Sunday, 25 August 2013

Dragon Warriors 3.4 (Final Session)

Well, all good things eventually must come to an end. Last Wednesday saw the final installment of the Dragon Warriors campaign. For a fill-in game post Pathfinder, Dean (our DM) did a sterling job. Many thanks for all your hard work at such short notice.

There is a disctinct possibility that I will be running a one week fill-in game next session. I have some AD&D stuff ready to go, which will hopefully develop into something a bit more permanent when the table changes at the club come around in a few weeks time. Our Dragon Warriors DM is now off for a couple of months and various other commitments have meant that none of the rest of us will be able to attend regularly for the duration. In this period, we will each try to run something else or maybe we can get a week or so on another table if there are spaces.

Anyway, onto the final session...

The End of the Matter (21st August 2013)

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

Amulets (Day 71 (151) - evening)

Solaran accompanied the men-at-arms to the pavilion set up outside the town gates. After he entered the canvas walls of the large tent, an order was given by the knight within and patrols of troops were sent out in all directions. The men-at-arms began to section the town in their search for something. This made Nazir rather nervous; the thought of so many crusader types in the local vicinity led him to sidle out of the tavern at the first opportunity, saddle his horse, and head off into the sunset.

Sir Erich and Aethelfrith had other things on their mind and wanted to see if they could get their original bodies back. They sent Hillson’s apprentice to fetch the sorcerer from the tavern’s common room. After a brief discussion it was decided that the sorcerer would cast a disguising spell over the pair of warriors so that they would be less easily spotted by their adversaries. By the time this had happened though, the search had reached the tavern. Four men-at-arms entered the tavern and began to search each of the patrons in turn. This was met with disgruntlement by many of the merchants present, but it was only a desultory search; a prod or two in the chest vicinity to make sure they were not wearing an amulet around their necks. As the two warriors held theirs within pouches on their belts, they passed the search criteria with ease. This proved too much for Karban the sorcerer, and he decided to catch up with his barbarian friend and he too left the tavern. The clatter of horse hooves on the cobbles outside were the last that was heard of either the barbarian or the sorcerer.

Meanwhile, Solaran was invited to sit at the table within the main pavilion tent. He was cordially treated and offered refreshment. The knight was calm and curious but the thane was agitated and aggressive. He was questioned about how he got to Eastmarch and whether he owned an amulet. Solaran, not having anything to lose, handed over his amulet in its pouch. The knight then revealed an amulet from around his neck, which happened to be a key that looked like it would fit the lock amulet that Solaran owned.

Solaran told how he happened to be in Eastmarch, but he withheld any information about his other amulet carrying colleagues saying that all were either dead or had gone their separate ways after being turned into their current selves from the statues in Worsted by the sorcerer there. He was presently only in the company of his friend Hillson. The knight claiming to be Sir Erich seemed to accept the story but the thane became more aggravated as he refused to believe that Aethelfrith was dead. The thane stormed out of the tent muttering that he was going to collect Hillson to corroborate the story.

Thane vs. Thane

From their vantage point in the upstairs room at the tavern, the rest of the party saw the thane rapidly approach. Sir Erich and Aethelfrith took up positions in the downstairs common room and Hillson sat at a table close to the taps. Just as the door burst open, their magical disguises wore off. The thane saw Hillson and made his way towards him just as Sir Eirch emerged from the shadows behind the door and firmly closed it. As he crossed the room, the thane spotted Aethelfrith and made a bee-line for him.

The thane’s temper was still high from the conversation in the pavilion and he roared out his challenge to Aethelfrith, drawing his long sword at the same time. Aethelfrith, chomping at the bit for a fight drew his short sword. The thane launched into an attack straight away, but it was noticed by both combatants that each was pulling his blows. Initially the fight went Aethelfrith’s way. His blows constantly found their mark or had to be blocked by the thane’s shield. After a few minutes, however, the longer reach of the thane’s sword began to tell, and the tide of battle turned. Aethelfrith’s shield work left a lot to be desired as he slowly took on more and more minor cuts and bruises. Just as the thane seemed to be winning the fight, Sir Erich stepped in and clubbed the thane on the back of the head, knocking him out cold.

