To Tharbad. Ep02

Day 28, Hithui, 4th Watch

Weather (11) stays the same.
Encounter: 4: No encounter

Along with 3rd watch they walked 15 miles south. They camp at a crossroads.

Day 28, Hithui, 5th Watch

Weather (12) becomes Freezing. The sky is overcast, but the snowfall stops. Winds are a gale.
Encounter: 2: No encounter

Day 28, Hithui, 6th Watch

Weather (12) stays the same.
Encounter: 17: No encounter

Day 29, Hithui, 1st Watch

Weather (14) becomes Cold, sky is cloudy. Winds turn SE and it’s windy.
Encounter: 1: No encounter

Day 29, Hithui, 2nd Watch

Weather (14) stays the same.
Encounter: 5: No encounter

Day 29, Hithui, 3rd Watch

Weather (14) stays the same. Buts it’s cool now since it’s daylight.
Encounter: 2: No encounter

They move further south 10 miles.

Day 29, Hithui, 4th Watch

Weather (15) is cool. Sky is clear. Winds are SE gale.
Encounter: 15: No encounter

They move further south 10 miles and camp next to the woods.

Day 29, Hithui, 5th Watch

Weather (16) is Cold, sky is cloudy. There’s light rain. Winds are windy.
Encounter: 17: No encounter

Day 29, Hithui, 6th Watch

Weather (17) is Freezing, sky is Overcast. There’s snowfall. Winds are NW Gale.
Encounter: 18: No encounter

Day 30, Hithui, 1st Watch

Weather (18) is Cold, sky is overcast. There’s snow flurries. Winds are SW windy.
Encounter: 12: No encounter

Day 30, Hithui, 2nd Watch

Weather (19) is Cold, sky is cloudy. Winds are a breeze.
Encounter: 2: No encounter

Day 30, Hithui, 3rd Watch

Weather (19) stays the same.
Encounter: 1: No encounter

They move 10 more miles south.

Day 30, Hithui, 4th Watch

Weather (19) stays the same.
Encounter: 16: No encounter

They move 10 more miles south.
The maps I follow are not printed, and I’m not certain about my counting. Since I’m not sure if they reach Fennas Drunin, I’ll ask the Oracle.

Q: Do they reach Fennas Drunin?
A: Yes, and, it’s still daylight when they arrive. Gates are open.

Two more winter days on the road, and Leówyn sets eyes upon civilisation.
At the point where the rivers Mitheithel and Bruinen meet, there is a town. A big gated wall protects the approach from the land. ‘Could this be Tharbad?’ Leówyn wonders. But it can’t be they still have ways to go. She trots back to the caravan.
“Town ahead, at the fork of two rivers.” She shouts at Wyny.
“That’s Fennas Drunin”. He yells, and smiles.

Q: Do the gate guards let them through?
A: Yes, but they must pay tolls.
6.25d in total. 1d for Leówyn.

At the gates, the guards stop them.
“We’re traders!” Wyny shouts so they can listen. “Weary from the road. Attacked by bandits.”
The guards look at them carefully. They don’t feel any pity. “Even so, you must pay the toll to enter the city for trade. 1 farthing each man afoot, 1 farthing for the cart, 1 penny for each horse.”
Unhappy, Wyny complies with the demand. Unsure if the money will end up in the town coffers or the guards pockets.

First things first, I need to see if they find some lodgings. Then Leówyn will have some alone time.
Let’s see if Leówyn can gather some information about what inn is the best.

Leówyn: Intrigue: 80: CF
They’ll go to the most wild inn, “The River’s Edge”
Q: Do they find lodgings at the inn?
A: Yes, and with separate bedding.

Leówyn asks around what’s the best lodging in town, and the locals point her to “The River’s Edge”. After talking to the innkeeper, they arrange lodgings for the entire caravan.
Wyny lets everyone know that they’re to move out in the morning.

Q: Does the caravan agree to move out so soon? (Unlikely)
A: Yes

None of them seems to mind. Leówyn finds it a bit odd that they don’t ask for more rest, especially considering that it’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow.

