In the Trollshaws. Ep08

I’ve spent like two sessions worth of time trying to convert Leowyn to Runequest or Harnmaster. I didn’t like either approach, so I ditched it and decided to continue with MERP.
After thorough checking various sources, I’ve settled that the distance from the Last Inn to Bree is about 210 miles. If she rides fast she can reach Bree in about four days. Much safer than trying her luck in the Hillmen city of Cameth Brin.
Since Bree is a village, she may not find a healer or someone to sell the tomes to, so she might have to continue to Fornost.

I’m switching to Harnmaster encounter rules since I find them simpler to establish for this type of travel.

Day 15, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The weather (13) is cool, the clouds clear, and the wind becomes a gale
Encounter check: 4: No encounter

Leowyn rides west at first morning light, past the last bridge towards Bree.

Day 15, Hithui, 4th Watch

The weather (13) is cool, the clouds clear, and the wind becomes a breeze
Encounter check: 19: Ecounter: Lawless/Day: 92: Military: 19: Local Garrison/guard/patrol/etc.: 62: Recruiting.
Time: (1d4): 1: 1 pm.
Attitude: 31: Unfriendly.
Leowyn Perception: 516+10=-1.
Patrol Perception: 62+27=89.

So, I decide that the Perception roll will identify at how many yards distance each side will notice the other. Leowyn doesn’t notice them at all, maybe they hid or was distracted. The Patrol noticed Leowyn coming towards them at 89 yards away.

Q: Is the patrol Hillmen? (Likely)
A: Yes, and they’re proud and haughty.
Q: Does the patrol head towards Leowyn? (Likely)
A: Yes, and they are alarmed
Q: Does the patrol have horses? (Unlikely)
A: Yes, and they’re all mounted
Q: Does the patrol recognize Leowyn is Rohirim?
A: No
Q: Many or not? (2d6/1d6)
A: Not Many: 3, and Intervention: Wild: Fight fire with fire.
Q: Is it Fire?
A: No, but there is Smoke
Q: Which direction?
A: NW

Lost in her thoughts, Leowyn doesn’t realize she has ridden right in the middle of a Rhudaur patrol. The three riders eye her carefully, wondering what is doing on the road all by herself. They’re just about to begin questions when one of them points something to the North West. A cloud of smoke rises to the sky. They change direction, and gallop their horses fast towards it. Leowyn breathes a sigh of relief.

Now here’s an important aspect regarding Story Driven play and Chekhov’s Gun. I did nothing on my end as a Player to get out of what appeared to be a tough situation. The GME (assorted Oracle and GM Tools), in the same way that it presented to me an obstacle, as a Deus Ex Machina, removed it without any Player interaction.
Currently I’m partial to this. The Chekhov’s Gun (coming from the Story Driven side) states that there’s no point in presenting something if it’s not going to be used.
On the other hand, an Open World approach does this all the time, because not every event leads to a story. Sometimes all we’re left with is a “what if…” that plays in the back of our heads.
In this particular case, I’ll go with the Open World approach, as it fits best my Player Driven solo game style so far. I know Leowyn would be curious too to examine the smoke that caused the patrol to leave her be, but finding a healer is the first priority, and she has a long ride ahead, her rations, barely more than what is needed to reach Bree.
I’ll keep an open mind to upcoming events, as they just might connect to this one.

Day 15, Hithui, 5th Watch

The weather (13) is freezing, the clouds clear, and the wind becomes a storm
Encounter check: 14: No Encounter

She camps some distance from the road, and rests for the night.

Day 15, Hithui, 6th Watch

The weather (13) is freezing, the clouds clear, and the wind becomes a gale
Encounter check: 8: No Encounter

Day 16, Hithui, 1st Watch

The weather (12) is freezing, overcast skies, and the wind becomes windy
Encounter check: 14: No Encounter

Day 16, Hithui, 2nd Watch

The weather (12) is freezing, overcast skies, and the wind becomes a breeze
Encounter check: 19: Encounter: Lawless/Night: 11: Reroll As Wilderness/Rural: Wilderness: 73: Ethereal: 10: Elmithri/Water Sprite/Water Elemental/etc.
Can’t find anything close to what would fit in MERP, in the highway, so I’ll re-roll in the Ethereal table. If I don’t get something useful again, I’ll re-roll in the Wilderness table and so on.
Ethereal: 97: Unique/rare Ethereal (GM Discretion). Crap, I have to ask now.
Q: Is it a Nazgul? (Unlikely)
A: Yes, and he’s accompanied by Wights.
Okay I read a snippet about how in TA1636 (a few years ago) the Witch King of Angmar sent evil wights to the Barrow-downs in Cardolan in order to prevent the rebirth of that kingdom. Maybe he would send some more.
Q: Is it the Witch King himself? (Unlikely)
A: Yes
Seriously? I’m weighing the results in my favor, but the dice tell their own story.
Q: Does Leowyn wake up? (Likely)
A: No, but, her horse does.
Q: Does her horse wake her up? (Likely)
A: No
That’s creepy. I’m stressed now.

