Thursday, 30 May 2013

Dragon Warriors - 2:10

Here is the write-up of last night's adventure...

In the Hall of the Mountain King (29th May 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight (NPC’d)
Hillson – Warlock
Nazir al Khalid – Barbarian (NPC’d)
Solaran – Elementalist (NPC’d)
Karban Telos – Sorcerer

A Strange Feast Hall (Day 33 (113))

Sir Erich, Karban the sorcerer, and Aethelfrith quickly tied up the madman and carried him back to the ship. They tied him to the mast, and Sir Erich decided he would stay back and attend to the bedraggled man whilst Karban and Aethelfrith went back to investigate what was buried deeper within the hill. Hillson the warlock decided he would join them as work on collecting provisions was going on quite well without him.

The three adventurers returned to the buried palace and made their way to the foyer. At the top of the stairs they saw a huge double-valve studded oak set of doors. Aethelfrith set his shoulder to one of them in anticipation of it being very heavy, but it glided open quite easily.

Upon entering the room beyond they saw that it extended for a mile or so into the distance and was around half-a-mile from side to side; in no way should it fit under the hill it was positioned beneath. To either side were two sets of tables and benches and a further set of ornate chairs were set to another table at the far end of the hall. The smell of cooked meat and ale, and the very faint sounds of a feast in full swing wafted towards the adventurers, reminding them that they were due for their next meal. The tables and benches appeared to be normal sized even though they were a great distance away. In the centre of the room was a large fire, its heat could be felt from where the party stood. Obviously this was some kind of illusion which Aethelfrith backed up by pulling from his mind an old childhood memory of home – the hall and benches reminded him very much of the description he was given of the Trickster’s Hall.

“The Trickster’s Hall, a staefheall built to gigantic, even godlike, propor­tions and said to lie somewhere in the mountains of Thuland.”

If this was indeed the Trickster God’s hall, then he expected his mind to be playing tricks on him.

Karban asked Aethelfrith to throw a stone to see how the illusion worked, but the stone flew exactly as it should do and made the right sounds and bounces when it landed. As the hall seemed to be quite harmless, the adventurer decided to investigate the nearest set of table to their right. As they drew nearer, each of them saw their companions slowly turn into what they could only imagine elves would look like, but they themselves remained human looking. The closer they got to the tables the more they could hear the sounds emanating from the tables and realised that the voices were definitely not speaking any known tongue that any of them knew.

Karban decided to investigate further, so he jumped up onto a bench to see what he could find out. As soon as he sat upon the bench, food and drink appeared in abundance upon the table and the voices around him gathered in strength. He took a few mouthfuls of food and then threw a chicken leg at Aethelfrith to taunt him, but nothing could be seen by the warrior; he decided that either his mind was playing tricks on him or the sorcerer was mucking around. The sounds at the table became stronger in Karban’s ears and he was becoming more and more tempted by the fare on offer. He took a sip of mead and boasted of its taste and quality to Aethelfrith. The Thane remembered a little more about his childhood folk tales and shouted a warning for the sorcerer to be careful of what he ate and drank. As the warrior voiced his concern Karban snapped out of his reverie and made to leave the mead bench and table. As he started to slide off of the bench, a shadowy shape beside the sorcerer quickly took shape and looked at him in horror.

A cry of “Human” rent the air as the elven warrior grabbed his shield and spear and gave chase to the rapidly retreating mage. Aethelfrith saw this and ran to interpose himself between the escaping sorcerer and the elf warrior. He stabbed the elf with his magical short sword causing it a great deal of pain but the elf ignored him in its single-minded pursuit of Karban. Hillson, aware that combat was about to become a reality cast a spell of quickness upon himself and ran to intercept the elf. Unfortunately he arrived at the melee just after Karban had been stabbed by the spear the elf was carrying. The skill of the elven warrior then turned Aethlefrith’s blade, and his next strike at the elf then hit his companion. Karban crumpled to the floor an inch from death. The elf quickly turned about and headed back towards the table, quickly disappearing as he got nearer and nearer to the festivities held there.

Hillson quickly moved in and healed his companion but it took a few more spells from the warlock and then the sorcerer to move him away from death’s door.

