: 97-10= 87: Shatter Knee. +9 hits. -60 to activity. Knocked down and stunned 3 rounds.
Leowyn shoots Orc3: 73+33-5=101: 10A: 76-20=56: Strike along side of chest. 1 hit per round. Stunned 1 round.
Orc1: Disabled.
Orc2: Stunned.
Orc3: Stunned.
Orc4: Shoots at Dwalin: 48+40-60-5=23: 0.
Orc5: Reloads.
Orc6: Shoots at Dwalin: 94+40-60-5=69: 0.
Orc7: Shoots at Dwalin: 100+12+40-60-5=87: 6 hits.
Orc8: 31-20=11: Strong heat, little effect. +3 hits. Stunned.

Dwalin shatters his opponent’s knee, knocking them down, as an arrow from Camthalion lodges in the surface of their skin. Leowyn takes aim at another orc, and releases her arrow, which strikes along the side of the orc’s chest, stunning it. The orcs release a voley of arrows to Dwalin, and one scratches him. The orc in the staircase remains trapped there, unable to move.

The battle at the tower

Round 11:

20/97: Smoke Increases in intensity.
Camthalion reloads.
Dwalin attacks Orc2: 52+51+15-30+20=108: 14B: 47-10=37: Blow to forearm. +5 hits. If no arm armor, stunned 1 round.
Leowyn reloads.
Orc1: Disabled
Orc2: Disabled
Orc3: pushes aside Orc2, draws a handaxe and attacks Dwalin: 11+63-30-60-30=-16: 0.
Orc4: Reloads
Orc5: Shoots at Dwalin: 87+40-60-5=62: 0.
Orc6: Reloads.
Orc7: Reloads.
Orc8: 70-20=50: Blinded by hot smoke. +12 hits. Stunned 1 round.

As almost all the archers are reloading, Dwalin follows up on the knocked down orc with the shattered knee, and blows his forearm, further stunning him. The orc whimpers in pain, and one of his kind, drags his back and attacks Dwalin with their handaxe. The orc in the staircase is blinded by hot smoke, still trapped, doesn’t know which way is up or down.

Round 12:

85/06: Fire increases in intensity to B, Smoke decreases.
Camthalion shoots Orc3: 54+48+10-5=107: 13B: 02-10: Glancing blow. No extra damage.
Dwalin attacks Orc3: 99+61+51+15-5: 150: 22E: 09+20=29: Blow to side. +4 hits. -40 to activity for 1 round.
Leowyn shoots Orc3: 14+33-5=42: 0.
Orc1: Disabled
Orc2: Disabled
Orc3: attacks Dwalin: 77+63-30-60-40: 10: 0
Orc4: Shoots at Dwalin: 96+94+40-5-60=145: 23E: 20-10=40: Minor forearm wound. +2 hits. If no arm armor: stunned 1 round.
Orc5: Reloads.
Orc6: Shoots Dwalin: 45+40-5-60=20: 0.
Orc7: Shoots Dwalin: 91+40-5-60=66: 0
Orc8: 21-10=11: Strong heat, little effect. +3 hits. Stunned.

Camthalion delivers a glancing blow to the orc locked in combat with Dwalin. Dwalin delivers a blow to their side, remaing a stout obstacle to the exit of the orcs who still remain in the burning tower. An arrow hits Dwalin to the forearm, and the pain makes him lose concentration for a few moments.

Round 13:

49/36: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
Camthalion reloads.
Dwalin is stunned.
Leowyn reloads.
Orc1 is disabled.
Orc2 is disabled.
Orc3 disengages.
Orc4 drops the bow and switches to handaxe and charges at Dwalin: 90+63+5-30-60-30: 28: 0.
Orc5 shoots at Dwalin: 37+40-5-60: 12: 0.
Orc6 reloads.
Orc7 reloads.
Orc8: 65-10=55: Clothing catches on fire. Takes 2 rnds to extinguish. +12 hits. 8 hits per rnd afire. Stunned 1 round.