Leowyn is camped to the edge of the highway. A few hours before dawn, an eerie chill bites to the bone, much deeper than the freezing cold of the deep winter. Leowyn can’t tell the difference in her sleep. Terrible nightmares overcome her. She sees dark figures emerge from an abyss and kill her loved one. Stab them again and again. She tries to save them, and they kill her too.
Trembling in her sleep, she doesn’t hear her trusted horse neigh in fear.

Q: Does the horse attempt to flee?
A: No, but, it freezes motionless

So… does the Witch King and his entourage perceive the camped Rohirim Shield Maiden?
Reading about it the Nazgul and the Wights inhabit the spirit world. So they wouldn’t detect Leowyn easily, unless the horses would.
Going through MERP and the Creatures of Middle Earth supplement I’m having a really hard time trying to find a Perception/Generic Skill for creatures. Therefore I have to ask the Oracle.

Q: Do the horses detect Leowyn?
A: Yes
Q: Does the Witch King attack the camp?
A: No, and they decide to move on.

Was it because they didn’t care for a puny human? their plans were too important? maybe they didn’t want to risk someone fleeing and telling of their sighting? Whatever the case, they moved on…

Leowyn woke up in the morning severely tired. She felt as if she had been trampled by a horse. Her head was dizzy and she couldn’t shake the nightmarish visions from her head.
Her horse was uneasy too. She couldn’t make him relax no matter what.
Despair had filled her and maybe she had to abandon her task…

Again, I don’t want to have such an important event go without impact. In this case, I’ll give Chekhov’s Gun a priority. What transpired may cause Leowyn to abandon her party and head off to find her lover’s killers to the South. Nevertheless, I’ll roll an Essence RR against her own level (50/50).

Essence RR: 56+5=61: Success.

Leowyn decides her friends need her. They helped her more than once, and now they rely on her. She puts to the task, gathers her belongings and continues West.

Day 16, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The weather (13) is cool, clear skies, and the wind becomes stormy
Encounter check: 3: No encounter

Day 16, Hithui, 4th Watch

The weather (13) is cool, clear skies, and the wind becomes windy
Encounter check: 18: Lawless/Day: 98: Adventurer: 66: Escaping Persecution/the Law/etc.
Time: 7, 20: twenty past three pm.
I’ll use Donjon for some input.
Reyja Horbridotr: Female Dwarf Fighter, Good. Reyja has thin red hair and blue eyes, and walks with a limp. She wears chain mail and wields a ranseur. Reyja is pious and honorable.

As always, I’m keeping any of the above non-facts as possible truths until they get challenged. It’s like reading an adventure module.

Q: Is Reyja mounted?
A: Yes, and she’s riding a pony
Q: Is she riding away?
A: Yes

Leowyn catches up to a dwarf pony rider as her horse trots a lot faster. She’s armed and armored.

Attitude: 7: Hostile

Q: Does Reyja try to flee?
A: Yes
Q: Does she change direction off trail?
A: No

The moment Leowyn closes in, the dwarf spurs her beast and gallops away. Leowyn decides not to press on, as night closes in and she needs to camp.

Day 16, Hithui, 5th Watch

The weather (14) becomes cool, cloudy skies, and the wind becomes a SE breeze
Encounter check: 5: No Encounter

Day 16, Hithui, 6th Watch

The weather (14) is cool, cloudy skies, and the wind is a SE breeze
Encounter check: 19: Lawless/Night: 48: Reroll as Wilderness/Rural: Rural: 61: Reroll as Highway: 69: Reroll as Wilderness/Rural: Wilderness: 38: Local Tribe/patrol/etc.

So I don’t want another “this happened in your sleep” encounter. I decide that from now on, an encounter means that for whatever reason Leowyn awoke and becomes aware of whatever comes.
Encounter distance: 1d10*10′: 1: 10′
Number: 2d3-1: 4
Q: Are they mounted?
A: No

Leowyn awakes from her sleep and grabs her sword to see four figures approaching. They are men and speak the local dialect.

Q: Have they seen her?
A: No

She stays silent, holding her breath hoping that they will not notice her.

Stalk/Hide:
Perception 1:48+5-5= 48: Failure
Perception 2:8+5-5= 8: Failure
Perception 3:21+5-5= 21: Failure
Perception 4:23+5-5= 23: Failure

The patrol moves past Leowyn and her sleeping horse without noticing her. Leowyn’s heart pumps heavily. She only returns to sleep after they are long gone.