The Trickster’s Table

The adventurers quickly made their way away from the elven table towards the large fire in the middle of the room. As they moved away from the table, their elfin looks slowly dissipated and the adventurers appeared normal to each other again. On their approach to the fire, it appeared to be six feet high no matter how far they were away from it and the heat it gave out was as it should be if it was a real fire. The wood on the fire appeared to be burning normally and the heat at its heart was as hot as a normal fire. The party decided that this sense of scale was another illusion cast by the Trickster in his hall.

They left the fire and made their way towards the second set of tables and benches on the right hand side of the hall. The nearer they got, the more they could hear the feasting going on, but this time they did not change shape. They assumed that if the first table was for the elves, then this set of tables must be for men.

The adventurers continued their journey on towards the more ornate table and chairs at the far end of the hall. This table and chairs was larger than the other two sets, and rather than benches there were seven individual chairs; all wooden except the much larger central one made of what appeared to be gold. As they got closer to the table they noticed that each place had wooden utensils (plates, goblets, bowls etc.) arrayed in front of it, except for the central chair that had everything the same but in gold.

The companions looked around the chairs to see what was between them and the wall at the end of the hall and noticed that each had a sigil upon it; the golden throne had a fire sigil, one had a bow, another a wave, a well, a boar, a lute, and one that they couldn’t quite make out at the time – symbols of the old gods, with the fire sigil being that of Loki the Trickster. Karban, decided to see if the golden throne could be moved so enlisted the he of his companions to try to move it. It did not move at all; even if it was made of solid gold it would have had a certain heft but their efforts realised this was also something magical.

Failing in his efforts to move the throne, Karban decided to try sitting on the cushion on the seat. As it was quite high (giant-like in proportion – Aethelfrith thought it could fit a frost giant like the one he had met in the forests outside of Worsted) he needed to be boosted by his companions and it was this that probably saved his life because as soon as he sat upon the gilded cushion flames began to burst from the chair around him. Aethelfrith and Hillson quickly pulled their companion off of the chair before the flames could grow large enough to harm him.

Wondering what the trick to solving the puzzle might be, Aethelfrith placed his bow upon the chair that had the bow sigil carved upon its back. Nothing seemed to happen but the way he placed the bow meant it touched the back of the chair in an unusual way. He picke dup the bow agin and thrust it at the back of the chair. It appeared to enter into the chair back as if it was made of clay and then started to bend. Karban reported that even though a good foot of the bow had entered the back of the chair, there was no sign of it coming out of or affecting the back.

Aethlefrith removed his bow carefully and then tried it on the next chair with the same results. The party realised that things were becoming more complicated and as they were becoming quite hungry too, they decided they would leave the hall and return the next day with their other companions to see if they could shed any further light on the mystery. As it was, they still had a good twenty minute walk to get back across the huge hall to the entrance on the far side.

Return to the Ship (Day 33 – late evening)

They decided to go back to the entrance via the left hand side (or right hand side from where they were now standing) so that they could investigate who the other tables represented. The first table had them slowly grow as they approached the benches and they quickly assumed that this was a giant’s table. The last table in the hall had them shrink and take on the appearance of dwarfs.

After what had been a good three or four hours, the adventurers left the hall in the rapidly encroaching twilight. They hurriedly made their way back to the ship to be greeted by their companions and a newly awakened mad-man.

Dragon Warriors - Session 2:9

I had a fairly busy week last week, so I was unable to put up the adventure write up. However, I was able to complete this yesterday just before last night's session, but didn't quite get time to actually post it. Anyway, here is the prose for last week's adventure...

A Safe Haven (22nd May 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight
Hillson – Warlock (NPC’d)
Nazir al Khalid – Barbarian (NPC’d)
Solaran – Elementalist (NPC’d)
Karban Telos – Sorcerer

A Second Attack (Day 31 (111))

The wind picked up during the night and the cog made better time on its journey out of the Bay of Glissom. A sail was spotted on the horizon during the early daylight hours which appeared to the look-out to be following the stolen vessel.

As the day wore on, the sail on the horizon began to grow larger until it could be seen for what it was – a pirate galley under full oar power. By the estimation of the captain, the longship was due to catch the slower moving cog by the end of the day. The adventurers set to work on planning a defensive strategy for the inevitable boarding action which was to come.