The archers reload, while the orc in combat with Dwalin steps aside, fearing for its life. Another one takes his place, and Dwalin puts all his skill to block the strikes. The orc in the staircase has remained trapped for too long, and his clothing catches on fire. It screams in pain.

Round 14:

67/93: Fire remains the same smoke increase in intensity.
Camthalion shoots at Orc4: 96+89..: 25E: 51+20=71: Strike to lower leg. Tendons torn. +3 hits. -25 to activity. Stunned 1 round.
Dwalin attacks Orc4: 75+51+15-30+20=131: 19D: 51+10=61: Blow to shield shoulder breaks shield. If no shield: shoulder broken, arm useless.
Leowyn shoots at Orc6: 34+33-5=62: 0.
Orc1 is disabled.
Orc2 is disabled.
Orc3 is disengaged.
Orc4 is stunned.
Orc5 reloads.
Orc6 shoots at Dwalin: 55+40-5-60=40: 0.
Orc7 shoots at Dwalin: 05+40-5-60=-25:0.
Orc8: 39-10=29: Minor burns. +8 hits. 1 hit per round.
Orc8 goes downstairs.

Camthalion takes aim, low, below the armor, and strikes the lower leg of the orc, his arrow, tearing the tendons, and stunning the orc. As the orc cries in pain, Dwalin finds the necessary opening, and hits the shoulder. The mace crushes the orc’s shoulder. Arrows fly everywhere, missing the targets, as the flaming orc manages to get a grip and get downstairs.

Round 15:

84/11: Fire further increases in intensity to D. If it increases further, the tower will collapse.
Camthalion moves to cast a healing spell on Dwalin: Spell: 99: Success: Heals 4 hits.
Dwalin attacks Orc4: 30+51+15-30=66: 6 hits.
Leowyn reloads.
Orc1 is disabled.
Orc2 is disabled.
Orc3 is disengaged.
Orc4 attacks Dwalin: 10+63-30-60-25=-42: 0.
Orc5 shoots at Dwalin: 40+40-5-60=15: 0.
Orc6 reloads.
Orc7 reloads.
Orc8 tries to put out his fire, but dies before making it.

Camthalion goes next to Dwalin, he sees the dwarf holding the orcs all by himself. Concentrating, he whispers some elvish words, and the dwarf magically recovers some of his strength and continues his fight anew. He lands another hit on the orc against him, but it’s only a weak hit. Archers reload, others take a shot, but no shot meets the target. The flaming orc starts rolling around in the floor to put out the flames, but soon he expires, screaming, to the horror of his friends.

Q: Does the flaming death of the orc cause fear to the orcs?
A: False Presupposition: The orcs are locked in combat, and they don’t pay attention to the gruesome way of dying.

Round 16:

08/44: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
Camthalion reloads.
Dwalin attacks Orc4: 68+51+15-30=104: 13A: 90-20=70: Blow breaks bone in leg. +12 hits. -40 to activity. Stunned 2 rounds. Orc4 is down.
Leowyn shoots at Orc6: 25+33-5=51: 0.
Orc1 is disabled.
Orc2 is disabled.
Orc3 is disengaged.
Orc5 drops the bow, draws a handaxe and charges at Dwalin: 100+35+63-30-60-30+5=73: 4 hits.
Orc6 shoots at Dwalin: 91+40-5-60= 66: 0
Orc7 shoots at Dwalin: 75+40-5-60= 50: 0

Dwalin finds another opening on the broken orc, and breaks their leg, bringing it down. Another orc archer drops their bow and drawing their handaxe, charges in the fray, hoping for the opening past Dwalin. Leowyn and the other two orc archers exchange shots, but they all miss.