Whilst Aethlefrith and Hillson stripped the thane of his armour and weapons and tied him up, Sir Erich went to bar the door against four rapidly approaching men-at-arms. Aethelfrith rudely awakened the thane from his stupor by pouring a flagon of water upon his head. After a few moments to get his head cleared the thane ranted on that they would never work out how to resolve the dilemma of the body swap. Aethelfrith asked his colleagues to disarm him and keep his weapons away because if it was figured out how to do the body swap, they did not want a fully armed and armoured enemy against them with their friend tied up and helpless.

Aethelfrith, in his newly unarmoured state, took both of the amulets and tried to fit key to lock. This only brought howls of laughter from the thane. This annoyed Aethlefrith, so he held a dagger to his throat. The thane was unperturbed by this as the secret was no closer to being resolved and he could now see that there were at least a dozen guardsmen outside the tavern. The guardsmen outside the main tavern door could not get in past Sir Erich blocking it, but those at the windows saw that the thane was being threatened with a knife to his throat and began to smash their way in.

Wondering how to resolve this dilemma in a hurry, Aethelfrith tried a variety of combinations of amulets around his and the thane’s necks before everything suddenly went dark for him.

Now back in his own body, the thane tried to order the men-at-arms who had clambered in through the windows to attack the adventurers. Sir Erich still held his own at the main entrance, so Hillson and his apprentice were forced to stick up for their friend. Unfortunately no-one yet knew who was who in reality.

Luckily for the adventurers, the men-at-arms thought that the thane giving them the orders was still Aethelfrith, so ignored his ranting and began to attack him. This gave Hillson the opportunity to run his healing hands over the unconscious body of Aethelfrith, bringing him out of his stupor. Aethelfrith was able to quickly give their agreed upon password in case of trouble and so the warlock cut his bonds and ushered him towards his arms and armour.

The ranting thane, now back in his own body, carried on attacking his own soldiers but was quickly overcome when Aethlefrith in his original body gave orders for all the men-at-arms to restrain him. Sir Erich let the soldiers in through the main door and played along with the ploy. The melee died down very quickly and the adventurers and thane were disarmed and bundled into a corner to await orders from their commander who was now almost dressed in his armour.

Sir Erich Bargains for his Old Life Back

Whilst the combat was being carried out in the tavern, the knight decided he would need to see what the thane was up to. He ordered a dozen more men-at-arms with him and headed to the tavern, with Solaran in tow.

He arrived just as Aethelfrith had full control of the situation and had made sure that the guards had their attention fixed upon the thane but the rest of the party were under loose guard. He was now fully armed and armoured and ready to take on the knight with the rest of his fellow adventurers if required.

The knight entered the tavern and quickly surveyed the situation. He was shrewd enough to realise that as Aethlefrith was no longer frothing at the mouth that the body swap had taken place. He realised that a fight would be tough and may have resulted in a lot of blood shed so he sought out Sir Erich and strode up to him.

After a brief conversation they decided to go off to a side room to discuss the next steps. Both knights disarmed and gave their word that they would not seek advantage of the situation. The rest of the adventurers and soldiers were left in the main tap room to their own devices. Aetheflrith took advantage of the situation by striking the thane several times to soothe his sense of unjustness.

Sir Erich was invited to sit at the table and was served with food and drink. He was then told that the amulets were matching pairs. Each lock and key would allow the owner to trade bodies with anyone of choice, provided that the amulet could be placed around the other’s neck. Each amulet was marked in a foreign script with the owner’s name, so the pairs could be easily recognised and paired up. The sorcerer in their little group was very powerful and had made them but he was no longer around. This would prove problematic for getting Solaran his own body back as the sorcerer would not be so easily overpowered and was most likely in the east, so would be very difficult to track down. Primarily the amulets were for longevity; swap bodies with someone to get a new lease of life and then when that body wore out, swap again. This all came undone when the sorcerer in Worsted released the party from the spell as stone statues and thus made the owners much more vulnerable as the lock amulets were at large and no longer locked down in stone.

Sir Erich asked what was to be done now, as he would like to get his old life back. The knight was sympathetic to his plight and suggested that if Sir Erich gave him his amulet back he would let the party go their own way. Sir Erich was a little worried by this but his chivalric upbringing led him to believe the imposter, and so he agreed to the trade-off. He handed over his amulet to the false knight and awaited the outcome of his trusting gesture.

The knight led them back outside and ordered his troops to pay attention. He said that something had come up and from that point forward the men-at-arms were under the control of Sir Erich. He then placed the amulets around his neck and the two knights swapped bodies.