Towards the end of the day, the sky slowly darkened to a deep blue hue, and the stars began to twinkle in the firmament. The pursuing vessel had moved to within a mile or so of the cog. All of the captain’s manoeuvres had proven to be in vain, but had bought the party some extra time to contemplate their fate. As they prepared for the boarding action, the flying figure they had seen the night before left the long boat and headed towards the cog. All hands were called upon the deck.

The beast with the skeletal, reptile-like horse’s head, scaled body and four-taloned feet headed directly for the cog on leathery wings. Its passenger, intent on casting some strange magic upon the party, made arcane movements from the saddle but was not put off by the arrows shot at it by Nazir. Suddenly, a shadowy, armoured figure appeared upon the deck of the ship; it was the Bloody Bitch herself. The adventurers and crew ran to combat her. Fully surrounded, she was unable to make any of her attacks find their mark, but this also affected the adventurers and crew as they seemed to get in each other’s way. After several moments of furious combat, a few blows eventually fell upon the pirate queen, but this did not deter her from renewing her attacks. A bolt of energy from Hillson, the Warlock, finally felled their assailant but as the body hit the deck it began to immediately fade and turn to smoke.

Failed Negotiations (Day 32)

No more attacks came during the night, so the captain and his crew attempted to use every subterfuge they could think of to evade pursuit under the cover of darkness. But this was to no avail as the long ship was still only a mile or so to their rear when the darkness was replaced by the rosy fingers of the oncoming dawn.

The reptilian beast took flight again as soon as the light was good enough. This time, Karban the sorcerer tried to parley with the Bloody Bitch from the crow’s nest of the cog. The negotiations went nowhere as the pirate queen said that the party did not have any means to bargain with. During the conversation she let slip that without this boat, her crew and the special map (which the party had decided not to steal for Antonio Guaires) she could not find an old Fomorian War Galley which would help her control all the seas. If they could help her with obtaining that vessel then she would forget the animosity between them, let them keep the cog they were on and let them go free. The sorcerer just laughed at her predicament which angered her and she began to cast a spell. Sir Erich, who was nearest, let fly an arrow at her flying mount, hitting its right wing. The beast screamed its rage and began to fly away from harm just as the Bloody Bitch let loose with a bolt of lightning at the ship which killed both the captain and one of his crewmen. Just before it got out of range, the sorcerer managed to shoot the beast with an arrow from his precarious platform in the rigging, and Hillson, the warlock, cast a flame onto his arrow that struck the beast for a third time.

A Secret Cove (Day 33 – late afternoon)

This turn of events seemed to rattle the pirate queen, because the following morning there was no sign of the pirate vessel that had been tailing them for the last few days. The crew had been up all night manoeuvring the cog towards land (after a swift sea burial for their captain and fellow crew member), and during the day they looked out for a safe haven. A few hours just after noon they espied a small cove and put in.

The tall rock walls hid the cog from view from the sea, and they weighed anchor just shy of the small, sandy beach contained within. A waterfall poured from the cliffs above into a small rock pool just off to one side. The crew began to repair the damage to the ship, sent out a party to collect water from the rock pool (it was fresh water) and any food they could lay their hands on within the immediate vicinity of the ship.

Sir Erich, Karban the sorcerer, and Aethelfrith jumped into the shallows and waded ashore, both to supervise the crewmen and to stretch their legs. Whilst they supervised the loading of the water butts, they noticed a set of human sized footprints leading away from the rock pool and up the single path that led up the cliffs. They told the crew that they were going to investigate the footprints and to not leave without them. They would also look for food on their trip to the top of the cliffs.

When they got to the top of the path they laid low as they surveyed a wide vista; undulating tundra and the occasional pine tree as far as the eye could see. Off to one side they saw a wide scree slope, towards which the footsteps led. They agreed amongst themselves that they would follow the trail as the person may either need rescuing or have information that could help them.

They left their vantage point and headed towards the slope, but the trail became lost amongst the loose stones and pebbles. After searching around for a few minutes Karban spotted a way into the hill under the scree. The path led into a small, dark tunnel. The sorcerer cast a quick spell upon himself that allowed him to see in the dark, but this did not help the two warriors, so they both lit a torch and followed the sorcerer’s lead.

