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  • giorgis 11:20 pm on April 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    In the Aristrax Marches – Ep05 

    Previously in the Aristrax Marches, the Ravens of Gadun travelled to the Chasm of Great Sorrow to learn more about their quest from the Black Ferret, and defeated a giant who was plaguing travellers in the area. The Black Ferret will only reveal more if they rescue his nephew (slight typo there at Ep04) who hasn’t been heard from since when he left for Broduncer village.

    Turn 6

    Since it’s the first time the warband has stayed outside of a settlement sofar, I rolled on the Camp events table and got You feel like you are being observed all night long. Can’t perform any adventure milestones this turn, but if I decide to fight Enemy threats, I’ll receive 2 Adventure Points. No matter how tempting this sounds I’ll stay on the task at hand.

    The Upkeep cost is 3 Gold Marks. Instead of spending an action to pay it off, I decide to consume my Rations.
    For Campaign activities I decide to Forage for herbs (Bolga). It was very successful and delivered (2) Springfield Berries.
    Boots also went on a Hunting expedition and returned with Animal pelts worth 3 Gold Marks.
    Trading is not appliccable for Camps so I moved on to the next step of the Preparation stage.

    Rolling for Connections at the Research step gave the offer of a contract. I’ve decided again to stay on the current course and not follow on a new contract.

    Deciding on the adventure, we’ll travel to Broduncer village. Since the News Events from Turn 5 gave a result that local patrols make travels safe, I don’t need to make a Travel roll.

    Having set camp at the ruins, the Ravens are uneasy. They place rotating shifts for every watch, but when light breaks, they can’t shake the feeling that they were observed. Noone speaks for a while, and they all pack, eager to get back on the road. As they set on the path to Broduncer, and the eerie sense of being watched has been left behind, Omac calls for a short meeting at their first rest.

    “This is an opportunity for us. We’ve stayed long behind walls. Now we need to conquer the wild.” He said again in his pompous style.
    “Bolga! You’re skilled in the lore of the lands. You will forage for herbs. See if we can find something soothing or healing.” He sais to the big duskling who looks at him expresionless. Then he turns to the halfling. “Caldas! I know your people are we versed in the lore of the lands as well. Put your sling to good use. Go hunting.” He turns to the rest. “We’ll set camp and guard watches. Have some lunch ready by the time you return. Though by the looks of it, the local patrols have kept the area safe recently.”

    Rolling on the Unexplored location table for the Contract gave a Small community result, which means a failure on the Contract. I decide to spend a Story Point and re-roll. This time I get that there’s an Enemy Camp in the same Map Area. A random roll gives a Gnawling Horde result. This is going to be tough, but it’s time to fight some ratmen!

    Turn 6 Travel Map

    Rolling for the Foe it’s 12 Knife breakers plus a Lieutenant and a Captain. This is going to be a tough fight, since they outnumber us more than 2 to 1. Due to the high number of ratmen, I’ve had to pause here and paint a handful more of my splintered light miniatures (I don’t like double poses, but didn’t have a choice).

    The theme is supposed to be deep forest, but I’m low on woods. (Hint to myself that I need to make more trees and woods). I placed everything according to the rulebook, adding the individual to be rescued and some nasty dungeon accessories (including a mutilated corpse on a table) for both mechanical and immersion effect.

    The Ravens come at a crossroads. Further down in the distance beside a couple rolling hills they could see the smoke rising from the chimneys of Broduncer.

    Another path veers to the north, and what look like houses or a small hamlet was barely discernible beyond the woods.

    Omac decided to take the path see if the people in the hamlet knew anything about Bertio, the Black Ferret’s nephew. The Ravens followed. All but Boots. Omac looked at him with an expression of curiosity.

    “There’s pawprints heading East in the forest.” He answered Omac. “Lots of them. Bigger than normal paws. But what is even more interesting is the pair of boot prints. Which are dragged at times. Someone was here and was forcibly moved, by something not human.”

    “Then that’s the way to go!” Omac started with a shout that ended in a whisper. He knew they should move stealthily.

    They follow the tracks to a clearing. It looks to be a camp. Rat like humanoids armed and armoured patrol the area. Gray fur, long tails, nails and fangs.

    At the centre of the camp they have mutilated a corpse. Next to the table another human, looking like Bertie’s description, is tied and awaits his fate as a big ratman spits over him as he speaks in an unknown squeamish language.

    The Ravens, move closer, their weapons drawn.

    The Combat

    ROUND 1

    Temir, Caldas and Myrick all sneak forward unseen, until the hulking Duskling Bolga walks with his heavy footsteps and is immediately detected by the rat people.

    They start squeamish screams and raise the alarm.

    Pissed off that he’s been made, Bolga pulls out his balanced knives and throws one at the ratman. He’s wounded and blood starts pouring. Boots has already readied his sling and shoots a lead bullet that misses by a long shot. The ratman is very fast and quickly covers the distance and fights in hand to hand combat against the halfling. Boots blocks and follows with a quick dagger strike that cuts off the throat of the rodent man. He falls dead.

    Several more of the rat people close in on Boots, but he’s covered by Myrick and Temir who shoot their bows, wounding and stunning the ratmen.

    Lady Liana of Trenne throws a slim knife at the ratman wounded by arrow, and she hits him, bringing him down. Omac follows but remains in distance.

    ROUND 1
    ROUND 2

    Omac puts his will to the test and acts quickly. He begins an incantation and magical chains bind motionless two ratmen next to the tree grove.
    Lady Liana of Trenne is empowered by her leader, she forces herself to act quickly and charges at the nearest ratman. The heart seeker strikes true and another ratman perishes.