The knight, now in Sir Erich’s statue body, ordered the men-at-arms out of the tavern and back to the pavilion. They followed his command unquestioningly. Sir Erich asked the knight what they should do about the thane. He said that the thane was too much of a hot-head and was a liability. They could deal with him as they saw fit.

Denouement (Day 72 (152))

The start of the evening was spent in stunned silence. Hillson, his apprentice and Solaran found it difficult to begin with to get used to their warrior companions in their proper bodies. A few flagons of ale made things a lot easier to deal with however. They were a little concerned to begin with about the loss of their other two companions who had fled during the previous evening, but that soon passed as they realised that new adventures now awaited them. Aethelfrith still had his pair of amulets, so could extend his life if he wished, but also he could play havoc with the thane who was still their captive. Their first thoughts were to swap his body with an old veteran warrior close to death to give him a new lease of life and punish the thane for his past body swaps which left those owners with curtailed lives. They decided that they would sleep on it, but divided up his belongings as it was found that each of his three swords were magical and worth a fair bit.

The following morning, the party awoke to the sound of marching. They peeked out of their windows to see that the small company of troops was leaving, on its way to the castle at Eastmarch. The knight nodded to Sir Erich as he passed by.

Sir Erich and Aethelfrith were all for returning to their homes to catch up on their lives but Solaran reminded them of all that may have passed whilst their doppelgangers were in charge of their bodies; they would have made new enemies and friends but not know who was who. Likewise, they could now evade all of their own enemies as they were in their original, different bodies – the Bloody Bitch and the troubles in Glissom could now be safely ignored.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Dragon Warriors : 3.3 (session 24)

Mirror Images (14th August 2013)

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

More Rumours (Day 66 (146) - evening)

After settling in their horses, the companions made their way to the common room of the Drunken Heron. The cry of the town guard went up that they were locking the gates for the night, and the last few merchants hurried through them and made their way to the inn.

The inn was quiet during the evening session but the party were able to question the merchants about their journeys to Eastmarch. Rumours abounded that the Heron Knight had returned and that it was the returning son of the old king who was running the bandit raids from the marshes. Others said that the Heron Knight was the Black Knight blocking the main road to Albion to all passers-by. Either way, they were both used as figureheads to stir up trouble in the environs of Eastmarch.

The only other patron of the inn was a well-dressed, wandering minstrel plying his trade to the delight of the few merchants in the tap room. Sir Erich thought his accent was unusual for a Cornumbrian or Albionan native – he had hints of Traw Breton; the same as the inn’s patron – Alain, who seemed rather preoccupied all night even though he was not that busy.

The Heron Knight (Day 67 (147))

The following morning the adventurers decided that they would try to track down this Heron/Black Knight to see who he/they was. They headed in the direction proposed by the merchants the night before, and after only about three miles were stopped in their tracks by the sight of a black armoured knight with a heron sculpted helm blocking transit along the road to Gorndorm. A long sword was thrust, point downwards into the earth ten yards ahead of him. The armoured warrior seemed to not possess a body inside the suit, but how the party knew that none of them could answer.

The elementalist and warlock cast a few spells to try to find out what was happening – the whole area was rife with magic. The elementalist spoke to a few of the plants and flowers nearby and they said that the knight had been there for about thirty years; which tied in with the dates that the nuns had given them but did not seem possible as he had only appeared to passers-by in the last week or two.

Hillson decided that he would like to find out what the knight was, so cast an Enhancement spell upon himself, strode past the sword stuck in the ground, and made his way towards the black armoured knight. As soon as he passed the sword, the knight boomed out, “None shall pass! Choose your weapon.”

Hillson decided to pluck the sword from the ground and joined combat with the Black Knight. The combat wore on for a couple of minutes, with each combatant missing more strikes than hitting, but the superior strength and agility of the Black Knight proved too much for Hillson as his wounds slowly built up, so he yielded and laid the sword at the knight’s feet. The knight congratulated him on his valour and the sword magically reappeared at the same spot from which Hillson had plucked it.

Sir Erich realised that maybe it needed a similarly ranked combatant to take on the knight, and thus he stepped forward next. He too was greeted with the same challenge, but he decided to keep his magical battle-axe rather than use the sword proffered. The two combatants slowly circled each other and made feinting moves, occasionally hitting and putting small dents into each other’s armour, but this was all a ruse on the part of Sir Erich as he quickly wound up a strike with his battle-axe that laid the Black Knight low. The Black Knight surrendered and struck up a concorde with his vanquisher.