So I just realized I made a mistake regarding the weather. All this time I was rolling on the Winter table but Hithui is Fall. I’ll switch to the Autumn table, and just consider these some very unusually cold days that passed.

Day 17, Hithui, 1st Watch

The weather (13) is cool, cloudy skies, and the wind is NE breeze
Encounter check: 8: No encounter

Day 17, Hithui, 2nd Watch

The weather (15) is cool, overcast skies, and the wind is SW windy
Encounter check: 11: No encounter

Day 17, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The weather (15) is cool, overcast skies, and the wind is SW gale
Encounter check: 6: No encounter

Leowyn picks up her gear and rides west.

Day 17, Hithui, 4th Watch

The weather (14) is cool, overcast skies, with a heavy rain and the wind is S gale
Encounter check: 12: No encounter

Leowyn continues west past Amon Sul, the Weathertop.

Day 17, Hithui, 5th Watch

The weather (14) is cool, overcast skies, with a heavy rain and the wind is S gale
Encounter check: 1: No encounter

She camps through the night near the highway.

Day 17, Hithui, 6th Watch

The weather (15) is cool, overcast skies, the rain stops and the wind is SW gale
Encounter check: 3: No encounter

Day 18, Hithui, 1st Watch

The weather (15) is cool, overcast skies, and the wind is SW windy
Encounter check: 16: No encounter

Day 18, Hithui, 2nd Watch

The weather (17) is cool, clear skies, and the wind is SW windy
Encounter check: 2: No encounter

Day 18, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The weather (17) is warm, clear skies, and the wind is SW gale
Encounter check: 1: No encounter

Leowyn picks up where she left off, riding on the East Road, south of the Midgewater marshes towards bree. The weather is warm drying her clothes after the heavy rain of the previous day. She should be closing in on Bree tomorrow.

Day 18, Hithui, 4th Watch

The weather (17) is warm, clear skies, and the wind is SW windy
Encounter check: 7: No encounter

Day 18, Hithui, 5th Watch

The weather (19) is freezing, overcast skies, sleet falls, and the wind is SW windy
Encounter check: 1: No encounter

And I realize that the different season means there are 3 daylight watches instead of just 2. I wouldn’t have Force Marched the horse, but I might have had to roll on different encounter tables. WIll be more careful now.

As night falls, so does sleet. She covers herself and the horse in a warm blanket and rests for the night.

Day 18, Hithui, 6th Watch

The weather (19) is freezing, overcast skies, sleet falls, and the wind is SW windy
Encounter check: 15: No encounter

Day 19, Hithui, 1st Watch

The weather (20) is freezing, cloudy skies, sleet stops, and the wind is NW breeze
Encounter check: 20: Encounter: Lawful/Night: 32: Reroll as Wilderness/Rural: Wilderness: 10: Tracks/Spores/Sounds: 60: Wild/stray Boar/pig/etc: 87: Eating/Kill/Grazing/Foraging/Hunting/etc.
Attitude: Friendly

Leowyn wakes up to the sound of an animal. It’s a wild pig going through her supplies! “Shoo! Shoo!” She shouts and throws a little rock near it. The pig quickly takes off.

Q: Did the pig eat any rations?
A: Yes

Spoiled by the pig, her last rations are gone. She knows Bree is less than one day’s ride away. She hopes she can get there without much fuss, have a nice meal and restock on supplies.

Day 19, Hithui, 2nd Watch

The weather (20) is freezing, cloudy skies, and the wind is NW gale
Encounter check: 17: No encounter

Day 19, Hithui, 3rd Watch

The weather (20) is freezing, cloudy skies, and the wind is NW breeze
Encounter check: 20: Lawful/Day: 47: Caravan with Escort

How many wagons? (1d6): 2
How many guards per wagon? (1d4): 1
How many crew per wagon? (1d4): 3
How many horses? (1d6): 4
So two one-horse carts, with six crew, including a caravan master and a teamster, escorted by two riders.

Leowyn sees Bree to the far distance and picks up her pace. Her stomach is growling. She sees dust, and calms her horse down. She’s near civilized lands so she doesn’t expect any trouble, but she is on guard, given the previous days’ events.
Closing in, she comes across a caravan of two carts with two riders.
Keeping a safe distance, she waves to the caravan.

Attitude: 35: Guarded

The guards put their hands on their sword handles, showing they’re at the ready. The teamster looks at her without waving back. He has short auburn hair and blue eyes. He wears simple clothing and a wooden holy symbol.
Leowyn decides to try her luck.
“Good morning fellow travellers. I know my visage is rough, but so have been my days on the road. I’m coming from the Last Bridge. A friend of mine is in need of a healer. Does one travel with you? We have coin and goods to barter, if that doesn’t take you out of your route.”

