Thursday, 26 September 2013

Doggerland Session 1:3

Return to High Beeches (25th September 2013)

The Adventurers
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox Comwy – Magic User

A Defeated Patrol - Sunday 28th Tresober 963 (Day 5) – mid-morning

The smell of freshly baked bread, oat porridge, honey and sweet dried fruits assailed the noses of the four intrepid adventurers. They took their places at one of the vacant tables in the Miller’s Arms in Darenth and began to discuss what they should do next.

Albus would not be leaving for the return journey to High Beeches for a few days yet, and as a result they would miss the New Moon time frame for seeing what had caused those enormous footprints beside the river. A showdown with Simeon Graize was also in the offing due to the attacks his henchmen had made on the caravan they were protecting. They also wanted to work out what the symbols on the amulets might mean, but that would entail a journey into the unknown and meeting with people who were some of the local bigwigs, which left them a little nervous as to whether they should explore that avenue just yet. However, after a thorough debate of the pros and cons of each choice, they decided to head back to High Beeches and at least see what was making those raids on the local farmers.

Runes on back of Albus's (and goblin's) Amulet

Symbol on front of Albus's (and goblin's) Amulet

Just as they had made their minds up, they heard the rumble of a waggon outside the inn. They peered outside the door and noticed that the two farmers who had accompanied them on their outward journey had hired on two guards and were due to leave on their homeward course with their waggon loaded with goods that would be of use to the villagers around High Beeches and beyond. The party asked if they could accompany them at least some of the way (through the dangerous Jordan’s Wood at least), and the farmers nodded their agreement but mentioned that they could not pay them. The adventurers stated that there was safety in numbers, so began to walk alongside the waggon as it set off on its homeward journey.

The journey through the forest was uneventful, and the weather was fine, so the companions decided to leave the farmers and their cart to make their own way (it would take the waggon maybe a day and a half to reach their home village).

A couple of hours later, just after they had taken their lunch break, they spotted a patrol of horsemen in the distance. As the small patrol got closer, the party noticed that there were only two of the original six riders in their saddles. As the patrol pulled up alongside the party, they noticed that the leader, the scribe and two of the archers were draped over their horses; dead. The other two were quite beaten up and sported a few cuts and bruises themselves. The party asked what had happened and the tale that they were given was one full of woe. They had been ambushed a few miles up the road by a large force of bandits wearing brown cloaks and robes. They were well-armed and knew what they were about. They had engaged them in combat, but the bandits had killed his commander and the scribe as fast as possible and then got out of there as quickly as they had arrived. This puzzled the survivors of the patrol as they were not robbed, and were left able to pick up their dead and return to Darenth with them. They then questioned the party as to whether they had seen anything unusual but the party responded that all had been quiet so far on their journey.

Just as the patrol moved on, a broken satchel fell from the horse bearing the body of the scribe. The patrol did not notice this and carried on but Johan, being an honest type, called after the patrol and notified them of their loss. The warrior thanked them for bringing it to their attention, placed it within his own saddlebags and then continued upon his way.

Bandits! (early afternoon)

A short while after leaving the patrol, the party decided it might be best if they advanced with Paulix covering their flanks from the woods and brambles at the edge of the track.

They made good steady progress until suddenly four arrows hissed through the air. Hallan and Vox were struck by a shaft each but the other two missed. Hallan drew his cudgel from his belt and charged at the bushes from where the arrows had come from even though he could not see where their assailants were. The bluff worked, and it flushed four brigands from their hiding places. Paulix let fly with his arrows and managed to wing one as the others joined combat. Hallan’s supreme strength soon took down one of the bandits and the others soon made short work of two of the remainder before Hallan finished the last one off as he turned tail to run.

Paulix quickly stripped the bandits of any valuables and weapons before removing their armour for later use. He rolled up three suits of the armour and tied them for easier carrying whilst Johan healed Hallan of his arrow wound. Vox, his distrust of clerics coming to the fore, refused to be treated and changed the subject by asking Paulix if he could hand him one of the leather jerkins from the bodies that were now laid at the side of the road. Paulix did so and helped him into the garment just as they both noticed that there was a grey gunge smeared over part of the inside. Paulix returned to the corpses and noticed that they too had some of the same gunge upon them.

Whilst Hallan was being treated, Paulix investigated to see if he could find a camp for the villains. Their trail into the brambles was quite easy to follow and he found a small camp fire burning with four sleeping bags evenly strewn around it. He carefully inspected the camp and found more of the grey gunge as well as another small pouch containing a few silver coins. He returned to the party and told them what he had found and they continued upon their way.

Another Patrol (mid-afternoon)

An hour or so later, just as they were getting close to the final small woodland before their destination, the party espied another patrol approaching from Darenth. Paulix was still hidden within the side growth, so was not seen, but the other three stood to the side of the road as the patrol approached. The six-man patrol was made up in the same way as all Thuringian patrols (a knight, a man-at-arms, 3 bow-armed hobilars and a scribe/page), and was just as inquisitive. The patrol pulled up their mounts just as they reached the party and questioned them as to their mission. The party answered truthfully about their journey and what had happened to them, only omitting the presence of Paulix. The leader of the patrol asked them to stay in High Beeches the night as he would like to question them further. The patrol then about-faced and headed back to the site of the ambush that the party had described. It was at this point that the party realised that they had not seen any signs of the place where the ambush on the other patrol had taken place.