I want to purchase better armor for Leówyn. And, speaking of which, I need to calculate her Encumbrance penalty.

Endurance: 13
Total Weight: 44,6 (Weapons 12, Armor 27.6)
I’m also adding the clothing. Clothing also provides some protection.
Leather Calf Boots 3.2
Cloth Surcoat 5.3
Cloak, Shirt, Pants (2,1,1)
Final total weight: 52.1

Encumbrance penalty: 4
This means that in a fight she’ll have a -20 to her combat skill rolls!
I should reconsider getting her more armour.
Right now with the +15 Attack Bonus of her Broadsword and the +20 Defense Bonus of her Round shield, it’s barely acceptable.
Also I decided that she isn’t carrying the morningstar, but has it on her saddle bag.

She’ll go to the weaponcrafter.
Let’s see if she has any significant encounter on the way there: 12: No encounter
Q: Does the weaponcrafter have any kurbul vambraces and leather gauntlets for her to buy?
A: Yes
For a cost of 41d, she buys them.

Walking around in the damp cold river town, she locates the “Iron Anvil”. A smithy run by dwarf smiths. She purchases some cured leather vambraces and a pair of leather gloves, before walking around the town a bit further.

I’ll have her ask about the hobbit they met, at the town guard. See if she can get any more information.

Leówyn: Intrigue: 24: MS
Q: Does the town guard know anything about Eryel?
A: Yes, but, their information is old.
Q: Is she a murderer?
A: Yes, and Intervention. 2: Entity Positive.
Entity (Leówyn, Wyny, Eryel, Town Guard): Town Guard.
Portents from Mythic: Interestingly Defeated, Oppress Fame
So a band of enemies has been defeated.
Q: Was Eryel a part of this band?
A: Yes

She goes back to the gatekeep and talks to the guards.
“Do you have a list of wanted persons in the area? I had a meeting with a rather nefarious hobbit lady.” She asks.
“I’d have laughed at your face talking about nefarious hobbit ladies, if that weren’t oddly specific.” The guard answers. “Her name’s Eryel. She’s wanted for murder. She’s joined some lowlifes that prey on travellers in the Angle. Where did you meet her?”
“About a score of miles south of the great east road, on the road that leads here. It was only a couple days ago.” Leówyn says.
As they talk, they’re interrupted by noise. Guards bringing in several people tied in ropes, leading them to the dungeon.
“We defeated them!”. The guard briefs his friend. “We disguised ourselves as commoners and they fell for it. Unfortunately for our disguise to work we had to do away with most horses and some of them fled on foot. Scattered in all the directions. Their notoriety is crushed! Bunch of cowards.”

‘I spent a long time pondering on Eryel and her introduction to the party.
I’m trying to introduce the concept of Chekhov’s Gun, but not forcefully.

Chekhov’s gun (Chekhov’s rifle, Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.

But still, I’m playing a game. I need some ‘false promises’ to keep the suspense and possibility of failure in play.
So what I want to do, is introduce ‘Oracle Hooks’. Places where the story threads can hook into each other to create the overarching plot. But since they’re hooks, instead of knots, they may fail to grab onto each other and become dead ends.

So let’s see what I have in mind. Eryel is my Chekhov’s Gun. She’s a new thread, that was delivered to my story through a random significant encounter.
She may become a ‘False Promise’ but until that happens, I’ll try to ‘Hook’ it to the rest of the story.
Her appearance already triggered the death of Enryn. That has significant consequences on the caravan’s way forward, but this consists more of a random event that hinders the current objective, than a Chekhov’s Gun.
What I’m trying to do, to the extent possible, is introduce the possibility that she’s had dealings with Argulf’s murderer.
Already I had Leówyn go ask the town guard about her.
Then what else I did which made sense, was have some bandits scatter as did Eryel. That’s why they met her. She’s probably been in the fight and fled.
So, what about Argulf’s murderer. I’m turning a blind eye about some probabilities here. Since I took Leówyn out of her story (she’s supposed to be riding east from Rohan to Gondor when the story begins, but I took her to Rhudaur) with the excuse of orc raids pushing her to the North, maybe that’s what happened to her target as well. Maybe Argulf’s murderer fled Gondor (most likely), to get to Rohan before news of his crime spread, and that’s when the orc raids pushed him North as well.
There he could have joined another band of misfits, commiting to a life of crime from then on.
These are the possibilities that go around in my thoughts, and Leówyn’s as well. These are the ‘Hooks’. Until the time that the Oracle makes the Hooks grab onto the Threads, it’s all fluid.
So where can I place these Hooks?