After just a few paces, the tunnel turned a corner and the small party of adventurers found themselves before a pillared colonnade with steps leading up to a vestibule of some sort. The whole of a palace-like building (judging by these first impressions) had been covered by a rock-slide sometime in the distant past. In the space before the grand structure, they spotted a small cooking fire off to one side and a dishevelled, scraggly-bearded man tending it. Spotting the adventurers, he drew his sword and waved it at them in a menacing way whilst shouting at them in a strange language.

The sorcerer moved into the opening a little further and the man showed no hesitation in launching an attack on him, gibbering incoherently all the time. The two warriors moved in to attack the fellow with the butts of their weapons in order to subdue rather than kill him, and it only took a matter of moments to put him out of harm’s way.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Hunter Orcs on Fell wargs

After saying that I hadn't bought any gaming gear for a while, I went down to my local shopping centre (Blue Water in Kent) yesterday and partook of some retail therapy. I needed to buy some new clothes for work (something I haven't done for about 2-3 years now - I generally do not worry about clothes until they start to get holes in them) and my youngest needed a few items as he is growing so fast. We popped into a few shops and whilst my wife was looking at girly things in a variety of places I decided to take a wander into Games Workshop. I had a couple of vouchers burning a hole in my wallet, so I spent them on some new figures from The Hobbit range and some of the new paint range.

I picked up several of the new paints (I will try them out soon and give my verdict) and a box of the Hunter Orcs on Fell Wargs.

In the box you get:

Six half sprues of orcs and fell wargs - two of the half-sprues are repeated - to make up 6 orcs on wargs with two casualties
Six GW bases to mount the miniatures on

Each warg comes in 4 parts - 2 body halves and 2 head halves
The orcs (lower body) are part integral to the wargs, have a separate torso, head, and left and right arms. There are several variants of each to make a very diverse force, so it will take several boxes before the same warg rider needs to be built.

The sculpting is very crisp and very fine - the methodology has come on leaps and bounds since the early days of the Riders of Rohan and Warriors of Gondor. GW are doing a great job with these figures IMHO.

My only question for this box set is why GW didn't sculpt the riders separately from the wargs? That said, GW sell separate wargs, so I can only assume they will not contain any orc parts and maybe are different poses to those in this box? Perhaps they sculpted the wargs first, tooled them, and then sculpted the orcs on them and tooled them again? I am interested in finding this out.

I really like these minis - much more so than the original hyena-wargs that went before (but that's not to say I didn't like those minis). My only criticism is the weapons - I am not a fan of crinkle-cut blades, and there are far too many of them in the box for my liking.

Overall, I would give these a 8.5 out of 10. Alex bought the Elven Cavalry recently, and those are well worth a 9.5 - they are fantastic sculpts. Maybe I can get him to paint them soon as he has already glued them up ready for undercoating, so I can give a brief overview of that set too.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Painting and Gaming Update

It has been a long time since I have posted any of my painting efforts. Everyday life has become more hectic as the kids grow up and want to do their own things, work gets busier and busier, and other things impinge on my precious free time.

I have been slowly getting some paint onto a batch of Norman Knights, so I will start to put those up on the blog in the next few weeks as I complete them. I also have a handful of other half-finished minis that will get my attention in the coming weeks too. I really need to focus and start getting stuff together to actually use in a game. My main aim, originaly, was just to reduce the lead mountain. I have been fairly successful in doing this but I still have several hundred minis to go. I think I need to plan a campaign game in which to use as many of them as I can, and maybe start painting them to a theme in readiness for that game. I must admit my preference is for fantasy games, but all the historicals I have painted should come in handy to some extent to use in that type of world too. Maybe my ePBM plans for AD&D will be the perfect vehicle - now just to get the time to do it.

My only real gaming time recently has been the Wednseday night RPG bash at the club. I am thoroughly enjoying this bit of weekly downtime and look forward to it every week. I enjoy writing up our adventures and publishing them here on the blog for all to see. Primarily it is a reminder to the players of what happened the previous week, but also as a reference as to what went before. I hope the rest of my readers enjoy hearing about the adventures of our trusty band of companions.