    Two ratmen followed by a stronger ratman cursing orders – probably a lieutenant – rush back to attack Liana. She has the halfling to support her, and one by one, she fends them all off.

    The ratmen bound under the Beard’s spell can’t overcome the magical strings, and remain in place.

    The bigger ratman who must be the captain, screams at Bolga, and charges at him with his battleaxe. “Shebura! Shebura!” chant the other ratmen in unison to cheer their leader. Bolga fights back and pushes him off. Another ratman flanks Bolga from the other path into the grove, but Bolga blocks, stun him with another hit, and cleaves him in two. A third ratman comes from the foliage at Bolga, but Bolga blocks his attacks too, and sends him back with stunning hit. A couple more ratmen close in from the North.

    It’s now the Butcher’s turn. He yells a bellow to Shebura, and the two duel. As he lunges forward, the captain draws a hidden knife and wounds Bolga to the ribcage. He can’t follow on his attack though, as Bolga blocks it, and the melee ends in a standoff, with Bolga bleeding.

    The Ravens armed with ranged weapons start shooting. Myrick aims his self bow at a ratman, and the arrow finds the creature in the neck, killing it. Temir’s shot at another rodent man misses by a hair, and Boots wounds the ratman next to the lieutenant, with his sling shot.

    With so many of their own down, two ratmen flee the carnage.

    ROUND 2
    ROUND 3

    Caldas abandons his sling and challenges the lieutenant. The two are similar in height, and the fight on the hill is a sight for sore eyes, like a dance of blades. But the lieutenant gains the upper hand and Boots is pushed back. Lady Liana follows up on an attack against the lieutenant, but she only barely manages to scratch the furry hide.

    Back in the woods, the captain attacks Bolga, who blocks, but as he follows up the captain counter attacks. His knife now is stopped by Bolga’s armor. He’s stunned but alive for now. Another ratman encircles Bolga, but he’s ready and with a swift kick to the chest, the ratman is sent flying back.

    Covering half the field in a quick stride, a ratman attacks Lady Liana, who parries, deflects and wounds him with the Heart Seeker.
    The lieutenant turns his attention back at Boots, and trying to catch him unaware, he attacks. The halfling is ready, and after dodging his strike, he attacks back and wounds the ratman. He struggles back, bleeding. Boots ducks and his next strike reaches the ratman’s artery. Blood spews everywhere as the lieutenant drops dead.

    Of the two ratmen under Omac’s spell, one breaks free. He jumps on all fours and reaches Lady Liana. She blocks his attacks and sends him flying back from where he came.

    Bolga, wounded attacks one of his many assailants, but winded as he is, he only manages a flesh wound. Myrick shoots at another ratman in the woods, but, the arrow goes through and through his fur. The ratman grows and remains in the fight. Temir switches targets this time and focuses on the captain. His shot is aimed, and the arrow finds the captain in the belly. The captain curses in his rat language, but remains standing, though wounded. Bolga and the captain are on equal footing now.

    Omac no longer focuses on his spell. He draws his bastard sword and climbs the hill, hacking the first ratman he finds in two.

    ROUND 3
    ROUND 4

    Bolga attacks the wounded ratman captain. His cleaver comes down strong, and the wounded captain can’t block the hit. The blade finds the captain’s neck and cuts off the head in a swift downward motion. Bolga screams a cry of victory. Albeit early. A ratman comes in for revenge from the side, and his flail hits Bolga at the head. The duskling is down.

    At the hill, a ratman attacks the halfling, but doesn’t manage to hurt him.

    Free from Omac’s spell, the other ratman charges at the Raven, but he keeps him at bay using his staff.

    The halfling has put his sling in his pocket. His blade thirsts for blood. He jumps at another ratman and with two consecutive strikes, kills him.

    Myrick and Temir keep shooting from a safe distance, providing cover to the warband, but their arrows didn’t hit the rodents.

    Liana charges at a ratman on the hill, but he fends her off. Omac joins in to assist, and the ratman swiftly hacks at the mystic with his blade. The Beard is down.

    ROUND 4
    ROUND 5

    Boots attacks a ratman, but he is pushed off.

    Temir shoots his bow, and he kills another of the rodents. Only one ratman remains and he attacks Caldas back; the fight ends in a draw.. Myrick moves to shoot at him, but loses his footing and misses. Lady Liana of Trenne joins in the fight, but the ratman fights to his last breath and his ferocious slashes stop her from harming him.

    ROUND 5
    ROUND 6

    Caldas goes face to face with the last ratman. The ratman feigns a parry and Boots falls for it, and becomes the defender. The ratman hacks at him, but Boots mail shirt hidden under the cloak saves his life. They disengage only for a moment, as Boots has barely caught his breath when the ratman charges back. The halfling blocks, and follows with a finishing strike, cutting at the ratman’s chest. The fight is over. The wardens hold the field.

    ROUND 6

    Since we won a Camp Raid, we’re entitled to 2 Adventure points.

    Resolving the Injuries, I get that Bolga has Moderate injuries for 3 Campaign Turns Recovery time
    I’ve rolled that Omac is Dead, so I’m using Silvertree leaf and get that instead an item is damaged, rolling randomly it’s the Full Armour. Since the Silvertree leaf saved his life, I roll and get an extra 3 Campaign Turns Recovery time.

    Since Bolga and Omac were casualties in a fight with Knife breakers , I need to roll a Crafting test for them. Omac passed, but Bolga failed and had his Cleaver damaged.