The Black Knight introduced himself as the Heron Knight, the son of the true king and heir to the throne who had been missing for thirty years. The “Heron Knight” traipsing around in the swamps was an imposter, but was stirring up trouble enough to keep the Albion overlords on their toes; which was welcomed. He asked Sir Erich where he hailed from, but the response that he was from Albion meant that he could not be the new champion and ruler of Cornumbria. Aethelfrith was curious about this and asked if the new ruler would be told where to find the crown and treasure that went missing in the marshes, but was only given directions to the bandit camp for his troubles.

As Sir Erich had defeated the Heron Knight he was told that he could pass freely along the road with his companions, but others would still be challenged as he still had to find his champion. He then strode off into the murkiness of the swamp.

The party gathered up their belongings and mounted their steeds, but as they passed the spot where the Heron Knight last stood, he was nowhere to be seen. They kicked their heels into their horses mounts and headed on towards Gorndorm, the village they had been told about previously by the inhabitants of the shanty town that surrounded Eastmarch.

The party arrived at the small town around dusk and promptly booked into an inn. The inn was full of merchants that had been challenged by the Heron Knight but had decided that discretion was the better part of valour and had retreated to the safety of the town’s walls.

Sir Erich, now that he was close to home, decided that he would try to find out what had happened in his home fief whilst he had been away the six years he had been a statue and on his adventures through Glissom. He wanted to get back to his old life. He hired a courier to make his way to Barton to find out what had gone on over the last few years, who was now in charge, and what had happened to the rest of his family.

The other members of the party questioned the merchants and, other than the Heron Knight blocking the road story, they also found out that the merchants were not happy with the levels of taxation imposed by the new lords of Eastmarch and that rebellion was brewing – each story was from a different perspective depending upon whether the merchant was Cornumbrian or Abionan.

Leofric and Rosamund (Day 68)

The following day, the party headed back towards the castle of Eastmarch. It took most of the daylight hours to pass the point where the Heron Knight was fought, and then they headed off the beaten track as the vision implanted into Aethelfrith’s head of the bandit lair became stronger and stronger. He guided the party through the marshes as if he had been born there and just as dusk was falling they approached a small stone burial chamber. There appeared to be a light inside and they could hear a couple of voices; one of which seemed to be female. The party discussed what this could represent, as it was very un-bandit-like. Whilst they discussed the ins and outs of the bandit lair, the light suddenly winked out and the voices from within the chamber stopped.

The party decided to enter the chamber with Aethelfrith taking point with shield raised and sword drawn. Solaran cast a simple light spell that lit their way, but when they entered the chamber they found it empty save for a small wooden casket. Aethelfrith pried it open only to find a Cornumbria man’s outfit and travelling hat. Hillson cast a spell to detect magic, but none could be found. Hillson and Aethelfrith then proceeded to probe the walls with staff and spear, tapping at it as they went. At one point they both thought that the wall sounded hollow so, with Sir Erich’s help, they pushed upon it to reveal a dark chamber beyond.

Within the dark room, crouched in fear, they saw who they assumed were the owners of the voices; a young man named Leofric, whose father was Cerdic the butcher from Eastmarch, and Rosamund whose father was a rich merchant from Albion.

Initially the two young lovers were afraid of the armed men, but after reassurance they relaxed and talked more freely. They had run away from their parents to find a new life in Albion, away from the marriages that had been arranged for them. They were truly in love and were desperate to be free.

They were afraid that the party was the Heron Knight and his followers, so had hidden in the cubby hole, which the bandits did not know about. They did, however, reveal that the Heron Knight, leader of the bandits was none other than Alain, the proprietor of the Drunken Heron Inn in Eastmarch.

The party camped the night in the chamber and promised that they would help the young lovers out the following day.

Doppelgangers (Days 69-71)

The next day, the party set out to escort Rosamund and Leofric to Gorndorm. They passed the point where they had encountered the Heron Knight but he was still not around. On a whim, Sir Erich called for the knight and he duly appeared. He offered his services as a benign ruler in place of the current heavy taxing lord already there. He would still be an Albionan in charge but with sympathies for the Cornumbrian people. The Heron knight was not happy with this as he wanted a Cornumbrian champion to lead his people against the oppressors from Albion. However, he said he would consider it and give an answer if they returned to this spot one week from then.