  • The town guard may know of a Rohir bandit
  • A Rohir bandit may have been caught
  • A Rohir bandit may be among those who escaped

This bandit may or may not be Argulf’s murderer, and if not he may or may not have met Argulf’s murderer.
That’s how I’m thinking of implementing Chekhov’s Gun, from an RPG perspective.

Just to make myself clear, not every random significant encounter is a Hook. Some of them are just obstacles, or exist merely to set the theme.
For example whereas the Hillman encounters (both in the Last Bridge Inn) and the wilderness, and the Bali Redhelm encounter, could and should have been Hooks, the encounter with the Patrol is not right now. The encounter with the Nazgûl is a category on its own. Due to its power, its theme-setting and maybe a new thread starter. So it can be a Hook, if the current main story is resolved.

So intermission over, back to my running story.

“Were there any Rohirim with the bandits?”, Leówyn asks the new guard, her worry evident all over her face.

Q: Were there?
A: Yes
Q: Are they captured?
A: No
Q: Are they dead?
A: Yes
Q: More than one?
A: Yes. 2d6, disadvantage: 5 of them.

So the oracle answers were plain Yes/No, so I had to drill down on them.

The guard eyes her. He doesn’t know what answer she’s looking for. As he recognises her for Rohir.
“Yes. There were a handful. They’re the ones who stood and fought. You’re brave people. I’d keep your sword in your hilt, unless you want to meet their fate in the afterworld.” He answers and puffs his chest, puts his hand on the hilt, to intimidate her.
“No, you don’t understand. A sorry excuse for a Rohirim, murdered my beloved Argulf. I’m hunting him down. Could he be among the dead?” She says softly.

Q: Did they bring the bodies here?
A: No

“You’d have to ride out to the Dunnish track. That’s where we left them for all to see. Rohirim bandits in the Dunnish track. Huh.” He talks to her and himself.
“Did you bring back their loot? Maybe? He’d have the locket I gave my beloved. He killed him for this.” She asks.

Q: Did they bring the loot?
A: False Presupposition. There was no loot.

“They had no loot. Eh, sometimes the men help themselves to the belongings of the dead thugs. It’s not like they’ll miss them. But I doubt you’ll find anyone willing to talk about it freely.” He answers.

This is a big point for Leówyn. She’s willing to give it all to find out.

“Ask your men. I’m willing to pay double its price if you find it. And if you let me talk to the man who has it.” She proposes.

Leówyn: Rhetoric: 76: MF

“As I said, the men won’t talk about it freely.” The guard replies.
Leówyn puts a shilling worth of pennies on the table.
“Here’s a shilling for your trouble. And if you let me talk to the bandits. Another shilling for you if the locket is found.” She tries her best.

Leówyn: Rhetoric: 92: MF

The guard doesn’t take the money.
“You have trouble hearing? I said no!” He replies, annoyed. “You wanna go find the bodies of the bandits, be my guest, but there’s no talking to the prisoners, nor annoying the honest men of the guard. Begone.”
Leówyn knows when she’s pushed her luck. She puts her money back in her pouch and leaves.