    Liana, Boots and Temir each are awarded 2 XP for participating and holding the field. Bolga is awarded 2 XP as well for participating and killing the enemy captain. Omac is awarded 1 XP for participating.
    Lady Liana of Trenne leveled up, and I rolled another Will Increase.
    I’ve rolled that Myrick had Moment of Insight and thus becomes Loyal Hero. I’ll have to choose a new name, nickname and miniature to represent him.

    Since it’s a Camp Raid, I got Vital Information. Which I rolled to be a Quest Find (since I’m already in a Quest), and I got the Emboldened result again. Decided to give this to Caldas as 1 Luck Point.

    Realized that I hadn't applied the 1 Luck Point from Liana's previous Emboldened result. Also forgot that Liana saved from Dead using Silvertree Leaf, should have increased Recovery Time. I think it's only fair to remove the Emboldened Luck Status from Liana which I forgot to apply as well, so that everything evens out.

    The Camp Raid also awards 3 Gold Marks. Finally some cash influx.

    The Loot roll is Camp Gear. Seems I’ll have to sell this as I’ve already got one.

    For Unusual Finds I’ve gotten that a Key Individual was slain (the ratman captain). I’m earning 2 more Adventure points and I’m to ignore the first Enemy plans roll. Already have a similar item, so I’ll see how this will play out.

    My News travels resulted that someone important needs adventurers, and that if I will travel there within 2 campaign turns, I will receive a Quest. I find no reason to do so right now.

    Lady Liana of Trenne runs to Bertio and cuts his bonds. “Thank you! thank you!” He cries. “They threatened to chew on my bones… what are these monsters? how come they’re so close to the village, how…” Liana stops him. “You’re safe now. But we need to take care of our friends. Stay with us until we reach the village and you’ll be okay. Here, drink some water.” She offers him her flask, and he slowly calms down.

    Omac’s wound is bleeding profusely. A huge gap in his breastplate depicts the extent of the damage. His companions lean over him and dress his wounds quickly with silvertree leaf paste. The healing nature of the medicine does its job and Omac is stabilized. He’ll need at least a couple weeks worth of rest to recover.
    Bolga is wounded, but stable. There’s no need for further healing, but a similar amount of time will be needed before he’s battle ready again. His blade though is damaged at the handle and will need repairs before he can yield it again.

    Caldas finds a mundane ring among the belongings, but a ring that carries the sign of his cousin’s family. They must have fallen prey to these ratmen and he vows that whoever sent them here will pay.

    Among the crates they find a backpack full of camp gear that will help them in their quests, and coins worth 3 Gold Marks. The halfling searches the remains of Shebura and finds several signet rings and markings denoting status. This was no ordinary captain. They must have slain an important enemy. The Raven will be glad to know.

    As they walk back towards Broduncer, Temir can’t help but notice Myrick trying out the feel of his bowstring. A different aura is around him. “Hey Myrick.” Temir calls to him. “The Hood. That fits you. Stay low and under cover. Your arrows will hide the sunlight from the enemy.” Myrick smiles. Yes, that’s a good nickname.

    As they reach the village, the crier calls for adventurers requested by someone in the wilds, but the Ravens pay no heed. They have to recover from their wounds and stay focused at their quest.

    Session Summary

    That was a tough fight. I’ll have to leave the safety of the hand-holding Story Points stash I had when starting, and make do with what I have. The grim nature of the game is visible, and it’s not too hard to lose a character that you’re getting attached to.
    Reducing the number of warband members to six from eight in 2nd edition was a step on the right direction. It makes things more manageable on the player side, and each character has that unique feel and attachment. On the other hand it feels like the number of enemies has gone up a bit, and it did feel like fighting a lost cause when I started combat. Despite the desirable outcome the fight could have easily gone the other way.
    This makes one thing clear to me. Player skill is required to survive Five Leagues from the Borderlands. Character skill comes secondary. By Player skill I mean, placing your warband in such a way as to gain the best tactical advantage. Stick together, formulate a line of defense with your archers in a safe spot. Use defensive style when attacked by more skilled opponents. Break out in the open only when you have the upper hand. And time your spells carefully for the best advantage. Yes it might make combats draw a tad bit longer, but it’s necessary until you equip your warband properly and get them skilled.

    I like it when games provide a clear challenge to the player, and Five Leagues delivers a proper challenge.

    For the next steps I’m thinking a couple turns with ride patrols or maybe travel to Newhorn to get the armor repaired (it’s the only Town in the region where I can repair a Full suit of armor). I’ll certainly need to get back to full strength before continuing on the Quest. I’m wondering if the gold we have acquired will make do to pay the upkeep until then.
    Once the Quest is done (let’s hope successfuly) I’ll switch to hunting down Threats in the region. Oh and I need to decide on what to do with those Adventuring Points I have gathered! New resource compared to 2nd edition that I haven’t had the chance to try out so far.

  • giorgis 11:27 pm on April 10, 2022 Permalink | Reply
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    In the Aristrax Marches – Ep04 

    Previously in the Aristrax Marches, the Ravens of Gadun rescued a young man from a prominent family lost in the Catacombs near Langcliffe, from the animated Skeletal Defenders.

    Turn 5

    Rolling at the Local events table got me Something for the road, a pack of Rations. Hard times got me an Upkeep cost of 2 Gold Marks, so I decided to proceed with the Help the town guard activity which is a sure way to cover this. As the second activity I decided to send Bolga for some Training because he’s lagging behind in XP compared to the rest of the warband.
    In general I prefer to have a good all-around warband than one with better and worse characters to balance each other out. I think it’s better to be able to count on each and every one to be able to hold their own, rather than lose a battle because my skilled leader is down.
    Research didn’t provide any results, so for my Adventuring stage I decided to go on the Quest that I have noted. I’ll need to Travel to the Chasm of Great Sorrow and after I’ve explored the location, to receive a contract there.