Round 17:

79/47: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
Camthalion shoots at Orc6: 31+48+10-5=84: 4 hits.
Dwalin attacks Orc5: 05+51+15-30= 41: 0.
Leowyn reloads.
Orc1 is disabled.
Orc2 is disabled.
Orc3 is disengaged.
Orc5 attacks Dwalin: 11+63-30-60+5=-11:0
Orc6 reloads.
Orc7 reloads.

The fight continues. All the combatants are exhausted and no significant strike lands, except an arrow launched from Camthalion’s bow, that wounds lightly an orc archer. Yet noone gives quarter. They all know what’s at stake.

Round 18:

44/12: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
Camthalion reloads.
Dwalin attacks Orc5: 60+51+15-30=96: 12A: 32-20=12: Minor fracture of ribs. +5 hits. -5 to activity.
Leowyn shoots at Orc6: 58+33-5=86: 6 hits.
Orc5 attacks Dwalin: 83+63-30-60+5-5=-56:0
Orc6 shoots at Dwalin: 50+40-5-60= 35: 0
Orc7 shoots at Dwalin: 43+40-5-60= 18: 0

With the fight going on for 3 minutes, the combatants are losing their wind. Dwalin’s mace fractures the ribs of his orc enemy, and Leowyn wounds with an arrow the same archer that Camthalion wounded just a few seconds before. The orc archers, blinded by the sunlight miss their targets.

Round 19:

67/32: Fire and Smoke remain at the same intensity.
Camthalion shoots at Orc5: 63+48+10-5=116: 16B: 01-10: Glancing blow. No extra damage.
Dwalin attacks Orc5: 43+51+15-30=79: 8 hits.
Orc5 attacks Dwalin: 51+63-30-60+5-5=24: 0
Orc6 reloads
Orc7 reloads

Dwalin, immovavble as a rock, holds the doorway. Only three orcs are combat capable, and none can get past the dwarf scout, his shield and his mace. Supported by a glancing arrow hit by Camthalion, Dwalin, hurts his opponent without being hurt himself. The orc archers nook another arrow.

Round 20:

88/05: The fire increases in intensity, burning down the tower.

The flames have reached the foundations and the wooden beams on the top of the tower. The roof collapses with everything on top, and crashes down on the orcs, burying them under flaming rubble.
The party looks at each other. Bloody, and exhausted, having a slight smile on their faces. They are alive. The smoke has risen above the tower into the air. Any element of surprise they had is now gone.


Now I have a complicated topic to resolve. Reinforcements/Alarms.

  • So any remaining orcs (10 to 12 orcs minus 8 killed) are either on the lookout tower or on patrol. So is the orc captain Thuk.
  • Ar Gular may be on site.
  • Crebain are on Tower 4.

My assumption is that if Ar Gular is on site, he would immediately come out to face the intruders once he realized what is wrong. Same as with the orc lookouts. But how can I deliver this information, and at the same time keeping it secret from myself.

Therefore, retrospectively:
I’m going to use a dependent clock relating to the Crebain activity. With a twist. I’ll draw a card, face up, each turn where the fire started. On three consequtive cards of the same suit (any suit will do), then the Crebain are triggered. This means I’ll ask the Oracle if the adventure regarding the Crebain is as expected.
Additionally, it’s 100% certain that from Round 6 onwards, the orc lookout may become aware of the fight going on. On the same drawn cards, any two consequtive cards of the same suit from Round 6 and on, will trigger the orc lookout. This means again I’ll ask the Oracle if the adventure regarding the Lookout is as expected.
The Oracle questions will come at the first possible time that an action from the trigger could have occured.
If (very unlikely) neither the Crebain or the Lookout are triggered until Round 20, then no alarm has been triggered.