Vox, his head spinning a little, realised that he may need to get his wound seen to soon as he was starting to feel a little weak; from loss of blood was his thought. He balked at the thought of any priest touching him, so pulled on his reserves and battled on, the broken tip of the arrow still in his shoulder.

Arrival in High Beeches (dusk)

The party carried on with their marching order to the outskirts of the woods before the long downward slope to High Beeches. Paulix said his farewells and took up position in a large tree overlooking the bridge and the approach road to the hamlet. The others carried on in to the settlement; Vox leaning on his staff much more heavily now, his breath coming in pants and his brow drenched in sweat.

They were greeted warmly by the tavern keeper and also questioned as to the whereabouts of Albus. They responded by saying that his caravan was still in Darenth and would be arriving back in High Beeches sometime in the next few days. They passed over the soiled leather jacks to the serving maid to be cleaned, booked a private room each, and retired to them in quick order; Hallan to rest from the combat, Johan to pray for more spells from Balder, his deity, and Vox as he felt so rough.

An hour or so later things got too much for Vox so he knocked for Johan and asked if he could heal him and remove the fever that he had. Johan sighed at his companion’s reticence to trust a priest but cast a healing spell upon him. The arrow wound expelled the shaft easily and the cut closed and knitted nicely, but it did nothing for his fever. Johan suggested that Vox visited the priests of Sol Invictus at the church up the road as they most likely had more skills than he in this type of healing.

Vox was aided up the street by Johan and welcomed into the church where he was shown to a pallet and asked to lie down. The two priests examined him for injury and remarked upon the good work done on his arrow wound; Johan swelled with pride. However, they noticed that something nasty had got into the wound and it would need extra work to cure than an ordinary infection would. The chief priest went into the library to meditate on the cure and Johan headed back to the tavern as his work was done there for the night. The priest returned a short while later and said that he could cure him but it would cost as that kind of power did not come cheaply. Vox, ashamed at having to be administered to by the priesthood, swallowed his pride and agreed terms. The cleric prayed to his god and the power of Sol Invictus shone down upon the magic user, removing the dreaded disease from his system. But it also needed the help of some holy water to aid the process; a procedure that had not been used in many years according to the grimoires.

Meanwhile, Paulix saw the arrival of the patrol that said they would return that night. He kept his head down and his eyes upon the bridge; looking out for any unnatural movement.

Back in the common room, the patrol asked the ostler to fetch the three companions. When only two of them arrived for the summons the patrol asked where their companion was. They responded that he had been taken ill and was up at the temple being treated by the priests. The knight was happy with this and carried on interrogating Hallan and Johan. They wanted to know their movements since their meeting on the road and wondered why when they got to where the combat was there was no sign of the bodies where they said they had left them. The party gave them the details omitting any reference to Paulix but had to answer that they did not know what had happened to the bodies. The leader seemed satisfied for now and proceeded to book a few rooms with the tavern keeper. They quickly retired to their rooms. The two adventurers were now tired and Johan was out of spells, so they too retired for the night.

Shamblers in the Night (late evening)

The bells for the ninth hour had peeled and Paulix sat alone and cold in his forest hide away. The last couple of hours had made him stiff and his attention was beginning to wander as he tired from the days’ strains. Then, out of the corner of his eye he just managed to make out slow movement on the road leading into the village.

He eased down from the tree that he was hiding in and made his way towards the road so that he could get a better look. The sky was dark but there was just enough light from the stars, the last sliver of moon and ambient light from the village to see four shapes walking slowly towards the sleeping hamlet. He followed them at a discreet distance before seeing them clearly in the light of the torches in the cressets outside the temple of Sol Invictus. As soon as the four beings got to within a short distance of the church, they veered off towards a farmstead up on the surrounding hills. It was at this point that Paulix was able to make out that these were the four bandits that had accosted them on the road earlier that day!

He panicked a little whilst he contemplated that these might be risen dead and he ran to the church and began to beat upon its stout wooden doors. The porter’s hatch was opened and he was asked what he wanted. He raved that he had seen the dead walking and that they were headed up to a farm in the hills. The priest behind the door just shook his head and closed the porter’s hatch muttering something about drunks under his breath.

Exasperated by the lack of willing shown by the priesthood for an incursion of walking dead he headed to the tavern to wake his companions and enlist their help in tracking down the animated cadavers. He banged at the door for a few minutes before the ostler opened it and allowed him egress, but only after it took him a few moments to realise who Paulix was. He asked which rooms his friends were in and was shown to them. He knocked them both up but luckily neither were asleep; Johan had managed to request another spell from his deity during the brief rest period and Hallan swiftly donned his armour as Paulix explained what he had seen. The whereabouts of Vox was also explained and so they left as soon as they had equipped themselves for combat.

They swiftly made their way up to the farmstead but as they approached they could see no sign of the not dead bandits. They made their way to the small thatched wattle and daub hut’s door to ask if the inhabitants had seen or heard anything when they saw the four walking dead in the pig sty, munching on the remains of the pigs that were in there.

As soon as the zombies saw the three companions they dropped their meals and shambled towards the companions. Johan raised his holy symbol and called upon Balder to rid the world of such abominations, but the call fell upon deaf ears. Paulix, meanwhile, stepped in with his dagger and stabbed one, but it seemed not to notice. Hallan leaped at another whilst the last two then rounded on the priest of Balder and Hallan. The combat went on for a few minutes with the companions grunting at their efforts, but nothing seemed to work for them. Paulix yelled for the inhabitants of the hut to come out and help them but they only heard furtive movements within the farmstead.