    The Ravens are hanging around in the Weary Knave when an old man arrives at the table they’re hanging. He brings them a sack with food. Dry bread and cheese for the road, and several dried fruits and vegetables. “You’re making a difference here. Please take these with our thanks.” Lady Liana is humbled. “I’ll pass them on. You have our gratitude.”

    Everyone is looking at The Beard. “I have decided. We need to explore the Chasm of Great sorrow. The beggar’s word resonate in my ears.” He sais. “We’ll go there and see what awaits us. We depart tomorrow. Until then see what you can do to help around.”
    “I’ll go at the barracks. See if there’s anyone there willing to test his skill against me.” Bolga replies.
    “I’ll come with you. Keep earning the goodwill these people show. I’ll help the guard keep the peace at night. Heard a pack of wolves roam the outskirts.” Temir adds.
    “It’s settled then. Tomorrow we pack and travel.” Omac closes up.

    The Travel roll was Uneventful travels, which I must say I accepted with content, and I arrived at the location.

    I've noticed that the Maps had incorrectly labeled the "Ruin Within" instead of the "Whispers from Beyond" camps, and I've just corrected it now.

    I’ve rolled to see what the Location is, and it is a Monster Lair. Things just got interesting. Since I wasn’t tasked beforehand to see what the monster is, I’ll roll about it after I meet it.

    I decided to go ahead and explore the Monster lair, so I performed a Scouting roll with success! I’ve found the entrance to the lair.

    For the set up of the lair, I decided to go ahead with an overland lair. Some ruins of old where the aberration has set up its den. On hindsight, after reading the text more carefully I realized that the expectation would be best by using a dungeon, so after some discussions over at discord, I worked around this by adding extra terrain to close up the region as much as possible. I decided not to switch to a dungeon style battle because I had already set up the table, and also because I had already fought two dungeon style battles and wanted something a little bit different.

    Boots will scout first. He has entered through the Western path, and will head to the curious marker on the south.
    I played the scouting according to the monster lair scenario rules, and with a couple of lucky rolls, at the third scouting turn, I’ve reached in range of the Curious location and rolled that Boots found the Monster Unaware.
    I’ve stopped and considered my options, and since the warband is not too experienced, I decided that it’s best to take the tactical advantage I have now rather than explore further and risk being discovered by the monster. Even if that means abandoning a chance for extra loot.
    Since I found the monster I rolled at Creatures most vile and found that it is a Giant.
    For the Giant miniature I went a trip down the history line. Back in the 90s when I was playing D&D, I had gotten a Fire Giant miniature from old Ral Partha (not Europe) to my knowledge the miniature is OOP now, but I may be wrong. The scale of the Fire Giant was 25mm, but I find that it scales even better for 15mm. It was painted back then with only Humbrol Enamels, and the only techniques I used at the time where undercoating (instead of priming), basecoating and drybrushing. No blending, no mixing colours (enamels…) and no washes. I won’t touch up the miniature, since it’s a testament to the time period that it represents. Oh, and no basing at all. At least enamels are rock hard, so I expect it to outlast in toughness any acrylic.

    A strange stench hangs in the air as the warband reaches the chasm. Omac gestures for Boots to head upfront and scout.
    Boots, tiny compared to human sized standards enters some ruins. It must have been a settlement at times old. The ruins of a tower, and manorial support buildings cover the lower levels, and at the top of a hill overseeing the entire area are some columns, remaining from what must one have been a temple.
    The halfling moves further inside and southeast, as his hair stands up. The place isn’t abandoned. The entrails of a goat ripped apart in two sit on top of a broken wall. He proceeds with caution, and then he sees him.
    A huge giant. Not giant only by his diminutive standards, but by his human friends. He stands over 5 meters tall, and wears some sort of armor and carries a huge sword that not even Bolga could lift.
    As silent as a cat, he walks back and tells the Raven what he saw. They make their plans, and head back to fight the monstrosity.
    Temir and Myrick with Omac take positions at the top of the hill, while Bolga and Liana with Boots post themselves at the bottom. With all of them together it doesn’t take long for the giant to see them.
    “Who goes there?” He yells.”
    Omac can smell his bad breath even from 20 meters away. He draws his blade. “The Ravens of Gadun! and we’re hear to end your vile existence!”.

    Without further warning, the battle begins.

    The Combat

    ROUND 1

    Boots takes aim, swings his sling profoundly, and despite being the smaller man, his lead sling bullet hits the Giant in the forehead, blood spilling everywhere. The monstrosity screams in agony, holding his head, not believing such a small creature could cause so much pain.
    Enraged he charges forward to meet Boots, but not before Lady Liana of Trenne has gotten in the way. She puts all her efforts to avoid the giant’s attacks. She has to step back, keeping the giant at bay.
    From the safety of the hill, Myrick shoots at the giant, but despite hitting the large dude, his arrow is like a toothpick. It doesn’t cause him any worry.
    Temir, the Ox, follows with another shot, but his aim is better. The arrow lodges itself in the giant’s eye. Despite the size difference, the wound is severe, and the giant screams in pain.
    Omac begins the incantantion for his spell of Binding. But the temple’s energies somehow interfere. He puts all his will into it, and manages to cast the spell, and aims it at the giant.
    Bolga moves in position next to Lady Liana, so that they can fight the aberration side by side.