For my long-term set of now very remote gaming friends I was due to start a second incarnation of Doggerland just after Christmas. Unfortunately I did not get the chance to polish the rules and create the map (now impossible due to my PC crashing irreparably a month or two back and losing my working copy of Photoshop - I cannot get it to reload onto a Win 8 machine). I was also thinking of getting an ePBM AD&D campaign going but, again, this suffered due to my PC crash and now lack of time. The AD&D campaign will probably be the easiest of the two to run as I have everything ready to go except buy-in from the players.

Looking back over the site for the last few years I have noticed that this year I have not bought anything for my hobby. The last couple of years have seen me spend about £300 per annum; divvied up it comes out as around £25 per month - not a huge sum in the scheme of things. I have seen a lot of old school style minis on a variety of blogs and sites recently which I would like to add to my collection - at a rate of about £25 per month I should be able to get some coherent forces put together when combined with my existing unpainted lead. Lots of goblins/orcs/trolls, dwarfs and humans should give me the basis of a good fantasy campaign. Although I prefer very anthropocentic fantasy (which is why I am anjoying Dragon Warriors so much), I can't run a campaign without a good force of evil baddies from the netherworlds. I think I will have to investigate all the online retailers who sell the old Asgard, Nick Lund etc. style miniatures to add to my forces.

One thing that strikes me as missing from my particular part of the hobby is a decent magazine that covers all aspects of it. Sure, there are magazines aimed at the historical market (Miniature Wargames, Wargames Illustrated and Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy), but I personally find them limited in that they rarely have fantasy content I can use. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy them for what they are namely - historical gaming magazines. Some of the battle reports and scenarios could be adapted for fantasy but they don't give me the same feeling as the old dungeons I could find in the old White Dwarf or Imagine magazines of the late 70s and 80s. I am unaware of any paper fantasy gaming magazines that caters to my tastes and, unfortunately, I find that the latest White Dwarf is just a catalogue of new releases for Games Workshop plus a battle report or two. Lots of eye candy but, for me, no actual substance since they relegated Lord of the Rings to just a few pages every now and then. I have only bought one or two copies in the last three years as a result. I yearn for the old-style magazines that threw adventure scenarios, new magic items and thoughts on gaming at you every month.

This turned out to be a little more long-winded than I originally set out to write, but thought trains are often like that. Hopefully, I should have more stuff to get your teeth into over the coming few weeks. Maybe I will start my ePBM campaign going by writing up the origins of the adventure to whet my players' appetites? Who knows? This hobby is so changeable for me that I rarely know what I will be doing from one week to the next.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Dragon Warriors - Session 2:8

Escape from Glissom (15th May 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight (NPC’d)
Hillson – Warlock (NPC’d)
Nazir al Khalid – Barbarian
Solaran – Elementalist
Karban Telos – Sorcerer

A Quick Getaway (Day 16 (96) – dusk)

The Reavers saw that although they outnumbered their foe, the magical attacks were causing them quite a bit of discomfort. As the mages were situated on the docks, two of the better armed pirates decided to jump to the docks to take out the spell casters to even up the odds a little. Just as the two pirates leapt overboard to the wharf side, the grille above the cargo hold gave way and one of the pirates lost his balance and dropped into the hold. This gave the party on board just the space they required to take on their opponents more easily and it also allowed for Aethelfrith to leave the fray to try to protect the spell casters who were now about to be sorely pressed.

The battle on the boat raged on with Sir Erich, Nazir and Hillson trading blows with the pirates whilst the spell-casters on the dockside just managed to get off a few more deadly spells before battle was joined on the wharf.

The toll of magic and melee began to tell on the pirates still aboard the ship as they began to fall one-by-one to the steel of the brave warriors and the eldritch battering they had taken from the sidelines, but not before they had injured each of the three adventurers on board the ship. Hillson’s magical cures managed to keep Sir Erich alive on more than one occasion.

Meanwhile, the last of the pirates on the ship managed to climb out of the hold and back onto the deck. On the dockside, Aethlefrith, Karban and Solaran combined their attacks to take out the first of the well-armed Reavers.

The last pirate on the ship ran for the side and jumped onto the wharf beside his last remaining comrade. This did him no good as he had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. A combination of magic and steel accounted for him swiftly, but the last standing pirate managed to cut down Karban, knocking him unconscious. Nazir, who had seen the last pirate on ship jump overboard, decided to run down the gang plank and help his companions with their fight at the dockside, and he arrived just in time to strike the killing blow on the last of the Reavers.