Hallan began to take a few wounds now and he became desperate to be rid of his assailants that just did not seem to go down under his blows but carried on grasping at his flesh. This made him panic and miss more and more of his strikes. After a few more minutes Paulix managed to down the zombie fighting him, just as two spear and shield armed farmers emerged from their hut. He rushed to aid his companion whilst Johan Commanded one of the farmers to get help from town. The other farmer joined in the melee on the zombies attacking Hallan.

The farmer was quickly able to dispatch one zombie just as Johan downed his opponent. Hallan then finally summoned up a huge blow and half-severed the body of the final zombie. Paulix made sure everyone was OK and then sped off back to his vantage point in the trees. Puffing and panting and covered in grey goo, the rest of the party examined the corpses just as it started to rain.

A Collection of Evidence

A few minutes after the fight had finished the lance of Thuringian men-at-arms, the priests and a few of the braver townsfolk arrived at the scene. The captain of the soldiers began to order everyone around, suggesting that the bodies be taken to the church and be burnt forthwith. The scribe took a few small glass vials out of his knapsack and began to ease some of the grey ooze into them. He stoppered the vials and put them away just as the bodies were wrapped ready for incineration.

Hallan, his fear now subsiding, made his way back to the inn and demanded a hot bath to wash the muck from him. After a few swift drinks to steady their nerves, everyone made for their beds.

A Collection of Evidence (Moonday 1st Quattrober 963 – Day 6)

The following morning Vox awoke in the cot at the temple of Sol Invictus. His fever had broken and he felt much better. The priest at his side smiled and said he was free to go now if he was up to it, but he was to remember his vow to pay the 500 silver pieces (about nine months’ pay for a journeyman!) for the healing power of Sol Invictus within the month or he would need to run a geas for the church. Grimacing through his feeling of being beholden to such a huge debt to the priesthood, he headed down to the tavern to see his companions.

Hallan and Johan managed to get some rest after their encounter with the walking dead the previous night and went down to breakfast just as the troop of Thuringians were about to leave the village and head back to their commander in Darenth. The rain was still coming down heavily.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Easterling Command - GW Lord of the Rings

It took me a while but I eventually got around to painting up some of my Easterlings today. I have quite a few Easterling miniatures but not nearly enough to face down my Rohan army. I will be buying some more plastic warriors and kataphracts to make the force larger, but will also be supplementing the Easterling army with GW's LotR Orcs and some EBob Mongols to represent Balchoth mercenaries - I do not like the style of the GW Khandish figures, so will not be using those unless maybe they come out in plastic in the future.

Currently I have the following for my Easterling force...

1 box (22) plastic Easterling Infantry
7 random plastic Easterling Infantry I bought from a second hand stall at a show a few years back
3 sets of Easterling Command (Captain and Banner bearer)
6 metal Easterling Infantry

Khamul on foot and mounted

6 metal Easterling Kataphracts
6 plastic Easterling Kataphracts

6 EBob mounted Balchoth
9 (or is it 10?) EBob Balchoth Infantry

About 30 or so orcs to be painted in a generic fashion to represent either Mordor or Isengard orcs that have been sent out as mercenaries to help the cause in the east.

I will be looking for a few more of the metals (both foot and mounted) and maybe some more second hand plastics if they are at a reasonable price. I am not sure about the Finecast stuff as I have heard lots of bad rumours about them, but the couple of sets of Space Marines that Alex has bought have actually been OK (only a few bits needed filling), so maybe GW's processes have improved?

Anyway, here are the first of the finished figures - Easterling Command...

Banner bearer...

Captain with halberd...

I think that they came out nicely, but the subtle shading on the cloth has 'pinked' a bit under the lights.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Doggerland Revisited - Session 0.2

Something is Stirring in Vannin (17th September 2013)

The Adventurers
Hallan – Fighter
Johan - Cleric
Paulix – Thief
Vox Comwy – Magic User

Ambushed in the Woods - Freyasday 26th Tresober 963 (Day 3)

The sun rose over the verdant vista of the great Jordan’s Wood, burning off the morning’s spring mist as it did so. The first hour of the journey that morning was uneventful and Hallan was as comfortable as he could be lying in the back of a waggon of farm produce. However, just before they were to enter the shade of the great woodlands, a party of horsemen was espied up ahead.

Albus and his head guard were unable to make out at that distance whether they were friend or foe, so called for everyone in the caravan to make ready for either situation. As the party of horsemen approached it became clear that they were a Thuringian patrol; a knight, a warrior, three hobilars (bow armed men-at-arms) and a scribe or page. Albus ordered the caravan to the side of the road to allow for the patrol’s passing but the leader of the section of men pulled up and asked who was in charge. Albus nudged his horse forwards and greeted the knight saying that he was the leader of the caravan. The knight proceeded to ask if the party had encountered anything untoward on their journey and he was responded to in the affirmative as both Albus and the party chimed in with the encounters they had experienced so far. The knight was happy with their honest response but upon bidding them a farewell he noticed the amulet around Albus’s neck. He suggested that he might want to hide it from view, and so Albus did so by tucking it inside his shirt.