    ROUND 1
    First of all I'd like to note that my first two successful hits at the giant were very lucky, since they scored double Monster Points damage, bringing him down to only 2 Monster Points.
    Secondly, I may have mishandled Omac's casting timings. To have the best effect you need to cast the spell at the Quick Phase and reactivate the caster at the Slow Phase of the next turn. But I couldn't afford to assign a Quick Phase agility die to Omac, so I went with it, losing a turn from the duration of the spell in the process.
    ROUND 2

    Boots takes another swing with his sling, but the lead bullet ricochets off the tough scales on the giant’s armor. Myrick shoots his last arrow at the giant, but he misses, despite the big target. Temir shoots another arrow, but as it sinks into flesh the giant breaks it off, like a mosquito bite.
    Bolga charges at the giant with his cleaver, but he blocks with his sword, and hits back. He sends Bolga flying backwards, stunning him.
    Seeing the predicament they’re in, Lady Liana of Trenne commits her will and intercepting the fight, she charges at the giant. The giant counters, and with a strike of his huge sword, Lady Liana wounded is brought down.
    Even though the spell should bind the giant in place, he breaks free and charges at the halfling, Caldas.
    The tiny halfling avoids the giants stomps, and dodging his feet, he tries to wound him, but his dagger can’t get through the giant’s armour.
    Omac tries once more to cast the binding spell, but he fails the gestures.

    ROUND 2
    Monsters have an easier time to break off Binding spells, as they add their Monster Points (I decided to use current Monster Points not maximum) to their attempt to break off. That's why it's really easy for the giant to save against such a spell. Nevertheless I decided it was the best spell in my arsenal until such time as when Omac would have to come to close combat. The other spells were not so useful, even Mark is offset, by the giant's big size, meaning that further advantage would be lost at such short distances, as a Natural 1 is always a miss.
    ROUND 3

    Temir aims from the hill draws his bow, and shoots, but his arrow again is just a nuisance to the hulking man.
    The giant charges at Bolga, who deflects the huge blade with his cleaver, and strikes back. The Butcher manages a strong wound at the giant’s thigh. He roars, but is pushed back. Bolga closes the gap, and follows with another strike, but this time he barely scratches the giant.
    Boots loads his sling and shoots, but the bullet flies too high and misses the giant.
    Meanwhile Myrick, having run out of arrows, descends the steep hill to join the melee.
    Omac concentrates once more on his Bind spell, this time successfuly.

    ROUND 3
    I considered carefully if Bolga would follow up his attack on the giant and step up. At his initial position Bolga has a +1 bonus from his Combat Skill and a +1 Combat Bonus from Boots at his side within 1". That's a total of +2 on D6 which is a lot, versus only +1 from the Giant's Combat Skill. Since he won the second exchange and pushed the giant back 1" as attacker this time, Boots would no longer confer a +1 Combat Bonus, and with just +1 Combat Skill, he's at equal terms against the giant. Hence he's at 50% chance of losing the exchange. This is very dangerous since the giant has Counter Attack, which means that he can wound the enemy combatant, even as Defender! Considering the Armour and Toughness penetration bonuses the Giant has that would be an almost sure casualty. Nevertheless I decided to risk it, because the giant was at only 1 Monster Point remaining at this time and the +1 to Harm from Bolga's Cleaver (Bastard Sword) was too much to let go.
    ROUND 4

    Temir aims carefully and shoots at the wounded giant. His arrow strikes the giant in the throat. Blood spews out. He gargles, puts his hands around his throat trying to breathe, trying to stop the bleeding, but soon, he kneels, and with a huge thud, he falls down dead.
    The Ravens are victorious!

    ROUND 4

    I’ve rolled at the Injuries tables, and got that Lady Liana would be Dead. Considering the choices between using Silvertree Leaf OR a Story Point, I went with the Silvertree Leaf, since any result better than Dead I’d keep, and there was no worse result. Also Story Points are more powerful than Silvertree Leaves as they can be used at a variety of situations. The re-roll showed that Lady Liana is Moderately Wounded, but she rolled doubles, and wears a Helmet, so the Helmet is Damaged instead and she escapeps unscathed.
    Defeating a Monster comes with many rewards. 3 Gold Marks, 3 XP split among the survivors, which I decided to give 1 of each to Temir, Boots and Bolga since they did the most work, 3 Loot rolls, 1 Story Point and 1 Adventure Point. I’ve earned 1 more Loot roll for Holding the field. No Unusual finds since there was no column for Monster Lairs at the respective table.
    I’ve done the 4 Loot rolls, resulting in Valuables worth 4 Gold Marks in total (Foreign Coins worth 3 Gold Marks, and Sacks of Grain worth 1 Gold Mark), Throwing Knives and Misty Water Flowers.
    In addition everyone earned 1 more XP, and the survivors Temir, Boots, Bolga and Omac earned 1 more XP.
    Boots advanced to Level 2 earning a Speed Increase.
    Omac advanced to Level 2 earning an Agility Increase.
    Bolga advanced to Level 2 earning a Combat Skill Increase.
    Temir advanced to Level 2 earning a Toughness increase.
    Myrick has his Flash of Insignt but didn’t gain anything.
    On the News Travels roll I’ve gotten that outriders of the local army have been patrolling the region, and in the next campaign turn I won’t have to roll on the Travel Table when journeying somewhere.

    Now with all this information I’ve decided to find out what the Quest contract is about, and got that it’s about Rescue Individual, and therefore the Location will be at the nearest settlement, which is Broduncer.
    Seems I’ll have to do some travelling, and the News Travels result will really help me travel without trouble.