She’ll return to the inn.
Encounter: 1: No encounter

Q: Has Wyny hired any additional guards?
A: No
Q: Has he bought another cart?
A: No
Q: Is everything as expected at the inn?
A: Yes
Q: Does the night pass by uneventful?
A: No, but, nothing dangerous happens
Q: Is is a guard to talk to her?
A: No
Portent: Loudly Messy, Trust Normal
Ah so it’s quite simple. Since Leówyn made the mistake of booking lodgings at the most rowdy inn, they can’t get a good nights sleep due to patrons being loud and messy, but it’s the normal everyday business of the River’s Edge.

Leówyn returns to the River’s Edge inn, and finds her bedding. It’s not comfortable and the rooms are next to the main hall, where partying drunks sing and yell until the morning.

Day 31st, Hithui

Come breakfast time she approaches Wyny.
“Have you covered up your casualties in men and supplies?” She asks.
He looks at her sideways.
“Found any more guards? Maybe a second cart to relieve the horses and men of their burden?” She insists.
“No, I haven’t. What’s it to you? Why the sudden interest? No one else has complained.” Wyny responds.
Leówyn is no longer torn to her feelings. This decision is clear to her. The caravan master seems like a very selfish man.
“You should take my advice. Can’t go like this to Tharbad. Or even better hire a barge downriver.” She pauses for a moment. “I’m leaving.”

Q: Is he angry?
A: No

In a strict business way he responds to her. “Then our business is concluded. Since you voided our deal, you won’t get any pay for your work.” He waits patiently for answer.
Leówyn scoffs, and takes her leave.

She will try to get some information about the bandit prisoners. Will there be a public punishment?

Q: Is there publicly available information?
A: Yes
So an Intrigue roll won’t be necessary.
Q: Will there be a public punishment?
A: False Presupposition. So there is publicly available information, but it only relates to the defeat of the bandit group.
Donjon: the bandits are known as “Bely’s Fangs”.
So the intrigue roll is necessary.
Leówyn: Intrigue: 6: MS.
Q: Will there be a public punishment?
A: No. Random Event.
Excitedly Familiar.
Dispute Mundane.

She hasn’t walked two steps out of the inn, when she hears a boy yell.
“Bely has been defanged! Bely’s Fangs are no more! Thanks to the brave work of Thorlavan! Travel will be safe in the new year!” The town crier shouts.
“Hey you!” She shouts to him back. “Will we get to see a hanging?”
The boy startled, pauses for a second. “Dunno mylady. What I know is they’re either dead or in the dungeon! They’ll trouble us no more!” He answers and goes back to his task of telling the people of Fennas Drunin not to be afraid of Bely’s Fangs no more.
With that in mind, she goes back to the inn.
She carefully places the bait so that the conversation will begin.
“I sure hope we’ll see a hanging. Make sure all of them are dead. Rotten scum.” She tells the innkeeper, just loud enough so that the patrons nearby can hear her.
Soon the chatter begins, and she overhears just what she needs. “…my nephew in the guard said they’ll keep them, see if there’s any bounty for any of them in Tharbad, gain some extra coin if possible…”
She turns to walk away. She has enough time to ride the Dunnish track and back before the guard clears out with Tharbad.
But as she does, she bumps onto a big burly man.
“You!” He says as he looks at her. It’s the hillman who beat her back at the Last Bridge inn.

Q: Does he start a fight?
A: No. He taunts her again.

“Came to have another beating? Rohirim shield maiden?” He laughs at her face, spit drops flying all over.

Q: Is he drunk?
A: No, and he’s very sober.

I’m not sure if Leówyn will start a fight now.
Q: Does Leówyn fight again?
A: Yes, and without warning.

I’ll give her a free Turn.

Turn 0

Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 69: MF

Once more Leówyn lets anger take hold of her. She swings her leg in a sidekick but misses and hits a barstool.

Turn 1

Leówyn has higher Initiative than the Thug.

Leówyn Attack Declaration
Thug Defense Declaration: Counterstrike
Leówyn: Unarmed: Knee: 15: CS
Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 59: MF
Strike is A3. Location is: 54: Thorax: Strike Impact: 8+1-2=7: S2 Serious Fracture.
Shock Roll: 8/13: Not shocked.