The journey through the woods was eerily silent after the birdsong of the meadowlands before, and lunch was a quiet affair. The caravan continued upon its journey and took the left path at the fork in the road that led towards Darenth. It was a short while after this that a whirring sound was heard and a buzzing, as of wasps, was heard within the air. One of Albus’s men-at-arms crumpled to the floor just as Albus called for all to be upon their guard. Everyone readied their weapons just as half-a-dozen strange looking little creatures burst from the undergrowth at the side of the track way. The five smaller beings were dog-headed and reptile-like about three feet tall and the larger one was a grey-green skinned being with a mouth full of sharp teeth. All had dropped their slings and had drawn a variety of spiky weapons and wicker shields, their leader wielded a short sword. The strange creatures made quick progress across the sward, avoiding being hit by arrows that were sent their way. Albus called for the caravan to keep moving as he and his remaining guardsman drew their weapons and raced into the combat. Hallan carried on shooting arrows into the melee but his injury must have been hampering his aim as his shots went wide. Vox and Paulix managed to head off a couple of the beings and hand-to-hand combat was entered.

Albus’s guardsman made light work of one of the dog-like men but Albus was hit and fell from his saddle. Paulix made his way towards his stricken employer, cutting down a creature as he went, and Vox held his own with another of them. An accurate shot by Hallan dropped one of the two attacking the last caravan in the line, its peasant farmers would now only have to face one adversary with their stout clubs. A final flurry of blows put paid to the grey-green humanoid before the rest of the attackers turned tail and fled. A flurry of arrows followed them into the bushes.

The corpses of the assailants were quickly robbed of any valuables by Paulix and their crude weapons were set in a small pile, except for the short sword which he kept for himself. They also found a small wooden amulet of similar size and shape to Albus’s metal amulet around the lead critter’s neck, which also had inscribed upon it the very same set of symbols that could be seen upon Albus’s amulet; Paulix pocketed it for future use. Albus’s remaining guard and teamster rigged a pallet for their unconscious boss and strapped him into the back of the lead waggon. He had a nasty bruise on his head but his breathing was steady. The unfortunate guardsman was put onto the second waggon alongside Hallan whilst the bodies of one of the little critters and their leader were loaded onto the third waggon and covered in sack cloth. The caravan pulled away with a heavy heart and plodded the rest of the way towards Darenth.

Arrival in Darenth (mid-afternoon)

The caravan pulled into the village of Darenth. The waggons dropped down the short incline, crossed the river at the ford and trundled past the water mill. The train then passed the round stone church dedicated to Sol Invictus on its way towards the second stone building in the village. The wattle and daub cottages and barns of the villagers passed by on either side were well kept and consisted of both toft and croft with the main fields spread out across the fields on the hills beyond like a patch work quilt. The only thing to spoil the view of pastoral tranquillity was the great stone manor estate set at the far end of the village.

As the caravan made its way past the church, Hallan hopped off and hobbled towards the main doors. The remaining guardsman halloed when the caravan got to within a few yards of the stone building within the village, and called for Jared, Albus’s brother. A gaggle of people emerged from the grounds of the building and then hurriedly made their way to the caravan as they realised that Albus had been injured. The womenfolk, full of concern, demanded he be taken to the church straight away, so the men of the household did as they were bid and carried both him and the dead guardsman to the church. Whilst this was going on orders were given to unload the waggons and to rub down and tend to the beasts of burden. This was carried out meticulously by Jared’s farm workers, all except for the unloading of the dead bodies of the humanoids; they were stored out of sight by Paulix and Vox who then proceeded up to the church to see how their employer fared – they wanted their money!

Johan, a local lad practicing his healing lore under the watchful gaze of the two priests at the church, watched as his superiors laid healing hands upon Albus. Albus was brought round and his wound was tended to by the two priests. A collection tin was then rattled at Jared, who placed a few coins into it. Johan, seeing what was expected of him did the same for Hallan, but rather than give the money to the grasping church of Sol Invictus (he was still allied to the Old Gods but was practicing his healing lore at the only available church in the area), decided to pocket it for himself. He was able to do so unseen by his two superiors.

Albus cleared his head and was quickly brought up to date by his trusted guardsman. He turned to the three adventurers and thanked them profusely for their aid on the eventful journey. He handed each of them a small purse containing the promised twenty silver pieces and a bonus of five silver coins so that they could work out what they wanted to do over the next few days in the comfort of the Miller’s Arms tavern opposite Jared’s stone house. Albus needed to rest up before his return journey and mentioned that he might wish to hire them again if they were willing. He would be leaving to head back to High Beeches in about one week, so they did not have to hurry to make up their minds.

The three adventurers headed back into the village and sought out the tavern, closely followed by a curious Johan. Albus was carried back to Jared’s house and put safely to bed to recuperate from his ordeal. The body of the guardsman was prepared for burial. Just as they got to the door of the tavern they noticed that the waggons were about to be trundled into Jared’s farmstead, so Paulix and Vox retrieved their ‘sacks of produce’ from the hiding place and took them with them into the tavern. The sacks easily stood up in the corner behind their bench as rigor mortis had begun to set in.

After the events of the last few days, the adventurers ordered up a flagon of ale and cups for each of them and Johan who had joined them at their table. They then surreptitiously showed him what they had been attacked by. The shock of seeing the strange creatures’ faces made him blanche but he wanted to find out more. The inn-keep, curious as to what was going on, approached the adventurers’ table and asked them what they were up to. When Paulix then put on his finest pomp of showmanship he convinced the inn-keep of how they could both make a bit of money. The tavern keeper sent his pot-boys out into the village to tell all and sundry of the strange sights that could be seen at the Miller’s Arms. The villagers arrived in droves and the tavern went into lock-down with a guard at the door. The tavern keeper and Paulix made a goodly few handfuls of coppers for their efforts, as well as the respect of the oohing and aahing villagers.