    The Ravens head to Lady Liana. They all saw how the giant’s blade came down on her head with force. Omac prepares a poultice with Silvertree Leaf and applies it to her wound. The helmet is cracked, but it has taken the brunt of the blow. She stands up, dizzy. If it wasn’t for the helmet and the quick application of the medicine, she might not be able to live to tell the tale.
    They look around and see that the giant had made this place his den. He had looted caravans and preyed on travellers. Omac, knows that they purged a great evil this day.
    Bolga arms himself with some throwing knives and Boots puts the misty water flowers into their backpack. Foreign coins worth several gold marks, as well as local coin has filled their pockets, and some sacks of grain that will surely fetch a nice price when sold to the nearest village.
    But Omac is restless, the beggar had spoken about a Black Ferret and Six Broken Fingers. And then it hits him. The tower, and the ruins of the temple and the broken columns, they all looked together if they saw them from a particular angle, as the broken fingers of a hand. The Black Ferret should be around there.

    With the Quest in place, I think I’ll switch on to some Solo RPG tools to help me find out who this Black Ferret is, and what do they want.
    Back to my trusted UNE.
    Helpful Villager, Comparable Power Level.
    Motivations: explain faith, attend purity, maintain enemies.

    I’ll go simple, this is a villager, devout follower of Xapha the God of War. Through battle they explain their faith to their enemies, through bloodlust they attend purity, and they have to maintain enemies to fight. He’s helpful because he needs someone rescued (as has been defined above). Maybe he’s wounded and can’t travel far anymore.

    “Bra-vo! Brav-vo!” Omac hears someone clapping behind him. He turns and sees a black bearded man with an eye patch, and a wooden peg leg. “You fought with great passion. Xapha will be content today.”
    Omac nods.
    “You certainly have proven your skill against Gothmug, the giant who ravaged these lands. Men of your skill are needed. To save the lands from a terrible evil.” The man continues.
    “That’s why we’ve come to the Aristrax Marches. We’re to fight the ratmen, the undying and the dusklings.” Omac replies.
    “That evil is none of those. I’ll tell … alas no, I still have a personal task I want done, before I tell you what I know.” He adds.
    “Is this the Black Ferret boss?” Bolga asks. “Should I make him talk?”
    “I’ll welcome any attempt to fight! Actually I’m looking forward to it!” the Black Ferret draws a battleaxe.
    “Actually not. We’re not at quarrel with you, and we’re tired.” Omac holds Bolga back and steps forward. “We have your word that if we do as asked you’ll get us the information?”
    “But yes. My nephew was lost. Or taken hostage, I know not. He was supposed to go to Broduncer. Fetch him back alive. I’d do it myself, but my leg doesn’t allow me to travel far anymore.” He looks down.
    “We will. We camp here tonight and leave for Broduncer tomorrow.” Omac responds.

    Session Summary

    Fighting a monster was fun! Thankfully my first two shots that removed 2 Monster Points each were just what I needed, because otherwise the ending might have been a tad bit different.
    Fighting a monster was a lot simpler tactically compared to fighting many enemies where you have to take under consideration all possible attack routes. Of course it was a mostly simple monster. The knock back was the only attack that was tactically important, but only once did it happen, so my warband mostly stayed in one place. Having 3 missile troopers certainly helped, and the hill also helped, since I could pepper the giant with arrows while the rest of the warriors kept him away.

    My main concern right now is the Quest structure. I find some narrative issues on how to make it all fit together. As much as I found all the tables intertwined insofar really tied together, with the Quests I am at a slight loss. I may have not found yet how to deal with it, and it might be really simple. But I have to answer “what is the reason of this Quest about?” yes, I can populate it with Tasks, Foes and Locations, which all answer the What, Where and Who, but not the Why. (Side note: This all feels like me performing Data Integrity training in my day job, and trying to explain to people that the automated Audit Trail captures the What, Where and Who, but they have to enter the Why themselves, because no software has this knowledge).
    I managed to avoid tackling it sofar, but now I feel this more than ever. Why do the Ravens want to get information about something that they don’t know what it is? I decided to go back and edit my narrative, with a simple “a terrible evil has come, which is none from the existing evils you’re fighting but something else”. This all also fits with the usage of different enemy types than the existing threats according to the rules of the Quests. Maybe it’s a skill that I need to hone, and with time it will become clearer to me, as to how Quests work in the narrative term.
    Looking forward to progress further and see how it will work out in the end.

  • giorgis 11:04 pm on April 5, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    In the Aristrax Marches – Ep03 

    Previously in the Aristrax Marches, the Ravens of Gadun defeated a band of ghouls led by a vampire as they were entering the outskirts of Langecliff.

    Turn 4

    Rolling at Local events table returned Got in a fight. I have no friends to speak for me so I have to pay 1 Gold Mark in recompense. Thankfully Upkeep was lower this turn at only 1 Gold Mark.
    According to the News Events from previous turn, I rolled up a Contract given to me by Townsfolk to Rescue Individual that will pay 2 Gold Marks.

    Helping the town guard would only cover the upkeep costs, so this time I decided to make some money through honest hard work that needs to be done. Betting on Liana’s Crafting skill to assist. But she failed the roll. Only 1 Gold Mark earned. Which I wasted right after by going to the Blacksmith (Fletcher I guess?) to repair the self bow for Solas…Temir.

    Research didn’t return any results, so for adventure, I’ve decided to act on the Contract.

    Talking about Temir, the follower turned Hero. Here’s the new figure that will represent him.

    Temir “the Ox” Solas

    “Boss…” the Beard turned around to Bolga calling his name. “We… I…”
    “Well, spit it already Bolga!” Omac started losing his patience.
    Bolga sighed. “A man’s family demands we pay them recompense.”
    “Bolga, what kind of recompense? what did you do?” Omac asked.
    “He laughed saying my face is green.” He replied.
    “That wasn’t nice. What did you do?” the Beard said.
    “I turned his face red, blood red…from a broken nose and blue… from the bruises. Also, gave him a black eye…”
    “Okay, okay I get it, that’s a lot of colours. Can’t argue with what you did. But if you can, try to keep the violence down a notch unless it’s necessary.” Omac gave a purse of coins to Bolga. “Go, pay them”.