Thug Attack Declaration
Leówyn Defense Declaration: Dodge
Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 79: MF
Leówyn: Unarmed: Hand: 28: MS

Now the hillman smirks and raises his fists ready to fight her. She follows with a knee strike to his chest, as he counterstrikes at the same time with a right jab. She avoids the attack, grabs his left shoulder and her knee lands at his ribs, fracturing them.
The hillman loses his breath for but a moment as he follows with a left jab, which Leówyn gracefully dodges.

Turn 2

Leówyn Attack Declaration
Thug Defense Declaration: Block
Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 74: MF
Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 64: MF
Block: A2 on Leówyn’s leg, and on Thugs Hand.
A2 on Thug: 4: M1 Minor Bruise on Hand.
Shock Roll: 9/13: No shock
A2 on Leówyn: 6-2: M1 Minor Bruise on Calf.

Thug Attack Declaration
Leówyn Defense Declaration: Dodge
Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 45: CF
Leówyn: Unarmed: Hand: 55: CS

Leówyn Attack Declaration
Thug Defense Declaration: Dodge
Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 48: MF
Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 95: CF
Defender Stumble: 13/11: Stumble: Falls Prone

Leówyn has wiped the smirk off the hill and face, and she goes in with a front kick which he tried to block with a fist. The leg is stronger than a fist though, and he bruises his hand as much as Leówyn bruises her calf.
He shouts and goes with a right jab, which Leówyn dodges by stepping to the side. She tries to sidekick him, but hits thin air. On his attempt to dodge it, he stumbles on a low table, and falls, face down to the floor.

Turn 3

Leówyn Attack Declaration
Thug Defense Declaration: Dodge
Leówyn: Unarmed: Leg: 54: MS
Thug: Unarmed: Hand: 79: MF
Strike is A1. Location is: 33: Upper Arm. Impact: 6+1-2=5. M1 Minor Bruise.
Shock Roll: 16/13: Unconscious.

As his opponent is still down, she kicks him hard on his upper arm. He groans and moans, and stops moving from all the beating.
“And stay down!” She says, knowing he can’t respond.

Q: Do the inn patrons return to their business? (Likely)
A: Yes. Random Event. Entity Positive (Leówyn, Hillman, Wyny): Leówyn.
Portent: Fortunately Exotic, Adversity Attention.
My interpretation is that the fellow clients enjoyed the show, and she has a crowd.

“To the shield-maiden!” A man raises his tankard up and the others follow and cheer.
A couple strong armed fellows pick up the stunned hillman and throw him outside, in the stables.
She smiles. Revenge is a cold bitch. The slight bruise on her leg actually feels good. She drinks an ale she’s been treated.
“Tell us your name!” Shouts another one.
“Leówyn” she answers and they all cheer her name.
“Who’s this?” She asks.

Donjon: Rirde.

“I thought you knew! Seems like you’ve had some past the two of you. That’s Rirde. He used to be a tough macho hillman.”

Q: Do we have a backstory?
A: No

“I’d like to think our story is now over.” Leówyn adds. She spends some time in the Rivers Edge before heading out.
She purchases two weeks worth of rations before riding out towards the Dunnish track.


Injuries: M1 Minor Bruise on Right Calf
Load: 54.2
Encumbrance Penalty: 4
She spent 52.5d, so she now has 2 pounds, 9 shillings and 3 pennies.

Session Summary

I’m exploring different avenues on how to handle the story and meta mechanics during solo play, and I’m enjoying it.
I kinda wanted a fight to happen in this session, and dunno if I forced it subconsciously, but nonetheless I wasn’t disappointed.
Hârnmaster really shines in delivering combat situations. I could see the the fight unfolding before my imagination, with minimal effort.

Now as to the story, there’s a solid chance that Leówyn will find resolution. In that case, she might return to her friends in the Trollshaws. If not, she will head south towards Gondor, alone.