Discussions (late afternoon)

The last couple of hours of sunlight allowed for the party to work out what they wanted to do next both with themselves and reporting the presence of the strange creatures that they had killed. Johan said that he would consult the church library to see if he could find out any more about the creatures in the sacks whilst the other three discussed the merits of returning to High Beeches with Albus to investigate the sheep rustling and Simeon Graize affair or whether they should see what adventures this new village brought them. An hour before sunset, though, they were invited by one of Jared’s henchmen to a celebratory meal at his farmstead. They packed up the bodies and carried them to the stone manor across the street.

A few moments later they were joined by Johan with some important information which they said they would discuss at Jared’s. A leisurely meal was had and thanks were again given to the party for saving Albus’s life before the conversation turned serious. Jared wanted to know what was in the sacks and what had happened to bring on such misfortune to his brother. The adventurers revealed all; both about the hassle that Simeon Graize was giving Albus back in High Beeches and along the journey, as well as the attack by the strange creatures. Talk then turned to what Johan had found out. He was able to tell them that the writing upon the amulets was an old script from the dark side of the Old Faith; most likely the name of a demon or some such but evil nonetheless. He was also able to tell everyone that from the grimoire he had read, there were creatures matching their description called goblins and kobolds; creatures of nightmare from millennia ago.

Jared suggested that they would need to report this to the local lord up on the hill, but the following day would do – he would put the bodies into cold storage to stop them decaying. At this point Albus came downstairs from his cot to thank the adventurers personally again. After a brief discussion he said that he no longer wished to be party to ownership of the amulet as it had brought him nothing but bad luck since it had mysteriously appeared in his coffers a few months previously, and if the adventurers could find a buyer for it they could take 10% of what they make from its sale. The party agreed to this, Johan took the amulet into his possession, and then they bade him and Jared a goodnight and returned to the inn for a good night’s rest.

A Meeting with Sir Richard (Godsday 27/3/963 - Day 4)

Jared had a few chores to run in the early morning, so he said he would be ready to escort them up there in a couple of hours. The party completed a few chores themselves and bought some adventuring equipment, then joined Jared at the appropriate time, walked through the village, and up the hill to the large manor complex. They were greeted by two well-armed guards at the gate. Jared spoke to them in a tongue strange to the adventurers and after a few moments they were let into the complex. Beyond the heavy wooden gates and large stone walls they entered a compound consisting of several stone buildings, men-at-arms in training, a black-smith hammering and horses being exercised; a real hive of activity.

The party were brought into the presence of the local lord, Sir Richard and his small body of advisers. He was aloof, but polite and showed an interest in what the adventurers had encountered. They showed him the bodies of the goblin and kobold and he requested that he be allowed to destroy the evidence before it became widely known that there were strange creatures afoot in the local vicinity. He didn’t want to scare the local populace after all. He asked if they had seen anything else unusual so they presented him with the goblin’s talisman. This brought a glint of interest to Sir Richard’s sage and he asked if the item could be left with them for further study. The party agreed and Sir Richard said they could collect it again from him the next day. He then dropped any interest he had in them and Jared suggested it was time to leave.

The adventurers returned to the village to pass the day as they saw fit. Hallan was beginning to heal well, and a couple more healing spells from Johan helped him along the way further. He passed the rest of the day limbering up and working out. Johan returned to the church for his duties but also managed to try to get more information from the grimoires held within the church’s small library, unfortunately with no new leads. Paulix went around the local farmsteads and bought himself some more adventuring gear whilst Vox, for reasons known only unto himself, visited the miller and worked a full day for nothing. He said he wanted to find out how the mill worked.

New Leads (Sunday 28/3/963 - Day 5)

The following morning, the four companions returned to Sir Richard’s manor. They were met with the same rigour before being ushered into his presence. He laid the wooden amulet upon the table and confirmed the details that Johan had already found out over the previous couple of days. He said he would be interested in finding out what the amulet meant and suggested that someone in Staneford might be able to help. His friend, the most worshipful mage Lord Burne had an extensive library, and the local canoness Y’dey of the church of Sol Invictus had extensive knowledge of legends and lore, as did the local Old Faith druid Jaroo.

The party gave thanks to Sir Richard and said that they would report back any findings they made on their journey. The party made their way back into town and sat down at a table in the tavern to discuss their next steps.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Citadel Hobgoblins

These figures have been sitting on my 'nearly done' pile for months now, but at the weekend I managed to put the final touches to them. Unfortunately, the photos do not really do them much justice. The muted colours work when seen from a distance but up close they look drab and dreary rather than worn and used. Oh well.

I have had these miniatures for decades now - they were some of the original Citadel pre-slotta Hobgoblins. I really liked them when they came out as they had a nasty and vicious feel to them. I also bought the Asian style hobgoblins that came out later as well as the Nick Lund hobgoblins that were built like tanks. Three tribes to go to war against the weak humans but only two warbands painted up so far. The Asian style ones will be a project for next year I think.

Anyway, on with the show. Here is the Hobgoblin Champion...

Discipline Master - no hanging around at the back when this chappy is goading you with his bullhide whip... 

The warband leader - a snaggle-toothedveteran of many campaigns...

This one I have designated as a shaman. Mainly because he has a skull hanging around his neck and a bronze cast of a foot from some therapod nailed to his shield...