Clock

So, at Round 18 the Lookout is triggered. An Orc will take at least 4 Rounds running to get downstairs. So the Lookout (if not a Scene Twist) would only come down to attack the party if they had reinforcements (Thuk, and/or the remaining 1-3 orcs). If the reinforcements and Thuk are on patrol, the lookout would want to warn them, but I doubt they’d risk going in the courtyard alone against triple enemies. So, at Round 22, I will ask if the Lookout scene is as expected, and also if Thuk and/or reinforcements are with the Lookout. If not, the Lookout won’t appear.
Also at Round 20, the Crebain are triggered.

Q: Is the Crebain scene as expected?
A: No: TWENE: 7: Add Major Element. Portent: Make the hay while the sun shines. Figurative: Take advantage of a good opportunity. I’ll go with the literal meaning. The sun shines strong, upon the Crebain nests, and the party takes notice of the 3-30: 14 birds that take flight to the sky.

As Camthalion looks up to the smoke, he can’t help but notice the northern tower. A bunch of black crow-like birds take off to the sky, cawing. “Crebain” he says. “There is a lot of evil involved in these parts. No point in hiding, they have seen us, and will notify their masters.”

Since they take notice, where do the Crebain head to? 1d8: East.
Q: Do all the Crebain head east?
A: Yes

As the birds head off east, Camthalion turns to his companions. “They didn’t head inside the keep. Whoever their master is, isn’t inside.”
“Should we risk going inside? or leave while we have the chance?” He points to Leowyn’s bandaged leg.

Q: Is the Lookout Scene as expected?
A: No, but. TWENE: 1: Increase Simple Element. We’ll find out if the lookout appears what the simple element is.
Q: Does the orc appear in the courtyard? (unlikely, since the Crebain headed off in another direction).
A: No, and, they won’t appear in the keep too. Most likely hiding and trying to flee.

The party takes pause to consider how to proceed. The risk is high, but so is the reward, and the time for decisions, is now.


Bookkeeping

NameDays Rations
Camthalion7
Dwalin7
Leowyn9

Arrows: Camthalion is at 18 arrows.

Critical DeliveredOrc1Orc2Orc3Orc4Orc5Orc6Orc7Orc8
Camthalion150307530000
Dwalin7560757515000
Leowyn001500000
Kill PointsEP
Camthalion0
Dwalin150
Leowyn0
Criticals ReceivedEP
Camthalion0
Dwalin500
Leowyn100
Hits ReceivedEP
Camthalion0
Dwalin31
Leowyn18
SpellcastingEP
Camthalion100
Maneuver PointsEP
Camthalion50
Dwalin50
Leowyn0
Non-Idea EP TotalEP
Camthalion300
Dwalin1108
Leowyn133

I’ll give the entire part half the total as idea points, because the whole burn-the tower thing was quite smart. 837 EP total, 279 each.

Summing up, from previous session.

NameExperience Points
Camthalion3188 EP
Dwalin4480 EP
Leowyn2544 EP

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

Hit Points: Dwalin is at 17 hit points, Leowyn is at 11 hit points, Camthalion is at full hit points.

Session Background

What a fight! I run it all in theater of the mind and it was exhausting. Don’t be fooled by the picture, it was taken after game, for presentation purposes. I had to go back and correct mistakes at least 3 times, turning the course of the battle as I rewrote the events (no new rolls were made though unless they were missing). If I made a mistake here and there, it could not be avoided, since I had to re-edit the text as many times.
I know that some orcs weren’t dead, but I doubt that anyone with broken shoulders, shattered knees, crushed forearms would stick to fighting. I didn’t roll for that, but instead decided that the more capable orcs would join the fight. That cost me the Kill Points of course. I tried to keep things as balanced as possible, and it all was very risky. If Dwalin ever fell, I don’t know for how long Leowyn would be able to hold them off without falling from bloodloss, or even getting wounded herself.
The more I play, the more I love some hardcore parts of MERP, how the bleeding wound took Leowyn out of the fight. I houseruled that she could use a bow without risking getting the leg wound open.
The hardest thing of all was trying to keep player, adventure module and game-master knowledge in their own separate boxes. I’m content with the results, but far from happy.