Aethelfrith called for Solaran to run to the tavern to collect their crew whilst he whistled overboard to attract the attention of the awaiting pilot.

It took only a few minutes for the pilot to set up his tow ropes and get his crew on-board the cog to guide her out into the harbour, but that was all that was required to drag the bodies of the Reavers on-board and have the crew clamber into the rigging to set the sails for when they breached the harbour walls.

Just as they hit the calm waters of the Bay of Glissom, just outside the confines of the harbour break waters, Aethelfirth looked back and saw about half-a-dozen people had appeared on the dockside and were waving and gesticulating at them. Guessing that they were the Guaires and Reaver representatives who were due to make their escape by sea he chuckled lightly to himself.

A Passage by Sea (Days 16–29)

As soon as the harbour mouth was cleared, and the guide ropes from the pilot had been cast adrift, Solaran used the last of his magical powers to summon a wind from the calm evening air to push the cog out into the bay waters away from pursuit and towards a new destination for adventure.

The following day, the winds picked up and the ship’s going was good, but the third day had the small cog battling high waves coming from directly ahead. Unfortunately all the good distance they had travelled the previous two days was for nought as the captain recognised a landmark to their east and reckoned that although they had sailed a good 40 miles, the storm had pushed them back to within just a few miles of Glissom again.

The next week or so saw the return of the calm weather, and equally calm winds. The Elementalist’s magic allowed them to make good headway when combined with the steady rowing provided by the crew and companions. On the fourth day they passed a merchant vessel that was also heading away from Glissom and on the fifth they passed a Glissom naval vessel heading back to its home port.

On the tenth day, the wind finally began to pick up. They had covered about 100 miles so far by the reckoning of their captain, and the stronger breeze should now start to get them closer to their destination. This proved to be a good wind and they managed to cover another couple of hundred miles according to the landmarks that the captain was able to pick out on their brief forays back to the coast to gather their bearings.

Winged Vengeance (Day 30 - night)

Unfortunately, the start of the second week at sea saw the return of the doldrums, and an encounter at sea with a winged assailant. Just after dusk on the fourteenth day of leaving Glissom, the lookout in the Crow’s Nest, Karban and Nazir spotted what they thought was a flying horse. Karban, whose eyesight seemed to be the best that night spotted that it also sported a rider. Suddenly a great bolt of energy leapt towards the small cog. Nazir, who was directly in its path, just managed to jump out of its way in time and it struck the deck in a huge shower of sparks and energy.

The rider guided his very ugly flying steed to within a few yards of the boat to gloat before flying off. A parting shot from Karban missed the winged assailant as he headed off south to report on the cog’s whereabouts.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Dragon Warriors - Session 2:7

Raid on a Pirate Ship (8th May 2013)

The Dragon Warriors
Aethelfrith – Thane
Sir Erich of Barton – Knight
Hillson – Warlock (played by a temporary replacement to cover holidays)
Nazir al Khalid – Barbarian
Solaran – Elementalist (NPC’d)
Karban Telos – Sorcerer (NPC’d)

A Deal is Made (Day 15 (95) – evening)

After being briefed by Sir Erich, the rest of the party agreed that some profit could be forthcoming in their relationship with Antonio Guaires. He was due back that evening for their answer to his proposal. In the meantime, Toby had returned and offered them some information; the Scorchers were no longer the hot news they used to be – rumours running around the docks revealed that nothing had been heard from them for a few days now, so perhaps they had been fully dealt with. There was now more tension in the docks area as the Scorchers had left a power vacuum and the bandit chieftain was nowhere to be found – he was either lying very low or had left the city. They sent Toby off again with instructions to do more of the same, and to find out who this Antonio Guaires was in the scheme of things. The party passed the remaining hours preparing for their meeting with Antonio later that evening.