As I have pointed out before in MERP, there is not much focus on diplomacy skills. It’s from the Old School family of games where such skills were role-played. Therefore I’ll do a combination of the Influence action from MERP with an Oracle question modified by the Influence result (Influenced one might say!).

Influence: Medium difficulty (they’re guarded): 25: Failure
Since it’s not an absolute failure, or success, my oracle question will be unmodified.

Q: Does the caravan master take to the offer?
A: Yes

“We’re heading to Tharbad”. The caravan master said. The caravan master is short and stout, with black hair and green eyes. He wears well-made clothing and several pouches hang from his belt. “Re-routing through the Last Inn will take us a handful of days off course. That’s double normal price at 4 silver, especially going through Rhudaur. Pay upfront. The healing cost will be assessed when we arrive, by Suse, our alchemist, but it will be several gold. If you can’t provide your own rations, the cost is double normal, at 1 bronze for a week’s worth.”
“I’m good with a sword, sire. I can provide protection to the caravan. This should pay for my rations, and some more.”

Q: Does he cut any cost? (Likely)
A: No, and he won’t barter further.

“We already have a route to follow. That’s the offer, with your sword skills included.” The caravan master says.
Leowyn nods. “I have the silver for the trip. But not the gold. We have some manuscripts that could be of interest to your alchemist, that we could trade you with.”
“Let me have a look at them.” The caravan master replies.
“They’re at the Last Inn. Payment upon the deed.” Leowyn counters.
“Have it your way. If they’re worthless manuscripts, no service will be provided. Now, hand over the silver.”
Leowyn pays the caravan master.
“Name’s Leowyn sire. I come from the lands of Rohan.”
“I’m Wyny. I lead this caravan. My taskmaster” he points to the auburn haired man, “is Ambald. Suse is our healer. The hands are Berter, Eram and Sige, and the guards Hreodhelm, and Enryn. We come from all over Eriador.” He turns to Ambald, “Let’s get going.”, and the caravan keeps moving.
Leowyn turns back again the way she came, minutes before entering Bree, accompanying the caravan. No rest for her. She pays one weeks worth of rations to the teamster and fills her belly for the day. At least her trip might be safer now.

A quick calculation tells me it will take about 6 days for the caravan to reach the Last Inn.

Day 19, Hithui, 4th Watch

The weather (20) is freezing, cloudy skies, and the wind is NW windy
Encounter check: 10: No encounter
Mechanical trouble: 21: No trouble

Day 19, Hithui, 5th Watch

The weather (20) is freezing, cloudy skies, and the wind is NW windy
Encounter check: 20: Lawful/Night: 48: Reroll as Wilderness/Rural: Rural: 34: Forester: 86: Working/Looking for work/etc.

Taking turns at watches, the caravan sets to the night tasks. A forester comes to the camp, looking for work, but the teamster turns him away.

Day 19, Hithui, 6th Watch

The weather (20) is freezing, cloudy skies, and the wind is NW windy
Encounter check: 11: No encounter


I decide this is a good spot to stop this session. I’m spent due to the whole situation, but I really wanted to continue this game, as I enjoy it. So I took this slowly, and sometimes I just played a couple paragraphs worth of text. Took me about a handful of days to finish this session, and I’m looking forward to the next.
I’ll do some bookkeeping now.

Bookkeeping

Name Days Rations
Leowyn 7

Arrows: Leowyn is at 35 arrows.

Criticals Received EP
Leowyn 0
Travel Points EP
Leowyn 325
Non-Idea EP Total EP
Leowyn 325

I’ll give the entire part half the total as idea points, just because she travelled alone. 162 EP total.

Summing up, from previous session.

Name Experience Points
Leowyn 3401 EP

Money: The party pool is 5sp, 2bp, 6cp and 9tp.
Decided to remove the money from the party pool instead of Leowyn’s own possessions for ease of use.

Hit Points: Leowyn is at full hit points

Session Summary

This session was mostly me, getting back my solo RPGing footing.
The session wasn’t much interesting in terms of events, which is to be expected since my PCs task was going from one place to another.
I need to settle on how to run random encounters, but I think I’m quite close to how I want them to be.
The Nâzgul not-encounter felt quite odd, as I was switching hats between Gamemaster and Player. Deciding that an encounter always means that my PC has detected something, is a major step on a Player Driven game, and I’ll keep that in mind from now on.
In general Hârnmaster has more complete tools for each situation than MERP, which makes sense, considering that Hârn 3ed which I’m running is much more modern.
Unless something stops them, the next session will be about the caravan going to the last bridge Inn, and the next one will switch back to Camthalion’s story while waiting for Leowyn to return.