    The Beard did some counting, and saw that they were dangerously low on coin. “Lady Liana, you and Myrick. Earn some silver for expenses if you can. The honest way.” He asks of them.
    “I am but honest. And yes, I want by bath with warm water, but that costs way less than Wergilds! At least I can control my temper.” She snaps.
    “My dear, people can get arrested for looking at you funny.” Omac points out.
    “And that they should. Any way I’m not putting my skills to cover the Butcher’s wrongdoings. Find someone else to do it.” She scoffs, turns the other way and starts playing with a lock of her hair.
    Omac gestures to Myrick. They’ll make some coin, but less than what he’d like. To add to that, Temir Solas took the bow to be repaired. That will cost a hefty amount too. He just hopes the Ravens won’t start deserting him should their luxuries end.

    It has been but a couple days, when the innkeeper approaches to Omac’s table. “You told me, if there’s work to be done, to let you know. This is about dangerous work.”
    The Beard turns and looks at the man. “A youth, from a well standing family has gone missing. Word has it he had gone in the Catacombs at the ruins of the old Langecliffe.” The innkeeper says.
    “Catacombs you say?” The Raven asks.
    The innkeeper nods. “They used to bury people from the great houses there when Langecliffe was a bustling town decades ago. Now they’re not used anymore. The family belongs to the merchant’s guild and they will pay well.”
    “We shall go.” Omac stands up and looks at Solas and Myrick. “Gather the Ravens. We leave in half an hour.”

    So at the Adventuring stage the group went to the Unexplored Location, which is once more an Old Ruin (I had rolled this before writing the previous narrative), where they also roll a Traveler Encounter with a Scholar, which is a Special Event, Favor granting a Quest which I can’t take since I have one already, and thus got a Quest Find of feeling Emboldened.

    At the Delve I rolled for enemies Giant Rats. I don’t have any miniatures at the moment of Giant Rats, so I’ll keep going down the table (and thus to more dangerous enemies) until I get something I have. I’ve settled at Skeletal Defenders (since I don’t have Winged Imps and just played against Giant Bugs) because they also look cool. Rolled 5 Skeletons plus a Lieutenant. Skeletons are Undead meaning they can’t get Stunned and are also Fearless, they’ll fight to the death (or at least oblivion?).

    For table setup, I’d really have like to have some extra dungeon rooms (I’ve since painted 5 more rooms before my spray primer died) so as to not repeat the dungeon of my previous Delve at Ep01. Therefore to make things different, in addition to changing the layout, I used the cavern style rooms as the main part of the dungeon, added some wooden passages, and used a different set of accessories to populate it. According to the Contract mission, I placed the Individual at the centre of the board, and made the first move.

    Rolled that there’s a passage leading elsewhere and will add a new Unexplored Location to the Wilderness. Placed the enemies next, and they’ve randomly been placed around my objective and closest to my warband. Seems it will be a quick melee.

    Just outside the ruined mausoleum, the Ravens meet an old man.
    “Your aid is required.” He says at Omac Gadun. “You must go far to…”
    “To the Savage Mountains and find the Black Ferret. Yes I know.” The Beard cuts him off.
    The old man is startled. “It, can’t be…”
    “No?” Gadun asks.
    “No. I would task you to an adventure worth your caliber, but it seems that Destiny has other plans for you. Face your destiny and claim it! or be devoured.” The old man responds.
    “I see. Now step aside, we must save a foolish young man who has gone where he shouldn’t.” Omac says as he draws his sword and moves inside. The Ravens smirk and follow him as they move past the old man.
    Temir steps in front, and feels an air draft different than the dampness of the catacombs. He looks to the side and sees a passage leading elsewhere. He jots it down so that they may explore at another time.

    The Ravens move inside.

    The Combat

    ROUND 1

    The Ravens move closer from the two passages as they hear the screams of what echoes in the catacombs as a young man.
    ‘That’s good’ Omac thinks. ‘He’s still alive.’
    Then they see them. Skeletons of men striding towards them. Bones clacking, teeth moving up and down. A chill runs down the Raven’s spines, but they hold.
    Bolga screams a warcry. He’s heard stories of entities that should be put to the ground, but are restless. He’ll send them to eternal rest.
    Temir shoots his bow at one of these, but there’s little for the arrow to hold on to. It breaks a few bones, but the skeleton is still marching on.

    ROUND 1
    ROUND 2

    Bolga charges at a skeleton, but the undead animation deflects, hits back Bolga and stuns him. Bolga loses his footing and is hit again. The skeleton’s spear should have skewered him, but for some reason, it is as if the spell that moved the skeleton bugged out, and it stood motionless. Long enough for Bolga to step back in safety.
    The skeleton attacks Bolga again, and his spear cuts a wound in his arm. Another jab by the skeleton’s spear, but his armor saves him, and again, the brigandine stops another blow.
    The other skeleton follows and attacks Bolga who’s been pressed back. Bolga is tired and another strike hits his armor, and once more, but as the skeleton comes for a third attack, Bolga counter attacks. He manages to break off from the repeat hits against him, gains momentum, and cleaves the skeleton in two.
    The constant fighting has taken it’s toll on Bolga, who doesn’t pay attention to the third skeleton attacking from the flank. He’s hit at the side, and drops.
    Meanwhile Temir shoots again at the skeleton coming at him, aiming at a crucial bone at the spine, and splits the skeleton in half, destroying it.
    Boots, at Temir’s side, arms his sling, swings it with might and hits the largest skeleton he can see, must have been a knight once. The bullet hits, but it is ricocheted off the skeleton.
    Now the skeleton knight has reached Temir, but The Ox is tough. Sword and bow, he blocks the blow. He pushes him back.
    Lady Liana of Trenne fights against the skeleton who brought Bolga down, but only manages to wound it.
    Meanwhile Myrick and Omac have closed in to support their companions.