When Antonio Guaires arrived the party took him to their private room. He seemed well-disposed towards the party and suggested that even though they had had a run-in a few days previously it would not sour what could be a very profitable business relationship. Sir Erich asked him what the job was that he required them to do and he ran it by them. It involved taking possession of a scroll case and package from a friar who would be delivering it to the pirate queen The Bloody Bitch as a gift from the Guaires family. Antonio’s mother, the matriarch of the Guaires clan, ruled with an iron fist, and embarrassing her publicly in front of powerful players would be the goal of this venture. He could then increase his own esteem when he produced the goods as a goodwill gesture to the same potential piratical allies. He gave them all the details of the hit but mentioned there should be no links between the party and himself as he wanted to remain anonymous in this venture and he wanted his strong-arm to remain hidden from view – they had wiped out the Scorchers, got away with murder in broad daylight and thus remained a dangerous enigma to the rest of the family after all.

The party asked what their remuneration would be in this deal, but Antonio only offered that they could salvage what they could from the raid as long as he got the main merchandise undamaged. The party agreed to his terms grudgingly and bid him adieu until the same time the following evening when they would have what he required.

Double Cross (Day 16 – early hours)

As soon as he had left the inn, the adventurers set about making plans for the smash and grab raid. They did not like the deal at all and rethought it through. Why bother grabbing the required merchandise from very likely powerful magic-wielding foes and well-armed bodyguards when they could just raid the cog for its value whilst the deal was made between the Reavers and the Guaires family? They decided they would attempt to double-cross Antonio Guaires in an attempt to build their own riches. If the raid to steal the boat failed, they could always fall back on their original plan and attempt to snatch the merchandise as requested; their reasoning being that they wanted to whittle down the defences on the boat so it could not sail before attacking the main party – no-one would be the wiser.

The adventurers headed out into the cold, misty night in search of a crew for their potential new ship. They searched many of the dockside taverns before finally coming across a Captain Jim Cookson; a down on his luck captain who had just lost his last ship to the Reavers. He was up for revenge and the party’s deal of helping them sail away after a raid appealed to him. However, after a little thought and putting two and two together he realised this would involve stealing a pirate ship – he was even more intrigued and agreed to raise a crew for the cog involved as well as the pilot to tow the ship out of the harbour confines. He demanded 70 florins a week for his part in the deal, but with 150 florins up front to hire a crew and smooth the way. The adventurers agreed to this and a deal was struck; he would await them in the Dockside Tavern from just after noon until he was called for, and the pilot would heave-to by the dock about the same time too.

Cogs and Wheels (Day 16 – dusk)

The companions returned to their inn for a little rest before they headed out at dawn to keep watch on the pirate vessel. They wandered up and down the dock area, calling in at various inns and establishments enquiring after prices for a passage to Thuland, dropping off a package to Albion, and so forth so that suspicions would not be raised. Throughout the day the pirates on-board the cog came and went on a variety of errands, stowed cargo and generally prepared the ship for a dusk sailing. The party kept an eye out on developments but soon lost track of how many Reavers were left aboard at any one time. They gathered there were approximately a dozen or so Reavers on the ship, a tough proposition.

They waited until almost dusk before two of the better equipped Reavers left the ship and made their way up the thoroughfare towards the Guaires family’s allocated meeting point. The party seized their opportunity and made directly for the cog as soon as the Reavers were out of sight and earshot.

The warriors of the party ran straight up the gang-plank and jumped onto the deck whilst the spell-casters hurled wizardry from the wharf at the better armoured warriors on the poop and fore decks. This caught the Reavers by surprise, and before they knew it, one of their crew members was on the deck bleeding from a mighty stab wound from Aethelfrith’s new short sword. Two others were hurt in the fray before they could shake off their surprise and mount a stiff defence of their ship.

A flurry of blows and magical missiles caused further injury to some of the pirates but they fought back well, injuring Sir Erich in the process. The magical attacks began to take their toll on the Reavers however, as first the magical sword of Aethelfrith downed another pirate and Sir Erich’s great axe cut down one of the better armoured pirates. A further flurry of blows and magical attacks reduced the defences further as Nazir felled a pirate with his new magical morning star. The pirates would not give up their ship that easily though and renewed their attacks, pinning the warriors on board back against the gangplank. Aethelfrith called for a shield wall to be formed. Nazir and the warlock Hillson quickly joined him whilst Aethelfrith fended off three pirates on his own to buy them some time. The full force of the Reavers now joined the fight – the warriors on board were outnumbered by more than two to one now, but the three quick kills meant that the odds were not any worse. They just hoped they could finish off the Reavers on board before any reinforcements could be forthcoming.