As the party entered Gorndorm, they bid their farewells to Rosamund and Lefric; Hillson gave them a small pouch of florins to help them on their way in their new life. They headed back to the inn they had stayed in a couple of nights previously and were very quickly approached by Sir Erich’s courier. There was no way the courier could have returned from his mission so quickly, so Sir Erich questioned him as to the meaning of this breach of the contract. The courier explained that the son of Sir Barton was headed towards the castle of Eastmarch with reinforcements for the Albion steward Sir Alec Brandwen and will arrive there in about three days; they will pass through Gorndorm in two days’ time.

Sir Erich decided that he would wait and see what the patrol would bring, so the party booked rooms at the inn for the next two nights in the hope that they can keep watch on the arrival of the Albion lord and his retinue.

During the next two days, the party lay low, but they did not really need to as the merchants that were thronging the common room of the inn decided to leave and find alternative markets for their wares as the Heron knight still would not let them pass through to Eastmarch.

At dusk on the second day back in town, a troop of men-at-arms approached the gates. They were led by two mounted warriors that looked familiar at a distance and the forty men-at-arms that accompanied them were armed with halberds and short swords and bore a shield on their hauberked backs. The party watched the approach of the knights intently; Sir Erich sought out the leader’s face eagerly. He was shocked to see that the son of Sir Barton wore his own visage; someone had indeed stolen his body all those years ago. Aethelfrith was also shocked to see that Sir Barton’s son’s right hand man wore his body too! The two fighters rapidly made their way back to the inn and out of sight but Hillson and Solaran watched the arrival of the troop of soldiers openly. The majority of the men-at-arms set up camp just outside the gates at the side of the road but the leaders made their way into the inn to book themselves rooms. They then returned to oversee their troops.

Whilst the men-at-arms set up their camp outside the gates, Hillson and Solaran approached them and began to question them but they were given short shrift and told they were not welcome. The two adventurers decided to leave the area just in case they stirred up any trouble that could not be handled by the four of them. They did however manage to get the information that the troops were headed to the castle at Eastmarch before they returned to the tap room at the inn and told their companions.

Half-an-hour later eight of the men-at-arms entered the inn and immediately sought out Solaran and Hillson. They informed the two adventurers that Sir Erich of Barton demanded Solaran’s presence at the camp outside the gates and that it was advisable that he accompanied them without causing a fuss. Solaran stood up to accompany them wondering whether there was somebody within the section of troops that had recognised him from his previous life due to the fact he too was an amulet holder.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Dragon Warriors : 3.2

New Surroundings (7th August 2013)

Image used without permission

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

An Encounter in the Woods (Day 64 (144) - afternoon)

The rest of the night and morning passed uneventfully. The party rode through the wooded hills, the sun beating down on their backs as they headed ever eastwards. They were about to call a halt for a rest and to take on water when they heard the rapid approach of several armed men. They dismounted swiftly, passed their horses to the warlock’s apprentice, and formed up their battle line to face down the approaching barbarians. Those of the party armed with bows let loose and managed to hit one of the charging bandits who were making their battle cries and drawing their weapons.

The knight and thane stood shoulder-to-shoulder and faced the main onslaught, taking on two bandits each whilst the warlock and the elementalist used their magical abilities to shoot flaming arrows into the midst of the bow-armed bandits now on either side of them. Outnumbered, both of the fighters were hit, but the new plate armour of Sir Erich and the superior shield skills of Aethelfrith blocked all of the attacks that got through their fence of whirling steel. The magic wielders fared less well to begin with, and the elementalist found himself hit by one of the arrows fired at him.

The bandits that attacked the two fighters gained some initial success as their numbers told against the two stalwart warriors; Aethelfrith caught a nasty cut to his shoulder, but the two magic users, however, managed to out-shoot their assailants for a short time and thus kept them at bay. The tide soon turned though as the superior fighting skills of the party’s two warriors began to tell; Sir Erich cut down one of the bandits with his magical battle axe, and Aethelfrith’s magical sword began to take his opponents’ defences apart piece-by-piece. The magic wielders also began to get the upper hand in the missile fight, with Hillson’s barbs finding a target and dropping one of the bandits from a distance.

The missile-armed bandits realised that they could not win the melee at a distance and thought maybe that their numbers would tell in the main melee if they advanced rapidly on the spell casters to put them out of the combat and therefore allow them to all then concentrate on two well-armed fighters. Hillson counter-charged against two of the bandits but was sorely injured for his troubles, but Solaran was able to avoid his opponents by moving out of range behind his fighter companions.