    ROUND 2
    Used a Story Point to save Bolga once here. Decided not to spend another one. If worse comes to worst, I still have Silvertree Leaf.
    ROUND 3

    Boots shoots his sling at the skeleton knight, but the bullet is stopped by the rusty armour.
    Temir takes advantage of the small distance he has gained and shoots at the knight. The arrow pierces through the rusty armor and lodges itself in the skeleton’s ribcage destroying some old bones.
    The knight attacks Temir. Holding his bow, he can’t defend himself properly, but what would be a certain killing blow, misses. The knight should have gone for Temir’s open chest, but instead it just slashed open air. Temir gets to his senses, and using his sword, he blocks the next two slashes.
    At the other side, Myrick shoots at a skeleton, but in the dark corridors, he misses.
    The same skeleton attacks Lady Liana, who blocks, counters, and cuts off the skull destroying it.
    The other skeleton moves in against her too. She blocks with her shield this time, bashes it back, and counters with a diagonal downward strike, smashing it to bone fragments.
    Omac concentrates on casting a spell that will assist him in close combat as the skeleton knight has come close. He emboldens himself and a fiery gaze is set in his eyes.

    ROUND 3
    Used a Story Point for Temir, and now I'm down at 1 Story Point, which I'll save for a rainy day. Maybe I'll need to save a member at a strategic point in time.
    ROUND 4

    Temir shoots at the skeleton knight. Another arrow breaks through rusty armor, and lodges itself at the skeleton’s ribcage. It stumbles back, and the magic that was holding it in place vanishes, as the bones drop to the floor motionless.
    Boots sends another lead bullet flying, hitting the skeleton right behind the knight. The bullet strikes with such force that the skeleton is destroyed in one strike.
    Lady Liana quickly moves towards the screams and finds the young man and calms him down.
    Myrick checks on Bolga, to make sure their companion is still alive.
    The rest of the Ravens look around for anything useful.

    ROUND 4
    Decided not to start exploring the various markers, as with saving the Individual the objective was complete and I could stop the mission at any time (since I held the field as well). The two main reasons I didn't explore further was that I didn't want to press my luck, the warband is still low level with moderate gear. The other reason was that it was late at night and I was tired.

    Since I held the field and completed the objective I’m entitled to both a loot roll and an unusual finds roll, plust the 2 Gold Marks gained by completing the contract. But first I must check for Injuries and advancement.

    I’ve rolled that Bolga was only Knocked Out.

    Lady Liana and Omac Gadun gain 2 XP each.
    Bolga only gains 1 XP since he was a casualty.
    Temir gains 3 XP since he survived and also defeated the Skeleton Leader.
    Myrick rolled on the Flash of Insight but gained nothing new.

    Rolling on loot, I found an Enchanted Weapon! The Heart Seeker! It bypasses armor! I’ll give it to Lady Liana, since others already have Bastard Swords.

    Rolling on unusual finds I’ve got a Strange Sack, which gives a loot roll, which is Vital Information(1). Rolling on this gives me a result that this information may negate the next Enemy Plans.

    Finally, rolling on News Travels I got that travelers have seen something odd in the forests and hills. I’m to add an unexplored location to the wilderness of the map.

    “Thank you! You’re heroes! I’ll sing your exploits everywhere! Thank you!” The young man starts kissing the hands and feet of Omac and the rest.
    “Get a grip of yourself boy!” Omac shouts as he stands him up. “You’re just lucky we were around. What foolish thing was this?”
    “My name is Aethed. I was looking for the ancient blade that will vancquish any foe. The Heart Seeker! But I’m not worth of it. Adventures and dangers are for people made of a different paste. I’ll go back to my father and learn how to do calculus, help them with the logistics of the shop.” The man explains.
    “Search for this blade! Leave no stone unturned! But don’t delve too deep, don’t want to be searching for more lost people inside.” Omac orders his companions and soon they spread out, as Temir guides the young man outside.
    Not long has passed, and Lady Liana of Trenne appears with a gleaming blue blade. She kneels before Omac, and presents the blade. “With your permission. I’ll use it to defeat our enemies.” She bows.
    “And thus you will. Rise Lady Liana ofTrenne. This blade will serve you well, as you will serve the Ravens.” Omac responds.
    Boots comes with a manuscript in his hands. “Hey Beard, I didn’t find no blade, but this might be of use. It speaks of ways our enemies move.” Omac smiles. “We’ll review it later at the inn. It’s time to return and get our well deserved pay. Pay that will fill our bellies with fine ale and pork on the spit.”

    As they reach the Weary Knave, the merchant’s family is thrilled to have their son back, and pay the Ravens the agreed upon sum. News reach them about talks of a cave to the east, were strange things were happening. Omac notes it down on their map.

    Session Summary

    A quick battle in the delve with my beloved enemy skeletons. Without morale to reduce their numbers, I’m just glad they were few to begin with. The Heart Seeker will definitely improve my warband, but I still need to gain some levels. I think it’s important to get increases in Combat, Toughness and Agility before I have some fighting chance against the most dangerous enemies. Also I’ll need some better armor, but this costs much needed Gold which I lack at the moment. Just barely making ends meet.

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