Hobgoblin grunts with shields and a variety of crude weapons...

Hobgoblin grunts with hand weapons...

In case you were wondering what the double bases were - they are a mistake. Many of my old miniatures I based on old UK 1p and 2p pieces (non-magnetic) but when I came to repaint and touch-up these figures I could not remove the old bases they were on. I decided to put them onto some of the newer coins to allow them to be of about the same height as slotta based figures and also be magnetic just in case I ever decide to store them on sheet magnets etc. The standard sized basing also means that they are compatible with the rest of my figures so far.

Next - those Easterlings that I promised several months back.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Doggerland Revisited - AD&D style

I managed to get a game run last week at the club in my new/old world for AD&D 1st Edition. There was no game this week due to three of us having real life stuff to deal with but we should be getting together again from next Wednesday to carry on with the adventure.

I have written up a brief summary of what has progressed over the last 1,000 years in Doggerland and will be looking to use this website to be able to display it in a better way than in the body of the blog. If not, I will produce a separate blog/site that can be a repository for all the background fluff.

The characters were started at '0' Level - an experiment I have been wanting to run for many years - and will level up after the first adventure is complete. It seems to work OK. Anyway, here is the (quite long) introductory adventure write-up...

The Adventurers
Hallan – Fighter
Paulix – Thief
Vox Comwy – Magic User

Arrival in High Beeches - Wodensday 24th Tresober 963 (Day 1 – early morning)

His face covered by a deep cowl, the young teamster Paulix hurriedly hopped off of the last of the line of wains leaving the small hamlet of High Beeches and sought to distance himself from his previous employer. He watched, without any regret, the caravan pull off into the distance along the road running westwards into the distant hills to deliver its cargo of farm implements and cloth to the eagerly awaiting villagers and farmers of the western Vannin who were just emerging from the previous winter snows. The young rogue thought that he should be plying his trade as a thief, not as a teamster, and wished to head back to the main towns and cities where he could blend in and thus make his escapes more easily. He surveyed the rest of the small hamlet with its half-a-dozen wattle and daub buildings, round stone church dedicated to Sol Invictus, and the cruck and plaster tavern called the Barley Mow. On the surrounding hills were dotted the farmsteads of other members of this small community, and the river to the north sparkled in the sunlight from the early morning spring sun.

Hallan, having walked into the hamlet from another small village in the hills, saw the young teamster hop off the waggon and decided to watch what he would do. He too was new in town; the caravan having passed him on its way out of the hamlet. Assuming that the hooded youth was in the same predicament as himself he made towards him to introduce himself and offer his friendship and strong right-arm for adventuring.

Paulix made his way towards the Barley Mow, looked around furtively and entered the tavern. Hallan followed him into the common room and unslung his short bow from his shoulder to protect it against any knocks.

The tavern was empty except for the bar keep, one of his serving girls (his youngest daughter) and Old Grimwald who was nursing a small flagon of ale. Just as the door to the tavern was about to slam shut, another stranger entered. Vox, a navigator on his father’s small boat that plied its trade up and down the Darenth River, furtively glanced about and made his way to a table.

All three adventurers ordered a flagon of ale from the bar-keep and managed to engage him, Grimwald and each other in conversation. Each youngster mentioned that they were looking for adventure or a job that would take them to one of the larger villages around. The three youths were told about the trampled crops and stolen sheep from the farmsteads around, especially those that were by the river to the north of the main hamlet, as well as the set-to between local bigwig Simeon Graize and the new upcoming trader Albus Perkins. Being a little backwater hamlet, not a lot really happened in High Beeches, so anything unusual was a big event.

Footprints in the Sand (late morning)
The possibility of solving a mystery piqued the interest of the three new companions, so they asked directions to the farmers who were most affected by the crop and livestock disappearances. They were directed to the steading of farmer Ham; a sheep farmer whose land bordered the river from the jetty where Vox’s father’s boat was moored to the bridge about half a mile down river.

They arrived at the door of the farmer’s small A frame hut to the sound of barking dogs. They hallooed to make their presence known and were greeted by a grizzled farmer and a few of his dogs. They got him talking about the loss of his prized ram and two of his better ewes a few days after the last new moon, and he also mentioned that he had previously lost a few sheep to intruders about a month before then too. Likewise, he mentioned that farmer Bristow had had his crops damaged in a most unusual way. The three adventurers said that they would investigate the mysterious disappearance of his sheep and he replied that he is not a rich man but could give them his oldest sheep dog and a handful of coppers as a reward if they could return any of his livestock or at least stop any further recurrences.

The three companions made their way towards farmer Bristow’s lands and hallooed their presence to the three men working the fields. The three farmers were very defensive and held their flails, hoes and pitchforks at the ready as the three youths approached them. The farmers relaxed their defensive stances a little after the youths had told them of their quest and they mentioned that just after the new moon their new crop had been devastated in places. It was weird the way the crops were destroyed. It was almost as if something large had trampled through and around the fields and then pulled up big clumps of new growth in a random fashion. Vox tried to pull up a clump of about the same size but realised he would need much bigger hands and a lot more strength to achieve the same result.

The companions mentioned that they were looking into the disappearance of farmer Ham’s sheep too, and farmer Bristow mentioned that others in the village had also been affected but not to the same degree. They bid their farewells and went to investigate the stone walls and fences at the perimeter of the farms.