Aethelfrith’s magical sword bought a third bandit his journey to the otherworld, and Sir Erich finished off his last opponent before moving to help Hillson who was struggling against his two opponents.

A fourth, and then rapidly after him a fifth bandit were then brought down by Sir Erich’s magical axe and the attackers realised they were truly outclassed by the knight and his companions. They made a run for it, but the fighters decided that they had too much of a start on them to pursue them. Solaran, wanting revenge for his injuries, had other ideas; his last shot managed to dispatch one of the last remaining bandits at the extreme range of his abilities.

As it was now rapidly approaching nightfall, the companions decided to quickly strip the bodies of any coins they carried but left their make-shift weapons and armour. They called for their mounts and rode for a short distance before making camp for the night in the woods.

Ogre! (Day 65 - afternoon)

The following day saw another fine sunrise and an uneventful journey until just after lunchtime. As they were travelling through a small ravine the party’s horses were startled by a huge ogre stumbling out of the woods; a large war hammer in his hands. Luckily, all of them were able to control their mounts and avoid being thrown, but they decided to dismount and fight this new foe on foot. Although they were a little wary of the huge hammer their enemy wielded.

Hillson cast his phantom warrior spell but, surprisingly, the warrior failed to find his target. Solaran was more accurate with his magicks however, and the fire arrow struck the ogre a severe blow, and set light to the furs he was wearing. Sir Erich seized this opportunity and struck the ogre with all his might, causing a traumatic wound to its left shoulder.

A fireball from the elementalist failed to find its target and another phantom warrior also failed to hit its mark. The ogre, by now, hurting and extremely angry pressed his attack against the knight, but the superior speed and agility of Sir Erich meant that he avoided all of the blows aimed at him. Aethelfrith finally found his mark with his magical short sword which opened up the ogre for a fatal blow from Sir Erich’s axe.

The fight was over almost before it had begun. The party breathed a sigh of relief as no one had been injured or even come remotely close to being hurt.

The companions rode on for the rest of the day, but the dust of their journey and the aches from their exertion against the ogre began to tell. Up ahead they espied the inviting walls of a chapel and rode towards the sanctuary with hearts uplifted. The nuns welcomed them within the walls but said that they would not be able to stay the night within the confines of the abbey itself. The party were happy to spend the evening tending to their horses, and slept soundly in the clean stables safe in the knowledge that others would watch over them that night.

Eastmarch (Day 66)

The following morning, after an early service and alms giving, the party broke their fast on a simple meal of oats and fruit, and gathered directions to the town of Eastmarch from the nuns. The abbess seemed rather chatty for a nun and was happy to divulge many rumours about the situation in the local fief. It seemed like she had taken a liking to Sir Erich and talked rather more than would be the norm for one of her station…

·         Strife had been bubbling under in the marches for a short while now. The rule of the overbearing Albion Marcher Lords was resented amongst the native people of the town’s shanty suburbs and the lands of the fief. A local Old Faith priest had raised the cry for support against their cruel overlords
·         About 40 years ago, the local king had been defeated and all of his thanes had been replaced by lords from Albion – the local warden’s name is Sir Alec Brandwen
·         On the king’s escape, his crown and a hoard of treasure had been lost in the marshes
·         At certain times of the year, a Black Knight (does not seem to be on anyone’s side) is seen to block certain routes and bridges, offering to fight all-comers. No-one has ever beaten him
·         The local nuns do not seem to be happy with the new overlords

The party only needed to travel a further few hours before the crenellations and walls of the town began to show through the wooded cover of the hills. Rather than immediately pay the town’s new entry taxes the nuns had warned them of, the party wanted to make a few enquiries about the rumours of the situation in the environs.

The warriors took a walk around the small shanty town of round, thatch-roofed mud huts, surveying the castle and surrounding area for its defensive capabilities. The suburban area was surrounded by an earthen rampart with just one main hall in the centre of the ramshackle buildings. There was nothing to be found of any real value to the party, so they tried to see what they could find out from the two guards posted at the entry to the main hall. The guards were very nervous at the approach of the heavily armed party, but soon relaxed when they realised that they only wanted information about the town and its taxes.

They asked about where they could find a decent room in which to bed down for the night before carrying on with their enquiries but were told by the guards that the only tavern for miles around was actually situated within the confines of the castle, unless they wished to travel up the road to the next village about three or four hours’ journey away. So, the companions thanked the guards for the information about the taxes and accommodation situation and headed into town.

They were stopped at the gates by four well-armed guardsmen; fully alert to any sign of trouble. They were polite but efficient in their dealings with the party, quickly extolling the gate tax from them and mentioning that no weapon, with the exception of daggers and short swords (much to Aethelfrith’s delight) could be taken into the confines of the walls unless strapped up. All missile weapons had to be left with the guards but a receipt was given for anything left with them.

The party asked about accommodation and were pointed towards The Drunken Heron Inn – a place where they could stable their horses safely and rent a room and board each for a reasonable sum. They thanked the guards and headed towards the named inn safe in the knowledge that they should be safe for a while at least.

Upon arrival at the inn, the ostler showed them where to take their horses and a stable boy immediately began to unharness and rub down the horses as agreed. The rooms that the landlord showed them to were very comfortable, so they decided to pay up front for a week’s stay. It would be a start, and would offer enough time to gather their resources and rumours to work out how to make the most of their stay in the east marches.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Dragon Warriors : 3.1

A Job Offer (31st July 2013)

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

A Pirate Raid (Days 60-61 (140-141))

After the prospective buyer had left the ship, the party split up to take up their usual carousing. The sorcerer, Karban Telos; the knight, Sir Erich; and the warlock, Hillson made up the group that elected to stay on board the following day, whilst the other three decided to head into town for a bit of fun.

Unfortunately, this left the crew aboard rather thin on the ground. The mad-man picked up outside the Halls of Loki was untied and left to his own devices - he decided to leap overboard and disappear into the dark, twisting alleyways of the town. Not a lot happened until much later that day when six men approached the ship.

They enquired about buying the boat and were welcomed aboard. As soon as they stepped aboard, however, their tone changed and they started questioning the knight and sorcerer as to how they came by the ship. Sir Erich explained that they had bought it and that they owned it legitimately but the leader of the six men who boarded disagreed and said that they had come by it through stealth and subterfuge, and that it wasn’t theirs really as they knew who the real owners were. They drew their blades and a fight ensued.

Sir Erich was the only one near to the boarders, so he readied himself to fight them all. From what they had said he now realised that they were representatives of the Bloody Bitch who had come to try to reclaim what they thought was their property – the irony of the situation seemed lost on the pirates.

Karban made ready a spell and blasted one of the pirates before he could reach him on the upper wheel deck. He fell to the deck dead. Sir Erich raised his battle axe and made a swing for the leader. The blow thudded into the shoulder of the pirate with a satisfying crunch. The raiders spread out to surround Sir Erich in order to bring him down quickly. They did not factor in that Hillson was still below decks and could see the entire goings on from his vantage point below the main grate in the centre of the deck. This gave him line of sight which enabled him to make his phantom warrior appear behind the leader and strike him down dead.

The loss of two of their companions did not stop the irate boarders, so Sir Erich and Karban carried on with their attacks. Karban cast a command spell onto the pirate nearest to himself and ordered him to turn around and attack his own companions. Sir Erich started to take on the second in command. Hillson’s magical phantom warrior appeared beside the second in command and struck him a mighty blow whilst the pirates massed their attacks against Sir Erich which caused him a wound or two.

Another magical blast from the sorcerer killed a third pirate and the commanded minion hit his new leader which caused the last two boarders to turn and run for the gang plank.

As they leaped onto the wharf, they were stopped by a line of about a dozen town guardsmen. They were ordered to drop their weapons, which they did do. The leader of the guards mounted the gang plank and asked the knight and his companion to accompany him to the guard tower. They were to disarm and come quietly. Sir Erich and Karban agreed to this, knowing that Hillson remained safely hidden below decks.

Bar Room Brawl

Meanwhile, Aethelfrith, Nazir and Solaran had found a tavern in which to party the day away. The boastful nature of the thane finally got to annoy some of the patrons and the ownership of the cog was again questioned. The patrons of the bar quickly made for the out of the way corners of the tavern whilst the antagonist drew his sword and leapt upon the thane. Aethelfrith, always ready for a fight, quickly drew his own sword now that the means had been stated with naked steel.