The party traversed the entire length of the boundary wall but could not find a single sign that it had been climbed over. That said there were plenty of gaps in the walls and the west side of both farms was completely open anyway.

Eventually, their searches brought them to the riverside beside the bridge, about a mile or so downstream from farmer Ham’s hovel. They searched about not really knowing what to look for when Paulix spotted a very large footprint in the riverside sand and gravel. A closer inspection by Hallan revealed part of a second footprint entering the river. The footprint was at least twice the size of any of theirs and was not shod in anyway, so the individual toe prints could be made out. They could see that it was not a hoax footprint due to the depth it sank into the bankside. Vox mentioned that the river at this point was about five to six feet deep; a good depth for his father’s small boat to navigate upon.

The party scratched their heads a little and searched a short way up the river, under the bridge and then down the river to the marshy area about a quarter of a mile away. No further sign of the footprints could be seen, so whatever made them was large, could wade up and down the river, could possibly step over the stone wall boundaries of the farms, had an appetite for meat and unripe barley, and that only seemed to come by the hamlet once a month just a few days after the new moon.

An Altercation on the Village Green (early afternoon)

The three companions decided they would get no further clues from the vicinity so returned to the hamlet. Just as they were about to cross what was for all intents the village green they saw the ending of an altercation between a group of men. Three men were seemingly engaged in an argument with another, who was then knocked to the ground just as the party arrived on the scene. The three others then left the scene in a self-congratulatory mood. The party did not hear the actual argument but could see that the man who had been knocked to the floor and had dropped all of his leaflets was obviously not in favour with the other group.

The party helped him to his feet and gathered his leaflets. He introduced himself as Albus Perkins and thanked them for their aid. He then proceeded to nail one of his leaflets to the notice post and asked if any of them wanted a job. All three were up for earning a bit of silver so they replied in the affirmative. He asked them to accompany him to the tavern where he bought them a small meal and a flagon of cheap ale each. The tavern was busier at this time of day, and every table was full with farmers on their lunchtime breaks from the fields.

Albus quickly ran through the situation. Just recently he had gained a new contact in Darenth; the next village downstream about 15 miles away. His rich brother had returned from some adventuring and had enough silver to set up a merchant holding with which to ply trade between the villages all around and the main town of the duchy of Vannin. All seemed to go well with the set-up but Simeon Graize, the local bigwig who the party saw outside roughing him up with a few of his goons, became envious of his new position and angry at the loss of his own trade.

The feud began as just a verbal slanging match with insults thrown at each other across the street, but yesterday four of Albus’s guards and teamsters were taken ill just before a big shipment was due to be caravanned down to Darenth. Albus now required a few extra guards and drivers to help him take his latest cargo on the morrow. He offered twenty silver pieces per person and all meals and lodgings along the way. They would be travelling by ox cart (his horses had also been stolen) and should cover the fifteen miles over a two day period if the going was good.

The three companions agreed to this and said that they would be ready to go on the morrow at six o’clock. Albus left the party to their own devices and left the tavern to prepare for the journey. Vox mentioned that he had to grab some supplies for his father, so asked the others if they would aid him with this and then help him face down his father when he got back to the boat and told him of his decision to go adventuring. However, just before they got up to leave the tavern, a furtive, rat-faced man scurried out just before them. He appeared to have been earwigging their conversation with Albus and looked like he was up to no good.

The goods were easily obtained and paid for out of the small purse of silver Vox had for the purpose and all three of the youths made their way down to the jetty where the small trading boat was tied up. Vox, who was afraid of his bully of a father, approached the boat and with the help of his new friends loaded the goods he had purchased. Plucking up his last reserves of courage from he knew not where he voiced his plans to his father. Silence greeted his statement to begin with and then his father muttered something along the lines that he was useless anyway and it would be his brothers who would share a greater part in the business. With a final grunt, his father threw his knapsack over the side and ordered the crew to cast off. He warned Vox not to come back unless he had made a name (and some silver) for himself to compensate for the time and effort put into training him. The four man crew consisting of his father and three older brothers cast off, but not before his closest brother gave him a surreptitious good luck nod.

The party returned to the hamlet and not really having anything better to do returned to the Barley Mow to pass the rest of the day and night.

Things that go Bump in the Night (midnight)

The three companions managed to secure a place at the last remaining table and a bedroll for the common room later that night. The evening passed without event except for Albus dropping off a young lad he had hired to be a teamster and the return of the rat-faced informant, who kept watch on the party all the time he was there.

Eventually all of the patrons left for the night so the four people left prepared their bed rolls. The young teamster was soon asleep, but the other three were quite excited about their new adventure. They decided that, because the dodgy-looking man had been watching them rather intently and attempts had been made to scupper this caravan, they would keep a watch.

The empty waggons had been drawn up outside the tavern in readiness for the next day, and the oxen were placed in the tavern’s stable. Nothing really happened until around midnight. The slim waning moon (the new moon was due in 5 days’ time) gave off very little light, but Hallan’s position inside the stable enabled him to see the furtive approach of a hooded lantern and a few men through the gaps in the slats. He knocked on the internal wall of the tavern in agreement with their plan and the two others stirred from their sleep.

The young teamster remained asleep, so Vox and Paulix flung open the door to the tavern; Vox moved towards the night soil pail outside to make water and Paulix readied his sling. The furtive movements outside stopped until Vox pretended to then close the door after finishing his ablutions. Two shadows began to move again and made their way towards the ox shed. They seemed intent on hobbling the beasts of burden within, so Paulix let fly with his sling in the dark. He could just make out the shape of the intruders and let fly. There was a grunt, the sound of a person collapsing and the clatter of a lantern hitting the floor. This was followed by a scurrying as of one making a fast escape.