The assailant drew first blood, but Aethelfrith returned the favour in spades. As the combat went on the patrons of the tavern began to cast their wagers on who would be victorious. The thug managed to hit Aethelfrith again, but the thane, his blood now up, began to carve a bloody swathe upon the assailant’s body. This proved too much for the assailant and he backed away from the fight swearing vengeance. Unconcerned, Aethelfrith returned to his beer and inspected the two minor wounds he had picked up; two new scars to add to his already not insignificant collection. The barbarian and elementalist however decided that the heat had grown a little too much for them and they made sure that Aethelfrith could annoy no-one else by bundling him out of the tavern and back to the ship after they had collected their winnings. The rumours that they had heard whilst the fight was going on was that the assailant was a high up member of the local crime lord’s gang and would exact retribution, especially as he knew exactly where they had moored their ship.

The rest of the day was spent on the ship. They chatted to Hillson about what had gone on for both parties during the day. Sir Erich and Karban returned to the ship later that afternoon and they mentioned that they may have a job and a buyer for the ship.

An Offer of Employment (evening)

The dust had settled and defensive preparations had been made just in case the pirates or the criminal assailant’s associates decided to pay them a visit.

Members of the city guard approached the ship at the allotted time and gave the appropriate password. The six adventurers left their ship and accompanied the guards to the town mayor’s quarters – more guards were left to protect their property. Upon arrival they noticed a grand feast had been prepared for them.

After the pleasantries had been completed, and the feast was begun, the town representative got down to business. He said that there were rumours coming from the East Marches on the border with Albion that an Old Ways druid had arisen and was stirring up unrest. At the same time, a dark knight had also appeared, blocking passage over bridges and through certain passes. The King wanted to use this unrest to his advantage so that he could reclaim the borderlands from the grasping Albion monarch.

King Aldred had sent men to investigate these rumours and to bolster defences on the border but aid was still needed for the more subtle border clashes. The party would be paid well for their participation but they must not reveal who their paymasters were. They were to be utilised to create chaos in the hope that it would help the cause of King Aldred in returning the East Marches into his hands from the duplicitous Albion land grabbers. Sir Erich thought that this was rather distasteful as he thought that Albion owned those lands fairly by right of conquest, but he decided to keep his lips sealed as they now had potential gainful employment and freedom, to a degree, to do as they wish.

Negotiations for the payment went on throughout the night, accompanied by plenty of food and drink, much to Aethelfrith’s delight; he even managed to avoid having a fight amidst his boasting. The party were able to be rid of the ship for a very good price of 100 gold crowns and a fine riding horse each, along with a large pile of magical accoutrements that consisted of a magical battle axe for Sir Erich, a healing potion, a love philtre, a potion of Dexterity, and a scroll of some sort. They also had their other potions from previous adventures identified (Dexterity, Healing, Strength and Replenishment), as well as Hillson gaining an apprentice warlock.

The party ended the evening on a high and returned to sleep at their ship for a final night before starting on their new quest.

Things that go Bump in the Night (Days 62-63)

The following morning, the adventurers headed back to meet with the representatives of the town to collect their payment and formally hand over their ship. This day also happened to be the same day that Sir Erich’s plate armour would be ready for him. They collected up all of their new equipment and some trail rations and headed out of the town gates in the direction of the East Marches on the borders with Albion.

The first day’s travel was completely uneventful, as was the second day, but things took a turn for the worse on the first watch change during the night. Shortly after midnight, as the first watch was handing over to the second watch, the sorcerer spotted rapid movement from the trees.

He warned the rest of the party of the not so stealthy approach of maybe three or four raiders. The members of the party who were awake readied themselves for the onslaught. Aethelfrith and Sir Erich made their way towards the approaching warriors whilst the others tried to awaken the last three members of the party. The sorcerer and elementalist threw a couple of offensive spells at the rapidly approaching assailants but they both failed to find their mark.

The pale yellow-skinned creatures made their way amongst the party, swinging their weapons as they did so. Aethelfrith caught a mighty blow for his troubles but this gave time for the last few members to awaken from their slumber. Solaran, the elementalist, cast a fireball at one and it erupted in a gout of flame; it fell to the floor before it could take another step forward. The warriors’ blows began to take their toll on the three remaining undead assailants, and a flurry of blows from Nazir’s magical morning star managed to bring down a second undead warrior. Aethelfrith took a few more wounds before his companions were able to finally destroy the last two ghouls; Sir Erich’s new magical battle axe accounting for one and the warlock’s phantom warrior the final one.