The three adventurers investigated the scene with a torch grabbed from the front of the tavern and saw that the person who had been hit by the sling bullet lay dead on the floor. In the light at the end of the village they could see his companion had scurried off in the direction of Simeon’s farm. They quickly recovered the lantern and weapons from the intruder and hefted his body between them down to the jetty, where they threw the body, weighted down with rocks into the river. It took them a while to do this but they did it stealthily and without incident. They returned to their beds where they fell asleep until the church bells rang out at six o’clock.

A Stolen Amulet (Day 2 – early afternoon)

They awoke to find that the waggons were already hitched and the goods were being safely stowed aboard. They quickly broke their fast and aided Albus in getting the rest of the goods stowed. They set off not long after; Albus on his horse, his young teamster driving the last waggon, his two guards on two of the waggons, and the rest of the adventurers dotted throughout the three wain convoy.

They stopped off at the church on their way out of the village to pick up a fourth cart in their caravan and headed off. The last cart had a driver and four men on board it, and it joined on to the end of the train.

The journey was uneventful during the sunny but cool spring morning and they stopped for lunch at the allotted time after making good headway. During the lunch break, the various groups sat about their carts eating lunch, but Paulix noticed that one of the teamsters from the fourth cart had peeled away from his group and wandered around past Albus. He made a few furtive movements and then a grin spread across his face as he made his way back to his team. Paulix told Albus of his observations and after a little patting of pockets and chest realised that his amulet had gone missing. Paulix confronted the teamster who happened to be the same weasel-faced man they had espied in the tavern the day before! He questioned him on the whereabouts of the amulet he had stolen and suggested that if it was not returned by the end of the lunch break he would report its disappearance to his employer. The sly looking fellow grinned a lop-sided grin and said that he did not know what he was talking about, but at the end of the break, the amulet had been left where Paulix suggested.

Ambush (Day 2 – late afternoon)

After the incident with the amulet nothing else interrupted the journey until later in the afternoon. They had just one small copse of trees to pass before the final hill descended to the White Cross Inn; their destination for the night.

All of a sudden two arrows came winging out of the copse striking into the front cart of the caravan. Two armed men charged out of the copse yelling war-cries. Albus gave the order for all to dismount and take defensive positions. Everyone did so but those in the rear cart formed up facing the rest of the caravan rather than their attackers.  Hallan let loose with two of his arrows and the two bandits charging them dropped in their tracks. Paulix, realising that the rat-faced man was a part of this ambush decided to shoot his sling at him, winging him in the process. Two of the gang took off as soon as they realised that they were in a dangerous place.

Hallan did not have it all his own way as he was suddenly hit by an arrow shot from the copse, as was Paulix. Injured but unperturbed the two heroes shot back at the copse but did not hear the satisfying thunk of arrow striking flesh. With a final cry of frustration, the rat-faced man made off with his last two companions in the direction of the copse and no more arrows came forth.

Albus checked over his teamsters and administered some aid to them before the three companions searched the bodies of the two dead bandits. They stripped them of their weapons and armour and emptied their purses but left their corpses for the wolves. The two teamsters who ran off came back to reclaim their waggon. Albus questioned them as to their motive but they said that they just formed up defensively under the orders of the sly man and his companions whom they had hired to help defend their waggon. Albus had recognised the sly man as one of Simeon’s ruffians and told his teamsters to be on their guard tonight as he was sure they would continue to cause him strife. Simeon had now lost three of his men so was sure to want revenge.

Night Raid (Day 3 – Early hours)

The caravan made its way into the courtyard of the White Cross Inn and the oxen were put into their berths. The waggons were secured behind the stone walls and Albus treated everyone to a hearty meal and a flagon of ale.

The inn was quite crowded but there was no-one there that anyone recognised. At the end of the night, all of the merchants retired to their rooms upstairs but the three companions and their fellow teamster were left on cots downstairs. They decided to watch the waggons overnight in shifts.

The night wore on with no attempts on the caravan, so Paulix and Vox settled down to sleep by the strong door of the inn. Hallan took up position on one of the waggons. The night wore on but just before dawn, Hallan heard the approach of someone across the road. He spotted a dark shape approaching. He yelled out for his companions, who woke immediately, the young teamster ran off towards the room of Albus and his guards. They boiled out of the inn just as Hallan readied himself to take the attack from the shadowy figure ahead of him. He missed with his bow and took a nasty wound on the arm for his troubles by the shadowy figure. A few arrows struck the side of the cart he was defending but caused him no harm. Vox managed to grab the torch from the cresset beside the inn’s door, whilst Paulix hurried around the corner just in time to see his companion Hallan fall to a mighty sword blow from the attacker. A few more arrows thudded into the side of the waggon but the commotion from within the inn had grown substantially forcing the assailants to escape. They had evened up the odds by striking down one of Albus’s team.

The wife of the innkeeper was skilled in herb lore so she was able to stop the heavy blood flow coming from Hallan, and then she revived him a little with a bowl of hot chicken broth and some strong brandy. He had lost a lot of blood but would survive with a good long rest as long as he did not get involved in any more fights.

The waggons were hitched up again and the party left at first light with Hallan laid up on the front waggon to protect him from the journey ahead.